Sweet Potato Bisque

My name is Lauren, and I have a problem. That problem is…the sweet potato.

I tell myself, “Self, it’s time to cut back on the SweePot or you’ll turn orange like Arnold on that episode of The Magic School Bus.” Never mind that it’s a cartoon or that he was actually eating some type of processed, carrot-based puff snack—regardless of the facts, Arnie was a warning to us all. But I digress…

Here’s the thing though, when you find that magic ingredient that everyone in your house loves, that is really great with a variety of different flavors, and that you understand the science of how to cook it and what its doing for you nutritionally inside and out… well its hard to make the switch.

I know I’m not alone in this. Do you go through phases with specific ingredients? What ingredient are you on a roll with right now?

Thankfully, we moved to the right state for my sweet potato obsession. North Carolina loves the sweet potato. Our first weekend here, we set out on a journey to find the Farmer’s Market to procure the necessary produce for the week. Approximately 5 minutes later we pulled up to the barn {we’re so close!} and collected our haul. Despite not being on my list, some how a few sweet potatoes ended up in my basket. I didn’t have a plan for potatoes per se, but I knew they’d get used and they were calling to me.

Sure enough, a few nights later after a crazy day of organizing and being on the phone with insurance for, I kid you not, 4 hours, I wanted something easy, something simple for dinner. Having a plan for dinner is great and usually we stick to it, but some days you just have to back up and punt. Anything that required thinking wasn’t happening that night. So with that mindset, this little soup was born. Thank God I had that sweet potato. It took less than 30 minutes, only one pot, and absolutely hit the spot.

Sweet Potato Bisque from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato Bisque

{serves two}

To Boil
1 large {or two small} sweet potatoes
2 cups water

The Add-Ins
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of ginger

Peel and dice your sweet potato into 1/2in cubes. Toss them into a pot along with your water and on medium heat and let it cook away for 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are soft, remove the pot from the heat and mash them. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, and return to the heat. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes just to combine those flavors and make sure everything in warm.

Last time I made this, in a fit of genius I decided to top it with goat cheese and crumbled bacon. Clearly it’s no longer vegetarian or dairy free at that point, but eh… it was freaking delicious. The earthy goat cheese and salty bacon were the perfect complements to the soup’s sweet and spicy. We’ve also been known to serve it with cornbread or a slice of toasted whole wheat sourdough.

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Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

I’m pretty sure hell just froze over.

Pigs are flying.

I, eternal hater of the dreadful, ever-so-sneaky carrot, willingly bought, and cooked with…carrots.

They say that when you’re hosting a party, you should stick to your tried and true recipes and, as a rule, I tend to adhere to that. Except, every now and then, I get the occasional hare-brained, you’re-out-of-your-mind ideas. And then I dwell, and dwell, and dwell on them until I actually have to make them or I’ll go crazy.

You too?

No, just me? Oh well.

That happened last week with the party and those carrot cakes. I had seen a recipe for a whisky carrot cake on TheKitchn ages ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it. So what if I’d never bought a carrot in my life? So what if I had zero, zilch, nada experience making carrot cake? It was going to happen for this party.

So it did, and thank God, it was a smash hit.

Success.

I want to like carrots. I really do. They are so good for you! I try them every so often just to see if maybe my gag reflex when the after-taste hits has chilled out, but it never seems to work. This carrot cake though…it worked. Unfortunately pretty much all of the good nutritional aspects of the carrot were being wiped out by the fact that it was indeed still cake.

Hence the muffin was created. Less sugar, whole wheat, more nuts, more carrot, and a whole lot of yumminess! I wouldn’t go so far as to say healthy, but definitely healthier. I know what we will be having on Thanksgiving morning.

Are you trying anything brand new for Thanksgiving?

Here’s to willingness to take a risk and being open to new things.

