Yam’O’Lanterns!

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The one time I tried to carve a pumpkin by myself, I found out it was hard. Scraping and scratching out the stringy insides took forever; carefully carving the thick pumpkin walls took longer.20131019-115459.jpg

Patience: a virtue I’ve never known well and can’t summon for the art of pumpkin carving.

But I can make meals FAST! Thats what I’m good at. I’ve been eating a lot of fast meals recently, to my regret, because this first semester in my PhD program at TCU has been full of studying, events, making new friends, studying, writing everyday, all the time, and studying some more. I’ve gotten good at having some standby ingredients on hand all the time so when I am home I get a wholesome, nutritional meal with “real” ingredients, but I’ll admit that my creative cookery has fallen way by the wayside.20131019-115446.jpg

One of the ingredients I always have on hand are sweet potatoes–been eating them like a fiend! I’ve found that if you microwave the sweet potato fries for a bit, then crisp them up in the oven, things go much, much faster.

Imagine my delight when I saw Apronstring’s Yam’O’Lanterns recipe. A few more minutes added to my sweet potato prep gave me a fun food-craft to try on the fly. Here’s my make-it-fast variation of this festive fall food.

Ingredients

1-8 oz. sweet potato

cooking spray

optional: sea salt

Directions20131019-115512.jpg

-Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

-Using a sharp knife, slice your sweet potato into rounds as you usually might (mine were about 1/5″ thick). Then, use a sharp paring knife to carve in the faces you like. When ready, transfer to a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

-After that, transfer to prepared sheet. Spritz on some cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt or other seasonings you like (rosemary would be a delicious one to use for these). Toss them up a bit for good coverage and pop in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, longer if you made thicker slices. Remove when cooked all the way through and crispy around all the edges.

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Sweet Potato Hash + Egg

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If you love fun food like I do.IMG_1293

If you adore anything avian (birds, nests, eggs).

If you love comfort food.

You’ll love this.

Sweet potato hash gets a salty-sweet kick with a little onion salt and an egg bakes in the center for a most delicious pairing that would be fun to make with kids.

Or even, fun for a twenty-something gal who likes breakfast for dinner every now and then.

If you think it’s hard to make, think again. Nothing I make is very challenging, really. I have limited time and limited patience most nights, like most people. So I try to cook fast, but well. IMG_1296

So don’t let a spud and a bird’s egg scare you. Try this recipe. You can even try it in the microwave.

Ingredients

1-6 or 7 oz. sweet potato

1 egg

dash of onion salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a ramekin. Set aside.IMG_1283

Cut your potato into four pieces. Heat for 30 seconds to soften a tad. Then take to the scraper and begin making hash with your shredder. You could process in a food processor, but you won’t get hash shreds, really.

Once your shreds are ready, put them in the ramekin. Shape a little hole in the center for the egg. Crack it and drop it in the center. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the egg and shreds are fully cooked.

Alternatively, if you want to try this in the microwave–which I also did once because I really didn’t have any patience that night–microwave your shreds in the ramekin for 3 minutes. Add in the egg as you would if you were baking, and microwave for another 1-2 minutes, being careful to listen for overheating or that unwelcome yolk-pop sound.IMG_1295

Sprinkle with a little pepper, hot sauce, or whatever else you like on your eggs and potatoes, and enjoy!

Egg-Stuffed Baked Potato

I’ve heard it called an “Idaho Sunrise” by a fellow foodie blogger, Our Best Bites.

While I’ve never been to Idaho, I’ve heard the land is beautiful, so I’ll fallaciously correlate that with equally beautiful sunrises and equally wholesome breakfasts. Hey, you’ve got to have a good breakfast, especially if you’re living/ working in Idaho’s rugged terrain.

I really like this recipe idea. A few tips to make it better for you though:

First, use a smaller egg for stuffing or scrape out more of the insides. I used a large egg and it overflowed, making things a bit messy.

Second, season well and consider sprinkling with cheese, salsa, chives, or whatever other toppings you like.

Third, serve warm and allow ample time for the egg to cook all the way through. For a quicker cook, microwave the potato to soften, then stuff with egg and broil on high, checking frequently.

Otherwise, preparing is pretty simple.

Ingredients

1 medium- to large-sized potato

1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or ramekin. Set aside.

Wash potato well.

Slice a thin, but not too thin, layer of skin off one side of the potato. Carve out a hole and fill with egg (or stuff with additional toppings on the inside). Do not add toppings to the outside yet because they’ll cook too quickly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until potato is tender and egg is cooked all the way through.

If you add toppings, you can do so now and bake an additional 3-5 minutes. Or you can broil for a crispier finish.

Swedish Hasselback Potato

If you want to make me happy, remind me of Sweden.

Sverige holds the dearest place in my heart. I studied in Uppsala in summer 2010 and had the time of my life.

And although I never tried this Swedish version of the baked potatowhile I was over there, I love the association with Swedish culture. That was enough to draw me to this recipe.

Pull apart each crispy layer or smash with a fork for a crispy mashed potato.

What made me love it, though, was the simplicity of preparation. So easy to make. Just slice, coat with healthy oil, and let it bake!

And what made me love it even more was pulling apart each slice and dipping them in sauce like French fries. So crispy and delicious.

Forget the McDonalds 99 cent heart attack. This potato is the perfect, make-it-at-home side that won’t leave your arteries clogged for years to come.

Ingredients

-1 medium potato

-oil of choice (olive, harissa, butter, coconut, maybe?)

-a little crushed garlic

-Optional: seasonings of choice (crushed red pepper and a little cajun seasoning worked well for me)

Directions

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a broil safe pan. Set aside.

-After washing potato, slice the potato horizontally, being careful not to slice all the way through or too thin (about 3 to 4 mm is a good thickness). Continue preparing the potato by coating thoroughly with oil, garlic, and seasonings.

-Place prepared potato on pan and bake for about 35 minutes.

-Once the potato seems baked all the way through–soft enough to eat, but somewhat crispy–turn the broilers on to high, broiling for 3-4 minutes more.

-Remove and let cool a bit. Serve warm with seasonings and sauce of your choice.