Dinner for Dito

Ok, so actually this should be titled “Dessert for Oscar,” but I thought a dog-on-blog pun would be more appropriate. Dito is Brian’s dog: a Welsh Corgi with some serious attitude and spunk. Dito is always first, always in the way, and always a little bit on edge. He’s endearing, yet you’d be hard-pressed to isolate global “charms,” as his most memorable qualities include breathing heavily and insisting on jumping in the river every few minutes of his walk. But I find myself missing Dito, purely for his energetic confidence and irrefutable love for his family. Dito can most days be found upstairs with Brian, listening to music (he seems to share Brian’s alternative and classical taste) and happily napping or licking his feet. Oscar and Dito have a tumultuous relationship, as alpha dogs often do, but as Oscar is (probably unhappily) far away with me in Chicago, we have to remember our dog family with pleasant nostalgia.

Today Oscar celebrated his 8th birthday, with birthday go-ers including my roommate’s dog Lola and a wily boxer puppy named Bobbo. Now before this gets weird, yes, I do celebrate my dog’s birthday. No, I don’t think I’m crazy. And yes, he wears sweaters (it gets too cold in Chicago!). I’ve never before made Oscar a cake, or really acknowledged his birthday outside of insisting on a nice visit to the park, but as we’re stuck inside from the freezing Chicago wind, I decided a cake eating contest would be a hilarious Friday-night birthday activity. I searched the internet for a few dog-friendly cake recipes, eyeing several that seemed similar and inclusive of ingredients I already know Oscar enjoys: carrots, peanut butter, etc. I didn’t want to give him anything that seemed to be an ingredient purely for “human” tastes, as he doesn’t care about sweetener or vanilla flavor, I’m sure. I also didn’t want this cake to be the reason I have to get up at 3am, if you know what I mean. So I switched up the recipe a bit, and, no surprise, it was a huge hit for dogs all around. Oscar tenderly and steadily made through his miniature cake, licking the frosting then taking nibbling bites from the edges. He made through about 3/4 before deciding he couldn’t eat anymore. Lola, however, gobbled her entire cake in seconds, and she eagerly finished off Oscar’s plate when he signed defeat.

Oscar may not have been the winner, but if you’re looking to treat your pet (and not feel ashamed for doing so), I really recommend this simple cake, best served contest-style.

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Oscar’s Perfect-for-Pups Birthday Cake

Serves 6 hungry dogs

1 egg

1/4 cup peanut butter, preferably just peanuts and salt

3 tbsp. water

1/4 cup pumpkin puree (or sweet potato)

1 cup shredded carrots (about 3-4 medium carrots)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, peanut butter, and water until a smooth and even consistency is achieved. Add pumpkin puree and whisk to combine. In a food processor, pulse carrots until evenly shredded. Mix shredded carrots with the puree mixture. Add whole wheat flour and baking soda to the bowl and fold into the batter, mixing evenly, until almost no flour is visible (no need to over-mix).

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. The bonus of making this cake from scratch- the batter actually tastes pretty good. Kind of like an unsweetened carrot cake, with a more notable peanut butter flavor. The cake rises slightly in the oven, but is pretty dense.

Bake the cake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through. Rest the cake in the loaf pan on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes.

In order to make a bone-shaped cake, slice a 3 inch slice of cake out of the pan. I threw the piece in the freezer for a few minutes since I was inpatient with waiting for it to cool. Using a paring knife, cut out an equilateral triangle at both ends of the rectangle. Then, cut a shallow half-moon shape out of the long rectangular sides.

Frost the cake with about 1-2 tbsp. of  frosting. Maybe your dog is 8 years old and you want to make an 8 out of a peeled slice of carrot. I won’t stop you.

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Oscar beginning to dive in. He flipped the cake over immediately with his voracious first bite. 

 

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Slowing down; he takes little bites and addresses the frosting.

The other family dogs have birthdays in the next few months, and this was really easy… just mentioning.

