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Harker Heights resident’s recipe wins restaurant’s side-dish contest

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Jodi Perry/HERALD

Jina Boydstun of Harker Heights shows off her sweet potato casserole. Her recipe won the Cheddar’s side dish contest and will be on the restaurant’s menu beginning Monday.

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HARKER HEIGHTS — The secret to Jina Boydstun’s award-winning sweet potato casserole is simple, her mother.

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen announced Boydstun’s side dish was the winning recipe in the restaurant’s first recipe contest.

“I love to cook, and everything I have ever learned about cooking I learned from my mother,” she said about her mom, who died in 2004.

“She was a great cook. She passed everything on to me and my sisters, and we have kept the tradition alive and passed our recipes on to our own children.”

Before the Cheddar’s contest, Boydstun never thought about entering a contest before. With a victory under her belt and a new sense of confidence in her abilities, she may enter more.

“I have a lot of great recipes and I have always thought of myself as a good cook, so I decided to submit some recipes and see what happens,” she said. “I was really surprised to learn I was a finalist. And then when I found out I won, it was a really awesome feeling.”

Her husband, Gary, said he wasn’t surprised to learn his wife won.

“I’m a lucky man because she is such a great cook,” he said about his gut feeling his wife would win. “I am so proud of her, and for her, it’s a dream come true.”

Boydstun submitted eight recipes to be judged and three of them, including her grandmother’s corn pudding and a hash brown casserole, made it to the top of the judge’s list. Her corn pudding was the runner-up in the judging, and the hash brown casserole was edged out by a bacon macaroni and cheese recipe.

“I was gunning for the hash brown casserole to win because it’s one of our family’s favorites,” she said. “This whole experience has been wonderful and affirms that I am a good cook.”

Robert Pesch, vice president of culinary and research and development for Cheddar’s, said all the finalists’ dishes were “great,” but what set Boydstun’s dish apart was its well-rounded flavor, different textures and its appeal to all ages and demographics.

“Sweet potatoes are on trend right now, and her recipe was the essence of what we were asking for,” he said.

“We are keeping true to her original submission, and we will just be making minor tweaks to it to make it restaurant ready.”

Cheddar’s will unveil its new menu Monday, and Boydstun will be the guest of honor. Her recipe will be featured on the menu for several weeks with her name printed above it. She also received a $250 Cheddar’s gift certificate.

JINA’S SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

4½ cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

1 cup of packed light brown sugar

½ cup melted butter

1/3 milk

2 beaten eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

Topping

1 cup chopped pecans

½ all purpose flour

1/3 cup cold, cubed butter

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Cut the ingredients for the topping together with a pastry cutter or two forks.

Spread sweet potato mixture into a 9-by-13-inch buttered casserole dish and sprinkle pecan crumble evenly over the surface.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

JINA’S SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

4½ cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

1 cup of packed light brown sugar

½ cup melted butter

1/3 milk

2 beaten eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

Topping

1 cup chopped pecans

½ all purpose flour

1/3 cup cold, cubed butter

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Cut the ingredients for the topping together with a pastry cutter or two forks.

Spread sweet potato mixture into a 9-by-13-inch buttered casserole dish and sprinkle pecan crumble evenly over the surface.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

7 images

Jodi Perry/HERALD

Jina Boydstun of Harker Heights shows off her sweet potato casserole. Her recipe won the Cheddar’s side dish contest and will be on the restaurant’s menu beginning Monday.

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