Archive for Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato Obsession

SOS Kitchen Challenge

SOS Kitchen Challenge

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient for November is sweet potatoes, another one of my favorites! SOS (i.e. Sweet or Savory) is hosted by the fabulous duo Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living. Be sure to check out their SOS Kitchen Challenge sites for lots of yummy recipe submissions that are sure to inspire you. It is due to my obsession with this veggie that The Gluten-Free Edge has long had an entire recipe category labeled Sweet Potato.

    I was working on a sweet- potato-coconut-pecan biscuit recipe back in March about the time they went out of season here in Texas. They are still on the to-do-someday-list and Ricki’s Sweet Potato Biscuit post reminded me that I need to get back to that soon (like when they are still in season). 😉

    However, currently the Thanksgiving menu is on my mind along with other events so I am going really simple with something that I used to take along to the office with me back-in-the-day when I was employed as a data consultant.

    What do you do to stay healthy with very little time to spend on yourself? You take it down to the essential elements of food, sleep, and exercise. One of those food elements was the sweet potato, which became my best mid-morning snack. As long as that was tucked in my lunch bag waiting for break time I could easily bypass any confection that came along.

Sweet Potato Obsession
Sweet potatoes (mid-sized)
Vanilla extract (in a dropper bottle)
Almond extract (in a dropper bottle) optional
Cinnamon (in a salt shaker)
Truvia packets

    Wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly and trim if necessary. Dry them off and then stab with a sharp knife several times to create steam vents as they can explode otherwise (quite messy to clean up). Place them in your microwave and set the timer for five minutes initially.

Scrubbed, Trimmed, Ready to Cook

Scrubbed, Trimmed, Ready to Cook

    There is a learning curve here as sweet potatoes vary greatly in size, shape, and moisture content and microwaves vary greatly in power. So you must be prepared to keep that little sharp knife on standby to test them every so often until they are tender enough through-and-through to mash up with a fork.

    They are very hot and steamy when they first come out so allow them to cool while you do something else. Then split them down the middle and cross-hatch the insides leaving the skin intact as part of your eventual packaging. Sprinkle with the Truvia granules, cinnamon, and a few drops of vanilla. The vanilla adds the flavor illusion of marshmallows melting on top of a sweet potato casserole. Note: the dropper bottles save on spilling and cleanup – my eye-hand coordination was never reliable.

Baked, Split, Scored, Seasoned

Baked, Split, Scored, Seasoned

    Half of a good sized sweet potato may be enough for your snack or if they are small then pack up a whole one. I kept a saucer, mug, and metal spoon in a desk drawer so I could have a cup of coffee and snack that didn’t taste like it came out of a deli bag.

Finished, Wrapped (and one already gone)

Finished, Wrapped (and one already gone)

Gretchen (Mom)

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Sweet Potato Pie ‘Cheesecake’

    After the inglorious wrestling match last week with the almond ‘feta cheese’, and BTW, the result was pretty tasty – it was just the blistered thumbs that haunted me. The ‘cheese’ did have a very strong almond flavor that seemed to diminish after a couple of days. But it was tangy and tasty enough that I bought more almonds. While putting them away I noticed that the previous almonds were smaller, dark, and dry looking. This new purchase is light-colored and fatter.  The ‘cheese’ is definitely worth another try. 

   Dreams of a rich nut-based pumpkin pie have been swirling in my head. In the meantime I had raw cashews and sweet potatoes on hand. Well, why not? I soaked the cashews for a good long time and loved the fact that they come without skins! Also I have an adorable 5-inch springform pan that was in need of a good recipe. It worked out very well. But as you can tell from the ingredients that although everything is on the ‘healthy, good for you list’, this is a pretty rich dessert. I plan to try it again using eight small individual-serving-size ceramic ramekins. I picture those topped with a spoonful of chopped nuts that are glazed with a tiny bit of agave and cinnamon. 

