Feasting on Fall Flavors

Tonight called for a dinner that would warm us from the crisp and cool temps in the air. I figured now was a good time as any to prepare a fall dinner to highlight the season’s flavors. With apples, thyme, maple syrup, and sweet potatoes on hand, we thoroughly enjoyed the bounty that graced our table. I didn’t use any particular recipe but rather, used the ingredients in my pantry to come up with a meal. Bare with me as I share what I did to create our dinner…

Roasted Maple Sugar Pork Tenderloin

This past Sunday I visited my favorite spice shop, The Spice House, and picked up a new seasoning to try. Their “Gateway to the North Maple Sugar Seasoning” was perfect with pork with hints a sweet and savory flavor. To prepare my pork tenderloin, I generously coated them with this seasoning… and roasted them on top of a bed of chopped apples, onions, a few garlic cloves and added a couple bay leaves and springs of thyme. After baking covered in a 350 degree oven for an hour, remove the pork from the apple/onion mixture and pace on a separate baking sheet.

Savory Applesauce

With a roasting pan of apples, onions, garlic, bay leaves and thyme left to play with, I thought a savory spin on the traditional applesauce would serve as a nice accompaniment with the pork. With this in mind, I removed the bay leaves and thyme from the pan and used a potato masher to get a finer texture on the apples, onions & garlic. What’s wonderful about this mixture is that it doesn’t need to be seasoned since the juices and maple sugar seasoning that coated the pork have filtered down into them. Once you’ve mashed it to your preferred texture for applesauce, you’re set! Place the savory applesauce in a serving dish or individual ramekin and garnish with a fresh thyme stem.

Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes

We love sweet potatoes at our house, even more than the russet, white or Yukon gold variety. While we’re on a fall flavor kick, I roasted some sweet potatoes and scooped out the soft flesh into a casserole dish. To add some additional sweetness, I stirred in about 1/4 cup of real maple syrup and salt to taste. Top it with chopped pecans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

To round out our meal, I added some steamed broccoli for color and to add to our daily veggies for the day.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Tonight is focused on my Traditional fare menu and some desserts. Everything is set for the most part… and I approached it as if it were just one of my cooking class events where everything is prepped and ready to assemble. Here are recipes of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes on my menu.

Sweet Potato Casserole:

2 lbs sweet potatoes, cooked & mashed
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter, cut in pieces

Preheat oven to 350.
Place mashed sweet potatoes in a casserole dish.
Top sweet potatoes with brown sugar, chopped pecans and dot with butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with marshmallows.
Bake again for another 3-5 minutes until marshmallows a just about to melt.

Moroccan Morsels

One of my favorite cuisines is Moroccan. There’s something about the combination of commonly used spices that not only delivers amazing taste but comforting aromas. I was in need of comfort food and my Moroccan beef over couscous hit the spot.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Common spices include karfa (cinnamon), kamoun ( cumin), kharkoum (tumeric), skingbir ( ginger), libzar (pepper) , tahmira (paprika), anis seed, sesame seed, kasbour (coriander), maadnous ( parsley), zaafrane beldi (saffron) and mint.
In Morocco, stews are often made in a shallow earthenware cooking pots called tagines. Since I don’t have a tangine, I used my crockpot as an alternative with great results!
Here’s my recipe for Moroccan Beef Stew:

2-3 lbs of beef chuck steak, cubed
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 can chickpeas

In a pan, add some oil and brown beef.
Combine the rest of the ingredients except chickpeas.
Place mixture in a crockpot.
Add browned beef.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.
In the last 30 minutes, add chickpeas and cook until warmed through.

I served this over couscous cooked in beef broth
and garnished the dish with chopped parsley.

Enchiladas with Sweet Surprises

After having leftovers and boring hot dogs the past couple days, today I made dinner using a unique recipe shared by my friend Cara. She introduced me to the idea of using sweet potatoes and black beans as fillings for burritos. Well, I felt adventurous and made pork filled enchiladas using sweet potatoes and black beans.
Popular in the American South, these yellow or orange sweet potatoes are elongated with ends that taper to a point and are of two dominant types. The paler-skinned sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin with pale yellow flesh which is not sweet and has a dry, crumbly texture similar to a white baking potato. The darker-skinned variety (which is most often called “yam” in error) has a thicker, dark orange to reddish skin with a vivid orange, sweet flesh and a moist texture.
Here is my recipe for Pork, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas:

1 can peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
1 can cooked black beans
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 cup roasted, shredded pork
12 eight-inch soft corn tortillas
tomato salsa, sour cream, and cheese for topping

- Preheat oven to 350.
- Rinse sweet potatoes with water in a colander to wash
away any light syrup it was packed in.
- Rinse black beans with water as well.
- Combine potatoes, beans, garlic, onion and lemon juice
and process in food processor.
- Place sweet potato mixture in a bowl and add seasonings.
- Add shredded pork and fold into mixture.
- Spray with nonstick spray a large baking dish.
- Spoon about 2/3 to 3/4 C. of the filling into center of
each tortilla, roll closed, and place seam side down
in baking dish.
- Cover tightly with foil & bake 30 min or until hot.
- Serve topped with salsa, yogurt and cheese...
or any of your fave toppings.
I topped my enchiladas with Fage greek yogurt
and shredded cheese, along side of a
sweet corn, black bean and tomato salad.