Thursday, January 28, 2010

Orange Vegetables

I know what everyone is thinking right now.  Vegetables??  She says that she is going to cook delicious food and she chooses what for her first recipe?  Vegetables?!?

Never fear, I say.  These are not just any vegetables.  These are Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes, a recipe based on one of the most delicious vegetables to exist!  And when you add honey and cinnamon to them... well, I have to say that we're all in for quite a treat tonight.
(Original recipe credited to the Food Network's Tyler Florence.  You can view the original recipe at the Food Network site)

What you'll need:
  • 4 medium to large sweet potatoes, washed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
How to make it:

1) Preheat over to 375 degrees.

2) Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease the pan with cooking spray.           

This does two things: 1) it ensures that you will maximize your potato supply by allowing for the least amount of potatoes stuck to the sheet and 2) it makes clean-up super easy!  Just throw away the aluminum foil and rinse off the pan at the end.

3) Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and spread out across baking sheet in one layer.

Peeled or unpeeled: that is the question.  I peeled my potatoes this time, but you can choose whether you have the time and desire to peel them.  The peels only add extra nutrients and texture, so it is really a matter of preference.  Also, the smaller you cut your potatoes, the faster they cook; just make sure they are large enough to stab with your fork!

4) Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and honey; sprinkle with cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

Spread out the ingredients evenly, but don't worry too much about it- just wash your hands and mix the potatoes yourself!  Make sure to spread the potatoes out in a layer again before putting them in the oven.

5) Roast potatoes in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender when poked with a fork.

Depending on your oven, the potatoes can take less or more time to become tender.  Mine took about 35-40 minutes; it was a terribly long time to wait while hungry.  Check on the potatoes about halfway through the baking time and stir them, just to make sure that they aren't sticking to the sheet.

6) Enjoy your delicious vegetable creation!

Recipe Review:

This is one of my all-time favorite easy recipes; sometimes I'll make it and eat it for my entire meal!  (Shh... don't tell my boyfriend, it's one of his favorites too!)  Although the extra time in the oven was hard to bear, it made the potatoes melt-in-your-mouth good.  The honey and cinnamon work together well to bring out the natural sweetness of the potato, without being too overwhelming.  Altogether, I give this recipe five stars!

This is also a good basic recipe for a side-dish that you can alter to fit your needs.  Perhaps you want to pick a different vegetable, or add a different spice to the recipe.  It is a great fall-back dish for this reason, and also because (besides the potatoes) most of the ingredients should already be in your cabinet!  That equals less cost and hassle for you as the chef (and the diner!). 


For next time...

How can you build upon this recipe?  What other things can you add to make the recipe your own?
Some thoughts:
  • Add a little chili powder for some spice
  • Sprinkle some pecans on the top for the last ten minutes of roasting for crunch
  • Melt some marshmallows on top for a kick back to childhood holidays (if you're from the South, like my aunt and uncle, that is!)

What would you like to add?  What would you like to change?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Inspirations and Hesitations

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online:
undergrad, eg. undergraduate
    : (noun) a student at a college or university who has not received a first and especially a bachelor's degree
    : (noun) a connoisseur of food and drink (also an adjective)

Fordham University academic administrators must have chuckled to themselves when they picked the most common night class time slot, which inconveniently takes place during the entire period that a student would reasonably consider "dinnertime."  It is no surprise, therefore, that when I had to choose the over-arching theme for a blog as part of my night class, food immediately came to mind.  But I can't just write about food, can I?  It is not particularly original; everyone eats, after all.  And although the turkey-and-mustard sandwich on whole wheat bread that is sitting just feet away in my bag seems incredibly appetizing to me right now, in a more sensible (and less hungry) state of mind, it is probably not what one would consider "gourmet."

However, compared to a school cafeteria, even the simplest of home-cooked meals can seem like five-star dinners.  And who doesn't love the feeling of finding the most delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurant and walking out with most of your cash still in your pocket?  Perhaps I don't need to be a restaurant chef to have a blog about food...

So, I begin my mission: to find simple cooking techniques and inexpensive meals that I, being a representative of the general undergraduate population, can cook.  This includes cooking experiments that go awry as well!  A failed experiment, of course, is a learning experience, and perhaps some readers can kindly teach me a thing or two about what I can change.  Meanwhile, anytime I find a great restaurant that is friendly to the college or an interesting and helpful cooking-related article, I'll share it here because secrets should not remain secret if they are delicious!

Thus is the beginning of a (hopefully) delicious journey towards becoming a true undergrad gourmet!