Sweet Potatoes Loaded with Chorizo, Caramelized Peppers and Onions, and Candied Pumpkin Seeds (Paleo)

Warning: when you eat these potatoes you will turn into one of those Food Network cooks that instantly starts describing the delectable flavors they are tasting as soon as the food touches their mouths. I mean, they don't care whether they have food all over their faces, or whether or not they are eating like their mamas taught them (ahem - with their mouths closed!). They just eat and talk... at. the. same. time. It's kinda ridiculous actually. But despite all of that, these potatoes totally turned me into a Giada clone (eeek). 

"Oh my gosh! I can taste the smokiness of the charred red peppers... and the spicy, savory taste of the chorizo! It goes so well with the sweetness of the potato. And these pumpkin seeds... they are sweet and spicy and crunchy all at the same time!!! They are my new favorite thing. I will put them on all of the foods from now on."

<Husband looks at me strangely, hoping I will stop talking soon so he can focus on eating.>

That is exactly what I said yesterday while we devoured these potatoes for lunch. I did not chew with my mouth closed. Sorry, not sorry, Mom. 

Sweet potatoes (As many as you want. FYI - One half of a potato was enough for me for lunch, but hubby needed two to fill him up.)
1 pound ground chorizo sausage
Olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (shelled)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Chopped cilantro, optional
Chopped avocado, optional

Place the whole sweet potatoes on a microwave-safe plate and microwave until soft throughout. (This took about 10 - 15 minutes for 3 sweet potatoes, or you can bake them in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees << mama ain't got time for that). 

While the potatoes are cooking, brown the chorizo in a pan over medium-high heat with a little olive oil, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to a paper towel-lined dish to remove as much grease as possible.

Wipe the pan out with a paper towel to remove any excess grease, and add a little more olive oil. Add the sliced onion and chopped pepper and saute until caramelized and softened, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan over medium-low heat, add the pumpkin seeds and roast for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Drizzle the honey over the seeds, and sprinkle with the chipotle and cinnamon. Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. They will harden slightly as they cool. 

When the potatoes are cooked through and cooled slightly, cut them in half lengthwise. Top with the chorizo, peppers and onions, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro and avocado, if desired.

Now go to town!

Mexi-Irish Nachos with Cilantro-Avocado Sauce (Paleo)

After a long hiatus (because of this), I'm finally returning to my beloved food blog! My last post was a year and a half ago, which is hard to believe, but also not. I give mad props to all those blogging mamas or any mama that works from home with kids, or gosh, even stays at home with kids all day whether you're working another job or not. Keeping those kids alive and happy is TOTALLY a full-time job all on its own. Needless to say, I could not keep up with blogging while Reagan was an infant because I also have a full time job, and I was just focusing on keeping us all alive, fed, and happy.  Do you know how hard that is!? No one told me it was hard work taking care of a baby! Omg just kidding - I knew, you guys.

Anyway, lately I've been missing my blog and cooking FUN adult food (meaning, not mac and cheese or Cheerio and blueberry lasagna)... So I'm trying to ease back in, and make one fun recipe each weekend that you guys can drool over.

Dun Dun Dun Duuuuuh... Without further ado, I give you: Mexi-Irish Nachos. "Mexi" because they taste like tacos, and "Irish" because they are made with potatoes instead of chips, so basically the healthiest nachos one could shove into their face. You. are. welcome!

Ingredients: (for a pan full of nachos) 
Cooking spray
3 Russet potatoes
1 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb ground beef, chicken, or turkey
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water

Cilantro-Avocado Sauce:
2 avocados
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Additional Topping Suggestions: 
Tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
Cheese and sour cream (omit if Paleo)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Thinly slice the potatoes (about 1/4" thick) and arrange them in a single layer on the pan. Drizzle a little olive oil over the potatoes to get them crispier, if desired. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom of the potatoes. Flip each potato over and cook another 5 - 10 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown and starting to get crispy. 

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat and cook through while breaking up the meat. Drain the excess fat from the meat (if you used ground beef). Add the coriander, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the Worcestershire, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and water, and simmer a few more minutes to combine and reduce to the desired consistency. 

