Sweet Potato Cornbread

Hi there– It’s finally happened!  We are into soup weather around here.  Chilly mornings, snuggly sweaters and bubbling pots of  soup.  And to go with that bowl of soup– there’s cornbread!!

This hearty cornbread is laced with sweet potato, pumpkin pie spice.  It smells wonderful coming out of the oven.  Top it with honey or a drizzle of maple syrup–or like here with a splash of sour cream & berry jam.

SWEET POTATO CORNBREAD
1 medium sweet potato
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tab. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tab. canola oil

Poke it with a fork and then cook the sweet potato (12 minutes in the microwave– or about an hour in a 400 degree oven) until it is tender.  Peel the sweet potato and mash it with a pastry blender or a fork until it’s creamy.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Then mix in the eggs, milk, sour cream and oil.  Finally fold in the sweet potato until it’s all blended.

Spoon the cornbread mixture into a 9″ or 10″ baking dish and put it into a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until it is golden and firm to the touch.  Set it on the table with a pot of soup– perfect!

Chicken & Sweet Potato with Peanut Sauce

Hey all– Do you have evenings when you’ve been over-indulging all week and just want something healthy and fast that you can just throw on to a plate??  This is really more like a salad where you just pile things up– not really much cooking. .  It was hearty and satisfying — and I’ll pretty much eat anything if you drizzle some peanut sauce on top!

CHICKEN & SWEET POTATO WITH PEANUT SAUCE
1 cup brown rice
1/3 tsp. salt
1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into bits
4 tab. olive oil –divided
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 boneless chicken breast
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tab. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Peanut sauce:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tab. soy sauce
2 tab. peanut butter
2 tab. olive oil

Cook the brown rice with 2 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Peel and cut the sweet potato.  Mix it with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.  Spread the sweet potato bits on a baking sheet and bake it all at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender.

While that’s baking.  Heat 2 tab. of the olive oil in a skillet. Filet the chicken breast, slicing horizontally to make two flat pieces.  Cook them 3 or 4 minutes on each side until the chicken is browned and cooked through.  Remove from the heat and cut in slices.

To make the sauce, whisk together the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter and olive oil until it’s creamy and smooth.

When the rice is done and the sweet potato is cooked, pile half the rice on each of two plates.  Top with the slices of chicken, a pile of sweet potato and a bed of spinach.  Garnish with the avocado and cilantro.  Drizzle on a little sauce and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.  (makes enough for two platefuls).

Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry

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Hello all–  Up in San Francisco with our kids and new little Lois (did I mention baby Lois??!!) and it’s chilly and rainy!  Love the actual weather up here.  So if you are managing to have a real fall where you live and want something warming and flavorful on your dinner table, you might try this pretty plateful.  Just a little spice (although if you are not a spice wimp like me, you can heat it up with more ginger and cayenne!) and a little sweetness from the sweet potatoes.  It’s a rainy day, cozy in the house kind of meal.  I hope you try it…

CHICKEN & SWEET POTATO CURRY
1 large sweet potato
4 chicken thighs*
3 tab. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cumin
a couple shakes of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tab. tomato paste
1 tab. cornstarch
1/2 cup water
garnish: yogurt, cilantro

 

Pierce the skin of the sweet potato a couple times with a fork (to avoid microwave explosions!).  Then pop it in the microwave for 6 or 7 minutes until it’s tender.  Cut it in half horizontally and set aside to cool.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and then drop in the chicken thighs.  Cook about 5 minutes on each side until the chicken is nicely browned.  Take it out of the pan.

If the pan looks dry, add a bit more oil.  Then drop in the onions and cook 3 or 4 minutes until the onion begins to brown.  Add in the garlic and cook a minute longer.  Then stir in the chicken broth, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, curry powder and tomato paste.  Blend it all up in the pan, set the chicken into the mixture and put on a lid.  Let the chicken cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes.

While that’s happening, peel the sweet potato skin off and cut it up into smallish chunks.

