Dining With Denise Neil

Local cook gets her recipe on the menu at Cheddar’s

A couple of weeks ago, the local Cheddar’s restaurant at 11711 E. 13th St. invited me to help judge a contest. My job was to taste three side dishes, made from recipes submitted by local diners, and help choose which one would be added to the Cheddar’s menu.

All three were decadently delicious, and I’d happily eat each one again. But the winner was a side dish that eats like dessert submitted by Vicki Alfred, who works for Scholastic Book Fairs and has lived in Wichita for about 12 years.

Her Festive Sweet Potatoes will be on the Cheddar’s menu starting on Feb. 24 and will remain there for six weeks. She’ll also get a $250 Cheddar’s gift card. (That’s a lot of honey croissants.)

The dish is made from mashed sweet potatoes and is topped with sweet, toasty coconut. It tasted like sweet potato pie, only better, and I ate every last bite I was served. Some of the judges even asked for seconds.

Alfred said she got the recipe at a church potluck years ago, and it’s become a family favorite. She serves it every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“I like the topping on it,” she said. The topping to me makes it special.”

The two runners up would have been good additions, too. Adam Hill submitted a recipe for Red Hot Apples, which is a bright pink applesauce flavored with red hot candies. And Kim Coffey’s recipe for Granny’s Rancho Baked Beans, made with ground beef, pork and beans and corn, tasted like a sloppy Joe and also was popular with the judges.

The restaurant put on the contest to tie into its name change last fall. Cheddar’s Casual Cafe became Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, and the restaurant says 90 percent of its menu items are made from scratch.

For more information, call 316-688-0401.