Tacos de Camotes (Sweet Potato Tacos)

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I toyed with some pretentious hipster title for this puppy – caramelized sweet potato tacos in a chipotle garlic emulsion. But, nah. This are simple and good – so tacos de camotes is much better. I want to try it with pumpkin, too. One day….. Anyway, if you get tired of turkey day leftovers in a couple of weeks, or want to use up that leftover sweet potato on the counter, or hell! Make an awesome first course to Thanksgiving dinner, these are ready to roll. Fast, easy and yummy. I can’t really say ‘no pica’, but the heat isn’t bad.
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These are crunchy and soft, tangy, sweet and spicy. Truly lovely.
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This is enough for two people as a main dish, or four for a side.

For the Taco filling:
2 large sweet potatoes, diced*
1/2 white onion, diced
1 Tbps. olive oil
garlic salt
For the chipotle emulsion:
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 whole chipotle peppers en adobo
2 Tbsp wine/cider/sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp olive olive
(A little water mixed with some adobo if needed)
And…..
Soft corn tortillas

*(diced means 1/2” cubes, people)
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. spread out evenly the sweet potato and onion, drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic salt.
Roast about 20-30 minutes, until really nicely caramelized.
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While that’s roasting, put the dressing ingredients in the blender and puree. You may need to add a little water/adobo sauce mix to get enough liquid to blend. Transfer to a bowl large enough to hold all the potato/onion mix when it comes out of the oven.
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When the potato/onion mix is done, remove from the oven and set aside just for a few minutes. (This lets the outside crust on the sweet potato cubes develop just a tidge more). Heat your tortillas and get your serving plate. Toss the hot sweet potato/onion mix in the chipotle emulsion, fill the tortillas and consume immediately.

These would be awesome with a smoked fontina cheese. Or avocado slices. Or even with some scrambled egg for an amazeballs breakfast taco. Or hell, underneath some poached eggs for that matter.

** This would also work with kabucha squash.
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Bon apétit

Butternut Coconut Curry Soup

November will be here in a few days. It is still ninety forking degrees here (You guys are all watching ‘The Happy Place’, right?) I am thoroughly disgusted. As Himself enjoys saying, “Love that global warming!” Oy. But still, that autumnal food urge is upon me. The markets are filled with winter squashes – butternut, acorn, turban, delicata, sweet dumpling, kabucha. Makes my head swim with happiness. I’ve got a cashew cream kabucha gratin idea floating in my mind, but it hasn’t fully formed yet. Maybe in a few weeks.
In the meantime, this behemoth of a butternut keeps winking at me every time I walk past it on the kitchen counter. It’s a four-pound giant. Gonna get two meals outta that mofo.
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I think the hard squashes scare off a lot of people. Did you know you can peel him with a vegetable peeler? (Mainly because it isn’t lumpy like an acorn.) Goes quickly, and you can peel and cube him in a few minutes – toss half in a ziplock in the fridge to make a couple days later. Here, check it out.
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This and a big salad, and dinner is done. Or, if you’re really hungry, a grilled cheese and fresh jalapeno sandwich would be awesome with this: melty crunchy spicy contrasting with slightly sweet and creamy. Such happiness!
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Butternut Coconut Curry Soup
3 stalks celery
½ white onion
2# (about six cups) butternut, peeled & in 1” cubes
2 Tbsp. oil or butter
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 (-ish) quart chicken (or veg) stock
Coconut milk, the full-fat kind.
Fried onions for garnish

Over medium heat, stir together the curry powder and oil. Let it get a little toasty (when you really smell the spices, time for the next step.) Ad the celery and onion, cook over medium until the onion is translucent around the edges. Add the squash and just barely cover with the chicken stock. (It if boils down, you can always add a little more. Harder to take it away if you do too much, though.) butternuecoco2med
Simmer on medium for about half an hour, until the squash is tender.
When it’s done, purée. (With a stick blender, in an actual blender (remember to allow for steam escape!), or in the food processor. It should be like loose mashed potatoes, almost thick enough to hold up a spoon. Return it to the pot, stir in about ¾ can of coconut milk just to heat it back up. Ladle in to bowls, garnish with a swirl of the remaining coconut milk and or fried onions.
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Bon apétit!

