Sweet Potato Obsession

Well, people, I think maybe I love sweet potatoes. I’ve had them for lunch almost every day for the past few weeks. Here’s how I do ’em:

15-Minute Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Thanks, Mom, for the recipe!
1 sweet potato
1-2T olive oil
spices of your choosing (I like cayenne pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt)

Peel and cut the sweet potato into bite-size chunks. Toss the chunks in olive oil and spices in a medium bowl. Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring once in the middle.
Transfer to a small baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes, stirring once.

These are soft and tasty. I like them for lunch with cheesy scrambled eggs and a piece of whole grain toast. Good for a cold winter’s day!

The Best Baked Oatmeal

I just discovered baked oatmeal this past fall, and I think I’m in love. I love the texture oatmeal gets when it’s baked up with some milk, apple sauce, and egg (not too squishy). I love it with a dollop (or two) of smooth vanilla yogurt on top. I like mine with blueberries, frozen after a summer’s day picking, baked right in, jammy and hot.

Thanks to Sue for the original recipe, adapted here.
Serves 4-6
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tblsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1-1 1/2 cups mix-ins (I like blueberries, no need to thaw if frozen; other options would be nuts, raisins, dried or fresh cranberries, apple chunks, etc.)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8×8 square baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and brown sugar. In a two-cup measuring cup, measure your apple sauce and fill to the 2-cup line with milk. Add vanilla and egg and beat lightly with a fork (Note: the original recipe also has 2 tblsp melted butter, but I forgot to put it in this morning and didn’t notice at all. Thus, I have omitted it.). Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla yogurt on top.

Double the recipe for a 9×13 pan, if you’re willing to share that much.

Maybe someday I will start posting pictures with recipes! Keep dreaming, for now.

My Very Own Chili

Guys, for a long time I thought I just didn’t like chili that much. Then I made this one. I became a little obsessed with the chunks of squash and turnip in it. I loved the spice and the depth of flavor. But I still wanted to make it my own, so obviously, I added meat.

This chili is thick and hearty. It’s spicy but not too much. It’s chunky, but in a good way, and today, it won 2nd place in the prestigious Artisan “Super Football Party” chili cook-off! Enjoy.

My Very Own Chili
Very loosely based on The Kitchn’s Pumpkin Chili

4 slices bacon, cooked and set aside, grease reserved
1 pound ground beef, cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup corn meal, finely ground if you have it
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
3 cups broth (chicken, vegetable, etc.)
1 can each (drained): dark red kidney beans, light red kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans
2 cups frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Sriracha to taste (I like 3 or 4 good squirts)
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
A few dashes balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until crispy in the bottom of a large stock pot. Remove the bacon strips (leave the grease), and add the onion, corn meal, and tomato paste, and stir well. Stir in garlic and parsnips, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, broth, beans, corn, bacon (chop it up), and cooked ground beef. Then add in the spices, sriracha, Worcestershire, and balsamic. Bring to a simmer and leave on a low stove for as many hours as you’ve got. I like to start this around noon, and have it for dinner.

Serve with a little sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese. I love the warmth you get from the cinnamon and nutmeg, and the complex heat you get from the various types of pepper powders.

It’s a great winter meal, and it just gets better leftover for lunch in the following days!

One Pot Pasta

One pot. For everything (sauce, pasta, etc.). This is my new favorite way to make pasta.

Here’s what you do: Fill your pot with water like you normally would to make pasta. Be sure to salt the water. Once it’s boiling, toss in your noodles.

When the noodles are almost done, you can toss in some fresh broccoli or asparagus chunks and they will be cooked perfectly by the time the pasta is done.

When your noodles are cooked how you like them, don’t just dump it out into a colander in the sink. Keep the noodles in the pot and strain out most of the water, either by putting a colander over the pasta, or using the lid. Leave some of the starchy water in the pot, you’ll want that to mix with the sauce! Toss in your sauce, and if you have any cooked protein ready, you can toss that in now. We like to microwave a few meatballs and toss those in. No need to heat it all again — the pasta and leftover starchy water will heat the sauce.

Voila, one pot pasta! Enjoy!

Notes: As far as pasta and sauce go, if we don’t make our own sauce, we like Wegman’s smooth marinara or tomato basil, and Barilla Plus (more protein!).

Zucchini hash

Last night I made what might be my new favorite quick go-to meal for dinner. Unfortunately, we were too busy stuffing our faces and running out the door to take any pictures of such a beautiful meal, but trust me when I say it was fabulous.

Zucchini hash with poached egg:
(enough for two people)

1T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large zucchini, chopped
1 small red potato, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
Salt, pepper
4 eggs

Pour olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat and let the pan heat up a minute while you fill a medium sauce pan with about 3 inches of water (you will use this to poach the eggs) and put that on medium heat.
Dump your chopped vegetables into your hot sauté pan and brown them, cooking for 7-10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh pepper and salt (I used seasoned sea salt).
Poach eggs one by one in the hot, but not boiling, water. Variation: You can also crack the eggs right into the hash and scramble them.
Once your veggies are browned, plate them and perch the poached eggs on top. Enjoy! You may need a slice of crusty toast to soak up all the beautiful yolk from the eggs.

*Need a poaching tutorial? Deb over at Smitten Kitchen has got some great tips. (link to be posted, as I’m currently writing from my answer-phone)