Getting Through Life One Recipe at a Time

Tag: sweet potato

Lala’s Sweet Potato Cake

In high school, my brother’s girlfriend Lala was like the older sister I never had, never knew I wanted, but was so happy to find.

As we’ve grown our relationship has changed. Big sister/little sister. Peers. Best Friends. And sometimes something resembling employer/employee (I say that lovingly, of course). However, the one dynamic that hasn’t changed is the eater/feeder status.

I bake. Lala eats.

Years ago for her birthday, I brought her a huge Sweet Potato Cake from the bakery where I worked. Late into the evening, we sat at her kitchen table plunging our forks deep into this behemoth. We ate, we laughed and we ate some more. We munched so much that we had to crawl on all fours to her living room where we laid on the couch rubbing our bloated bellies.

I remember feeling warm and fuzzy in a way that only best friends and cake can accomplish.

Happy to be with Lala and share a slice (a couple of slices) of nicely spiced cake with velvety cream cheese frosting.

I hope you’ll make some for the Lala in your life too.

I know that you know that you need to measure out all your ingredients.

Cream together brown sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.

Add mashed sweet potato and crushed pineapple with juice.

Stir in dry ingredients.

Place in a 9×13 inch cake pan that has been greased and lined with parchment.

Bake at 350°F for 30 – 35 minutes until lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the frosting. Cream butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar. Add vanilla. Blend with a hand mixer or stand mixer until smooth.

Spread cream cheese frosting over cooled cake.

Decorate with pecans.


Lala's Sweet Potato Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 large)*
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 rounded teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 large eggs
1 (8oz) can of crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla


Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Line the dish with parchment and grease the parchment.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Add the vanilla.

Add the mashed sweet potatoes* and pineapple with juice and beat with a hand mixer until combined.

Mix in the dry mixture until just combined.

Pour into the 9×13 inch baking dish.

Place in the preheated oven.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until browned around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing.

Frost the cake and decorate as you desire! I used pecans for natural flare!

Notes –

To make the sweet potatoes, wash and dry your potatoes, leaving the skin on. Prick them with a fork and microwave for 10 minutes, rotating them at the five minute mark. Scrape the meat out of the skins and mash it with a fork. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and allow to cool. You may have extra (eat it).

Weekend Wrap

When I lived in Richmond, as an undergraduate at U of R, I was a great adventurer –  maybe not Lewis or Clark – but I loved a little trip. A hike on the Civil War trail, a swim in the James River, a run through Hollywood Cemetery, a drive West, a sweaty day on a rock wall or loops around campus looking for a nook no one knew about.

After a weekend spent out and about, Sunday dinner had to be something hearty, something to revive me and prepare me for the week ahead. A pack up and go meal to take outside to enjoy that last sweet bit of fine weekend weather before Monday – classes, tests, grades.

Inevitably, I’d find myself getting a Shenandoah Wrap from a little restaurant near campus. The first time I tried this wrap I was hooked! It was so filling, so homey and I guess pretty healthy – though I am no nutritionist.

The tortilla stuffed to the brim with sauteéd greens, roasted sweet potatoes, gouda cheese, green apple slices and chicken could crush my hunger in a heartbeat, even on the most active of days.

Now, kind of an adult, trying to be a food blogger (a paid food blogger) but tied to a PA desk, living in a world where food has to be trendy and getting outside is often overlooked for bill paying and comparing catastrophic health insurance plans, I think fondly of that little weekend wrap and evenings spent eating dinner outside.

So I’ll make one, play hooky, and head somewhere. Happy to have an adventure and something wholesome to eat.

I hope you will too.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Peel the sweet potato, cut into wedges and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the wedges on a sheet tray lined with foil. Add the chicken to the same sheet tray and give it a good drizzle of oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast the sweet potato and chicken for 45 – 55 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken and potatoes cook, sauté the spinach. Add two turns of olive oil to a medium sized sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the spinach.

Cook the spinach for 2 – 3 minutes until wilted.

When the chicken is cooked through let it rest for 10 minutes.

To assemble the wrap, slice the chicken, cheese, and green apples. Top the tortilla with spinach, sweet potato, chicken, cheese, and apple slices. Warm the wrap in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Then get the heck out there! Go adventuring!

Also, Richmond Spiders for life!!!

