Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes – No More ‘Mallows!

I have lots of dreams.  Strange Weird Crazy Stupid Lame Awesome as it sounds, many of those dreams have to do with food.  Things like open a bed & breakfast, become a sommelier, own a cafe/wine bar/bakery, be a waitress at a really fancy restaurant, meet Giada or Tyler or Michael or Tom or Mario (DiLaurentiis, Florence, Symon, Collicchio, and Batali for those of you who aren’t on a first name basis with them, as I am), write a cookbook…

One of those dreams is to win a recipe contest.  Now I have always been an overachiever, so I have my sights set on the $1 Million Pillsbury Bake-Off.  But I figure I should probably start a little smaller.  So when I saw Biz at My Bizzy Kitchen post her entry for the No More ‘Mallows! recipe contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, I knew I had to enter.  I had just made a sweet potato recipe a couple of weeks ago that I thought would be perfect for this contest.

No More 'Mallows!

The black bean filling for my spin on baked stuffed potatoes is based on this Black Bean & Mango Taco recipe from my friend, Michelle, at Find Your Balance.  She is a health coach, and has some awesome, healthy recipes.  Pinapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with ForkAnything that gets my husband to eat and love a dinner that does not include meat must be good.  And The Bug loves Mexican.  So her recipe has become one of our family favorites.  But I have switched it up some, and instead of tacos, I thought it would be awesome stuffed into some sweet potatoes.  And, just to make Michelle happy, I added in some dark, leafy greens and Greek yogurt (though the leafy greens could be optional, if you are not a fan, and you could use sour cream, if you prefer).

So give this a try for your Meatless Monday, Lent Friday, or any day, really.  It’s that good.  No need to reserve it for your vegetarian days (unless all of your days are vegetarian days).  It has a lot of ingredients, but most are probably already in your pantry.  Oooh, and it would probably also be good with some of this.

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with Limes and Avocado

Have you ever entered a recipe contest?  What are some of the random, seemingly silly goals you have?

Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes (serves 4)

Adapted from Black Bean & Mango Tacos from Find Your Balance

Ingredients

For Sweet Potatoes:

4 sweet potatoes

half of a lime

1/2 t kosher salt

1 T olive oil

For Monterey Jack Creamy Swiss Chard:

16 c Swiss chard (or other dark, leafy green of your choice) – I know this sounds like a lot, but it really cooks down

Monterey Jack Swiss Chard1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c milk (any kind will do, I used 1%)

1 c (about 4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

For Pineapple Black Beans:

1 T olive oil

half of a large sweet onion, chopped

Black Beans1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 red pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lime

2 T chili powder

1 T cumin

1/2 c water

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes on plate1 c chopped fresh or canned pineapple

2 T chopped cilantro

For garnish (optional):

1/2 c Greek yogurt (I like Chobani) or sour cream

1/2 lime

chopped avocado

cilantro

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 400°F.

2.  Squeeze half of a lime into a bowl and add the salt.  Toss the sweet potatoes in the lime-salt mixture.

3.  Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until soft (alternatively, you could cook them in the microwave for about 10-15 minutes, but NOT with the aluminum foil)

4.  While the sweet potatoes are baking, prepare the fillings.  Start by spraying a large pan with olive oil or cooking spray, and putting over medium heat.

5.  Add the Swiss chard, salt and pepper, and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until wilted, stirring every couple of minutes.

6.  Remove the lid and add the milk and cheese.  Cook until thickened slightly and cream.  Set aside.

7.  In the same pan or in a clean pan, heat the olive and add the onions, salt, and pepper.  Cook until starting to turn translucent.

8.  Add the red pepper and cook until the onions and peppers are soft.

9.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the black beans, juice of a lime, chili powder, cumin, and water, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through.  You can keep covered over a low heat until the sweet potatoes are ready.

10.  Stir the pineapple and cilantro into the black bean mixture.

11.  Combine the Greek yogurt or sour cream and lime juice, and chop the avocado and cilantro, if using.

12.  Slice open the baked sweet potatoes, and fill with the swiss chard and black bean mixture.  Top with the desired garnishes.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes close up
This recipe was shared with:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’sReal Food Wednesday 3/21/12

These Chicks Cooked Recipe Swap #44

The Countertop Confections’ What’s Cooking Thursday 3/22/12

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday 3/22/12

Savannah’s Savory Bites Friday Feature Blog Hop 3/23/12

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

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March Improv Challenge: Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

So I was perusing the foodie blogoshpere, and stumbled upon The Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.  I thought the name of her blog was hysterical, and then I saw her Improv challenge.  This sounded like too much fun.  Basically a theme is given, which is two assigned ingredients, then it is up to the bloggers to let the creative juices flow, and see what they can come up with.  Then on the third Thursday of the month, we will all publish our new recipes based on the theme.  I decided I had to get in on the action.

