Bolognese Sauce and Sweet Potato Noodles

Tomorrow is my twenty-second birthday. At this point, I still feel excited about getting a little older; I think because all of the people who I work with and many of my friends are actually older than me, and I sometimes feel a little immature telling people that I’m only 21. I’m a little scared though, that this might be the last birthday that I feel this way. It’s not necessarily that I’m afraid of getting older.  I’m done school, I have a job that I love, amazing friends, a good apartment, and I’m optimistic about my dating life. It’s just that I think I might miss the feeling of unlimited time. Of thinking that I can travel to a hundred new places, all before I have to settle down and have babies, or that I can date a bunch of different guys before I feel like I have to get married to one of them, or that it’s acceptable to make irrational decisions like drinking a bottle of wine to myself or buying a dress that costs more than I should be spending, before I have to start acting responsible.

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Obviously, none of this has anything to do with bolognese sauce. Or sweet potato noodles. I’m pretty sure that in regards to the things that I cook, I act more like I’m 40 with house full of kids.

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But I am on a bit of a health kick lately, and even though I love pasta and carbs more than a lot of things, these sweet potato noodles are a pretty delicious option if you’re in the mood for something a little different. And seriously, what is more comforting and impressive than a good bolognese sauce?

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Bolognese Sauce

Serves 6 – 8 (or use in a 10 x 12 inch baking dish for lasagna) 

Adapted from Calgary Cooks – Ronaldo Coladon from Cucina in Calgary, Alberta 

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1 stalk Celery, sliced

1/2 Carrot, sliced

1 Onion, diced small

2 lbs Ground Beef

2 tbsp Minced Garlic

1 Bay Leaf

1 tsp finely chopped Fresh Oregano (or 1/2 tsp Dried)

2 tsp finely chopped Fresh Basil (or 1/2 tsp Dried)

1 1/2 cups Red Wine

4 cups Canned Tomatoes

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium-high. Add celery, carrots, and onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the beef, garlic, and fresh or dried herbs and sauté for 2 minutes.

2. When the meat is browned, add the red wine and reduce until the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Break up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon, add freshly ground pepper to taste, and serve.

Sweet Potato Noodles 

Makes 2 Servings (depending on size of potato) 

Adapted from Against All Grain 

1 Sweet Potato, peeled & spiralized

Olive Oil to coat pan

Sea Salt, to taste

1. Once sweet potatoes are spiralized into noodles (using either a vegetable spiralizer or a julienne peeler), heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the noodles, in batches if necessary, and cook over medium heat for about 6 – 7 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft, tossing throughout cooking time. Top with sea salt to taste and serve with desired sauce.

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Loaded Sweet Potato with Red Blanket Sauce

You know those weekends when you escape everything and don’t worry about anything and you aren’t the least bit productive? And it’s great and so much fun but then it’s Monday (well, Tuesday in this case – long weekend!) and you are FREAKING OUT because there are a million things you need to do? Welcome to my life.

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I spent the weekend in rural Saskatchewan – golfing, hanging out at cabins, and eating delicious food with my roommate and her family. Now I’m home and back at work and need to spend every second that I can studying for my Canadian Registered Nursing Exam and figuring out last minute details for my Europe Trip. I am possibly the worlds worst procrastinator, so of course I am majorly cramming for the next two weeks – apparently I did not learn my lesson after four years of doing the same thing for exams in University.

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But back to the recipe. It’s one of my new favourite “delicious but healthy” recipes. If you didn’t know this already, I will never tire of the combination of sweet potato, black beans, and avocado, and I’m really wondering how I didn’t come up with this one myself. I mean, it seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it? I love that you can adapt it to your tastes and depending on what you have in your fridge at any given time.

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And the sauce, you guys. It’s Sarah Britton’s take on a Mexican mole sauce and it is AMAZING. It’s like a smooth, creamy tomato sauce with a bit of a kick and a hint of chocolate, without being overly chocolate-y.  I added it to tacos, draped it over roasted vegetables, and just pretty much used it on whatever I could for a couple of weeks. The loaded sweet potatoes themselves are good, but the sauce really just takes them to a whole new level. I HIGHLY recommend that you make this one!

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Loaded Sweet Potato:

Serves Two 

Adapted from My New Roots 

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes

1 cup Black Beans

1 Avocado

Optional Toppings:

Cilantro

Green Onions

Corn Kernels

Sprouts

Lime Wedges

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Crumbled Goat Cheese

Sour Cream

Crushed Chili Flakes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick sweet potato a few times with a fork. Place on a baking sheet in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the potato. You will know it’s done when a knife can easily pierce the skin and the center is soft.

2. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and slice each one down the center, almost through to the bottom.

3. Stuff the sweet potato with black beans and avocado, then top with any optional toppings you are using. Pour red blanket sauce over the top, then serve and enjoy.

Red Blanket Sauce:

Makes 2 cups 

Adapted from My New Roots

1 tbsp Coconut Oil

1 medium Onion, diced

Salt, to taste

3 cloves Garlic, minced

1 can of Whole Tomatoes

1 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Dried Thyme

1/4 tsp Ground Chipotle Powder

1/4 tsp Cayenne

2 Dates

2 tbsp Cacao Powder

1 tbsp Nut Butter or Tahini

4 tbsp Water, divided

1 1/2 tsp Lime Juice

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt coconut oil and add all spices. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add diced onions, a couple pinches of salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another couple minutes. If the pot gets dry at any point, add a little of the tomato juice from the can.

2. Pour canned tomatoes into the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Taste, adjusting seasoning as needed.

3. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender. Add pitted dates, cacao powder, nut butter, lime juice and a couple tablespoons of the water. Blend on high, adding water to thin as needed, until desired consistency is reached.

4. Serve warm over sweet potatoes, or add to tacos, use as a dip for roasted vegetables… Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for 1 – 2 weeks.

Sexy Carrot Ginger Salad Rolls

You’ve have probably noticed by now that although I love to cook and am decently good at it, I rarely create my own recipes. I adapt things to no end in order to suit my own tastes, but the original ideas are technically not mine. This is partially because I am admittedly not the most creative person on the planet, but also because there are so many others sharing such beautiful, inspiring recipes that I don’t feel the need to be. I hope that you recognize that my intention is never to take credit for these recipes, but rather to share the love and deliciousness (and also keep a record of all of the foods that I make).

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Anyway, on a less serious/less boring note… Can Sarah Britton be my own personal chef? Ugh. I adore her recipes. They are always so creative, full of interesting flavours, and healthy, unique ingredients. Also, she calls these Sexy Spring Rolls (because of the healthy ingredients!) so sexy they will stay. I’m not gonna question it.

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I’m just starting to get into asian cooking, and these salad rolls seemed like a good place to start. They were a first for me, and I think I have a bit of a love/hate relationship. I am not a fan of julienning vegetables. It takes forever, is repetitive, and it hurts my hands (I know, poor me). I’ll take kneading dough or stirring endlessly over a stove any day. I did, however, like making the actual rolls. Rice paper is the coolest thing!

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This almond butter sauce is genius and I think I could eat it by the spoonful. It matches perfectly with the ginger-sesame flavour of the carrots and sweet potatoes. I really liked my rolls with cucumbers, avocado, and cilantro, but bell peppers, mint, basil, mango, sprouts, or cabbage would be good additions/substitutions as well. Salad rolls are traditionally eaten as an appetizer, but I like eating them for lunch or even a light dinner. This recipe was a huge success and I can’t wait to make salad rolls again!

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Sexy Carrot Ginger Salad Rolls

Makes 10 – 12 Salad Rolls 

Adapted from My New Roots

2 Medium Carrots

1 small Sweet Potato

1/4 cup Sesame Seeds

splash of Cooking Oil

2 tbsp Fresh Ginger, minced

1 tbsp Agave Nectar

squeeze of Lemon Juice

1. Toast sesame seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet until lightly golden.

2. Julienne the carrots and sweet potato (cut them into matchstick-like pieces). You could also do this with the cucumber now if using.

3. Add the oil, ginger, and agave to a skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and sweet potatoes and stir fry for 4 or 5 minutes. You don’t want the vegetables to cook, just take the raw edge off, if that makes sense.

4. Remove from heat and toss with the toasted sesame seeds and lemon juice.

5. Prepare your other ingredients (I used cucumber, cilantro, and avocado).

6. Fill a shallow dish a little larger than the rice paper and fill it with warm water. Following the directions on the package, place one wrap in the water until it becomes softer and more pliable, then transfer to a clean surface. Place the carrot-ginger mixture and other ingredients into the centre of the wrap and top with a drizzle of almond butter sauce. Fold the top half of the wrap over the ingredients, then both sides, and then the bottom to seal. Sarah has a great tutorial on her site if you need it!

Almond Butter Sauce:

1/3 cup Almond Butter

1 clove Garlic

2 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce

1 tbsp Agave Nectar

2 tbsp Water

juice of 1 Lime (approx. 3 tbsp)

pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, adding water as needed to thin to desired consistency.

