Sunday, April 10, 2016


For being April in Indiana, it sure doesn't feel like it. The other day it was actually snowing. It’s probably trying to make up for the fact that it was 60 degrees for most of December. But I don’t like it. Not one bit. But I suppose it’s a good day to stay inside and make a meal from a warm-weather country. Maybe if I stand in from of the oven, I can pretend I feel the warm breezes in my hair. 

Sweet potato stars. They look like the gold stars they deserve.
There were a couple bread recipes that popped up when I did a search. One was for a banana bread, which I’ve done several times before. When I landed on this recipe for Mbatata cookies (sweet potato cookies), I knew I had to do this one. I started out peeling and boiling two sweet potatoes to mash. I really only needed one (just enough for ¾ c), so I had a lot left over. I mixed the mashed sweet potatoes with ¼ c milk, and 4 Tbsp of melted butter and mixed it together. (I should’ve got my hand blender out because there were still some lumps of sweet potato, but it ended up ok.) Then I stirred in 1 ¼ c flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 4 Tbsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp cinnamon. Once it was mixed together, I kneaded it by hand and rolled it out to about ½” thick, cutting out cookies in whatever shape I wanted (I happened to have a star cutter I used from when I made Liechtensteiner Christmas cookies). I sprinkled a little cinnamon-sugar mix on top. I put my cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and baked them at 375ºF for about 18-20 minutes. I really liked the cookies. You could see some of the larger chunks of sweet potato that didn’t get smashed up as much, but the flavor was excellent. I think it’ll go quite nicely with a cup of coffee in the morning. If my husband doesn’t eat them all up in the middle of the night. Of course, my son hated them. Because, you know, sweet potatoes. 

This is probably the fountain of youth.
Today’s side dish I made was called Ndiwo. I sautéed some diced onions in oil until they were translucent. Then I added in some chopped kale, bok choy, a small can of diced tomatoes (with its juices), and a canful of water. I stirred everything together to make sure it was mixed well and covered it for ten minutes or so. It definitely needs a little salt, but I also added a little pepper as well. I only added in the pepper because I love to hear people complain about how “spicy” it is, even though it’s not even. I liked this. I think it was probably a good decision to go with kale because it tends to hold its shape a little better than other greens. The bok choy was good, just wished I had more of it in the dish. The store I was at had a limited selection of fresh greens. I wanted to go with mustard greens to add a different flavor. It’s essentially a mix of greens, so I’m sure you can use whatever you have on hand. Many people serve this dish with a traditional accompaniment called Nsima. It’s essentially pouring white cornmeal into boiling water and constantly stirring it until it is thick but without lumps. I was going to make this, but I ran out of time. 

This is the type of dish you make when you're trying to impress a date.
The main dish for today is Malawian Mango Chicken. I actually started out by wrapping my boneless skinless chicken breasts in foil and baking them for about 55 minutes. I let it sit aside for a minute before shredding it. While the chicken was cooking, I made my marinade: ¼ c pineapple juice (I actually used pineapple nectar because it was super cheap), ¼ c soy sauce, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp ginger, 1 Tbsp flour, and 1 Tbsp brown sugar. Once all of my chicken was shredded, I put it in the same large bowl as my marinade, mixing it together well and let it sit for about an hour. When the hour was up, I sliced a green bell pepper and sautéed it in a little bit of oil to soften it before I added in my chicken to heat up again. In three separate bowls, I had my garnishes ready to top the chicken: diced mango, crushed peanuts, and lime wedges. I served this on a bed of steamed white rice. This. Right. Here. It was amazing. I loved everything about it. And even though I was slightly skeptical about the mango, it went really well with the marinated chicken. And what I liked about it was that it was pretty easy to make, and the ingredients are readily available and fairly inexpensive. Definitely a repeat recipe. 

This wasn't a good meal. -- It was an excellent meal.
I picked these recipes solely on what I wanted to eat this time. I know I typically think of what my family wants to eat, but this time was different. My husband is a strict “no fruit and meat together” type of guy. So, Hawaiian pizzas are definitely out. When I picked mango chicken, he automatically figured I was trying to kill him. (There are much faster ways of doing that, dear: getting rid of your project truck would be a start.) But even though it seemed a little odd of a combination even to me, it was actually really good. I got him to try one toddler-sized bite of it together, and as he grimaced through the swallow, he said it was “ok, but I don’t want to do it again.” And I’ll take that. After 11 years of marriage, we’re making baby steps toward a wider palate. Kind of.   

Up next: Malaysia

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