Twice-Baked & Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Happy Hump Day! Are you having a nice week? The weather here is warm again after a few really cold days last week… make up your mind, Durham! I guess there is a reason I never put away my summer OR winter clothes all year.

Anyone who knows me at all knows my obsession with sweet potatoes. My dentist actually asked me a few years ago if I ate a lot of them because the inside of my mouth was orange.

Umm… *sheepish smile*

Recently I came across the MOST LEGIT LIFE HACK EVER. Sweet potato toasts! You can actually slice a sweet potato and toast it in the toaster like bread! I obviously had to try it.

But let’s get to the point of this post. Twice-baked, stuffed sweet potatoes. Apparently I was in the mood for them after coming back from my weekend in Texas, where I was celebrating a dear friend’s bachelorette party.

But let’s be real. Anything sweet potato-related that is mixed with cream cheese, butter, and spices is craveable all year long. So here you have it! Twice-baked sweet potatoes, this time with ground turkey.

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Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

These have meat in them for all you hungry men like my husband out there, but you could easily make them vegetarian- just sub in lentils or leave it out completely! Goat cheese for topping is a must.

They can also be easily frozen to be reheated later on… perhaps for Thanksgiving? (OK that may be a bit TOO long… but in my mind the freezer stops time). Maybe try your next game day meal- your guests won’t be able to stop themselves!

Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Tex-Mex, Fall, Comfort Food
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Comforting and autumnal! They can also be easily frozen to be reheated later on… perhaps for Thanksgiving? (OK that may be a bit TOO long… but in my mind the freezer stops time).
Ingredients
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 package lean ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 oz. spinach
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, cumin, parsley
  • 1/8 tsp each nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • avocado slices
  • goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Microwave potatoes on high for 10 minutes, turning every few minutes, or until fork tender. Slice lengthwise.
  2. Using a spoon, scoop out inside of potato, leaving a little potato in the skins.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Cook ground turkey on medium high heat until done, about 6-8 min. Add sweet potato filling, spinach, butter, cream cheese, milk, and all spices. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until well incorporated.
  4. Gently scoop filling into potato skins, and top with avocado slices and goat cheese, plus more parsley if desired.
  5. Bake at 350 deg, covered, for 20 minutes, then 10 mins uncovered until goat cheese has melted.
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Hope you enjoy!

Happy National Salmon Day! Salmon w/ Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

Happy National Salmon Day!

Today Ben and I were supposed to go to Charlottesville, VA for our annual apple picking trip at Carter Mountain. Buttttt… then this thing happened called Hurricane Matthew. And the Carolinas looked like this:

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So as you might expect, Carter Mountain will have to wait. I told Ben that I WILL NOT TAINT my perfect memories of 4 years in a row of sunny, crisp autumn days where there are kids running around and long lines for apple cider doughnuts. Even last year was pushing it because all the Stayman apples were at the very tops of the trees. I just about gave Ben a heart attack because I insisted on climbing all the trees to get the good ones. Totally worth it for those apples.

I just hope that Matthew doesn’t drown all the ones that are left! We still have a month of apple season left!

I needed an outlet for my disappointment. So I spent my day making chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and celebrating National Salmon Day!

Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce
Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

National Salmon was completely not on my radar until a few weeks ago when I read it online somewhere. I immediately put it on my calendar. Then, when I saw this post from Anne a few days ago I knew I had to recreate it in celebration!

I’ll vouch that this recipe will not disappoint. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, as I can’t stand measuring things and decided to use a little more dill and lemon juice. I also served it over a quinoa and farro blend with roasted eggplant, zucchini, and curried cauliflower on the side. I LOVED the lemon mustard dill sauce, though! Tangy but also creamy enough to use as a dressing for the veggies as well.

Hope you enjoy like I did!

Happy National Salmon Day! Salmon w/ Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Cuisine: National Salmon Day
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Happy National Salmon Day! How are you celebrating? This recipe was adapted from Anne Mauney at FANNetasticfood.com (http://www.fannetasticfood.com/2016/10/05/salmon-with-lemon-mustard-dill-sauce/) in honor of this special holiday! Enjoy!
Ingredients
  • For the Marinade:
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 4 small or 2 large salmon fillets
  • For the Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade, then dredge salmon fillets in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Combine ingredients for the lemon mustard sauce in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Place salmon in a foil-lined baking dish and bake 15-20 minutes (if from frozen), or 10-15 (if thawed), or until it flakes easily with a fork. (Mine took about 18 minutes!)
  5. Drizzle with sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grain and veggie of your choosing!

