kid-friendly · Recipes

Sweet Potato Pot Pie

This is an all-purpose vegan recipe that can be made into a Meatless Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, or turned into the filling for a Vegetarian  Sweet Potato Pot Pie. With crumbled veggie burgers instead of meat, and your choice of vegetables in a creamy non-dairy sauce topped with buttery mashed sweet potatoes, it’s versatile and hearty!

SWEET POTATO POT PIE.jpg

Even though this turned into a vegetarian shepherd’s pie — with “meat” on bottom, veggies and sauce on top, and potatoes spread in a thin layer, baked until browned and bubbly — I created this filling with the intent of putting it in a pot pie next time. To do that, I’d keep the sweet potatoes cubed instead of mashing them, thin out the creamy sauce on the stove top with a bit of nut milk, then use a puff pastry shell to cover it in a glass baking dish. Let me know if you try it that way! I really liked how this turned out.

22390222446_6b2400df28_o.jpg

Sweet Potato Pot Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 veggie burger patties (I used frozen)
  • fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice; I used corn and carrots. You need about two 14-oz. cans worth, or two small bags of frozen vegetables.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • cashew cream (eyeball the amount) & water to thin it out until spreadable
  • olive oil, for cooking the diced onion
  • butter, for stirring into the mashed sweet potatoes

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 350 then prep the ingredients. Microwave the four patties briefly, following package directions, then cut into triangles and set aside. Boil water in a large pot; peel and cube the potatoes, then cook in the water once boiling until just soft. Drain and set aside. Once they’ve cooled a bit, mash by hand with a pat of butter. Dice an onion.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until warm, then saute the onion and add the veggie patties until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the onion-veggie burger mixture into the bottom of a glass baking dish — I used a round glass casserole dish, but a square 10×10 or 8-inch glass pan would also work well — and press down so it’s flat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the vegetables (thawing/draining first if frozen/canned) and the cashew cream, eyeballing the amount based on how creamy you’d like the filling of your pie to be. As I noted above, you should add some water to make the cashew cream more liquid-y if you’ll be baking it into a sweet potato pot pie with a pie crust instead of a shepherd’s pie. Pour over the veggie burger-onion mixture in the glass baking dish.

Top with the mashed sweet potatoes, patting down flat so they evenly cover the veggies. Bake uncovered for about half an hour, checking to make sure it isn’t burning, and let cool briefly once out of the oven. To reheat later, I like to put a pat of butter on top! (No surprise there — anyone in my family can tell you what a butter freak I am.)

22390267906_713c7e8e04_o21793473704_0d8aa8bbc8_o22390280546_0c163c9eec_o21795160723_4baea62270_o22228575518_87d604999e_o

This travels and reheats very well, too. I made this in single-serve, miniature ramekins for Mark’s grandfather when he was recovering from surgery a few years ago, and also for friends who’ve just had a baby in winter. It’s just the kind of comforting food that cold days call for, and at least in Boston, we are still having lots of cold, rainy days. Brrr! Hopefully we’ve had our last true deep freeze for the year and we can look forward to warmer weather ahead. It is officially spring now, after all 🙂

18883418730_1ca071da52_o

Cashew cream is really easy to make, and if you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix (let this be yet another reason to justify buying one!) you can make it without even needing to soak the nuts overnight. Of course, you can also make this recipe with a conventional dairy-based white sauce from scratch or by using a can of “cream of” soup such as cream of celery or cream of mushroom or potato. But you don’t need to be vegan to enjoy cashew cream! It takes mere minutes to make, and seasoned with nothing more than a little salt and garlic it’s ready to dress pasta or any number of tasty dishes that would otherwise use dairy. Toss it with egg noodles, cooked spinach and diced butternut squash, or add nutritional yeast to create a “cheesy” sauce for baked macaroni. It can pinch-hit in any casserole you already make, or try it mixed with hot sauce or sriracha and baked with some shredded chicken for a tasty buffalo dip.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Recipes

Beef Arepas! (Cornmeal Flatbreads) with Pickled Jalapeños & Avocado

This post is dedicated to my adventurous husband and daughter who bravely tried something that they a) had never heard of, b) knew was a little spicy, and c) couldn’t slather with melted cheese, as is their typical preference. 

IMG_0455

This dish was super easy, and can be made both vegetarian and mild very easily.

(Or, you can go all-in and cook the jalapenos with their ribs and seeds and everything and get even MORE heat!)

