Nov 26, 2014

7 roasted sweet potato recipes (including the most beautiful sweet potato dish ever!)

I've never been a fan of the traditional sweet potato topped with marshmallow dish -- even as a child. But sans all that sugar, they are quite healthy, and delicious to boot! I love to make simple, stove-top mashed sweet potatoes, with a little butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon added at the end. Try it along with a salty and/or spicy pork chop - yum!

So I'm looking for some oven-roasted sweet potato recipes that recreate that same flavor profile for Thanksgiving this year, and I thought I'd share my research. Here are a few. (Spoiler: I'm saving the most beautiful one for last!)


Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

By Tyler Florence, on Food Network. 5 stars, over 140 reviews.



Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

By Ellie Krieger on Food Network; 5 stars, over 160 reviews. -- I like that this one goes light on the honey.


Cider Roasted Root Vegetables

By Elise at Simply Recipes. I always consult this site when looking for a new recipe; I have never had a bad dish here! This version sounds delicious. 

Branching out from straight-up roasting...


By Creekside Cook. The author says, "this post on my old blog was responsible for over 1 million hits." And I can see why! It sounds amazing. "Spicy, sweet, crunchy outside." But also a little time consuming. I probably won't try to pull these off for Thanksgiving, but they may get a chance on a less hectic day.

Here's an easier option...


Easy 15 Minute Roasted Sweet Potatoes

By Layers of Happiness. This recipe uses the microwave -- which I would totally do for an everyday meal! But I might try this same method in the oven for a special day.


Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Cream

by Chez Us -- The description on this one won me over: "After I baked the potatoes, I scooped out their flesh and mixed it with some fried pancetta, sauteed green onions, a little butter and sour cream and a handful of freshly grated Gouda. After re-baking the stuffed potato skins until warm, I topped each one with a slight dollop of chipotle sour cream."

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And here it is: this year's winner of the annual "Most Beautiful Sweet Potato Dish Award"! (Okay, that's not a thing, but when you see this, shouldn't it be?)


Crispy Sweet Potato Roast by Smitten Kitchen

Here's the author's summary:

You thinly slice a whole lot of sweet potatoes [you can use a mandolin or food processor] and arrange them in a butter and olive oil-brushed dish, and brush them with even more. ...slide slivers of shallots between... shower the whole thing with salt and black pepper... bake it covered long enough that the insides get tender, and uncovered long enough to get the tops brown and crispy.

This was posted six days ago, and as of today, it has 150 comments. Readers have been quick to share their own improvisations on the basic recipe. Here are some of the best (IMO)...

Reader tips and variations:

Add fresh rosemary and a splash of pure maple syrup towards the end.

I sprinkled feta and toasted pine nuts on top, instead of the salsa verde. It was amazing!

I crumbled feta cheese in the gaps and added some chili and lemon juice to the salsa verde and the result was great.

Very delicious. Sprinkled za’atar on top and made a sauce of yogurt, tahini, lemon, and a bit of salt.

I’ll be making this – with the addition of crisp pancetta and fresh thyme!

I am going to [replace] the scallions with poblanos and make a little chimichurri sauce to drizzle on top.

I usually do my holiday sweet potatoes with maple, chipotle, ancho, smoked paprika -- and fresh italian parsley on top after roasting.

The way I’ve been making them for years is in a gratin with a ton of garlic and salty butter and parmesan and breadcrumbs, the thinner the layer the better, b/c the top gets all crispy, crunchy with the parmesan and buttery breadcrumbs.

Have you ever tried chipotle chili powder with sweet potatoes? Life changing!

I made this tonight and topped with some leftover creme fraiche, it was great! The texture turned out perfectly. I used only 2 lbs of sweet potatoes and scaled everything down accordingly, but used all the same cooking times, 45 mins covered, 10 uncovered.

This was EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD! And reheated the next day in the toaster oven? Nom nom nom!

I made this tonight and it was GREAT. I added a bit of fresh thyme both underneath and on top! I halved the recipe and put it in a 1-quart oval dish. I also found that with really large potatoes I halved the slices and put the curved side up and they fit really well in the dish. At the end my oven didn’t brown it very well so I tossed it under the broiler and watched it like a hawk!

I made this with a mélange of sweet potatoes and russet, and added a teaspoon or so of dried sage, salt and pepper to the remaining butter/olive oil mixture… divine!

I topped it with thinned Mexican crema mixed with minced chipotle in adobo. It was a hit!

I have used a food processor to slice potatoes, and it works very well. You just have to buy potatoes whose diameter will fit in the tube, and then guide them / stabilise them with the pusher.

Also culled from the comments, a few extra tips from the author:

Cast iron does seem to give food a nice crisp... but I used a Pyrex baking dish last time I made this and it crisped up just fine.

