New Mom Meal: Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Apple Bake.

I remember many significant life experiences by the food that accompanied it. I remember most of the menu at my wedding. I remember the meal we ate the day my mom had surgery to remove her cancer, and I remember the breakfast my family shared shortly after she died. I can picture almost every single dish someone brought to me after I had my twins. I’m horrible at remembering movie quotes, sports statistics or miscellaneous facts. But food? That I remember.

Providing a meal can be powerful. It meets our most basic need for physical nourishment, but it can also be a medium through which relationships are built, comfort given and encouragement shared. I recently read a quote from Maya Angelou that says, “Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.”

Every meal that was delivered when my mom passed away told my family that others were mourning with us, even when they didn’t know exactly what to say. Every restaurant gift card, freezer meal and casserole that was brought over after the birth of my twins let me know there was a community around me saying, “We’re rejoicing with you, and we also know this whole motherhood thing is ridiculously hard.”

I remember meals. Each one shared, purchased, cooked and delivered meant someone was sharing a bit of their life with me, and joining me in the trenches of mine when I needed it most.

Sweet Potato, Sausage + Apple Bake
Yields about 5-6 servings

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
1 large red onion, peeled
2 medium apples, cores removed
1 pound sweet Italian pork sausage
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the sweet potatoes, onion and apples into bite-sized chunks. Cut the sausage into one-inch coins.

Set the chopped apples aside. Add the potatoes, onion, sausage and garlic to a 9x13 pan. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, and then sprinkle with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss well so that everything is evenly coated.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Add the apples, giving everything good stir. Bake an additional 25-35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the sausage is cooked through. If you want everything browned on the top a little more, turn the oven to the broil setting, and broil for about 1-2 minutes.

Serve alongside your favorite veggie. I tossed together a simple fall salad comprised of arugula, apples, walnuts and dried cranberries dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Words and photos by Sarah Hauser