Sweet Potato Story

The beginnings of this blog can all be traced back to a cold November day in 2010. Until then, I’d never even heard of food blogs. I had a Livejournal blog that I started in college to share poetry and short stories, but soon it just turned into a journal, then nothing at all. I needed a focus again.

Winter was coming. I didn’t feel well when I headed into work, but I hate calling in sick and thought I could forge through the day. I was wrong. After two hours, I went home early. Dave and I got into a fight. I wanted to clear my head, so, breaking our rule of ‘never leaving the house angry,’ I set out to my favorite coffeehouse, Kavarna, to read and collect my thoughts.

I was already having a bad day, so ordering something I’d always hated couldn’t make it worse. I ordered a cup of tea and a side of baked sweet potato fries with wasabi sauce while I read Everything is Illuminated.

(Yes, I have terrible short term memory, but my long term memory is like a steel trap for seemingly insignificant details).

Sweet potatoes, like turkey and stuffing, only made their presence once a year in my parent’s house, on Thanksgiving Day. My aunt always brought them, smothered in butter and brown sugar and topped with toasted marshmallows. Just the sight of them made me gag. I didn’t even have to add them to my list of food I didn’t have to eat (like squash) because my parents never cooked with them. My husband never liked sweet potatoes either, so I went twenty three years believing I hated this ground-dwelling tuber.

Until that bleak day in November when I picked up the seasoned fry, dipped it into wasabi sauce and my world was changed. It was starchy like a potato but with a lingering sweetness. It was a lovely and vibrant orange color. It was…good.

I came home, made up with Dave, and told him how awesome the sweet potato fries were at Kavarna. We soon started cooking with them, served them at our holiday party that December, and they have since become a pantry staple and a must when grilling.

When we were trying to figure out just how long and what temperature to bake them in the oven to get them crispy, I googled ‘sweet potato fries,’ stumbled on Kath Eats Real Food, and my food blog obsession began. Eating Bender, A Nutritionist Eats, Annie’s Eats, Domestic Diva MD and The Healthy Everythingtarian all became favorites.  It was so inspiring and mouthwatering to read about amateur cooks like myself who love to cook real, healthy (and sometimes unhealthy but still homemade!) food, drink good wine and beer, and write about it.

So if I hadn’t been sick that day, come home from work early, fought with Dave, been just upset enough to try a sweet potato fry, and googled how to bake them properly, Designs on Dinner would not exist.

But it does, and here’s what I made for dinner.

Double Decker Veggie Burger

  • 1 Garden Burger veggie patty
  • 1 portabella mushroom cap
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • romaine lettuce
  • grape tomatoes
  • pickle chips
  • dash of red pepper flake
  • whole wheat sandwich thin

Sweet Potato Fries with Wasabi Dipping Sauce

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp wasabi sauce

Because I like to save energy and time when I’m cooking for one, I use the microwave to prep most traditional ‘oven-baked’ dishes. Microwaves use a lot less energy, but oven baked food just tastes better most of the time. I compromise by pre-cooking in the microwave and finishing in the oven.

I used the oven to cook many of my meal components tonight, so I set it to 400 degrees. I cooked my sweet potato in the microwave for three minutes while the oven was pre-heating. After letting it cool a bit, I sliced the sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch thick rounds and mixed them in a bowl with the olive oil, water, and spices. Laid out on a cookie sheet.

I baked the sweet potatoes for twenty minutes, flipped them, and baked for fifteen minutes more (I like them suuuper crispy). Meanwhile, I mixed the yogurt and wasabi sauce together to create an excellent, spicy dipping sauce.

I baked the portabella mushroom cap in the oven for about 10 minutes, the veggie burger for about 15. I used a Garden Burger Veggie Medley patty from the freezer.

These provide half a serving of grains, half of vegetables, and unlike Boca burgers, their first ingredient is brown rice, not soy, so they taste a lot more ‘grainy,’ which I like.

I didn’t have any big tomatoes to slice for my burger, so instead I roasted six grape tomatoes for about 12 minutes. These were awesome! I’m not sure why I’ve never roasted grape tomatoes before. They developed a rich, smoky taste and broke apart slightly in the oven. Meaning they did not burst like eyeballs in my mouth…ewww!

For Chandler, gum may be perfection. But for me tonight, this dinner was.

Thank you delicious orange ground-dwelling tuber for enriching my life.



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