Cranberry Walnut Spice Scones

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Oh, it’s been a while my lovelies. I don’t think I’ve made scones in a year.
Mainly it’s Himself’s sugar restrictions, that plus reining myself in. But Fall is coming. Pumpkin spice lattes are saturating the atmosphere. Made some pumpkin bread last week for our respective offices, but then my contrary nature just refused to make a pumpkin scone.
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But, honestly, what is it about pumpkin pie, or pumpkin bread, or lattes – that orange bit itself is pretty tasteless. But the spice? Oh, yes. The spice. That’s where the magic is.
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These scones are light and just barely sweet. Perfect for slathering in butter and honey or orange marmelade. Makes 16 minis or 8 standard.
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Ingredients
1 ¾ c. AP flour
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c. cold butter, cubed
¾ c. buttermilk
1 egg, separated –white lightly whisked.
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Sparkle sugar (or granulated sugar)

Preheat oven to 425*.
1. Line a standard size cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix the dry. Cube the cold butter and drop it in the dry mix. Cut it in until it is after pea-sized but not yet coarse crumb.
3. Stir in the nuts and cranberries.
4. Whisk together the egg yolk, vanilla and buttermilk.
5. Flour your counter, barely stir the liquid in to the dry, then put it on your floured counter to barely, gently work the dough to a cohesive ball. With plenty of flour on your hands, gently, gently flatten the ball in to a disc about 8″ across and 1″ high. (or, divide the ball in two and flatten both those in to discs about 1″ high). Heavily flouring your board knife or a large chef’s knife, cut the circle in to 8 triangles. (Or you can make two 6” discs for 16 minis.)
**A Karen lazy step here is, I actually put my parchment on the counter and use it to help form the dough, then cut the scones directly on it, and slide it on to the cookie sheet.
6. Brush the tops and backs (not the sides) with the egg white, sprinkle with sparkle sugar.
7. Bake 425* 15-18 mins until golden brown.
8. Cool slightly, slather in butter and munch.
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Herbed White Bean Tomato Stew

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It finally happened. Stepping outside in the morning one day last week, I could feel it. The air was cool(er?). Summer is leaving. Then, we had a rainy day. And as Himself will tell you, I’ll use that as an excuse to make soup every time. Even if it’s 85*. But, c’mon – after 104*, the eighties are practically cold. It’s all relative, man.
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Every time I start to make soup, two thoughts come to me. The first is Joan Cusak’s character Marcella in Grosse Pointe Blank, trying to explain a recipe to a friend on the phone, “No, I, it’s not going to be a boring soup! It just, that’s just the base! Carrots and celery are just a base of a soup!”
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The other is that genius Beth over at Budget Bytes, who taught me whenever I’m making a mirepoix for a soup to double it and freeze half so the next time it’s like a little time-saving gift waiting for you in the freezer.

This was quick and yummy. Drizzle it with a little balsamic vinegar before serving.
Bon apétit.

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Herbed White Bean Tomato Stew
Ingredients
5 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced for soup
½ white onion, diced
A fingerwidth of fresh thyme with a couple sprigs of parsley tied in a bouquet garni
1 28oz can diced San Marzano tomatoes
2 cans drained low-sodium cannelini beans
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 quart chicken broth (or veg if you don’t do the meat stuff)
¼ c good olive oil
1 cup dry red wine

In a large soup pot, sweat the celery, onion, and carrots in the olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, plus half a tomato can of water. Raise heat to medium and simmer for half an hour. (Remove the garni before consuming.)

And, btw, the fresh thyme and the San Marzano’s are really essential. Spring for the toms, for this and your pasta sauce. You will be glad. Safeway has them under their house label, so they’re not insanely expensive. They really do make a difference.

Crunchy Green Bean Salad

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Originally I was calling this post: Blanched Green Bean Salad; or, that didn’t exactly turn out….

We went to Willcox yesterday, in our annual pilgrimage to farm country. Loaded up on fresh peaches, squash, eggplant, roasted green chile and of course the green beans. I was blanching them this morning, munching on one and thought – hey, this would be yummy in a salad besides salade niçoise.
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I was extremely disappointed when I first put it together – even himself was not enthused. It just tasted like raw green beans and dijon mustard. Yuck. I was so sad – I mean, come on! Green beans, bacon, onion, almonds – what could possibly go wrong??

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But the next day? It was pretty yummy. Only thing is, leave green beans in a acidic solution like that vinaigrette and they lose that pretty green in the pictures and become a more olive green, less fresh, appetizing color so I feel as if my pictures are false advertising now.

So…..make this the day before you intend to eat it; perhaps if your garden is drowning you in green beans.
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Whisk together:
1 tsp. bacon fat
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp canola oil
½ tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ c. rice vinegar
Stir in:
2 c. freshly blanched green beans, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 celery stalk, thinly chopped
2 Tbps. thin sliced white or red onion
1/4 c. almond slivers
1/4 c. minced parsley
1 slice cooked bacon, chopped

Make the day before. Serves 2-4.
Bon apétit!

