Friday, March 29, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Mmmm, pretty :)

I was in search of something unique, refreshing, and with a little kick to it.  And it needed to be a salad. Boom.  THIS popped up and I accepted the challenge.

Easy as can be (the 'hardest' part was peeling all the potatoes), and freaking tasty as all get-out.  I doubled the recipe as I was taking it to a dinner gathering and needed enough for 8.  There was more than enough, and lots of extra dressing.  Which is good, because I like leftover deliciousness, and I really, really dig the red pepper vinaigrette.  Mmm, mmm, mmmmmm.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Note: This is best served warm or at room temperature, though of course you can refrigerate and serve it up to a day later, as long as you take it out of the refrigerator beforehand to take the chill off.  The recipe, as is below, makes about 4 servings.


4 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and ­ quartered
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup sliced scallion
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 or 2 fresh minced chiles (jalapeño, Thai, serrano, or habanero), or to taste
1/4 cup raisins (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Put them on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown outside and just tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove and keep on the pan until ready to dress.

2. Make the dressing while the potatoes cook. Put the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a blender, along with the vinegar, bell pepper, cumin, and zest if you’re using it. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Purée until smooth.

3. Toss the warm potatoes with the scallion, parsley, chiles, and raisins if you’re using them. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing and toss to coat, adding more if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Butternut Squash Mac 'n Cheese

A new twist on an old favorite.  And what a twist!  Geof said he never even would have questioned that there was anything different about the baked dish I served up the other night.  He even knew butternut squash was the main ingredient and still couldn't tell.


I snagged this little gem from HERE one night whilst Googling creative ways to use up the butternut squash taking up residence on our counter.  I have to say, even I would have been fooled by this one, and I'm the cook!

It is unbelievably creamy and delicious.  Holy cow, it's good, and pretty easy.

Note: I had two cans of organic butternut squash in the pantry that I got at Whole Foods this winter (I know, weird, canned butternut squash?  Hello!).  Turns out that was beaucoup convenient (and just as healthy!) I still have that squash sitting on the counter.  Looks like I'll need to find another recipe to use it for.  Oh darn :)


3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
1 1/4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled (I used 1 tsp. garlic powder)
2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 pound uncooked cavatappi
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13x9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture.

6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crunchy Crispy Roasted Snack Beans

Geof recently unknowingly challenged me to create a delicious, healthy, crunchy snack to replace his peanut M&Ms.

Challenge: accepted.

He didn't realize what he did :)

I Googled some simple terms and came up with this gem of a recipe.  YUM!  While it's not sweet (it is, in fact, extremely savory) it fulfills that crunchy, munchy, pop-'em-in-your-mouth need that we all have from time to time (especially when bored).

I grabbed this recipe from HERE and the only modifications I made were using black beans and kidney beans as that's all I had in the pantry at the time, but I'm looking forward to trying other beans!  The black beans are awesomely crunchy and delicious.

Crunchy Crispy Roasted Snack Beans
makes 2-4 servings
total time: approximately 1 hour, 10 minutes
total hands on time: 3 minutes
What you’ll need:
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can of cannellini beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
What you’ll do:
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Open both cans of beans and rinse them in a colander, then drain extremely well on paper towels.
3. Transfer beans to a rimmed baking pan. Arrange them in a single layer and pour on the oil, then stir to coat.
4. Mix the spices in small ramekin or bowl; once well-mixed, pour spices on the beans and mix again, shaking the pan around really well.
5. Roast for about an hour, checking once or twice to shake the pan again. The beans are done when they're crunchy. The best test is to try one; if it’s crunchy, it’s done!