Friday, November 21, 2014

Old Fashioned Southern Sweet Potato Pie

There has been much activity lately around this, my beloved Aunt Ruby's sweet potato pie, which I posted 3 years ago.

Can you believe, right here is the midst of pumpkin spice season, this pie uses none? I do love those spices--cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, but I don't want everything in this season to taste and smell that way. You know what I mean--pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin spice room spray, pumpkin spice dog biscuits, pumpkin spice scones, pumpkin spice beer, and so much more. . .

You are just a click away from our family Sweet Potato Pie.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Simple Baked Cabbage and Pear Side Dish

The lowly cabbage is one of my husband's favorite vegetables. I love it too and am constantly thinking up new ways to use it. 

And there are many ways: coleslaw, sauerkraut, cooked with corned beef for St. Patrick's day, kimchi, vegetable soup, stir fry, borscht, stuffed cabbage rolls, braised, steamed, roasted, egg rolls, and so much more.

Cabbage is an under recognized nutritional powerhouse, is available year round, and is cheap!

I made this simple pear and cabbage side dish to serve as a salad with a rich meal. The pears added a sweetness to the dish and mellowed the often piquant taste of the cabbage.  Some of my dining companions didn't even know it was cabbage.

You can fancy it up if you wish. Some crumbled bacon would be delicious. Chunks of blue cheese and toasted walnuts would be scrumptious.

Baked Cabbage and Pears
1 small head cabbage, cored and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 pears, cored and sliced
2 Tbsp. butter, plus more for pan if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice from half a lemon
Cayenne pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter (or spray) an 8x8 inch baking dish.

Place cabbage into prepared dish, then layer the onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread pear slices over the cabbage and onions and sprinkle with lemon juice. Dot the top with butter.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until desired tenderness.

Arrange on salad plates and dust with a little cayenne pepper if desired.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

IT SEEMS THAT ONE MINUTE WE WERE PICNICKING, enjoying the gorgeous fall colors, and crisp, fresh air and the next it was snowing. I made my first official cold weather food--a healthful and spicy vegetarian chili.

This chili is hearty but not heavy. Black beans and sweet potatoes are a favorite food combination of mine and I am always dreaming up new ways to serve them together.

I started my chili with dried beans, about 1 1/2 cups. But if you prefer, you can use 2 (15 oz.) cans, rinsed and drained. In my recipe, I call for 5 to 6 cups of cooked black beans and you can decide how you want to arrive at them.

I love cheese and tortilla chips with chili, but you could also serve it with coleslaw and cornbread.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 cups spring water
5 - 6 cups cooked and drained black beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften. Add garlic, chili powder, and cumin, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, about 10 - 12 minutes.

Add beans, tomatoes, and lime juice. Return to a simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Muffuletta Sandwich for a Fall Picnic

THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY is scenic highway which runs from the boundary between The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina to The Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

The Parkway is a product of the New Deal's efforts to provide jobs to the unemployed during the Great Depression of the 1930's. Construction began in September, 1935, took 52 years to complete, and runs for 469 miles.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is my favorite part of living where we do. While driving the parkway, you encounter 26 mostly hand dug tunnels which were designed to reduce excessive landscape scarring. They are so beautiful! You will encounter old farmsteads, an old grist mill, hiking trails, waterfalls, scenic overlooks to park and take in the beauty. You might see a bear, fox, coyote, skunk or another animal. What you will not see are power lines, traffic lights, billboards, or any other sign of commercialism. It is a two-lane highway and the speed limit is never more than 45 mph.

Lucky for us, there is an entrance to the Parkway just about 5 miles from our home. We have taken a few drives in the past couple of weeks to enjoy the glorious fall colors. This has been an especially brilliant fall.

I am not equipped to photograph the sweeping and breath-takingly beautiful mountain vistas, but I recently packed a picnic and shot some photos around a picnic area where we lunched. It was a glorious day. The skies were brilliant blue with fluffy white clouds floating about. The air was crisp but quite warm in the sun.

I made Muffuletta sandwiches because they are delicious and travel well.

Muffuletta Sandwich
1 round loaf Italian bread
1/4 pound each thinly sliced:
   Genoa salami
   Cooked ham
   Mozzarella cheese
   Provolone cheese
Olive Salad:
   1 jar Giadeniera, chopped
   1 1/2 cups pimiento stuffed olives, chopped
   3 - 4 cloves garlic, crushed
   1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
   1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
   Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
   1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the olive salad ingredients and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Stir well again before applying to the sandwich.

Cut the bread in half around the horizon. Tear away some of the fluffy interior to hollow out the bread a bit. (Save to use for bread crumbs later).

Generously spread olive salad on each half of the sandwich. Layer the meats and cheese. Close the sandwich and press down. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until later or serve right away, cut into wedges.

Leftover sandwich wedges and leftover olive salad keep well.