Sweet Potato Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Today, let’s pretend it’s fall.  Let’s think of cool breezes carrying the slight chill of inevitable winter.  Let’s think of leaf peeping and pumpkin patches and multicolored mums sitting out on everyone’s doorstep.

Let’s not think about how it’s supposed to break 100 in New England today.  A few days ago, Luke and I talked about moving to Alaska.  But then we’d never see our families, and I don’t think there are many software engineering jobs up there.

So we’re stuck near Boston where it’s hot, sticky, muggy and gross.  So I’ve made something with the flavors of fall to distract my mind from the magma flow that is today’s weather.  Thankfully we were able to put an air conditioner in the kitchen last night.  Whewww.

These cookies taste pretty much like fall incarnate.  Warm spices, cinnamon chips and mashed sweet potato all wrapped up in a buttery cookie with oatmeal added for extra texture.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy oatmeal cookies, as long as they aren’t oatmeal raisin. Ew.

If you’re looking to whisk your taste buds away to a cooler, more comfortable place, these cookies just might do the trick, if you can stand to turn on your oven that is.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted loosely from My Baking Addiction

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed sweet potato (or pumpkin puree)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.

Add sweet potato, egg and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture, combining until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in cinnamon chips.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely and enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Smoked Provolone Cheese Sauce

I managed to knock over my personal fan no less than four times yesterday.  I’m sure our downstairs neighbors were very confused each time a big crash emanated from beyond their ceiling.  I’ll be glad when we move to the house and the only thing afraid of the noises my clumsiness causes is the bunny.

Somehow the fan is still intact and working properly.  I wish I could say the same for my memory card reader, which suddenly stopped working for no reason.  It’s quite frustrating when electronics fail on you without warning, especially an item as crucial as that.  Without it, I can’t share my lovely pictures of food with you.

Or the pictures of Izzy perched upon my back.  There’s a reasonable explanation people.  I was in her pen brushing her, and in trying to move to a more comfortable position, I leaned forward to one side with my knees planted on the ground.  She scurried up my thigh and was on my back before I knew it.  I felt strangely conquered; like how a mountain must feel when someone plants a flag in its summit.

Hopefully my new card reader will arrive shortly.  I got my new one from Amazon, as the last one was from Best Buy, but I’m certainly not going back to buy the same model that broke inexplicably in less than a year.

Thankfully I make and photograph a ton of food, so I have plenty to post about while my camera’s memory card reaches maximum capacity.

I love gnocchi.  Make that sweet potato gnocchi smothered in a smoky provolone sauce and I’ll probably never leave the kitchen table.  I may also drink the cheese sauce as my accompanying beverage.

I loved making this meal.   I loved eating this meal.  I can’t wait to make it again, and I strongly urge you to try it.  You can even skip the homemade gnocchi part and just make the sauce to drench the store-bought variety.  Don’t worry, I won’t tell.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Smoked Provolone Cheese Sauce

Adapted from The Noshery

Makes 4-6 servings

For the gnocchi:

1lb sweet potatoes, rinsed, patted dry, and pierced all over with fork

6 oz  (3/4 cup) ricotta cheese

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tsp plus 1 Tbsp salt

¼ tsp nutmeg

about 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the cheese sauce (makes about 2 cups)

2 cups milk

¼ cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, sliced

3 fresh sage leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup smoked provolone cheese, shredded (you can sub in another cheese if desired)

First make the gnocchi.  Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Place sweet potatoes on a plate and microwave on high until tender, about 5-6 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 1 1/2 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 3 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into a 20” long rope (about 1” in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 or so pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of fork to indent. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  You can freeze any gnocchi you won’t immediately eat at this stage.

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 1 Tbsp salt.  Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender and they float, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to servings plates to cool.

Next make the sauce.  In a small saucepan combine milk, onion, garlic and sage.  Place over medium heat and heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.  Do not boil. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove and discard onion, garlic and sage leaves.  Cover to keep warm.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until blended, 1 minute.

Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should cling to a wooden spoon or spatula, and leave a trail when a finger is drawn through it.

Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan.  Whisk in shredded smoked provolone (or cheese of your choice).  Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Dress the gnocchi with the sauce, garnish with extra cheese and sliced sage leaves and serve!


Sweet Potato Fries & Ravioli

When my obsession with food hit, I was desperate to find other people who shared my passion so we could make wonderful food together.  Also, because more people to eat food=more opportunities to try out different recipes.

Though KA has always been a great foodie buddy, she was at school over 200 miles away, so a local alternative had to be found.  Luckily, I reconnected with Ham, who had taken first year Chinese with me, and also happened to really enjoy cooking.

Carina the hand model!

He also happened to have three ravenous housemates, so we’d hold these great dinner parties where Ham cooked dinner and I made dessert.  Greatness ensued.

