Browsing articles in "Side Dishes"
Mar 11, 2014

First and last attempt at sweet potato tots

Not every recipe I try is a success and I rarely post my failed recipes on Pretty Tasty Things, but this time I felt inclined to showcase my effort in my first and last attempt at sweet potato tots.  I love, love tots in general, and I think sweet potato tots are harder to come by so I followed this particular recipe because I was craving some. But sadly, it was a big disappointment. The steps seemed simple enough, but trust me, it wasn’t simple to make them. The tots turned out incredibly oily and undercooked, mainly because they were falling apart while frying. Maybe someone out there has a better recipe to try or tips to help, but honestly, I don’t even want to attempt to make them again. Some things are best store-bought and sweet potato tots are definitely one of them.

So I started off with peeling my sweet potato. Easiest step done!

Sweet Potato TotsSweet Potato Tots

I diced them into relatively small chunks to help them along in the food processor.

Sweet Potato Tots

Next, in several batches, I processed the sweet potato into fine bits and pieces. Small enough to hold together, but not enough to make it into mush.


I added the processed sweet potato into a medium-size bowl. I added 1/4 cup of flour with some salt and pepper and mixed with a fork to combine.

Sweet Potato TotsSweet Potato Tots

Now, forming these little suckers. The recipe failed to mention that forming these dainty little tots are seriously not fun. There was no easy way to make these tots so perfectly uniform. I used my hands, I used a mini-scooper, but they felt too loose when I tried to form them. I’ve never felt so frustrated while cooking before. They seemed as if they were going to fall apart on me every time. But I forged ahead and made the rest—ugly and all.

Sweet Potato Tots

I placed several tots in a hot pan of oil. I didn’t move them around, I left them alone for a minute or so to crisp up. But slowly, you can see them just fall apart. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DID WRONG?! Little bits of the sweet potato started floating to the top. Even the touch of a tong, crumbled them. I just gave up after that first round of frying. I turned off the stove, threw everything away and thought to myself what a freakin’ waste of time.

Sweet Potato TotsIMG_6306

Sweet Potato Tots

In the end, it’s not worth it for me. Maybe I tried the wrong recipe. But either way, this just took too long for something so deliciously simple. I even made Jared taste the first and only batch, and he who rarely finds fault with my food, couldn’t stomach it. Trust me when I say, I will enjoy you, sweet potato tot, in a store-bought form or at a favorite restaurant around town called Toast. But this will be my last attempt at making them at home.

Sweet Potato Tots

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Jan 12, 2014

Creamiest Mashed Potatoes

From the kitchen of: Bob!  Makes: 4 servings
Total time: 5 min to prep, 25-30 min to cook

Maybe I’m new or something, but I’ve never heard of adding cream cheese to mashed potatoes. Have you? My first and most unforgettable experience was over the Thanksgiving holiday. Jared and I were invited to a dear friend’s house for his annual ‘bangers and mash’ dinner party. Boy, were we in for a treat. Bob’s mashed potatoes were undeniably something special. They were just the creamiest mashed potatoes I have ever had in my life. I think I ate my weight in mashed potatoes that evening. So of course I asked him for the recipe and learning that the secret to these creamy mashed potatoes was cream cheese, I was floored. Other than the cream cheese, it’s a pretty basic and simple recipe, which is even better. I am forever a fan and I hope you will be one as well! Thank you, Bob!


5-6 medium potatoes (preferably yukon gold or red skin, but I used russet)
4 oz. of cream cheese (half stick)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
water for boiling

1. Boil water and prep potatoes.
First, bring a large pot of water to a boil on high temperature. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and rinse them under cold water. Pat dry. Dice the potatoes in generally the same size, roughly 1-2 inches wide.


2. Boil potatoes. Add the potatoes to the boiling water. Lower the temperature slightly to medium high. Cook potatoes for 20-25 minutes until fork tender. Once tender, drain the potatoes in a large colander and then add potatoes back into the pot setting the temperature to low. Allow all the steam to escape, a minute or 2, before adding the remaining ingredients.



3. Add flavorings. Into the cooked potatoes, mash in the cream cheese until smooth. Lastly, add the butter, salt and milk and continue to mash well until you’ve reach your desired creamy consistency. If you like it more thin, add a touch more milk. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.




