I Yam What I Yam

So what happened was I got this really, really big Georgia O’Keefe-looking sweet potato in my CSA box.


I posted it on Facebook and fortunately my friends had lots and lots of sweet potato recipes. I say fortunately because I already had a whole mess of sweet potato from the *previous* CSA box which I had been working into my default sweet potato salad- za’atar roasted cubed sweet potato, roast chickpeas, and a tahini dressing (tahini/lemon juice/olive oil).


Leftovers Make Great Work Lunch

So I cooked my way through the recipes. There was a black bean flauta recipe similar to this one.


And this sweet potato chana masala.


I was down to just three pounds of my giant sweet potato when Johnson’s Backyard Garden struck again.


I had some leftover black eyed peas to use up too so I made some burgers from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast. These are better if you think of them less as burgers and more as southern falafel. (1/2 small sweet potato, 1 garlic clove, 2 cups black eyed peas, 3/4 cup rolled oats, barbecue sauce to taste, 2 tsp cumin, salt and pepper. Peel and pulse the sweet potato in a food processor. Add garlic clove. Rinse and add black eyed peas. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until combined but not pureed, add more oats if mixture is too thin. Broil or pan fry.)


My friend Meredith suggested this Smitten Kitchen recipe twice and I was like, ok, ok already. I am glad she was persistent because I had ignored it as a side dish at first (I was looking to get through this sweet potato as expeditiously as possible) but it was first of all amazing and second of all filling enough as a leftover lunch. But it was also real real good with a pork chop.


Obviously I could not go without making some ice cream but I didn’t make my own marshmallows I am not a crazy person. Though my Facebook friends may question that assertion at this point in my continued sweet potato posting.


That finished off the giant sweet potato which felt like a major accomplishment. I mean I have run three marathons and I’m not sure what was more of a feat of perseverance.

This recipe inspired a real good sweet potato salad.


I used orca beans in this chili because that’s what I had in the freezer but it’s one of my favorites. At this point the end was really in sight.


I turned to Mark Bittman again to take me out, this time with a pasta dish from his Food Matters Cookbook. I did it, there was not a single sweet potato left in the house. All glory to God, I was sure to tell my Facebook followers.


Of course Johnson’s Backyard had the last laugh. My friend Siobhan’s comment on this photo says it all: “It took a while for this picture to load and as I was staring at the little white clock I was thinking “oh please be sweet potatoes.”


I am up to the challenge. Signed, the Scott Jurek of sweet potatoes.

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Edamame Quinoa Burgers

Just a quick driveby to recommend these burgers from EatingWell. Calling them burgers is a stretch and texture-wise they are a lot like falafel but they are also super delicious and pretty quick to assemble. Not only are they quick but you can freeze the leftovers for an even quicker second meal out of the recipe so win-win.  I had flagged this recipe and skipped over it a million times before finally making it and wish I’d made it sooner so thought I’d pass it along. (Also good in that issue is this edamame salad.)

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Twenty Minute Chickpea and Spinach “Risotto”


I don’t have time to type out a long story but am really struggling with the whole get food on the table thing now that I am no longer an at-home mom with the leisure of morning grocery shopping and nap time prep time (the only part of Bringing Up Bebe that really intrigued me was the part where she talked about a French woman who got home at 6 PM every day and her whole family ate a home cooked meal, presumably without the use of corn dogs- please give me a book about how that happens) so when I throw something together that is fast and good I feel it’s important to share.

  • 1  tbsp olive oil plus a little more for chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Spinach (handful of baby spinach)
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup canned or cooked chickpeas (quick tip to make your own- soak overnight, cook five hours in crockpot, then drain and freeze- months’ worth of chickpeas at your fingertips)
  • Salt and pepper

Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add orzo to pan and stir for 1-2 minutes until about 1/3 of the orzo has toasted (stole this method from Sally Schneider and never giving it back btw). Add water and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until soupy, about 11 minutes.

Meanwhile toss chickpeas with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast at 425 until crisp. (This is optional but I like the crunch.)

When orzo is soupy, stir in spinach and continue to cook until spinach is wilted. Add feta, chickpeas, and season to taste. Add some lemon juice or red wine vinegar if you want to go really crazy.

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Poppyseed Chicken Redux

So obviously I love me some poppyseed chicken but if you know me in real life, or on Twitter, or have just been in a 100 mile radius of me you know that I began reducing/eliminating processed foods in my diet since Thanksgiving. (You would know because I am pretty obnoxious/can’t shut up about it.)

But I wanted to make poppy seed chicken (I use the James Villas recipe but they are identical except his adds lemon juice. Which I recommend.). Fortunately I’m not alone in this “real food” craziness. I used this recipe for cream of chicken soup, and it was super easy and a perfect substitute. I used whole wheat flour; if you are not on a whole grains kick and want your cream of-soup to be totally lump free with minimal whisking I would recommend Wondra. (Even with the whole wheat flour it was pretty lump free with about two minutes, tops, of whisking.)

Whisking away.

Whisking away.

