Posts Tagged ‘sweet potato’

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

I really intended to have relaxed by now. Summer vacation officially began for me last Saturday, and I had all sorts of fun plans: relaxing at the pool, workin' on my fitness, watching funny YouTube videos.

And then it happened: work creep.

I've talked a bit about lifestyle creep before -- the phenomenon where, as you earn more money and invest in "luxuries" they begin to feel like "necessities." Work creep is similar (I say this like I didn't just make the term up; whatever), but without the fun new acquisitions. Work creep is where, as you gain a little time here and there, you find a way to fill it with work. Am I the only one who experiences this?

I think part of the problem is that I always have a backlog of work: things I should have been doing all school year but have been ignoring due to lack of time. I don't want to think about the emails I've forgotten to respond to, the dog I've forgotten to walk (just kidding, just kidding, she reminds me!), the cleaning I've forgotten to do. Ugh.

I literally -- are you guys going to judge me for this? I'm going to tell you anyway -- I literally have not done an official overall cleaning of any room in my house in . . . months. Like, every now and then I cleaned the toilet, threw some dishes in the dishwasher, or cleaned off the stove, but other than that (and laundry when absolutely essential -- but no folding!), we've been on autopilot over here. And again, it's not because I'm lazy, but because my schedule was jam-packed full of educating young minds, baking young cobblers (okay, this parallelism makes no sense), and sometimes eating and sleeping.

So now that I'm confronted with a beautiful, wide-open couple of months, it's understandable that I've immediately scheduled the entire thing with all of my backlogged work. I've worked all day every day this past week on blog work. And there are baking projects, cooking camps, cleaning (good grief, so much cleaning), and packing for my impending apartment and classroom moves still to be done. I need a vacation from my vacation -- but I know I'd just work through it as well. Good thing I love every ounce of work I do, right?

If you're fueling your work creep, sweet potato fries are a good snacking choice. This recipe by Giada DiLaurentis is my favorite because of the delicious basil salt and easy lemon garlic mayonnaise for dipping. Fun fact: I use the dipping sauce for dipping roasted asparagus spears in, too! So good.

I've included a few tips for making your fries extra crispy if you like them that way. Enjoy these at a summer picnic or, okay, while cleaning. Sigh.

Do you experience work creep? Are you a workaholic (by choice or necessity), or can you turn it off?

One year ago: Blueberry Cream Cheese Almond Braid
Two years ago: Santa Fe Breakfast Bake

Crisp Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce

Recipe by: Slightly adapted from Giada DiLaurentis
Yield: 2 servings

These sweet potato fries are delicious -- especially with their tangy lemon garlic mayonnaise for dipping! To ensure you get crispy fries, cut them very thin and spread them out on the baking sheet -- they shouldn't be touching or crowding each other at all. This might mean using several baking sheets. Also, depending on the thickness of your fries, you might need to adjust the cooking time up or down to obtain crispy (but not burnt to a crisp!) fries. Just check early and often -- and remember they'll crisp up a bit as they cool as well.

2 sweet potatoes, cut into thin "fries"
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Line two baking sheets (or more as needed) with foil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato fries in the olive oil and then spread them out on the baking sheets. Make sure they don't touch and aren't crowded. Bake until they're golden and crisp, about 45 minutes (but check early and often in case your fries are thinner or smaller and cook faster.)

While the fries are baking, mix together the salt, pepper, and basil to make basil salt. Combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice in another small bowl to make the Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce. When the fries come out of the oven, sprinkle on the basil salt and toss them around with a spatula. Spread them out again to let them cool slightly (if you keep them in a heap, they'll steam themselves and get soggy). Serve them with the Lemon Garlic Dipping Sauce.

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Sweet Tater & Chorizo Hand Tarts

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 café 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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Twice Baked Cranberry & Pancetta Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Glaze

The only time I've lived away from my hometown was during my sophomore year in college when I moved to Beaufort, a small town on the coast of North Carolina. I lived there for a few months before traveling for a month down the Eastern seaboard to study marine zoogeography. That semester changed my life, and I've continued to process the memories over the years. Periodically I'll share stories here on Willow Bird Baking from that time.

. . .

I stared willfully at the horizon, waiting for the wave of nausea to subside. As if it were having great fun at my expense, the boat rolled over another giant wave. My stomach followed. I was determined not to succumb to the sensation and end up hanging over the railing like several of my friends, so I squinted even harder at the steady line between sky and land.

