Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Kale, Bacon, Corn and Tomatoes

20140203-193355.jpg

We’re at that point in winter when there isn’t a tremendous variety in what we can find at our local farmer’s markets. Lots of greens–kale, collards, cabbage–and sweet potatoes. All great, but I start to crave some variety about this time in the season, and that’s where our freezer comes in. We freeze fruits and vegetables during the spring and summer growing seasons so we can stretch our local foods over a longer period of time. After the holidays, I dig into that freezer with great enthusiasm. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, green beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, pesto…just what I need to make it though the boring late winter.

This dish takes advantage of local sweet potato gnocchi combined with kale from our garden, bacon from Mae Farm and corn and onions from our freezer. Add some grape tomatoes from the grocery, and we have ourselves a hearty dinner that is also fairly healthy and definitely delicious.

The idea for this came from a recipe I saw on Pinterest by blogger Teaspoon of Spice. At the time I was cooking, I couldn’t find the recipe (note to self: organize your Pinterest boards), so I made this up instead–they are pretty close though. My version uses kale instead of collard greens and I cooked the greens in the sauce instead of boiling them separately.

The flavor is very fresh and delicious. I hope you enjoy!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Kale, Bacon, Corn and Tomatoes (serves 4)

  • 12 ounces sweet potato gnocchi, undercooked by a few minutes
  • 1 cup pasta liquid
  • 3 strips smoked bacon
  • 1 organic, yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups of kale, washed, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 cups of frozen (or fresh) corn
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Set cooked gnocchi aside while you prepare the dish.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on some paper towels.
  3. Return the skillet with the bacon drippings to the stove and heat at medium. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes or until the onion is soft.
  4. Add the chopped kale and toss well (I use tongs) to keep the kale wilting. Cook kale for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the corn, gnocchi and tomatoes. Toss well and continue cooking until the gnocchi is cooked through.
  6. Add the reserved cooking liquid as needed to make a thicker sauce. Stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Plate the gnocchi, top with cheese and enjoy immediately.
Advertisements

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

20121108-090257.jpgFarm fresh sweet potatoes from our NC farmers!

Our Produce Box local veggie delivery service is ending soon (just for the winter), so I’ll be ordering a stock up box of sweet potatoes to take me through the holidays. This will be a LOT of sweet potatoes! This recipe makes good use of them, along with chorizo sausage from Mae Farm and Swiss chard (you could also use kale). We even made these ahead, wrapped them in foil and took them tailgating with us (if you do this, I recommend making these as burritoes instead–easier to eat). You could substitute the chorizo for soyrizo or just leave it out and you would have a great vegetarian meal.

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Quesadillas (makes 4)

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a fork
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 c. Swiss chard (about 1 bunch), trimmed and chopped
  • 1 lb. chorizo sausage
  • 1/2 c. black beans (cooked or canned–not dried)
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast sweet potatoes in oven for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly (you can do this the night before).
  2. Remove potato skins, transfer potato flesh to a small bowl and mash until smooth.
  3. While potato is cooking, crumble the chorizo into a large skillet and cook over medium heat until brown. Use the back of a wooden fork to break up any large pieces. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  4. Reserve 3 tbsp. of drippings and discard the rest. Heat reserved drippings over medium low heat and add onion. Saute onion until caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in Swiss chard and sausage and continue to cook until greens are wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Combine black beans and paprika in a small bowl.
  7. Divide sweet potato, sausage mixture and beans evenly onto 1/2 of each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold empty half over the filled half.
  8. Put quesadillas on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and brush tops with olive oil.
  9. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Serve with salsa and a green salad!

Sweet Potato Pound Cake with Praline Glaze

20121110-173653.jpgMy sweet T’s birthday cake!

For the record, cake is not health food. I get that. Really. But as we prepare for Thanksgiving (not even a month away!), I’m trying to include as many fresh, local ingredients into our Thanksgiving meal as possible. And for the record, that meal involves cake. And pie.

Don’t judge–you know you want cake, too. Or pie. Or maybe both.

Here in North Carolina, we produce sweet potatoes. A lot of them. Not only are sweet potatoes naturally sweeter than their other tuber cousins, they are packed with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. After watching THIS video about sweet potatoes, we typically buy organic sweet potatoes because who wants a “bud nip” cake? Not me. Not even with ice cream.

This cake is my “go-to” cake for holiday parties, autumn pot lucks and any time I want to look super fabulous to my family. The sweet potatoes make for a very moist cake. The original recipe is from Southern Living, but I’ve tweaked it a bit over time. I do use whole wheat flour, so my cake doesn’t have a super fine crumb, but it is still tastes great! It is not health food, but it is far better for you than grocery store cakes, which substitute hydrogenated oils and lots of sugar for more expensive (and flavorful) ingredients. They hope you can’t tell the difference, but there is a reason those cakes all taste more or less the same.

