In light of Willow Bird Baking’s Cooking Hard Stuff Challenge, I’ll be sharing some tips for tackling new or challenging recipes throughout the month of March. If you haven’t signed on for the challenge yet, make sure you read about it and join in the fun — there are still a few days left!

Cooking Hard Stuff Tip #3: Make a schedule.

two sweet tater hand tart options

In college, my personality type changed. According to the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, I went from an INFP to an INFJ. That tells you all sorts of things about me (maybe too much), but that little switch from P to J also tells you a lot about Davidson College, where I went to school. Davidson can make a P into a J in one semester flat (and the cafΓ© can make a good PB&J, too, while we’re throwing letters around.)

P means “perceiving,” which means you make decisions and act while taking in information. P people present themselves as more spontaneous, since they like to continually take in new information and adapt to it. J people are “judging” (not judgmental!), which means they prefer to take in information and make a decision before acting. These people present themselves as more rigid and organized. They might be schedulers, for instance.

Davidson — where there was literally more work than there was time to complete it and get any reasonable amount of sleep — taught me to be a scheduler. Turns out that comes in handy when Cooking Hard Stuff.

Sometimes hard recipes take forever. That’s not a bad thing; besides the fact that time in the kitchen is edifying and therapeutic, the results of these recipes are often worth the extra effort. Croissants and puff pastry take two days to prepare. Yeast bread often has to rise for several hours. Mousses and cheesecakes sometimes have to chill overnight. Good things come to those who can stand to wait.

The problem for me is usually not being patient, but figuring out how and when to wait. For instance, I probably should not start a recipe late at night if it has to chill for three hours before the next step. Nevertheless, countless times I’ve found myself awake in the wee hours of the morning or canceling plans to babysit something in the oven or fridge. My solution to this — and one I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone Cooking Hard Stuff — is to make a list or schedule.

Making an ordered to-do list of prep work allows you to spend less time running around deciding what task to complete next and more time efficiently enjoying each process. If a recipe includes extensive resting, chilling, or baking periods, you can also pencil approximate times you’ll complete each step onto your list. Finally, if a recipe can be broken up over several days (many of the fancy cheesecakes on Willow Bird Baking can be broken up over three days), break down what you’ll be doing on which day so that you can enjoy yourself.

You’re probably going to make fun of me, but since I’m a visual person, I actually draw my schedules out in blocks. Here’s an example. The blocks help me see, relatively, how long each step will take, and when I might have time to walk the dog, jump in the shower, or go get lunch with a friend.

These Sweet Tater & Chorizo Tarts are fortunately simple to make. You could use premade pie dough (or even crescent roll dough for a super easy meal), but it’s also easy to prepare homemade pie dough while roasting your sweet potatoes. You can then mix up the filling while the pie dough chills, cool the filling while you roll the dough out, assemble your tarts, and bake. Draw out a little schedule for yourself (maybe something like this?) and enjoy the process.

And even more, enjoy the product. The natural sweetness of the sweet taters is fantastic with the spicy chorizo and cumin scented black beans. The flaky pastry crust (or buttery crescent roll) around the filling rounds out the flavor and makes each little tart fun to eat. This is one of Mike’s new favorite dinners!

Do you know your Meyers-Briggs personality type? Are you a planner/scheduler, or more of a free spirit?

Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hand Tarts

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, inspired in part by Joy the Baker‘s tacos
Yield: about 7-10 tarts, or 12 crescents

This sweet tater and chorizo filling is so scrumptious, I want to incorporate it into every dinner! In this recipe, I stuffed pie pastry and crescent roll dough with it to make plump, cheesy, Tex-Mexy hand tarts. They’re spicy, creamy, flaky, with a touch of natural sweetness from the roasted sweet potatoes. A plate of these with some sour cream, salsa, and cilantro on the side is more than enough for a hearty dinner.

2 recipes pie pastry (or 1 package refrigerated pie pastry, or 2 cans giant crescent rolls)
1 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
kosher salt to taste
1/2 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped onion
about 5 ounces chorizo
2 ounces cream cheese
spritz lime juice
1/8 cup sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping

optional garnishes: lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, guacamole

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss sweet potatoes with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, kosher salt, and chili powder. Spread the potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until fork-tender, about 20-25 minutes.

