Thursday, November 21, 2013

t3 - sweet, sweet, sweet potatoes

Growing up my only experience with a sweet potato was the marshmallow-covered, sickly-sweet purée served every year at Thanksgiving. Consequently, I spent most of my life thinking I hated sweet potatoes.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I realized the falsity of that statement, but it must have occurred sometime during my college years. My guess is it probably correlates directly with my introduction to Pinterest.

So in a mere three years, the sweet potato has gone from outright disdain to my favorite vegetable and side dish. You can ask Daniel, there’s always sweet potatoes in our house. And I am always trying to find new ways to work them into the meal.

Usually, I just zap it in the microwave for eight minutes and add salt and pepper {I actually prefer that to roasting it in the oven}.

My only rule is this: I will not do to a sweet potato anything I would not do to a regular potato. Read: I don’t like my sweet potatoes sweet. No brown sugar. No nuts. No cinnamon.

Here are my three most recent uses of the sweet potato:

#1 Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I have seen dozens of recipes for twice baked potatoes on Pinterest and the blogs I read. I had time and I was in a cooking mood, so I attempted a healthier version using the sweet potato. This recipe from Hallmark was my starting point, and I must say, I was pleased with the results. To give it a Thanksgiving spin, I might try it with leftover Turkey and dried cranberries.

4 sweet potatoes {about 8 – 10 oz each}
2 tbsp of butter
½ tsp of salt
½ tsp of pepper
1 ¼ shredded Manchego cheese {Say what? I used cheddar…}
3 tbsp of parmesan cheese {Yeah, I used way more than that…}
4 oz of baked ham cut in ¼ in dice {Read: fancy sliced ham in deli meat section}
2 tbsp hulled pumpkin seeds toasted


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F, stab your sweet potatoes repeatedly with a fork, place on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour or until tender.

2. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Slit the potatoes lengthwise, leaving about an inch on both sides, and then slit it crossways. Peel the skin out and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl.

Jenny’s Tip – This is real hard. Good luck. My only advice is to not scoop out ALL the flesh but leave some to give the potato skin some support for restuffing.

3. Add the butter, salt and pepper into the bowl and mix until well combined. Then, fold in the ham and cheeses. Spoon the mixture back into the skins. If your pumpkin seeds are not toasted, add them to the top with some more cheese. 

Jenny’s Tip: Sunflower seeds or pine nuts would also make a good substitution for the pumpkin seeds. I would use whatever you already have.

4. Bake 10 more minutes. If your seeds are toasted, add them at the end.

If you ask Daniel what his favorite food is, his immediate response will simply be “Mexican.” So I am always on the hunt for healthier Mexican-inspired dishes. Especially ones that mix up the standard ingredients found in all Mexican dishes. We rarely go vegetarian, but this was worth it.

2 cups of sweet potatoes
1 can of black beans
1 cup of corn
1 cup of shredded cheese
4 oz of cream cheese
2/3 cups of salsa
1 tsp of chile powder
½ tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of salt & pepper
10 8-in tortillas
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
sour cream, salsa, guacamole or ranch – whatever your preference

Jenny’s Tip: Next time I will probably half this recipe. Ten taquitos is a lot for my small family means I had them every day for lunch.

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and slightly grease with olive oil.

Jenny’s Tip: I used a 13” x 9” baking dish, and it held the taquitos together better and made the ones on the ends extra toasty.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, black beans, corn and cheese.

3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the cream cheese, salsa, chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper together. Then, pour into the big bowl and mix until well combined.

4. Scoop 1/3 cup of the sweet potato mixture on the bottom third of a tortilla. Tightly wrap it up and place it seam side down on the baking sheet or dish. Repeat until all the filling is used up.

Jenny’s Tip: I ran out of room before I ran out of stuffing AND I am pretty sure I used too much stuffing in each of my taquitos. I will definitely half the recipe next time.

5. Mix the butter and oil together and brush over the taquitos. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

All rules are meant to be broken, right? Because I broke my rule with this last one. It’s the only sweet, sweet potato recipe I have tried and liked. The sweetness is light and not overpowering. Even better, these are all ingredients I regularly have in the house. So this side is always an option if I am scrounging for dinner ideas.

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
¼ tsp of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
sea salt, to taste

Jenny’s Tip: The first time I made this I was a poor college student and didn’t have nutmeg or ginger sitting around. It was still delicious without.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
 Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray. 
2. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into bite-size cubes and pour into the baking dish. 

3. Melt the butter and pour over the sweet potatoes along with olive oil and all the spices. Toss to coat evenly.

Bake in the oven for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Jenny’s Tip: One hour is a long time. But it’s worth it. I might even put this in the crockpot before work and cook it on low for four hours so it’s ready when you get home.

Do you have any sweet potato recipes I should try?


  1. These all sound so good!!! My hubby and I love sweet potato (not the sugary, carmelized version - just like you) and he'd love me for making these. (He does love me anyway, though) :-)

  2. You should definitely try some of them out and let me know how it goes! Sweet potatoes are one of the only ways I can get Daniel to eat vegetables, so there are always some in a bowl on our counter. They are also perfect for quick meals!