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Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

How are you celebrating National Salmon Day?

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Happy October! Even though it’s hard every year to see summer come to a close, I can’t help but feel a little excited thinking about the hustle and bustle of fall- back to school, turning the heat on for the first time, bubble baths, crisp evenings, and all things apples. Next week Ben and I are taking our annual apple picking trip to Carter Mountain– my favorite day of the year! Bring on the winesap, stayman, and apple cider doughnuts! Crossing my fingers for good weather up there!

This week, right on cue, I started craving roasted vegetables. For some reason I’ve been super into eggplant recently. Maybe because of it’s slightly meaty texture and the fact that you can customize it with just about any spice.

For this one, I went for an Indian curry profile, using garam masala (my favorite new spice blend- have you tried it in my Brown Butter Molasses Cookies yet?) and cumin to spice things up. I tossed on a can of chickpeas, as well as some red onion, tomato, sliced zucchini, and cauliflower.

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I could not stop eating this right off the sheet. #trueconfessions

You could do a lot with these roasted veggies alone, like put them in a stew, serve as a side dish for a beautiful autumnal salad, or do what I did and use them in a grain bowl! I had some cooked lentil and farro, so I tossed some of these on top of the grains with some spinach, then topped with a nice runny egg and some feta crumbles. I bet goat cheese would be excellent as well!

Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

(Side note: have you tried the Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Hot Stuff Sauce at Whole Foods? I am obsessed. We are having a game night tonight and I may just have to make them.)

Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Recipe Type: Salad, Main Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Indian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Looking for a hearty but healthy salad to celebrate the beginning of autumn? Try this spicy and savory grain bowl with a nice big Indian kick!
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into discs 1/4″ thick
  • 3-4 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 head cauliflower, brokein into florets
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • extra virgin olive oil (about 3-4 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala or other Indian spice blend
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional: cooked grain (I used lentils/farro), egg, feta or goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. Line two large cookie sheets with silpat or cooking spray.
  3. Layer eggplant and zucchini on sheet so that they are slightly overlapping. Top with red onion and drizzle with about 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together all spices until combined. Sprinkle on about half of this mixture to the vegetables.
  5. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas, drizzle with remaining olive oil and spice blend.
  6. Bake at 400 deg for 50 minutes until chickpeas are crispy and cauliflower is golden-brown.
  7. Allow to cool, then remove from pan and use on top of your favorite grains for a satisfying and healthy side, or top with poached egg and crumbled feta to make it a meal!
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Happy Labor Day! I hope you enjoyed a day of parading, picnicking, and precious time with family, neighbors, and friends! I had the most incredible weekend visiting my friend Kate in NYC, followed by a brief trip to CT to see my parents. And after all the hype about Hermine, the weather could not have been more perfect!

Back in Durham now, and another gorgeous day. Ben and I went for a 5 mile walk with Samoa and it was one of those September afternoons that you wish you could just bottle up and take out in February just to remind yourself that IT WILL NOT BE WINTER FOREVER.

So I’m kind of at a cross-roads between summer and fall. Part of me wants to hang onto the summer with its breezy evenings, don’t-even-need-a-jacket type weather… but the other part of me is anticipating the fragrance of cloves, cinnamon, and all things pumpkin spice. (Sidenote: Kate and I made pumpkin hummus this past weekend. It was epic on a piece of Ezekiel bread with half of a mashed banana and drizzle of maple syrup on top.) To marry the fresh flavors of summer produce with the warm fuzzy feeling of fall, I decided to create this salad.

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

And here you have it- the marriage of summer and fall. Packed with zucchini, roasted corn, vine tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tied together with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is one to definitely keep making all season. I used lentils to bulk it up a little bit, since I usually eat salads like this as my entree, but you could easily leave it out if you wanted a looser salad.