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French Toast (Breakfast for Dinner)

I’ve already spotlighted pancakes as a perfect breakfast-for-dinner meal. I stand by those humble ‘jacks as the most iconic and cravable dinner substitute. And, to be honest, I made this french toast for brunch one Saturday. But, I thoroughly support the indulgence of creamy, custard-laden egg bread, fried until crisped and doused in maple syrup. I support it at breakfast, brunch, lunch, and, today, dinner. French toast at your favorite diner-style brunch place (or even classy and/or organic brunch restaurant) seems to be almost unachievable in a weeknight kitchen. The exterior crunch, the fluffy middle, the perfect ability to soak up maple syrup… it all seems lost when you yourself dip your bread in eggs and flop it into a sauté pan. But I’ve dabbled in French toast enough now to make a bold statement: it can be done in your own kitchen and on your own time. It does involve a bit of a splurge on one uncommon ingredient- egg bread- but from there it’s really the usual suspects that transform bread into an indulgent almost-dessert (but it’s not; it’s breakfast. it’s fine). Please, please, please so much try this at home.

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French Toast

Serves 4-6

1 loaf egg bread (or Challah or Brioche bread), sliced into 1 inch slices

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. salted butter, to cook

Heat a griddle to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, honey, and vanilla extract. Pour the custard mixture into a wide dish. Soak 2-4 slices of bread at a time, allowing to rest in the custard for 2 minutes per side.

Butter the griddle or sauté pan and add slices of coated bread. Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip; the custard should be browning and crisping in places. Allow to cook another 3-4 minutes on the alternate side. Plate to serve, best with toppings of butter, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and a heavy pour of maple syrup. If serving later, keep the French toast warm by placing between towels on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven.

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Pour syrup on top, watch the butter run all over the French toast, think about sleeping in maple syrup, lift fork, and dive in.

Mango Chicken

The trouble with life is that it keeps going. Sometimes you’d really benefit from punching life in the face, taking a nap for 2 weeks, then starting from a fresh place. But what actually happens is you get a flat tire in a snowstorm and then get in a car accident in a snow storm 4 days later and then have to go grocery shopping lest you live another week on Larabars and cafeteria soup. Sometimes life throws so many lemons at your face you feel like you’re in a lemon mountain, and you’re not quite sure if there’s anything more than lemons out there. These times call for a solid nap, a quiet place, a really interesting and captivating book, and a steaming hot and comforting meal. Maybe followed by wine; I won’t judge. It may be that you only get 24 hours before life demands you become productive again, but if you work at relaxing hard enough, you can come out almost like new. (I’ll take an interlude to say, what really would help me out is if someone could just fly me to Hawaii for a month long vacation, where sipping beach drinks and “surfing” are the only tasks required of me. I’d appreciate this trip for free, also). As I was driving home from the car service center, in my lovely new rental car for the week, I overwhelmingly began to crave my favorite dish from Rangoli, a truly beautiful and delicious Indian restaurant on the West side near my old apartment. Sitting in traffic, I knew there was absolutely no way I was taking a (probably) hour and a half detour just for dinner, as I had only eaten (the rest of my) yogurt and cereal as my meal for the day. However, I knew I needed groceries, so I convinced myself to drive home, grab groceries in under 30 minutes, and try my hand at my own version. This, as my luck would currently not have it, turned out amazingly well on the first try. I believe I may have perfectly replicated the recipe on a slightly-educated whim, as it turned out just as I remembered it. A rich, warm, definitely-spicy-but-slightly-sweet sauce surrounding juicy chicken breast and luscious mangoes. The sauce kicks at the end, thanks to a pretty heavy spice blend, but the mango cools at just the right time, ultimately encouraging you to eat way too fast and start to overheat a bit. I have to say, though, eating a fulfilling dinner, finally restocking my fridge, and looking forward to nothing but Internet browsing and Anna Karenina for the night, I feel as though I almost salvaged this Friday.

