This is a dish which we continue to enjoy regularly in the States - in fact, I just made it for supper last night! When we lived in W. Africa, we couldn't get regular potatoes, but we could get sweet potatoes at certain times of the year. Boy did we enjoy them! Baked fries is my favorite way to make them.

 

The Method:

 

Wash & peel your potatoes. Pat dry. Cut into wedges or long fries. Spread on a baking tray in a single layer. Sprinkle with olive oil, melted butter, or whatever you have available. Then sprinle generously with seasonings of your choice. Just salt and pepper is enough! But you might also like to try -

garlic powder

onion powder

cumin

paprika

curry powder

chili powder

Last night, I used a light sprinkle of cumin and curry powder and a generous sprinkle of salt and garlic powder. They were delicious!

 

OR for a sweeter snack, sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mixture after removing from the oven!

 

BAKE at 400F for 30-45 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fries). Serve hot, with ketchup if desired. My whole family loves these.

 

 

A fact about sweet potatoes that you might not know - they are a great starch for diabetics, weight loss programs, or anyone who is trying to avoid the blood-sugar spikes usually caused by sugar & starch. So you can enjoy them with a clear conscience! :-)

This is an all-time family favorite from my childhood, and was one of the best deserts we could make overseas. Who doesn't love the chocolately goodness of these cookies? What a bonus that they're so fast to make!

 

There are two recipes here. The first is the traditional, rich, sweet candy-like cookie. The second is a slightly healthier version which I developed to avoid using margarine (which tastes strange in Africa) and to cut down on the sugar. It's not that different from an protein ball, really. :-)

 

Original Chocolate No-Bakes

2 c. sugar

1/2 c. cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c. margarine

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. peanut butter

3 1/2 c. quick oats

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, margaine, and milk in a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. remove from heat and quickly add peanut butter, vanilla and oats. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper-covered trays. Cool 1 hour or until set.

 

"Healthy" Chocolate No-Bakes

1 c. sugar

1/3 c. cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c. milk powder

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. peanut butter

2 - 2 1/2  c. oats

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, milk powder and water in a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, remove from heat, and quickly add remaining ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper-covered trays. Cool 1 hour or until set.

 

One more tip: Since we didn't have wax paper, I would cut open plastic bags and use them to line my trays!

When we lived in West Africa, we were introduced to a local leaf vegetable similar to spinach. Our people actually cooked with several different kinds of greens, some of which were sour, some slimey, and mostly a bit difficult for our Western taste buds. :-) But one plant was quite delicious, perhaps even a milder taste than spinach. It was by far the cheapest and most easily available vegetable in our location, so I learned how to use it regularly! Greens are so good for you, too.

The preparation time for vegetables, especially greens, can be significant. So this is a task I turned over to our house-help. She would go to market (or to a friend nearby) and bring back a huge bag of greens. Then she would spend the entire morning washing and chopping. We found that washing the leaves three times worked best for avoiding bits of sand in our food. :-) Once she had huge bowls piled with chopped greens, we began the process of blanching them all. Using a steamer, we cooked the greens in batches just for about 3 minutes, until the leaves were wilted down. Then we cooled them down, packaged in 1 cup baggies, and put them in the freezer. A morning's work would yeild about 30 packages of greens in the freezer!

I used these greens just like frozen spinach in the States. Since they were chopped small, I found that I could put a small amount in almost any dish and my kids would eat it. Actually, because I started puting spinach in things when they were just babies, both of my boys grew up loving it! When we came back to the States and didn't have anything with spinach in it for several weeks, my 3 year old started asking for it. :-) Here's a quick list (not exhaustive) of the dishes I would add greens to . . . 

regular pizza

chicken alfredo pizza

spaghetti or lasagna

chicken gravy over biscuits

macaroni and cheese

curry (this I would make with greens as the main vegetable. I'll share the recipe later!)

fried rice

scrambled eggs/omlets

peanut butter soup (a local recipe)

And of course, you can also cook them with a little butter and salt as a side dish for all kinds of chicken or fish dishes!

Lastly, a recipe from our local food, made with lots of greens. This was a big favorite of my husband's, and I made it almost weekly!

Creamy Greens Stew

1 chopped onion

1/2 c. oil

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 c. water

4 c. fresh greens

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 c. pounded nuts or seeds (you can use natural peanut butter or almond butter here in the States)

salt & red pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil, then add tomato for a few minutes. Add water, fresh greens and garlic. Cook until greens are soft. Then add nut paste, salt and red pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve over steamed rice. Serves 4.

Every Saturday morning, we have pancakes for breakfast. We started this tradition in Ghana, where there were not so many other breakfast options. Now it's a habit that is here to stay. When my husband and I got married, I asked my mother-in-law for her pancake recipe. She rarely makes them, but when she does, nobody wants to miss out! These are seriously the best pancakes ever. My whole family loves them, but sometimes I do make a healthier variation, to make me feel better about having pancakes every week. :-)

 

Besides my two favorite pancake recipes, I'm also including my three favorite syrup recipes. (It's your lucky day - five recipes in one blog post!!) My husband loves carmel syrup on his pancakes. The chocolate syrup we more often put on other things . . . but it's great on pancakes too.

 

When you're making the pancakes, you can mix in one of our favorite add-ins:

chocolate chips

blueberries

strawberries

mangoes (diced)

cinnamon & raisins

 

Or set out a variety of toppings. In addition to the three types of syrup, you could try

peanut butter

bananas

jelly, especially orange marmalade

Nutella or similar chocolate spread

cream cheese

cherry pie filling

 

Combine toppings to make a really special treat . . . for example, spread a pancake with peanut butter, cover with sliced bananas, and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Or spread with cream cheese and top with jelly. Or use your own imagination for endless possibliites! For a special occasion (New Year's Day is this weekend!), make a pancake breakfast bar, and let people build their own yummy treat. Of course you can always get creative and make heart-shaped pancakes for Valentines Day or use toppings to make a face pancake for a child's birthday. Have fun!

 

 

Mom's Greatest Pancakes

1 egg

2 Tbsp oil

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 c. milk

1 c. flour

2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients. Do not overmix. Bake on hot griddle or skillet about 3 minutes on each side.

 

Healthy Multigrain Pancakes

2 eggs

1 3/4 c. milk

1/4 c. oil

1/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 c. white flour

1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. cornmeal

1/2 c. quick-cooking oats

1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients. Do not overmix. Bake on hot griddle or skillet about 3 minutes on each side.

 

Maple Syrup

3 c. sugar

1 1/2 c. water

1 tsp maple flavoring

Combine sugar and water. Bring ot a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to boil over. Remove from heat and add maple flavoring.

 

Chocolate Syrup

3/4 c. brown sugar

3/4 c. white sugar

1 c. cocoa

1 c. water

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients. Simmer on low heat until slightly reduced, stirring constantly to avoid scorching.

 

Carmel Syrup

1 small can (2/3 c.) evaporated milk

2/3 c. brown sugar (white sugar will not work)

1/2 tsp vanilla

pinch of saltCombine milk, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat 5-10 minutes, until mixture darkens, looking more like carmel, and less milky. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

 

Do you have a favorite pancake recipe? What toppings does your family like on their pancakes?