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A Chilly Day Calls for a Simple Soup – Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Just when you thought that winter might actually be over sometime soon around here, it seems to come roaring back over the last day or 2 with really high winds and really cold weather every time you step outside the house. Even though a lot of the snow that we have has melted away at this point, there is still a lot of ice out there because the temperature is not warmed up nicely. Cold and windy days call for a nice warm meal and this particular recipe is perfect if you do not have a lot of time to put a detailed soup together but want something that is going to give you that warm feeling. This recipe comes from Marcus Samuelsson and is for a very simple black bean and sweet potato soup that you can put together in about 15 minutes and then have it all cooked and done within another 30 minutes. With just a few ingredients necessary you be surprised just how much flavor you get.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a medium dice

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. Add the chicken or vegetable broth, black beans, diced sweet potatoes and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.

Serve the soup topped with the fresh parsley. Add a dollop of sour cream or avocado for extra texture to the soup.

You can pretty much make this soup with it just what you have around in the pantry and have it any night of the week. If you want to make it a more vegetarian meal you can use vegetable broth or water instead of chicken broth. I really liked the combination of the black beans and the sweet potatoes together and the cayenne pepper added just the right amount of heat to give the soup a little bit of a kick. I did not have any avocado on hand but I think it would go really well on top for some added flavor and texture. The soup actually thickened up nicely over the course of a day or 2 in the refrigerator and was even better when I had it for lunch in the following days. I will definitely make this one again as it is easy enough to put together any time you feel like having it and it does make a great lunch with a half of a sandwich or a little bit of a salad or just on its own.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Quick, Simple and Delicious – Roasted Chicken with Chorizo and Sweet Potatoes

As the Thanksgiving holiday creeps closer and closer you want to find easy meals to make in the days before so that you can focus in on anything that needs to be taken care of for your holiday plans. One dish meals are ideal when you can get them together fast so you don’t even have to think much about dinner for one night. This recipe, from Bon Appetit, is just about a one dish meal. All you need is a vegetable on the side to finish the meal off and you can have a great tasting meal of roasted chicken with chorizo and sweet potatoes.

Roasted Chicken with Chorizo and Sweet Potatoes

4 skin on, bone in chicken breasts (or other chicken pieces; I used thighs)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 fresh chorizo, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 large garlic cloves, smashed

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into long wedges about 1/2-inch thick

1 red onion, cut in half and then cut each half into quarters

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 sprig rosemary, plus additional for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Season the chicken pieces with the apple cider vinegar, kosher salt and black pepper. Set the chicken aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring the chorizo occasionally, until it is beginning to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, skin side down and cook the chicken until the skin is a golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Toss the sweet potatoes, garlic, red onion, white wine and the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil, along with the rosemary (if using), until everything is coated and well mixed. Place the sweet potato mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Place the chicken pieces and the chorizo pieces on top of the vegetables and roast the chicken until it is cooked through and the sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Divide the chicken and sweet potato mixture among the plates and garnish with additional rosemary, if desired.

I really enjoyed the mix of the chicken, chorizo and the sweet potatoes. The chorizo added just the right spiciness to the dish and the potatoes were great roasted and mixed with everything. The chicken had additional flavor from marinating briefly with the cider vinegar to add to the dish overall. I served this with a simple green vegetable on the side and everything was done in under 45 minutes and clean up was a breeze. I used chicken thighs instead of breasts, but you could use whichever chicken pieces you have on hand and like best; I think it would do just as well with drumsticks if you prefer.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. I’ll be traveling over the next few days as we head down to North Carolina for the holiday, but I will make some Thanksgiving posts before the holiday along the way, so keep checking back. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals, Potatoes, Poultry, Sausage

 

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Better Believe This Bourbon-Butter Steak Tips with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes is the Bomb!

Leave it took Cook’s Country Magazine to keep supplying me with easy to make, quick weeknight meals. Finding something that uses just a few ingredients but comes together really nicely to taste great and can all be done in less than 30 minutes is my idea of the perfect weeknight meal. We have been so busy around out house lately with work and all of the other family things going on and it is only going to get crazier as we get further into November and December with birthdays, holidays, parties, travel and more. This means finding fast and easy meals that we can do without a lot of effort. This one for bourbon butter steak tips with maple mashed sweet potatoes is great because you can get the sweet potatoes softened in the microwave, get your steak tips going and have everything ready in about 20 minutes. Add a green vegetable and you are good to go.

Bourbon-Butter Steak Tips with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks

1/2 cup bourbon

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Combine the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a large bowl. Cover and microwave until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through the cooking process. Add the heavy cream and 3 tablespoons of the maple syrup and mash the potatoes until they are smooth; cover the potatoes and set them aside.

Meanwhile, pat the steak tips dry with paper towels and season the steak with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil is just smoking. Add the steak tips and cook them until they are well browned all over and the meat registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the steak tips to a platter and tent them loosely with foil to keep them warm.