Recipe below. Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Summer, Fall, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
The marriage of summer and fall! Packed with zucchini, roasted corn, vine tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tied together with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is one to definitely keep making all season.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 cobs corn, husked
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • dash of salt, to taste
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 4 ripe on-the-vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • feta cheese, for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Roast corn on lower rack for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove and cool.
  2. Meanwhile, mix lentils and quinoa with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 minutes or until al dente, then drain.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sweet potatoes, red onion, 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic, paprika, and salt. Toss to combine.
  4. Spread potato mixture on a silicone-lined baking sheet, then roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until tender. Remove and cool.
  5. Zest lemon into large bowl and squeeze in half of its juice. Add zucchini and tomatoes.
  6. In a food processor, combine parsley, remaining lemon juice, 1 tbsp remaining oil, red wine vinegar, and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until liquefied. Stir in chickpeas, then pulse for 3-4 pulses until chickpeas are just sliced a little (do NOT over-pulse here or you will end up with hummus!).
  7. Stir chickpea and parsley mixture into bowl with the zucchini and tomatoes. Stir in sweet potatoes, corn, and grains.
  8. Toss and serve with feta cheese. I also drizzled on a little balsamic vinegar!
Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Why hello! Did you have a good weekend?

We did here! Friday night Ben and I headed downtown for happy hour to watch the live music at Brightleaf Square. It wasn’t as packed as it usually is, but that’s likely because we were there on the early side, PLUS it was about 398 degrees out so really, all the smart people were inside. We were exhausted, so it was nice to just chill out melt and put our feet up for a while as we sipped brews and munched on chips.

Saturday was a major errands/chores day. I made a big grocery run and did some cooking for the week (prepped crock pot chicken to use in enchiladas for Ben, plus the salad in this post), tried out my AMAZING new cordless vacuum (I think the neighbors are starting to get concerned that I have a cleaning problem… good thing it has a short battery life!), went for a run, and took Samoa for a long walk on the trail. Today it was a 20 mi. bike ride on the ATC (before the humidity set in!), church, a cat-nap, and the 2nd Rock Steady Boxing Class in Cary with a few of my PD patients. Then this afternoon we met up with a few small group folks (missed you, Tawny and Healys!) to play board games at Ponysaurus. Fun day!

Part of what I like to do on the weekends is prep one nice big salad and casserole to last us through the week. We still have leftovers from last week’s Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna, but it’s nice to have another option while this dwindles (or goes bad, whichever happens first). I usually eat the salad as my entree with some roasted veggies and some type of meatless protein (my go-to is tofu, but I’m also a big fan of the fried egg or some kind of fish), and Ben will have the casserole with the salad as a side. It’s been working great for us since both of us work full-time, and it avoids the whole staring-at-the-open-fridge and shouting “honey, what do we have to eat?” problem, OR the temptation to get take-out!

Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

This week an oldie but a goodie is on the salad menu. Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette. I’ve definitely made this before, since it’s super easy and feeds a crowd, but I’m not sure I ever used this much lime juice. I’ve definitely never used fresh roasted corn on the cob, either. It made a HUGE difference! The roasted corn is much sweeter than frozen, and it absorbs much more of the vinaigrette.

This salad is salsa-like in texture, and I’ve also started adding a grain blend (lentils and farro are the best) to help absorb some of the extra liquid and bulk up the salad a bit. Bigger salad = fewer weeknights that I have to cook. I’m pretty OK with that. I would rather spend my time recipe-creating when I’m relaxed and have a whole afternoon to do it than when I get home at 7pm and have about 20 other things to do to get ready ready for the next day.

Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Healthy, Vegetarian, Mexican
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Love salsa as much as I do? I could eat it by the gallon! Instead of stocking your pantry with Tostitos, though, why not try out a fresh take on your own? Better for you AND cheaper! Perfect for dunking chips, stuffing tacos, or eating right out of the bowl 🙂
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils or farro (I used a mixture, so about 1/2 cup of each)
  • 5 medium ears of corn
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or less if you don’t like your salad as acidic as I do!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, for spice-lovers)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 onion)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • fresh chopped avocado, for serving
  • additional cilantro, for serving
  • greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Husk corn and bake at 350, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes until kernels are tender. When cool to touch, slice kernels lengthwise to remove from the cob. Set aside.
  2. Combine 1 cup lentils/farro with 2 1/2 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 13 minutes until al dente. Drain immediately.
  3. Meanwhile, make vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil through garlic powder in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, beans, and corn.
  5. Stir in lentils/farro (this is best when the grains are still warm, so they soak up the juice of the tomatoes and vinaigrette).
  6. Serve immediately or store for up to 6 days in the fridge. Just before serving, top with sliced avocado, additional cilantro, salt and pepper, and a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.

This goes without saying, but you have complete freedom to experiment with different varieties of grains, beans, and veggies in this salad. Get creative! I forgot to do it this time, but a drizzle of honey would be amazing in the vinaigrette for a touch of sweetness. Although I do insist on using corn on the cob vs. canned or frozen. Makes a world of difference!