   When using sweet potatoes as a baking ingredient a soft smooth puree works best for these recipes. I achieve this by boiling a few whole, well-scrubbed sweet potatoes until a knife slides in easily. I pour off the water (sometimes saving this orange colored liquid in a jar for other uses) and leave the potatoes to cool in the pot with the lid on. That way they steam in the residual heat. When they are cool they go through a ricer, sometimes called a food press, the kind used for making your own baby food. And sometimes they wait in the refrigerator overnight before being pureed. 

   The ingredients that are noted ‘slightly warm’ were passed briefly through the microwave. You want them to blend and almost melt together. 

Sweet Potato Pie ‘Cheesecake’ Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 24 hours (1 1/3 cups expanded)
2 Tbsp agave syrup
1 tsp pure Mexican vanilla
2 Tbsp coconut oil, slightly warm
2/3 cup sweet potato puree, slightly warm
16 drops liquid stevia sweetener
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot starch 

Grease your baking pan/ramkins with coconut oil. The ‘batter’ is prepared in a blender. 

Drain the water from the cashews. If they have been refrigerated then warm them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Dump them into the blender jar. Add the agave syrup and the vanilla. Start the blender and begin to break down the cashews, pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed. 

When the nuts are in very small pieces then add the warm coconut oil, sweet potato puree, stevia, and sea salt. Dial up the blender speed and begin to puree the mixture; again pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed. 

Finally add the allspice and tapioca starch to the blender jar and finish pureeing for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth, thick, and fluffy. Pour and scrape the mixture into your baking pan. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon. 

A 5-inch Springform Pan

A 5-inch Springform Pan

 

Turn the oven temperature to 350*F (180C) and place the pan in the oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes. The air in the batter will expand and the mixture will rise somewhat during baking similar to a standard cheesecake. The dessert will be cooked when a very thin knife slips easily in and comes out clean. If there is wet, uncooked mixture on the knife then put it back for about 10 more minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave it in the oven to cool for an hour. Remove from the oven. When the pan is no longer warm you may place it in the refrigerator to chill. 

It Really Looks Like a 'Cheesecake'!!

It Really Looks Like a 'Cheesecake'!!

 

It unmolded neatly onto a plate just like you would expect from a cheesecake. How sweet is that? 

Mom

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Apple Sweet Potato Crumble – on a snowy day in Texas

Snowballs Are Falling!

Snowballs Are Falling!

   Watching the snow, staying indoors all day and going back and forth between the kitchen and knitting on the afghan project to keep warm. Breakfast this morning was from a batch of this wonderful crumble that Ricki posted on Diet, Dessert and Dogs recently. My first batch used Granny Smith apples and although it was good the second batch was tastier using a sweeter variety of apples. We have no coriander and I just left it out but in the second batch I substituted ground cloves – that paired nicely with the sweet potato and other spices. And since I am currently avoiding oats I filled in with some other gluten-free carbs. The resulting crumble was more volume than expected so since my choices were pre-ground maybe a little less of those carbs next time. Also I needed to use up some pecans so that went in for the walnuts.
   Occasionally I envy Ricki having a husband and those adorable dogs willing to share her experiments. But with this apple-sweet-potato-crumble I am happy to have it all to myself! It freezes well so nine servings can last as long as two weeks.

Crumble Just Out of the Oven

Crumble Just Out of the Oven

Ingredients:
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoon agave syrup
20 drops liquid stevia
1 tablespoon finely ground flax seeds
1/3 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup walnut/pecan pieces
1/2 cup natural almonds (with skin)
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa flakes cereal
1/2 cup gluten free corn flake crumbs
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups sweet potato purée
3 medium sweet apples, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
1 tablespoon finely ground chia seed
2 tablespoon apple juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
20-30 drops liquid stevia

Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 9″ square pan with parchment, or coat with oil.

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, agave syrup, liquid stevia, flax seed, and almond milk; set aside.

In the blender, process together (use a food processor if you have one) the nuts, cereals and coconut flour until the nuts are ground and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt and blend just to mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in the bowl and toss with a fork (as if making pie dough) until it comes together in a very moist yet crumbly dough (it will stick together if pressed, but should readily separate into crumbles if tossed with the fork). Set aside while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, mix together the pureed sweet potato, grated apple, apple juice, vanilla and liquid stevia.

