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Sweet potato crisps

sweet potato crisps

Who doesn’t like crisps? If your hand’s up, I don’t believe you!

Hubby is a big fan of vegetable crisps. So when I came across Yelena’s Orange Sweet Potato Crisps with Thyme (on her Melangery food blog) I thought both hubby and Nicholas would like them. Take a look at Yelena’s gorgeous photos and try not to drool.

The additional flavours of orange (zest) and thyme work delightfully with the sweet potato (I’m thinking of adding them when I next make sweet potato mash). But if you wanted plainer or easier crisps, you could leave them out.

If you don’t have a mandoline slicer, just make sure you slice the sweet potato as thinly as you can. I always struggle with my mandoline slicer and never get the lovely quick sliding action I see others use on cooking shows. If anyone has any tips for using them, please share!

You need to eat these fairly quickly after cooking them otherwise they’ll start losing their lovely crispiness. Although, I’m sure sticking them back into the oven for a few minutes would crisp them up again.

sweet potato crisps

SWEET POTATO CRISPS

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Makes 2 servings

1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and sliced as thinly as possible into rounds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 160C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Mix the olive oil and orange zest together in a small bowl.

Using a pastry brush, brush the trays with about half of the orange oil mixture.

Lay the sweet potato slices on the tray in a single layer and brush with the remaining orange oil.

Sprinkle over the thyme, and salt and pepper.

Bake one tray at a time for about 20 mins until the edges are starting to curl up, and the centre is dry to the touch and golden brown (I let mine cook a bit too long).

Put the tray on a wire rack for the crisps to cool. After a few minutes they’ll become crisp.

Repeat with your second tray of sweet potato slices.

Eat immediately!

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Sweet potato and lentil soup

Being away from home for a month meant I needed to be much more relaxed about Nicholas’ diet. Predictably he happily ate lots of meat (including kangaroo and a taste of crocodile), but very few vegetables.

Now, at home, we’re back to having a bowl of vegetable soup at the start of dinner before our meat course (I sometimes use the soup as a quick pasta sauce at lunchtime too). And a steaming bowl of thick soup is a great winter warmer for the whole family.

sweet potato and lentil soup

SWEET POTATO AND LENTIL SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 4 servings

1 tbsp olive oil (or a knob of butter)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional)
2 medium sweet potatoes (approx. 900g), peeled and cubed
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
100g red lentils
200ml milk
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil (or butter) in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, sweet potato and a little salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 mins.

Add the hot stock, lentils and milk. Bring almost to the boil then drop the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the lentils and sweet potato are cooked.

Puree the soup until smooth and check if you need to add more seasoning.
sweet potato and lentil soup

Variations:

  • substitute one sweet potato with a white potato
  • for some extra spicy warmth, add a teaspoon or two of curry powder when sautéing the vegetables
  • add a dollop of yoghurt to each bowl

Butternut squash soup

I got this recipe a few years ago from the Irish mum of a dear friend and it’s become the soup I make the most often. It’s lovely and thick, and perfect for warming you up on cold nights. It’s also easy to make (chop, simmer, puree and eat!).

If making this for the younger munchkins in your family, use a low-sodium stock. I usually use a stock I’ve made using a leftover roast chicken carcass as I can decide how much salt to add to it, if at all, but a low-sodium stock cube works just as well.

Add a swirl of cream or yogurt to each bowl just before serving. Please excuse my ‘artistic’ swirls in the photo. I was trying to be too clever and it didn’t work at all (you should have seen the efforts I didn’t photograph!).

Nicholas is mostly enjoying having a vegetable soup starter before dinner. I’m definitely finding it the best way at the moment to get more vegetables into him, even though he’s going through a period of fussiness which means he’s sometimes eating very little for dinner. I spent a lot of time last week searching  for advice for fussy eaters and asking people for tips, then trying them out. There’s definitely a post on tips for fussy eaters in the pipeline.

In the meantime, enjoy the soup.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Makes 6 adult servings

1 large butternut squash, peeled and roughly diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and roughly diced
1 litre chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper

Melt the olive oil and butter in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the vegetables and saute for about 5 mins.

Add the stock, bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat until the vegetables are soft.

Remove from the heat and puree until smooth. Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with a drizzle of cream or yogurt.