For the Ritz cracker topping I turned to this recipe. My standard all purpose to mostly whole wheat flour conversion in baking is to use 1/4 all purpose, 1/4 white whole wheat flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour and that worked well in this cracker. I don’t think I baked them long enough since they did not come out as crisp as “store boughten,” as an old teacher of mine would say. But they were tasty, and crumbled up nicely for a casserole topping. The food processor meant it was a really easy cracker to put together- the hardest part was cutting the crackers and poking holes on the top of each one but fortunately I have a houseboy a kindergartener to do that part.

Homemade Crackers, Cooling

All in all, it was marginally more difficult than making a regular poppyseed chicken casserole but not as time and labor intensive as, say, spinach lasagna  or plenty of other things I regularly make. I may experiment with a biscuit or free form pastry topping the next time I make it but will never go back to the can.

Poppyseed Casserole

Poppyseed Casserole- not the most aesthetic dish whether you use processed ingredients or not but pure comfort food either way.

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Meatless Muffuletta

I’ll let Teri weigh in on the authenticity of this sandwich; my nearest muffuletta experience involves once being on an email list ostensibly devoted to the band The Fall that spent endless emails speculating on the existence of a deep-fried muffuletta. This is about a bitrillion times more healthy than that would be. It’s a ginormous, phenomenally flavorful sandwich. It is pretty easy to make in that it only takes about 40 minutes to prepare but fiddly to make in that you do spend a good solid 10 minutes of that time chopping. The rest of the time is hands off, though, and the chopping is all well worth it.  This is another one from Bittman’s Food Matters cookbook, which really y’all need to all go ahead and buy.

Muffuletta, More Or Less

Makes 2 very filling sandwiches

  • 1 small eggplant, sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus more for brushing eggplant
  • 1/4 cup brine cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 whole grain sandwich rolls or 1/2 of a big loaf of crusty whole grain bread cut into two pieces
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  1. Sprinkle the sliced eggplant with salt and let rest in a colander for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450. Rinse, remove from the colander, and press between two paper towels to remove excess moisture. Drizzle some olive oil on both sides of the eggplant slices and cook for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  2. While the eggplant is in the oven, get to work on the salad. (I wait until then to chop everything.) Combine the olives, capers, red onion, pepper, oregano, garlic, vinegar, and 2 tbsp oil in a medium bowl. Add black pepper to taste.
  3. Slice the rolls or bread horizontally and scrape out most of the inside, you’ll need room for the fillings. Spread the olive salad over both sides of the bread, including all the oil and juice from the bottom of the bowl. Add the roasted eggplant and sliced tomato and serve at once.
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Potluck Quinoa

I’ve been on a big ice cream kick lately (thanks, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home) which has meant I’ve been counterbalancing with lots of vegetables and whole grains. Which has led to a bit of a quinoa obsession. You know you’re in trouble when you have to make separate labels for your black, red and regular quinoa. One of my favorite easy lunch/dinners at home is Grains and Mushrooms, lightly scrambled– I use zucchini, asparagus or even kale instead of mushrooms for an easy way to get in a vegetable serving. And I made this salad this week and it was incredible- light but filling. So when I had a potluck to go to I figured I’d make the quinoa salad again but of course I was out of cranberries and gouda. Instead I threw in what I had on hand and it turned out amazing- I am glad I kept some behind for lunch today. A friend asked for the recipe so I figured I’d just blog it. It turned out to be the perfect potluck dish- super simple to throw together, tasty enough everyone wants to try it but also healthy. (Next time I make it I’ll probably add in some chopped red onion. Will report back.)

Quinoa With Arugula, Avocado and Feta

  • 1 and a half cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 and a half cups arugula
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix together quinoa, arugula, avocado, feta, walnuts and tomatoes in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil with the red wine vinegar and stir into the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4 as a main course.

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Pasta With Smashed Peas and Bacon

One of the first pasta dishes I really fell in love with was spaghetti carbonara (what’s not to love? Eggs, cheese and bacon) and in particular this zucchini carbonara when it first ran in the Minimalist.

So I was drawn immediately to a recipe for pasta with smashed peas, prosciutto and scallions in the Food Matters Cookbook- I had extra bacon on hand and figured if I subbed that in for the prosciutto it’d be more carbonara-y. I used shallot instead of scallion and was amazed at how rich this “sauce-less” pasta turned out after cooking the peas in bacon fat. Don’t tell carbonara but you don’t even miss the egg.

Pasta with Smashed Peas and Bacon, adapted from Mark Bittman’s  Food Matters Cookbook

Serves 2.

  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 ounces whole wheat pasta
  • Pecorino Romano cheese to grate over
  1. Bring a big salted pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and pour off all but a teaspoon of the bacon fat. Add the shallot, sprinkle with salt, and cook until beginning to brown. Add the peas and cook for three minutes; remove from the heat.
  2. Cook the pasta as directed. When the pasta is about a minute away from being done, return the peas to medium heat and add 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Smash up the peas a little with the back of a spoon. Drain the pasta and keep a little of the water. Put the pasta back into the pot and stir in the peas, adding extra water if needed, depending on how much of a saucy consistency you want the peas to have.
  3. Serve the pasta, grating about a teaspoon of fresh pecorino romano on top and sprinkling with the crisp bacon pieces and more black pepper.
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