To make the sauce: combine the avocados, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or bowl and blend with an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

To assemble: 
Top the crisp potatoes with the meat mixture, avocado sauce, and desired toppings (tomatoes, diced onion, and sour cream and cheese if desired). 

Bon appetit! 

Southern Fried Corn

So as you may have seen, I'm pregnant! I'm at 24 weeks now, and it has completely changed my blogging habits, so I apologize for that! During my first trimester, I did not want anything to do with food, unless it was oyster crackers or plain pasta. So dragging my butt into the kitchen to create delicious, flavorful food was just not happening. And then to photograph that food? Forget about it. 

I'm feeling much better now, but as you can imagine, I have been pretty busy trying to get ready for baby's arrival, putting our house on the market, AND starting my MBA. So again, blogging took the back burner. But I'm hoping that I'm back, and better than ever! 

Now, on to this corn recipe. My father-in-law said that this corn changed his life. 

While that may be a little extreme, it is pretty derrrrn good. The milk mixes with the flavors of the veggies and seasonings to make a delicious, creamy "sauce" of sorts that complements the corn really well. Also, this recipe is SIMPLE and CHEAP, so it's a perfect side dish to serve all summer long at your BBQ's or with a simple supper. You will be surprised at how tasty it is - I promise!

6 or 7 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1/2 onion, minced
1/2 green pepper, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

Cut the kernels off the cobs into a bowl. Add the onion, pepper, flour, honey, salt and pepper, cayenne, and milk, and stir until well blended.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the oil and add the corn mixture, and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the butter and continue to stir until the butter is melted an the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Red Velvet Macarons

Macarons are one of the most glorious desserts around. They melt in your mouth. And while these delightful French cookies may seem daunting to make, if you can follow a recipe, you can make macarons! I have made a handful of different recipes so far, so I’ll share with you my favorite recipe, along with a few tips to help you ease in to the process.

Feel free to play with the flavors and colors of your macarons. This recipe can be easily modified, just omit the cocoa powder and food 
coloring and substitute whatever flavoring and colors you want! 

Check out my Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons for another fool-proof recipe and my macaron tips!

Red Velvet Macaron Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar pulsed in a food processor for about 1 minute will work)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 pinch fine salt
1 teaspoon red food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
4 ounces fat free cream cheese, room temperature
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Pulse confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Whisk egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low then add superfine sugar.

Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Add the food coloring and mix to combine. Sift flour mixture over the egg whites, and gently fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined or silicon mat-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Prepare the frosting. Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer on high speed until smooth, then add the vanilla. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just combined. Add more confectioners’ sugar if desired for a thicker, sweeter frosting.

Match up like-sized cookies and pipe about 1 teaspoon of frosting on one macaron, and gently press another macaron on top to make a sandwich.

"Get your Spring On" Recipe Roundup!

Spring is heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere, it really issssssssssssssss! Despite the rain and crazy wind in southwest Virginia this morning, I have faith that spring is here. The blossoms are blossoming, the birds are all cute and fat and singing, and the farmer's market has resumed normal hours, which means more fresh fruits and veggies at your fingertips. So get your spring on with some of these fabulous springtime recipes, courtesy of yours truly, as well as a few of my favorite bloggers!

To Whet your Appetite: 

Red Sangria with Fresh Apples and Oranges

Can't wait to try this: Fresh Mint Iced Coffee from howsweeteats.com

While you wait: 

And one of my favorites: Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Crostini from howsweeteats.com

The main event: 

Chipotle Mango BBQ Chicken with Cilantro Chimichurri

Asian Baby Back Ribs with Pineapple Ginger BBQ Sauce

Turkey Tacos with a Zucchini Rhubarb Slaw

Pulled Pork Sliders with White BBQ Sauce and Homemade Pickles

Sweet Tooth:

Hazelnut Gelato

Easy French Toast Strawberry Shortcake

Blueberry Lemon Creme Brulee

And how amazing do these look? 
Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Mint Buttercream  from notwithoutsalt.com 

I hope you try a few of these recipes this spring. Let me know what you think!