Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have more vitamin A, beta carotene and fiber than regular white potatoes.  Also, my Grandma used to serve them for her and Grandpa, who had diabetes, because it doesn’t spike blood sugar as intensely as a starchy white potato.

This was tonight’s dinner. Yum. My favorite veg, mixed with my favorite starch mixed with my favorite pork product, topped with cheese. What is not to like?

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

I was feeling pretty happy, thinking how this looks so pretty with all the colors, and I’m so excited to eat it– and then I realized, I wanted to take a picture.

I haven’t been interested in taking pics lately, or even blogging. Not sure why. Food has been thrown together. I haven’t been feeling inspired to bake.

The one time two weeks ago I made peanut butter brownies with a pretzel crust, the light was so bad and nothing looked pretty on camera I just got pissed off and gave up.

So I grabbed my camera and got ready for taking pics of my sweet dinner. But then, the negative voice. It creeped in. It said nobody cares about a dumb pseudo recipe for loaded sweet potatoes. Stop!

Well, I hesitated but decided to capitalize on my moment of inspiration and take the pictures anyways.  Screw you negative voice.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

I’m glad I did. They look fine. It was easy. I was inspired to write this post. And now, after a month away from blogging, I’m back and it doesn’t feel weird. For those of you reading, thanks. I did miss you.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 pieces bacon
  • 1 small broccoli crown
  • handful of shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes all over and then bake for 1 hour. During last 20 minutes of baking, cut the broccoli into small florets and steam for 12 minutes. Cook the bacon until crispy, drain, and chop into pieces. Set aside. When the potatoes are done, remove from oven and slice down the middle, squeeze both ends to pop it open. Stuff the cooked broccoli inside, top with cheese and bacon. Return to the oven for 3 minutes or so, until cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Look at this ice cream. It is decadent, velvety-smooth, and swirled with delicious bites of graham cracker pieces and tart lemon curd. The richness of the whipping cream and cream cheese is balanced by the lemon. It is, not to brag, probably the best tasting ice cream I’ve ever made. 🙂  As usual, no ice cream maker is required for this recipe, or my others here, here and here.

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, No Maker Required! ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

During one of the nearly 90° days in DC last week, I had a spark of creativity; I really wanted something with lemon, but didn’t want to turn on the oven. So, natch, lemon ice cream.

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, No Maker Required! ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

This is just so pretty, I love it. It tastes good too, this was confirmed by a second source, my husband, who was skeptical of this flavor combination, but ended up eating two bowls once it was ready.

Not to mention, photographing ice cream is actually fun. It is easy to style and is a playful food to begin with; normally taking pictures is not something I like about food blogging. Ironic, no? Am I the only food blogger out there that feels this way?

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

When the weather turns sweltering, you don’t have to ignore your urge to bake- turn to ice cream as your medium!

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temp (I used about 6 oz. ’cause I ate some)
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • zest of 1 lemon, juice from half the lemon
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, at room temp
  • 1 tsp creme bouquet (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted 
  • 6 graham crackers, broken into small pieces, but not crumbs.

Place the bowl of your electric mixer into the freezer. A very cold bowl will help your cream whip in no time. Meanwhile, break up the graham crackers, zest your lemon, and measure out your lemon curd and set aside. Once bowl has chilled, whip the pint of cream on medium-high speed until fluffy and peaks form. (My Kitchenaid with the whisk attachment does this in no time, I love it). Add in the lemon zest and whip on low briefly, just to incorporate. Set aside.

In another large bowl, with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and creme bouquet. Mix for 2 minutes on high. Gently add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold in with a spatula. Don’t mix aggressively, but so the cream cheese mix is mostly incorporated into the whipped cream.

Melt the butter and drizzle over the graham cracker pieces, stir to coat. Dump the graham crackers onto the whipped cream/cream cheese mixture, then dump the lemon curd on top of the crackers. With a spatula, gently fold/swirl 2 or 3 times (only!!)  the crackers and lemon curd into the mixture. This will create pretty swirls and pockets of lemony goodness like you see in the pictures. Transfer to a 8×8 metal or glass pan and cover tightly. Freeze overnight. Let the ice cream sit for 5 minutes before scooping, it’s easier that way.

*NOTE: This ice cream does not require an ice cream maker and if you put it into a maker, I have no idea what will happen.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

I’ve noticed that lately I’ve been getting more new readers here at Erin’s DC Kitchen. I want to say hello! For the newbies and seasoned followers alike, this cupcake recipe is my ‘thanks’ to you, for sticking with me and enjoying food together!

These cupcakes have the most amazing texture; they are dense and very moist and not to sweet, thanks to the sweet potato. They remind me of the flavors of a sweet potato casserole- cloves, cinnamon and ginger. But the pièce de résistance is topping these little buggers with candied bacon. Sweet and salty is delicious, don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise.

