There are many things in the kitchen that are pretty easy to cook and mashed sweet potatoes is one of those things. In my opinion, cooking a sweet potato is cooking 101. If you’re a relatively inexperienced chef, keep on reading. If you’re an experienced home chef, you can probably skip to the delicious recipes closer to the bottom of the post.
Everyone has seen someone massacre a sweet potato by boiling it in water. I think this is about the worst thing you could ever do to a sweet potato. Roasting it in the oven or baking it in aluminum foil is the best way to maintain, if not improve, the flavor. The key to baking a sweet potato is knowing when it’s done. Under cook it and you’ll be eating grit. Over cook it and you’ll squeeze the moisture out of it and you’ll be left with a watery stringy mess. Bleh!
Ok, a critical part to cooking a sweet potato begins at the grocery store. The size really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you buy all of the same sized sweet potatoes. You want them all to get done cooking at the same time, so don’t go buying big potatoes and little potatoes. I have seen some pretty huge sweet potatoes and some so small I’m not sure why the store is even selling them. I prefer to buy sweet potatoes that are about 2.5 inches in diameter. Buy too small and they can over cook quickly. Buy too large and the interior can be under cooked while the exterior is mush.
Continue reading “Sweet Potatoes and Killer Bee Honey Butter”
This recipe for Corn and Roasted Poblano Salsa is perfect for topping burritos, tacos, or anything that needs a bit of sweet and spicy.
Roasting your poblanos before adding them to any Mexican inspired dish gives the dish a smoky flavor. It’s very easy to do. I no longer have a gas stove, I use induction. Induction cooks like gas in most instances, but when it comes to roasting things over an open flame I am forced to fire up the grill.
You can do this over a grill, just use a medium to low heat and grill the peppers on all sides until they are charred and have black blistered skin. You can also do this over a gas flame in the kitchen, or use a grill pan.
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Asian inspired noodles are simply my take on Pancit and Japchae. Yes, I know they are from different countries. Yes I know this recipe is nowhere near authentic. Yes I know they are separate dishes, but I can hardly tell the difference. Since I cannot determine which one this is more like, I just call them Asian Inspired Noodles. Makes my life easier, and everyone knows I am all about simple.
Like my other Asian inspired dishes, this is another way I like to get extra veggies into our diets. I know, salads are good for that, but if you know me, you already know salad generally miss my plate somehow.
I also have a non-authentic recipe for Lo Mein that I will feature at a later date. When you see that one, you will think it is just combination of chow mein and Asian noodles.
I prefer this recipe with cellophane noodles or glass noodles. But my store doesn’t always have them available. There are several Asian markets in my area, but they are clean across town and I do not want to fight the traffic between here and there only to learn they are like all the other stores in town – out of stock or don’t carry them.
Continue reading “Asian Inspired Noodles”
Eggplant Parmesan is the perfect marriage of summertime eggplants and Andy’s Favorite Pasta Sauce. This can also be made with jarred pasta sauce, and Lord knows I have used jarred sauce before when I was too lazy or busy to make homemade. No really, lazy is the better reason.
One trick I learned long ago, and even use with homemade sauce is to add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce to extend and pasta sauce you are using. Unless you are mixing it with less than 16 ounces of pasta sauce, you should not notice a huge difference in taste. I like how it thins out the sauce for this recipe, as I don’t care for a big stiff glop of sauce on my eggplant or chicken Parm.
Eggplant may seems kind of intimidating, and I confess I was intimidated the first time I ever took a knife to one. Now, I have never ventured outside my box on eggplant, I only use it for a fried version of eggplant Parm.
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You may notice when you look at my recipes that I use minimal or no cilantro in dishes where it is customary. This simple Pico de Gallo is no different. If you like cilantro, feel free to add it anywhere and everywhere, just please do not put it into foods you want me to eat. I can do small amounts of it when I go to Chipotle’s or certain Mexican restaurants, but if there is too much of it in anything I just have to leave it on my plate.
I am one of the few people in this word apparently that thinks cilantro smells like dirty gym socks.
Since I do like Mexican food though, I just make my recipes without an overload of cilantro. I also use minimal amounts of jalapeno peppers, but just like cilantro, feel free to add more if you prefer more heat. I serve this Pico de Gallo alongside my Midwest quesadillas because I love all things tomatoes and I think they go well together. I also think it goes great with chips, it’s more than an acceptable substitute for store bought salsa only I get to decide how much cilantro goes in mine – none.
Continue reading “Simple Pico de Gallo”
Old Fashioned Slow Simmered Green Beans have been in my life since I was old enough to eat. The first indication a holiday feast brewing in the kitchen is the smell of bacon and onions cooking at the crack of dawn.
My grandmother and mother both made green beans often. I don’t know if it was tradition, cheap, a comfort food, or just the first vegetable that came to mind at dinner time. When I was growing up, everyone’s normal evening meal included a protein, a starch and a vegetable.
My grandmother used a spoonful of bacon grease when she cooked almost anything. She had a can of bacon grease sitting on the stove. She added to that can every time she made bacon for breakfast, which if memory serves me right was daily. My grandfather loved his bacon. Even after my grandma passed, he still made himself a breakfast of bacon, eggs, biscuits, and grape jelly. He also drank his coffee out of a saucer instead of a cup. I never did know why he did that. It remains a mystery to me to this day. He lived to be 89 and had it not been for dementia he probably would have lived longer than that. Continue reading “Old Fashioned Slow Simmered Green Beans”
I cook soups frequently. They are easy to make, easy to tweak, and hard to mess up.
Cooking Hint: I did NOT say soup is impossible to mess up. I have proven it is, in fact, possible. I have scorched chicken on the bottom of a pot before I even got started doing anything besides boiling a whole chicken. Words of wisdom, don’t be like me and try to salvage it. Throw it away! Or better yet, prevent a disaster before it happens and do not start anything on scorching high heat and walk away. See that tiniest bit of black stuff on the bottom of the meat? Do not even try to pick it off and rinse it off. That not-so-flavorful taste will permeate the entire dish.
Continue reading “Minestrone”
This is one of those rare recipes my mother made well. But she made it all the time. The recipe for Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad stayed taped to the inside of her spice cabinet. I don’t remember a time not seeing it anytime I went for a salt shaker.
It was always present at her parties by the pool. There would also be the required steaks on the grill, mushrooms, cucumbers and onions, boxed scalloped potatoes, and those little sponge cakes you can buy in the produce section of most stores alongside sweetened strawberries and vanilla ice cream (my mother’s version of strawberry shortcake).
Continue reading “Grandma Hunt’s Tomato, Cucumber, & Onion Salad”