Sunday, December 13, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad w Black Beans & Chili-Lime Dressing

Apologies to whoever I got this recipe from! I tried to find you via Google but came up empty. Regardless, it's all over the Internet, which tells everyone it's good! [Update: Thanks, Blogging Under the Influence!!!]

I don't know how anyone could get tired of eating sweet potatoes or potato salad, but let's just say you are. In that case, this is a delightfully-different spin on potato salad and on sweet potatoes in general. First of all, it's a mixture of textures and flavors not usually associated with sweet potatoes (kind of like my yummy Berry Mallow Bake that way.) Also, it's served warm or room temperature, which I absolutely loved (since you know Mr.4444 rarely brings the meat in from the grill at the time he originally planned!) Let's get started!

4 medium sweet potatoes (I used two of the ginormous ones pictured), cut into 1" chunks
1 large red onion, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
salt and freshly-ground pepper
*1-2 tablespoons minced, fresh, hot chili (such as jalapeno)
1 clove garlic, peeled
juice of two limes
2 cups cooked black beans (canned are fine), drained
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely-diced
*1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

*Before I begin, I must confess that I am missing two ingredients from my version (too lazy to run back out to the store for cilantro and a jalapeno. Even without those, it was delicious.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the sweet potatoes and onions like this...

Put them in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. (Knowing what I know now, I might put a little less oil in this stage next time; when I cooked the potatoes, they were so wet, they were fully cooked before having the chance to brown.)

Toss to coat...
...and spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with sale and pepper.

Put them in the oven and roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on the corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

While the potatoes and onions are filling your kitchen with the scent of heaven, prepare the dressing. Juice the limes...(I like to use a strainer, since that's all I have to keep the seeds out of the juice, but I just asked Santa for a juicer thingy, so hopefully, I've behaved myself enough this year.)

Put chilies in a blender or mini food-processor along with garlic, lime juice, the remaining olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Process until blended, making sure not to do this....

Just look at that golden goodness:

Drain the beans.
Don't forget to watch the potatoes. Mine looked like this when they came out:

Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with the beans and bell pepper. Toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate up to a day.

Serves 4-6

Isn't it pretty?

The final product, as my mom would say, "Looks good enough to eat!"

And eat we did! Here are the verdicts:

*Mr.4444 and I loved this dish and had two helpings each.
*Kyle (age 17) had one serving and said it was "good."
*Kendall (age 14) could not get past the onions and the fact that I made her try it without actually looking at it first. (Sorry, Kendall.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds

Kendall talked me into carving a pumpkin today.  She likes carving pumpkins because she loves to stick her hand in the goo. Me, not so much, though I do enjoy pumpkin carving, especially since I found this recipe for a different kind of pumpkin seed seasoning. It's sweet and salty goodness at its best!


seeds from one medium pumpkin (about a cup and a half)

5 T sugar, divided
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin (I insist on using seeds and grinding them myself; it's just better that way!)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp coarse salt (Kosher salt)
1 pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste (I used pepper flakes and ground them, too.)
1 1/2 T peanut oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread seeds on the parchment paper, evenly.  Bake until dry, stirring occasionally; about one hour (though mine only took 45 minutes this time; maybe it was the parchment?)  Cool. (I poured them onto a clean, cool cookie sheet and set them on the deck for five minutes.

Set two tablespoons of the sugar aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of the sugar, plus the salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne; set aside.

Heat peanut oil in a medium, non-stick skillet over high heat.  Add the baked pumpkin seeds and the rest of the sugar. Stir, cooking until the sugar melts and the seeds begin to caramelize (I cooked mine until the seed started whistling!), about a minute.  Transfer to bowl with spices and stir well to coat.


These may be stored in an airtight container for up to one week (if crazed fools haven't eaten them all by then!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pizza Casserole

Ever since I got a taste of my friend Pam's delicious Pizza Casserole last weekend at the Homecoming dinner at her house, I've been wanting to make it for dinner. So, even though I had 49 other things to do tonight, I happily put my needs aside and sacrificed for my loving family.

Note: Try to make this on a night everyone has other commitments so that you can have most of it for yourself. (Also, there will be fewer people around to watch you sneaking pepperoni.)