Improv Challenge

So I will say, this recipe is really improv.  I had a sweet potato and some white potatoes laying around, and I was really in the mood for goat cheese.  So after digging around for some sort of scalloped, au gratin potato recipe idea for inspiration, I found Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.  I did a little tweaking, and this is what I threw together.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

It was yummy – a little sweet, a little salty, creamy, tangy.  We all ate the leftovers with dinner the next night, and I had the last little bit the following day for lunch.  The Bug was a fan, too.

Slice of Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Since I really did pull this together off the cuff (I didn’t have much time, since I only recently found out about the challenge), it could still use a tweak or two.  I think next time I would not put the goat cheese in the milk, and would instead just crumble it on top of each potato layer, in order to get pockets of the tangy goat cheese.  If I try this and update it (and get some better photos – I had two hungry boys and a steak getting cold, so was in a rush), I will let you know.  But it was really good as-is, especially with a steak perfectly grilled by The Hubby.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin with Steak and Asparagus

If you like what you see here, I’d love for you to subscribe to updates by email, “Like” me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.  Also, make sure you check out the links below to see what the other Improvers came up with.

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin

Based on Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese) from Cooking Light.

Ingredients

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin vertical1 garlic clove, halved

4 ounces goat cheese

1 cup milk (I used 2% because that is what I had)

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

About 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs white potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (I used one large sweet potato, and the rest white potatoes), sliced 1/8 in. thick

1 1/2 T olive oil

3/4 t kosher salt

black pepper

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Spray a 9 inch round glass pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.  Rub with the cut sides of the garlic. Discard the garlic.

2.  In a pan, combine 2 oz. of the goat cheese, the milk and the thyme, and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.

3. While the milk is heating, layer one-third of the potato slices in the pie plate, drizzle with 1/2 T olive oil, 1/4 t. salt, and black pepper.  Repeat with two more layers of potatoes (I uses half of the white potatoes for my first layer, then the sweet potatoes, and finally another layer of white potatoes).

4.  Pour the milk mixture over the top of the potatoes, and lay the thyme sprigs on top.

5.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

6.  Uncover, crumble the remaining 2 oz. of goat cheese and sprinkle on the top.

7.  Bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese starts to brown.

Enjoy!

Potato Goat Cheese Gratin Closeup



Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

I’ve gotten a few people intrigued by spaghetti squash, and some who haven’t had it in awhile are looking for new ways to use it.  In fact, Katie, from ...and a glass of red wine was asking for a spaghetti squash recipe to make for her brother and fiance.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get this post up on Thursday, since The Bug decided that a 1 hour nap was sufficient, and then proceeded to be a cranky, miserable mess for the rest of the day.  And I think she came up with a faboulous-sounding dinner that incorporates some of my favorites – scallops, mushrooms, and butternut squash.  But maybe she’ll give this a try another time.  I hope you do, too.

And if you aren’t quite ready to make the spaghetti squash leap, try the sauce over some spaghetti or penne or whatever pasta shape you prefer.  It is really yummy!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

And look, even easy enough that a not-quite-2-year old can help…

Mama and The Bug Cooking Tomato Cream Sauce

And I know I have been on an Italian kick, giving you this and this over the past few days.  Maybe I a using tomatoes and garlic to counteract all of last weekend’s chocolate.  I promise, I’ll be switching it up a bit this week.

Do you have a “go-to” meal that you like to serve to guests?

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

Ingredients

Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce1 spaghetti squash (or pasta of your choice)

3 sausage links (I like to use hot turkey sausages, but you can use the meat of your choice, and mild or hot)

Half of a large, sweet onion, chopped

1/4 c red wine

One 15 oz. can or half of a 28 oz. can (about 1 1/2 c) crushed tomatoes (I ALWAYS used Tuttorosso when I am using crushed tomatoes.  It has a little basil in it, so if you use a brand without basil, you may want to add a little fresh or dried)

1/2 t dried oregano

1/2 kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

1/4 c heavy cream

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1 T fresh parsley

1/2 c frozen peas (optional)

1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

2-3 T grated parmesan cheese for topping

Directions

1.  Cook the spaghetti squash and scrape out the “noodles” (see this post for my oven method and a link to a microwave method).  Preheat or keep your oven set at 400ºF.

2.  Heat a pan over medium heat, and spray with olive oil or cooking spray.

3.  Squeeze the sausage out of the casings into the pan, and cook until is starts to get nice and brown.

4.  Add the onions and saute until translucent and soft.

5.  Add the wine, tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper, and simmer until it is hot and the onions are fully cooked.