I brought these to a coworker’s baby shower and they seemed to be a big hit. I mean, bacon plus dessert? C’mon!  🙂

Oh yes, these are topped with pillows of whipped cream cheese frosting

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbl honey
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and powder in a bowl, set aside. Mash the sweet potatoes with the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and honey, set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes until whipped looking. Add in the sugar and continue beating on high until fluffy, about 3 more minutes. Add eggs one at a time, and then mix in vanilla. Stir in the sweet potatoes until combined. Add flour mixture, beat until combined. Divide the batter evenly between 24 cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 0z cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together on high speed for 3 minutes. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Continue beating on medium speed for 5 minutes or more, until the frosting looks very fluffy and airy. Get ready to frost!

Candied Bacon

  • 5 strips of bacon
  • brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a foil lined baking sheet, arrange the bacon in a single layer. Grab a handful of brown sugar and sprinkle it over the bacon. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and flip. Bake for another 12-15 minutes, until the sugar starts to carmalize and the bacon crisps up. Remove from the baking sheet and transfer the bacon to a separate plate to cool. Once cooled, snip the bacon into 1 inch pieces with kitchen shears and top the frosted cupcakes with one piece.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Inspiring Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for the Inspiring Blog Award. Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2.  Share 7 things about yourself.
  3.   Nominate 15 other bloggers that you admire or inspire you.
  4. Go leave a comment and let the people know you have nominated them.

Thank you to Dragonflies and Hummingbirds for passing along this award.  Now for more about me. Isn’t that what you wanted?

  1. When I was a kid, I was seriously afraid of getting on escalators. The timing of stepping onto the stair at the right time was too much for me.
  2. I was also deathly afraid of getting stuck in an elevator. This made getting around at department stores a little challenging to say the least.
  3. I have a Master’s degree in international development.
  4. I go to the gym most days during my lunch hour, favorite class is currently kickboxing or cycling.
  5. The top sheet on most beds just doesn’t work for me. Too tangly. I like a big fluffy white duvet with a down comforter only.
  6. I got reblogged for the first time ever, yesterday!
  7. I have English breakfast tea every morning to start the day.

Now for the new recipients, may fame and fortune come to all of you. 😉 This probably won’t be 15…

@350degrees, marybethbakes, sixtyandsingleagain (thanks for the reblog), curious cuisiniere, om nom nom baked goods, yummyfoodmadeeasy, the camel life, a little saffron, bumbleberry lane, lazy homesteader, omeletta (for being Freshly Pressed!), dietitian on the run, the muffin myth, wife meets life, the purple spoon

– Erin

Cha-cha Changes

So, my solo time this summer is rapidly coming to an end.  Can you believe it has almost been three months since my husband left for his assignment abroad?!  It started out slow, but after a couple weeks I had totally adapted and dare I say… even started having fun.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t miss him. I did. I just had a lot more time to do whatever.I.wanted.  That is a powerful thing.

No more sharing of the tv; if I wanted to have a three hour marathon of watching the Food Network or Cooking Channel there was no one to stop me.  No more making dinners when I didn’t feel like it; oatmeal for me, yay! I could bake all day on Saturdays.

Mostly, the time alone forced me to entertain myself and get back in touch with an element of independence I had lost. I think you can lose some of that when you’ve been in a committed relationship for several years- it becomes to easy to just do everything with your partner.  It is comfortable. You stop taking risks, or doing things outside your comfort zone. Heck, why bother when you’ve got a best friend around, right?  But you miss out on some personal growth when you stop pushing yourself. I know I did, and I didn’t notice how stale I had become until he was gone.

One of the ways I pushed myself this summer was by doing things alone. Here are a couple highlights.

First, I went to a Vietnamese cooking class. I was sooo nervous about this. I wondered what people would think of me. I wondered if I could even enjoy the class without someone to share it with.  But I totally enjoyed it and was reminded that strangers can be nice, caring people. I met a lovely mother/daughter and sister/sister duo in the class. We chatted and laughed and learned together.  We spent an hour after the class was over just talking and sharing stories while we ate the food we had cooked. It was different, but it was refreshing.

Fresh Spring Rolls

Bahn Mi with marinated chicken and a bowl of Pho

The second solo adventure I did was go see a movie alone.

Maybe some of you are laughing at me right now and thinking about how lame and shallow I sound, but that’s ok. I admit I was scared to do it. I felt like a total creeper. I even asked a couple people at work if they thought it was creepy to go see a movie alone, especially a kids movie ’cause I wanted to see Madagascar 3. They agreed it was not creepy for me to do that, albeit it would be creepy for a middle aged man to go. To much of a Pee-Wee Herman vibe there.  I digress.

I ended up making myself a snack and heading out to the theater solo on a Friday night. I decided it was more fitting for me to see Brave, so I did. I was nervous and sweaty and thought for sure everyone in the theater KNEW. I don’t think a single person noticed I was alone. I loved it!  It was chill. I wore sweatpants. I’m going to do it again in the future.

My snack

Chocolate-Toffee Oatmeal Cookie Bites

It is amazing how once you do something that seems scary and you conquer it, you feel empowered to do more. It’s awesome!

But now, he’s coming back.  He has his own reintegration to go through. We will need to ‘get used to’ each other again. He needs to get used to being in American society again. We’ve talked about how this process will go and we both agree that within a couple days we will pick up right where we left off. No worries there.