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Mango Chicken

Serves 4

1 cup brown rice

2 1/2 cups water

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup roasted red and yellow peppers, chopped (or 1 raw bell pepper, chopped)

1 1/2 cups mango, fresh or frozen, chopped and divided

2 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

6 oz. can tomato paste

1 tbsp. sriracha

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup coconut milk

Salt & pepper, to taste

In a medium sauce pan, prepare brown rice by bringing about 2 1/2 cups water to a boil and adding 1 cup of rice (ratio depending on brand and style of rice; defer to package directions). Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer brown rice for about 35 minutes, until water is absorbed and rice is fluffy. Season with salt and pepper and let rest, covered.

In a large sauté pan, preferably a few inches deep, heat grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of mango and stir to incorporate. Toss the spices over the vegetable mixture and cook for about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and sriracha to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock and stir until blended. Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, blend the sauce until smooth and creamy. Return the sauce to the pan and drop the heat to medium-low. Add coconut milk and stir into the sauce.

As the sauce gently simmers, add the chicken and remaining cup of mango to the pan. Cook the chicken in the sauce until it is cooked through, being careful not to overcook, for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from heat.

To serve, pile some brown rice onto your plate. Top with chicken and mango in sauce. If you had some cilantro, that would pair nicely here. I served this with some roasted broccoli to get a bit more green with my dinner, which I’d recommend as it was absolutely delicious doused in spicy mango sauce.

After dinner, feel free to relax and dream of vacations passed, like maybe when you were in Charleston last weekend and everything was perfect. Maybe sun would solve all of our problems; maybe I should move back south.

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Brunching at beautiful Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, SC

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Just dreaming of life at 75 and sunny.* Indian food will have to suffice for now.

*I don’t know that old man.

Brian’s Favorite Snickerdoodles

I didn’t make these snickerdoodles today. I didn’t make them a week ago, or a month ago. I’m actually not sure when I last made snickerdoodles- it may have been near the end of 2013- but when I make them, I use this recipe, every. single. time. They’ve been eaten at office parties, at friend’s homes, as Christmas gifts, for an indulgent snack, and in I’ll-eat-this-entire-recipe-at-once binges, courtesy of this blog’s namesake. Brian loves snickerdoodles, and he especially loves these snickerdoodles, so every time I make them I think of him. Today is a good day to ponder the life of my younger brother, because it’s a good day to be distracted from the stress which bookended my weekend and the many goings-on I have looking ahead for this week. It’s a good day to ponder things you love and care about, because Chicago doesn’t have a lot going for it right now, and I’m actually pretty sure the city itself is trying to break up with me. I haven’t given in yet, but I may be delusional. Really, I wish I could be sitting with Brian, stealing a snickerdoodle or two (as he gobbles down the rest, still warm), with some of his beautiful music playing in the background, losing sight of the fact that my life is very far away and very much more serious than video games and cookies. Every one needs a moment or two to just stop and eat a snickerdoodle. And if you’re going to give yourself the time, go for a good one.

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Brian’s Favorite (Unbelievably Soft and Fluffy) Snickerdoodles

Makes ~15-20 cookies

Based on this recipe

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. cinnamon

2-3 tbsp. milk

1/4 cup sugar & 1 tbsp. cinnamon for rolling

In an electric stand mixer at medium speed, or hand mixer, cream softened/ room-temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add egg and beat until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix again for ~30 seconds.

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients- flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in 3 batches, beating on low until each batch is incorporated. If the last batch makes the dough seem too crumbly or dry, add in 1 tbsp. of milk at a time until cookie-dough consistency is achieved. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon for rolling. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. Grab a small chunk of cookie dough, enough to form a golf-ball sized dough ball, and roll in your hand. Drop the rolled cookie dough into the sugar and cinnamon mixture and toss until covered. Place the cookie dough ball on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and repeat the process until all cookies are formed.