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins from Kiwi and Peach

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

{make 12 muffins}

Adapted from Sara Kate’s recipe for TheKitchn. Besides reducing the recipe, I substituted whole wheat for the all purpose flour and reduced the sugar to make it more of a muffin and less of a cake. I also upped the carrot and pecan amounts. I’m dying to try an all natural sugar version of this. I think it would be great with demerara sugar.

The Egg
3 eggs

The Dry
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of allspice

The Fold
1 large carrot, peeled then shredded {around 2 cups, maybe slightly less}
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup shredded coconut
3 Tbsp spiced rum

The Wet
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup olive oil

Crack your eggs into a small bowl, beat them, and set them to the side. {Wow, that sounds like a lot of egg violence.} Do this first so they have some time to get to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Grab three mixing bowls.

In the first, add your grated carrot, chopped pecans, coconut and rum. Give it all a stir and set it to the side for later.

In the second, sift together your dry ingredients.

In the third, the biggest of the three, combine the brown sugar with the olive oil well. As Sara Kate says in the original recipe, it should look like wet sand. Alternatively, add the flour and the egg and mix until they are just incorporated each time. Then fold in the carrot mix.

Set the batter to the side for a minute so the batter can rest while you line the muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spoon the batter in to the pan filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.

Pop it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Test the middles with a toothpick; if it comes out clean, you’re ready to go!

Enjoy.

Quinoa Fall Skillet

I’m trying really hard to think of a way to start this post without the phrase “One of my favorite things about fall is…” I think it is a well established fact that, as a people, we tend to love fall.

So I’ll try this…

What really gets me jazzed about fall…

is all the produce that starts turning up at the market. There is suddenly an abundance of whole stalks of cute little brussels sprouts, gourds, squashes, and pumpkins. So. Many. Pumpkins. Now, I love pumpkin as much as the next girl {really, I do!}, but it isn’t the end all be all of amazing fall veg.

What about all of those other delicious, beta-carotene packed, orange veggies?

Sure there are carrots, but I don’t want to talk about that. {Unless they’re in cake, then I fully support their existence.}

I want to talk about sweet potatoes. These babies are easily my all-time favorite veggie in the history of ever. You can boil them, mash them, stick ’em in a stew. You can roast them and put them in a salad. You can cook them with with bacon and some other fall favorites like apples and brussels sprouts and get this skillet that will make you want to go jump in a pile of leaves and watch Hocus Pocus on repeat until your boyfriend demands that you turn the drivel off.

It’s fall, in your mouth, minus the pumpkin.

Quinoa Fall Skillet from Kiwi and Peach

Quinoa Fall Skillet from Kiwi and Peach

Quinoa Fall Skillet

{Serves two. Adapted, barely, from a heart healthy recipe Prevention magazine. I reduced the recipe for two, and completely eliminating the heart-healthy aspect of the recipe, I used my normal chicken stock, and subbed thick cut bacon for the low-fat and let’s face it, low-flavor, bacon. If we’re going to eat bacon, let’s eat the real stuff from a nice non-factory pig, why don’t we? My method is also a bit different too because of the quinoa.}

The Quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
dash of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil for crisping

The Chicken
1 chicken breast, cut into cubes
salt and pepper
dash of olive oil for cooking

The Skillet
2 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
about 10 brussels sprouts, quartered
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cubed
1 tsp fresh thyme
big pinch of cinnamon
little pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup chicken stock

First things first, let’s get the quinoa on. Boil your jug and start heating a medium pot and a large pan, both on medium high heat.

Once the jug has boiled, add your water to the pot and salt it. Bring it to a boil and add the quinoa. Remember to rinse your quinoa with hot water before you cook it to get rid of that bitter powder that coats it! Set your timer for 20 minutes and let it do its thing.

Cube your chicken and season it withe salt and pepper. {I usually go ahead and slice the bacon now as well since I already have the meat cutting board out. Just sit it to the side until we’re ready for it.} Once the pan is really hot, add a dash of olive oil and pop the chicken in there. I usually sear it on one side, then flip and let it cook for 4–5 minutes or so. You want to cook it until it’s a nice golden color. When the chicken is finished transfer to a bowl and set it to the side. Return the pan to the heat.

