My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs

Getting ready for a move is so extremely time consuming. We move later this week and our house is in a state of disarray as we organize and pack each room. As you can imagine, we barely have time for cooking or dishes so I've been opening my eyes to some convenience foods.

When Alexia Foods e-mailed me offering sample packages of their new Sweet Potato Puffs, I was pretty excited. Thoughts of tater tot hot dish and veggie burgers started swirling in my head. From the picture on the package, it looked similar to a tater tot, so I wondered why it wasn't called a tot.

When the package arrived, I looked a little closer and saw that it was shaped like a tater tot, but lacked the texture of a tater tot. Hence the name: sweet potato puffs. Unfortunately, it was not going to work well for a tater tot casserole, so I went for Plan B, a side dish for veggie burgers.

Tasting the puffs right out of the oven, the exterior was firm but not crispy and the interior tasted (and felt) like mashed sweet potatoes, similar to a giant sweet potato fry. Wanting to spice it up a little bit, I made a dipping sauce using 1 cup of light sour cream and 1 1/2 teaspoons of Exotic Blend from Sameh Wadi's Spice Trail.

Overall, I thought it was a fun and inventive product (and a very easy side dish…or appetizer), but it just wasn't the right convenience food for me. With over 14 ingredients, I'll stick to making my own sweet potato side dishes.

Disclaimer: Alexia Foods sent me Sweet Potato Puffs to sample at no cost. I was under no obligation to blog about it and of course, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Wine Sauce

Earlier this week, I shared my new favorite leftover recipe on If you're lucky enough to have leftover pie, you have to try the Pumpkin Pie Parfait recipe. Mmm…so good!
I was recently reminded of a recipe I posted over on WCCO a couple Thanksgivings ago. Since they redid their website (my page included), it never got archived so I figured it would be good to post again over here.

This sauce is absolutely delicious.  The sweetness from the sugar and tartness from the cranberries make an excellent pair.  The Ratafia enhances the orange flavor and brings out the spiciness from cloves, allspice and cinnamon, but you can certainly use port instead as that's what the original recipe called for.

Have leftover cranberry sauce? Use it to top your oatmeal :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ruby Ratafia Cranberry Sauce
(adapted from Los Angeles Times)
Makes 2 cups

1 ½ cups Alexis Bailly Ratafia (or port)
¾ cup sugar
3 cloves
½ stick cinnamon
3 allspice berries (or a dash of allspice)
4 black peppercorns
2-inch-by- ½  -inch strip of orange peel
1 (12 ounce) package cranberries, washed

In a medium saucepan, combine the Ratafia and sugar. Tie the cloves, cinnamon stick, allspice and black peppercorns in a small piece of cheesecloth. Add the spice bundle to the saucepan. Add the orange peel. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the wine is reduced to 1 cup, about 4 minutes.

Add the cranberries to the wine. Return to a simmer over medium-high heat then lower the heat and simmer until the cranberries pop, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Let cool to warm then remove the spice bundle and orange peel. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hello Charlie!

There's always something to do in this town and I love it! Not only am I hitting up the Kingfield Holiday Market, but I'm also going to the Charlie Awards on Sunday, November 20th. The event was organized by someone I admire greatly, Sue Zelickson, who you might know from WCCO Radio or Minnesota Monthly magazine.

I've had the pleasure of getting to know Sue over the past three years through Women Who Really Cook (a wonderful organization of women doing great things in the world of food) and enjoyed watching her connect and inspire others like me.

The Charlie Awards is a brand new celebration for the food and restaurant community; highlighting local restaurants who create awesome dishes. Since it's the first one, I'm not entirely sure what to expect, but I do know there will be awards, entertainment, and several other activities for the day.

Everyone is invited - find more information on their website by clicking here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Almond Milk Spelt Pancakes

Ever have one of those mornings where you really want to make something good for breakfast, but realize you lack most of the ingredients?

Yeah, that was me this morning. I got up early only to remember we were out of milk, eggs, soy milk, and all veggies except carrots and cabbage. Darn! We've just been so busy lately (psst…we're moving; more on that later) that grocery shopping fell to the bottom of the list.

Luckily, this is exactly the kind of challenge I love: cooking with what you have. Plus, I've cooked enough vegan breakfasts to know that milk and eggs aren't entirely necessary. I started rummaging through the fridge and our cupboards and came up with these:

Voila - Chocolate Almond Milk Spelt Pancakes! I used a variation of Vegan Yum Yum's Easy Breakfast Pancakes (from her cookbook) and really enjoyed the end result. If only I had chocolate chips...
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