Raise the heat on the chicken to a rolling simmer.  In a container with a closed lit, shake together the cornstarch and water until it’s completely blended.  Stir the cornstarch mixture into the sauce around the chicken until the sauce thickens– just 2 or 3 minutes.  Drop in the chunks of sweet potato and simmer on low a couple minutes more.

Serve the curry over a bed of rice and garnish with yogurt and cilantro.  Spicy good!

*I used boneless chicken thighs, because they were on sale at our market.

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Sweet Potato, Avocado Chicken Salad

IMG_5790Hello all– On the tail end of a fine longish weekend.  Kids started rolling in on Tuesday and were all here by Saturday for their cousin Bradley and Amanda’s wedding.  I’m pretty sure you know, there’s nothing a mom loves more than having those kids at arm’s length.

I’ll be remembering an all family shoe shopping trip, a fancy dinner out at the Tavern, hamburgers on the grill & a Michael Pollen documentary, good girl-talks, driving down to the beach for a frozen banana,  Laurel’s photo shoots and wedding dances with the grand-girls!

And on Saturday, we sat down to a colorful salad lunch– just enough to fill us up before we  headed down to the wedding– grilled chicken, avocado, sweet potato and sweet pomegranate seeds– with a tarragon dressing.  Add a chunk of sturdy bread– easy lunch!

SWEET POTATO, AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD
4 cups green leaf lettuce
1 chicken breast, grilled and cut to pieces
1 sweet potato, roasted, peeled, cut into bits
1 avocado, cut in small chunks
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tab. tarragon vinegar
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. honey

Layer the greens, sweet potato, avocado, chicken pomegranate and feta on a large platter.  In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and honey until it’s thoroughly blended.  Pour it on and eat!

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Pre-wedding family photo (Maryann!!) overlooking the marina in Dana Point.

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Down to Balboa Island for Balboa Bars & Frozen bananas– almost feels like summer’s here…  So thankful for time with our kids.

 

Roasted Sweet Potato, Avocado & Faro Salad

IMG_3512Hi all– Saturday night we had magical evening with friends– literally magical.  Our buddy Mark did an hour of amazing slight of hand tricks after dinner around our table.
I kept thinking, “If I watch just a little closer, I’ll figure out how he does it.”  But no.  We were all totally mystified.

And besides that, we had a sweet time talking around the table– with this salad to start us out, coq au vin, mixed rice, shaved Brussel sprouts and bread ( I love good bread!).  Oh and to end the evening ice cream puffs.  Everyone stayed late.  It was a fine time.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO, AVOCADO Y FARO SALAD
1 sweet potato
2 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
Red leaf lettuce
1 avocado
1/2 cup faro
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds

Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange muscat vinegar*
(or your favorite flavored vinegar)
1 tab honey
salt & pepper to taste

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Peel the sweet potato and cut it into small chunks.  Mix the little chunks with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread them all out on a baking sheet, separating them as best you can.  Bake them in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are tender and just starting to brown around the edges.  Let them cool.

While it’s cooking shake all the dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid until they are thoroughly blended.

Cook the faro in water according to the instructions on the package– (mine boiled just 10 minutes)  until it’s tender.  Cool.

On a pretty plate, layer the lettuce, avocado, faro and pomegranate.  Give the the dressing a little more shaking and dribble it over the salad when you’re ready to serve it.

*Orange Muscat Vinegar from Trader Joes– citrus, sweet, delicious

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

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Hi there– Our Christmas table was probably like yours, loaded with our best cooking efforts.  But this simple bowlful was my favorite part of our Christmas lunch.  Sweet potatoes, not too sweet without the customary marshmallow goo, and with a lovely flavor thanks to the “secret” ingredient— vanilla!

WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES
2 large sweet potatoes (orange)
1/4 cup whole milk (or half & half)
2 tab. melted butter (optional)
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
a handful of pecans for garnish

Bake the potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until a fork pierces them easily.

Scoop the sweet potato flesh out of the skins into a mixing bowl.  Add in the milk, butter, salt and vanilla.  With an electric mixer beat the whole thing until it’s fluffy and light.

