Monday Meals: Chili Sweet Potatoes

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With all the running around we’ve been doing, I’m always looking for quick and easy meal options.  This is one that can be as homemade as you want it to be.  In a perfect world, I would have cooked up a pot of chili over the weekend.  Alas, that is not my life.  I do, however, work from home on Mondays and have time to pop a sweet potato* in the oven to cook while I work.  We typically have a can or two of Amy’s chili in the cabinet – you might have some in the freezer.  And, there is always cheese in our fridge – or, you can go without for a completely vegan meal.  No matter how you pull it all together, chili sweet potatoes are pretty easy peasy!

Like I said, cooking sweet potatoes is basically the simplest skill on earth.  If you think you’re a rotten cook, give sweet potatoes a try.  All you do is:

1. Heat the oven to 400.  Easy enough, right?

2. Poke 3-4 rows of fork holes across the top of the sweet potato, like this…

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…and place it directly on the center rack.

3. MOST IMPORTANT STEP! Put a piece of foil on the rack below the sweet potato.  Because, you’ll want to cook the sweet potato until it, and your oven, look like this.

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See?  That foil is important!  The best way to know when your sweet potato is cooked is when it’s making a huge sugary mess.  (They don’t call it “sweet” for nothin’!)  How long this takes depends on the size of your sweet potato, but it’s typically in the 45 minute to an hour range.  This one was a fatty, so it took an hour.  When I checked on it at 45 minutes, not all of the pre-punched holes were oozing sugar and none of the drips were burnt.  Plus, when I poked a knife into the potato, there was resistance in the center.  When it’s done, a knife will glide cleanly into the middle.

It’s good to give your sweet potato a little time to rest when it comes out of the oven because it will be much easier to peel.  As it cools, the potato shrinks up a bit and the skin, in turn, shrivels away from the potato.  You can already see the difference between in the oven potato and starting to cool potato here:

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While waiting for the sweet potato to cool, I heated my chili.  Again, you can use homemade chili, you can use beans, there can be meat, or it can be completely vegetarian.  I almost used black-eyed peas, but it’s a dreary day and I craved the spiciness of the chili.  I love cheese, and opted for a sprinkle of goat cheese over the black beans.  Avocado, sour cream, chives, parsley…also good options.  You can’t really mess this up.  If it sounds good to you, toss it on there!

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You’ve probably already noted my absolutely favorite part of this meal – it’s enough for two servings.  I made a plate for myself and packed the other half in a container to take to work tomorrow.  I piled that one with cheddar jack to switch it up, which will also get all melty and gooey when I reheat it at the office.  Mmm..perfect!

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Of course, what actually happened was that RF, who swears he doesn’t like sweet potatoes, came and ate the other half!  It smelled so delicious that even the cat wanted in on the action…

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*Note: I call all orange tubers sweet potatoes. This is actually a yam. Don’t be a fussy stickler about such things!

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