Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

I love recipes that inspire me to look at the garden in different ways.  When my dear friend made this recipe for dinner right before Christmas, I was delighted at it’s complexity, and grateful that she was willing to share it.  I was also incredibly intrigued at the thought that every part, more or less, of this could be grown here at the homestead.

This recipe has me specifically thinking about growing sweet potatoes (and other potatoes) and beans that can be dried.  It also has us thinking about canning salsa. Things to put on the list and plan for while we still have time to!

For this batch in particular I made it in triplicate–one large pan for this week, one large pan to freeze for later, and three bread pans which are about 1 serving a piece (two for the freezer, and one for one of my students at work).  It was super easy to make multiple batches at once, and I’m hoping it’ll add something different to the standard soup and casseroles that we have living in our freezer for those nights that we “don’t know what to cook.”

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas 
Adapted from Vegetariantimes.com, December 2011
Makes about 4 servings
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups low sodium broth 
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 sprig rosemary 
1 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes 
16 oz salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno
1 15 oz can black beans
1 12 oz round queso, divided
Olive Oil
8 8-inch whole wheat, high fiber tortillas
Limes cut into wedges and sour cream for garnish
To make filling, heat oil in deep saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute 3-5 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, salsa, garlic, and  jalapeno; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Bring all the sauce ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk to combine, and reduce heat to low and let reduce.  Pull out the sprig of rosemary when the leaves start to fall off.
Once the filling mixture has finished cooking, mash mixture with a potato masher or with an emersion blender.  Add beans, cook five mintes.  Stir in half of the queso fresco and remove from heat.  Brush a 13×9 inch baking dish with oil.  Spread about 1/2 cup of Sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Fill tortillas with Filling.  Rill, and pack close together seam side down in the dish.  Top with remaining Sauce and other half of queso fresco.  Bake 15-20 minutes, and then broil until the cheese is browned and bubbly.  Garnish with limes and sour cream.  

Basil Pesto

We had a ton of basil.  It was a staple in our herb garden this year, and the plants were plentiful and prolific.  As the weather started to get cooler, I was doing everything I could to prevent a frost from getting in and taking out the remainder of the plants.  Even as we had hard frosts, I was covering the plants every night with towels to nurse them through to the last big get together at our house when we had the field hockey team over for homemade pizza.

But last weekend was it–we had to get them up and out.  So what do you do with a ton of basil? PESTO!  And it really could not be easier.  We ended up with a little over four cups of basil leaves, so combining about a cup of toasted walnuts, about 6 cloves of garlic, a good handful of parmesan cheese, and enough olive oil to make the whole mixture smooth while whipping it around the food processor created a delicious basil pesto.  It made a ton of it, so we froze the majority of it.  On the half cup we didn’t freeze, we’ve been putting it on pizza, pasta, anything that needed that salty, garlicky goodness on it.


Catching Up

I feel like there’s so much to post–all of the awesome New Englandy things I experienced and was inspired by during my last travel trip, the gorgeous fall weather we’ve been having here in VA, and the local apples that were phenomenal this weekend, and the like.  But as we sit here in front of the first fire of the fall, I figured I’d start with dinner tonight–turkey sausage, pasta and (probably) the last tomatoes of the season.

I whipped this together in between grinding our own hamburger and making a couple of different casseroles for later this week.  I used fresh late season tomatoes and some beautiful basil combined with some turkey sausage–it was savory and perfect for the cool weather, but it still had the bright, fresh flavors that we’ve grown accustom to this summer.  The end result was delicious, and probably will have JGL and I jockeying for who will get the leftovers tomorrow.

Turkey Sausage with Pasta and Tomatoes
2 Turkey Sausage Links, casings removed
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
White wine
Lemon Juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Before starting with sauce, bring a pot of water to a boil, add pasta.  Take sausage and brown in pan.  Once cooked through, work flour into sausage and let the fat get absorbed by flour.  While the sausage cooks, dice tomatoes and cut basil into ribbons.  Add about a 1/4 cup of wine and about a 1/4 cup of lemon juice into sausage mixture and let get thick.  Drain pasta, but leave a little bit of pasta water in the bottom of the pan;  add to sausage mixture and stir.  Just before serving, add the tomatoes and basil and salt and pepper to taste.  

Blackberry Pork Chops

I’ve been helping out our hockey team after work, and let me tell you, it’s kind of amazing.  Not even kind of, it IS amazing.  It’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity.  And the added oomph to my sweet sock line.

