I am a lucky guy. I am married to a former caterer who now works in the food styling business while making sure our household is running at peak efficiency. Tonya has this amazing ability to turn anything in the pantry and fridge into a fantastic meal! She has been a cook and baker for many years and for the past 20+ years our family has reaped the benefits of her culinary expertise.
Our family believes it is important to have dinner together as many nights as possible, whether it is eating at the dinner table or having supper while sitting on the couch. It doesn’t happen every night. Sometimes if everyone is running around, late from work or school happenings, we eat standing up around the kitchen island. Sometimes we have eggs and ‘breakfast’ for dinner. Other nights we might have a smoothie or pick up something from a nearby restaurant or from the store. One Sunday night a few months ago we decided to all run to the store and everyone picked out what they wanted (I chose packaged chicken enchiladas…ehhhh…I ate them.)
The point of this blog is to share what we had for dinner on the nights when the kitchen is up and running and hopefully provide a recipe or two along with some photos. It is a shame I have missed 20+ years of sharing great meal ideas and experiences so I should get started!
Tonya’s heritage is Italian so it’s no surprise that the first food item I want to talk about is her recent foray into root vegetables. What does that have to do with being Italian? Not much really. She was trying out a new recipe to test for our upcoming family Thanksgiving meal. Root veggies are all the rage now while the culinary world moves past the common carrots and potatoes and the general population is being re-introduced to parsnips and rutabagas. You have to admit, they have cool names! “Please pass the rutabagas, darling”. “Hey Mom, these beets are great! Can I have some more?” My dad used to love parsnips but I have to admit, they don’t rank up their with any of my all-time favorites. In fact, the last time I had a parsnip was probably…never?
Now, I try to avoid knocking Tonya’s decision when it comes to dinner plans because 1) she is usually the person that cooks dinner, and 2) I’m smarter that that. So imagine my (interest? delight?) warm acceptance and enthusiasm when she announced that the side dish to accompany my grilled burgers was …Roasted Beets & Sweet Potatoes…Yes. Roasted root vegetables. A little change-up from the traditional french fries, you could say. Now, the burgers were well-seasoned and stuffed with some garlic & onion cheese from Wisconsin, but that’s another blog…
The Roasted Beets & Sweet Potatoes story goes like this: Tonya took a couple each of red and yellow beets , sweet potatoes and colorful carrots and cut them into bite-sized pieces, then coated them with olive oil and seasoning and roasted them at 400 for about 30 minutes. That’s all there is to it. Well, there is more to it, but those are the basics. The kitchen smelled great, the aroma of garlic & onion stuffed burgers mixed with the olive oil covered vegetables roasting in the oven…wow!
And I have to admit the roasted root veggies were certainly a nice compliment to the burgers. I favored the sweet potatoes over the beets. Sweet potatoes are becoming an alternative to regular french fries in many restaurants and of course everyone has a family member that brings a sweet potato casserole to Thanksgiving dinner. I will say this about the red beets: the have the coolest color of any vegetable I have ever seen. Deep, dark red like a glass of spilled Merlot. Fans of Twilight probably ‘dig’ beets and no wonder ancient civilizations used beets to dye their clothing.
Oh, how did the red and yellow beets taste you ask? They chewed kind of like cooked carrots and they are definitely sweet due to their high natural sugar content. I’m not going to run to the store and buy canned beets and I did have flashbacks of baby food jars of beets fed to my daughter (babies will eat all kinds of things when they just starting out and baby food is basically like a baby-smoothie anyway) but when you roast the beets and roast the sweet potatoes and roast the carrots…and you cover them with olive oil and seasoning…well heck…they’re pretty good!! (In my humble opinion just about anything is good slathered in olive oil and seasonings and roasted)
This meal should be paired with Cedric’s Brown Ale out of Biltmore Brewing Company in Asheville, NC…well, in full disclosure I didn’t actually drink this beer while eating the burgers and Roasted Beets & Sweet Potatoes…but the beer IS very good and one of my favorites and it would go great with any meal!
Here is the actual recipe Tonya used for the Roasted Beets & Sweet Potatoes. Experiment with your seasonings and remember that cooking times may vary depending on your oven and your preference.
Roasted Beets & Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Beets & Sweet Potatoes
3 red or yellow beets, cut in 1 inch pieces (washed and scrubbed)
1-2 sweet potatoes, cut in 1 inch pieces (no need to peel)
one bunch of carrots, cut in small pieces
6 peeled garlic cloves
1 large onion, chopped
a few sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup Olive oil
2 tbs Balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Combine root veggies, onion and garlic in baking pan. Combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar, pour over vegetables and toss lightly. Sprinkle fresh thyme and add salt & pepper. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes. Stir vegetables and bake another 15 minutes or until veggies are tender.