Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and FigsThe number on producer of sweet potatoes in the United States alone, is the state of North Carolina, planting and harvesting more than 40% of the national supply.

3 popular sweet potato varieties sold at market

Image Credit: Saveur Magazine

The website for the sweet potato industry, North Carolina Sweet Potatoes say that the list of sweet potato varieties changes rapidly and new varieties are released almost annually.

The most popular varieties sold at your local market are, Covington Sweet Potato, O’Henry Sweet Potato, and the Japanese Sweet Potato.

The popular food magazine, also found on line, Saveur says that shopping for sweet potatoes, particularly during the Thanksgiving holiday (USA), you can came across a surprising range of varieties, 16 to be exact.

They go on to say that a consumer can find both heirlooms and new hybrids alike, all which are being grown in the United States.

Our feature recipe – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs – uses three different types of sweet potatoes, which are the speckled purple sweet potato, which is named because of their flecked magenta flesh.

An heirloom variety with pale orange skin and flesh, and not to forget the Hannahs varity which has tan skin and an off-white interior. When roasted the flesh takes on a yellow cast, a lightly sweet flavor, and a dry texture.

Here is what you will need to prepare – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs in your own kitchen.

2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, different colors

5 tablespoons olive oil

Himalayan salt and fresh black pepper to taste

6 dried figs

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 peeled coins fresh ginger

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar

12 scallions or green onions (white and green parts), cut into 1 1/2 inch segments

1 red chili,halved, seeded, thinly sliced

My mother had two fig trees in her garden, both a black and green variety. Fresh figs can be very fragile, and need to be eaten within a day or two of harvesting. We used dried figs in our recipe because they are just as versatile as fresh figs when re-hydrated.

Read more here about the Benefits Of Figs Help Fight Against Common Ailments.

Recipes directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Scrub potatoes and slice each one into wedges.

roasted sweet potatoesToss wedges with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, s teaspoons of Himalayan salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle and roast until soft, about 25 minutes.

rehydrating fdried figs with lemon zest, juice, sugar and fresh gingerMeanwhile, place the dried figs in a medium saucepan with lemon zest, juice, ginger, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover with fresh water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until figs return to plump fig pose.

dried figs rehydratedScoop figs from saucepan with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels. Let dry, and quarter the figs, cutting away the stems.

In a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs - close upArrange roasted sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a sauce pan and heat. place in onions, and chili. Fry for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Spoon the oil, onions, and chili over the sweet potatoes.

Nestle the figs among the wedges and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Suggested to serve at room temperature.

Ginger and Lemon Juice WaterMaybe you are wondering what to do with the water solution that was used to dehydrate the figs? Put it into your Nutri-Bullet or blender, and blend for about 30 to 40 seconds and drink down a nutritious anti-inflammatory drink.

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Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasThe first time we used pasta Orecchiette was around 2009. We had seen a recipe in a food magazine using the pasta, so to the store we went. We had a hard time finding it, but our local co-op (sell’s all natural – organic foods) had the pasta. When we described the pasta (as we had forgotten the name) the sales lady new right away what we wanted. She referred to the pasta as little pope hats. Ever since Orechiette has become a staple in our pantry.

About.com talks on Italian food and describes Orechiette as a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, as orecchio in Italian means eat, and Orecchiette means little ears. The pasta is roughly 3/4 of an inch across, slightly domed, and the centers are thinner than the rim of the pasta. The pastas texture is soft in the middle and more chewy along the rim or outside of the pasta.

Barilla (store brand that sells Italian products) says that Orecchiette is the signature pasta of Puglia, describing Puglia as a humble farming land situated along the southeastern coast of Italy.