What are Arepas? Similar to Polenta patties, they are like small pancakes made with pre-cooked white or yellow corn flour, available inexpensively in large grocery stores under the Goya brand or online. Pan-fried in a hot skillet with a little bit of oil, they are a fast foundation to several Central- and South-American dishes. They are very versatile and can be served at any time of day with eggs, vegetables, cheese or meat. All you need to do is mix the flour with water and form into palm-sized balls, then pat them flat and cook in a frying pan.

IMG_0449

Arepas with Pickled Jalapenos & Avocado

Time: Less than 40 minutes start to finish.

Quantity: The recipe below feeds about 2 1/2 people, which was exactly our size. Adjust accordingly! It doubles very easily and most people will be satisfied with one arepa, or maybe one and a half if you’re a growing boy like Mark 😉

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces ground beef (1/2 pound)
  • 1 cup Masarepa (or corn flour) — see note above on where to buy
  • 2 radishes, ends removed, sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, de-stemmed
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (can sub jarred jalapeno slices)
  • seasonings, such as cumin & chili powder, to taste (I used carne molida blend)
  • 1 cup room-temperature water
  • olive oil, for cooking

DIRECTIONS

Start by washing, drying and preparing the produce: cut off the ends of the radishes, then slice them thinly into rounds; quarter the lime; pit, peel and slide the avocado to desired thickness; toss with the juice of 1 lime wedge to prevent browning; peel, halve and thinly slice the red onion; pick the cilantro leaves off the stems, discarding the stems; slice the jalapeno into rounds (or slice lengthwise and chop into smaller pieces, discarding ribs and seeds for less heat); end by washing your hands so you don’t transfer the heat of the pepper to other parts of the dish (or rub your eyes by accident — ouch!)

Next, pickle the jalapeno and onion. In a small pan, combine the jalapeno, sugar, vinegar and half the onion. Add 2 TBSP water and heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cook and stir occasionally for just a couple minutes, or until the liquid is mostly reduced. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Then, brown the beef. In a large non stick pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium-high until hot; add the beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, for 2-3 minutes or until it’s just cooked through (no more pink). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside; wipe out the pan with a paper towel.

In the pan you just used to cook the beef, heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium high until hot. Add the rest of the onion plus the spice blend to your taste (I did just the tiniest pinch because I was making this mild) plus salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, just a couple minutes or until fragrant; add the cooked beef and the juice of 1 lime wedge. Cook another two minutes, stirring, until just combined, then transfer to a bowl and wipe out the pan again for the arepas.

To form the arepas, combine the flour with a huge pinch of salt and 1 cup of lukewarm water. Stir until just combined; the dough should be damp and easy to work with. Using wet hands, divide the dough into four equal-sized balls, then flatten into 1/4 inch thin rounds on a clean work surface like a dry cutting board.

In the pan you just cleaned out, heat 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-hot until hot. Add the arepas all at one time, cooking 2-4 minutes per side, or until they are golden and cooked through.

Plate your food by placing the arepas in the bottom of each dish, topping them with the ground beef, then avocado. Garnish with the radishes, cilantro and as much pickled jalapeno and onion as appeals. Serve with the remaining lime wedges on the side. Yum!

TIPS

Carne Molida is a spice blend made up of 2 Parts Ancho Chile Powder, ​2 Parts Chipotle Chile Powder, ​2 Parts Garlic Powder, ​2 Parts Ground Cumin, ​2 Parts Ground Coriander, ​2 Parts Mexican Oregano, 1 Part Cocoa Powder, 1 Part Ground Nutmeg, and 1 Part Cornstarch. I barely used a pinch of this; you can decide what type of flavor you like and what heat level you desire and adjust accordingly. You could just as easily add a dash of cumin and chile powder and call it a day.

Masarepa is a quick-cooking flour. Its most popular use is in making arepas; the name “masarepa” is a combination of the words “masa” and “arepa,” meaning “dough” and “cornbread.” As I said above, you can buy it online here if you can’t find it locally.

Cooking Jalapeno with sugar and red wine balances out its heat a little, but you should only use a tiny amount of chopped jalapeno in this dish if you really hate spicy food. Adding in the ribs and seeds will intensify that level significantly. I cooked a little bit and then made sure Mark and Georgia didn’t get any actual Jalapeno chunks on their plate, which satisfied my desire to get the flavor into the dish while making sure they didn’t bite down into anything hot.

This can be easily doubled with one pound of ground beef and so on. You can also very easily sub in vegetarian ground crumbles or omit the meat entirely and insert cheese, eggs, or sturdy roasted vegetables with the same seasonings.

IMG_0436

IMG_0437

IMG_0439

The deconstructed toddler version:

IMG_0452

And no, she didn’t really go for the radishes. She did try them, though. 