While the potatoes roast, place cream cheese and cheddar cheese in a medium bowl. Brown the chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat until it’s fully cooked through, and then pour it over the cheese mixture. Let it melt the cheeses for a minute or two before mixing well. Without wiping the skillet out, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and cumin and toast for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the beans and cook until they’re fully warmed through. Add the bean mixture over top of the cheese and chorizo and mix gently until it’s well combined. When the sweet potatoes are fully cooked, fold them into the mixture. Add a spritz of lime juice and kosher salt to taste.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray. Roll out the pie pastry to about 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut it into roughly 4 in. x 3 in. rectangles. Spoon a generous portion of the sweet potato mixture onto every other rectangle and then sprinkle some cheddar cheese onto each one. Top these with the unused rectangles and crimp the sides together with a fork. Cut a steam vent in each pastry and place it on the prepared baking sheet. (If using crescent rolls, just unroll them and spoon a heaping helping of the sweet potato mixture into each one before rolling it up. Sprinkle some cheese on top.) Bake the tarts for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown (or bake crescents according to package instructions). Serve warm with lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.

P.S. This dish will be entered in the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission‘s No More ‘Mallows Recipe Contest. I love me some sweet tater and marshmallow casserole, but I also love that sweet potatoes pack a lot of savory potential.

See all the Cooking Hard Stuff Tips:
The Cooking Hard Stuff Challenge
Tip #1: Read and visualize the recipe.
Tip #2: Mise en place.
Tip #3: Make a schedule.
Tip #4: Try, try, try again — or share your success

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34 Comments on Sweet Tater & Chorizo Hand Tarts

  1. Kelly
    March 29, 2012 at 12:40 am (12 years ago)

    I don’t use blocks but I definitely write it all down. This is especially helpful for dinner parties. I make sourdough breads and there have been more than a few nights that I have started at midnight thinking that since it needs to bulk ferment for 6hrs I would need to get up at 6 and put it in the fridge – no big deal. Then I mix my dough and read that every 2 hours I need to do a stretch and fold/quick mix in mixer. I will never admit whether or not I moved the stand mixer into my bedroom. If I had done such a thing, I assume it would have been a lot easier to reach over a pull the lever when the alarm went off instead of going downstairs every two hours to do the same.

    You simply cannot bake (sourdough) bread without a schedule. I then make notes in app on my phone (this is recent) so that I can remember for the next time that proofing only took 1 hour instead of 3 so that I know how to schedule the next time.

    As for the tarts above, I KNOW they are delicious. I had leftover sweet potatoes and black beans and leftover pie crust some time ago. I wrapped up the sweet potato mixture in the pie crust and it was absolutely wonderful. I can just imagine how better it is with chorizo.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 29, 2012 at 2:05 am (12 years ago)

      LOL!! I love it — I kind of want my mixer in my bedroom now (not that anyone would do such a thing, of course).

      I take notes on recipes too — just on the paper copy, though, and then I transcribe them into my blog posts, double check, and throw the paper copies in a drawer for future reference. If I get a laptop, this process might get a little less primitive πŸ˜‰

      Thanks, Kelly!

  2. Sarah
    March 29, 2012 at 2:27 am (12 years ago)

    I love this post! It is so true about the scheduling. I should definitely apply your advice more often. For some reason when it comes to baking I think it is a good idea to try to make something elaborate in a two hour time span or start at 11 o’clock at night.
    But, it is so true about Davidson! My “J” personality has just been intensified. I don’t know where I would be without lists.
    Lastly, this recipe makes me definitely want to reconsider not eating meat. It sounds so delicious! Ever since I had a sweet potato burger, I have loved the idea of savory sweet potato dishes. Thanks for the great post, I can totally identify!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm (12 years ago)

      I feel ya on the 11 o’clock thing — I seriously end up in the kitchen at the most random times. LOL. Oh, and I totally think you’d love these pockets even without the chorizo! πŸ™‚

      Thanks, Sarah!

  3. Coco
    March 29, 2012 at 3:30 am (12 years ago)

    Ooo. These are cute, Julie! And the ingredient combo sounds great, too, such a tasty-sounding mashup.

  4. Nicole
    March 29, 2012 at 3:38 am (12 years ago)

    Would this taste ok minus the chorizo or do you have a sub I could use? I want to make these for a family gathering on Easter Good Friday, which four our family is always a ‘meatless day’. They sound delicious.

  5. baobabs
    March 29, 2012 at 9:02 am (12 years ago)

    wow, this looks amazing!!! and I love how you reference the Meyers Briggs test in your post. I’m an ENFP and now border on an INFP +1, likely from the nature of my work (social media) and hiding behind the screen all day.
    anyway i digress, these look amazing and i’m going to brave up and try it – baking is not my forte as something always goes wrong :s

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm (12 years ago)

      Thank you! I hope you love them! They’re worth the bravery πŸ™‚

      I always think it’s so fascinating to hear others’ M-B personality type I feel like it really is often quite telling!

