Friday, January 29, 2016

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

I guess I'm back on the sweet potato bandwagon. Did I ever really leave it? Over the holidays, there were many large family gatherings which meant divvying up of the meal prep duties and learning to cook to scale, going from cooking for one for a week to cooking for ten for a night. One of the dishes, which I'd never made before, were chicken enchiladas.

Getting back to my cookbook roots, this recipe comes from Oh She Glows so is veggie friendly but you could easily make this with chicken and reduce the sweet potato quantity. It's super easy to make, just a little hands on, and then popped in the oven!

For this recipe, the vegetables are cooked until soft before wrapping in tortillas and dousing in enchilada sauce. The store I went to was out of enchilada sauce so I went the DIY route. The tortillas are wedged into a casserole dish. My dish was too small so I made some egg scrambles and wraps with the remaining filling. A 9x13 would probably work better than a square pan.

If you're making this with chicken, you would also cook the chicken first before wrapping up and baking in the oven. Pro tip: shred the chicken in a food processor instead of by hand with forks.

The enchiladas are baked in the oven until steaming. If you're adding cheese on top, bake until the cheese to brown on top before serving. Served with the avocado-cilantro sauce was the perfect garnish.

Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can black beans (15oz), drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 whole-grain tortillas
Avocado-Cilantro Sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium avocado, pitted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a rectangular baking dish.
  2. To make the enchiladas, cook the sweet potatoes in a medium sauce pan, covering the sweet potato with water. Cook until tender.
  3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the onion and garlic until translucent.
  4. Add the bell pepper, cooked sweet potato (drained of water), and black beans. Cook on high for a few minutes until peppers have softened.
  5. Remove the skillet from heat and stir half the enchilada sauce, lime juice, chili powder, cumin and salt into the vegetables.
  6. On a flat surface, fill the tortillas with the vegetable filling. Roll like you are rolling a burrito or taco and place, seam down, in the greased casserole dish. 
  7. Repeat until the casserole dish is full.
  8. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the wrapped tortillas.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes. If you add cheese, remove once the cheese has browned.

  10. While the enchiladas bake, combine all ingredients for the avocado-cilantro sauce in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  11. Serve the enchiladas hot with the avocado sauce on top.
DIY Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 scant cup tomato paste
  • 1 3/4 cup broth
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the flour until a thick paste forms. Stir in the spices until combined.
  3. Cook for a couple minutes until fragrant.
  4. Stir in tomato paste (I definitely used ketchup) and the broth. Whisk until smooth and combined.
  5. Bring to a low boil over high heat, then reduce and simmer to allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. If it still looks too thin, you can thicken the sauce with some cornstarch. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Honey Banana Bread

Let's talk about impulse shopping for a moment. I wouldn't say I love shopping because I don't. I find it stressful and frustrating when I'm trying to find something specific and nothing fits right and I try on all of these things that are too small (because when do I feel bad that something is too big) and my hair gets all messed up from pulling sweaters over my head and fitting room lighting is just not flattering. But I also love a good deal so this really conflicts with my general distaste for fitting rooms.

Shopping for the home is totally different and shopping for the kitchen is just joy. I've debated purchasing a Kitchen Aid mixer for awhile. That would be the ultimate splurge/deal/treat yourself for a baker. I looked at some Black Friday deals but never quite took the plunge. Plus, there's that whole the Kitchen Aid is what you get when you get married thing. 

Well, turns out it's a good thing I didn't get one for myself because I got one from my family for Christmas (combo gifts are the best)! It's silver and shiny and strong and its name is Bessie. It took me weeks to actually use it which is so sad but I wanted to find the right thing to make to christen it. What better than classic banana bread with a twist? Some sticky delicious honey is just the glue we need to challenge Bessie. 

This comes from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook, Dessert of the Day. I have many bookmarks in there. The batter was thicker than other banana bread recipes I've followed in the past and was made in a square pan instead of a loaf pan. 

What I like about this recipe is its simplicity: 2 bananas, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda, I don't have to worry about mixing up the baking soda and baking powder, wooo!

Butter and sugar are creamed together before adding the eggs and bananas. I tried to be really cool and break the eggs into the running mixer and completely dropped the egg in. What a champ. Dry ingredients are gradually added, which is a thing we can add gradually because the mixer is mixing while my hands are pouring. 

