2 pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (may substitute canned pears in juice)
1 lemon, halved
3 medium sweet potatoes, baked and cooled (see note)
4 medium baking potatoes, baked and cooled (see note)
1/2 cup 2-percent milk, heated
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, divided
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
3 fresh thyme sprigs

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and place the pears in pan (if using canned pears, skip this step). Squeeze the lemon juice into pan and add lemon halves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until pears are easily pierced with a fork, for about 15 minutes. Remove pears using a slotted spoon and set them aside.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop cooked flesh into a large bowl, reserving 12 empty potato skins. Add the milk, butter and pears to potatoes and mash until mixture is smooth. Add the egg, salt, pepper, cloves and 1/8 teaspoon of the nutmeg and fill reserved skins with mixture.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and remaining nutmeg. Sprinkle sugar mixture over potato tops and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until tops brown, for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with the thyme and serve immediately.

Makes 12 servings.

NOTE: To cook potatoes, poke each twice with a fork. Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake potatoes directly on oven rack for about 50 minutes or until they are tender. Potatoes may be cooked 1 day in advance; cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out flesh and store flesh and skins in refrigerator in separate plastic bags or containers.

— Recipe adapted by the Detroit Free Press from Country Living magazine's November 2004 issue.