I first gave serious thought to sweet potatoes when Gradon and I were out to dinner with my parents at Outback Steakhouse. All four of us ordered the “Outback Special,” an amazing steak with two sides, one of which was a sweet potato. Several loaves of pumpernickel later, our main courses finally arrived, and I found myself enchanted by my potato. The vibrant orange hue was gorgeous! The skin was tender and the fleshy insides melted in my mouth, leaving a wonderful sweetness.
Weeks passed, and sweet potatoes left my mind until Gradon and I took a trip to Raleigh North Carolina and hit up the farmer's market there. Barrels of fresh sweet potatoes beckoned me, and I went ahead and bought a few, not knowing what I would do with them. After a little digging online, I found several tutorials on roasting sweet potatoes. I studied them all and came up with my own method.
I can honestly say that it was even BETTER than at Outback. Follow this recipe and you will be singing the praises of sweet potatoes before you know it.
The sweet potato is amazing because it requires absolutely no maintenance. All you need to do is scrub the dirt off, throw it on a pan and bake the heck out of it. It requires a lot of time to roast, but it seems that the longer it's in there, the better it becomes. The insides caramelize and turn delightfully sweet. They taste wonderful fresh out of the oven, plain and unadorned, but let's be honest—they taste even better with a scoop of butter (or honey butter!) and brown sugar.
The first time I made these, Gradon was in love at first bite. He looked up at me and said, “I may never eat a regular potato again.”
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place sweet potatoes onto the rack above the baking sheet. That's right, no need to poke any holes. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes is up, decrease your baking temperature to 350 degrees. Bake or an additional 60 minutes.
If in doubt as to whether they are done, you can poke one with a knife—it should slide right through.
Allow the potatoes to cool slightly and then slice open with a knife to allow steam to escape. These babies will stay very hot for a long time if you don't slice them open. I've set them on the counter unopened for about 30 minutes before and they were still piping hot when I finally slit them open for serving. Top with a scoop of fluffy honey butter and/or brown sugar, if desired.
In other news, Gradon and I went to prom yesterday. Yes, prom.
I always feel a little jealous of married couples who were high school sweethearts—it's just too adorable to think that they share the same memories of silly high school stuff like late-night football games and prom. Are you one of those people? I like to think that college sweethearts are almost as cute, because that's when I met my husband. :)
So anyway, the V-Med Prom was last night and I got to get all dressed up in one of my fancy dresses from high school and dance the night away with my love. We had a lot of fun socializing with Gradon's classmates and enjoying the fun atmosphere of one of Charlottesville's cool downtown bars, Balkan Bistro & Bar.
About an hour in, Grades and I got super hungry and walked next door to one of our favorite little Chinese Eateries. We just made it—they were closing in 10 minutes, so they cooked our food and we ate it on the front porch after they locked up. I think we made a bit of a spectacle out of ourselves all dressed up and sitting outside of a cheap Chinese Restaurant—we could tell that we caught the attention of a few cars as they passed. But it was so charming! It was drizzling and the night air felt crisp and cool. Plus the general tso chicken was to die for!
When our bellies were full, we made our way back to the bar and danced! About an hour later things got a little crazy with beer splashing all over the floor (and a little on my dress) so we called it a night. Gradon and I don't drink, so we tend to come early and leave early at those kinds of events. This one went from 9 to 2am, and we had church in the morning, so we left a bit before before midnight. I'm so glad that we went!