11.14.2018

Eight Great Sweet Potato Recipes

North Carolina is number one in sweet potato production in the U.S. You will find sweet potatoes on many menus in North Carolina and at the Farmer's Market when you visit. We even make our vodka with sweet potatoes. However, North Carolina also ships sweet potatoes everywhere. This educational feature about the "Life of an N.C. Sweet Potato." makes me realize how important North Carolina is to the world when it comes to the crop and harvesting of sweet potatoes. There's a good chance that the sweet potatoes you use to make your delicious sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie came from N.C.

As founder of @OutaboutNC on Instagram, I have learned from my NC travel community that culinary travel is a huge part of the charm when guests plan a first-time trip to visit North Carolina. That's because my home state is historically an agriculture state. Farming is at the root of our rich heritage so when you visit NC, you want to taste the food. Food needs to be part of the travel experience.

NC chefs and restaurants that specialize in farm-to-table cuisine are winning over visitors.regularly. As more national magazines highlight NC chefs throughout the state, reservations are getting harder to come by at many NC restaurants, unless you plan weeks or months in advance. The reason these restaurants are so popular is that they feature dishes using fresh ingredients from North Carolina farms.

Here are eight great recipes that put sweet potatoes as the star of the main meal to you in your own home.



Background on Sweet Potatoes 

Sweet Potatoes are a low-calorie vegetable and are good on the grocery budget. There are many health benefits for eating sweet potatoes. They are a good source of Vitamin C and A, and other nutrients. Even though they are a starchy vegetable, they are high in fiber and are a slow-burning carb which keeps blood sugar levels lower and sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, which can also aide in lower blood pressure.

Many people get confused between yams and sweet potatoes. We don't produce yams in North Carolina, and when Southern people refer to yams, they most likely mean sweet potatoes.  The N.C. Sweet Potato Commission sums it up best. A true yam is imported from the Caribbean and is quite different from a sweet potato.  But, a sweet potato has many, many varieties and its flesh can be white, orange, and purple. The orange variety was introduced decades ago, and in order to distinguish it from the white-flesh sweet potato, suppliers and producers chose an  English form from the African-word,"nyami" and labeled "yam."

Sweet potatoes are almost always incorporated into a Thanksgiving menu.  But, the vegetable can be used in so many recipes other than a sweet potato casserole. From pasta noodles to the filling for tacos, sweet potatoes are versatile. Many N.C. restaurants serve a side of sweet potatoes with their burgers, too.

The following eight recipes will help you put sweet potatoes on your menu. All recipes shared here are with permission in a collaborative effort.

1.  Easy Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage Skillet Meal 

N.C is the largest producer of sweet potatoes. Enjoy eight farm-fresh and healthy recipes using the root vegetable as a starring ingredient. Easy Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage Skillet Meal.


2. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos from the N.C  blog, TwinStripe.

N.C is the largest producer of sweet potatoes. Enjoy eight farm-fresh and healthy recipes using the root vegetable as a starring ingredient. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos from  TwinStripe Blog

3. Mad Sweet Potato Pasta from Nourish and Nestle.
N.C is the largest producer of sweet potatoes. Enjoy eight farm-fresh and healthy recipes using the root vegetable as a starring ingredient. Mad Sweet Potato Pasta from Nourish and Nestle

4. Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes and Maple Syrup Katja Presnal of Skimbaco Lifestyle.


N.C is the largest producer of sweet potatoes. Enjoy eight farm-fresh and healthy recipes using the root vegetable as a starring ingredient. Pork Roast recipe from Skimbaco Lifestyle.



5. Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Toasted Walnuts from the Minnesota-based blog, Baby Loving Mama.

N.C is the largest producer of sweet potatoes. Enjoy eight farm-fresh and healthy recipes using the root vegetable as a starring ingredient. A great side of sweet potatoes and toasted walnutes from Baby Loving Mama.

6.  Sweet Potato Souffle from North Carolina's third oldest town, Beaufort, N.C.  I love this recipe and now make it for Thanksgiving.





7.  Spinach Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust from A "Mind 'Full" Mom
N.C is the largest producer of sweet potatoes. Enjoy eight farm-fresh and healthy recipes using the root vegetable as a starring ingredient. Spinach Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust by A Mind Full Mom.


8. Quick Apple Sweet Potato Hash from Bites of Wellness  

N.C is the largest producer of sweet potatoes. Enjoy eight farm-fresh and healthy recipes using the root vegetable as a starring ingredient. Quick Apple and Skillet Hash from A Pancake Warrior  Blog.



Post originally published in 2015. Updated in November 2018.

11.06.2018

7 Delicious Soup Recipes for any Night of the Week

As soon as the temperature drops, I love to read soup recipes and put a pot of soup on the stove. In North Carolina, official soup weather begins late October through the winter months. This is when you will start seeing more soups offered in Triangle restaurants. I think many of our Raleigh area restaurants offer delicious soups in season. Each year, local Raleigh chefs get souped up and serve some of their favorite soup recipes for charity.


