Whole Grain Sweet Potato Muffins

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Food52 asks for recipe testers from time to time, and I thought that these sweet potato muffins were something I’d be likely to make anyway, so I might as well try the recipe for them. I’m so generous

Josh has been on a sweet potato strike for close to a year, but I caught him sneaking a second muffin into his lunch bag for work this morning. Can there be any praise higher than that?

I love the hearty nuttiness that came from using whole grain flour, and also love that these muffins don’t veer into “sickly sweet dessert muffin” territory. I wound up using a few splashes of heavy cream at the end to get the dough wet enough, and I think I need to remember that for the next batch!

Whole Grain Sweet Potato Muffins- from this recipe

  • 2.5 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground, if possible)
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil (next time, I’ll use coconut oil)
  • 1 c. mashed roasted sweet potato 
  • egg
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk, or milk soured with one teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice, plus extra as needed

If you haven’t done so, roast your sweet potato. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, prick the skin of the sweet potato several times with a fork, and place on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until very soft. Let cool, mash, and set aside.

Set the oven to 375. Line 12 muffin cups with paper lines and set aside. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to break up any large lumps of brown sugar. In a smaller bowl, mix the remaining ingredients until smooth. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be very thick, and it might be necessary to add a few more splashes of milk/buttermilk to get all of the ingredients fully incorporated.

Fill the muffin liners about 3/4 of the way, and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops have started to brown slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, and then either turn on their sides in the muffin tin or remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Grab at least one while still warm, cover in butter, and eat, standing in the middle of the kitchen.

 

Vodka Sauce

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Back in my single days, there were a few dishes that my then roommate and I used to make regularly because we loved them so much. One of them was penne with vodka sauce. We tried multiple recipes, modified the heck out of them, and finally found…the one. The most magical one. Easy, creamy, a little sweet, with a good spicy twist.

When Josh and I started dating, I sort of filed that dish away mentally as “something I’ll make one day when he’s not around.” Then I forgot about it. I mean, it had a cup of heavy cream in it. Not something he could eat.

Time passed, and I started craving it again. Then one day I realized, duh, coconut milk would work perfectly for the cream. So I started trying to remember down the elusive recipe and couldn’t quite get it right. Luckily, my old roommate has typed it into a Google doc and saved it at one point, so there was no need for tears (it was close).

Josh’s response to this dish? “Why have you been holding out on me?!”

Note: To make it vegan, I switch out coconut milk for the heavy cream. Since the coconut milk is naturally sweeter, I omit the sugar from the recipe. Also, I always double the amount of red pepper flakes for a good kick.

Vodka Sauce

  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (double for extra kick)
  • 1/2 c vodka
  • 1 c heavy cream/ full fat coconut milk
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (about 8 leaves)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar (omit if using coconut milk)
  • 1 lb pasta of choice

Cook pasta according to directions, making sure to reserve some of the pasta water.

Process garlic through garlic press into small bowl and stir in 1 tsp water. Heat olive oil and garlic and red pepper flakes in saute pan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add vodka and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in cream, ground black pepper to taste, basil, sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. At this point you can transfer the sauce to food processor and pulse to a course puree. I actually prefer to leave it a little chunky so I don’t bother to do this. Return sauce to pan and simmer over medium heat to thicken, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add a small amount of pasta water, and cook an additional couple of minutes..

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Meal Plan: November 23- November 29

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We are living in Cincinnati, OH.

Turning a house into a home
Turning a house into a home

November 23- November 29

Happy Thanksgiving week! The holidays are almost here and I’m so excited. The countdown until I can buy a Christmas tree has begun, and we’re going to get our icicle lights out of storage to hang on our house this year. So happy to have a cozy home for Christmas!

We are, surprisingly, not cooking anything for Thanksgiving, and are only responsible for ourselves and wine. We’ll be celebrating with old friends, and we’re so excited. Last year we were responsible for pretty much the entire meal ourselves, and while we enjoyed it, it’ll be nice to relax this round.

