Sunday, February 12, 2012

Creative Education and...Sweet Potato Soufflés

It's such an exciting time to be an educator because the world is changing so much. Sir Ken Robinson sums it up nicely. Take a look at these videos - I promise they are worth watching. It doesn't matter if you're a teacher or not, his commentary on the future of education, and the direction it should be going in, affects all of us. And he's funny.

Ken Robinson, TED Talk, "Do schools kill creativity?"

Ken Robinson, "Changing Education Paradigms"

I'm one of the lucky few who love my job. I get to be imaginative and creative and critical every single day. Problem solving, developing ideas, and finding relatable and different ways for the students to be motivated and interested is challenging, and there's never a clear answer. It's about investigating, experimenting, messing up, sometimes apologizing, and then doing it over and over again. Also, there's a lot of laughter. I thank the big man for giving me this year with high school after teaching some of the younger grades last year. It's a time of awakenings for them, looking towards the future and experiencing so many firsts - and it's nice to be a part of it. Seeing them so unafraid to take risks and dive into new ideas and passions is a kick in the arse; sometimes, their fearlessness is even a little intimidating.  Wrapping it up, I'm happy teaching. You should try it. High fives to whoever wants them! What up!

Don't worry, this doesn't mean that the little café and bookstore the fiancé and I plan to open is set on the back-burner. It's still in the works. Things take time, people. 

And now, introducing the star of the evening, with no connection whatsoever to the above part of the post: 
Sweet Potato Soufflés

I made Sweet Potato Soufflés as a side for our family's Christmas dinner this year. They are so cute in their little muffin tins that I want to pinch their little cheeks. Don't be fooled by their impressive looks, because these Sweet Potato Soufflés are super easy to make. If you have an eggbeater or a super strong arm, you can, and should, make them. The presentation ideas for these babies are endless. Sweet potatoes are also rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Potassium, so if you are debating between normal potatoes and the orange variety, always go for the latter. 

These Sweet Potato Soufflés are little clouds of sweet potato and cinnamon. Choosing a wine to go with sweet potatoes largely depends on what you are eating them with, but if you are just going to sit down with a few cupcake-size Sweet Potato Soufflés, try pairing it with a Riesling. It's high acidity will cut through the sweetness of the potatoes.

Cooking with Mom in High Point!

Sweet potatoes boiling, and Mom working on the Cocktail Meatballs.
(Check the Thanksgiving recipes if you are interested!)


So pretty!

Can you picture presenting these on a cupcake tree?  I can. Wow.

Sweet Potato Soufflés

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the sweet potato chunks into a large pot of cold, salted water. The water should taste like the ocean. Bring to a boil and cook until the chunks are tender when poked with a fork, about 10-15 minutes.

Drain the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Mash the potatoes with whatever you've got - a masher, spatula, aluminum can, etc. - you get the idea. Add the butter, milk, honey, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Stir until smooth.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they start to form soft peaks. Stir 1/2 of the beaten whites into the sweet potato mixture, until completely combined. Fold in the remaining whites in two additions until just combined, trying not to work the potatoes, or the eggs, too much.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper cups. Scoop the sweet potato mixture into the cups. Bake for 30 minutes or until the soufflés are just firm. Remove from the oven and let cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Carefully remove soufflés and place on a cute serving platter. Serves 6. Enjoy!

a buen tiempo!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How to Satisfy your Gluten-Free Sweet Tooth: Peanut Butter Cookies

Sometimes you need something a little sweet in your life. I don't know about you, but I've been feeling the pressure of life lately. And it feels heavy. If you can relate, then take a f'ing break. Make some cookies.

For those of you living gluten-free, you know that it's so hit or miss with gluten-free cookies and cakes and brownies. A GF dessert that doesn't taste gluten-free is a big deal. These peanut butter cookies are so simple and surprisingly perfect. I made them in North Carolina over Christmas, and they were (almost) entirely gone in a few hours. The featured bite size wonders have a nice crunch on the outside, with a thick, chewy center. Use whatever you like to sprinkle on top - chocolate chips, bite size Reese's cups, grape jelly (PB & J cookie, anyone?), vanilla icing, jelly drops; the list goes on and on.

Enjoy. Make some hot cocoa while you're at it, pop in a movie, and relax. You deserve it.


Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup crunchy peanut butter (you can use creamy, but crunchy adds a nice texture)
1 cup sugar (you can bring this down to 3/4 cup if you wish)
1 egg
splash of vanilla extract
chocolate chips or the topping of your choice

Combine the peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. On a cookie sheet, place teaspoon size balls of the dough about 2 inches apart. Press your thumb in the center of each cookie to create a small crater.  Fill it in with the topping of your choice! Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes before enjoying. Makes around 24 cookies.

a buen tiempo!