Baked for 30-45 minutes and golden perfection, this bread came out denser than most breads but more like a cake. I highly recommend adding walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips.

from Dessert of the Day cookbook
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripened bananas
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a square baking pan (8x8 or 9x9).
  2. In a medium bowl or the body of a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Gradually add the eggs and ripened banana.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  6. If adding nuts or chocolate chips, fold in once the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown and firm. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
  9. Serve warm or next day with coffee (optional). 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sweet Potato Crockpot Chili

Alright, kicking off these kitchen resolutions right. Making my meals for the week on Sunday has saved me a lot of time and money throughout the week not ordering take out or buying lunch. I'm okay eating the same thing every day for lunch but I prefer to have some variety at least between lunch and dinner which means making two batches of something over the weekend.

The crockpot makes this super easy because I can just set it up and while it cooks, I can make another meal--or watch a lot of Netflix. This recipe came from a simple search for crockpot recipes on Pinterest. So many things on Pinterest.

If I were to make it again, I would add some ground turkey (brown it first) but as it were, this is veggie friendly. There will be a lot of chopping at first, there was so much crying with the onion chopping, so many tears. It's really quite the safety hazard to be blinded while using a knife. Just sayin'.

The vegetables are combined in a crockpot with three cups of broth, can of beans (drained and rinsed), crushed tomatoes and quinoa. Stir everything together and add your spices. More chili powder for some heat.

Set the crockpot to high and cook for four hours or until the sweet potatoes are soft. I served this with avocado on top. Plus it inspired lunch envy at work, win!

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can of kidney (or black) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Avocado (for topping)
  1. Once the vegetables are chopped and ready, combine with the beans, crushed tomatoes, quinoa and broth in the crockpot.
  2. Stir in the spices.
  3. Set the crockpot to high and cook for 4 hours or until the sweet potatoes are soft. 
  4. Serve hot and top with avocado or cheese.

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 Boldnesses

I've heard there are only two things that are sure in life: death and taxes. I disagree. There are other things you can be sure of like the gym will be packed the first week of January, everyone will be posting about how wonderful their year was in 2015 and how much they're going to change in 2016. You can also be sure that bloggers such as myself will post plans for 2016 (just like I did in 2013 and 2014 and 2015). So maybe there's a little more certainty in life besides just death and taxes.

In the past, I've focused my blog resolutions on food things because this is a food blog and while I do have some thoughts on what to do more of in the kitchen, I've been thinking a lot lately about what I want to achieve as a person. Not necessarily, be healthier or swear less but being more open and kind. You'll see, I'll be a bonafide Disney princess by this time next year.

I didn't want to entitle this so much as "resolutions" because it's not a problem to fix, just some things I want to be mindful of (and in some cases achieve). But looking for synonyms for "resolutions" resulted in the word "boldness". So we're going with boldnesses.

In the Kitchen
  • Bread- This has never really worked out for me, rolls don't rise, pizza dough remains the same size hour after hour. But this year, I will conquer this whole dough rising thing!
  • Crockpot- I used my crockpot a fair amount in year's past but it's been gathering dust in my kitchen cabinet for some time now. This is also an effort to be better with weekly meal prep so I can crockpot one thing while cooking another.
  • Pasta- I took a pasta making class last year in London and was like "yes, I'm going to make fresh pasta from now on!". I even got a ravioli press but have never made pasta since. On the bucket list.
In the Daily Life
  • Unsubscribe- Coincidentally, this was a goal last year too but I still find myself deleting dozens of GroupOn emails every day. No joke.
  • Donate- I've read a lot about capsule wardrobes over the last few months. While I don't feel quite ready to commit to just 30 pieces of clothing, I do think I can pare down my closet.
  • Volunteer- Generally looking for more activities that give back and involve other people and not just me and my cat.
  • Print Photos- I swear I printed photos not that long ago but I can't find them. Even though we live in the digital age, I'm a fan of actual photo albums and scrapbooks. I've taken some great trips recently and I want to have a record! No big deal, just about 3 years of life to cover #nopressure. 

In the World
  • Be Open-To new experiences, new opportunities and new people. I'm a pretty type-A person (shocker) so trying not to live within the lines or worry if I'm doing life 'right'. It's more about what's choosing a path that's 'right for me' than what would be considered 'right' overall.
  • Observe Beauty- Pretty sure this is also a repeat thought but previously it was about taking an Instagram photo a day to note beauty. Perhaps not as important to record as to take a moment to note the good things in a day and not just the bad.
  • Be Kind- Not to imply I'm a mean person, I don't think that at all but you know when you see your coworker's hair looks nice and you want to compliment them but you don't want to be weird? Just compliment them, you would appreciate it (and no, if someone says it to you it does not mean that all other days your hair looks bad). Also, being kind to myself. We are far tougher on ourselves and more critical than most people are to you.
Whatever your boldnesses are (or aren't), I wish you a Happy New Year and welcome you to join the ride!