Meal plan is on the smaller side again this week, though I’m not including in the cost the pork belly that Josh snuck into our cart when I wasn’t looking. So sneaky, and so delicious.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and has much to be thankful for this year!

Total cost: Roughly $93

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $3.32

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

  • Whole grain sweet potato muffins- recipe to come!

Dinner

 

Salty Honey Pie

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While this summer was all about yeast, and my love for it will continue to grow (as yeast does so well), I thought that pies might be a fun little project this winter. I mean, what’s more cozy than pie?

This pie… this pie is what the southern classic chess pie wishes it could be. A simple sweet pie is the foundation, but with the addition of a vanilla bean, honey, and a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt, it’s  just taken to a whole other glorious level.

While I, wretch that I am, cheated and went with a store-bought crust this time, I will absolutely make the crust from scratch next time, as I’m sure that the pie even is more heavenly with tons of buttery, flaky goodness

The recipe, and all of her pie crust technique, can be found on Joy the Baker’s website.

I’m thinking it might even need to replace pumpkin pie on our Thanksgiving table.

 

Meal Plan: November 16-November 22

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. I make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We are living in Cincinnati, OH.

The view from my pantry this morning
The view from my pantry this morning

November 16- November 22

Winter has arrived (it’s snowing as I type), so I’m in full cozy meal mode. The house is slowly coming together and feeling more like home, and I think that all of the cooking I did this weekend helped.

Few things can make a house seem more cozy than homemade waffles and pie.

Josh will be out of town a bit this week, so I did put one less dinner on the plan than usual, and made sure the other dinners would produce a good amount of leftovers for me to eat from while he’s away. Cooking for one just doesn’t always seem worth it.

Total cost: Roughly $101

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $3.60

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Links I Want to Eat: November 14

Someone has found the warm spots in the new house
Someone has found the warm spots in the new house
  • SPAM + mac and cheese. Need I say more?
  • Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton is one of my favorite food memoirs ever, and here’s a lovely interview with Gabrielle and a recipe for her chicken braised in hard cider.  Her restaurant, Prune, in NYC is excellent, and her new cookbook is going on my Christmas list. I might be a fan
  • We’re huge fans of Chinese food, and now that we no longer have easy access to delivery, this recipe for velvet Chinese chicken with broccoli will need to be made ASAP
  • A salad of shaved brussels sprouts, with meyer lemon and dried cherries, tossed in bacon fat? Sign me up
  • Joy always makes me want to bake, and these pumpkin salted caramel thumbprint cookies are no exception
  • After successfully making focaccia over the summer, I feel confident enough to branch out into other varieties. This sweet and savory version, with apricot jam, onions and fennel sounds weird enough to be delicious
  • Now that Josh has easy access to a kitchen at his new job, we’ve thought about expanding our lunches to occasionally include hot options. We both love the idea of a baked potato bar situation (regular for him, sweet for me), and a topping like this one would be tasty and healthy all week
  • I have mixed feelings about chia seeds, but these raw PB&J bars look delicious enough to intrigue me. We could easily sub in sunflower seed butter
  • Socca is a complete mystery to me, but this recipe for socca topped with zesty collard greens looks good enough that I might track down some chickpea flour to try it out
  • Years ago, I made The Pioneer Woman’s prune cake, and it was delicious. This date cake from Smitten Kitchen looks dangerously similar. Perfect winter dessert? I think so

Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Lime and Mint

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A good salad should have a ton of textures and flavors, and this one fits the bill. We’ve been making this salad for years, and it might have been the one to convince Josh that a salad could indeed be a satisfying meal. That was a big deal.

Huge.

Basically, this is the salad that started our meal plans on the journey to what they’ve become now.

Thank you, salad.

Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Lime and Mint- Serves 4

  • 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 head of leafy green lettuce, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced into batons
  • 1 small jicama, sliced into batons
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced into batons
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Dressing

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt to taste

Assemble the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate container, mix together the dressing.

Dress the salad right before serving, and toss well.