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May 17, 2012

Roasted Corn Salad

From the kitchen of: Isabel   Makes: 6-8 servings
Total time:
30 minutes to prepare

If you’re in need of some color in your life, I have the solution. Make this salad. This is a beautiful, bright, colorful roasted corn salad good-looking to the eyes and to the stomach. The secret is the corn. There’s something about grilling corn directly on a charcoal grill that is out of this world. All the sugars from the corn come alive giving this salad a little sweetness. But with the texture from the pepper, bite from the red onion and heat from the jalapeño, it gives this salad some dimension. It’s light. It’s different. It can be eaten at room temperature or chilled. I’ve added it to a bed of spinach and salad dressing, I’ve even used it as a topping for tacos, or simply, just eaten alone. A seasonal salad, effortless to put together, but very memorable to eat.

6 whole corn
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 large jalapeño, fined diced
1 1/2 lemon, juiced
olive oil
salt + pepper

1. Roast the corn.
On a preheated charcoal or gas grill, roast the ears of corn directly on the rack. This will probably take 15-20 minutes. Be sure to rotate the corn occasionally to get a good color all over the corn.

2. Prep veggies. While the corn is grilling, prepare the vegetables. Finely dice the red onion and orange bell pepper roughly the same small size. Chop the cilantro and finely dice the the jalapeño. Place everything in a serving bowl. As soon as the corn is ready, remove from the grill. Allow to cool off for a few minutes. On a cutting board, stand each corn vertically and glide the knife down the cob to remove the kernels. Add the roasted kernels to the bowl of vegetables.

3. Combine everything together. Once you have all the veggies in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle a heavy dose of olive oil and squeeze fresh lemon juice. Toss everything together. Taste to be sure it’s flavored nicely. Add more seasoning if you think it needs more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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May 11, 2012

Brown Rice with Chicken Broth & Scallions

From the kitchen of: Isabel   Makes: 2-3 servings
Total time:
45 minutes to cook

I am a white rice kind-of-girl. Always been since the day I was born. It’s what I ate for dinner almost every day growing up in a Filipino household. Never got sick of it or gained too much weight from eating a not-so-healthy grain. For some odd reason though, Jared and I were walking through the grocery store and decided to pick up a bag of brown rice. Yes, brown rice?! Couldn’t believe it myself. My first attempt at preparing brown rice at home went pretty well. There’s really nothing to it. I did, however, add some special touches by using chicken broth instead of water and incorporated chopped scallions to give an oniony taste. This was a nice change of pace to the ordinary white rice. I will definitely give brown rice, more credit.

1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or 2 1/2 cups water, 1 bouillon cube)
4 scallions, chopped

1. Cook the rice.
Prepare the rice according to the instructions on the bag. On medium high heat, bring to a boil the chicken broth (or water with bouillon cube) in a medium saucepan. Add the brown rice and reduce heat to low. Cover and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes until water evaporates and rice is cooked through. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

2. Add scallions. When the rice is cooked fully through, add the chopped scallions and mix together.

3. Serve. As soon as you mix the scallions in, the rice is ready to serve. Pair it with the red snapper with vegetables in a parchment pouch!

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Apr 11, 2012

Grilling Spring Veggies

From the kitchen of: Isabel   Makes: 8-10 servings   Total time: 10 min to prep, 10 min to grill

What’s not to love about grilling, Spring and vegetables? Put all three together and you got a winning combination. Grilling vegetables has got to be the easiest thing to do on this planet. I don’t even know why I provided directions on how to grill them, but for those who need some guidance, here you go! I grew up eating all sorts of vegetables even trying my least favorites — okra and bitter melon. Ewww. Other than those two, I’ve learn to love vegetables and appreciate them for their unique flavor. So go ahead and start grilling some vegetables this Spring. You’ll love how simple it is.

1 large red onion
1 bunch of asparagus
3 zucchini
3 peppers, one of each color
olive oil
salt + pepper

1. Prep and chop vegetables.
Before you prep the veggies, start up your grill! Prep the vegetables while the grill is heating up. Rinse all the vegetables under cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels. Once the veggies are dry, it’s time to chop them. Cut thick slices of the onion, remove just the woody part of the asparagus (the end of the stalks), cut the zucchini on the bias in thick slices and lastly, slice the peppers in half, remove all the seeds and cut into large chucks. Place all the vegetables in a large pan or bowl.

2. Season the vegetables. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Toss everything together to be sure all the vegetables are coated. You can add more olive oil, salt and pepper again to be sure you got every piece seasoned.

3. Grill the vegetables. Place the large pieces of vegetables directly on the grill. For the peppers, I used a grill basket. If you don’t have one of these, keep the peppers in large strips so they don’t fall through the cracks. Grilling the vegetables literally takes minutes. Roughly 3-5 minutes per side depending on the grill’s temperature. Once the vegetables have nice char on them, place them back on the serving platter. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

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