Here is a video posted to You-Tube of Italian women in Italy making fresh Orechiette pasta.
Now for our featured recipe: Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small shallots, chopped

3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed

12 ounces Orecchiette

Garnishes:

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest

cooking Mexican chorizoHeat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute, stirring often, until beginning to brown and smell fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo to pan and break up with a spoon, and cook meat until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

adding chickpeas to meat sauceNext add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to meat mixture and mix in. Next add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Next add the can of chickpeas, and mix in, cooking 2 minutes more to heat the chickpeas through.

adding orechiette to meat sauceMeanwhile, cook pasta according to packaged instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Next add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to meat sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta liquid as needed. You might use the whole cup, and possibly less.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas in the panServe pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasWe have had this for left overs a few times, and each time we add cilantro, cheese, and lemon zest. The zest adds great flavor to this dish. Be sure to use it.

For the side salad using candy cane beets, see our recipe here: Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.

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Red Pear and French Bean Salad

Red Pear and French Bean Salad - plated

Red pears have a high concentration of phytonutrient anthocyanin, which has anti-aging properties. This nutrient also promotes heart health and protects against cancer. Read pears are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin-C, potassium (not as nutrient dense as a banana), and copper.

Red PearsWe know that vitamin-C is needed for tissue growth, promoting healthy collagen, but we don’t hear enough of what copper is good for.

Copper is not just for hot water pipping in our homes, copper the kind that our bodies can assimilate, is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, and collagen as well.

While basil, found in the dressing of our featured recipe, is also great for skin and hair, fighting against some cancers, it also has that its antioxidants and volatile oils are a great assistance to the immune system.

The leaves of the basil, and oil alike, have antibacterial properties. Applied topically to wounds, basil leaves may eliminate bacterial infections, while enjoying basil in food, it can help combat viral infections, including colds, flu, and herpes.

Talking about basil, here is the recipe that will dress the salad, and it includes basil.

Basil Chickpea Miso Vinaigrette

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons chickpea miso, room tempurature

1 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons lemon zest

juice of half a lemon

Basil ChickPea Miso Vinaigrette

Tear basil leaves without steams, and loosely fill one cup. Place oil, vinegar, miso, basil, garlic and lemon zest (we forgot the lemon zest, my bad) in a small jar. Screw lid on tightly and shack well until smooth, making sure miso is dissolved and mixed in well. Set aside.

Here is what you will need for the Red Pear and French Bean Salad.

2 lbs. French green beans, ends trimmed

4 small, ripe but firm red pears, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise ( seed, but do not peel)

1 cup chopped pecans

Wash beans and trim the ends. Cut beans in half. You can blanch the beans or use them raw. Blanch for about 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and set aside.

Preparing Red Pear and French Bean Salad

Prepare the pears while the beans are blanching. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a large bowl. Cut pears using a apple slicer, and slice each wedge one time more. Place all pear slices into bowl with lemon juice, and mix to coat pears with juice. Coating them with lemon juice will prevent the pear flesh from oxidizing or turning brown.

Next, place the pecans and basil vinaigrette into a large mixing bowl. Place pears and beans into bowl and toss to mix well, making sure produce is coated well with vinaigrette.

Red Pear and French Bean Salad - in a serving bowlAfter tossing to coat salad, turn into a large serving bowl.

Red Pear and French Bean Salad - platedPlate and serve.

 

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Chicken Curry Soup

Chicken Curry Soup

This dish was really painless, effortless,  and simple to prepare. First for the painless part, it was cooked in a slow cooker. Just effortlessly add your ingredients to the slow cooker, and leave on low for 6 hours. How simple is that?

Chicken legs, thighs, and quarters are a low cost, versatile source of protein, chicken has long been a staple of diets around the globe. In fact, it is the world’s leading source of animal protein and has been a healthy alternative to red meat.

Thigh meat though by many who frown on fat, prefer not to consume it. Keep in mind that thigh meat is also high in protein as breast meat is, and the fat in the meat is needed by your cells for their protection from oxidation.

Also power builders will eat thigh meat over chicken breast because of the fat and protein content that help to build muscle and actually loss fat.

You can also remove the skin of the chicken before cooking it to reduce the fat content.