Off the heat, add the bourbon, apple cider vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Return the steak and any accumulated juices to the pan and toss the steak to coat it well with the sauce. Sprinkle the steak with chives and serve it with the mashed sweet potatoes.

This was a very delicious meal with a nice hint of the maple syrup permeating the potatoes and the steak. Throw in the taste that the bourbon adds to the sauce and it really makes the steak out of this world. I really think you could make this with any cut of beef if you did not have steak tips to use; you could use a London broil, sirloin or any other cut of beef that you really prefer or even use a whole steak like a rib eye or strip steak and it would be great. It’s so easy to make and you get wonderful layers of flavor.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Sauce

 

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A Sweet Side Dish – Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato, in my opinion, is a side dish that often gets overlooked. At least I know in my house we forget about them a lot and we really shouldn’t see it is considered a super food. To me it’s a great side and has a lot more flavor than your typical Russet potato or Yukon gold potato and I would rather have a sweet potato than either of those. Anyway, I had come across this recipe from Guy Fieri on the Food Network when I was looking for something different to do with a sweet potato for dinner and I saw this simple recipe for twice-baked sweet potatoes. I actually changed it a little bit by microwaving the potatoes for 12 minutes first instead of baking them in the oven for an hour to soften them up so they could be done faster, but you can use either method and still get quality results.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes

5 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch cayenne pepper

1/2 stick butter

Vegetable oil, for greasing the roasting tray

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly scrub the sweet potatoes under cold running water. Place the potatoes on a roasting tray and bake the potatoes until they are tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and allow the potatoes to cool slightly before cutting of the top third of the potato lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh using a large spoon and be sure to leave enough on the base so the skin will be able to hold its shape and reserve the bases.

Add the sweet potato flesh, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, cayenne pepper and the butter to a food processor. Process the mixture until the ingredients are completely combined and the puree is smooth. Season the potato mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle a roasting tray with a little bit of the vegetable oil. Set the potato skin bases upright on the tray and fill the bases with the sweet potato mixture.

Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and the pecans, if using, in a small bowl. Sprinkle the top of each stuffed sweet potato with the sugar-pecan topping. Bake the potatoes for 10 minutes. Finish the potatoes under the broiler for the top to brown, about 1 minute, if desired.

As I had said, I scrubbed the potatoes and poked them with a fork and cooked them in the microwave for 12 minutes until they were tender so I could significantly cut back on the cooking time and I think they came out just fine. The flavors of the potato with the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg were great and although I omitted the pecans, I did drizzle a little bit of pure maple syrup on each one for some extra flavor. To me, it’s a great way to make an easy side dish to go with just about beef, pork or poultry dish that you want.

That’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Cooking, Potatoes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

 

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Simple Southern Sides, Part 1 – Sweet Potato Corn Bread

I had made a Mardi Gras dinner last week at Sean’s request so I tried to find some recipes for some good side dishes that fit the theme we were going for and were going to be easy to make. Since I was making gumbo as the main part of the meal, I wanted to have some bread to go with it and what would be better than some corn bread? Well I found this recipe on Epicurious for a sweet potato corn bread that sounded really tasty and very easy to make, so I thought I would give it a shot.

Sweet Potato Corn Bread

1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan. Pierce the sweet potatoes in several places with a fork. Microwave the sweet potatoes on high until they are tender to the touch, turning once, about 12 minutes. Cut open the potatoes and allow the flesh to cool. Mash enough of the potatoes to yield 1 cup packed. Reserve the extra mashed sweet potatoes for another use. Place the 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and the buttermilk.

Blend the cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and ground ginger in the food processor. Add the pieces of chilled butter and blend in the food processor until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the cornmeal mixture to the egg mixture and stir until they are just blended. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan.

Bake the corn bread until it is a deep golden color on top and a toothpick or tester inserted into the center of the corn bread comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the corn bread in the pan on a baking rack. Serve or let stand at room temperature and serve when you are ready.

Cooking the sweet potatoes in the microwave saves you at least an hour of cooking time in the oven and helps you get the corn bread made a lot faster. I think the bread came out really well. it was not at all dry like some corn bread can be and had a great flavor from the sweet potatoes. If anything, it maybe could even used a bit more sweet potato for extra flavor. This recipe makes a lot of cornbread and says it will serve 10 to 12 people. I actually cut the recipe in half and made a smaller batch for us and we still had plenty to last for the week. I think I would make this one again as it seemed better than some of the traditional cornbread recipes I have tried.

That’s all I have for today. Check back tomorrow for another recipe. I still have a couple of good southern sides to share – a red rice recipe and a baked beans recipe from Jamie Deen, along with the gumbo I made for Mardi Gras, some parfaits, a new pulled pork recipe, beef stroganoff, chicken fingers, 3 pork burgers and a whole lot more. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Breads, Cooking, Side Dishes

 

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Beat the Weeknight Grind – Pork Cutlets with Sweet Potatoes and Maple Pan Sauce

After taking the weekend off to do some other work I am back with a great weeknight meal that I got from Cook’s Country. Weeknight meals can be the worst for busy families. You just feel like you never have enough time to be a home cooked meal on the table with work, school, homework, afterschool activities, chores and more, which can lead us to settling for takeout meals that aren’t good for us and are expensive. I always try to come up with meal ideas that can be made during the typical weeknight fast so it is something you can put together after you get home and have a meal on the table in under an hour. This one fits the bill for speed, taste and it is inexpensive to make. While the recipe calls for boneless pork cutlets, I had 3 bone-in chops on hand and decided to use those instead. It took a few minutes longer to cook because of that, but the taste results were the same to me.

