Friday, April 27, 2012

Tired of the Same-Old, Same-Old for Dinner?

I remember a co-worker and I were once discussing our typical dinners and she mentioned that if she ate one more chicken dinner, she was afraid she would start clucking!!! I know that chicken breast has a frequent starring role in our dinners and though I make chicken a dozen or more ways to introduce variety and excitement into our meals (topics for future posts), it still can get boring. One way of re-igniting your family's interest in dinner is by making an exciting side dish instead of going the boring steamed veg, baked potato and salad route (yawn). One of my new favorite side dishes is Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey. Sweet potatoes have much more nutrition than their white counterparts and the addition of honey, cinnamon and a bit of oil intensifies their already complex flavor. The trick here is to cut the potatoes into thin wedges or blocks, lay them out in a single layer on a non-stick surface (my personal favorite is parchment paper, but non-stick aluminum foil would work just as well), and set the oven temperature to 375°. The potatoes need time to cook through before they start browning and 375° seems to work well for that. The best tasting part of these potatoes is the almost burned edges, so don't be afraid to let them get very brown! I usually peel the potatoes, but feel free to simply scrub them well and leave the peel on, if that is your preference. Sweet potatoes are a little tougher to peel and cut up than white potatoes, but a good peeler, sharp knife and a cutting board gets the job done and this dish is well worth the effort. One other pointer, if you measure out the oil first, then measure the honey in the same measuring cup, the residual oil will keep the honey from sticking to the measuring cup and you won't have to spend 5 minutes scraping the honey off the sides of the cup!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey
Serves: 4
Oven Temperature: 375°

4 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
salt & pepper, to taste

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into long thin wedges and arrange in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan on parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. Heat remaining ingredients in a small saucepan until honey is melted and combines with other ingredients. Drizzle or brush over fries so all surfaces are coated. Roast at 375° for 25 to 30 minutes, brushing again with the oil and honey mixture halfway through the cooking time, until tender and all sides are browned.

Notes & Pointers:
Honestly, this will probably serve only two people because it will be hard to stop eating them! When I make this side dish for my husband and me, I divide the potatoes into 2 baking pans and as soon as they are cooked, I put one well covered pan into the fridge for another day--they are so good that I can't depend on us to stop eating at the halfway mark!

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