Cider-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Blue Cheese

November 22nd, 2009

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Ooooh. These sweet potatoes are divine. And perfect for Thanksgiving. Of course, it would be a good idea to triple the recipe for Thanksgiving because–I promise–your guests will gobble them up! I developed this recipe for a Food52 contest. I have more fun and gather more ideas from Food52 recipe posts.

Not only are the photographs drool-worthy, but the recipes are always intriguing. I was just telling my husband Friday night that it would be so nice to have a place in town to pick up supper. NOT fast food chains, not greasy fried restaurant food, not barbecue (although BBQ is good every now and then) and not big iceberg lettuce salads, but a place with a drive-thru window where I could buy these sweet potatoes or goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and rosemary potatoes to roast in the oven, for example. Larger cities have gourmet markets where the food is assembled and prepared. All one has to do is “take and bake.” Shreveport even has a few markets that offer casseroles and such that are meant to take home and prepare. The reason for this date-night discussion? My parents offered to keep the boys Friday night so we could get a full night’s sleep. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) But, I wanted to enjoy a relaxing meal at home without pouring sippy cups, fetching burp cloths and wiping sticky hands.

OR…I could hire a personal chef, gather my favorite recipes from Food52 and make my requests. Now I have a plan for my winning lottery ticket. For those nights when I would love to spend hours in the kitchen, but simply cannot. I would still be able to savor interesting combinations of ingredients minus the time in the kitchen. Or, someone could just open a gourmet market. For now, I will be content with making these when I do have time. They are worth the time in the kitchen!

Cider-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Blue Cheese

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, reserving 2 Tablespoons drippings
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled

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I expect heartier fare during fall. Even for weekday lunches. I was so excited to find a brown rice/wild rice mix at our local grocery store. I held onto it for a while before deciding its fate. I did not want to stick it alongside grilled pork chops or even my favorite Pepper Jelly-Glazed Pork Tenderloin for fear it would be overshadowed. I thought it would be best in a starring role.

Peeked in the fridge to find kale and red onions. Whisked together olive oil, cider vinegar. roasted minced garlic, a little Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Drizzled the warm rice with vinaigrette and gave it a toss. Just about anything would go…roasted asparagus, sauteed mushrooms, diced grilled zucchini, eggplant, and on and on and on.

1 c wild rice and brown rice mix, cooked according to package directions

1/4 c olive oil

2 T cider vinegar

3 cloves garlic, roasted and minced

1 t Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients except rice. Pour over warm rice, tossing to coat. Add any roasted veggies. Next time, I’ll try a combo of sauteed mushrooms, roasted asparagus and toasted pecans for crunch. Tastes best at room temp.

My Favorite Collard Greens Recipes

November 3rd, 2009

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I adore summer veggies…sun-ripened tomatoes are my absolute favorite (even though they are technically fruit, I still claim them to be my favorite veggie!). Gotta say I love squash and zucchini in July, too. Grilled, Steamed, cooked down with bacon drippings and onions in Aunt Gee’s fabulous concoction. Eggplant, well what’s not to love about fried eggplant?

However, when the temperature begins to drop and the leaves change colors, I am ready for greens. Of course,  the Southern gal I am, I need pork fat in my greens. A big chunk of salt pork seasons the greens like nothing else. Same goes for cooking purple hull peas. (The secret to those, in my opinion, is to cook them all day long.)

I have noticed several recipes for greens lately…collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens. One recipe changed the way I cook greens! Paula Deen’s Collard Green Won Tons are truly decadent. They are. I have tried them, loved them and sworn to never make them again. I just can’t stop at one. But…I started adding a dash of garlic powder to my collard greens when cooking them after making this recipe. You would not believe how that one addition transforms the greens I have known and loved. Claire Robinson, Food Network Star of 5 Ingredient Fix, uses paprika as a substitution for pork for that subtle smoky flavor. The Lee Brothers have also substituted paprika for their Sneaky Greens. If you do not have a copy of their cookbook, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, you must immediately purchase a copy. No, like right now. Stop reading. Do it. You can thank me later. I am impatiently waiting for their new cookbook, Simple Fresh Southern. Even though they are technically transplants, (sorry, boys!) they can hang with the best of us in the Deep South. This month’s Southern Living showcased two ways with greens…one the traditional Southern cook’s way and the other a new and improved version. Can’t wait to try the updated version.

Perfectly Autumn Gingerbread Recipe

November 2nd, 2009

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I was flattered to have been invited to the Chautauqua Club a few weeks ago to provide their entertainment for the evening. Adrienne thought it would be fun to give this group of moms ideas about cooking quick and healthy meals during the week when there is no time to spare. I had plenty of tricks up my sleeve to share and enjoyed visiting with this group of women. My favorite take home tip from them? Tonya uses her leftover roast in gumbo. Can’t wait to try that tip. I bet brisket would be equally rich and delicious.

This was my first live cooking demo. Most of my cooking is done in my home kitchen with a toddler underfoot and a baby nearby. I am not a big talker like my mom and my sister, so I was surprised when I had little trouble keeping the conversation going as I cooked the meals I planned. I get so psyched about giving someone else the secrets I have learned to get supper on the table. It thrills me to be able to cook once then stretch the ingredients into two additional meals with less time in the kitchen. And less cleanup! I rarely ever have as much time as I would like to have for preparing meals. It’s amazing when you begin to look at recipes thinking about planned leftovers. The possibilities are endless. In fact they swirl around my brain at random times after I have read the latest issue of Food Network Magazine or Southern Living.

So, back to the demo. Before the hostess’ guests arrived, I began setting up my presentation area. I prepped most of the ingredients at home and brought them in what seemed like a million plastic containers. I wasn’t sure what kind of time frame I was working with and certainly did not want to bore the guests. I brought a chicken to roast while I was beginning the demo, so I asked Tiphanie, the hostess, how to set her oven timer. Fine Dacor oven, by the way. Tiphanie said, “Timer? What timer?” I was so tickled that she had never used the timer on her oven. I use mine daily…but then again, I would incinerate everything if I relied on my own sense of timing!

At the end of the evening, Ashley served up this homemade gingerbread that filled the kitchen with the spicy aroma of autumn. It was so perfectly light and fluffy I had to ask for the recipe to share with you! Ashley had fresh whipped cream to dollop on each serving. Instead of whipped cream for the topping, I whipped up some Cinnamon Orange Buttercream Glaze to top ours off. Sweet ending to a wonderful evening.

Homemade Gingerbread

1 box light brown sugar (2 1/4 C)
2 C. flour
1 1/2 sticks of butter (soften at room temp)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
2 eggs (unbeaten)
1 C buttermilk

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour and mix until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 C of mixture. Add baking soda, spices and eggs. Lightly stir in buttermilk.  Pour in greased and floured 9×13 pan.  Sprinkle the reserved 3/4 c mixture on top. Bake for 35 min. at 350 degrees. Serve with whipped cream or Cinnamon Orange Buttercream Glaze.

Cinnamon Orange Buttercream Glaze

1/2 c butter, softened at room temp

1/4 c freshly squeezed orange juice

1 t orange zest

1/2 t cinnamon

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

Mix together all ingredients except powdered sugar. Add powdered sugar 1/2 c at a time until desired consistency is reached.