While I’m waiting for the quinoa to finish up, I go ahead and start prepping the veggies. They all go in at about the same time, so it’s good to have them ready before you start on the skillet. Dice your onion. Peel and press your garlic. Peel and cube your sweet potato and apple. {1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes should do it.} After rinsing your brussels sprouts, cut the bottom off like you would a head of cabbage and quarter them. I discard the leaves that fall off when quartering them since they can be a bit bitter anyway.

By now the quinoa should be finished. Now, this step is completely optional. I, personally, like my quinoa crispy, so it’s worth the extra step to me. It’s completely up to you. Before getting started on the skillet, I add some olive oil to the now very hot pan and transfer the quinoa from the pot to the pan. Stir a bit, let it sit, then repeat a couple times. Basically what we’re doing is getting rid of the extra water and frying it up a tad bit. The quinoa will get a little darker and some bits might blacken. That’s when you know you’re done. Transfer it back to the pot and set it off the heat.

Now. The skillet.

Add your bacon, onion, and garlic to the hot pan and let them cook for a couple of minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sweet potatoes are starting to get tender go ahead and stir in the apple, thyme, cinnamon, and salt and let those flavors cook for a couple minutes. Add half of the chicken stock and let it cook until it is mostly evaporated. {This will soften up those potatoes!} Add the chicken to the skillet along with the rest of the stock and cook for a couple minutes longer until the it is all nice and hot.

Stir the quinoa in and serve it up. Enjoy!

Quinoa Fall Skillet from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

My soup repertoire is pretty limited. I’m not a fan of brothy soups and a while back, I sort of threw the baby out with the bath water. I just stopped making soup. Chili? Absolutely. But soup? Hardly ever.

Last year for our transition into an soup season, starting small I thought I’d try a new chili recipe I’d had my eye on for a while. Chili is a fall staple for us and I know we aren’t the only ones. In my completely biased opinion, I always thought my Mama’s chili was the best in the world. However, it’s magic comes in the form of a packet of seasoning that, apart from things like chili powder and cumin, also contains ingredients I can’t begin to pronounce and certainly don’t have in my kitchen.

Successfully making chili from scratch has been one of my proudest moments of this journey to eliminate processed foods.

And the fact that this delicious, healthy stew takes me back to curling up under a flannel blanket and watching football with my Daddy just like my Mama’s chili does makes it a winner. It’s a keeper y’all.

What about you? Is there a food that some of your favorite fall memories center around?

Quinoa Sweet Potato Chili from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

inspired by Milk Free Mom’s Vegan Chili
{I don’t make many changes because the recipe is a great one as is. Besides reducing the recipe to serve 2, I substituted chicken broth for the veggie broth because that’s what we usually have, and I used a batch of black beans I had soaked and cooked instead of using canned beans. The Kiwi prefers it served it with a dollop of sour cream and a grilled cheese sandwich. Definitely not dairy free or vegan at that point.}

olive oil
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 oz can of tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups of broth {veggie, chicken, whatever you have}
1 1/2 cups black beans {canned or soaked and cooked}
1/2 of a sweet potato
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

Start heating a large pot on medium heat.

Adding your ingredients to the pot goes pretty quickly, so I find its best to have everything prepped beforehand. Dice the onions, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 inch-ish cubes, and go ahead and rinse the quinoa.

Once the pot is hot add just enough olive oil to cook the onions and toss in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and translucent then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the tomato paste, herbs, and spices and mix well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and then add the broth. Give it all a stir and deglaze the bottom of the pan, then add the beans and sweet potatoes. Cook all of this for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the quinoa and let the whole thing stew away for 20 minutes.

We enjoy ours with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and maybe a grilled cheese if the Kiwi is good.

Naturally Sweetened Coconut Whipped Cream

Want to know something weird about lactose intolerance?