You can make this cake without the praline glaze, but I highly recommend making the glaze. The cake itself is not very sweet, so the glaze adds a lot without making the cake too sugary.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake with Praline Glaze

Cake

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups organic cane sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (2 large or 3 smaller potatoes)
  • 3 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour (I love King Arthur’s flour)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt cake pan.
  2. Using a standing mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together until creamy.
  3. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Add sweet potatoes and vanilla and mix well.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix well.
  6. Gradually add the flour to the wet mixture, beating at low speed (unless you plan on wearing the flour) and mix just to combine.
  7. This batter will be very thick!
  8. Pour the batter into the greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes.
  9. Remove cake pan from oven and cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove the cake from the pan onto the wire rack and cool for 1 hour.
  11. When the cake is near the end of its cooling time, make the glaze.

Praline Glaze

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup spiced pecans (you can make these, but I buy them already “spiced” at Trader Joes)
  1. Chop the spiced pecans into rough pieces, but not too small.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk constantly and boil for one minute.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Whisk in powdered sugar, a little at a time and mix with the whisk until smooth.
  4. Let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until glaze begins to thicken.
  5. Pour over cooled cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake glaze with the spiced pecans.

Tip: “clean” the saucepan by dipping more pecans into the glaze clinging to the pan. Eat happily, considering this to be your baker’s reward :-)

Apple and Kale Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

20131010-083842.jpgNorth Carolina, where I live, is the king of sweet potatoes. While it is a challenge to find organic sweet potatoes, I’ve found several farmers who carry them. Potatoes are delicious and nutritious (especially sweet potatoes!), but farmers often use carcinogenic fungicides and sprout inhibitors that penetrate beyond the skin of the potato and into the flesh. So no amount of washing or peeling is going to eliminate them. These babies are definitely worth buying organic, if at all possible.

This sweet potato dish is one of my “go to” recipes for a busy fall weeknight. It has all the great hallmarks of fall–sweet potato, pumpkin pie spice, apples and maple syrup. This would make a great side dish or a light meal in itself. We have an abundance of sweet potatoes at our farmers markets and apples are back in full force, so this recipe takes advantage of all that is fresh and delicious.

Apple Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (makes 3 servings)

  • 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium apples like granny smith or galas
  • 1 small bunch of kale
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or more, if you like!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons real maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork and roast in the oven until soft (about an hour depending on how large your potatoes are). Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350.
  3. While potatoes cool a bit, peel/core and chop the apples into 1/2″ chunks.
  4. Wash and trim the stems from the kale. Chop into bit sized pieces.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add apples. Cook apples for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the kale and cook until wilted–about 4 minutes.
  7. Add spice to the apples and stir. Add more butter if you need it. Reduce heat to low and cook until apples are soft. Set aside.
  8. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut skins and scoop potato flesh into a medium-sized bowl. Add apple mixture and mix together until combined.
  9. Spoon mixture back into the potato skin shells. Top with chopped pecans, put on a baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and drizzle with maple syrup.
  11. Serve!

NOTE: You will have extra filling left over. This makes a great leftover lunch the next day! Pair it with some cooked quinoa and you have a complete second meal.

Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Pepper Pizza

20130815-195642.jpg

This pizza is a knife and fork pizza. Or at least a two napkin pizza. It is chock full of late summer goodness, like roasted sweet potato, sweet onions, locally made chorizo sausage, and colorful, fresh bell peppers. This pizza is a meal In itself. I had originally planned to have a salad with dinner, but once I saw how huge the pizza was, I decided to save the salad for another night!

Pizza is one of those incredibly versatile meals that can make the most of whatever you have in the pantry or refrigerator. I’m including my whole wheat crust recipe because it is filling and higher in protein and fiber. You could replace it with whatever crust you like, though. I’m definitely going to make this again during football season!

Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Pepper Pizza (makes 4-6 serving)

  • 1 recipe whole wheat pizza crust (see below)
  • 1 large sweet potato, roasted, with flesh removed from skin (compost the skin)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 bell peppers (I used 1 each of red, yellow and green), washed, seeded and chopped
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)
  • 1 lb. chorizo bulk chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup canned organic black beans
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  1. Prepare the pizza crust and let rise.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a 12″ skillet, brown the chorizo sausage over medium heat. Place a strainer over a thick layer of paper towel and pour sausage and drippings into the strainer and set aside.
  4. Return the skillet to the heat, and add the olive oil, onion, garlic and peppers. Stir together and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft and there is no liquid in the pan. Remove pan from heat.
  5. On a lightly greased or flour dusted baking sheet, stretch dough out to make your pizza shape (I prefer square pizzas, but that’s me).
  6. Spread the sweet potato over the crust and sprinkle the drained chorizo over the sweet potato.
  7. Add black beans on top of the sausage, then add the pepper mixture over all.
  8. Cover the vegetables with a generous amount of cheese.
  9. Bake the pizza for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Cut and serve immediately.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (makes 2 rounds of dough)

  • 1 pckg. yeast
  • 1 3/4 c. warm water
  • 4 c. whole wheat all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes until completely dissolved and a bit foamy.
    2. In the bowl of a standing mixer (w/dough hook attached), combine flour, salt and olive oil.
    3. While mixer is running on low/med low, add yeast water to the flour in a stream.
    4. Allow mixer to knead dough for about 4 min.
    5. Cover bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1.5 hours or until doubled in bulk.
    6. Punch down dough and divide into two pieces (we divided it into 3). Each ball will make a pizza. You can freeze half for another time or let each dough ball stand covered for 20 minutes.
    7. Shape and make your pizzas according to the recipe directions.

    Week 18 Budget and Menu

    This is the craziest spring I can remember. It is May 1 and I still have flannel sheets on the beds because the weather is so chilly. Last year, we had an early spring and most crops came in 2-3 weeks early. Not so this year! We do have plenty of salad greens, onions, asparagus and kale coming in. And the Swiss chard in my garden is STILL going gangbusters!

    This week’s menu reflects our need to use up what is left in the deep freeze as well as take advantage of all the spring greatness that is out there. We have some quick meals on tap due to softball schedules and a science fair–gotta love spring! We are under budget just a bit at $97.45!

    Budget [$97.45]

    • Locals Seafood (shrimp): $12.00
    • The Produce Box (organic veggies: broccoli, kale, arugula, sweet potatoes, radish; conventional asparagus): $28.75
    • Homestead Farm (eggs, chicken, chorizo): $20.00
    • Trader Joes (sliced turkey, tortillas, pineapple, organic banana, frozen fruit, yogurt, organic mushrooms, organic black beans): $36.70

    Menu

    • Wednesday–Turkey, cheese and arugula pesto roll ups, fruit salad
    • Thursday–Swiss chard and kale with eggs
    • Friday–Roasted broccoli and shrimp over organic rice
    • Saturday–grilled chicken, asparagus, sautéed greens
    • Sunday–Sweet potato/black bean/chorizo quesadillas, harvest grains
    • Monday–homemade pizza, salad
    • Tuesday–pasta with homemade tomato sauce

    Have  a healthy and tasty week!

    Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup

    20130510-144055.jpg

    You need this soup.

    Are you sitting somewhere looking out a window staring in disbelief at white snow, thinking “what in the world???”. You need this soup.

    Are you wondering what lowlife bribed the groundhog to convincingly tell us all a boldface lie about spring? You need this soup.

    Are you wondering why the heck people believe a rodent about seasonal change, but refuse to believe science about global warming? Well, then you need to come sit with me…’cause I like you…and we’ll have this soup.

    This recipe came from a great vegan food blog called the Lunch Box Bunch. It is so very, very good. Slightly sweet, spicy and rich. A great winter soup that is also vegan and gluten free (yes, really!). And once you have a baked sweet potato, it takes about 10 minutes to make. Easy, delicious, healthy and quick. What’s not to love? Except that snow outside…and that damn groundhog…

    You can get the original soup recipe HERE. I changed it up a bit, using coconut milk instead of vegetable broth/soy milk and one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I love those things) instead of chili powder. Also finished with a squeeze of lime and some home baked chipotle lime tortilla strips. Next time, I might try adding curry to get some turmeric in that soup! YUUUUUUMMMMMM. My version is below.

    Check out the Lunch Box Bunch blog (and Twitter feed) for more great, healthy, vegan recipes!

    Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup (2 servings)

    1 large, organic sweet potato
    1 1/2 cups coconut milk
    1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
    1 lime

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove pulp from sweet potato when cool enough to handle.
    Combine sweet potato pulp, coconut milk and chili pepper in a sauce pan. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add juice from half the lime and stir.
    Heat through, then ladle into serving bowls. Squeeze remaining lime half of lime into serving bowls. Top with crispy tortilla strips, avocado chunks, lime zest or roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

    %d bloggers like this: