Monday, March 31

Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

I purchased yams last week to make Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes. I became curious about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams; I figured there was some sort of variance but never really knew what it was. From what I found online, what I bought last week were not actually true yams but sweet potatoes. These two "flowering plants" are not related botanically, and most stores sell a variety of or two of sweet potatoes, with one of the varieties being tagged as a yam. The terms are often used interchangeably, but yams are less common in the US than sweet potatoes. Apparently, the USDA requires that produce labeled "yams" must also have "sweet potatoes" on the label.

A summary of the description of yams:
  • starchy in taste, like a baking potato
  • dry in texture
  • the skin a brownish, almost black color
  • non-tapered ends
  • the flesh is usually off-white
  • requires a year of frost-free weather before harvest
  • most commonly available in ethnic markets
  • Yam Dioscorea Species
A summary of the description of Sweet potatoes:
  • sweet in taste
  • more moist in texture
  • can have a skin that is thin and smooth
  • can have a yellow or orange flesh and can have slightly tapered ends
  • requires 100 to 150 days to harvest
  • some varieties remain firm when cooked; some soften. It is the soft variety that is often sold as a yam in the US.
  • Scientific name: Ipomoea batatas
The potato in the second picture, based on the above descriptions, is a sweet potato. That is what I purchased last week from a bin that said "Yams $.99/lb."

In conclusion, you are most likely buying sweet potatoes at a typical grocery store, even if they are labeled yams. It seems not all stores adhere to the requirement to include the label "sweet potatoes" with the yam label. Or, I just missed that part when shopping.

An aside: I was doing internet searches for information and came across this picture on flickr that I think is captioned incorrectly. Someone also left a comment saying so, and I found the pictures above from the link in the comment. I believe the commentor is correct in saying the potato on the left in the photo is not a sweet potato but a yam.

Saturday, March 29

Recent Recipes

Moroccan Chicken Thighs: These were very good. I almost substituted chicken breasts but decided to stick with thighs and was glad. It's a flavorful meal, and based on the reviews, I decided to up the spices by half. We ate it with plain couscous, and it yielded three meals for us over the course of the week. Picture from Cooking Light.

White Bean & Tuna Salad: This is a quick, healthy, zippy recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis. We had it last night for dinner along with an oldie but goodie, Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter.

Chicken with Balsamic BBQ Sauce: This is also a recipe from Giada. I made it last minute one evening since I had everything on hand, and we both liked it. I froze the remaining sauce.

I'd like to try the following two recipes sometime soon:

Friday, March 28

Lime 'N Chili Almonds

Ryan and I have recently been hooked on the delicious Lime 'n Chili Almonds from Blue Diamond. In fact, I might buy case of 6 from amazon since the per unit price is about $2.69. I would like to compare the Target price first. There are also other bold flavors such as Jalepeno Smokehouse, Wasabi & Soy Sauce, and Maui Onion 'n Garlic. They also have Salt & Vinegar which might be really good if you like salt and vinegar potato chips (I do).

The nuts have a great kick, and if you let them sit in your mouth for a moment before munching on them, the lime flavor blasts through. And you all know I love me some lime!

Photo from the Blue Diamond website

Thursday, March 27

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Ryan and I had a new chicken recipe tonight and really liked it. You can find the recipe here from Cooking Light. The chicken had a good kick, and thigh meat is always moist and flavorful. This was actually my first time broiling chicken, and it worked great. The time it took to trim the six thighs was worth it, though if I had less time, it would be good to trim them ahead of time. We also had Chipotle Sweet Mashed Potatoes and a Ceasar salad (from a kit...very good!). Photo is by me since Cooking Light didn't have a photo with the recipe.

Recent pic

Wednesday, March 26

Travel Coffee Mug Success

Back in December, I posted about a review by America's Test Kitchen rearding Travel Coffee Mugs. A couple weeks ago, we bought one of the recommended mugs for each of us, made by Oxo. We really like them!! The seal is great, drinking is a breeze, and the beverage remains pretty warm for a while. Ryan has been filling the mugs with boiling water for 5-10 minutes in advance of pouring the coffee. That way, the mugs are heated by the water, and the heat from the coffee doesn't dissipate as quickly. The other day, however, we were getting ready to leave in the morning and I was hurrying. I grabbed my mug to take a drink, thinking Ryan had prepared my coffee. He said "it's not done yet" or something close to that, so I moved quickly to empty the mug of what I thought was the hot water in order to pour in the coffee. Oops!! There was not water, but coffee in it, and I had just dumped my coffee down the sink. There wasn't enough for a second mug so I went without. It wasn't a big deal since I don't have to have coffee every day but it was an interesting moment of wondering who "messed up". I was hurrying and assumed Ryan meant something he hadn't.

Back to the mug itself, we particularly like the locking button to seal the mug closed when not drinking.
ATK's complaint over cleaning hasn't been an issue for us. Ryan was content to get any old mug from Starbucks but I of course had to get a well-rated rated mug and had to buy with knowledge, lol, so he patiently waited for me to buy them. I got them both for less than $30 total and saved about $5 off the regular price of each after a 20% off coupon and a mislabeling of the price at Bed Bath & Beyond. (photo from amazon)

Speaking of coffee, Money Saving Mom referred her readers to an opportunity for a free sample of Starbucks coffee. Check it out. I don't know how large the sample is or if they are beans or ground coffee.

Saturday, March 15

Wedding Slideshow

Here is a link to our wedding slideshow!

Monday, March 10

Sweet Potato Fries

Have you ever eaten Sweet Potato Fries? The first time I had them was when two friends took me out to lunch a few weeks ago. We ordered them at Mojo Bistro here in Pittsburgh and they were fabulous! They were crispy on the outside with a smooth, mellow sweetness on the inside.

Fast forward to my honeymoon in Colorado a couple weeks ago, and sweet potato fries appear to be a staple in that area. I ordered them with nearly every meal and really enjoyed them. The next step is to find a great recipe to make them at home since they aren't as common at restaurants here. If you live around Pittsburgh, do you know of any other restaurants that serve them? (update: a quick search yielded a sandwich shop near us that serves sweet potato fries. It'll be fun to go there with my husband)

I hope to share an online wedding slideshow in a couple of weeks! Ryan and I had a wonderful wedding day with each other and our friends and family, and our honeymoon was all that we hoped it would be. We are thrilled to be married to each other!

Some more honeymoon pics here.