Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sweet Potato Chili

 It's soup season here in my neck of the woods! We didn't have nearly as much snow as some areas did over the holidays, but we certainly had enough by my standards. With the cold, windy weather and the over-indulgences of holiday fare, I felt that a good healthful soup was in order. I found a recipe in Simple Vegetarian Pleasures that fit the bill nicely- It didn't hurt either that I had all of the ingredients! 

 I halved the recipe because I wasn't too sure how hubby would like meatless chili, but he gave it a "thumbs up!" The potatoes gave it a subtle sweetness that was perfectly tempered by the savory peppers, onions and spices. Loaded with heart healthy ingredients and beta carotene, it's a dish I'll definitely make again.

 This recipe as written is what I would classify as a mild chili. If you're more a fan of hot and spicy, you may want to add more chili powder or even some cayenne to "kick it up" a notch. That's between you and your taste buds though. :)

Sweet Potato Chili
adapted from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures, by Jeanne Lemlin
Ingredients (recipe is halved from the original)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 small garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1scant Tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
1 scant teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups water (1/2 cup more can be added to cover if needed)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with their juice
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 med-large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
chopped cilantro and avocado for garnish if desired
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Stir in the pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Sprinkle the chili powder and cumin over the pepper and onion and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients (except for the cilantro and avocado) and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender. (mine took about 25-30 minutes) 
  • Serve with cilantro and avocado if desired.
  • Note: The original recipe called for a scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but I didn't add it. I also used "no salt added" beans, making the recipe even more heart healthy.
  • Variation: (I'm going to try this next time.) Add 1/4 cup of quick cooking barley in with the rest of the ingredients.
Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset
This post is linked to Cookbook Sundays on Brenda's Canadian Kitchen and Seasonal Sunday at Real Sustenance.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    Merry Christmas!

    Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, and abundant blessings in the coming New Year!

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Hermits- Cookies that Definitely Should Not Keep to Themselves

      Betty Crocker says that Hermits were a favorite cookie back in 1900, and after making these I've decided that it was not without reason. They're soft, spicy, chewy, and loaded with candied ginger and raisin puree. Browned butter makes them soft and cakey, just right for a hearty, satisfying snack. These Hermits are a new twist on an old favorite, and they'd be at home either clutched in a little fist and enjoyed with a cold glass of milk or served on an elegant party tray with a steaming cup of spiced apple cider.

    If you haven't started your holiday baking, you should definitely put this recipe on your list. It's from the Holiday Cookies from America's Test Kitchens Holiday 2010 issue. (Yep, it's the one from my giveaway.) You didn't think I could resist buying one for myself too, did you?

    Hermit Cookies- Printable recipe here
    slightly adapted from Holiday Cookies from America's Test Kitchens (Holiday 2010)
    Makes about 2 dozen large cookies
    2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra if needed for forming rolls of dough)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup raisins
    2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped fine
    1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tablespoons)
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup molasses
    2 large eggs
    1 and 1/2 Tablespoons orange juice
    3/4 cup confectioners sugar

    • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
    • Process raisins and ginger together in food processor or blender. My raisins were very dry and wouldn't process, so I splashed in about a Tablespoon of coffee to soften them. Orange juice or water would work well too, if you have the same problem.
    • Heat butter in saucepan over medium low heat, swirling occasionally, until nutty brown in color. (about 10 minutes- Watch it carefully. Once it starts to brown, it browns quickly.) Add spices to the butter, and cook until fragrant. (about 15 seconds)
    • Add the butter mixture to the raisin mixture. Mix together and then cool completely.
    • Add brown sugar, molasses, and eggs to the raisin/butter mixture. Stir until completely incorporated. 
    • Fold in flour mixture and refrigerate, covered, until firm. (at least 1 1/2 hours- I did mine overnight.)
    • When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into four equal parts. Roll each part into a 10 inch log on a floured surface, then place on prepared baking sheet. My dough was very sticky, so I used flour liberally to make my four rolls. (I'm sure this was because I added extra liquid to soften my raisins.) Put two logs on each cookie sheet, leaving about 3 inches between the rolls. (They will spread.)
    • Bake until edges are set but center is still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment to wire rack to cool completely.
    • Repeat for second two cookie rolls. 
    • Make glaze. Whisk together orange juice and confectioners sugar. Drizzle mixture over cooled logs. Let set until glaze hardens. Cut logs into bars. The original recipe called for making them 2 inches wide, but I made mine a bit smaller.
    • Variation: Use a maple glaze in place of the orange.  Mix together 3/4 cup of confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of milk or water and a bit of maple flavoring to taste.

    Friday, December 3, 2010


    Sorry I'm so late getting this winners' post up, but my grandson goes back to Texas tomorrow and we've been trying to squeeze in as much "grandma fun" as possible the last two weeks. To make amends, I had him draw not one, but two names.

     And the winners?


    Sarah of Baking Serendipity.

    If the two of you will email me with your contact information, I'll get your Holiday Cookie books in the mail asap! (There's still plenty of December left for baking!) Thanks so much everyone!
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