Pork Cutlets with Sweet Potatoes and Maple Pan Sauce

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons ground cumin

8 (3-ounce) boneless pork cutlets, 1/4-inch thick, trimmed

4 garlic cloves, sliced thin

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Combine the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a large bowl. Cover the potatoes and microwave them until the potatoes are nearly tender, about 7 minutes. Set the bowl of potatoes aside.

Meanwhile, combine the garam masala, cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a bowl. Pat the pork cutlets dry with paper towels and season them with the spice mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it is shimmering. Add 4 of the cutlets to the skillet and cook until they are well browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a plate and tent the plate with aluminum foil. Repeat the process with the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the remaining 4 pork cutlets.

Add the potatoes and garlic to the now-empty skillet and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a platter. Add the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar and any accumulated pork juices to the now-empty skillet and simmer over medium heat until the mixture has thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork cutlets to the platter with the sweet potatoes and pour the sauce from the skillet over the top. Serve.

I really liked the flavor of the sauce and what it added to both the potatoes and the pork. Maple syrup and sweet potatoes just seem to go really well together and it was even better with the spice mixture on the pork. If you do not have garam masala on hand or can’t find it in your local grocery store, you can use a mix of ground  coriander, cumin, ground cardamom, pepper and ground cinnamon and get the same flavor. It is a fast recipe that gives you great taste and all you need to do is add a vegetable or a salad and you are good to go with your meal in about 30 minutes.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. I have a big work project I am working on right now, so I am going to try to get on here every day if I can to share some more ideas, recipes and more. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Potatoes, Sauce

 

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Thanksgiving Planning: Baked Ginger Sweet Potatoes and Mashed Butternut Squash

Since I won’t be cooking the actual Thanksgiving meal myself this year, I thought I would get the month started early and try to make a bunch of Thanksgiving side dishes all month long so you have some new things to choose and try for your Thanksgiving meal this year. I recently made two side dishes that would be perfect to use for Thanksgiving. The first is a very simple baked ginger sweet potatoes dish that I got from Chow.com. it is very simple to make, with a wonderful glaze that adds some great flavor to the potatoes.

Baked Ginger Sweet Potatoes

3/4 cup apricot preserves

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 medium orange)

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon kosher salt

4 pounds medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and arrange an oven rack in the middle position of the oven.

Place the apricot preserves, orange juice, butter, ginger and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until the butter and the preserves are melted and smooth, about 6 minutes.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle them with about 1/3 of the apricot mixture, and, using your hands, toss the potatoes to coat them well with the mixture. Shingle the slices in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Drizzle the potatoes with another 1/3 of the apricot mixture and bake the potatoes uncovered for 10 minutes. Drizzle the potatoes again with the remaining 1/3 of the apricot mixture and bake uncovered until the sweet potatoes are tender and the glaze has thickened, about 10 minutes more. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

The sweetness of the potatoes is enhanced even more by the apricot preserves and orange juice and the ginger adds a nice little bite of spice to the dish. It’s a great tasting dish that goes well not just with your Thanksgiving meal but with any weeknight meal of something like chicken or pork chops.

The second side dish I had made recently is another orange vegetable that is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. It is a very simple mashed butternut squash recipe that I got from Cook’s Country that has a great earthy flavor thanks to the spices it uses in the recipe.

Mashed Butternut Squash

4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons butter

2 apples, peeled and shredded (about 2 cups)

1 onion, chopped fine

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the squash, vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a bowl. Spread the squash out evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the squash until it is tender and starting to brown, about 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the roasting process.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the apples, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, covered, until the apples are soft, about 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples and onion are golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes longer. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and cook until the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, cover and set the pot aside while the squash finishes roasting.

Add the roasted squash and maple syrup to the Dutch oven with the apple mixture. Mash the mixture with a potato masher until it is mostly smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

The mashed squash has great consistency and flavor and will go well with your turkey and other side dishes if you want to make something a little bit different. The apples really help to add some great depth of flavor to the dish and the maple syrup just gives it a final touch that we all really enjoyed. I actually served this with the slow cooker pepper pork chops I made the other night and the whole meal was fantastic.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes. I have lots more ideas for your Thanksgiving side dishes, a good turkey recipe, a wonderful lemon cake I making for Michelle’s birthday, a great burger recipe we tried yesterday, some simple battered shrimp and a whole lot more. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Cooking, Holidays, Potatoes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

 

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Jennifer Probst

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