But now Ham is in China and I am in Massachusetts.  Enter Carina.  We first bonded in college over our mutual love for all things Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi, and later we became foodie buddies.  She has her own blog too, called Four Corners, where she features great vegetarian and dairy-free recipes.

She is leaving for a six-week stint in Lebanon today (and I am oh so jealous), so I had to see her before she left.

I remembered her liking my Green Pea Pesto Ravioli post, and decided we should make some ravioli of our own.  Since I had some sweet potatoes on hand, I knew we’d be able to make something fabulous happen.

First, sweet potato fries.  Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries?  Even Luke, the hater of savory sweet potato dishes couldn’t resist.

The main dish was sweet potato ravioli.  I’ve attempted making pasta dough without a proper roller, and it was a nightmare, so I stick to wonton wrappers for the ravioli skin (until I get a roller…wedding registry anyone?).

Anyway, we had to omit the butter and cheese in the recipe for Carina, but it still turned out great, though I do want to give the recipe another go sometime and include them.  Either way, these raviolis are pure orange gold.

Sweet Potato Fries

Makes about 2-3 servings

One large sweet potato, peeled or not (depends on your preference)

2 Tbsp olive oil

seasonings of your choice (we used Italian seasoning and extra oregano)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Slice the potato into thin wedges and arrange on the baking sheet.  Drizzle the olive oil and seasonings over the potato wedges, then mix everything together with your hands to coat evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes start to brown.  Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Sweet Potato Ravioli

Adapted from Cosmo Cookie

Makes 2-3 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound sweet potato (one large potato)
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg
2 tsp fresh sage, minced
2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
40 wonton wrappers

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Cut the sweet potato into thirds. Rub garlic and sweet potato with olive oil, and place, cut sides down, on a baking sheet, and bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool briefly, and then remove potato skins and pass the potatoes and garlic through a potato ricer or food mill into a medium bowl (if you don’t have one of these contraptions, just mash everything up as best you can); mix in nutmeg, sage, oregano, and salt and pepper. Set filling aside.

Place 1 wonton wrapper on a work surface and place 1 Tbsp filling in center; dip your finger in water and trace the edges of the wrapper, then fold one side on top of the other and press the edges together to seal.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, add ravioli, and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with your favorite pasta sauce and enjoy!


Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

It’s another super special Hop Day with Izzy!  And no, it’s not because it’s finally warm enough for her to start stretching out in her litter box.  Though it is cute.

It’s because today is my BFF Diego’s birthday.  He’s also graduating from college this week, so many, many congratulations to him!  Check out this vintage photo of us hanging out in Puerto Rico.  Yeah, I know we’re pretty awesome, especially me in my colorful little girl bikini.

That year was also the last one that I let my mom decide now I got my hair cut.

I wish I had a more festive baked good to ring in my friend’s birthday, but I thought making a cake for him that he couldn’t actually eat might be torturous.  So I went with a slightly less enviable choice, the muffin.

Hey, you know you like muffins.  And these babies are packed with flavor from mashed sweet potato, brown sugar and a menagerie of spices.

Top them off with some turbinado sugar, and you’ve got yourself one lovely breakfast.  Slap on some cool whip and a candle, and you’ve got yourself a tiny birthday cake.

Or just stick with the breakfast idea.

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Makes 12 muffins

One large sweet potato (about 8 oz)

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange zest

2 large egg whites

½ cup milk

1/3 cup canola oil

turbinado sugar for toping

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 12-cup muffin tin; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the sweet potato until very tender, about 15 minutes.  You can also roast the sweet potato by wrapping it in foil and baking it at 400 degrees for about an hour.  It takes longer, but it caramelizes the sugars and brings out more flavor.  Your choice.

After the potato is cooked, peel it (the skin should slide off) and transfer it to a medium bowl.  Mash it with a fork or potato masher, then switch to a wooden spoon and beat in the sugar.  Set the bowl aside to cool slightly.

In another medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; set aside.

Stir vanilla extract and orange zest into the sweet potato mixture.  Add egg whites and beat until pale, thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in milk and oil.  Add in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, but do not over mix.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling them to just below the brim.  Sprinkle some turbinado sugar (or brown sugar) on top of each.  Bake until golden brown, 16-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove and serve.


Cinnamon Scented Sweet Potato Chipati

So, flatbread is my bread of choice for the moment.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sinking my teeth into a thick, soft piece of yeasted bread, but sometimes, I want a thin crispy bread, you know, to shake things up.

I love pitas and naans, so when I came across this recipe for chipati, I was intrigued.  A different kind of Indian flatbread?  Don’t mind if I do.  The only difference I can see between naan and chipati is that chipati is a little thinner.

Obviously mine is even more different because of the addition of sweet potato and cinnamon.

But what an addition.  It’s subtle, but still noticeable and quite pleasant.  I’ve had a lot of fun dipping these guys in hummus, and making little pizzas out of them.

