Monday, November 15, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Dressing

Oh my gosh, I haven't blogged in 10 days, and it has been the most freeing experience. I'm some times surprised at how much time it takes to cook, shoot pictures AND blog. It is a bit time consuming especially when you have so many other things to do. A lot more than I would like to admit. Truth be told, I've been really pooped, wiped out, in fact. It all started last weekend when to save money, I decided to dig out a trench 25' long x 1 ' wide x 6" deep. I probably saved $300. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was fun and I surprised myself at how relatively quickly I did it. And I impressed the contractor, no small feat given his perfectionist qualities. So impressed, I helped make and pour concrete. It was fun but also wiped me out. I wish I could say I slept better but I was so tired I couldn't sleep. I didn't hurt myself or anything, and I wasn't particularly sore, but I just haven't been feeling like myself.

So that project took me out. I've been napping throughout the day and eating a lot. I'm now convinced that I can do all sorts of other yard projects, including digging up and putting down pavers. I can't wait.

This hearty savory salad will fill you up and make you wish for more cool fall days.

Time: 45 minutes

4 Servings

- 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1.5 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 T minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeno
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are great!)
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seed and finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 T olive oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes being to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

2. Put chilies in blender or mini food processor along with the garlic, like juice, remaining olive oil and sprinkle of slat and pepper. Process until blended.

3 . Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to date .

bon app!

And real quick. I need ideas, big time. Friend getting married Dec. 11. She's asking friends to make appetizers for 15 people. The parameters are 50 pieces, on our own plates, limited prep area, no fridge or oven, finger foods only. Plates, no forks. I have an ice chest to potentially carry food. Food will be traveling 50 miles and will be on the from road and not "fridged" from 1 PM to 4PM when it will be served.

What the heck do I make?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Banana Bread | Healthy Snack

I usually poo-poo anything low-fat. I don't believe in no-fat or low-fat foods. I'm fortunate not have to worry about calories or where they come from (please don't hate me). The doctor recently suggested that I would be in better shape if I gained a few pounds. Outside of this, I eat whole fat everything including milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream because it is much more gratifying. Plus, I actually eat less of the item than say they're lower fat/cal version. My craving is fulfilled and I haven't eaten something with substitutes and additives.

Given this, I was surprised that I wanted to try this low- fat version of banana bread. I tried it only because it came out of Cook's Illustrated and if they like it, it must be pretty good. Plus, did you know that a slice of banana bread has 220 calories and 6 grams of fat?! This is actually not horrible considering the alternatives but Cook's was challenged to come up with something leaner, moist and full of banana flavor.

Their secret ingredients, fat-free cream cheese (I know, fat-free!) and roasted bananas which makes them sweeter, hence less sugar is required. Have you ever roasted bananas? It was my first time, and it really made the bread pop. My guinea pigs devoured the bread -- it was gone in two days. Given the low-fat content, I'm not sure this version would freeze well. Eat pronto!

Makes one 8-inch loaf

- 4 large ripe bananas
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 T canola oil
- 2 ounces fat-free cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces and chilled

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat and 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with the vegetable oil spray and set aside.

2. Bake the bananas (skins on) on a rimmed baking sheet until the skins are completely black, about 20 minutes. (Do not turn off the oven.) Set the bananas aside to cool at room temperature.

3. Peel the bananas, then mash them with a potato masher in a small bowl until smooth. Measure out and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mashed bananas, discarding any excess.

4. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a handheld mixer on medium-low speed until combined. Add the oil and cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only -ea-size pieces of the cream cheese remain, about 1 minute. Slowly beat in the egg mixture, then add the mashed bananas and beat until incorporate, about 30 seconds.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

6. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving. (The bread can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up toe 3 days.)

I found that I need an additional 10 minutes though I have an oven thermometer that helps me gets the temperature just right.