Spoon the sweet potatoes into a serving bowl and sprinkle the pecans over the top.  (You can make these ahead and reheat them in the microwave when it’s time to eat!).

Never Too Early For Thanksgiving (& Sweet Potatoes with Pecans)

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Hello all– Can you believe it’s only November 3rd and I’m already full of turkey and stuffing?  Since my sis is here for 2 weeks from Kosovo, her kids planned an early Thanksgiving dinner while she is here.  Great fun to all be together.  And I say you can’t get started with all that thankfulness (and turkey) any too soon.

Our contribution to the feast was a good old chocolate cake and my favorite Thanksgiving dish– sweet potatoes with pecan streusel.  Lulu (my sis) and I spent the morning peeling mashing, baking and frosting.  That’s my favorite indoor sport– cooking with my sister!  Here’s the sweet potato recipe:

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SWEET POTATOES WITH PECAN STREUSEL
2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Cook the sweet potatoes in their skins (we microwaved them, but you can boil or bake them as well).  Peel off the skins and drop them in a mixing bowl.

Mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher or an electric mixer.  Stir in the other ingredients until all blended.  Spoon it into a 2 quart baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

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STREUSEL
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 full cup pecans

Stir the butter, sugar, flour and pecans all together and sprinkle them on top with your fingers.  Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Oh yum!

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Thanks Matt and Andrea for inviting us in to your cozy home (and sharing your yeasty homemade rolls!).  And hugs to Amelia our littlest family feaster.  It’s good to be thankful together– I’m hopeful that this whole November will be full of thanksgiving…

Sweet Potato Muffins

IMG_5077Hi friends– Loved these cheerful little muffins.  We had them with a pot of lentil soup, but I can imagine them on the breakfast table with a plateful of scrambled eggs or even alongside a Thanksgiving turkey!

SWEET POTATO MUFFINS
1 small sweet potato
2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs

topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
4 tab. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

Make the topping– mix the sugars and cinnamon.  Stir in the butter and set aside.

Cook the sweet potato 7 or 8 minutes in the microwave until it’s soft and cooked through. Scoop out the creamy orange potato and mash it, reserving 1/2 cup for the muffins (you can eat the rest for lunch!)

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, oil and eggs.  Finally blend in the mashed sweet potato. Spoon the batter into a muffin tin with 12 cups lined with muffin wrappers.

Use your fingers to crumble the topping over the muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until the muffins are golden and firm to the touch.

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*to substitute for buttermilk (if you don’t have any on hand), pour 1 tab. cider vinegar in  the measuring cup and fill to 3/4 cup with regular milk.

Sweet Potato Soup

IMG_8798Hello friends– Another day, another soup!  It seems like there’s nothing better for dinner in January.  And there’s lots to love about this one– starting with the luscious orange color, the sweetness of the potatoes, heat of the curry and the tang of the citrus.

SWEET POTATO SOUP
2 sweet potatoes
2 tab. olive oil
2 carrots, cut to small bits
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. curry powder*
2  14 oz. cans chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
red pepper
granishes–take your choice– sour cream or yogurt, pumpkin seeds, green onions, croutons, almonds, bits of chopped red pepper…

Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave– about 8 minutes each– until they are soft and the skin pulls right off.  While those are baking, Pour the olive oil into a hot soup pot.    Then toss in the onion and carrots.  Saute them for about 5 minutes until they are soft and beginning to brown.  Add the curry powder and cook 1 minutes more. Peel and cut the cooked sweet potatoes into 2″ chunks and add them to the pot.  Next pour in the chicken broth and orange juice.  Puree everything in the pot with a stick blender (or by batches in the food processor) to the consistency you like–I prefer to leave some lovely lumps.  Then season to taste with a little salt and pepper and a couple shakes of ground red pepper.  Simmer on low for a few minutes to heat it through.  And serve it up hot with a tasty garnish.  It doesn’t take long to make this pretty soup.

*You may want to add a little more curry if you like spice.  I think I’ll through in another teaspoon next time.