Take about half the crumble mixture (you can just estimate) and press it firmly into the bottom of the pan. Top with the filling, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture evenly over the filling and press gently with the palms of your hands.

Bake in preheated oven until edges are browned and the top of the crumble begins to brown a bit. This took about 30 minutes in my oven. Allow it to cool to room temperature before cutting into squares; reheat if desired to serve. Makes 9 large servings. May be frozen.

   After this morning I still have six pieces in the freezer and I will, I REALLY will, save-them-for-future-breakfasts, REALLY! This is hard . . . . because I want some NOW.

   Mid-morning I heated up one of my own Lentil Patties, also from the freezer. So if I am eating goodies from the freezer then why am I in the kitchen? Baking not only makes the house smell good, it helps keep the house warm and also makes enough goodies to share. I baked an old-favorite, glutenful batch of pumpkin bread to give away and share with neighbors. Then I blended the dry ingredients for Double Coconut Muffins. And I did the same with a new recipe for cornbread from The Gluten-Free Vegan recipe book .
   The Sit ‘n Stitch ladies are coming over Thursday morning and they kindly taste test my gluten-free recipes – they are generous and helpful with their critiques and I greatly appreciate their opinions.
   There are only a few more rows to knit on this afghan that has been under construction for maybe 18 months. We refer to these projects as Unfinished Objects or UFO’s.

Unfinished Object (UFO) - Soon To Be a Finished Object (FO)

Unfinished Object (UFO) - Soon To Be a Finished Object (FO)

After Friday my calendar clears somewhat and I can begin new experiments!

Mom

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Sweet Potato Multi-Purpose Puree

   Sweet potatoes again? Sooner or later sweet potato season will end and only sad, dry, twisted, uninspiring ones will remain and then I’ll leave them alone until they are in season next year.
   In the meantime, there have been two captive ‘guinea pigs’ in the guest bedroom – Rita and her husband David! One morning we had the Sweet Potato Biscuits with orange marmalade along with fresh fruit and scrambled eggs. There were about two pounds of boiled sweet potatoes in the fridge waiting further development as a pudding/dessert, no coincidence, because when I made up the sweet potato biscuit recipe there was about a half cup of puree leftover that I used to make a sample taste of this pudding/puree. And now all of the ingredients were in place for a full batch.

Sweet Potato Puree

Sweet Potato Puree

Sweet Potato Puree
3 cups boiled, peeled, diced sweet potato (about 2 pounds)
3/4 cup coconut milk
30 drops liquid stevia or 6 packets Truvia or your favorite sweetener
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Place the unpeeled sweet potatoes in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to simmer. Cook uncovered until a knife slides into the potato without resistance. Turn off the heat and allow the sweet potatoes to cool in the cooking liquid. Drain them and refrigerate or use immediately. I usually do this step a day ahead.

Into the blender go all of the ingredients and then process them until they are silky smooth. This is simple and nutritious enough for babies, diabetics, and invalids yet substantial enough for everyone as a side dish, breakfast, snack, or dessert.

   Two small dishes were served up to Rita and David. I had already tasted the mixture and thought it quite yummy but not everyone always agrees with me. Both of them enthusiastically agreed. We discussed making it up as a frozen dessert and even put a small amount in the freezer to make a sweet potatosicle. That might eventually work out but this sample was frozen like a brick with no easy way to get it out except to microwave it which melted it back to puree.
   Rita and I went off on errands and picked up few items at Sprout’s. One of those items was Three Greek Gods Yogurt which is the dairy product that I love more than any other – replacing even my former favorite ice cream. So what did we do with it? We tasted yogurt topped with sweet potatoes! Is that not an unlikely combination? This is what we had with breakfast the next morning:

Sweet Potato-Yogurt Parfait

Sweet Potato-Yogurt Parfait

   You may have guessed by now that Rita, David, and I had such fun with food during their visit. And just before they left we watched the DVR that they gave me of Julie & Julia. When Rita is here it appears to her that I am a compulsive cook like the ones portrayed in the video – and I am not. So now that my two captive ‘guinea pigs’ Rita and David have started their long journey back to Virginia, the resident chef, Don, will rightfully regain control of the kitchen.
   Here is wishing everyone a wonderful, healthy, prosperous New Year. And as a New Year’s extra here is an image of the card that David created for Christmas 2009!

