54. C’s Sweet Potato “Muffins”

Yesterday, we were all out of breakfast foods after the long road trip, and I had a hankering for something sweet and nutritious, so I broke out my small stack of remaining gifted recipes, and found this one, which was actually in a birthday card from my Mom, C.

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I have no muffin tins, so I just made the recipe as a big cake and cut it into pieces. I substituted some of the milk and sugar for more sweet potato (the can I had was very large) and it turned out moist, dense, and sweet. I liked having big chunks of pecan and raisin to break up the bread a bit too. This will go down in history as one of my favorite breakfast foods, and it really isn’t that bad for you either. I saved some of it just in case we have more folks at the potluck tonight than planned, and I still have plenty for a week of breakfasts.

Best of all: it took maybe 15 minutes to put together, not even using the stand mixer! It is usually unthinkable for me to cook something before 8am, but this seemed reasonable and by the time my sleepyhead mom woke up, I had the thing cooking in the oven. It doesn’t take forever though I did have to give in an extra 5 minutes there at the end, and it browns a little on top which helps you decide it is indeed done.

I enjoyed putting a little cream cheese on top, and my mom tried butter on top, both of which were great additions. It doesn’t have streusel or anything but it does seem like a variety of “coffee cake” especially since I didn’t do it in a muffin tin. Overall, a rave review and a creation I intend to return to for potluck brunch or other occasions that warrant sweet breads.

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Whole30 Meatballs with sweet potato shavings.

It’s hard to find foods that really satisfy all the many sensations we’ve come to expect – something crispy, something sweet, something savory, something hearty and flavorful. We’d gotten through the first 3 days of Whole30 and the newness was falling away, but my first meal that truly filled me up was making meatballs and marinara.

I took a pound of ground chuck, 80-20 lean ratio, and mixed in lots of Italian spices, along with garlic powder and onion powder for both flavor and texture. I use some crush almonds for binder, but not many – less than a 1/4 cup. The magic happened when Husband and I looked at the meatballs and wondered if they would just taste like slightly flavored hamburger. “What about sweet potato?” He asked.

We pulled out the grater and grated almost half of a sweet potato into the mix. Sweet potatoes are less watery than regular potatoes, so they didn’t make the mix soupy at all, but rather added the slight sweetness that many meatball sauces carry, and something to crisp up in the pan. We rolled them into 1 or 1 and a half inch balls and fried them in a cast iron skillet until browned.

In the meantime, I’d been simmering diced organic tomatoes on the stove. I added lots of garlic to this one too – should have cut up cloves and cooked in olive oil first, but I was in a rush. I added diced onions and grated carrot, both because I don’t like carrots much and because marinara often has the slight sweetness of a carrot. The sauce simmered through the whole meatball-making process, and with spices (lots of dried basil because, sadly, it is winter and fresh basil is not to be found in my garden), it came together wonderfully.

I broke through every meatballs crispy shell to get a part of it to drown in the tomato sauce – it felt like a lot of the flavors I love best about pasta but without pasta there to transport them! It made me realize, for the first time during Whole30, that I could be completely satisfied on a diet without cheese or grain. I don’t intend to do it forever, but it felt very empowering.

 

Food Memory: Sweet Potatoes and Cincinnati Chili

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Even though many people don’t think it is a delicious food at all, the best comfort food for Husband is Cincinnati chili, a meat sauce with twinges of cinnamon and chocolate that is somewhat unremarkable but is quite elevated when layered on a bun with a huge quantity of sharp cheddar cheese on top. We made it even better by frying sweet potatoes in butter, pouring on the chili, and adding the cheese garnish, and it’s now become out go-to dish for friends with a Cincinnati connection or just for ourselves, eaten in a bowl while watching a movie. For such a savory dish, it also satisfies the little sweet tooth quite well.

19. S’s Creamy Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

IMG_3826S and I have seen each other through a lot: in particular, we’ve each moved upwards of 5 times since we met in high school, and somehow, calling each other and chatting for hours is still our method of coping with new things. When Husband hears me say “Hi S” on the phone, he knows to go do other things because it’s going to be a while.

S’s recipe comes from a friend she visited on a big moving-to-a-new-state road trip last year, and she said that even though she doesn’t have a physical copy of the recipe, she would email it my way.

S’s sweet potato recipe came at a great time for me – I had a big carton of coconut milk in the fridge and a pack of sweet potatoes that needed to be cut up and used in some way. The kick of spices added to this dish made up for the fact that, because I was trying to get the sauce to congeal up a bit, I left them in the oven for longer than recommended. I would definitely add a step of mixing the potatoes around and make sure that there isn’t enough cream (or in my case, coconut milk) that they basically stew instead of roasting. The result was delicious but not at all firm/crunchy the way sweet potatoes can sometimes brown up.