Happily, avocados and carbs are already favorites of hers, so the patties and everything else went down the hatch. Like me, she never really eats red meat, so the hamburger she sort of picked at and gave a few courtesy nibbles. I’m not worried about her disliking ground beef, though. While it’s a rich source of iron, protein and zinc, no toddler needs to eat red meat to get those nutrients if they eat enough good fish like salmon, eggs and full-fat dairy products like cheese and whole milk, and she’s better off without all the unhealthy saturated fat in beef (to say nothing of the hormones and antibiotics found in most U.S. meat, which isn’t safe for anybody). If you do eat a fair amount of red meat, good tips for keeping it healthy enough for toddlers include purchasing higher-end cuts that have less fat; picking lean ground beef when buying it for hamburgers; and broiling instead of pan-frying, which reduces the amount of fat retained.

IMG_0566
the kind of fat you want to retain forever: those cheeks

I hope you enjoy this one. We tried it during our free trial of Blue Apron, which we’ve now decided to subscribe to this summer on a temporary basis to see how we like it. When pricing it out — $60 per delivery, which includes three meals that feed exactly two people — it made more sense than dropping $25 every other night on takeout when we don’t have enough time or ingredients in the house to make dinner. We always seem to have just enough extra to give Georgia a taste with her dinner, too, so it comes out to an economical $10 per person. I’ve decided to “skip” two weeks each month, so that we only get deliveries from Blue Apron every third week, and in between we rely on our old favorites, like pasta with meatballs, risotto, shepherd’s pie and spaghetti carbonara. Now that it’s summer and our garden is firing up, we’ll rotate this lemony pasta with sweet sausage in more frequently, as well as homemade pizza to use up all those peppers, tomatoes and basil. And, of course, there’s lots of fresh greens available at the farmer’s markets these days to go alongside any of these dishes to lighten them up and add some vegetables!

CSA · Recipes

Salad-spiration

Gotta tell ya, the heat zaps my appetite. Mark doesn’t like soups, which are my usual go-to for muggy nights when I don’t feel like eating, much less cooking. Things like gazpacho shooters, Sweet Potato Soup, and Fennel-Potato Soup with sour cream on top, Creamy Cauliflower Soup: yum! refreshing! But lately, I’ve been having a few light, creative salads instead. Start with your favorite greens and add a few of my favorite toppings, and you’re good to go. Some of my top combos:

20140716-144159-52919413.jpg

Greens topped with chopped tomatoes, taco strips, avocado, shredded cheese and cilantro, with creamy dressing such as Newman’s Southwest or Trader Joe’s Cilantro.

Avocado kale salad, shown with Lemon Pappardelle & Sweet Sausage. (Click image for recipe)

Kale, torn by hand and rinsed/dried, mashed with two ripe avocado and drizzled with two organic lemons. Excellent topped with watermelon, chicken, feta, tomatoes, parmesan, or walnuts.

Simple Caesar: 1/2 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp mustard, 2 diced garlic cloves, squirt of anchovy paste (optional) and a splash of Worcestershire sauce (also optional). Whisk, and pour over chopped romaine lettuce. Top with freshly grated parmesan and homemade croutons if you’re in the mood.

20140716-153612-56172932.jpg

My Chipotle knockoff! I take kale, avocado, corn, pico de gallo, black beans, shredded cheese and a light vinagrette and toss it all together. Optional: add grilled chicken. By avoiding the sour cream and fatty dressing (not to mention the side of chips and guacamole) this stays refreshing and healthy.

The last one, I don’t have a good picture of. It’s a strawberry jam salad tossed over spicy arugula, and it is to die for!  I blogged about this when I was first getting started, so my photos are horrendous, but the result was delicious.

You take a green with some bite, like arugula, and match it with something tamer like mesclun mix to cut the sharpness (unless you really love straight arugula). Then you make a dressing out of olive oil (3 TBSP), balsamic vinegar (1 TBSP), and strawberry jam (2 tsp) plus salt & pepper, and mix into the greens, then top with fresh strawberries, goat cheese and almonds. I’ve always wanted to try tossing some mint on there, too! If you do that, let me know.

What’s your go-to salad for summer? Sometimes I just pick up a bagged version from Trader Joe’s or Target and space it over a few days, especially when I’m by myself for dinner while Mark is on nights. Luckily, these days he’s home fairly often in the evenings, and Georgia is over her 10-month sleep regression (as in her age, not the duration!) so we can even spend time together after supper. And you know what’s crazy? Even when she’s sleeping right upstairs, I still miss her. Because she’s awesome, and I can’t believe she’s only been around a little less than a year 🙂

20140717-110044-39644658.jpg
My BFFL! (that’s breast friend for life)