6.  Stir in the heavy cream, parsley, 1/4 c parmesan cheese, and frozen peas.

7.  Pour enough sauce over the squash noodles (or pasta) until it is as saucy as you like (I like mine less saucy as my husband, so there may be some extra sauce, which you can serve on the side).

8.  Pour the mixture into a glass baking pan or casserole dish (I use the 1 1/2 qt. oval Corningware) that has been sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

9. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until hot and bubble, and the cheese is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce closeup

 

 

Eggplant Parm-lasagna with “Faux”-lognese Sauce and Being Part of the Foodie Blogosphere

I am definitely a newbie when it comes to writing a blog.  Really, I am even a newbie when it comes to recording my recipes.  Yes, I am a scientist, and in the lab I was always very exact with my measurements.  I think that is why I love baking – formulas, measurements, acids, bases, heat, reactions, solids, liquids, and gases.  It truly is a science.  Cooking is definitely more of an art.  I am not an artist, but when I cook, it is more of a little of this, a little of that, unless I am following someone else’s recipe.  So I decided to start making cooking like a science experiment, and my spiral notebook of recipes is my new laboratory notebook.  Just now it say salt and baking soda, instead of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.

But I am also a newbie with really, seriously reading blogs.  I had a couple I checked out pretty frequently in the past.  Mainly Weelicious and Fix Me a Snack, trying to come up with healthy meals and snacks (and even healthier spins on treats) for The Bug.  For awhile, I was determined that no cracker from a box shall cross his lips.  And, while I have made a fair share of homemade Wheat Thins and Cheez-Its, my delusions did not last long.  Especially when we go to the playgroup at my church, and my kid steals Goldfish from all of the other kids.  After he has already eaten his entire bowl of Cheerios, raisins, and freeze dried apples.

But I digress.  So as I have been reading blogs, chatting on Facebook with other bloggers, I started to notice some chatter about “stealing recipes.”  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen even had this gem in her hilarious series “Ryan Gosling, Food Blogger’s Husband” series of pictures.  Well, I stumbled upon a recipe at Pink Parsley for Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellos, and immediately began drooling and planning when I would make this amazing-sounding recipe.  Lasagna without pasta – I’m in!

Friday…  yes, it’s Lent, this is perfect for Friday.  And I am going to Mom’s.  I love mushrooms.  Mom loves mushrooms.  Sam loves mushrooms.  Larry… uhhh…  hates mushrooms.  Grrr!  But I still wanted lasagna, so I decide to change it up a bit to a version that we would all enjoy.

Spaghetti Squash in Pan

Well, we all loved it, so I had to post it.  Except the whole time I have been thinking about it, I’ve been paranoid that Josie (as if I know her well-enough to be on a first name basis) would think I was stealing her recipe.  I don’t want to be rejected by the blogosphere after I just joined it!!  So hopefully if she sees this, she knows that this was done in the utmost respect and appreciation of her recipe, which I will.  You should, too.  But I hope you try and like this one, as well.

None of us were in a pasta mood that night, so we just scooped up the sauce and cheese with some bread.  But this would go fabulously with some pasta (regular or gluten-free), or even some spaghetti squash.  Or even make just the sauce to go with your noodles.  Salting and draining the eggplant (“making the eggplant cry”, like my Grandma always said) really gives it a nice meat-y texture – something good to give to your carnivorous husband (like mine) on Meatless Monday or a Lent Friday.

Eggplant Parm-lasagna on plate

Are you more of a scientist or an artist?  Baker or cook?  Leave some comments below.  I’d love to “chat” some more with you. 

And if you are liking what you are seeing, “Like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and tell your friends to stop by.

This recipe was shared with:

Hodgepodge Friday 3/9/12 at It’s a Hodgepodge Life

Blogger Secret Ingredient – Parmesan at My Kitchen Adventures

Eggplant Parm-lasagna with “Faux”-lognese Sauce (serves 4)
Adated from Pink Parsley‘s Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellos

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise

1 T olive oil

1/8 t oregano and 1/8 t parsley (which I used), or 1/4 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper

1 c ricotta cheese

1/2 t dried parsley

1/4 c plus 2-3 T (for topping) grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut in thin slices

about 1 cup “Faux”-lognese sauce, see below, or your pasta sauce of choice

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 425ºF.Eggplant shells

2.  Scoop out the flesh from the eggplant, leaving approximately a half-inch thick “shell”.  Reserve the eggplant for the sauce, if making.