We'd woken up at an absurd hour to climb aboard the R/V Susan Hudson that morning. We'd all become accustomed to rolling out of bed, pulling on a pair of salty old sneakers, and plowing through the fog of sleep to begin our adventures. Luxuries like showering and hairstyling and even, say, deodorant had long since been abandoned. There was a high likelihood that on any given day we'd find ourselves traipsing through mud up to our thighs (I'm not exaggerating), swimming to a nearby island, or cuddling with sea cucumbers in the shallows. There was no point in getting pretty.

This was our first deep sea expedition. We were traveling miles out into the ocean to dredge and trawl for invertebrates that we would take back to the lab, observe, and then release. I'd been on the Susan Hudson around Pivers Island, home base for the Duke Marine Lab where we lived, but I soon discovered that this was an entirely different experience: one in which I did not have sea legs. Or a sea stomach.

The briney smell of the critters we poured out onto the ship's deck didn't help. We quickly flipped fish back out into the sea and scooped heaps of clams, snails, and squids into buckets of seawater. A cacophony of seagull chatter above us reminded us to toss a bit of our impressively fresh sushi into the air now and then.

On our way back with our spineless loot (the squids' inky water suggested they were none too happy with their temporary accommodations), we docked near Cape Lookout to explore the seashore for a bit before eating lunch back on the boat. The dining hall had packed us sweet little bag lunches complete with a sandwich, apple, and cookie, but the thought of lunch sent my stomach back into a lurch.

Fortunately, one of the guys in our group had grown up on the water in Charleston. Will had battened down hatches, swabbed the deck, shivered some timbers, and every other nautical cliche I can muster up. He saw my decidedly green gills and said, "Make sure to eat."

I was skeptical. "Well, I'm feeling really sick -- is it a good idea to eat anything? Isn't that just asking for trouble?"

"Trust me: eat. You'll feel better."

I unfolded the wax paper around my sandwich and took a cautious bite. (By the way, if you've never wrapped a sandwich in wax paper for your lunch, you should. The sensory experience of unwrapping that crinkly, smooth paper to eat a humble little sandwich is one of my favorite things in the world.) I don't remember what sort of sandwich it was, but it tasted otherworldly after an entire morning on the boat. My hunger caught up to me and I finished devouring my sandwich with gusto. I headed for the cookie after that, offering my apple to one of my friends (the peel gets caught in my teeth and drives me batty, so I never eat them).

My trust in Will, given tentatively and mostly out of desperation despite his obvious experience, paid off. I felt better almost instantly. So much so that instead of clenching my bench and staring at the now-bright horizon the entire way back to the lab, I was able to get up and survey the surrounding sea, broken by waves and playful dolphins.

. . .

I've moved from research boats to potato boats since my time in Beaufort. In fact, I haven't stepped foot on an actual boat (unless you count a kayak) in years. And I wouldn't trust these sweet potatoes to be particularly sea-worthy.

They are fantastic, though. I love twice baked potatoes for their soft, creamy filling, and this play on the theme boasts that same lovely texture. In addition to that, it has a phenomenal collection of flavors: sweet potato, cranberry, salty pancetta, sage, goat cheese, and a sweet balsamic glaze. The pretty presentation is just the icing on the cake.

Twice Baked Cranberry & Pancetta Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Glaze

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 2 twice baked sweet potatoes

These gorgeous twice baked sweet potatoes are fancy enough for a holiday meal, but simple enough to make any night. You can even prepare them a day in advance so they're ready to pop in the oven before a big meal. A few tricks (like using a zip top bag to pipe the mixture into their sweet potato boats) speed up the process. The best thing about them, though, is the fantastic combination of flavors: salty pancetta, sweet and tart cranberries, tangy goat cheese, fresh sage, and a sweet balsamic glaze. It's every sweet potato's dream.

2 large sweet potatoes (look for ones that are shaped like a fat oval)
4 ounces cubed pancetta
2 ounces goat cheese, plus more for crumbling on top
2 tablespoons butter
1 heaping teaspoon of loosely packed sage leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup half & half
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar

In a small bowl, cover dried cranberries with hot water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 10 minutes to rehydrate the berries. Drain them and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Poke each sweet potato several times with a fork and bake them on the oven rack (with a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any oozing) for 1 hour or until a knife will slice them easily.