  6. anne
    March 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm (12 years ago)

    I am an INFJ too! We are the “rarest” of the personality types. πŸ™‚

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm (12 years ago)

      I totally didn’t know that, but it makes sense! I’m an odd bird, for sure πŸ™‚

  7. starre
    March 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm (12 years ago)

    INFP here so is hubby. I’m sure you know this is a rather rare type. So is INFJ something like 3% of the population. As children we usually feel so differant and aren’t sure why… as adults hopefully we come to embrace our differant style of relating to the world. I knew there was something extra special about you;O) Love your blog. Thanks for all the great recipes
    When I took this test the person explaining it said to be prepared to feel like someone has been walking around inside your head LOL

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm (12 years ago)

      I had no idea it was a rare type, but I’m glad you (and Anne, above) said so! I really did feel quite different as a child — and even now as a grown up, I feel that way plenty of times. So this comment made my day πŸ™‚

      Thanks, Starre!

  8. Deanna
    March 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm (12 years ago)

    My personality changed when I went to college too. I think its just a natural part of the experience. And yum! I love chorizo and sweet potatoes together.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 30, 2012 at 1:51 am (12 years ago)

      Thanks, Deanna! I think you’re right about college — so many changes in those years!

  9. Emily
    March 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm (12 years ago)

    These look and sound delicious! I’m ALL about a schedule, especially when cooking. I’m with you!

  10. Joanne
    March 30, 2012 at 1:06 am (12 years ago)

    Pie dough is ALWAYS the thing that gets me! Lately I’ve taken to making it a few days before I plan on making the pie…I mean, a MORE chilled pie dough never hurt! I love the sound of these hand tarts! I bet they’d be awesome with soy chorizo as well…which is definitely how I plan to make them!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 30, 2012 at 1:51 am (12 years ago)

      Ooh, yes, soy chorizo for the win! That’s a great veggie sub — I’ll keep it in mind for when folks ask.

      Thanks, Joanne πŸ™‚

  11. Abby
    April 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm (12 years ago)

    I too am an INFP and I think my hubs is an ESFJ…he’s like a sheep dog herding my P tendencies. We make a good balance. While I’m not organized at all to other people…to me I have a system and it works πŸ˜‰ Good luck with the contest, you’ve definitely got some winners here!

  12. Caroline
    April 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm (12 years ago)

    I thought I was the only one out there who’d gone from an INFP to an INFJ while attending a small liberal arts college! My high school self had no idea how much I’d revel in lists and spreadsheets.

    I love this tart recipe–and the whole Cooking Hard Stuff series, for that matter. It’s April now, but I’ll have to go back and make some of the recipes from March!

  13. laura
    July 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm (12 years ago)

    Do you have the nutritional info on these?

  14. beth
    September 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm (11 years ago)

    I’ve been looking at this recipe for almost a year… saw it on Livejournal. OMG! I wish I had not waited. These are AMAZING!

    I stepped it up a notch and made homemade chorizo. FANTASTIC STUFF!!

    • Julie Ruble
      September 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm (11 years ago)

      Hooray!!! I’m so glad to hear you loved them — and your own chorizo! Amazing!

      • beth
        September 6, 2013 at 12:25 am (11 years ago)

        OMG. My husband woke up this am telling me he was dreaming about them, again… πŸ™‚
        I’m making this puff pastry to stuff the remaining filling in (

        I’m sooooo excited.

        • Julie Ruble
          September 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm (11 years ago)

          YUM! That sounds so good!! You’ll have to let me know how it is in puff pastry. LOVE puff pastry. πŸ™‚

          • beth
            September 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm (11 years ago)

            It was FANTASTIC!!! Seriously good stuff. The pastry isn’t that labor intensive but there sure is a LOT of butter in it. It’s also a little tough so I want to find a more tender recipe. However, it’s a perfect match for your filling.


2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Sweet Tater & Chorizo Hand Tarts

  1. […] Judges Kate Rockwood, Senior Editor at Oprah Magazine, Ruth Lowenberg, “culinary professional extraordinaire”, and Matt Timms, the creator of The Takedown, “America’s most important food competition”, bestowed the grand prize upon The Tolerant Vegan for herΒ Maple Sweet Potato Pecan BurgersΒ (how amazing does that sound?!), and the other runners-up were The Type A Housewife (Sweet Potato French Toast Cups) and Willow Bird Baking (Sweet Tater & Chorizo Hand Tarts). […]

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