Melon Cucumber Basil Salad

Oh, that you could taste this right now. Icy cold, crisp, slightly sweet – with accent of fresh basil leaves and lemon and the slightest drizzle of honey. I am in heaven.
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I absolutely love those yellow melons at Costco – I think they’re called sunshine? They’re amazing – the flesh is mostly like a honeydew. If they are not super ripe, they are crisp and still sweet. When they are ripe, they are a dripping juicy mass of honey sweetness. It’s a win/win.
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Dammit, I love summer. Make this – you will be so happy.
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There isn’t really a recipe, per se. Just this:
Cube or ball as much melon as you’ d like to use.
Peel and dice an equal volume of English cucumber. (If you use the normal kind, I’d seed it.)
Toss in a bowl.
Rinse and chiffonade a couple of basil leaves (more or less to your taste).
Zest some lemon on to the mix, and then squeeze in a little lemon juice.
Drizzle with some honey.
Toss and eat.

Shaved Squash Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinagrette

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I’m ready for something light. The comfort foods of cooler weather just seem heavy and unappetizing now that the days are longer and the sun is shining. Well, that plus the candy fest that seems to run from St. Valentine’s day through Easter. Ugh. No more sugar. Please.
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Shaved squash is all the foodie rage of late, and at first I thought, “uh – no.” But then I tried it. I must confess, it’s tasty. It is actually tender-crisp, mild, and ever so slightly sweet. And with some lemon? YUM! So today’s salad is a super light, marvelously crunchy concoction – it would be great as a big lunch salad, or as a side to some grilled chicken, fish, or tofu.
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There is so much crunchiness going on – the tender crisp of the squash, the moist snap of the celery, the toasted earthy crunch of the toasted walnuts. Combined with the freshness of parsley and lemon, and the tangy creaminess of some fresh goat cheese and you are going to be so happy you made this!
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Shaved Squash Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinagrette
Serves 2 as a side, or one for lunch
Ingredients:
1 c. walnuts, toasted
1 thin zucchini, shaved in to strips.
2 stalks celery, sliced thin at an angle
½ shallot, minced
2 oz. chèvre
¼ c parsley, minced
Zest & juice of half lemon (about 2 Tbsp. juice)
¼ c. (or so) good olive oil
salt & pepper
For the walnuts:
These must be toasted. Heat the oven to 400*. Put the walnut halves on a baking sheet. Put it in the hot oven, and turn the heat off. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes (you should smell toasty nuts.) If they don’t smell toasty, leave them a few minutes more. Let them cool.
For the dressing:
Combine lemon juice, zest, mustard and shallot in a bowl. Whisk these with some salt & pepper until homogenous. Then, whisk in the olive oil just until it emulsifies.
For the salad:
Plate this just before eating it. Arrange the celery, then the squash, parsley,nuts and use a spoon to make little dollops of goat cheese. This might look pretty done Cobb-style with each ingredient in its own row, but I haven’t tried that. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy!

Green Tamale Soup

Pretty simple set of ingredients
Pretty simple set of ingredients

We took a staycation the last week of the year, and I got a wild hair to make our own corn tortillas. “How hard could it be,” I thought. Turns out, fairly hard. As in, what are these? Frisbees? This left us with a five pound bag of masa in the pantry. What to do, what to do. Turns out it makes totally delicious corn bread, which is almost cakey in texture. It is also what is often used to thicken chicken tortilla soup – that ubiquitious, obstenisibly Mexican but really more of a gringo dish. Then I saw the bags of frozen roasted and peeled Hatch green chili in the freezer at Trader Joe’s , and a diabolical plot was born.
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I made a pot of this, and took some to work. A co-worker took a taste and said, “Hey! That tastes like green corn tamales!” Yeah, my work here is done.

Put some cubes of colby or mild cheddar in the bottom of the bowl and ladle this on top, and you will be in heaven. Even better, serve it with a cheese crisp. Just remember to taste your chiles – hot chiles mean spicy soup. If you are lucky enough to live near a Mexican supermarket that roasts green chiles in the late summer, they would be even better. I’d avoid the canned variety for this – the central flavor of this soup is the chile, and the canned varieties are so mild they would render a pot of tastelessness.
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This is super fast – start to slurp in under 40 minutes. Give it a try, you ‘ll be glad you did.

Green Tamale Soup
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
¾ c. masa harina (instant corn masa)
3 celery stalks, chopped for soup
3 carrots, peeled & chopped for soup
1 fat zucchini, chopped for soup
½ medium white onion, diced
1 c. roasted and peeled Hatch green chili (fresh or frozen. NOT canned.)
1 c. frozen corn.
1 tsp. sugar (optional)

In a bowl, mix the masa with about a cup and half of the stock to make a paste (or a thick slurry.)
In a large soup pot, dump all the other ingredients. Turn the stove on high. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat to medium low and whisk in the masa slurry.
Simmer about 20-30 minutes, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Don’t put the heat too high or the masa will burn on the bottom of the pan. The longer cook time just means softer veg.
This is even better the next day. And, you could absolutely add some diced cooked chicken breast to this, if you wanted to boost the protein quotient.
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serves 4
calories 189
fat 1.1g
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 1214mg
carbs 34.9g
-fiber 4.6g
-sugars 7.3g
protein 11.5g