It’s been almost like a spicy breakfast porridge for me this week, which has been full of cold days and quiet rising early on the weekends. Having steaming sweet potatoes with the peppery kick to them gets me energized for days of reading and writing and crocheting and walking, which are the things I like best on the weekend… other than eating. 🙂 I called S right after making this dish, and got filled in on her life, job, new friends, etc. This is part of why the blog was so important for me and why it has lasted these first two months: when I’m making the dishes that people I love gave me, I seem to really make the effort to stay in touch.

That being said, I am wondering: what does modern long-distance friendship look like? A lot has been said for how Modern Romance (yes, the Aziz Ansari book is one example) is happening, but I wonder: do you play Words with Friends with your grandma? Do you call your friend and talk for an hour while absentmindedly cleaning house? Are you a texter or a messager or what?

At the same time, I’m finally making some friends here in my new town! I don’t have recipes from them yet (haven’t shared the blog with them… eee!) but I’m hoping to get them in on this too. One new friend, B, is big into urban gardening and I am a total newbie to gardening in all forms, so I’m hoping that more of my food can be local and actually from gardens I participate in!

Enough updates for now. Here’s S’s Sweet potatoes:
– Preheat oven to 350 (or maybe 375?).
– Cut up a bunch of sweet potatoes.
– Put them in a pan (that has edges) with a bit of oil and salt and pepper.
– In a pot, mix together cream, chipotle peppers (from a jar, or in dried/seasoning form), and a hefty amount of Adobo. Heat on medium; don’t let the cream boil.
– Pour cream mixture over sweet potatoes (they should be covered but not drowning). Bake at 350 deg. F for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

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I love trying vegetarian recipes, but so often they call for things that some dinner party guests might not recognize – tempeh, or quinoa, or other plant-based protein. Tofu is pretty well known but not universally enjoyed, so when I found an enchilada recipe that mentioned both sweet potatoes and black beans on Pinterest, I thought, “that sounds hearty and recognizeable!”

I started by roasting a giant pan of sweet potatoes; I wanted to make sure no one had an under-done sweet potato in their enchilada. Then I mixed one can of black beans with chipotle chili pepper, garlic, salt, and a half cup of pepper jack cheese. In hindsight, I’d probably mix in some rice, though I think that takes the recipe more in the direction of a burrito, if I understand my burrito/taco/enchilada continuum correctly. We ended up doing rice on the side, so that was fine.

After the sweet potatoes were tender, I mixed them in with the beans and spices, and took out my store-bought enchilada sauce. I’d certainly love to try my own spice blend on some enchiladas, but this was for a party and I wanted to be sure… I recommend tomatillo and roasted garlic green enchilada sauce! I put enough sauce to wet the sides of the dish, and then began folding flour soft taco shells in half and lining the pan. Once the pan was full, I’d add some of the beans and sweet potatoes, fold up the taco shell, and flip it upside down, making sure it wouldn’t fall apart (I hoped?). It was a little messy and there’s probably a better way to do it, but if you’ve read Eating Together Isn’t Always about the Food, you know I was a little nervous at the time and was improvising.

Once those were all done, I covered them in more cheese and the rest of the sauce; I made 7 sweet potato enchiladas in my 9×13 pan. Into the 400 degree oven then went, though I turned it way down when guests arrived and I just wanted them to stay warm. The nice part was that cooking was good but not necessary for the food to be edible, so I felt confident my guests wouldn’t experience any scary food poisoning… a perpetual fear of dinner party hostesses, or maybe just me.

The result was spicy and hearty, flavorful and surprisingly healthy! It came across as a little different from normal enchiladas but not intense or fancy, which was exactly the balance I wanted to strike. 🙂

54. C’s Sweet Potato “Muffins”

Yesterday, we were all out of breakfast foods after the long road trip, and I had a hankering for something sweet and nutritious, so I broke out my small stack of remaining gifted recipes, and found this one, which was actually in a birthday card from my Mom, C.

IMG_4189

I have no muffin tins, so I just made the recipe as a big cake and cut it into pieces. I substituted some of the milk and sugar for more sweet potato (the can I had was very large) and it turned out moist, dense, and sweet. I liked having big chunks of pecan and raisin to break up the bread a bit too. This will go down in history as one of my favorite breakfast foods, and it really isn’t that bad for you either. I saved some of it just in case we have more folks at the potluck tonight than planned, and I still have plenty for a week of breakfasts.

Best of all: it took maybe 15 minutes to put together, not even using the stand mixer! It is usually unthinkable for me to cook something before 8am, but this seemed reasonable and by the time my sleepyhead mom woke up, I had the thing cooking in the oven. It doesn’t take forever though I did have to give in an extra 5 minutes there at the end, and it browns a little on top which helps you decide it is indeed done.

I enjoyed putting a little cream cheese on top, and my mom tried butter on top, both of which were great additions. It doesn’t have streusel or anything but it does seem like a variety of “coffee cake” especially since I didn’t do it in a muffin tin. Overall, a rave review and a creation I intend to return to for potluck brunch or other occasions that warrant sweet breads.

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