In reply to reader's questions: "Do you do everything and bake it completely and then just reheat day of? Or do you arrange everything and bake the day-of?" — Either way will work.

Re, thin slices — Yes, I use a mandoline.... Re, protecting your fingers, I have one rule: the last inch isn’t worth it! I just don’t use the slicer for the last inch of whatever I’m cutting. I’ll hand-chop it. All of my fingers are intact, so I’d say this system is working out for me. :)

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All images by the respective blog owners.

Nov 23, 2014

Chai Tea for Two (latte, if you like)

I  remember the first time I tasted chai, in a friend's kitchen. The creamy texture and slightly spiced flavor took me by surprise. "Oh wow!" I said. "This is like drinking pumpkin pie!"

image: livesimply.me

Since that first taste, I've loved chai, but I don't drink it often because if you make it with a purchased mix or buy it in a coffee shop, it's usually loaded with sugar. However, inspired by this recipe for Chai Tea Latte from Live Simply (and modified to reduce the syrup), I've been making this the past couple days, and it's the perfect cold-weather pick-me-up when you want something richer than plain tea. (The original recipe makes enough for four servings, so you can enjoy one right away and then keep the extra on hand in the fridge. Smart! I love make-aheads!)

It uses maple syrup for the sweetener, but you can substitute the sugar or sweetener of your choice. I also replaced the half-and-half with culinary coconut milk; the canned kind; not the thinner stuff that comes in quart cartons. But you can use half-and-half, or another dairy substitute that you like. I've also streamlined the process a bit because, well, I'm impatient! I use a ready-made spice mix. And I use the microwave, and just let it steep for two or three minutes. But if you're patient and have the time, you can let it steep the full five minutes at each step.

Chai mixture:
1 cup water
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice*
1 tea bag or about 1.5 teasp. loose tea -- any unflavored black tea will do
1 TB pure maple syrup
1 or 2 grinds of freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Latte additions:
1/2 cup milk of your choice     
    (recommended: something rich and somewhat fatty, like coconut milk or half-and-half.)
maple syrup to taste

Put the water and spice mix in a glass measuring cup or other microwave-safe container and heat until it steams. Take it out, and let sit for at least two and up to five minutes. Cut open the tea bag and pour the contents into the hot water. Add a couple grinds of black pepper if you like. Return it to the microwave and heat again till steaming. Let it steep for three to five minutes.

While it's steeping, prepare the milk. Heat it slightly in the microwave. Do NOT let it boil. 

Frothing the milk is optional -- but it's the thing that takes this drink from chai to chai latte. There are various ways to froth the milk. You can do this with a stick blender, or by hand, using this method, or just by holding a wire whisk and rolling it quickly between your palms like this: 

(The baby orangutan is optional.)
At this time, you can also preheat your two serving cups, to help the chai stay hotter. Fill them with the hottest water that will come out of your tap, and let that sit till you're ready to serve.

Once the tea is done steeping, dump the hot water out of your serving cups. Pour the tea mixture through a fine sieve into another container. Rinse the sieve, then pour through it again as you're decanting the tea into each serving cup. Top with even portions of the milk, and taste to see if you want more sweetness; sweeten to taste.

Then snuggle into a cozy chair and drink that pumpkin pie!

*If you don't have pumpkin pie or apple pie spice mix, you may use:
1 whole clove (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
pinch ground allspice (optional)

Nov 15, 2014

Crockpot Green Bean Casserole

Image from campbellskitchen.com

Save your oven for other things, and save some day-of panic: Here's the classic green bean casserole that everyone wants for Thanksgiving, tweaked to work in a crock pot / slow-cooker, and with optional make-ahead instructions.

Slow-Cooker Green Bean Casserole Recipe

Slow-Cooker Size: 4- to 6-quart       Makes 16 to 20 servings

30 oz. fresh or frozen green beans, cooked and well-drained
2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
      or make your own
1/4 to 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
2 (4.5-ounce) jars sliced mushrooms, drained  (optional)
1 T. dried minced onion (omit if using garlic-flavored soup)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 - 1.5 t. kosher salt (taste before adding)
1 (6-ounce) can French fried onion rings

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl. (Beans thru pepper.)

Optional: Store covered in your fridge until ready to cook. Add an extra hour of bake time because it will be cold when it goes in the crockpot.

Spoon casserole mixture into a lightly greased slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW 2 hours. (3 hours if all ingredients are refrigerated.)

Taste and add salt as necessary. Sprinkle onion rings on top of casserole. Cover and cook on LOW 30 more minutes.

(I've lost the source for this recipe. If you recognize it, please comment.)