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Poblano-Cheddar Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes What do you think of when you read the following words: belly, chop block, chuck, crab, cut back, dash, hash, rub, scoop, scramble, spread, turnover, and wishbone? I think about cooking and eating, but my husband thinks about football. Oddly enough, these words exist in both kitchen and football terminology. With Super Bowl Sunday quickly approaching, you’ll want to get that tight end of yours into the kitchen and try this fabulous recipe that puts a fresh and flavorful new spin on twice-baked potatoes. One taste of a Poblano-Cheddar Twice-Baked Sweet Potato and you’ll request an instant replay!

Poblano-Cheddar Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Food Network Magazine, December 2014

INGREDIENTS
4 medium sweet potatoes (10 to 12 ounces each)
2 poblano chile peppers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus melted butter for brushing
6 tablespoons Mexican crema (or crème fraîche)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for topping

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the sweet potatoes and dry well; transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until easily pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.

2. Roast the poblanos over the flame of a gas burner (or under the broiler), turning, until charred all over, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel off the charred skins and remove the stems and seeds. Finely chop the peppers and set aside.

3. One at a time, hold each sweet potato with a kitchen towel and halve lengthwise. Scoop the flesh into a large bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Mash the flesh with the butter, 3 tablespoons crema, the lime zest and adobo sauce until smooth. Stir in the poblanos and scallions; season with salt and pepper. Brush the potato skins with melted butter and season the insides with salt and pepper. Return to the baking sheet.

4. Mound the filling into the sweet potato skins and sprinkle the tops with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the filling starts browning and the skins are crisp, 16 to 18 minutes. Season with salt.

5. Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons crema in a small bowl with enough lime juice until thin enough to drizzle. Season with salt. Drizzle the lime crema over the sweet potatoes and top with cilantro.

Yields: 8 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Instead of buying packaged shredded cheese, I always grate my own cheese. Sure, packaged cheese is more convenient, but it also contains ingredients to keep the cheese from caking; ingredients that I don’t particularly want in my body. I’ve noticed that packaged shredded cheese doesn’t melt as well as the cheese that I grate on my own.

2. When making twice-baked potatoes of any kind, always bake one or two additional ones, so that you have enough potato mixture to mound into the potato shells. Otherwise, your stuffed potatoes will appear rather flat.

3. Definitely make the lime crema! It adds a bright and tangy counterpoint to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.

4. This is not a hard recipe to make, but it does take some time to roast the poblano peppers and prep the other ingredients. To make this recipe more efficient, it helps to have all the ingredients prepped ahead of time. The sweet potatoes must be hot in order to melt the butter and absorb the crema. So if you are baking the potatoes ahead of time, you must stir in the other ingredients in step 3 while the potatoes are still hot. These potatoes can be assembled and refrigerated until it’s time to pop them into the oven.

Enjoy!

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Bacon and Cheddar Macaroni & CheeseSometimes in life you have to color outside the lines, tell little white lies, or bend rules. It’s near impossible to toe the line all of the time. I experienced a moment like this, just the other day. Feeling cold and a little blue, I made Bacon and Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese for dinner. Without regret, I devoured a bowl of corkscrew pasta and crispy bits of bacon gliding in a sinfully rich and creamy cheese sauce. My house smelled incredible and my stomach bulged with happiness. So, yes, sometimes in life you have to choose comfort food over healthy food!

Bacon and Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese
Mother’s Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again by Lisa Schroeder and Danielle Centoni

INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salting the pasta water
1 pound fusilli (corkscrew) or other pasta
3/4 pound bacon, diced (about 1 cup cooked)
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups firmly packed shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 1/2 pound)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, (white and green parts), for garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously (it should taste like the sea). Stir in the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain (but don’t rinse, or you’ll rinse away starches that will help thicken the sauce) and return to the empty pot.

2. Meanwhile, place a large sauté pan over high heat for several minutes. When hot, add the bacon and sauté until browned and crispy (lower the heat to medium-high if necessary to prevent scorching), about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels.

3. Pour off the fat from the pan (into a metal can or heatproof cup) and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer until the cream is reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the Cheddar cheese and bacon. Stir well and cook over medium-high heat, stirring now and then, until the cheese has melted and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.

5. Stir the sauce into the cooked and drained pasta in the pot. Place over medium heat and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken the sauce and allow the pasta to absorb the flavors, stirring now and then.

6. Serve in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of sliced scallions.

Serves 4 to 6 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used Rotini pasta.

2. Although the bacon starts off crispy, it does not stay that way after soaking in the sauce. It does, however, lend a nice chewy texture to the dish.

3. I did not add the 1 teaspoon of salt as stated in the recipe. I waited until after the dish was completed, to see if any additional salt was necessary. Whether you add additional salt or not will depend on the saltiness of the bacon you use.

4. This dish did not fare well as a leftover, due to separation of the fat.

5. Thinking this recipe was plenty rich, I did not serve it with the optional sour cream garnish.

6. The authors of the cookbook offer this variation:
Lorraine Mac & Cheese
You can easily change up this recipe by using the classic flavors of a quiche Lorraine for inspiration. You just have to add caramelized onions and substitute Swiss cheese for the Cheddar.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons grease from the cooked bacon. Add 2 cups of finely sliced yellow onions and sauté over medium heat until soft, brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Pour in 3 cups of cream and continue with the recipe (step 3), substituting firmly packed shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese for the Cheddar.

If you have cooked, crumbled bacon and caramelized onions on hand, the recipe is even easier. When stirring the cheese into the reduced cream, just add 1 cup bacon crumbles and 1/2 cup caramelized onions, too. Then proceed with the recipe.

ENJOY!

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