Making your own flatbread is incredibly easy, and since there’s no rising time, you can make them rather quickly.  They are a great accompaniment to dishes as well.

Cinnamon Scented Sweet Potato Chipati

Adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2004

Makes 16 chipatis

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all all-purpose)

1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato

1 Tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup water

Combine flour, sweet potato, butter, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well.  Add in water and press the mixture together with your hands. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 mins.

Divide the dough into 16 equal-ish portions, shaping each into a ball.  Working with one at a time, roll into a 4 inch circle, about 1/8” of an inch thick.  Repeat for each ball of dough.

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat until very hot.  Place one dough circle in the pan, and cook for 2 mins, or until brown spots appear, turn and cook the other side.  They may also puff up.  Transfer to a large plate and serve!


Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew

Today Luke and I have our final cake tasting.  Though the rivers of free cake will soon staunch their flows, I’ll be glad to have another thing crossed off our wedding prep list.

The whole process of wedding planning has been very smooth for us so far.  I’m sure things will get crazy as the date approaches, but we’re doing our best to get everything mapped out as early as possible.  Last night we also decided on what our wedding favors will be.  Getting it done!

Since days for making soups comfortably are starting to dwindle, I figured I’d post a stew while I still can.  Not that weather deters me from making what I want.  I’m churning that ice cream in winter, and hovering over that hot pot of stew in summer.  What can I say, my stomach is spoiled.

 Luckily, I was craving a hearty stew in the middle of February, and had a lonely sweet potato eyeballing me.

I was very surprised by how this stew turned out, because, well, it was supposed to be a soup.  I halved the original recipe, and maybe that threw things off, because what I got some more of a sweet potato lentil spread.  Which was awesome and delicious, and…interesting.  I ate it like hummus.  Definitely my best kitchen flop so far this year.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew

Adapted from Portuguese Girl Cooks

Makes about 6 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion chopped, about 1 cup

1 cup chopped carrot, about 2 large

3 cups peeled and chopped sweet potato, about 1 1/2 lbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp cayenne powder

1/2 heaping Tbsp curry powder

1 cup dry red lentils

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed saucepan (at least 5 qt) over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrot and sweet potato. Mix to coat with the olive oil and cook for 5 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add in the garlic, cayenne powder, and curry powder, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the lentils and mix until they are all coated, about 1 minute.

Add in the stock, and reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are tender and the lentils are cooked (exploded), about 15-20 mins. Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender, or puree in blender in batches.

Once it is all pureed, add in the cream and combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the fresh lemon juice and serve.


Sweet Potato Muffin Tops

It was a good weekend.  Slow, quiet and snowy; definitely a great combination.  Yesterday we assembled the elliptical machine we bought.  Luke’s New Years resolution is to lose 20 lbs by our wedding, and even though we joined a gym, putting on shorts at 7pm when it’s 13 degrees outside to drive 15 minutes to go exercise…you can see where this is going.

So we got one for ourselves.  I like to think it’s not because I pump Luke full of delicious baked goods.  And even if I do, I know he not-so-secretly likes it.  He especially liked these muffin tops.  And so did I.

But before I launch into a monologue professing the many virtues of muffin tops, I’d like to add one more fun weekend tidbit.  In honor of the Patriots making it to the Super Bowl, we ordered this for Izzy.  Getting her into it is going to be so difficult, but soooo worth it!

Ok, so muffin tops.  Everyone loves muffin tops.  People love them so much, stores now sell just the tops of muffins instead of the whole thing…and charge the same price.

These muffin tops are soft, cakey, with a tender crumb and cinnamony, sweet potato-y undertones.  They disappeared pretty quickly, probably because I didn’t have enough pancakes and snacked on these instead.

Also, Happy Chinese New Year Everyone! 恭喜發財!

Sweet Potato Muffin Tops

Adapted from Crepes of Wrath

Makes about 20 muffin tops

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/3 cup mashed sweet potatoes (recipe follows)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. First, roast your sweet potatoes. You will need 2-3 sweet potatoes, depending on their size. Wrap them in foil and place them in the oven for 1 hour or so, until fork tender. Peel the skin away and mash or blend them until smooth. Set aside until cool, and turn the heat on your oven down to 375 degrees F.  If you’ve already got your sweet potatoes cooked and mashed, skip this part.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ginger and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the pureed sweet potatoes, maple syrup, molasses, and brown sugar until well combined, then beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Gradually add in the flour mixture, until just moistened. Line and/or grease your baking sheets and, using a large spoon, drop 2-tablespoon sized balls of dough onto each sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes or so, until firm but not quite golden. Allow them to cool on the baking sheets briefly, then move them to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. These keep well in an airtight container, separated by parchment paper, at room temperature for 3-4 days.  Eat them quickly.  After a few days, they may get a little sticky or mushy.  (I ate them anyway.)