3.  Sprinkle a little salt inside the eggplant shells, and flip them upside down on a paper towel to draw out some of the water for about 5-10 minutes.Cheese filling

4.  Blot out some of the water from the shell, and place them cut side down in a glass baking dish sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until eggplant starts to become soft.

6. While the eggplant is “crying” and baking, make the cheese mixture by combining the ricotta cheese, 1/2 t dried parsley, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl.Stuffing the eggplants

7.  Remove the eggplant from the oven.

8.  Spoon about 2 T sauce into the bottom of each eggplant.  Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the shells, and top with another 2 T sauce on each.

9.  Lay the mozzarella on top of the stuffed eggplants, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.Eggplants in oven

10.  Baked for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese in bubbly and browned.

“Faux”-logenese Sauce

Eggplant reserved from preparing the “shells”, cut into about 1/4 in. cubes.  If you are just making the sauce, 1 medium eggplant, or about 1 1/2-2 c chopped eggplant will do

1/2 T olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 t dried oregano and 1 t dried parsley (which I used), or 1 1/2 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste

1 T fresh basil

Directions

1.  Sprinkle the eggplant cubes with a little salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes (make it cry again).  Squeeze out the excess liquid using a paper towel or kitchen towel.

2.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, and saute until translucent and soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

3.  Add in the eggplant, oregano and parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste.

4.  Simmer until it is heated through, or longer, if desired.  Just before serving or stuffing the eggplants, stir in the basil.

Enjoy!

Eggplant on plate close

Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes and Sunday Dinners

When I was a kid, Sundays always went the same way.  I got dressed in my Sunday best, which, much to my displeasure, usually involved tights and patent leather Mary Janes.  Then we were off to church at 9am, followed by an Entenmann’s chocolate frosted mini-donut from the church basement and a ride across town for CCD (a.k.a. Catechism or Sunday School).

Religious education complete, the whole family then congregated at Grandma & Grandpa’s house for Sunday Dinner.  The cousins all played while the adults sat in the dining room reading the newspaper and chatting.  I was typically in the backyard losing a game of one-on-one baseball (we had a very complex set of rules in order to do this) or H-O-R-S-E to my cousin, Nathaniel.  At some point in the afternoon, I would crawl in Grandpa’s lap to read the comics.

Then we would all gather around the table for one of my Grandma’s wonderful Sunday dinners.  Sometimes it was spaghetti or chicken noodle soup, or stuffed cabbage (which I always ate without the cabbage), but more often than not, it was some sort of roast or chicken with a side of mashed potatoes.  I would have a huge pile of mashed potatoes, usually with my corn mixed into it – those were pretty much the only two vegetables I ate as a kid.  Probably too many mashed potatoes, since now I don’t really love them.  On Thanksgiving, with all of the other awesome side dishes, I don’t feel that they are worthy of any of the valuable real estate on my plate.  Then I found a recipe for Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes, and I was a fan again.  I’ve made them several times, and thought it was time to put my own spin on them.

Caramelized onions

During The Bug’s nap, I cooked the onions till they were all browned and caramelized, added some balsamic vinegar and water, then let them cook a little more, until they were all gooey. Then I put them in the fridge till it was time to finish up dinner, and folded them into the potatoes right at the end.

Caramelized onion mashed potatoes on my plate

They were sweet, salty, tangy, and tasty, and went perfectly with the flavors in the gravy from the crockpot roast and Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (future posts to come on these recipes – dinner was delish!).  I hope you like them, too!

Shared in:

My Bizzy Kitchen‘s Blogger Secret Ingredient: Potatoes

The Nourishing Gourmet‘s Pennywise Platter Thursday 3/1

Recipes for My BoysThursday’s Treasures

Did you have family Sunday Dinners as a kid?  Do you now?  What are some of your favorite Sunday Dinner meals?

Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes (serves 6-8)

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

1 T olive oilBowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes

1/2 of a large or 1 medium sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui, etc.), chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T water

2 lbs white potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 grated parmesan cheese

1 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

a few grinds of pepper

Directions

Prepare the caramelized onions (can be done ahead, and kept in the fridge):

1.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add onions.

2.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  You may have to lower the heat a little as they start to brown.

3.  Add balsamic vinegar and water, cover and lower heat.

4.  Cook until soft and sticky.

5.  Set aside until potatoes are ready.

Prepare the potatoes:

1.  Cover potatoes in a pot with water, and bring to a boil.

2.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain.

3.  Add the buttermilk and mash with a hand potato masher.  I like to leave it a little chunky.

4.  Stir in the reserved caramelized onions, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

5.  Enjoy!

Bowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes from top