Tag Archive | sweet potatoes

tex-mex inspired sweet potato shepherd’s pie

Hey friends! How’s your weekend going? I’m off to work shortly for my last shift of the weekend, but wanted to share this recipe just in case anyone is in need of an idea for their Sunday-night dinner. This is the casserole recipe I highlighted on Thursday that I am slightly obsessed with. I ate it for 3 days straight, which saved me A LOT of time on the cooking front last week. Less cooking time=more study time, which is just what I needed!

I’m guessing shepherd’s pie probably isn’t a “new” recipe to you, but I switched this up a bit to include a tex-mex twist on the traditional recipe. Quite simply, all I did was make taco-seasoned meat (I used a reduced-sodium taco seasoning packet, but Kelly makes a great-sounding, healthier homemade version!), added-in steamed carrots, peas and corn, and then topped it off with homemade mashed sweet potatoes. Voila, a casserole was born in under 30 minutes. 
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My favorite thing about this casserole was the combination of sweet potatoes and taco meat. Honestly, I now understand why Mexican restaurants sell sweet potato fries. (I really never understood it in the past, I always thought chips and salsa were much more menu-appropriate!) However, the flavors and spices go so well together. I am hooked!

Tex-Mex Inspired Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Ingredients:
1lb. lean ground beef (I’m sure ground chicken or turkey would be excellent, too)
1/2 onion, diced
1 packet reduced-sodium taco seasoning (or homemade like Kelly’s)
1 cup steamed peas
1 cup steamed corn
1 cup chopped, steamed carrots
3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, chopped, steamed,and mashed
1/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese for topping (or any cheese)

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 204 degrees Celsius) and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. (I used a 12 x 9 pan.)
2) I prepared my vegetables first to get that step out of the way. I chopped up about 3 carrots, and then placed the carrots, peas, and corn in the vegetable steamer with a little bit of water. Then I chopped up the sweet potatoes and placed them to the side in a bowl with a little water, and covered it with plastic wrap. Lastly I chopped the 1/2 onion to add it to the taco-meat.
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**Side note, how cute is this purple vegetable steamer my Mom got me for Christmas this past year? LOVE!!!

3) Next, using the stovetop, sauté the onion and then prepare your meat according to the taco-seasoning packet.
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4) While your meat is cooking, steam the vegetables in the microwave. Then, steam the sweet potatoes. (I always steam my sweet potatoes by chopping them up, adding a little bit of water, covering them with plastic wrap and placing them in the microwave because I love how easy it is). Since I used about 3 large sweet potatoes, I cooked these on high-power for about 5-6 minutes. Once they seemed soft enough, I mashed them in a large mixing bowl, and added a bit of butter and cinnamon.

5) Finally, I layered the meat, the vegetables, and the sweet potatoes into the casserole dish, added shredded cheese to the top (Thanks to Brandon for shredding it!), and cooked it for about 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.
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This was delicious, and it lasted for days! I’ll be making this again soon, I’m sure of it.
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Are you a shepherd’s pie fan?
I am, but as I’ve grown older I much prefer it with sweet potatoes!
Ever order sweet potato fries at Mexican restaurants?
I will be now!

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Friday favorites-australia edition

Hey friends, happy Friday! I started the day off by waking up at the awful hour of 5 a.m. to finish studying for 3 hours before FINALLY completing an anatomy quiz I’ve been preparing for all week. (Professors who think that it’s possible to complete 20 questions about the bones, muscles, and systems of the human body in 20 minutes are NOT my friends today!) It was not fun but I did well in the end so the extra studying was worth it! To celebrate, I headed to the spin class that I love but don’t usually get to go to given the random 9:15 a.m. class-time. I followed it up with a short jog to cool-down. It felt great to sweat, as always.
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Side-note: Thank you all for the kind comments about my new job. The first week went well, and I’m really enjoying it!

Anyway, since it’s Friday and I haven’t done an “Australia Favorites”( or “favourites” as it’s spelled here) post in far too long, I figured I’d share some of my newest favorites down-under today. 

1) Koala ice-cube trays: I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved fun-shaped ice-cubes. These koala shapes took my love to a whole new level! I found these in Sydney and had to have them. They were TOTALLY worth the $14 in my opinion…totally. And while we’re on the subject of ice-cubes, coffee ice-cubes just may be the best invention ever. Brandon and I have been freezing our left-over coffee into ice-cubes at night and it makes our glasses of iced-coffee last so much longer. Genius!
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2) Sugar Free and fruity alcoholic beverages: I don’t drink that often, but when I do I like to  enjoy the taste of what I drink! I am a big fan of twisted teas and hard lemonades back home, so I was hoping to find something similar over here for a treat every now and then.  I was introduced to these “Sugar Free Cruisers” by a friend and I’m really enjoying them. They come in a variety of different flavors and they don’t leave an acidic feeling in my stomach like many other fruity drinks do. Right now, I’m loving the mixed berry.
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3) Veggie Burgers and sweet potato fries: I have lost count of the number of nights that I’ve consumed packaged veggie burgers and sweet potato fries in the last month, but I’m okay with that. These are an easy, healthy option when I’m in a time-crunch or don’t feel like cooking and it’s much more affordable and healthier than the fast-food alternative. Plus, if I can’t have my Morningstar Farms Black Bean Burgers, then I’ll take these!
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#ketchupproblems

4) Blue Ribbon 3-in 1 Light Ice-Cream: I remember enjoying Neapolitan ice-cream (chocolate/vanilla/strawberry flavor) as a child, but I don’t ever remember seeing it made with other flavor combinations…until I moved to Australia that is. This.is.awesome. Light vanilla/caramel/honeycomb ice-cream, all-in-one. I am hooked!
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5) Sun-shields for cars: Nearly everyone I see parked around town or at the University has a sun-shield for their car, except for me. It’s important because it saves the interior of the car from fading and keeps it cooled off from the constant glare of the sun.  I’ve been waiting to find the perfect one, and I think I found it:
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Hehehe…just kidding!  I laughed SO hard when I saw that.

6) The “cooler” weather: It’s autumn here now which means the humidity is gone. Bring on the scarves and sweaters! I had been dying to wear the new scarf and bracelet Brandon’s brother and sister-in-law had given me for Christmas. I finally had the chance!
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7) Outdoor stair work-outs and outdoor exercise in general: To me, it never gets old exercising outside since I was only able to do it about 4 or 5 months out of the year in New England. Where we are now, exercising outdoors is even better with the cooler weather. Just look at these stairs!
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8) Weet-Bix Bites: My favorite cereal just got even better with a brand new flavor. This combination is made with wholegrain wheat, oats, chunky shredded coconut, and golden syrup. I’m literally shipping boxes to America when we move home…I have an addiction!
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9) Sunrises and sunsets: I’ll always love them, especially in Australia. Look at the pink skies I saw one night on my ride home from class!

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10) Seeing these little boys: I know they aren’t in Australia, but seeing my nephews ALWAYS puts a smile on my face. I hope they make you smile, too!
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Have a great Friday!

What are you up to this weekend?
On Sunday, I’m planning on running in a Mother’s Day 5K with some friends. Since I can’t be with my Mom, I’ll run it in her honor : – ) Love you, Mom!
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