Sweet Potato Hashbrowns

sweet potato, breakfast, hash browns, breakfast potatoes

Oh so sweet

Breakfast is easily one of my favorite meals of the day, but only when it’s done right. Like most people, I can live with a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit and then go about my day if I have to, but I’d always rather have something homemade. The only thing that frustrates me about breakfast is the monotony that we’ve settled for! Eggs, bacon, pancakes, cereal, rinse, repeat. Sure, there’s a little more differentiation than that, but it sure feels like there isn’t sometimes.

In order to break up that monotony, I try using ingredients that aren’t normally found on a breakfast menu. I’ve already posted some delicious recipes using wonton wrappers, salad fixings and polenta, but I definitely need to bulk up that section of my recipe index! Here are some examples of different, delicious breakfast foods that I’ve been enjoying lately:

Giardiniera and veggie-cheese omelets
Vanilla chai pancakes (cooked in coconut oil.  YUM.)
– Sweet potato hashbrowns

All these things are extremely yummy and satisfy that need for change. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for my sweet potato hashbrowns. I’ve been making them for a couple years now, ever since we had run out of regular potatoes and I was craving some hashbrowns. We mash them, soufflé them, bake them, French fry them and turn them into hummus, so why not turn them into hashbrowns as well? I made them for my parents on Christmas Eve morning and they went bonkers. I think they forgot how well the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes lends itself to savory dishes.

I’m actually going to share two variations. One is low-sodium and includes onions and the other is just well spiced and doesn’t have onions. At least one of them is sure to please anyone in your household who likes sweet potatoes!

sweet potato, breakfast, hash browns, breakfast potatoes

Jess took these photos. She calls this one “sweet hash”…. :)

Simple Sweet Potato Hashbrowns
Servings: 4
PointsPlus per Serving: 3

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, 8 PP
  • 2 tbsp light butter/margarine, 4 PP
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • paprika

OR A LOW-SODIUM VERSION WITH ONIONS

  • 1 large sweet potato, 8 PP
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • crushed red pepper or chili powder
  • 2 tbsp light butter/margarine, 4 PP

Directions
1. Get a bowl of warm water.  As you dice up your sweet potato, throw it into the bowl with water.  Letting them soak in the water for a little bit as you are preparing everything will soften them up just enough.  Chop up your onions and set them aside (not in the water).

2. Warm up a non-stick skillet or cast iron pan (my preference).  Once it gets to a medium heat, put in the butter and let it melt.  If you’re doing the version with the onions, put the onions in and let them soften up just a little.  Then put in the drained potatoes.  Sprinkle your spices over top (I just do a sprinkling of each and use a little more of the flavors I really want in there), mix around the potatoes so they are well coated with butter and spice and then let them sit for about 4 minutes.  Once they start to brown up on the bottom, scrape them all over to one end and give them a flip.  Let them sit for another 4 minutes or so.  Do this until they meet your level of satisfactory softness/crispness and then transfer them to a plate.

**PLEASE NOTE** – If you are doing the version with the onions, you’ll have to stir them up more often so the onions don’t burn!

What are some other things that you eat for breakfast that you’d consider “different”?

Ricotta Chard Pasta Sauce

This weekend, Jess had a taste of what it might feel like to be pregnant… backwards. Confusing? Well, let me explain.

Jess took this lovely photo of me cheesing it up right before we biked back home with all our farmers market purchases!

For some God-forsaken reason, my body woke up at 5:26 am on Saturday morning. Then Max got up and then Jess woke up because everyone left her. What do you do that early on a Saturday? You bike to the local cafe for a cup of iced coffee and then you bike over to the Farmers Market and get your pick of the beautiful produce, that’s what!!