Bake the cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes, erring on the longer side for larger dough balls. The cookies should be juuuust lightly browned on the bottom edges and still appear fairly raw in the middle. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack, where they’ll firm up slightly and become delectably soft, fluffy, and chewy, with just the hint of a crackle-crunch when first biting in.

These cookies are the essence of cinnamon-vanilla wonder, absolutely perfect warm, but undeniably delicious at room temperature, even 3 days later. Keep fresh in a covered container for 2-3 days; otherwise, freeze to last longer. I promise you do not need to freeze these.

Brian deserves a batch today. Tell him they’re from me.

 

 

Spicy Lime Shrimp with Mango Coconut Brown Rice

I don’t have a lot to say; my brain is tired; my commute was long. I came home from work (or, really, I got out of my car an hour and a half later and came inside), and I was starving. I bought a mango and some accompaniments  a few days ago in thoughts of preparing a summer rice bowl full of spicy grilled shrimp, and then the week passed and all the components rested comfortably in my vegetable drawer. I guess it seemed like too much chopping. But, without much else to go on besides cereal, and knowing those vegetables would soften unappealingly while I spent a (hopefully) fantastic weekend away, I dove in to the prep work. I may work fast in the kitchen, but this recipe is the definition of a 30-minute-meal. It seriously all comes together in the time it takes to simmer brown rice, which is nice because once the timer goes off I am suddenly very impatient to eat. I topped my plate with this steamy, spicy concoction with a cleaned kitchen at the outcome, thanks to some quick swipes of the counter and the clean-as-you-go method. This means I can sit on the couch now and recuperate when I should be packing. How else do 25-year-olds live? Oh wait…

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*Chop, chop, chop*

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Spicy Lime Shrimp with Mango Coconut Brown Rice

Serves 2

20 frozen shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined

Spicy Lime Marinade:

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Dash of cayenne

1/2 cup brown rice

3/4 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp. grapeseed oil, divided

1 mango, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

Salt & pepper, to taste

First, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add coconut milk and water. Once boiling, add brown rice, lower heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30-35 minutes, until rice is tender and liquid is almost entirely absorbed.

To defrost the shrimp, add shrimp to a colander inside a large bowl. Fill the bowl with chilled water and let soak for 2-3 minutes. Empty the water and replace, and repeat the soaking process. Toss the shrimp in the colander under running water and set aside in a new clean bowl.

Mix the spicy lime marinade by shaking in a jar or whisking to combine. Pour the marinade over the shrimp and toss. Set aside for now (allowing to marinate for about 20 minutes).

Dice the mango and vegetables. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and onion, season lightly with salt, and sauté until the onion is translucent and the vegetables have softened. Remove vegetables from the pan and set aside.

In the previously used sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to the pan, leaving most of the marinade in the bowl. Cook shrimp until pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside.

By this time, the rice should be done cooking. Add the sautéed vegetables and mango to the coconut rice and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine. Plate the coconut mango rice and top with shrimp.

Pour the remaining marinade into the sauté pan and simmer over medium heat until reduced and thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Pour marinade over plated shrimp and rice.

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Add Sriracha to serve, possibly with another squeeze of lime juice. A sprinkle of cilantro might be nice. Or maybe even a margarita on the side (not for you, Brian). Regardless, this was good. Creamy coconut milk, sweet mango, acidic lime and onion, and succulent and spicy shrimp are magic companions. Soon it will be summer and this meal will fit right in.