Weekend Wrap

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Serves 2

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into wedges
olive oil
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups of baby spinach
4 slices of gouda cheese
6 slices of granny smith apple
2 tortillas (I used Siete Almond Flour Tortillas)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Toss sweet potato wedges in about a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Spread on a medium baking sheet, leaving room for the chicken breasts.

Add the chicken breasts to the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for 45 – 55 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through to 165°F. Once cooked, set aside to rest.

While the chicken cooks, make the spinach. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté  pan set over medium-low flame. When the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic. Cook, while stirring, for 1 – 2 minutes until just golden and fragrant.

Add the spinach and cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Set aside.

To assemble, top the tortilla with a small pile of spinach, two or three potato wedges, a few slices of chicken, a couple pieces of cheese and some apple. Wrap in foil and toss in the hot oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.


Single Girl Sweet Potato Sushi

Returning to New York after the BIG, BIG break up was, well, intimidating. I didn’t have many friends, I was surrounded by memories of my ex, and I was nervous I’d be unhappy.

However, I was lucky. Two months after moving back I received word a close girlfriend from college was moving to the city – and near me. (If she’d landed on the East Side this would be a different story.) She moved within 20 blocks of me – on the express line! Perfect!

We hadn’t seen each other in years – but one night over sushi we fell right back into our old ways- jokes, gossip, sharing updates about our lives and the lives of others. We developed a pattern, a routine. Once a week, sushi, just us girls. And then more girls! Other college ladies, other city women joined us too!

Gradually, the loneliness that I thought would consume me after my breakup seemed to fade away. It was replaced by a group of strong, smart, impressive women and a feeling of empowerment. I was glad to be single, glad to have single girlfriends, super glad to eat sushi, glad to be out in the world – just as me – not somebody’s someone – but my OWN person.

So here is my recipe for Single Girl Sweet Potato Sushi, which was the girls’ favorite, to honor those kick ass women who saved me from the slump. Sushi may seem intimidating but it is actually easy to make! Little secret – I batter and fry the sweet potato pieces twice for extra crispy outsides and cloud-like insides. Make it with your girlfriends, play some Beyonce, and forget that guy! — What was his name again? Exactly!


Cook your sushi rice according to package instructions. Tryyyy not to just eat it all. Set aside.


To make tempura batter, whisk together dry ingredients. Whisk together wet ingredients. Whisk together wet and dry ingredients.


The batter will be bubbly and light.


Get ready to fry. Keep your batter over a bowl of ice to keep it cold. Heat your oil to 375° F.


Place sweet potato chunks in batter and then transfer to oil. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes until lightly browned. I double fry mine for extra crunch. After they are all fried, I re-batter them and fry again. This makes the outsides crispy and the insides soft as a cloud.


Transfer potato chunks to a sheet tray lined with a paper town and sprinkle with salt.


To assemble, place your sheet of seaweed on the board. Using lightly rice vinegared-fingers press rice in an even layer on the seaweed. Place the sweet potato at one end.


Using dry hands, roll up.


Cut that sushi log into 6 equal piece. Only 5 made it into my photo because… well.. I ate one and then another, and then two rolls. Sorry! It’s so good!

Sweet Potato Sushi

  • Servings: at least 2 rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/2 cup of sushi rice
1 cup of water

1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks

vegetable oil

For the tempura batter:
2.5 ounces of cake flour
2.5 ounces of rice flour
3/4 cup of cold seltzer water
1/4 cup of cold water
1 egg, beaten

2 sheets of sushi nori

sesame seeds
soy sauce


Cook your sushi rice according to package instructions. For mine, I placed 1/2 cup of sushi rice and 1 cup of water in a small sauce pan. I brought it to a boil and reduced it to a simmer for 15 minutes, with the lid on. I turned off the heat and let it steam for 10 minutes.

Heat 4 inches of vegetable oil in a small sauce pan.

To make the tempura batter, whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together both waters and egg.

Add the dry to the wet and whisk.

Add the chunks of sweet potato to the batter and then add to the fryer. Fry for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. After you’ve fried all batches, re-batter the first batch and refry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

To assemble, place a sheet of nori on a board. Cover in rice. Wet your fingers with rice vinegar to press the rice down so it doesn’t stick to you.

Line pieces of sweet potato on the bottom edge of the rice-covered nori. Roll from the bottom edge up.

Cut into 6 equal pieces, about 1/2 inch in thickness and serve. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with soy sauce if you desire.



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