We picked up 1.5 pounds of green beans, 1 lb of yellow squash, 1 ginormous zucchini, 1 bouquet of flowers, 1 lb of lettuce, 1 quart each of yellow peaches and fingerling potatoes and one 7 lb watermelon. It didn’t matter that we only had bikes to get back home; we wanted that watermelon. So, Jess put it in her backpack and strapped it on. The first thing she said was, “I feel like I’m pregnant, but backwards.” Hah! True true. And then we biked home. She could feel it in her back and her knees, but she got it home! I faithfully rode behind her to make sure she was okay (although it could be because she’s just faster than me in general) and luckily we arrived home without incident, but definitely with a little extra sweat!

Today she enjoyed a huge bowl of it all to herself, which she thoroughly earned! Thank you, my love, for a great effort and tasty reward :)

And now I give you a new recipe that I made up for the weekly CSA newsletter I contribute to! This highlights the swiss chard, garlic and herbs that they’ll be receiving in their baskets. Jess and I have made numerous versions of pasta sauces and this combines the best of the veggies with just the right kind of creamy cheesiness. If you don’t have swiss chard, you can substitute spinach and it’ll taste just as good!

Semi-Homemade Ricotta Chard Pasta Sauce
Servings: 8
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3

I think her bike likes my bike. Good thing too because the feeling is mutual :)

Ingredients

  • 1 jar roasted garlic pasta sauce, any brand (preferably Meijer Organic), 8 PP
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided, 4 PP
  • 3-4 handfuls fresh swiss chard
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini/squash finely diced
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, 3 PP
  • 2 tbsp light butter (optional), 4 PP
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice

Directions
1. Warm up 2 tsp of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add minced garlic, onion, basil, parsley and red chili flakes and cook until fragrant (around 2 minutes). Then, add swiss chard and cook down for about 4-6 minutes. Once it’s cooked down and onions are translucent, transfer to a food processor and chop it all up until almost pureed, but not quite to a smoothie texture. You still want some texture!

2. Now, get out a big sauce pot and warm up the last tsp of olive oil and the butter (if you’re using it) and put the finely diced zucchini in. Add the dried oregano and a pinch of the salt and pepper you’re using just to flavor it up a little. Cook for about 3 minutes and then pour in both the jar and can of tomato sauces. Add the ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice and stir until well blended.

3. Once it’s warm (around 5-8 minutes or so), add the chard/onion puree and stir well. Cook for about 8 minutes on medium low heat, test it and then add salt/pepper according to taste, and then lower heat and let simmer for around 10-20 minutes. The longer you simmer, the better the flavor!

4. Serving size is around 1/2 cup. Pour over your favorite noodle, use in a lasagna or on a meatball sub, put on steamed veggies or even straight over lettuce or sprouts! It might be good enough that you’ll want to eat it with a spoon :)

Italian Spinach and Tomato Egg White Frittata and a New Endeavor

Spinach growing at Dienger Gardens in Cinci, OH

I have awesome cousins. See, I come from a very LARGE Irish/Italian/German liberal Catholic family. I have 27 first-cousins; they’ve survived leukemia, marathons and mudathalons, political protests, backpacking through 6 different continents, stints in the Finnish Army, lots of college and lots of crazy family get-togethers. How could I not think they are amazing?

Some of these awesome cousins started a CSA. That’s “community supported agriculture”. My cousin, Stephen, decided he wanted to be an organic farmer, got some apprenticeships on farms and the rest is history. Well, actually, it’s just starting so it’s not history yet! Here’s a link to more information. He did it last year and my parents took part. They were absolutely thrilled! His produce is BEAUTIFUL. I’ve never seen swiss chard so vibrant. The pumpkins were bright and full of flavor. I love it! Here’s his garden’s FB page if you want to check out pictures and more recipes!

This year, Steve and two of his sisters, Amy and Ellen, decided to do a newsletter for all those who are participating in the CSA. And since I’m their awesome chef-to-be cousin, they asked me to write up a recipe each week highlighting some of the produce that will be given out that week! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this. I’m even participating in another local CSA this year (splitting a basket with a friend since our full basket last year was too much) so that I can get some seasonal produce to be inspired by.

