Potluck Picnic with Spicy and Sweet Potato Salad
Welcome to my Potluck Picnic … a weekly newsletter containing an assortment of
recipes, tips, humor and stories to inspire you to appreciate, cook, eat and share good food.
So pull up a chair and join the conversation!
quote of the week
“A man can do worse than be poor. He can miss altogether the sight of the greatness of small things.”
~ Robert Farrar Capon
How does it make you feel to see this picture? Do you feel: curious? welcome? special? hungry?
Hopefully you feel all those things. Setting a table or buffet or spreading out that picnic blanket is the visual expression of love and inclusion. Family, friends and guests see that someone is prepared to feed them and spend time with them and that is a special feeling. It is a feeling that we need every single day. It doesn’t have to be china and roses and Beef Wellington. Paper plates and fun napkins for hot dogs may be the best way to welcome someone home. The fact that it was not an afterthought is perceived and appreciated immediately, even by your youngest guests. Think about what makes your table-mates happy. If it’s hot dogs, just double check that all the favorite condiments are ready and waiting too. We wouldn’t want that virtually-empty bottle of ketchup to ruin a good meal!
TRY THIS: Go the extra mile (or just an inch) when setting the table for one meal this week. If you typically set the table with all the basics, add a small arrangement of flowers. If your table is normally set for dinner, try setting it for breakfast. Add some seasonal paper napkins instead of the everyday white ones or the roll of paper towels. Even if you are setting the table and you are setting it for yourself, add something that makes you feel good. See what happens. If someone sarcastically says (and I’m thinking of you people feeding teenagers here) “What’s the occasion?”, that’s a good thing. They noticed!
And let me know … after all, this is a potluck. Your feedback is your contribution to this picnic!
on the foodie trail
When a restaurant is consistently busy despite the fact that the name of the restaurant is absent from the exterior of the building, you know it’s good! This is Stomping Grounds in Ames, Iowa. Just south of campus on Welch Avenue, this place serves up everything from pour-over coffee to wine, crepes to quiche, bison to tuna. Their weekly specials are unique, fresh and seasonal.
Adding to the amazing food and drinks, this place is embracing the university setting by decorating the inside with student artwork. It changes periodically, providing a new “look” each time. One of the few large restaurant patios in Ames now has a gorgeous pergola designed and installed by the ISU graduate students in Architecture.
Personal Recommendation: Avocado Toast or any version of the crepes!
what’s up in the garden
Moving to an acreage in September of 2018 gave us the opportunity to create a much larger garden space than we had while we were living in town. This larger space has given me the chance to plant vines! We never had space for pumpkins, squash or melons. Not knowing how much space the vining plants would need, we now have a thriving jungle of spaghetti squash, butternut squash, delicata squash, pumpkins, two kinds of watermelon and two kinds of cantaloupe.
Once I found that first watermelon on the vines, I can hardly skip a day of checking on it to see how much it grew overnight! These “picnic-sized” (how appropriate, right?) watermelon will get about 8″ long. Full disclosure: this is a close-up … this melon is only about three inches long at this time.
Grow, baby, grow!
this week’s recipe
A few months back, I bought a small container of a prepared salad from a grocery store. This is not something I normally do but this one caught my eye and I knew Marty wouldn’t like it so a small portion was a good idea. Sweet potatoes with a variety of sweet and spicy peppers in a vinaigrette dressing … it was so good and the ingredient list was so simple, I had to try to make my own and here it is!
Spicy and Sweet Potato Salad
- 4 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 cup diced poblano or jalapeño pepper
- 2 tablespoons avocado or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup finely diced green pepper
- 1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
- 1/4 cup finely diced jalapeno seeds removed for less heat
- 1/4 cup avocado or extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 chipotle in adobo puree
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- Preheat oven to 400˚.
- Spread sweet potatoes and poblano/jalapeño pepper in a single layer on a large cookie sheet (stoneware pans work well). Drizzle with avocado or extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Stir and continue roasting for an additional 5 minutes or until the edges of the potatoes begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Place onion and diced peppers in a large bowl and add sweet potatoes.
- Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and emulsified. Pour over vegetables and gently stir to coat.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.
- serve with grilled chicken or steak that has been seasoned with chili powder, lime juice, salt and pepper
- offer as a topping for tacos or fajitas
- combine with scrambled eggs in a breakfast burrito
- add seasoned and browned ground beef or chicken for a one-dish meal
- add black beans and corn for another version of this salad
if you haven’t tried this one yet …
what can you bring to the next potluck picnic?
Comment below in the “LEAVE A REPLY” box to share:
- how you chose to up your table-setting game this week, and
- how you eat your sweet corn: side-to-side or around-the-cob. (I was going to say “typewriter-style” instead of “side-to-side” but was afraid at least half of you wouldn’t even know what that was! 🤦♀️)
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