Lemon Barley Risotto with Peas

In Chicago, you cannot be outside and not see winter. Not in the densely gray sky; not in the salt-bleached asphalt; not in the naked trees, with snow climbing high up their trunks; and especially not in the ground, exhibiting at any point a full mountain range of snow piles, exhaust-stained at its base and crisply white at its peaks. Winter is truly everywhere, save a few perfectly positioned glances out the window at sunset. So maybe this makes me a Chicagoan now, but I am utterly delighted at the idea of snow falling thickly on my south-eastern friends and family, while I optimistically drive on clear paved roads on a (remarkably) sunny day that nearly breaks freezing. We’ve suffered enough winter this year, and I’ll take any wins I can. Even if it’s just “oh, thank God it didn’t snow today!” I’m a little jealous that for other parts of the country (that I so recently called home), snow is an exciting rarity that requires immediate rest and relaxation. I wish snow meant hot chocolate and blankets instead of freezing, slow commutes. But there’s promise of a genuine heat wave- temperatures sky-rocketing to the 40s- so maybe it’s time to celebrate Spring, just a little bit, just to see how it feels. This dinner is nice in that it incorporates the fresh components of Spring flavors- lemon, peas, thyme- but requires ingredients that are pantry staples or easy freezer grabs. It’s a healthy variation on an Italian favorite, and a nice mix up from rice or pasta. The barley creates this “risotto” through the slow cooking process, yielding starches to the surrounding broth with time. It’s utterly creamy as a result, and while I’ve had “real” risotto only once or twice, barley risotto is a pretty fair comparison.

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Lemon Barley Risotto with Peas

Serves 3-4

1 tbsp. butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup pearled barley

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3 cups water

1 tbsp. thyme, fresh or dried

2 cups peas, frozen

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, (freshly) grated

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, mix vegetable or chicken stock and water and heat until boiling. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside, with a ladle ready for use.

In a pot, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add barley and toast, stirring frequently, about 3-5 minutes. Once the barley is fragrant and lightly browning, add thyme and bit of salt. Next, add about 1 cup of stock/water to the barley and stir. Cook  the barley until it’s absorbed most of the liquid; then, add another cup of stock/water. Repeat this process, adding about 1-1/2 cups of liquid at a time, stirring regularly, until the barley is tender and the liquids are almost entirely absorbed. This process can take anywhere from 25-45 minutes, depending on the barley.

Just before the barley is finished, with a bit of liquid remaining, add the frozen peas. Cook the peas in the barley for 2-3 minutes, until bright and softened. Remove the barley from the heat and add juice of 1/2 a lemon, zest of 1 lemon, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Stir together and season additionally if necessary.

Serve the barley risotto plain, with a sprinkle of goat cheese. Or, serve along side some lemon grilled chicken or your other favorite protein of the day.

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I went with some meat this time. It’s been awhile. (Also, I know you like this chicken, Brian).

Kale and Parmesan Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

More sweet potatoes! When I’m at the grocery store, I always grab a couple of sweet potatoes. To use in soup, to cube up for a hash with eggs, to make sweet potato fries; there’s a never-ending number of ways to use them up. So, naturally, I had a few left in the cabinet this week, and I decided to try something new. My dad loves to make twice baked potatoes. Loaded with cheese, bacon, sour cream, and salt, they’re far from healthy, but they’re a delicious component to his occasional dinner spread, which he puts out once or twice a year. This option is a bit on the healthier side, swapping white potatoes for sweet potatoes, cutting the cheese and butter count, and nixing the bacon for crunchy kale (I think I also have a kale problem; I love it so much). But these twice baked sweet potatoes still have the delectably crunchy skin, and they serve as a unique change of pace for dinner. They’re also fairly quick to come together if you’ve already baked the sweet potatoes ahead of time; however, I rarely think that far ahead, so an easier way to prepare these is to get them fully baked and ready, slide them into the fridge, and twice bake them the next day or on the day of eating. This arrangement makes them great for potluck parties or really any sort of celebration where it’s nice to have things almost fully done ahead of time. Or it’s good for your lonely plate with a side of salad; we can’t all have dinner parties all the time. I’m looking forward to the leftovers today.

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Kale and Parmesan Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Serves 2-4

2 large sweet potatoes

3 cups kale, chopped into ribbons

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup milk or cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Poke a few holes in the side of the sweet potatoes (I used a fork and poked along the midline so the holes would “disappear” once the potatoes were cut in half). Place the sweet potatoes in the oven directly on the rack, with a sheet pan a rack below to catch any drippings. Bake the sweet potatoes for approximately 1 hour, or until completely fork tender.

