#SweetShortcuts

Between work, social lives and just gettin’ some rest, sometimes it feels like having well-balanced meals aren’t an option.  But once again, sweet potatoes are here to save the day! We’ve rounded up the best #SweetShortcuts to make life a little bit easier and definitely more delicious.

bfast-potatoesCarrots ‘N’ Cake has a simple & easy way to give a kick to your ordinary potato hash! Featuring a mix of russet & sweet potatoes and garnished with steak seasoning, this big batch can last you through the entire week in any meal of the day. Crack an egg on top for breakfast or add to a veggie bowl for lunch or dinner. No time? No worries!

sp-burritoWe know meal-prep is all the rage these days, so we couldn’t help but want to share Kim’s Cravings‘ Sweet Potato Breakfast Burritos that are freezer-friendly. Got about an hour to spare on the weekend? Make these little guys, wrap in foil or plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. They’ll be waiting for you on your busiest morning when you’re on-the-go!

For more quick and easy ways to enjoy sweet potatoes, take a look at our “How-to” page! From cutting to baking, microwaving or  grilling, there’s so many ways to prep these spuds for a fast meal!

What are some of your favorite #SweetShortcuts? Tag us in your ideas for a chance to be featured for our #WhatWeDig!

A Sweet and Savory Thanksgiving!

Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

This is the time of year when our Sassy Sweets really get the attention they deserve.  Would any Thanksgiving meal really be complete without sweet potatoes.  When my family gets together for Turkey Day, it is not unusual to have two or even three sweet potato dishes.  And why not?  Sweet potatoes are so versatile – roasted, mashed, fried, baked, boiled, and of course, casseroled!  The possibilities are endless. Unlike a lot of the foods we might consume in the coming weeks, sweet potatoes are really good for us. Just 4 ounces of sweet potatoes exceeds the RDA of Vitamin A, plus you get lots of fiber and potassium to boot.

Since Sweets are so versatile, I decided to offer two recipes this week.  Both are roasted, but one is savory and the other is a little sweet.  Both are super quick and easy to make and both are delicious additions to any Thanksgiving meal plan. Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes 

The tartness of the orange combines with the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes to make a dish that you will not soon forget. This one is almost guaranteed to become a holiday tradition.

1 tablespoon butter
3 large sweet potatoes or yams
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9” x 9” baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Brown butter in a small skillet over medium heat, swirling the skillet, until butter turns a nutty color. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Peel sweet potatoes or yams, cut in half lengthwise, and then into 1/2”-thick slices. Place in the prepared baking dish. Pour orange juice over sweet potatoes or yams. Sprinkle with orange peel, salt, and nutmeg. Top with brown sugar and browned butter. Cover and bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes or yams are crisp-tender. Uncover and cook 12 to 15 minutes, or until juices are almost absorbed

Savory Onion Roasted Sweet Potatoes 

This recipe is packed with so much flavor! Your guests will never realize that it only takes about 10 minutes of prep time.

Ingredients:

1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix
4 – 6 Medium Sweet Potatoes, Cut into bite size pieces.
1 small onion, cut into small chunks
⅓ cup vegetable oil
Fresh herbs (parsley, chives, or rosemary are my faves)

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish.  Toss until well coated.  Chop fresh herbs (or use whole sprigs of rosemary) and sprinkle over sweet potatoes. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or 425 degrees for 35 minutes.

Harvest Moon Brings Sweet Potato Goodness

This October 4th is the Harvest Moon, when the moon turns a rich shade of orange. As mother nature shines brilliant hues down from above, we can bring the same glorious shades into our kitchens. Enter The Sweet Potato! With its vivid color and velvety sweet texture, it is the perfect veggie for all seasons.

Why is the Sweet Potato the star of the show? Because its natural sweetness and delicate texture readily adapts to any cuisine and outshines the competition. From polenta to pancakes to sorbet or salsa, sweet potatoes are used as the stellar ingredient. With such decadent flavor, it is hard to believe that this gem is as nutritious as it is delicious. It’s not just a Superstar, it is a Superfood.

To accentuate the sweetness of this versatile staple, try pairing it with a piquant, salty or spicy counterpoint. The contrast is absolutely divine. Try these Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Chiles and I’m sure you will agree. This recipe features a spicy twist to the already yummy baked sweet potato.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Chiles

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 to 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 chipotle chile, minced until paste
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters

1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Rub potatoes with oil and bake about 50 to 55 minutes (or until a or fork slips easily into the potato. Cool potatoes, but leave the oven on.

2. Slice off one-third (lengthwise) of each potato. Peel and discard the skin from this top section and put the potato flesh in a medium bowl. Use a spoon to scoop out the rest of the flesh of each potato. Leave about 1/4 inch of sweet potato inside each skin to help retain its structure.

3. Beat the sweet potato flesh, sour cream, chile, butter, and salt until smooth. Add more Chipotle to taste Mound the mixture into the potato skins and set them in a baking pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with lime wedges and sour cream.


P.S. While your oven is on, be sure to roast a bunch of these beauties for all of the wonderful recipes that are coming your way.

