Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Greetings, my readers.  What a long and strange time it’s been since I’ve shared my culinary experiments with you. The dreadfully long and hot summer has came and left, thank the gods. We didn’t have a CSA share this year due to the whole Pembroke thing and move back to Ottawa in early June so my creativity has been a bit lackluster lately. Alas, it is now Fall, Hooray!

On this day before my birthday, I have been blessed with an unprecedented emancipation from my fatigued stretch of incessant toil. That is, I’ve finally been blessed with two consecutive days off from work. I made this quick dinner one quiet Sunday evening over two weeks ago and have been eager to share one of my first recipes of the Autumn (or Fall) season with you.

20160918_182615-1

Tiny, condensed pantry, big ideas! 

I can only begin to describe how much I adore the Fall: The crisp, cool air on my face on a sunny Fall day ; the delectable taste of hot cider on my lips; the aromatic scent of pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon candles. The joy of seeing the leaves fall into shades of crimson and gold as the Halloween/Samhain season creeps in on us with the frights of horror movie marathons, costumes, decorations and haunted houses. There isn’t one thing I don’t like about this month that I was born in; it’s deeply embedded in my veins.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Grab the potatoes, poke them with a fork and put them in the microwave for about 5-10 minutes or until tender. These potatoes weren’t actually “twiced-baked” but feel free to pop them in the oven beforehand for about 5 minutes. Slice the taters down the middle, scoop out the flesh and set aside, leaving only the skin of the potatoes intact. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Nutrition Factoid on Sweet Potatoes: Sweet taters are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Their rich orange colour indicates that they’re high in beta-carotene which is a precursor to Vitamin A that strengthens our eyesight, boosts our immunity to diseases, wards off cancer and slows down the aging process. Among the myriad of their other health benefits, sweet potatoes are also high in Vitamin B6 which helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies which is linked with heart and blood vessel disease. Since this is a vegetarian food blog, I’ll mention the fact that homocysteine is acquired mostly from eating meat. Just sayin’! Orange  is the new green in the world of vegetables.

You should also start by cooking the quinoa. For those that don’t know the drill: Add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside. You shouldn’t need to drain the quinoa, if you do, you’ve used too much water. This makes 4 portions; since I was cooking for 2 people I was able save some of the quinoa to use for another day.

 

20160918_181623

An empty canvas of possibilities

Chop and dice some onion, garlic (not pictured) , peppers and kale.

20160918_180058

Saute in oil for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add the potato flesh, quinoa, veggies and seasonings in a bowl to combine. I added about 2 tablespoons of Italian bread crumbs for taste, along with the seasonings. Nutritional yeast flakes would have added an extra kick here as well, but of course I didn’t have any. I also added the jar of homemade stewed tomatoes my good friend Ashley made. Thanks, Ashley! They were awesome and I wish I had time to can my own tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Fill each potato skin with two big spoonfuls of the quinoa filling. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes.

20160918_185759

I forgot to add the protein source until after, but black beans or lentils would be a great addition to these. I decided to heat up some leftover lentils and made a green salad to make it a complete meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 cups Quinoa, cooked
  • 1 cup Black beans or Lentils
  • 1 can Diced tomatoes
  • 1/2  Cup Kale, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp, Italian Breadcrumbs or Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar  Cheese
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hot sauce (optional)

 

Advertisements

Feisty Chickpea Burgers

Now that I finally have time to sit down and put fingers to keyboard to get this blog updated for you folks, I thought I’d post a recipe that really emphasizes simplicity. I’m focusing on really simple and quick ingredients here since most of my things are packed in bins right now ready to be moved back to Ottawa. With that said, be prepared for a bit of a rant…

Some of the main ingredients that I left unpacked are of course my trusty collection of dried legumes and beans that make up the majority of our meals. Cost-effective, versatile and convenient; these excellent sources of protein and fiber are the perfect foundation of any  meat-free meal and help squash the ignorant myth that vegetarianism is expensive. A bag of Great Value brand dried chickpeas costs $2.57. A can costs 77 cents but you don’t get nearly as much and can only use it for one meal. That’s dirt cheap. Omnivores pay a lot more for meat as the prices continue to soar. So, unlike a pot of dried beans, this myth that a vegetarian diet is “expensive” just doesn’t hold water.

legumess_slideshow

The only way a vegetarian diet will be pricey is if you shell out all kinds of money on those processed soy meat alternatives. Try to eat those sparingly. I have a very low opinion of soy, which is another discussion for another time. So if you choose to eat soy, choose products like tofu, tempeh and edamame and avoid products with isolated soy protein or soy flour.  And buy organic. Choose dried beans and legumes and buy  other products such as quinoa and nutritional yeast in bulk to save money. And if you feel like the cost of fresh produce is too much, I suggest signing up for a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) share to get a weekly or bi-weekly supply of locally-grown vegetables. It’s an excellent investment, trust me.

Here is a local farm in the Ottawa  area that was recommended by the farmers we got our CSA from last year. They are looking for a few CSA members for the summer: http://www.happyradishfarm.ca/csa-organic-vegetable-baskets.html. Check them out if you’re interested!

Now that I’ve gone on a bit of a rant and lecture, I can proceed to the main event..chickpea burgers! It’s that time of year again; the season for burgers, salads and grilled veggies. This is the burger recipe I have tested for perfection and it just has a handful of ingredients.

You’ll need to prepare for these burgers a day ahead by soaking the chickpeas in a covered bowl of water overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas the next morning and add them to a pot of water. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and let them simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until tender. The instructions on the bag says you have to cook them for an hour but I’ve never needed to cook them for that long. Drain and rinse them.

20160601_174747

It’s just the beginning

At this point, you’re going to throw all the main ingredients in the blender or food processor. Add the chickpeas, after they’ve cooled down, hot sauce, 1 egg, breadcrumbs, olive oil, Dijon mustard, a handful of blue cheese ( I used goat cheese this time because I didn’t have any blue cheese), cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Mix and mash it roughly together with a fork. Pulse once, stir the ingredients together again, adding more breadcrumbs or oil to combine as needed. Pulse again.

20160601_184722

Lovely visual

Scrape mixture into a bowl, and using a potato masher or fork, mash the remaining chickpeas into the mixture that didn’t get blended.

20160601_185453

Take out all your frustrations on these chickpeas; go on, it’s fun!

Form the mixture into patties and fry up!

20160601_190812-1

Fry on each side twice until slightly browned. The patties should hold together and not fall apart in this recipe. If they’re too sticky and soggy, add more breadcrumbs. If they seem to be too dry, add another egg or more oil.

Voila! For serving, I added a drizzle of hot sauce and crumbled goat cheese on top. I didn’t have any burger buns so I just went the low-carb route and ate them as is with a side of my homemade coleslaw. It’s such a comforting summer night meal. Enjoy, folks!

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup- 1 1/2 cups Dried Chickpeas, soaked and cooked,  or 1 Can
  • (Approximate) 1 cup dried breadcrumbs, I used 2 toasted slices of bread
  • 2-2 1/2 tbsp hot sauce, more for serving
  • 1 tbsp crumbled Blue cheese, more for serving
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste