Category Archives: side dish

Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We just returned from a family getaway.  Ben had planned a surprise adventure for our family for the earlier part of January.  Unfortunately for us, we needed to reschedule to do a bit of a tornado hitting his work staff all at once, leaving Ben to tend to work.  We stayed on Discovery Bay between Sequim & Port Townsend.   The place we stayed had a kitchen, so it made meals so much easier and healthy.  There was also an indoor pool, which Tayers thought was the “big adventure,” and whenever we drove somewhere she would cry out, “I want to go on the big adventure!”

Our family time was relaxed, filled with laughter, reflection, and many joyful moments.  It was the probably the best family vacation we’ve ever been on (and I hope many follow suit).  We also experienced some breathtaking sunrises (the kind you wake up just to make sure you don’t miss it). 

I played my guitar, read, and wrote a personal mission statement, as well.  This little break helped clear my head, refocus and evaluate who I am and what I, Kamille, am called to do in this life.  It was good, so very good and yet so simple too.  It’s kind of like these Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  They aren’t fussy, pretty straightforward and simplistic.  Yet, sure to dance on your palate in such a way, which leaves you looking forward to the next time you get to eat them.  I have some great things in store for Evangitality this year and I hope you will continue to join me or better yet, add to the discussion:)

A Year Ago: Banana Macadamia Praline Scones

Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes (printable recipe)

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh and finely chopped
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment and put the sweet potatoes in an even layer on top. Add the coconut oil and thoroughly coat, using your hands, the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, combine lime juice, lime zest, additional 1/2 tsp salt & cilantro. Once sweet potatoes are done, transfer to a serving bowl and pour the lime/cilantro mixture over them while hot. Gently mix to combine and serve.

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Thankful with Sweet Potato Goodness (& so much more)

The words that penetrated my soul the most, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.” This was part of a guest speaker’s story. She was a small Honduran woman, measuring a mere 4 feet and 9 inches, but she made up for it with tremendous heart & conviction. Her name, Danubia Orellana Lopez, and she is apart of the Agros village of Brisas del Volcan.

Danubia was the speaker at the Agros International fundraiser dinner Ben and I attended at the end of October.  It seemed fitting that we attended just days before we plunged into doing this 30 day challenge.  Agros is an amazing organization, who seeks to empower people in Central America & Mexico through micro loans to purchase land.  Many of these people, like Danubia, lived in the slums and had to wake up at 2:30 am to walk 2 hours to get to the farm (to which she & her husband worked for someone else), work an 18 hour day and only get paid $.40 a day.  She recalls the times when payday arrived and the owner of the land wasn’t there to pay her & her husband.  Those were the days when all she could offer her children was water to fill their bellies.  She also recalled a time at the age of 14, when her mother only had 3 eggs to feed the 14 kids….I am truly blessed.

I can’t imagine that world.  To feel absolutely defenseless and unable to give your children a basic necessity.  Agros seeks to extend both physical means to these people who are willing to work REALLY hard to till their land; but, also give them emotional/spiritual means.  They come in to teach the people how to cultivate the land, how to educate themselves, how to make financial deals, etc.  What Agros does, is tell these people like Danubia, that if they are willing to want something more, then they can have it.  More importantly, what Agros does & says to them, “You are worth it!  You have value!”

Danubia spoke of telling her mother that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.  Her mother said, “Danubia, people like us don’t dream, because our hearts just get broken.”  After Agros came in to empower Danubia, her family & community, she and other women worked together to make the men realize that they are just as important & valuable as them.  And you know what, after the women worked just as hard, the men realized that these women, their women, had dignity & value.

When I think about what Evangitality means–this is it.  This is the global representation of it.  It’s finding value, dignity & worth in each individual, because they are created in God’s image.  It’s empowering them by giving them a hand up, and not a hand out.  It’s not entitlement, because there are many people who choose to stay in slums so they can keep their TV or refrigerator.  Instead, it’s for the people who want something more, who want to dream.  Life without dreams isn’t a life worth living, and Danubia knew this.

Walking back to the hotel that night, I told Ben, “You know, the poor in America aren’t that poor.  They still get assistance.  They’re not putting their children to bed without food.”  It has made me more thankful than ever.  And that’s why I give thanks before my meals.  I thank God that I have more than enough to fill my family’s bellies.  So when I’ve been cranky during this 3o day challenge, or hear people whining about, “Oh, I ONLY get meat, vegetables, limited fruit & nuts, and eggs,” I’m reminded of Danubia’s words, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.”  Oh how I have nothing to complain about, and everything to give thanks about.

I’m thankful for simple meals too.  So simple it seems almost too good to be true.

A Year Ago: Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Sea Salted Caramel Frosting &   Oatmeal Carmelitas

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Goodness (printable recipe)

This is for one sweet potato, but you could easily increase the amount and play with the ingredients.  If you’re not a cinnamon fan, sub some nutmeg (but go easy on it) or add some smoked paprika.

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

1 tsp coconut oil

dash sea salt

2 Tb pecans

sprinkle cinnamon

Directions: Bake a sweet potato on 350 for 30 minutes or so (check a source, I’m that person who pops it in and doesn’t worry about it).  Do this the day before if you’re having it for breakfast.  Remove the skin and cut up the sweet potato into chunks.

Heat up coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Add the sweet potato & salt.  Stir around letting it get a bit golden, about 3 minutes.  Add some chopped pecans & a sprinkling of cinnamon.  Cook for an additional 1 minute or so.  Serve and enjoy!


Cinco de Mayo

I joke about Cinco de Mayo with Ben by saying, “my people” are celebrating today.  Now before I go any further, it’s more making fun of me as I have 1/4 Mexican blood in me & would just as much pass for being Mexican as I would Lebanese.  So when people find out that this “white girl” is actually Mexican (with my great grandmother on the last train into the US before the borders closed)–they give me second looks & start asking questions.  Ben pokes fun of my grandiose pride, because he thinks it’s a bit ridiculous how big I talk; yet, so little of the actual blood that runs through me (yeah so what).

However, in my defense, I grew up in a border town really understanding the culture, my grandfather lives in Mexico, my dad is bilingual (so I heard Spanish all the time–yet didn’t really learn it), my adopted family are 100% Mexican (so that counts for me for something), my surname is Soto/Sotomayor (long story), I know what real Mexican food (at least in Sonora region) tastes like, and although I speak very little Spanish–I have the accent & understand the Spanish alphabet.  All of these count for something–right?

With Cinco de Mayo happening tomorrow, I thought I should direct you towards a couple Mexican dishes worthy of making to celebrate. Even though Cinco de Mayo isn’t really that big in Mexico (Battle of Puebla against the French)–here in the U.S. it is, so now you have a reason to embrace Mexican culture.  So make some posole, machaca, or spanish rice.  And do yourself a favor by using corn tortilla with both, chopped up radishes, lime wedges, salt, shredded cabbage & fresh cilantro.  Really–for those of you who are flour tortilla lovers–pay homage on at least one day of the year to use the tortilla accordingly to the correct dish, while the relegating the flour tortilla for quesadillas, warmed with butter on top & rolled, or a bean burrito.

What is your tortilla of choice?  How do you use them?  And what are some of you most beloved Mexican dishes?


Mrs. Carrillo’s Spanish Rice

I’ve spoken of my adopted family the Carrillo before & again.  My love for genuine Mexican food is not something I can keep hidden.  In fact, just the other night I was having dinner at a friend’s house and someone asked where I grew up.  My answer going back to Yuma, Az, which inevitably leads to my love of Mexican food.  I was asked what type of Mexican food stood out as the best back in my hometown.  And it always, always goes back to the Carrillo’s home.

Mrs. Carrillo would make fresh flour tortillas on the comal.  Mr. Carrillo would eat jalapenos straight from the jar while watching soccer, while I would stare in amazement.  I learned by eating a jalapeno straight from the jar that you need to drink milk or pour some salt on your tongue to get that burning feeling away (I wanted to show everyone I too could be strong enough, but I only got so far as let it touch my tongue while running to the kitchen–while Mr. Carrillo would simply sweat from the heat).  I learned that not all Mexicans like menudo and Mrs. Carrillo would make a pre-cow tongue batch for Veronica.  Nopales con carne became my all time favorite dish (cactus with meat).  And that the only way you would get a recipe from Mrs. Carrillo was to watch her at her art.