 

Does your family have a favourite soup?

Sweet potato jack-o-lantern pancakes

Their faces are quite mean, but Nicholas loves growling at them!

These jack-o-lantern pancakes are full of sweet potato goodness with chocolate drop features, however you could use raisins to make the faces and then they’d be completely sugar-free. Head over to Mindful Mum to see how you can make them.

Tuna and sweet potato cakes

I made these to use up the half tin of tuna remaining after making our tuna and corn frittata. Make mini cakes for your munchkin’s mini hands to feed him or herself. Freeze the leftovers for another day or make bigger ones for the rest of the family.

Cooking the sweet potato in the microwave saves you peeling and chopping it. Steaming it also keeps more nutrients. If you can, cook it ahead of time so it can cool down to avoid burning your fingers when you peel it.

TUNA AND SWEET POTATO CAKES

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Makes about 12 mini cakes
Freezable

1 medium sweet potato
1/2 185g can tuna, drained and flaked
1 egg
2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
3 chive stems
Pinch of salt (optional)

Use the point of a knife or a skewer to prick the sweet potato in a few places all over. Cook on high in the microwave for 4-5 minutes until it feels soft inside.

Cut the sweet potato in half and pull of the peel. Mash the flesh in a small bowl. Add the tuna, egg and salt (if using) and use kitchen scissors to snip the chives over the bowl. Mix well to combine.

Shape into small balls about 3cm in diameter.

Heat a small non-stick frying pan over a med-low heat. In batches, flatten the balls after you place them in the pan and dry fry for a couple of minutes each side until browned.

Serve with plain yogurt for dipping.

Variations:

  • use tinned salmon instead of tuna
  • use potato instead of sweet potato
  • add other cooked vegetables (finely diced onion, grated carrot, corn, peas, etc.)

Tip: to make your own breadcrumbs from leftover bread look at my previous tip.

Update (22 Nov 2012): The lovely and talented Filipa (Gourmet Mum) has been making these for her whole family and says they go brilliantly with horseradish or sweet chilli sauce. I’ll definitely be trying that next time!

Apricot chicken

When we started weaning Nicholas we tried a combination of baby-lead weaning and the more traditional purees. Looking back I was probably unnecessarily overly concerned about two things: feeding him more vegetables than fruits so he didn’t develop a sweet tooth, and wanting him to easily eat lumpy food as quickly as possible. I wouldn’t be so concerned if I could go back in time.

Breast milk is naturally sweet and formula milk replicates this. Why suddenly shake up your little one’s tastebuds when they’re also dealing with solids for the first time? There are vegetables that are naturally sweet in flavour just as there are fruits which aren’t very sweet. I realise now that gradually introducing a wide range of different fruit and vegetables is the best way to develop your munchkin’s palette.

While not initially pureeing everything to a smooth paste saved me time (I’d mash food up with a fork or finely grate it), I shouldn’t have worried so much about getting Nicholas over that first (for a new mum very high) hurdle of his food journey. He would have got there in his own time. And what’s wrong with smooth food? I hate lumps in my mashed potato and love thick pureed soups. Smooth is just one of the many different textures of food and it’s these different textures that make food interesting.

This recipe works really well as a puree and also in a chunkier form. The original recipe by Belinda Graham is a baby puree. I’ve adapted how it’s cooked to make it a bit quicker for you to make, as well as keep as many nutrients as possible from boiling away.

APRICOT CHICKEN

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Makes 2 toddler servings
Freezable

1 chicken breast or thigh
1 medium sweet potato
3 soft dried apricots, finely diced
3/4 cup milk
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)
Pinch of salt (optional)

Prick the sweet potato with a knife or skewer in a few places all over. Cook on high in the microwave for 4-5 minutes until it feels soft inside. Leave to cool.

Bring milk almost to the boil in a small saucepan. Turn down heat to low.

Chop chicken into small pieces and add to the milk. Simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is just cooked through. Take out the chicken but keep the milk.

Cut the sweet potato in half and pull of the peel. Mash the flesh in a small bowl. Add apricots, and salt and oil if desired.

Break up the cooked chicken into the bowl. Add 1-2 tbsp of the poaching milk and mix to combine.

Puree the mix for a baby.