The Race Is On

It is just past the start of summer and already the busy seasonal rush is in full swing. I had a great 4th of July and capped off the week with a trip to Norfolk Naval Station to tour a Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier. It was a very cool trip and when I arrived back home, I found that my garden runneth over. Ripe red tomatoes, fresh squash, zucchini’s as big as canoes, cucumbers and more were all waiting to be picked. Meanwhile, I need to get caught up from my trip and prepare for the upcoming week. The summer rush is on. This week, I will be freezing, and preserving all those garden delights so I will be quick and easy meals to give me more time. Grilling is always a great way to save time, and my dear hubby loves to cook outside after we are done toiling in the soil. Veggie kabobs are an easy way to use up some of your garden splendor. And if you don’t have your own garden, pay a visit to your local farmers market. Fresh food really is the best.

These gorgeous kabobs combine the flavors summer squash, sweet potatoes, pineapple and bell peppers together with flame-kissed goodness.

This quick kabob is perfect as a side and hearty enough to be a meal by itself. If you do not have enough veggies on hand and are too busy to make a grocery run, try these delightful Sweet Potato Rounds from the great chefs at the NC Sweet Potato Commission. They are quick easy and oh, so tasty.


Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder or cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 green bell pepper, seeded, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup pineapple chunks
8 (8- to 10-inch) skewers

Directions:
Remember, if you are using wooden skewers, soak them for 20 minutes before grilling to prevent burning.

1. Place the potato chunks in a microwave-safe 2-quart casserole dish along with water. Cover and microwave for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are firm tender (do not overcook – they will be too mushy to grill).

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, parsley, chipotle, salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes, mixing to coat. Alternately thread the potatoes, bell peppers, and pineapple onto skewers.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill the kabobs, turning frequently, for 15 minutes, or until a nice brown crust forms.

Slip Into Summer with Southern Style Picnics


The month of June is nudging springtime out of the way. Sweet summer sunshine is tapping me on the back, saying ,”Hey, now it’s my time to play”. Summer is upon us and outdoor dining is in full swing. These warm summer days invite us to super cool picnics. Keep it simple by building your meal around a big beautiful Sweet Potato Salad. The bright orange sweet potatoes and red-skin white potatoes make this dish a sunny side of heaven. Fresh dill and a hearty dollop of yogurt are mouthwatering toppers. Prep the night before and chill. You can rest easy by packing deli meats, assorted chesses, fresh fruits, and easy salads.


Sweet Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon honey mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper

Directions
1. Place the sweet potatoes and red potatoes on a paper-towel-covered microwaveable plate. Microwave on high power for 15 minutes, or until soft, turning once.
2. In a large salad bowl, whisk together the yogurt, dill, mayonnaise and mustard. Add the potatoes and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the parsley.

SWEETBYTES TIP


Be sure to take a selection of your favorite CD’s and your digital camera. For picnics in the park, hiking, or yes, even picnics at work – Try this awesome Backpack Picnic Cooler.

Serving Up Sunshine – Sweet Potato Cornbread

If you know anything about Southerners you know we’re serious about our cornbread. Every family has its own special way of making it – thin and crispy, light and fluffy, white cornmeal, yellow cornmeal, sweet milk, buttermilk, real butter, shortening, a spoon of mayo, a sprinkle of sugar…The variations are endless. And it is something akin to a sin if you cook it in anything except an iron skillet. One that has a few years of “seasoning” is best. The skillet should be black. (Ask your Mamas and your Grannies, they’ll tell you all about it.)

While I do have my own tried and true favorite recipe, I have been known to experiment with cornbread from time to time. Broccoli Cheese Cornbread and Mexican Style Cornbread are a few of the better ones I have tried. Of course, I have another variation and you may have guessed what it is – Sweet Potato Cornbread! The beautiful orange flecks against the golden cornmeal makes every bite like a mouth full of sunshine. The texture is moist and inviting, and the the aroma is oh so sweet. Anyway you slice it, this cornbread makes for a happy meal. Serve with Stew, Soups, Dried Beans, and it’s even good with spaghetti! For dessert, there is nothing better that golden hot cornbread dotted with butter and drizzled with honey and molasses. Oh My!

P.S. If you are feeling adventurous, You might also like this spicier version with lemon zest, cayenne pepper, and ginger.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and grated Sweet Potatoes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, beat egg until frothy. Stir in buttermilk and Sweet Potato. Pour Sweet Potato mixture into flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour batter into greased iron skillet (you can use a 9×9 inch baking dish if that’s all you have). Bake 20 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed with fingertip. Cool in pan on wire rack. Slice and serve with butter.



Sweet Bytes Tip

These recipes are a great way to use those leftover or frozen sweet potatoes (see last post). Another good way to use leftover sweet potatoes is Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes.

Sweet Bytes Quick Tip

I was talking to a friend recently. She told me about a great Sweet Potato tip that I just have to share with everyone. Bake five to seven sweet potatoes, and allow them to cool completely. Individually wrap them with plastic wrap and pop them in the freezer. Now whenever you are craving sweet potatoes, all you have to do is zap one or more in the microwave and Voila – fresh from the oven taste in seconds.