She didn’t have these recipes on paper filed neatly away.  They instinctively ran through her person.  Still to this day, the only recipe Veronica has from her mom is her flour tortillas (which I don’t–umm, I really need that if you’re reading Mrs. Carrillo).  However, I did get the nopales con carne recipe, simply by watching her in the kitchen–her talking half in English and the other half in Spanish (Mrs. Carrillo a firm believer that I could really understand a lot more Spanish than I let on–but she didn’t let it get in the way).  I would even ask Veronica if she had any of her mom’s recipes, to which she would say, “I always ask her and she always gets sidetracked.”

So, I decided one day back in my college days that I needed a genuine Spanish rice recipe to make for dinner.  I called up Mrs. Carrillo & got it from her.  No sidetracking that I saw.  I think it still makes Veronica jealous (in that good sort of way) that I have one up’d her in the recipe department.  And now I pass it on to you.  Very simple, very good, and pure comfort.

Mrs. Carrillo’s Spanish Rice (printable recipe)

I changed this up a bit, but not much.  I will put her recipe as is and in parenthesis put my changes.

Ingredients:

2 cups white rice (I used long grain)

1 big clove of garlic, or 2 smaller ones, crushed

2-4 Tb oil (I used canola, I wouldn’t use olive oil)

1-14 oz can tomato sauce

2 chicken bouillon cubes (I used 4 cups homemade chicken broth, unsalted)

4 cups water

1/2 of a small white onion, cut into four small pieces.

Directions:

Put rice in a bowl and add enough water to cover it.  Stir it around with your fingers to clean & rinse the rise.  Drain the water and set aside.

In a heavy bottom pot (8 qt) over medium heat, add about 2 Tb oil and add the crushed garlic.  Stirring constantly to avoid browning it.  Add more oil if the pot is getting dry.  Cook garlic for about one minute.  Add the rinsed rice to the pot.  Stirring constantly, adding more oil if need be.  You want to toast the rice, cooking it till it’s a nice golden to medium brown color (not all of it will get toasted, it’s more of an overall appearance).  This will take around 8-12 minutes.

Slowly add in the tomato sauce, being very careful, because the liquid will splatter.  Add either the chicken bouillon cubes & 4 cups water, or 4 cups chicken broth.  Stir completely to get all the rice covered.  Add the 4 halves of onion.  Allow the mixture to reach a boil.  Once it boils, turn the heat to low & cover.  Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes.  You want to check on it to see how much of the liquid it has absorbed.  You’ll know it’s done when there’s still a little liquid resonating on the sides of the pot, but when you stir it around it disappears.

Remove from the heat, season with salt to taste if you used unsalted chicken broth (no need with chicken bouillon).


Mustard Roasted Cauliflower

As I’m sure we are all blown away by the wreckage on the news, internet, facebook, etc with the devastation in Haiti, it might makes us wonder about so many things in life.  One thing I’ve been struck by is the certainty of my blessings.  As I sat at the table last night eating dinner with my family, Ben shared about his lunch appointment that day and the first hand accounts of Mozambique orphans.   His client spoke of witnessing a four year old child raising his 18 month old sibling, all the while searching through the garbage dump for food, clothing, & basic sustenance of life.

Both of us looking at our girls with their pretty little heads adorned with piggy tails thinking the same thing…”you girls are blessed.”  Tears start to form as I look at my girls living in that condition and my heart breaks.  My girls who know nothing of trial, or pain, or anything evil.  Their innocence as they eat grilled cheese sandwiches and I think upon my comment about dinner before sitting down, “this is our humble dinner tonight, nothing fancy.”  But this humble dinner would be the feast for those orphans in the dump.