This first recipe highlights spinach. It’s a stealthy, sneaky leafy-green that gives you large amounts of calcium and iron (even some fiber!) without you even noticing. It cooks quickly and tastes amazing. Mix it with some tomato, cheese, egg and italian spices and you’ll be in heaven (especially since it’s only 3 points per portion, so go ahead and have two!)

My cousin, Steve, is on the right and the other guy is Jules. They both have their own farms and together they are “Our Harvest Coop”.

Italian Spinach and Tomato Egg White Frittata
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3

Ingredients

  • 6 large egg whites (or 5 extra-large), 2 PP
  • 4 oz crumbled light feta cheese, 7 PP
  • 3 handfuls of rinsed and drained spinach
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder or red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Directions
1. Turn oven on to 350. Then heat up an OVEN-PROOF skillet (small or medium sized) to medium heat.

2. Cut up the onion and tomato if you haven’t already. Spray the skillet with Pam and put in the onion. Saute for about 2 minutes and then add tomato and spinach. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Drain some of the excess juices from the pan and return it to the stove.

3. While your fillings are cooking, mix your cheese into your eggs whites (shred it first if you need to) and add the spices. Pour egg mixture over fillings. Put away all your utensils now! Leave it be until it browns slightly around the edges.

4. Once it’s slightly browned, stick the whole skillet onto the top rack of the oven and let it finish cooking for about 10-12 minutes. This will finish baking it and let it get nice and bubbly on top. Once the timer goes off, check to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly. If it is, there should be no excess liquid on top and it should be able to slide right out of the skillet once you loosen the edge. Slice into fours and enjoy!

If you want to check out some other frittata recipes, try my Havarti Ham and Veggies Frittata or this Bacon Tomato Cheese Frittata that I highlighted from Closet Cooking!

Asian Breaded Albacore

I did something fishy. And I don’t mean mysterious or questionable… I mean tasty! When Jess and I were in Ohio a couple weekends ago, we made sure to stop at Trader Joe’s to fill up on all the grocery items we can’t get locally – nicely priced organic fruits and veggies, better cheeses, organic frozen meals, coconut cookie thins, etc. As we were about to check out, Jess turned to me and said,

“Don’t you want to get some frozen fish steaks?” I said, “YEAH!”, because in fact, I did. If there was a Whole Foods around, we’d be getting fresh ones, but the second best option is frozen, so I picked out a pair of beautiful albacore tuna steaks.

Then we got home and I looked around for a recipe that sounded both succulent and satisfying for my taste buds, but not too crazy for Jess’. The packaging contained a recipe for lemon-pepper breaded steaks, but I’m not so fond of that combination. It’s overdone with fish. And there was a recipe I found in one of my cookbooks for sesame teriyaki tuna steaks, but I knew I wanted some panko breading on there. Conclusion? Make up my own recipe! So I did. And it was wonderful.

I’d never had albacore tuna in any other form than chunked and packed in a can with water (and if you’re curious about the difference between albacore tuna and regular tuna, click here). These steaks looked too beautiful to pass up. I marinated them in an Island Teriyaki sauce for an hour and then breaded them with panko bread crumbs and asian spices, but the best part was pan-frying them in just a couple teaspoons of sesame oil! It really brought the flavors together. It’s a beautifully flavored dish that doesn’t overpower the palate with too much spice or too much fish. And it’s just as good when it’s reheated!

Pan-fried perfection

Asian Breaded Albacore
Servings: 2-4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 7 PP for 2, 5 PP for 3, 3 PP for 4

Ingredients

  • 13 oz fresh albacore tuna steaks, 8 PP (I bought a pack of two from the frozen section of Trader Joes)
  • 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce, 1 PP
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 2 PP
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 PP

Directions
1. First thing you want to do is put your fish in a glass dish and pour the teriyaki sauce over top to marinate it in the fridge for about an hour.

2. While it’s marinating, combine all the ingredients from the bread crumbs through ground coriander in another glass dish.