Allow the sweet potatoes to cool slightly, then, using a sharp knife, slice the sweet potatoes length-wise into two halves. Scoop out the sweet potato filling into a large bowl, careful not to rip the skin too much. Place the skins in a baking dish and set aside. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher. Add the cream and butter and mix thoroughly until the sweet potatoes are smooth and creamy.  Add 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese and mix.

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add kale ribbons and sauté until softened and bright green, maintaining their crunch slightly. To the bowl of sweet potatoes, add sautéed kale and mix together. Scoop the sweet potato and kale mixture into the cooled potato skins, forming a heaping mound in each. Top each sweet potato half with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese. At this point, the sweet potatoes can be refrigerated for a day or two until use.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the baking dish of sweet potatoes into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the edges of the skin are just crisping. After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil the sweet potatoes for 2-5 minutes, until the parmesan cheese on top is melting and browned. Remove the pan from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and serve. These can be picked up and eaten by hand, or sliced easily with a fork. A side of salad rounds out the meal nicely- the one below just mixed greens dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice and roasted pecans. Or, serve these up at a party and watch them disappear!

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Sweet and Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Soup

My first post on this blog is for a winter vegetable soup. It’s incredibly delicious, but, to be honest, I came up with that recipe in a I-must-use-up-these-last-vegetables-in-the-fridge scramble. Winter vegetable soup was merely a creative and convenient derivation from my truly favorite soup recipe. This one. I’ve made this soup hundreds of times, and while I initially made a few tweaks here and there, I now never stray. It is my go-to soup, my easy weeknight dinner, and my absolute favorite way to eat a sweet potato. It’s perfect as a meal: a giant bowl, steaming hot, served only with a spoon. It’s wonderful as a side to a grilled cheese sandwich (dipping not optional) or a flavorful salad (pecans, goat cheese, and cranberries anyone?). It’s probably even fine as a snack, although I can’t say I’ve ever eaten a bowl small enough to qualify. This recipe is gluten-free, vegan optional, vegetable heavy, definitely healthy, and deeply satisfying. But it tastes indulgent, creamy, and wonderfully complex. Seriously, I could talk about this for way too long. Make this soup, ASAP. Before you get buried in 3-6 more inches of snow and have to dig your car out at 6am and have to work until past sunset and have to run inside on the treadmill because it’s too cold to be outdoors for more than 2 minutes. Make this soup before you forget why winter is sometimes delightfully cozy and warm.

Sweet and Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Soup 1

Sweet and Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Soup 2

 

Sweet and Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 2-4

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet potato, diced into 1 inch cubes

1 large carrot, diced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tbsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika or chili powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Salt & pepper to taste

2 cups vegetable stock

2 tbsp. milk, cream, or coconut milk

Toasted rosemary breadcrumbs (optional)

  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

In a medium saucepan, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté until onions are translucent and lightly browning, about 5 minutes. Add diced garlic and heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add diced sweet potato and spices and stir. Cook spices for about 30 seconds, then add 2 cups vegetable stock (this is an approximation; vegetable stock should be just below covering vegetable mixture). Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.

Once the sweet potatoes have cooked through, take the soup off the heat. Theoretically, this soup could be eaten chunky; however, I prefer a smooth and creamy soup. Use an immersion blender, food processor, or blender to puree the soup until smooth. Add 1-2 tbsp. cream or coconut milk and blend.

To prepare breadcrumb topping, melt butter in a small frying pan. Add breadcrumbs, chopped rosemary, and salt, and heat until breadcrumbs are browning and toasted. Sprinkle atop soup alongside some smoked paprika.

Other toppings for this soup could include diced avocado, fresh green onions, greek yogurt or sour cream, or croutons. Or, you know, an entire grilled cheese sandwich. Most importantly, though, make sure you have a bowl and spoon big enough to dive in.