But what will happen to me and my new-found independent spirit? How will it affect  the proverbial “us”? I’m not sure. I know I don’t want to lose it, but I also know I cannot act selfishly. Compromise will probably be the key here.

I was viewing this whole separation as a self-contained incident in time. Now I’m beginning to think that the time he was away was only Part 1.  Part 2 will be in the months to come, where I strive to keep challenging myself, to continue being independent and not fall back into comfortable, but lazy, relationship habits.

We’ll see what happens. I’m going to keep blogging about food and family and gardening in the meantime. I’ll keep you posted ;-).

– Erin

Potpourrie

Ahhhhh, its Friday. The weekend is barreling towards me and I’m not 100% prepared.

Today’s post is a mish-mash of everything, hence the title.

First up- “big” announcements (eye rolling).

I am very blessed to receive not one but two blog awards from Sarah at Curious Cuisinière– the Kreative Blogger award and the Blog on Fire award.  I’m particularly enamored with the second one because it reminds me of the Hunger Games (I. AM. KATNISS).

Thank you so much Sarah, and please take time to visit her blog. She has fun recipes and isn’t afraid to try something new- think pancake wrapped sausages. Yes, that is a real thing. According to the rules, I am to tell you 6 interesting and unusual things about myself and then pass the awards on to 6 other deserving bloggers.

  1. I am obsessed with the Hunger Games
  2. I would die quickly in the Hunger Games because I am weak and cannot identify wild plants to eat
  3. I still get nervous when flying
  4. I have 25 cousins on my Mom’s side of the family and 0 on my Dad’s
  5. I read US weekly as a guilty pleasure
  6. Fritos are my favorite salty junk food

The blogs I’m passing the awards on to are:

  1. The Teenage Taste (The food photography alone will make you drool)
  2. Sugar Dish Me (Great food and hilarious commentary about living in trailers)
  3. Wife Meets Life (Lots of DIY info)
  4. Georgia About (Great glimpse into the culture and cuisine of Georgia)
  5. Omeletta (Self proclaimed food nerd, ‘nough said)
  6. The Camel Life (Absolutely hilarious blog about life- good bad and ugly)

I also want to mention that Heather over at Sugar Dish Me gave me the One Lovely Blog award, but since I recently received that and posted about it, I’m not going to be greedy so I’ll pass on that one. All the same, thanks Heather!

Next item, I’m going on vacation for a week! Every 4th of July our family gathers up north at our cottage. I look forward to this every single year without fail. BUT, this means I won’t be available to make frequent postings. 😦 I’m nervous about being away for that long, will all my readers forget about me? Will they find new blogs to follow? Noooo, don’t leave me (tiny voice, sniff sniff).

Maybe I can post a little bit from up there, but I can’t make any promises.  I’ll miss you all! When I come back, I’ll have so many recipes from up north to share. 🙂

Cheers-

Erin

And the Liebster goes too…

Alright, normally I don’t like being in the spotlight. It makes me feel self conscious and weird.

But I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into my hatchling of a blog and because of that, this time, I’m actually excited to say: my blog received an award!

Yay! 😀

Last week, Deborah over at the lovely blog Romancing the Bee let me know she awarded me the Liebster Blog award. The Liebster award (means favorite) originated in Germany as a way to recognize truly awesome up and coming bloggers who are just getting started and have less than 200 followers.

I’m so thankful to Romancing the Bee for sharing this with me! 🙂

Please check out Deborah’s blog, she has a lovely blend of stories; from the garden to the beehive to the kitchen. Many of her recipes feature honey, check out Bourbon Honey Truffles (yum?!), which she gathers from her very own beehives. How cool is that?

Now that the Leibster honor has been given to me, it’s my turn to share the love with some of my favorite newbie bloggers.*

Drumroll please… (I’ve always wanted to say that!)

1) Domestic Diva, M.D.– This is a truly funny blog written by a medical student who knows how to make a spicy pizza and swab you for strep throat. I really enjoy her commentary on working (and cooking) her way through med school. You don’t even need to put on a paper gown to check out her recipes, so no excuses.

2) The Move to Michigan– In case you aren’t familiar, Up North is a place and it’s a lifestyle. This blog is all about living Up North in Michigan (my home state). There is a lot of nature photography, lake scenes and beautiful sunsets to be found here. Check out the Up North vibe, you’ll like it. 🙂

3) My Big Fat Mexican Life– This blog comes to you all the way from Mexico. Tami writes about food, family and life in general. I love learning about authentic Mexican food from her- there is more to this world than nachos!

4) A Little Saffron– I found a fellow DC’er at this blog, which has some of the most beautiful food photography! I’m jealous, I barely know how to use my Canon PowerShot. 😉

5) Om Nom Nom Baked Goods– This is a great blog for foodies. Each month is dedicated to certain ingredients; May is chocolate and peanut butter month. Who can’t resist that combo? So get on over there and check it out, now!

Congratulations to all and happy blogging,

Erin

*Note: I tried to keep it to newer blogs with a smaller following but it is sometimes hard to tell if stats aren’t posted. Either way,these blogs are all deserving of an award.