3. Once your fish is done marinating, take it out of the fridge and set it on the counter. Warm up the sesame oil in a skillet on medium heat. Bread all sides of the fish with the panko bread crumbs and then place into the hot skillet.

4. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes, 2 minutes for rare, 3 minutes for medium-rare. Rare should be slightly pink in the center. Once done, serve and enjoy!

If you want to pair it with a tasty dipping sauce, mix together 2 tbsp light mayo, 1 tbsp sriracha sauce and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice. It’s the perfect combination of flavors!

Portobello and Peppers Sandwich

Click here for this Grilled Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich with Pistachio Pesto from “Closet Cooking”!

I lost track of my tracking, people.  Gah.  It’s in my nature to do this… but I’m back to tracking today!  It’s been a bit crazy at our house, so I’m going to blame it on that.  The craziness consisted of our floor leaking.  Yep.  The carpet was randomly getting soaked right outside of our kitchen entryway and along the wall.  I mean SOAKED.  Bella and I noticed this on Valentine’s Night when my sock got sopping wet from me bringing our tasty dinner to the table in the dining room.  One step and my toes were squishy.

So, we called the emergency maintenance guys and they came over, but couldn’t figure out what the issue was.  The next day, they concluded that it was probably the leaky dishwasher of our neighbors.  Of course, we were the only ones with a leaky floor.  Just our luck.  They replaced their dishwasher, called over the carpet guys who soaked up as much water as they could and then ripped up the carpet so they could put two de-humidifiers in place before they came back to clean.

Click here to see some easy WWF Portobello Pizzas from “TJ’s Test Kitchen”!

For two days, our dining room area looked like a friggin blow up bouncy castle.  The cats enjoyed it; laying down in the middle and having carpet blowing up all around them, but Bella and I were completely frustrated by all the CRAP flying in the air!  Gross.  It smelled like a swamp down there.  We pretty much ate out for the next few days because there was no possible way to cook without it getting contaminated.  A couple days later, the carpet guys came to take their fans and clean and the apartment smelled good again…. for one day.  And the leaky floor was back.

I worked from home yesterday while a plumber figured out what exactly the issue was, fixed it (not before he put two huge holes in our pretty green wall) and then the maintenance manager came and put some drywall in the wall to cover the holes.  Now, he needs to nail it in place, spackle and then paint over it.  Oh, and the carpet guys have to come back since there’s another de-humidifier drying out the place again!  Goo.  I’m just glad we rent and don’t have to pay for a cent!  That’s the only upside.

Now that our leaky floor issues have been taken care of, I was actually able to get back to cooking!  Last night I made some DELICIOUS soup with pork, veggies and rice.  Definitely going to make that again.  But the sandwich I made for lunch today was sooooo tasty that I just HAVE to share.  I did not take pictures since I gobbled it up, but I included pictures of other delicious things you can make with portobello mushrooms!  This sandwich was so quick to make, had great texture and fantastic taste.  And it is super low in points!

Click here for this WWF Vegetarian Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich from “LaaLoosh”

Portobello and Peppers Sandwich
Servings: 1
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your favorite 1 PP bread (like Sara Lee’s MG 45 cals-per-slice bread), 2 PP
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Swiss spreadable cheese, 1 PP
  • 1 large portobello mushroom cap
  • 2 mini sweet peppers, de-seeded and cut in half longways
  • salt and pepper

Directions
1. Get out a cast iron pan and turn to medium high. Spray lightly with Pam. Then wash your portobello and peppers.

2. Toast your bread! This is crucial as it keeps the bread from getting too soggy too fast. Spread the cheese over both pieces.

3. Put the mushroom in the hot pan cap first. Then sprinkle some salt and pepper into the underside (it sits in there nicely). Put the peppers on the pan as well. Cook each side for about 2-3 minutes. Once it’s done, put the cap side down on the bottom piece of bread and pile the peppers on top. Put the other piece of bread over top and enjoy!

Try to keep the sandwich in this position as the juices will fall out if you flip it over. Eat within an hour for the best texture and taste! The bread will get too soggy after that. DELICIOUS! I thoroughly enjoyed mine. If I was to ever go vegetarian or vegan, I’d pretty much live off mushrooms. Waaaay better than seitan!

Sweets for Your Sweetie

Click here for this Chocolate Lambic Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe by “The Type A Housewife” blog!

Oh Valentine’s Day…. a Hallmark holiday that has reduced the requirement to say “I Love You” to only once a year.  It’s not really that bad, but still, I think it’s a bit overrated as a holiday!  I tell my significant other that I love her every day!  That’s the way to do it people.  Tell them you love them every day no matter what and then on Valentine’s Day, do something a little different (like Jessica from The Novice Chef Blog).

This year, your something different could be…. a special treat made by you!  Stick it in their lunch or briefcase or make it after dinner or maybe even for breakfast if you can get up early enough.  What do they like?  Pure sugar, chocolate or something more fruity?  Dessert or a milkshake?  I’m sure if you know your sweetie you’ll be able to figure out something that will be sure to please their taste buds.

Click here for this Banana Pops recipe from the “Life and the Web” blog!

Then again, maybe you don’t have a significant other.  That’s no reason not to treat yourself!  Love yourself because YOU are worth celebrating.  Make your sexy self a treat that YOU like.  I’d be making myself a lightened up cheesecake with fresh fruit on top.  You know, I’ve never actually made a full cheesecake.  I’ve made the filling, but it never made it into a crust!  Just into a bowl and into my mouth.  Delicious.

Well, I figure I should leave you with at least ONE recipe that would be easy enough to make at home.  I made this on Friday night because I was having a MAJOR sugar craving and I just happened to have a candy thermometer from my adventures a few years ago with Microwave Peanut Brittle (it was amazing, btw).

Sponge Candy (from The Yummy Life blog)
Servings: 15 (1 oz per serving)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3 (not including optional chocolate dip because that was just TOO many PP!)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar, 22 PP
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup, 27 PP
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 2-3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional), 49 PP or 73 PP
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil (optional), 7 PP or 11 PP

Directions
1. Generously coat an 8×8″ pan with cooking spray; set aside. (Seriously, you really need to coat it well! Mine stuck to the pan in certain parts because I didn’t coat it enough)

Click here for this Chocolate Truffles recipe from the “Point-less Meals” blog!

2. In medium sized saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar. Using medium-high heat, stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture has started to bubble. Check out the recipe link above to see Monica’s pictures of what each step should look like.

3. Attach candy thermometer to pan and continue to cook mixture to 300 degrees (hard crack), without stirring. Remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda just until well combined and evenly colored throughout. Pour immediately into prepared pan and leave undisturbed. Don’t spread or smooth it in the pan; it will even out on its own. It’s normal for the mixture to rise and then fall some in the pan.

4. Let cool completely. Flip pan over and shake gently to remove block of candy. Use a knife to cut and jab candy into pieces. Pieces will be irregular shapes.

5. OPTIONAL: In microwave-safe bowl, combine 2 tablespoons canola oil and 2 cups chocolate chips. Cook at full power in microwave, stopping and stirring in 20 second intervals just until completely melted (approx. 60 seconds total). Dip 1/3 to 1/2 of each candy piece in melted chocolate and place on parchment or wax paper until cool and hardened. Melt remaining chocolate chips and oil, if needed. Store in airtight container.

You can also substitute brown sugar and light corn syrup for the white sugar and dark corn syrup. That’s what I did since I didn’t have dark corn syrup and it still ended up looking exactly the same as Monica’s candy. This isn’t exactly WWF, but anything can be “WWF” once you’ve figured out the points value! So that’s what I did. I hope you enjoy it!

Click here for this Healthy Valentine Cheesecake recipe from the “Wishful Chef” blog!