Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sweet Potatoes From A to D (Appetizer to Dessert)

    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! Jenn likes the appetizer Elegant Sweet Potato Rounds the best while Roy loves the Smoky Sweet Potatoe Soup.  The Sweet Potato Side Salad and Curried Sweet Potato crepes also received good reviews from all who tried them; no one turned down a chance to put these sweet potato recipes on their plate!

The Sweet Potato Side Salad in this post is featured at

Elegant Sweet Potato Rounds - makes about 24 rounds
2 large sweet potatoes                                                         
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of chicken stock
1 cup of diced onions
1 cup of shredded Swiss cheese
1 (16 oz.) package of cubed ham
Peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices, and set them aside.  Make a thick sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the flour and salt and then add the broth. Turn up the heat to medium high and stir constantly until the mixture gets really thick. Take it off the heat and add the onions, cheese, and ham.  Cover a couple cookie sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place 12 sweet potato slices on each cookie sheet.  Top each one with 2 tablespoons of the sauce mixture.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
* Short cut - use a can of cream of chicken soup instead of making the chicken broth sauce

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.

Curried Sweet Potato Crepes - makes about 12 dessert sized crepes
For the crepes: 
1/2 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup cold water
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons melted butter
Using a blender, mix up the sweet potatoes, water, milk, curry powder, and salt.  Then and the flour and melted buter, and blend again.  Oil a suitable pan for crepes and heat it up until a drop of water sizzles in it.  Add 1/4 cup of the batter. Since the batter is thin, it is alright if it does not extend all the way to the edge of the hot pan before setting up. When it is set and there are bubbles on the surface, gently flip by loosing it with a rubber spatula or even using your fingers to turn it over it. Repeat, oiling the pan each time, until the batter is gone.

For the Sweet Potato Cream Sauce:
1/4 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Whirl all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

For the Sweet Potato Filling
2 cups of cooked sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 (8 oz.) jar of mild mango chutney
Gently mix the two ingredients together.

To assemble:
Place 1/3 cup filling in each crepe.  Serve with Sweet Potato Creme Sauce.

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