Delicious Soups

When I dine in Raleigh restaurants, I like to order a lot of creamy based soups such as butternut squash, carrot, potato, tomato, coconut curry, and even beet soup. Will jokes that anytime there is a butternut squash, carrot, tomato, or a beet soup listed at a local restaurant, he knows I will order it. The soup can be in a pub, deli or high-end restaurant and I order it almost every time.

The main reason I order that type of creamy-based soup out a lot is that I'm too lazy at home to make something pureed and creamy smooth.  I do not own a hand blender and I think that is an essential chef's item for rich, creamy soups. One fall, I was dining at our local five-star hotel property when I was on assignment for a Forbes piece at the Umstead Hotel's Bar and Lounge for lunch, and butternut squash soup was on the menu. I loved it so much I ordered a second bowl. Who does that when the soup is $9 a bowl? It was worth it to me at the time. I had to have more.

I still talk about a carrot soup I ordered at a pub in Ireland in 1998. No doubt, I like it when a professional chef makes a soup.

In my own home, I tend to make more stews and chilis. The soup that I make most often is a vegetable beef soup that is a combination recipe that I put together from both of side of my grandparents. It's my absolute favorite soup and I could live off of it during the winter months.

Once again, I am honored to be a local judge for Urban Ministries of Wake County Stone Soup Supper Event. This charity event is a highlight of the fall season for me.  Proceeds raised from this event support programs that feed, shelter and provide health care for Wake County residents. It is a fun night in Raleigh, and I love to taste the chef's creations. I also enjoy learning more about Raleigh each chef and the styles they tend to favor in their cuisine.

Urban Ministries of Wake County Stone Soup Supper


In honor of my being a judge for the second year in a row for the #GetSoupedEvent, I wanted to share some soup recipes from my virtual colleagues.  These are some of the recipes from their own kitchens.

Instant Pot White Chicken Chili by my business partner, Kim on Living Young and Healthy. This recipe can be made on the stove as well, which is how I had to make it since I do not own an Instant Pot. It is delicious.




Arizona Inspired Mexican Soup from Karen Dawkins, Family Travels on a Budget.

Arizona Inspired Mexican Soup #soups #chilis


Instant Pot Chicken Vegetable Soup from Diana Rambles.

Instant Pot Chicken and Vegetable Soup #Soups #recipes #chickensoups


Tomato-Basil Bisque Soup from Michelle, of Honest and Truly.

30-minute tomato basil bisque #soups #recipes #tomatosoup





Curried Carrot Soup from Deon van Schalkwyk of FoodJam

Curried Carrot Soup #soups #recipes


Tortilla Soup from Crystal Maleski of Make Dinner Easy

Tortilla Soup #soups #recipes


My vegetable beef soup recipe

Grandma's Vegetable Beef Soup

I would love to hear about your favorite soup. Put the recipe on my blog's Facebook page. 

Updated: November 2018
This post contains affiliate links. 

10.19.2018

Raleigh's Oakwood Neighborhood in NC: A Halloween and Christmas Must-See

Historic Oakwood in Raleigh, N.C. was the city's first neighborhood. It was Raleigh's first middle-class suburb and now it is in the heart of downtown Raleigh. It's within walking distance to most anything downtown. Oakwood has so much character, and is a neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places and known for the Historic Oakwood Cemetery, which was founded in 1869.  The neighborhood is beautiful during the holidays and it gets spooky in October.



If any area is haunted in the city of Raleigh then my bet would be on the Oakwood area.



I've always loved the houses in Oakwood neighborhood, and when we were house hunting in 2003, I strongly considered Oakwood because of its location to downtown, but when I toured a house on the market at the time, something felt creepy about it.  I can't explain it.  But, I looked at Will and said, "Some of these houses could be haunted."



This home is on Oakwood Avenue and is now a fall tourist attraction.


The average home price now for the Oakwood area is about $500,000. As the area becomes more desirable, prices rise.




Some houses still look a little creepy in Oakwood without doing a thing for Halloween.  It does take a lot of work and money to renovate these houses.





Pretty pumpkins are more my style in October. This is one of my favorite homes in the Oakwood neighborhood.



Rumor has it that the spooky house will give out more than 1,000 pieces of a candy in an hour on Halloween. But, knock on that door at our own risk. Plastic black snakes are known to fall from the sky.



Yikes!

I would DIE.  Honestly, I was too creeped out to walk by the house on the sidewalk so I probably could have gotten a lot more pictures, but I was scared.

Elm Street is just around the corner. Walk at your own risk.  Will Freddy Kruger pop out?



I prefer to tour the area at Christmas. The 47th annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour will be this year.  Tickets are on sale now for this event which usually sells out.




Raleigh's Oakwood Neighborhood near Downtown Raleigh is one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. It's a must-see at #Halloween and #Christmas. Gorgeous #HistoricHomes



Updated: October 2018



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