While they bake, sauté the pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat for a 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Drain it on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Once they're ready, let the baked sweet potatoes cool for 10 minutes before slicing the top third off of each. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out the flesh (leave about 1/8 inch of flesh in the skin to give it some sturdiness). Mix the sweet potato flesh in a medium bowl with the butter, 2 ounces of goat cheese, and half & half (add this slowly while mixing so you get the consistency you'd like). Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the cranberries, sage, and pancetta. Salt the mixture to taste. Spoon it into a large zip top bag and cut the bottom corner off. Squeeze the mixture into the sweet potato skins. (At this point you can cover the potatoes and refrigerate overnight or bake immediately. If you chill them overnight, just let them come to room temperature before you bake them the next day.) Bake the potatoes for 10-12 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.

While the potatoes are baking, combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and boil them over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to about 2/3 cup (this can take anywhere from 18-25 minutes). Be careful -- vinegar fumes are strong! When the glaze is about ready, preheat the broiler. Top each potato with a generous amount of goat cheese and broil, watching very closely, until goat cheese is toasty brown and bubbly. Remove the potatoes and drizzle on the balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.

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.

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Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Orange Rosemary Butter & Goat Cheese

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.

My first bit of advice about how to Cook Hard Stuff (or really, how to cook anything at all) is going to seem half obvious and half new agey, but it's important enough to harp on a bit.

Cooking Hard Stuff Tip #1: Read and visualize the recipe.

Once upon a time, I treated a recipe like a labyrinth. I started at the beginning without any knowledge of what was ahead, putting one foot in front of the other and hoping I eventually reached the other side.

It was exciting, for sure. Suddenly, I'd need a cup of sugar. I'd dig around in the cabinet for a bit, do some measuring, and accomplish that task. Then, bam! I'd need a stick of butter. I'd scrounge around in the fridge to see if I had one. The pitfalls of this technique are pretty obvious: sometimes you're out of sugar, or your butter needed to be set out to soften hours ago, or the pan you need is soaking in the sink with last night's baked ziti caked all over it.

It only took a few such missteps to start reading recipes, but even then, I just "read" them. Skimming did the trick most of the time. Finally, a few mid-recipe trips to the grocery store made me realize that a cursory scan of a recipe wasn't going to cut it either.

When I say you should read through your recipe, I mean you should grab a pencil, sit down with the recipe, and really read it. Make grocery lists based on the ingredients. Make a schedule for your prep work so things like softening butter don't sneak up on you. Sketch a plan for how to set up your workspace for finicky or time sensitive recipes so you won't have to stop and rummage through the pantry.

These things take a little time. You might sit with your recipe for 15 or 20 minutes planning. I can say from experience, though, that the time and angst you'll save as you breeze through your recipe is worth the few minutes of preparation.

Once you've given a recipe a thorough reading and made any helpful notes, you need to sit down and visualize the steps of the recipe. Literally, sit there and picture yourself doing each step. Maybe this is starting to sound a little like a yoga class, but mentally walking through a recipe is one of the most important things I do to ensure my success. It's during this exercise that I realize what order the prep work is best completed in, what techniques I'm unfamiliar with and might need to read more about, and what kitchen tools I should use in order to maximize my efficiency and minimize my workload.

Thinking through the recipe a few times also makes me feel like I've practiced the steps I'm about to tackle, which boosts my confidence and leads to better results in the kitchen.

These Hasselback Sweet Potatoes aren't Hard Stuff; they're actually pretty simple to prepare and boast a gorgeous flavor profile. But having never made Hasselback potatoes before, you better believe I was reading around online, comparing various recipes, and making a prep list for myself. After this bit of preparation, the dish practically flew together.

As I hoped, the orange rosemary butter, goat cheese, and smidge of warm orange marmalade glaze worked perfectly with the sweet potato to create a bold savory side dish. Do a little reading and a little visualization (and maybe even some yoga?) and then make yourself some sweet taters.

What tips for Cooking Hard Stuff would you offer other readers?

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Orange Rosemary Butter & Goat Cheese

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, inspired by A Cozy Kitchen's Hasselback Potatoes
Yield: 2 sweet potatoes, 2-4 servings

These sweet potatoes are stuffed with delicate orange rosemary butter and goat cheese and drizzled with a touch of warm orange marmalade when they're fresh from the oven. The result is a savory side dish with a hint of sweetness and a ton of bright flavor. Don't fret if the butter and cheese needs to be smooshed into each slit in the potato and ends up a little messy -- the finished product will be gorgeous.

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
3/4 teaspoon honey
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more for salting butter to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon orange marmalade

Make the Rosemary Orange Butter: Mix softened butter, orange extract, orange zest, finely chopped rosemary, and honey until well combined. Add salt to taste. Spoon butter onto a square of wax paper and gently form into a log. Wrap the log and place it in the freezer to firm up completely.