Ingredients:12-oz. egg noodles (I used only part of the bag pictured)
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion
1 green pepper
1 8-oz pkg pepperoni
fresh mushrooms
pizza sauce
Campbell's cheddar cheese soup

First, put water on to boil for the noodles. If you have a 10-year-old Calphalon pot like mine, try not to grumble too loudly about the finish coming off. (I've already had it replaced once, and I'm too lazy to send it in again.)

Dice the green pepper and one small onion (or half of a large one)

The recipe actually called for canned mushrooms, but to me, that's like sprinkling mystery parmesan cheese from a can, instead of grating the real deal, so I decided to throw caution to the wind (I'm not an adventurous cook) and used fresh.

Brown the ground beef, along with the green pepper and onion. (Why, no, I'm not worried about heart disease. I may die, but I'll die happy.)

Add the pizza sauce and cheddar cheese soup,

and stir....
Simmer for about ten minutes (I added the mushrooms during this time.)

Remove from heat and stir in the pepperoni minus the 25 you ate while cooking.

Add the pasta. I made the whole 16 oz. bag and reserved about 1/4 of it for Kendall (who had the swine flu and wasn't interested in real food.)

Mix and place in greased casserole dish. I poured it into two dishes, so that I could freeze one.

At this point, remember the frozen block of mozzarella in your freezer. And if you have the patience of a first grader with severe ADHD and no meds when it comes to cooking, go ahead and try to grate it anyway. (It takes longer than thawing it first, but it it's a nice challenge.)

At this point, I want to show you the level of sacrifice I am willing to make for my family (yes, I really am a pacesetter when it comes to putting one's family first.) Just look at the cheese-grating injury I sustained in order to tend to my family's well-being...

It was worth it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (covered.) Remove cover and bake another ten minutes. (This also freezes very well.) Doesn't this look delicious?! Trust me; it is!!! [Of course, I only needed 30 minutes because it was already hot. Adjust heating times as needed.]

Now, I kid when I say I'm very dedicated to my family. If that were true, I'd have a tomato for this salad and some fresh, toasty garlic bread to accompany this meal, right?

My poor family had to tough it out...

...but I didn't hear any complaints.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cheesy Salsa Mini Meatloaves

Creepy, of Tiptoeing Through the Tulips sent me to Rachel, at A Southern Fairytale, for this easy-yet-wonderful recipe for miniature Mexican meatloaves. They were a big hit at our house tonight. A fun way to serve meatloaf, these are sure to please adults and kids alike. (Kendall even liked hers a lot, in spite of the fact that there were onions in it!)

This recipe is so easy, I'll bet I can record it all here from memory, without even looking at the recipe. (Yeah, yeah, I'll need the pics, but I never said I was Carnack the Great!)

Ingredients:1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion (more, if you like)
12 saltine crackers
1 egg
1 1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese (divided)
1 cup salsa

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
Mix the ground beef and onion...
crackers... (Who knew crackers could look so artistic?!)
and egg...Stir it up well. Then add 1 cup of the cheese and 1/2 cup of the salsa. I like ChiChi's, obviously, but you can be a rebel and use what you like.)
Mix well...
Now, if you know me well, you know that I'd sooner scoop my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon than touch raw hamburger, so I put a sandwich bag on my hand before dividing the mixture into the twelve "cups."
Next, use a teaspoon to make a little "well" in the center of each loaf.
Place on foil-lined baking sheet, but don't use this kind, because I HATE it! (I always forget that it's too wide for my oven until right as I'm trying to shove it in there!)
Rachel recommends just letting it "sit" for a while, to let the flavors meld. You could certainly put it in the fridge for a few hours, or you could leave it on the counter and take care of this...
And this....
And then remember how much you love this stuff and need to add it to your grocery list...(Seriously, I have never given two hoots about the scent of my dishwashing liquid, until I smelled Dawn botanicals Honeysuckle and Rain scent.)

Then, have a brainstorm about a future blog post about "Favorite Things."

Okay, when you're ready, pop them in the oven and bake "20-22" minutes. Rachel's oven only took 18 minutes. Mine took 22. (I used a meat thermometer to make sure they were at least 180 degrees, since I was making them for the first time and didn't want any trips to the ER for ecoli poisoning.)

Then, take them out, top with remaining salsa and cheese, and return to the oven for three minutes.
The recipe makes 12, but I ate three before I remembered to take this photo!
These would be great for individual meals in the freezer (if they last that long!) Everyone loved them!

Visit A Southern Fairytale for many, many other terrific recipes!