It hasn’t been leaving as much time for homesteading, though, as I originally anticipated.  Things are still looking great, thanks in large part to JGL, and we’re still cranking out veggies (there are still tons of green tomatoes hanging out, and we have a small forest of jalapenos just waiting for me to dream up something to do with it).  But unfortunately I don’t have a whole lot of fabulous new updates for you.

BUT, we did have a fabulous dinner tonight–rosemary-pecan encrusted pork chops with a blackberry-vinegar reduction.  And some asparagus.  And some beans that JGL found buried under some of our marigolds.  Not bad for a Monday!

Stuffed Shells

Fall is slowly but surely staring to creep in–field hockey practices have started, football is on the TV, the mornings are gloriously cool, and the farmers market is  starting to be filled with apples and fall treats, like butternut squash.

For me, the start of fall is when I start craving some major comfort food–cheesy baked goodness, really.  Of late I’ve really wanted stuffed shells, but a certain dear husband of mine doesn’t like them.  Or butternut squash.  So tonight while I’m bach-ing it for the evening, I decided to combine the two, and man is it good!  I whipped up some homemade ricotta with skim milk (not quite as good/rich as the batch made with half and half–surprise, surprise, I know!), added some savory rosemary and thyme, stuffed the shells and laid them on top of a layer of petitie diced butternut squash.  The whole thing got a good dose of tomato sauce, and then some mozzarella cheese.   I didn’t have a recipe, but the method was simple enough, and let me tell you the house smelled absolutely DELICIOUS, and the shells 100% hit the spot!  Can anyone say lunch for the rest of the week?  😉

Tomato, Basil, Cheese Big Girl Sandwich

I am so content right now–we finally have some rain, the house is prepped and ready for my parents, the Tony’s are on tonight, and we just had a simple but fabulous dinner.

If I close my eyes, I might just fall asleep in a “I’m full, happy, and life is good” kind of way.

These sandwiches are essentially grilled cheeses for adults.  You take toasted bread and insert extra sharp cheddar cheese, basil and fresh tomatoes, and warm it through so the cheese is nice and melted, and the maters are just starting to warm up.  Tonight we served it up with grilled corn, but the sandwiches are good enough to eat without a side.

The only thing that could make this better was that if the maters had come from our own garden.  But soon, Folks, soon!

Grilled Pizza

It’s been a long, wonderful, productive weekend, Folks!  We’ve spend the majority of it dirty and working, but I have to say our gardens are looking pretty fan-damn-tabulous right now.  More on that later, but for now we’re sitting back, enjoying having our carport back, and noshing on from scratch Grilled Pizza.  Life. Is. Good!

Grilled Pizza with Dehydrated Tomatoes
3-4 fresh tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
Red Pepper Flake
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
Pizza Dough
Pizza Cheese of choice
Fresh Basil, finely julienned 
Salt and pepper to taste
To dehydrate the tomatoes without a dehydrator:  slice thinly, place on a cookie sheet and put in a 250 degree oven.  About 1 to 1 1/2 hours into it, flip the tomatoes.  They should be chewy, still somewhat moist, and not burnt.  This process helps concentrate the flavors, but also helps the tomatoes not be too mushy on the pizza.  You want to dehydrate about half of your tomatoes.
When the dehydrated tomatoes are just about done, start up the grill–make sure the grates are super duper clean and lubed up.  While grill is heating up, slice up remaining tomatoes.  Also, mince up garlic and combine with oil and red pepper flake.  Heat on high in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Before heading out to the grill, have your cheese, dehydrated tomatoes, and any other toppings ready to roll and out at the grill with you.
Take pizza dough and form your pizza.  Lube one side with your oil mixture and make your way to the grill.  At this point turn the grill onto low and place remaining non-dehydrated tomatoes on one part of your grill.  Take pizza dough and place oiled side down on the grill.  Lube up the side facing up.  When you peek under the crust and it looks brown and has nice grill lines, carefully flip, then flip your tomatoes.  
Take a little more of your infused oil and oil up the top of the crust.  Then take your grilled tomatoes and place them on top of the crust.  With you tongs mush the tomato on top of the pizza to make the sauce.  Top with cheese, dehydrated tomatoes and any other toppings you like, turn the grill off, close lid, and walk away for 5 minutes (or until the cheese has melted).   Remove pizza from grill, sprinkle basil on top, slice and enjoy!