Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sweet Potato Burritos with Avocado Salsa Verde

California, how I miss thee. The wonderful weather, the self-driving Google cars, the parks every two blocks, and even the hipster eating trends. Okay, less so on the last one; I never even tried cold-pressed juice, and my first kale salad was in Utah, surprisingly.

Nonetheless, there seemed to be a self-awareness about healthy eating in our little town that a girl could appreciate. This meal makes me think of two things: California and Shay. Shay is the angel woman who brought me dinner not once, but thrice during those oh-so-difficult first months of new motherdom when SourPatch was so hungry and took such short naps. I have to say, this meal knocked me off my socks. It is amazingly delicious. It tastes fresh and flavorful, and it is packed with, well, vegetables. And the avocado sauce? It is sooooo good. So good.

I make this meal all the time, as, apparently, does Elin. I have to admit that it's tricky sometimes to avoid scorching the sweet potatoes. I've decided the key is to be generous with the oil and to check/stir the potatoes often. Don't sweat it, though, if you accidentally let the edges get black. It's also a forgiving recipe. For example, Elin always leaves out the roasted red peppers, while I tend to omit the toppings. Sometimes I forget to buy cilantro and leave it out of the salsa, or my avocados are unusually large or small. Yet it always tastes delicious. Elin also uses corn tortillas and omits the cheese to create a gluten-free, dairy-free version which she prefers. So many options!

Also, I just spent a thorough 3 minutes browsing the internet to see if this recipe makes enchiladas or burritos. It seems to be a hibrid. I'm going with burritos? It's a big decision... kind of stressing me out.

Sweet Potato Burritos with Avocado Salsa Verde

4 medium sweet potatoes
¼- cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
¼-½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
8-10 whole wheat tortillas (I use 8 inch)
1 12-oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into long strips
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2+ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Avocado Salsa Verde
4 ripe avocados
2 cups mild salsa verde, jarred
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced (approximately 4 tablespoons lime juice)
½ cup packed cilantro leaves
Optional: 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh jalapeño, deseeded and roughly chopped

Optional toppings:
shredded romaine
diced red onion
sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse, peel, and chop the sweet potatoes  into large, bite-sized chunks, about 1.25x1.25x0.5 inches. In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil with the cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Toss the sweet potatoes in the olive oil, making sure they are lightly coated in oil on all sides. Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer onto two large baking sheets lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 40-45 minutes, flipping the sweet potato chunks halfway, until they are cooked through and caramelized around the edges. To be safe, I'd recommend checking the potatoes every 15 minutes to avoid charring them.

2. While the sweet potatoes bake, make the avocado sauce. In a food processor or blender, combine the avocado flesh, salsa verde, garlic, jalapeño (if adding), lime juice, and cilantro. Blend until smooth and well combined.

3. To assemble the burritos: In the middle of each tortilla, put down a couple strips of roasted red pepper, then add 1/3 cup roasted sweet potato chunks. Add 1/4 cup black beans down the center and top with 1/3 cup of Monterey jack cheese on top. Gently roll the burrito. Assemble remaining burritos. In your 450 degree oven, bake the burritos for about 3-5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly crisp and golden.

4. Carefully transfer each burrito to a plate. Smother it in avocado sauce and add desired toppings.

Friday, March 18, 2016

How To Make Delicious, Healthy, Homemade Yogurt

Our family loves yogurt. We use it in cooking, we use it in smoothies, and we eat it regularly at meals and for snacks. So I was a bit dubious when Delys told me that she had begun making her own at home. But I liked the idea that I could control the amount of sugar in it (most commercial yogurt tastes too sweet to me), that it has only four ingredients (make that two if you leave out the sugar and vanilla), and that it is definitely more economical. So I asked her for a yogurt lesson, and I have become a believer. Here is Delys' recipe:

1 gallon whole milk 
6-8 oz yogurt with live cultures (plain or vanilla)
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (optional)
1-2 Tbs vanilla (optional)

Heavy bottom stock pot (plus additional pot if desired for cooling)
Candy thermometer
4 quart-size jars with lids or equivalent

Pour a gallon of whole milk into stock pot and set on medium/low heat. Insert your thermometer and heat to 185-195 degrees. This can take some time, but you don't want to crank up the heat or you'll scald the milk. Remove from heat and let cool to 120 degrees.

I like to pour it into a separate pot that is sitting in an ice bath in the sink to speed the cooling process.

While the milk cools, you can add sugar and vanilla if desired. When it has cooled to 120 degrees, add your yogurt starter (6 to 8 oz, of plain or vanilla yogurt with live cultures) and whisk until well incorporated. Pour mixture into clean jars and secure with lids. 

Place jars in cooler and close lid. Quickly heat a gallon of water on the stove or in the microwave to 120 degrees (this is only slightly warmer than the hot water coming out of your tap) and pour into the cooler with the jars. 

Shut cooler and allow to sit for 3 hours. Dry off your jars and put them in the fridge. Unopened jars can be stored for a month. You can easily half this recipe or adjust it to your families needs.

This is delicious topped with granola, nuts, and fresh or frozen fruit. Or eat it just as you see it here--smooth and creamy yumminess.