This is also the perfect way to have cooked sweet potatoes on hand for all of your favorite recipes. Every minute counts in the kitchen and this tip dramatically cuts back on prep time! Wow, fresh baked taste and super convenience! Thanks Marjie for such a great idea.

March Madness Is Here

It’s that time of the year again. March Madness is here. I’m not just referring to latest Duke and UNC basketball games, everything else seems to speed up in March, too. February was a short month and everything still seems a bit rushed. Spring has officially begun and along with it came Spring Cleaning, Spring Thaw, Spring Showers, Spring Break, and Spring Chores. It’s time to get the lawnmower tuned, the garden started, and the summer clothes out of the attic. With all that is going on, cooking can sometimes take a back seat to other more pressing matters. That’s why you need…March Madness Meals. The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission has an awesome Pork and Sweet Potato Stew. It is fast, easy, and delicious. This tasty stew only takes 35 minutes to prepare. Add a simple rice side-dish and Voila! Supper’s Ready! If you want a super fast dessert try their Chocolate Pudding Surprise. You will never guess that it has sweet potatoes in it, and it only takes a few minutes. Now you will have time to watch on of those ballgames on TV. Happy Eating!

PORK AND SWEET POTATO STEW

Ingredients:

* 1 pound pork loin, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 2 small onions, cut in wedges
* 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
* 2 large cloves garlic, minced
* 1 small red pepper, cut in strips
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 cup tomato sauce
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 2 tablespoons lime juice
* 1 package(10 ounces) frozen peas
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Preparation:

In large saucepan, brown pork in oil. Add onions, sweet potatoes and garlic, cook 10 minutes, turning often. Add red pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, tomato sauce, vegetable broth and lime juice. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. add peas and cook 5 minutes longer or until pork and vegetables are tender. To serve, spoon into bowls and garnish with green onions. If desired, serve with cooked rice.

Eat A Rainbow

Are you getting enough veggies? The USDA recommends that everyone eat 4-5 servings of vegetables everyday. That’s about 2.5 – 3 cups of healthy produce. Are you eating that much? A lot of Americans are not. That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama is taking the word to the streets. First on her agenda is praising local produce.

“That’s one of the things that we’re talking a lot about,” she said. “When you grow something yourself and it’s close and it’s local, oftentimes it tastes really good.”

“And when you’re dealing with kids, for example, you want to get them to try that carrot. Well, if it tastes like a real carrot and it’s really sweet, they’re going to think that it’s a piece of candy. So my kids are more inclined to try different vegetables if they’re fresh and local and delicious.”

This is a great tip, fresh produce is alway chock full of the vitamins and nutrients that are often missing from their processed counterparts. It is especially important to eat a variety of vegetables. I have always said that “You need to eat your colors”, and after a little googling I found that the Produce For Better Health Foundation’s new campaign has exactly the same idea. 5 a day the Color Way encourages everyone to “eat a rainbow for better health”. Sweet Potatoes are in the Yellow/Orange color group which is known to improve heart and vision health, boost the immune system and reduce the risks for many cancer types. So go taste the rainbow of delicious flavors, get a full and balanced blend of antioxidants, vitamins, fibers and minerals. Three Cheers for Fresh Produce! Here’s to your health!

SPRING IS IN THE AIR!!

The first sign of spring is here! No, its not bluebirds. Its not daffodils, either. Its … Daylight Savings time! (And I hope you all remembered to change the batteries in you Smoke Alarms and CO detectors.) Maybe you think I am a bit overexcited about the time change, but frankly I am tired of sunsets of 5:30 in the evening. The official start of spring may be about two weeks off, but warmer weather and longer days has me in a spring kind of mood!

Since the weather has been so nice, I took a trip to my favorite farmer’s market. I found a bounty of fresh, delicious and sophisticated ingredients. In fact, all of the ingredients for this weeks recipe were purchased there. This dish is a delightfully modern twist on mashed sweet potatoes. From Southern France, to Italy to, New Orleans to western North Carolina and everywhere in between – this is a southern favorite. If its got Pancetta, you know it is going to be good!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onion and Pancetta

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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 3 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (2 oz)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Directions

  1. Boil sweet potatoes in large saucepan of boiling salted water over medium-high heat 15-20 minutes or until very tender.
  2. Drain sweet potatoes; return to saucepan.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot.
  4. Add pancetta; cook 2-3 minutes or until pancetta begins to brown.
  5. Add onion; cook 15-20 minutes or until onions are caramelized, stirring frequently. Adjust heat, if necessary, to prevent onions from browning too quickly.
  6. Add vinegar; stir, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet.
  7. Over very low heat, mash sweet potatoes.
  8. Add mascarpone, salt and pepper.
  9. Stir in onion mixture.

Note: You can use bacon if you don’t have pancetta available. Just cook the bacon in a medium pot of boiling water 1 minute. Drain and rinse until cool. Blanching helps remove some of the smoky flavor from the bacon.