Ciambella

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So, we were fast approaching the day when all are Irish. I made soda bread for the first time last year, and it was not anything like I’d expected. It was like a giant scone that you slice. So, since I have that other blog deal now, I did the Irish for that. But that made me think about ciambella – an Italian breakfast cake. Lemony, not too sweet. A little dry so you can schmear it with yummy jam or dip it in your cappucino. It’s like Italian soda bread, really.
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What do I love most about this? The rich buttery taste? The crunchy pearl sugar? The soft, lemony insides? I can never decide. But a hunk of this with some strawberry jam, and I am one happy, crumb-covered monster. This would be amazing with some whipped cream, too. I keep wanting to try it with orange. Or grapefruit. But hey – it’s citrus season. Maybe I’ll do that one next time.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from Mario Batali, and the freaking genius uses a food processer.
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I know I’ve been away. I took hiaitus through mid-February. When I tried to come back, I discovered the dark, seedy underbelly of having a blog. My site had been corrupted by some dickweed embedding some malicious code. Hacked through a vulnerability in my theme, and possibly through the recipe plug-in I’d been using. The Yum was flagged. I couldn’t even get in – we tried many different ways over a couple of weeks, but in the end the bastard had us beat. We had to pay our hosting site a fee (that we call a ransom) to remove it. I’m still pissed – feeling that violated, and unable to do anything was beyond maddening. Sooo….yeah. That’s where I’ve been. It’s still not right – look at this ugly theme, for now. But I want to be up and running again, and will tweak the pretties over a little time. In the meanwhile, please enjoy some ciambella.
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Brilliant!
Buon appetito!

2 c. AP flour
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter
1 egg
¼ tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
¼ c. buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. pearl sugar & 1 tbsp. milk or water
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a shallow tube pan (like a baba au rhum pan), or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Put the dry ingredients in the food process, pulse to combine.
Add the butter cubes, pulse until it looks like polenta.
Mix everything but the pearl sugar, pour it in the food processor, and pulse until you have dough.
It will be very stiff – like cookie dough. Pull it out, and roll it into a log about 2” thick. You can circle it in to the tube pan, or you can make it look like a giant doughnut on the parchment. You could also shape it in to a loaf about 3” wide and 8” long.
Once it’s shaped, brush it with the milk or water and sprinkle it with the pearl sugar.
Bake about 30-35 mins until golden and a tester comes out clean.
Cool and eat!
SERVINGS – 10
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Beef & Avocado Salad with Wasabi Vinaigrette

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Crispy romaine base with sliced radish, perfectly ripe avocado, sliced cucumbers and roast beef slices, with pickled ginger, white & black sesame seeds. Delicious!

This adventure all began because I asked my lovely husband to pick up some sliced roast beast for sammiches at The Costco.  When he got home, I realized we didn’t have any horseradish.  Now, to most households that is probably meaningless. But, at ours, we have to have horseradish on a roast beast sammich.  Anything less is uncivilized.  So, no horseradish. But, hey! I do have wasabi in the fridge – maybe I’ll make some wasabi mayo. Then the work week happened.  I started to have guilt about making my low-carb man have a sammich. I started to think about that roast beast in cute little rolls on a salad.  Plus, I had some gorgeous avoschmados. Mmmmmm. Wasabi vinaigrette! Our Google overlords proved it had been done, and that was all she wrote. 

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It turned out fantastic. Truly an outstanding salad. Totally making this again.  As I was eating, it helped me figure something out.  I love sushi. But I hate raw fish. This little salad adventure made me realize what, exactly, made me like sushi.  It’s a combination of flavors – the creamy beauty of ripe avocado, the salty soy sauce, the piercing wasabi, the sweet crispness of ginger, and the crunchy nuttiness of sesame.  Ok, flavors and ironically, textures. (Since I hate the texture of raw fish.)  All the interwebs used this kind of dressing on a seared ahi salad. Living in the desert, I save the seared ahi for our trips to San Diego. Plus, this is much less expensive.  I also think cubed firm silken tofu would be awesome on this salad if you’re not in to the whole beef thing.

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What a fantastic dinner, with a gorgeous bowl of miso soup. (Wait. What? You don’t know how to make miso? Ya gotta be kiddin’ me! Easiest soup EVER. Seriously – do this, too!
Ingredients
2 Tbsp prepared wasabi
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
¼ c low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ tsp. sugar or honey
About 1 c. lightly flavored oil
Instructions
Put everything in the blender (or your smoothie maker) and pulse a few times
serves 8
calories 264
fat 29
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 266mg
carbs 2g
-fiber 0g
-sugars 0g
protein 1g