And as I left for a meeting that night, I wept in the car.  I wept thinking of the Haitian mothers who would never hold their babies again.  Little bodies being crushed by falling buildings.  Babies who would never hear their mother’s song, or feel the warmth of her touch, or the protection & love of their father, because they are now orphans.  And what do I do with this anguish?  I cry, I weep, I mourn.  I cry with the mother.  I cry with the father.  I cry with the child.

My friend once asked the question of herself and God.  When am I sinning?  When I laugh at what God cries at.  When I mock at what God scorns.  When I judge at what God is extending grace to.  So in this hour, I choose to cry for the broken, to scorn the flippant, to extend grace…and reflect upon how truly blessed I am.

Today I made this simple, mustard roasted cauliflower.  It reminded me of how something so meager can be very fulfilling.  And how it’s the little things in life, which are the most rewarding.  I hope you will find your little blessings to be thankful for and give blessings to the people in the wreckage.

Mustard Roasted Cauliflower  (printable recipe)

This is a simple meal for simple times and you can easily roast a couple of these slices then store some in the fridge for other uses.  I love the combination of the salt, mustard and sweetness of the roasted cauliflower.

1 head of cauliflower
2 Tb Olive oil (or more)

2T Dijon mustard
Fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 F –  Place the head of cauliflower on a cutting board, and slice it top-down into ¼-inch thick slices, some of which will crumble. Baste cauliflower with plenty of olive oil, dijon mustard and a bit of salt, spread it in a single layer on a heavy sheet pan (or two, if one looks crowded), and roast until golden brown and caramelized, turning bits and slices once or twice, about 25 minutes.


Host as Guests and “Fried” Potatoes with Kale & Onion

I came across the following quote months ago and saved it in a file.  As I came across it today it got me thinking…

Good hosts discover the divine mystery in hospitality—
that as they welcome strangers, they are themselves beloved
guests of God’s grace.

Is it really true that hospitality is more for the host than for the guest?  While in Ellensburg for Thanksgiving we get free movie passes, which is about the only time we go to the movies ($9.00 for a movie!).  We saw “The Blind Side,” which is based upon a true story.  Aside from being an exceptionally great film (seriously, it was a mixture of wonderful & horrible–the kind of horrible that makes you realize life isn’t pretty), there were many moments I got choked up & cried.  The Blind Side” depicts the story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential (synopsis taken from here).

Leigh Anne Touhy, the mom, took Michael in as her own.  What she was doing was saving him from the plane crash of a life he would have if he stayed in the projects.  However, she realized was Michael was in essence saving her.  He as the guest caused her to rethink a family history of racism, status in the elite, and safety living on the right side of the tracks.  She needed him maybe more than he needed her.  Grace.

It’s too easy to view a stranger or guest as a project.  To think that my “love” and “generosity” will change the person & I’ll feel better about myself.  Except, what I find in the end is that even in the midst of what seemingly is a “good deed,” ends up becoming a grace revealed.  This morning’s breakfast reminds me of a grace revealed as a modest, yet appetizing goodness.  It is fit for a king in more of backdoor sort of way.

“Fried” Potatoes with Kale & Onion (printable recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in thin half moons
  • 3-4 rather big Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into quarters, then thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil/canola oil mixture
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sea salt
  • 5 leaves black Kale, rib cut off & cut leaves into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-4 Tablespoons water

Put 1 Tb of oil into pan over medium heat.  Heat oil for about one minute, then add onion slices.  Add about 1 teaspoon salt to onions.  Cook until the a bit of browning occurs on the onions.  Add thinly sliced potatoes, along with 1 more Tb of oil.

Stir occasionally to avoid sticking or burning (if you need to add more oil, do so).  Add 2 teaspoons of salt. You’ll cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes.

Add the kale, along with 3 Tablespoons water.  Stir around and cook without a lid for 30 seconds.  Then, put a lid on top of potatoes & kale and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so.  The lid is creating steam, which will in return steam the kale.  My lid goes directly on top of the potatoes as it is smaller than the rim of the pan.

Remove from heat, add salt to taste & pepper.  Serve by itself, or it you’re like my daughter…with ketchup.