 

Sweet Potato & Broccoli Miso Bowl

Hello friends! I have a simple, nourishing recipe to get you through that mid-week slump.IMG_3305

This one is from Smitten Kitchen, and she is exactly right when she talks about the whole “bowl” concept. Grains and vegetables seem so much more exciting when they are layered into a bowl with dressing and sesame seeds, don’t they? This colourful bowl is super healthy and comes together in like 10 minutes, yet the flavours are comforting and the opposite of boring. It’s easy enough for a week night dinner, but seems fancy enough for guests.

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This sesame – miso dressing is also delicious on different roasted or stir fried vegetables, and I had a little extra, so that worked out perfectly.  It also seems to keep well in the fridge for quite a while (I’ve had mine there for a couple weeks at least) in a sealed container.

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Sweet Potato & Broccoli Miso Bowl:

Serves 4. 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the Bowl

1 cup Grain of your choice (I used Israeli Couscous, rice would also work well)

1 – 2 Sweet Potatoes

1 large bundle Broccoli

1 – 2 tbsp Olive Oil

Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

2 tsp Sesame Seeds (mix of black and white, if you have them)

Miso – Sesame Dressing

1 tbsp Fresh Ginger, minced

1 small clove Garlic, minced

2 tbsp White Miso

2 tbsp Tahini

1 tbsp Honey

1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar

2 tbsp Sesame Oil

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place rice or grain and cooking liquid on the stove and cook according to package directions.

2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cut tops off broccoli and separate into bite-sized florets.

3. Coat one large or two smaller trays with a thin slick of olive oil. Layer sweet potatoes on tray(s) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Flip and toss chunks around, then add broccoli to the tray(s), season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until broccoli is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender.

4. In a small skillet, toast sesame seeds until fragrant. Let cool.

5. While vegetables roast, prepare sesame-miso dressing: Combine everything in a blender and run until smooth, scraping down sides once. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed.

6. Assemble bowls: Scoop some rice/grains into each, then pile on the roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. Coat lightly with sesame-miso dressing and finish with toasted sesame seed duo. Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos with Simple Guacamole

I am officially done school for the semester! I have almost an entire month off until I begin my final semester of school, ever. I will be back and forth between my parents houses over the break. My mom lives about an hour and a half away, along with most of my siblings (I have a big family!) My dad has a place about 45 minutes from mine, so I will spend some time there, but he actually lives in Hawaii most of the time, so I get to spend the last week of my break in Kona. I can’t wait to relax in the sun all day and to explore the island a little more! I LOVE Hawaii – but who doesn’t?

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As usual, today’s recipe has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I have talked about thus far. I stumbled upon it maybe five years ago, when I was just starting to get into cooking. At the time, it seemed like a strange combination (okay, it still kind of does – but trust me) but everyone ended up loving them. I’ve been making them every few months since then.

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I love cumin, and I love cilantro. I use them a lot in cooking, and this recipe is a winning combination of both. They are easy enough for a week night, but I like to make a big batch on the weekend and freeze them for lunches. I will not claim that this guacamole is authentic by any means, just so we are clear.  However, it uses ingredients that I usually have on hand, it is quick to make, and it is really good.

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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos:

Adapted from Allrecipes

Makes 6 burritos, or 12 mini burritos 

1 large Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into chunks

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil

1/2 an Onion, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

3 cups Black Beans

1/2 cup Water

1 tbsp Chili Powder

1 tsp Cumin

2 tbsp Cilantro, chopped

2 tsp Prepared Mustard

1 pinch Cayenne Pepper

1 tbsp Soy Sauce

6 Tortillas or 12 Mini Tortillas

1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded

1. Put the chunks of sweet potato into a medium sized pot. Add in enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and transfer potatoes to a bowl. Mash.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Cover a standard baking sheet with aluminum foil.

3. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and sauté onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add in beans, and using a potato masher, try to mash the beans. You don’t have to get ’em all, but try to make it so it is kind of a paste, if that makes sense. Gradually stir in water, heat until warm. Remove from heat. Add in chili powder, cumin, cilantro, cayenne, prepared mustard, and soy sauce. Stir until well combined.

5. Divide the sweet potatoes and the black bean mixture evenly between the tortillas. Top with cheddar cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito-style, and place on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes at 350, flipping halfway through. Serve.

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Simple Guacamole:

Serves 1 or 2 

1 Ripe Avocado

1 tbsp Sour Cream

1/2 tsp Lime Juice

1/2 clove Garlic, minced

Salt, to taste

1 pinch Paprika

1. Mash the avocado.

2. Add in the remaining ingredients except the paprika and combine well. Serve garnished with a light dusting of paprika.