Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables, probably because they are slightly sweet and I have a huge sweet tooth. But they are so good for you which is a bonus.

My kids can be extremely picky eaters and always changing their minds if they like something or not, making it tricky to plan meals that they will eat. I remember preparing sweet potato pancakes for my son once and he actually like them but continues to give me push back on sweet potatoes prepared in other ways.

Last week as I was planning meals for the week, I was remembering how I used to help my Italian grandmother make potato gnocchi when I was a little girl. We’d be in her second kitchen in the basement and she showed me how to roll the dough into long strips on a flour dusted table. Then she cut the strips into small bite size pieces. She would prepare the gnocchi for dinner and they would just melt in your mouth. So delicious! She was an amazing cook and nothing ever written down, all from memory…amazing!

Unfortunately, I’m not like her and need a recipe to follow or I’ll forget something. Even when following a recipe I have forgotten things! I once forgot to add flour to blueberry pie and it was like eating blueberry soup in a pie crust. Not my best work.

So, as I was thinking of my grandmother’s gnocchi, I was also thinking how could I make it in a way that my kids might actually eat this too. Sweet potatoes! I searched for recipes for that I felt would appeal to the whole family and found one that I tweaked slightly from epicurious.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 2, 1 lb red skinned sweet potatoes
  • 1 12oz container ricotta cheese, drained for 2 hours in sieve
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour (may need more/less)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 Tbs chopped fresh sage

Directions:

  • Wash, pat dry, and pierce all over the sweet potatoes. Place on microwaveable plate and microwave on high until tender, approx. 10 minutes (my microwave has a potato setting so timing could vary).
  • Once potatoes are done, cut in half lengthwise and cool. Once cooled, scrape flesh into medium bowl and mash.
  • Add ricotta and parmesan cheese and blend well.
  • Add brown sugar, salt and nutmeg and blend well.
  • Mix in flour 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Don’t be shy and get your hands in there!
  • Divide dough into 8 equal parts.
  • Flour your counter. Roll each dough section in your hands first and then on your floured counter into a long rope that is about 1″ thick.
  • Cut the rope into 1″ pieces and score lightly with a fork to create the ribbed impression on the dough.
  • Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  • Do this for each section of dough, adding more flour as necessary to your counter to prevent sticking.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and add about a tablespoon salt. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Cook until butter browns approx. 5 minutes.
  • Add chopped sage to butter (please note that this will bubble up). Turn off the heat and season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Add cooked gnocchi to the skillet with the sage butter and toss to coat.
  • Divide gnocchi and sauce among plates and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

I love this dish. It is a comfort food that just warms you and is so delicious. The sweet potatoes are a nice change from regular gnocchi. They are soft and light and slightly sweet. The sage butter sauce pairs nicely and doesn’t feel heavy.

I held my breath when I called my kids to dinner. Fingers crossed and hoped for the best. They looked curiously at the dish but gave it a try. Moment of truth…they like it! My son even asked for seconds, I could not believe it.

Well, this passed the test for my picky eaters and will definitely make it again. Especially on a cool night when you want to curl up with a cozy blanket this meal will begin to warm you from the inside.

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Heart Fruit Skewers

I made these heart-shaped fruit skewers for my daughter’s Valentine’s Day party at school.  Her teacher asked for a fruit option for the party and I wanted to make something fun for a bunch of 2nd graders to eat, so I decided to cut fresh fruit into heart shapes and put them on a skewer.  I mean who doesn’t like to eat something on a stick!  Maybe it’s just my kids, but put something on a stick and it’s instantly gone.  Seriously, my daughter is not a huge fan of meat but something magical happens when I serve it on a stick; it’s as if it’s somehow transformed into a fun, delicious food that she can’t resist.  Now, if I had served that same meat off the stick; she probably wouldn’t touch it.  I’m telling you, the stick is a powerful, magical thing.  If there is something your kids give you a hard time eating, try putting it on a stick, I bet they’ll at least taste it.

So, yes, eating food off a stick is fun.  You don’t need utensils.  You get to eat with your hands.  What’s not to love about it.  Therefore, I thought since my daughter loves eating food off a stick, I bet her class would like this too.  Sure enough I was right.  The class devoured it.  Nothing but sticks were left.

This looked so pretty at her party and the teacher was so impressed that I made it myself.  I can think of so many ways at different occasions with different shapes where this would make a great addition to your table.  This is so simple and options are limitless.  And not to mention, it’s a fun, healthy, allergy friendly option.  Here’s what you need for the heart-shaped skewers:

DSC02732 (3)

Heart Fruit Skewers

Ingredients:

  • Watermelon
  • cantaloupe melon
  • Honeydew melon
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Long wooden skewers
  • Heart shape cookie cutters, various sizes and shapes as desired
  • Ribbon
  • Candy to decorate around tray if desired (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash strawberries and grapes.  Set aside and let dry.
  2. Cut the melons in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds from honeydew and cantaloupe using a spoon.
  3. Slice the melons to desired thickness allowing enough room for skewer to be inserted without breaking the melon shape.  Carefully remove rind with sharp knife and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
  4. Remove the stem from the strawberries with a paring knife by cutting in a “V”-like pattern so that you create the look of the top part of a heart.
  5. Assemble your skewers starting with a grape, then the heart melon pieces, and finally top with a strawberry.
  6. Add a little ribbon to dress up the skewers.
  7. Arrange holiday candy around the tray, if so desired, to create a more festive look.
  8. Enjoy!

 


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