Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes and a Hurricane Day Strategy

8 Sep

Yesterday was our first school year hurricane day.

I told you about hurricane days a few weeks back–they’re those days where you don’t have any time to sit down. Run, run, run. And they seem to get worse during the school year, just when logic says having your kids in a classroom for six or seven hours should make life easier.

I had a bunch of interviews for stories yesterday and some work to do around the house. I had to pick up the kids from school at 3, make sure homework was done and feed them dinner, and then turn around for soccer practice at 5:30. Mind you, that’s two soccer practices at the same time on fields that are about 20 minutes away from each other, in D.C. rush hour. And then I had to pick them both up at 6:30, get them home and showered, and be back at school at 7 for a parent meeting. Never mind dinner for me–that wouldn’t happen until at least 8:30.

So knowing that, our dinner was a priority pretty early in the morning. Our school starts at 8 a.m., and as soon as I came in the door from morning drop-off, I heated up the oven and got a chicken roasting. That’s a great hurricane day entree. I can wrap the whole chicken in plastic and set it in the fridge, and then easily pull it apart with my fingers when it’s time to eat, heating up only the pieces I need for that moment and returning the rest to the ice box for the next night (and we’re having leftovers tonight–a downtown client meeting for me, homework, ballet, and another parent meeting are on the agenda).

If I had a 9-5 in-the-office job, I’d do one of two things: Either make this food the night before (during that night’s dinner, after kid bedtime, right after work–it’s pretty hands-off) or do the chicken in a slow cooker during the day, and combine the potatoes and sauce ingredients in the morning and set them in the fridge all day, and bake them off after work. You can also get a huge variety of really good vegetables in your grocery freezer case–look for the Steam Fresh line or the generic version. Lots of options there, in about three minutes.

To go with the chicken, I made honey roasted sweet potatoes. I like these because everyone will eat them–they’re really sweet between the potato itself and some honey–and they’re packed with nutrients.

Ideally, you bake these at 350 degrees for about an hour. I didn’t have that luxury yesterday (and suspect there are many days when you all don’t either) and so they went in the bottom rack of the oven at 425, right under the chicken. Needless to say, you need to adjust the timing if you cook them that way. Mine were done in about a half-hour, and I turned them frequently to prevent them from burning.

I prefer to make these in a Pyrex baking dish. You can do it on a heavy metal baking sheet and I’ve done that, but you really have to keep an eye on them, as the honey will go from caramelized to burned in no time flat. That happens a lot quicker on metal than Pyrex. I had no patience for babysitting these yesterday, and the Pyrex gave me a little more flexibility.

Confession: I love these cold. Love them. I’ll pick at them all day long given the opportunity. And the leftovers are delicious mashed with a little milk if you don’t want the same thing two nights in a row. You can also cut the spuds into fries and bake them that way if your kids would rather have fries than chunks. They take less time and have to be turned more often, but they’re delicious.

Dinner was done by 10 a.m., and it sat out and cooled for awhile before I packed it all into the refrigerator and went on with my day. The kids had to eat at 4:30 to make their practices, and DH and I didn’t eat until four hours later. But it was easy to pull out and heat up individual portions, and nobody had to eat Mc-Anything to make it all work. That, as far as I’m concerned, is a significant kitchen success.

To make honey roasted sweet potatoes, you’ll need

About a pound of sweet potatoes. I used three larger medium sized, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces.

About a tablespoon of olive oil, or enough to coat the potato chunks

About a tablespoon of honey

A squeeze of lemon if you have it, but feel free to leave this out.

In a bowl, toss together your potatoes, oil, and honey until the veggies are coated. Squeeze the lemon over them if you have a lemon–it’s nice, but the taste isn’t that different with or without it, so don’t go buying one just for this. You can also sprinkle a little salt overtop if you’d like.

Coat a baking dish with nonstick spray and lay the potatoes in a single layer. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, stirring halfway through, or at a higher temperature for less time, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. When you can easily stick a fork through one of the pieces, they’re done.

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One Response to “Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes and a Hurricane Day Strategy”

  1. Amy September 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    I make these too. 🙂 For grown-up tastes, a pinch of cayenne is good as well…

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