I am absolutely repulsed by some milk products, specifically milk and cream. Even the fresh stuff smells sour to me, like buttermilk. {Which some people, Germans in particular, drink neat, but it’s not my thing. Clearly.} Now I don’t really know what came first the aversion to milk or the lactose intolerance, the chicken or the egg. Theories abound as to why some folks are completely lactose intolerant, some mildly, and some not at all. The disposition is definitely genetic, but it’s my theory that it is exacerbated by avoidance which, in some cases, is caused by this aversion.

Or maybe I’m just weird.

Either way, long story short, I don’t like cream. But I do like coconut. So if I’m going to make whipped cream, I’m probably going to whip coconut cream as opposed to regular cream because then I don’t have to take an enzyme and I like the taste.

Not a coconut fan? Then this isn’t for you. This definitely has a coconut-y flavor, so keep on keeping on with your cream. But if you are a coconut fan-girl like me, then this can be the perfect dairy-free substitution for those desserts that are just begging for a dollop.

Plus its a ton less work. Can’t beat that. {or rather you can. because you beat it. with a whisk. i’m done.}

Coconut Whipped Cream {sweetened naturally} | kiwi+peachSprouted Kitchen’s summer peach tart
with our naturally sweetened coconut whipped cream, blueberries, and granola.

Naturally Sweetened Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can of full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup of maple syrup, honey, or agave {more or less depending on your taste and the dish}

Put the can of coconut milk in the fridge over night. All of the water will settle to the bottom and all the lovely cream {read: fat} will solidify at the top.

When you’re ready to make the whipped cream, open the can and scoop that all of that cream into a medium sized mixing bowl leaving the water behind. Whisk on high and gradually add in your sweetener until you’re happy with the taste.

The great thing about this is that you can completely adapt it to the delicious treat you’re going to be putting it on. You can add spices, more or less sweetener, whatever! Go crazy y’all!

DIY Almond Milk

I’m lactose intolerant. Not in a Leonard kind of way, but in a if-I-eat-dairy-without-taking-my-medicine-I’ll-be-throwing-up-in-a-couple-of-hours kind of way.

It’s really not a big deal though. I actually h.a.t.e. the smell of milk {it all smells sour to me}. I hands-down prefer sorbet or frozen yogurt to ice cream. And let’s face it, all the best cheeses like gorgonzola, parmesan, gouda are all fine since they are fattier {meaning they have very little lactose}. For anything else, I can always take a little pill that provides that magic lactase enzyme I’m missing.  Not a big deal at all!

What I don’t like is having to take medicine when there is a perfectly tasty alternative. Enter milk alternatives.

I’ve been a soy drinker since I found out I was lactose intolerant, but in an effort to veer away from possible GMOs and highly processed stuff, I’ve switched to almond milk. It’s so tasty y’all! Even better is that you can make it yourself. It takes a little bit of forethought since the milk goes bad within a few days, but once you get into a rhythm it really is the simplest thing in the world!

Kiwi+Peach: DIY Almond Milk

I follow The Kitchn’s instructions for making it, but here is the condensed version. Soak your almonds overnight. Drain and rinse them then pop them in a food processor. Add fresh water and then process for about 3-4 minutes. Lay a piece of cheese cloth over a bowl. When you’re finished processing the almonds, pour the mixture onto the cheese cloth. Gather the edges and squeeze all the liquid out of the meal. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup and you’re good to go.

I find that a half batch {1/2 cup almonds, 1 cup water, 1 Tbsp honey} will last me for 2-3 days which is probably only how long it will be fresh for anyway.

My biggest piece of advice is use cheesecloth. I couldn’t find it at all here in Munich, so I had my folks stock me up on their last visit. It’s exactly ten million times easier if you use a cheesecloth rather than a sieve. {I also may or may not have broken our sieve the first time I tried to make it.}

Don’t throw that leftover almond meal away though! There is so much you can do with it. My favorite ways are using it for breading my fried chicken or in a tasty pie crust.

What do you think? Would you ever try making your own almond milk? If you try it, let me know, you hipster you!