Like I said in the beginning of this post, this salad is totally versatile and can be enjoyed as a main dish, side, or garnish. I currently love dipping hearty crackers or crispbread and letting them get the slightest bit soggy before I top with a little dollop of Greek and stuff it in my mouth. Let me know how you like it. Happy week!

Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna

My patients are always bringing me presents. It’s quite possibly the best part of my job. Especially in the summer, when tomatoes practically bursting off the vines and there’s more basil than they know what to do with!

Last week a dear patient brought me the most beautiful eggplant. I am amazed every time I see eggplant, because that deep, majestic purple! Seriously, God is amazing! You can’t genetically modify or artificially enhance these things. I wish I had taken a picture to share with you before I sliced it up for eatin’!

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Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna
Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna

Speaking of… I wanted to use this eggplant for something special. I had a few zucchini on hand, plus a container of this yummy TJ’s grecian-style eggplant w/ tomatoes and onions that I wanted to use up. I decided to make a veggie lasagna, using the zucchini in place of noodles, and the TJ’s filling as the “sauce,” plus a few cans of white beans, pesto (my recipe for lemon pesto is here!) and ricotta cheese.

This lasagna was delicious! It was savory, creamy, and filling without feeling like you’re carb-loading for a marathon. The zucchini slices make the perfect noodles zoodles!

And of course I am bringing my patient a slice so she can reap the benefits of her labor!

Recipe below. Enjoy!

First, roast eggplant with onion and a drizzle of olive oil.
First, roast eggplant with onion and a drizzle of olive oil.
Roast tomatoes too.
Roast tomatoes too.
Roasted eggplant out of the oven.
Roasted eggplant out of the oven.
Start layering zucchini noodles first.
Start layering zucchini noodles first.
Top with some of ricotta and pesto.
Top with some of ricotta and pesto.
Add beans and more cheese.
Add beans and more cheese.
Keep layering with roasted veggies.
Keep layering with roasted veggies.
Layer...
Layer…
Layer more zucchini noodles on top.
Layer more zucchini noodles on top.
Top with extra "sauce" and feta.
Top with extra “sauce” and feta.
Bake at 350 for an hour, cool, and slice!
Bake at 350 for an hour, cool, and slice!
Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna
Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna
Baba Ghannouj Pesto Lasagna
Recipe Type: Veggie, Summer, Lasagna
Cuisine: Healthy, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Wow your guests with this meatless and decadent grecian-style veggie lasagna! Compliments of patients with gardens 🙂
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/8″ thick discs
  • 4 ripened on-the-vine tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup (eyeball it) EVOO
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • greek seasoning (optional)
  • 4 zucchini, sliced into long strips about 1/8″ thick
  • TJ’s can of eggplant, tomatoes, & onions
  • 1 can kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped artichokes
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp each lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 12 oz. carton ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto (make my lemon pesto! https://clairetastes.com/farro-caprese-salad-w-lemon-pesto-vinaigrette/)
  • 2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 slices provolone cheese
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. On a large silpat-lined cookie sheet, place eggplant slices in rows so they are not touching. Sprinkle with salt, top, with red onion, then drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with additional greek seasoning if desired.
  3. On another cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray, layer tomato slices (they can overlap), then sprinkle with salt.
  4. Cook eggplant and tomatoes at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
  5. Prepare the lasagna “sauce” by mixing the TJ’s can of eggplant, tomatoes, and onions, zucchini noodles, kalamata olives, artichokes, and roasted red peppers. Add a squirt each (about 1 tbsp) of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and minced garlic. Stir in 1 tsp greek seasoning (optional).
  6. Spray bottom of casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of zucchini strips (as you would with lasagna noodles) on bottom of dish. Top with a few dollops of ricotta/pesto mixture, then top with about 1/3 of the “sauce” and 1 can of white beans.
  7. Top with the shredded provolone (about 3 slices) and a handful of spinach.
  8. Next, layer roasted tomatoes, followed by eggplant and red onions.
  9. Add a few more dollops of ricotta/pesto, then another 1/3 of the sauce.
  10. Top with another handful of spinach and other can of white beans.
  11. Layer remaining zucchini strips and ricotta/pesto, followed by remaining sauce. Top with feta.
  12. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 min, then 15 min uncovered until bubbly.
  13. **(Can be made 24 hrs in advance and stored in refrigerator until ready to bake!)

Happy Tuesday!