#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!

Classic Recipes with a New Twist

I have spent the last week sorting through my stacks of recipe books and recipe cards. As I have done so, I have rediscovered some family favorites. Some belonging to my mother and even my grandmother. That’s the wonderful thing about recipes – they become part of our own traditions as they get passed along to family and friends. The first recipe I want to share with you began life as a classic mashed sweet potato dish, but over time it has become a quicker, and easier version that now has less fat and more nutrients than the traditional version.

And while you are mashing your sassy sweets, be sure to sit two spuds aside to make a classic Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake. This recipe dates back to at least the 1940s, but it is anything but old-fashioned. This decadent treat is so moist and rich you will swear it was made by a noveau gourmet. This cake is packed with ingredients that take you on a pleasant stroll down memory lane. When I was a little girl, I helped my Granny prepare it. I ate this cake thinking it was a reward for helping prepare it. Little did I know that I was a mini-toddler sous chef!

This week, why not add these to your own collection of family favorites. Taste them, tweak them, and be sure to share them with friends.

Spicy Mashed Sweets

Ingredients
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium purple onions,  diced
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons light maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted
Instructions
  1. Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Combine sweet potatoes, onions margarine and salt in a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.
     
  2. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from oven.  
  3. Add syrup,lemon juice, red pepper, cumin and cinnamon; mash, leaving a few lumps.
     
  4. Sprinkle with pecans.

    Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake

    Ingredients

    • 2/3 cup butter, softened
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, mashed and cooled
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups chopped pecans
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • Confectioners’ sugar, optional



    Directions

    In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and spices; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Beat in sweet potatoes and vanilla until blended. Stir in pecans and raisins.

    Transfer to a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Yield: 12-16 servings.

    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.

    Create Your Own Spring Salad Bar


    Spring is a perfect time to host a luncheon. With so many fresh fruits and veggies in season, the flavors in your kitchen blossom as fast as the flowers outside. Keep the fare light and fresh with a Spring themed salad bar. The taste of spring is everywhere – strawberries fresh off the vine, fresh mesclun greens topped with a sizzle of pancetta and Ile de France Brie, toasty baguettes topped with fresh herb butters and Sweet Potato Butter. Try some Carolina Sweet Potato & Apple Salad, Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad, fresh fruit salad, or your own personal favorite.

    For that extra special touch, serve your salads a la carte, and give your guests Edible Cheese Bowls. Their beautiful golden color and lace-like texture adds an elegant (and delicious) accent to your meal. Firm aged cheeses such as Parmesan or Asiago work best. Another wonderful variety to try is the delicious Comte cheese. Each wheel has a unique flavor with flavors varying from nutty to sweet and fruity.

    To prepare, melt butter in a small skillet and sprinkle in a thin layer of grated cheese. Arrange your cheese in about a six inch circle. Cook on medium heat. As soon as the edges are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling in the center, remove pan from heat. Let cool for 30 seconds and then lift out the cheese with a spatula. Invert hot cheese onto the bottom of a bowl or glass. As it cools, it will form a beautiful edible bowl! What could be better that a salad bowl made out of fried cheese? Try adding chopped pecans, or a sprinkling of fresh chives as it cooks. The possibilities are endless.

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    Fun Tip:

    You can make your own flavored and herb butters by softening butter at room temperature and then stirring in the flavors. Roll it up in plastic wrap or wax paper and put it back in the fridge. It’s that easy. Try strawberry-mint butter, dill-Parmesan butter, or even orange-ginger butter. Let your imagination run wild.

    A Southern Inspired Easter

    Easter is a time of renewal and new beginnings; the radiant colors of spring are everywhere around us! Celebrate nature’s glory by including brilliant hues into your Easter dinner. What could be better than a festive meal of Orange Blossom Honey-Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potato Puree. Although this recipe is lighter on calories than the average holiday dinner prepared below the Mason-Dixon line, it is sure to become a new Southern favorite. The floral tones of the honey-based glaze add a flowery sweetness that will awe your guests and ensure that the kids come back for more. Add a centerpiece of fresh flowers and a light dessert, and you will be guaranteed a holiday filled with fragrant flowers, flavorful food and laughter.

    Orange Blossom Honey-Glazed Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potato Puree

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup(s) orange blossom honey
    • 1/4 cup(s) chicken stock
    • 1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 sweet potatoes
    • 2 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter

    Note: If orange blossom honey is not available, you can substitute clover honey.

    Directions

    1. To prepare glaze: Place honey and chicken stock in a small saucepan and whisk over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup glaze for sweet potatoes and 1/3 cup for sauce.
    2. To prepare chicken: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place chicken in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Thoroughly brush chicken with glaze and roast 45 to 60 minutes, or until juices run clear. Brush on additional glaze every 15 minutes during roasting. Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, and carve.
    3. To prepare sweet potatoes: Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and bake alongside chicken for 45 minutes, or until soft. Remove skins and place sweet potatoes in a bowl with butter and 1/4 cup glaze. Using an electric mixer or hand masher, whip potatoes until smooth.
    4. To prepare sauce: Drain pan drippings from chicken and skim off the fat. Cook drippings and 1/3 cup reserved glaze in a small saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes, or until warm.
    5. Finishing Touches: Spoon some sweet potatoes on one side of each plate. Layer chicken slices in an overlapping pattern alongside potatoes, and spoon sauce over chicken.

    Penny Pincher Sweet Bytes Tip

    After you zest, what do you do with the lemon?

    1. Make lemonade.
    2. Freeze the lemon juice in cube trays. Bring them out for use in tea or recipes. Nothing beats the real taste of lemon, not that artificial stuff.
    3. Use half of a lemon to clean copper pots. Dip the cut side in baking soda and scrub away all of those stains

    What are your ideas? I would love to hear your tips.

    Counting Pennies.

    In just a few days, one of our lucky recipe contest entrants will win $1000. However, you might have your own treasure-trove sitting in your home. Most of us have one of those jars full of spare change stashed somewhere. But how much is really in there? Use this nifty Coin Counter to estimate how much you have saved. All you have to do is count one handful of coins and it does the rest. You will be amazed!!

    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.