Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sweet Potatoes - Beyond Mini-Marshmallows

    A few months ago, the extended Yates family had a pitch-in type meal together.  I was lucky to be seated at a table with one of my nieces, Madison, and my nephew Dustin who happens to be her brother. Their dad, Uncle Russell, is super fit and into healthy eating in a big way. He had brought a sweet potato casserole to share and it was really good, but the kids didn't have any of it on their plates. When I asked them why, Dustin said, "I just can't do it.  Ever since Dad heard Dr. Oz say that sweet potatoes are one the healthiest vegetables, he has made them every night. He only knows two ways to do it, plain or with marshmallows." Maddie agreed saying, "We just can't take it anymore!"  Since then, it's been on my mind to come up with some varied sweet potatoes recipes that would make Uncle Russell happy and that Maddie and Dustin would love.  I eagerly took the challenge of coming up with yummy dishes where sweet potatoes were the most important ingredient and the steps were quick and easy. I have been trying these out and testing them on Roy and the girls.  My favorite is the Spicy Sweet Potato Tacos. They are great on a Friday night with a beer - or in my case a non-alcoholic malt beverage! Roy loves the The Sweet Potato Side Salad is also in Easy Autumn Meal post. It received good reviews from all who tried it- no one refused to put it on their plate :)!

Smoky Sweet Potato Soup - serves 4
2 sweet potatoes                                                                  
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 (15 oz.) cans of chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.  Set them aside.  Rinse, drain, and set aside the beans.  Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil until they are soft.  Add the sweet potatoes, beans, and the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer until the sweet potato pieces are done.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Side Salad-serves 4 to 6
2 large sweet potatoes
1 cup uncooked wild rice
2 tart green apples, diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1/4 cup of finely diced purple onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes.  Cook them in salted water until tender but not overdone.  Cook the rice according to the package directions.  Put the sweet potato cubes, rice, apple, celery, and oinion in a bowl.  Whisk the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder together. Pour the vinegar and oil mixture over the ingredients in the bowl and gently toss.  This is refreshing chilled or equally as good at room temperature.

Spicy Sweet Potato Tacos - makes 12 tacos
2 large sweet potatoes 
1 pound package of bulk chorizo
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
12 corn taco shells
16 oz. package of queso fresco cheese
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.  Cook in salted water until tender, but not mushy! Drain and set aside. Brown and thoroughly cook the chorizo, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain any grease from the chorizo. In a large bowl, gently combine the sweet potatoes, chorizo, black beans, and cilantro. Spoon the mixture into taco shells and top with crumbled queso fresco cheese.  If desired, provide lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream on the side.

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