Nutritional Content of Chicken Quarters

100 grams or roughly ¼ pound of chicken quarters with skin has:

Calcium    880 mg

Phosphorus   500 mg

Potassium    210 mg

Sodium    8.0 mg

Zinc       0.2 mg

Here is what you will need:

3 pound of chicken leg quarters, skinless, if desired

2 ounces leek and potato soup mix

1 tablespoon curry powder

zest of 1/2 a lemon, grated

8 ounces green beans, trimmed and blanched

chicken-leg-quarters-added-to-slow-cooker-for-chicken-curry-soupTrim chicken of any fat, and remove skin (optional), and place into a 4 quart or bigger slow cooker.

Dried potoate leek soup mix and prepared organic Creamy Potato Leek soupNext the recipe calls for combining the curry and soup mix and sprinkling it over and around the meat, and adding water until chicken is barely covered. We found a dried soup mix at Albertson’s for $7.00, we felt it was expensive, but did buy it.

Then we made a trek over to the Whole Foods Market, and found a prepared organic Creamy Potato Leek soup for only $3.99 and on sale for $3.69. We went with the prepared soup from Whole Foods.

adding curry powder to Chicken Curry SoupAfter placing the chicken leg quarters in the slow cooker, add the soup, and 1 tablespoon of curry powder, and mix in thoroughly.  Turn your slow cooker to high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours, and place the lid over the slow cooker.

blanched green beans for Chicken Curry SoupThe beans are added to the slow cooker 1 hour before the meat is cooked. Trim the fresh green beans and blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes only. Remove from water and drop beans into some ice cold water for 3 minutes, to stop them from continuing to cook. Remove from cold water, and add to slow cooker, and mix in well.

Chicken Curry Soup in slow cooker ready to plateNext add zest from 1/2 a lemon, and mix in well. Cover slow cooker with lid, and continue cooking one hour more.

Chicken Curry Soup with a side of white ricePlate and serve the Chicken Curry Soup with a side of rice. You can also top with more lemon zest. Enjoy!!

If you have any questions about the use of a slow cooker, such as are they safe to cook with, view our article: Slow Cooking, is it Safe?

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Blueberry Lemon Flognarde

Blueberry Lemon Flognarde

This dessert is not a custard, like Crème Burlee or Spanish Flan but rather a fruit-filled batter like cake. Blueberry Lemon Florgnarde is considered a French dessert. As a matter of fact you can use any fruit to make this very splendidly tasteful dessert. If you wanted you could even have this dessert for breakfast. With the eggs, you have your protein and the blueberries provide the complex carbohydrate. It only has 6 tablespoons of sugar in it. Those three eggs provide 3 – 4 grams of protein per serving.

Here is what you will need:

ingredients for Blueberry Lemon Flognarde

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

6 tbsp. sugar, divided

¾ cup fresh blueberries

3 eggs

1 1/3 cups milk

2/3 cup flour

1 tbsp. freshly grated lemon zest

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tbsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

preparing the pie plate for the Bluberry Lemon Flognarde

Butter a 9″ pie pan and arrange the blueberries to cover the bottom of the pie pan and sprinkle 3 tbsp. of sugar on top of the blueberries.

grating lemon zest

Next, with a grater and a fresh lemon, grate 1 tablespoon of zest. Save the rest of the lemon for another recipe. Cut it in to 4 quarters and freeze it. When you need a few spoonfuls of zest you have it in the freezer, saving time from going to the store for just one lemon. You can do the same with orange peels. I also use the zest of both the citrus peels when I make fresh ginger root tea.

processing ingredients for the lemon Blueberry Flognarde

Next, with a food processor, combine the remaining 3 tbsp. sugar, eggs, milk, flour, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt, and process until smooth, about 1 minute.

pouring Lemon Blueberry Flognarde over blueberries

Once all ingredients are processed, pour the batter over the blueberries. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes then dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve warm.

Flavorful Lemon Blueberry Flognarde

This dessert is very delectable to the palate and goes well with a good cup of coffee. It has a hint of lemon flavor and the fresh blueberries are very juicy.

 

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