David and Rita's Christmas Card 2009

David and Rita's Christmas Card 2009

Mom (missing Rita and David)

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Sweet Potato Biscuits

   The last of the sweet potatoes from the Gilmer, TX Sweet Potato Festival was calling me from the refrigerator even as I was cruising the net looking at recipes. I happened to pass by a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that was a bit spicy and served up with orange marmalade. I knew that my son-in-law would go for that. But that recipe said to just add mashed sweet potato to your regular biscuit recipe. And you know that gluten-free is not a regular recipe.
   So then I searched for gluten-free sweet potato biscuit recipe and found this one at Gluten A Go Go which I then adapted to my blend of flours and ingredients on hand (don’t we all?). What resulted was so good I immediately called Rita to tell her that I had only baked one test biscuit and that the other 11 were frozen and waiting for Christmas for her and David to arrive here in Texas!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt (you might prefer less)
(pinch of red pepper – tiny, tiny pinch)
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
3/4 cup Earth Balance margarine and/or solid coconut oil
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup coconut milk (regular, not light)
2 teaspoon ground chia seed, dissolved in the coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and blend.
Add the shortening (I only had 1/4 cup Earth Balance; the remaining 1/2 cup was solid coconut oil) to the dry mixture and cut it in until the mixture looks like crumbs. Stir in the mashed sweet potato. Then slowly add the coconut milk/chia seed mixture and blend until you have a cohesive ball of dough.

Scoop balls of dough on to the baking sheet using a 1/4 cup measure. Pat them into biscuit shape. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: The brown sugar is for flavor and I didn’t feel like messing with the bag for just one tteaspoon. So I substituted a teaspoon of that liquid brown sugar flavoring; dark rum. There is no sugar and the alcohol and calories bake right out.

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Winter Fruit Salad with Sweet Potato Vinaigrette

   There hasn’t been much gluten-free baking going on lately. Two weeks before we left on our post-Thanksgiving vacation I bought bananas to ripen (over-ripen) for banana bread. Since we returned those bananas were ready-to-go and the final batch of banana bread has been tucked away in the freezer.
   Why bake with gluten at all? Well, the recipe that I created for my family when Rita was a child has not translated well to gluten-free so far. The closest that I have come is Ricki’s Oatbran Banana Muffins adapted from her recipe book Sweet Freedom which I love, love, love. But family favorites are not to be messed with so I have moved on to other experiments. This is why while I was baking that last batch for Christmas it was sooo hard to cope with that wonderful aroma in a responsible, gluten-free way.
   There were abundant fall pears on hand, celery as always, and boiled sweet potatoes in the fridge. I diced celery and two of the pears, toasted some finely chopped pecans (I really wanted walnuts but didn’t have any), added some dried cranberries, and thought about mayonnaise for a Waldorf type dressing. When those sweet potatoes calling my name prevailed, what resulted was a surprise – even as I was putting it together.

Sweet Potato Vinaigrette

Sweet Potato Vinaigrette

Sweet Potato Vinaigrette
1/2 cup diced, soft, cooked sweet potato
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (more if you want it tangier)
Sweetener depending on your taste and the sweetness of that potato

Preparing the sweet potato:
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite treats whether baked, boiled, or microwaved. When I have something softer in mind I will simmer them in water to cover until tender and a knife slides in easily. Then they cool in their own cooking liquid. Drained, they will keep well in the fridge for probably a week – they get used before then so that is definitely a guess.

Preparing the vinaigrette:
Put all of the ingredients in the blender and process. It is thick mixture rather like mayonnaise with just the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Add more vinegar if you want it to pour or you could use pure cranberry juice to kick up the color and flavor. You could alternately add a touch of olive oil but the nuts added enough fat for my taste. I had been so ready for something sweet that I just mixed it up and ate. It was only after a few very satisfying bites that I remembered to save some for a picture. By the time this blog is posted that serving will be history! Yields 1 – 2 servings.

Mom

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