Prepare potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and cover a baking sheet with foil. Place a wooden spoon handle on either side of your potato and slice thin slices into it, allowing the spoon handles to stop your knife before you cut all the way through. Slice your cold butter into thin slices and stuff a sliver into every other slit in your potato. Stuff goat cheese into the other slits (some goat cheese will smear out onto the top of your potato and form a topping of sorts). Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet, drizzle each potato with 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Check halfway through and tent with foil if the goat cheese is beginning to brown too much. Remove the potatoes from the oven after baking and heat the orange marmalade in a small, microwave safe prep bowl for about 15 seconds. Drizzle half over each potato and serve immediately.

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

If you liked this post, please:
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Naked Vegan Tacos with Corn Relish and Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Do not make naked vegan tacos while naked.

Yes, I know it'd be clever. I know it'd be a fun story to tell your friends (who would then promptly decline all future dinner invitations). But if one splatter of hot oil goes awry, all amusement you had hoped to gain from the experience will promptly disintegrate (along with patches of your skin, I'm just sayin').

Make me with clothes on, please.

Also, do not assume Naked Vegan Tacos are made specifically for naked vegans. You may certainly eat these if you are a naked vegan, but clothed vegans are also welcome to partake. Even you omnivorous folks (clothed or otherwise) can enjoy this recipe if you're so inclined.

This is an equal opportunity blog, y'all.

So why are Naked Vegan Tacos called Naked Vegan Tacos? 'Cause they're not wearing their taco shells! All the lovely stuffins of a vegan taco are included, but engineered for your fork instead of your hands.


This quick dinner was a take on sweet potato and black bean tacos, a dish I've had on my to-make list forever. Just as I expected, the sweetness of the roasted sweet potatoes was fantastic with the heat and cumin in the black beans. The cilantro-lime slaw added acid and crunch. The corn relish -- boasting bright corn, tomatoes, and creamy hunks of avocado -- cooled things off.

This huge, cheap, flavorful meal was so satisfying; I ate it over the course of 4 days and loved every bite, even though the avocados were oxidizing (i.e. turning all brown and creepy) after the first day.

Not vegan anymore.

Since it's full of veggies, only 451 calories per serving, and includes components to make up complete proteins, I'm also going to decree that this meal is healthy (though I'm no expert). Serve it atop your favorite grain for an even more filling dinner. Heck, you could even go crazy and serve the tacos in flippin' taco shells. You know, if you're that kind of person.

What's your favorite fresh vegetable?

Naked Vegan Tacos with Corn Relish and Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Recipe by: Adapted from Joy the Baker and Paula Deen
Yields: 4 servings

The focus of this meal is flavor. Roasted sweet potatoes sweeten, black beans with cumin bring the heat, cilantro-lime slaw adds crunch and acid, and a bright corn relish with creamy avocado and juicy tomatoes lends freshness. Filling my plate with all of these lovely bits and pieces and then spending my entire dinner creating various perfect "bites" was so satisfying -- especially since it was also healthy.

Sweet Potatoes Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and red chili flakes to taste
juice of 1 lime

Cilanto-Lime Slaw Ingredients:
2 heaping cups finely shredded cabbage
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onions
2 heaping tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice of 2 limes
salt and red chili flakes to taste

Black Beans Ingredients:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lime

Corn Relish Ingredients:
2 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeno (or to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Optional Extras:
Fried or poached egg (obviously this makes it un-vegan)
salsa, fat free sour cream, green onions, fresh cilantro, limes

Make sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a bowl, toss sweet potato cubes with oil, salt, chili flakes, and lime juice. Spread out on a baking sheet. Roast 40-45 minutes (stirring/flipping gently a couple of times during the process) or until tender and brown. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside.

Make Cilanto-Lime Slaw: While the potatoes are roasting, place shredded cabbage, onions, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and chili flakes in a bowl. Toss them together and set aside to let the cabbage soften.

Make Black Beans: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and cook them for a few minutes until they're soft and translucent. Add the cumin and garlic and toast these for a few seconds until fragrant. Finally, add the beans and lime juice and cook until they're heated through.

Make the corn relish: Mix the corn, avocado, tomatoes, jalapenos, and onion in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Pour it over the corn mixture and gently toss.

Assemble: Serve your naked tacos by heaping sweet potatoes and black beans on a place and garnishing with a big spoonful of cilantro-lime slaw and corn relish. Accompany your meal with a dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro, chopped green onions, and salsa. If you fancy some added protein and aren't vegan, you can top with a poached or over-easy fried egg.

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