Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos with Cranberry-Orange Salsa

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos with cranberry-orange salsaWhen I was a kid, Christmas records got play all year ‘round. I have vivid memories of summer vacation in t-shirts and shorts making up dance routines to Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with a neighborhood friend. This constant love for the holiday meant that I was making construction paper ornaments and cardboard wreaths while other kids were making slushies and… other things that one makes in the summer. (What do I know about that? I was busy coloring Christmas trees.)

Not everyone in my household was thrilled with the constant supply of holidays.  Although, my brother ended up marrying someone who counts down the days until Thanksgiving, so that she can start the non-stop string of music until December 25th. What can I say? He has excellent taste.

It’s funny how we make arbitrary rules about when things are appropriate. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m often the one bouncing down the Christmas aisles in stores in October while other people are grumbling, “It’s not even Halloween yet!”

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Cranberry-Orange SalsaEven down to the foods we eat, holidays are regimented. You don’t see people making marshmallow topped sweet potatoes and green bean casserole in May. Soy nog and all things pumpkin are hardly treats for the Fourth of July cookout. Some of it is seasonality. Pumpkins and cranberries are in season now, and so that’s what we’re having. Marshmallows are in season now, and so… Wait. The marshmallow/sweet potato thing doesn’t make sense on any level.

But more than seasonality, some of it just seems to be yearly preference. There’s no reason that coffee shops couldn’t sell Pumpkin Spice Lattes in June, but people don’t want them then, even if they’re still drinking hot coffee drinks. Cherries have a short growing season but are available all year in the frozen section, but cranberries, not so much. Unless you buy fresh cranberries in November and December and put them in the freezer, good luck finding them once January 1st rolls around.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Cranberry-Orange SalsaSo while you can attain them, grab a bag or two or three of cranberries. Pop some in the freezer and keep one container out for these black bean and sweet potato tacos with cranberry-orange salsa. They have a spicy edge to them and smokiness too by way of the chipotle pepper inside. (If you prefer less heat, remove the seeds from the pepper before including it.)

If you’ve never used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you’re in for a real treat.  You can find them in small cans for a couple of bucks in most grocery stores alongside the salsas, tortillas, and jarred peppers.  The peppers are swimming in adobo sauce, which has a wonderful smoky quality to it.  I use both a teaspoon of the sauce and one pepper for this recipe.  Like tomato paste, the remaining peppers in sauce can be frozen for future use.

I like to roast the sweet potatoes first before incorporating them with the black beans, so that they can easily brown without having to keep a constant eye on them in the skillet or adding a bunch of oil.

The tacos tick all of the pleasure sensors with smoky, sweet, tangy, and tart, soft and crunchy. A step outside of your ordinary taco, they’re also a way of using holiday leftovers in a unique way.

Serve them now while cranberries are all the rage, or save a bag for July for your own Jingle Bell dance party. Rules be damned.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos with Cranberry-Orange Salsa

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos with Cranberry-Orange Salsa

Yield: 6 Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut evenly into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 15 ounce can) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded if desired
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup water + 1 to 3 Tablespoons
  • 6 Hard Corn Taco Shells
  • Toppings: (Any or all of the following) Chopped green leaf lettuce, additional raw onion, chopped cilantro leaves, jalapeño slices
  • 1 batch Cranberry-Orange Salsa

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, toss sweet potato chunks with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and pinch of salt. Lay the chunks evenly across the baking sheet, making sure not to touch or overcrowd.
  3. Bake sweet potatoes for 20 minutes, stopping once or twice throughout the baking time to toss the potatoes for even browning. After 20 minutes, check to see if they're done - brown on the outside and soft on the inside. If not, cook 5 minutes longer. Once finished, remove from oven and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, bring remaining teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to a medium heat. Saute garlic and onion 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and translucent.
  5. Add black beans, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, adobo sauce, cumin, and paprika to the skillet along with 1/4 cup of water. Continue cooking until the beans are heated through.
  6. Add the sweet potatoes to the skillet and fully incorporate with the ingredients. If the spices are sticking to the skillet, add 1 to 3 Tablespoons of water, as needed, until all of the spices are fully incorporated and the mixture is moist without being watery. Taste for salt and add more if desired.
  7. Warm 6 hard corn taco shells on a baking sheet in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Fill the taco shells with the black bean and sweet potato mixture, toppings of choice, and generous spoonfuls of cranberry-orange salsa.
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Time is running out on the Christy Robinson jewelry & Upton’s Naturals seitan giveaways! Don’t miss your chance to enter.  Just click on the highlighted names and follow the prompts.

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Vegan Jewelry + a Giveaway from Christy Robinson Designs

vgn4thm2Thank you for all of the thoughtful comments on last week’s post about When People Won’t Eat Your Food Because It’s Vegan. I have really enjoyed hearing your own experiences and tips on what you’ve done in similar circumstances. If you’re a U.S. reader, I hope that your Thanksgiving celebration went off without a hitch.

Today I have something really special in store!

I know that for many people the start of the holiday shopping season means buying large screen TV’s and laptops, but that’s never been my style. You won’t find me standing outside in the cold, waiting to break into an electronics store at midnight. I prefer handmade items and gifts that have meaning for both the recipient and the giver. I like to support small artists, because I think there’s something very special about giving a gift that was made in someone else’s own two hands.

Vegan-themed jewelry + a giveaway from Christy Robinson DesignsSo just in time for Christmas shopping and Cyber Monday, I am featuring one of my very favorite jewelry artists, Christy Robinson. In her work, she uses recycled metals such as aluminum, copper, and sterling silver. She’s also recently started making necklaces with precious metal clay, including a beautiful peace dove. Christy is vegan and an animal advocate.  A portion of her proceeds go to various charities that support animals, the earth, and the humans who live there.

Vegan-themed jewelry from Christy Robinson DesignsIf you can believe it, the first time that I ever posted about Christy’s work was way back in 2009 – almost five years ago to the day! I continue to adore the simple understated quality of her jewelry, which features compassionate sayings, animal friends, and more. Her necklaces, rings, and bracelets are the kind of jewelry that you can wear everyday, no special occasion necessary.

Over the years I have purchased several pieces from Christy for myself and for others, including a Vegan ring and a cow necklace that says, Friend Not Food. One year I contacted her about a necklace I wanted featuring one of my favorite animals, sheep. The necklace was finished with a coating that looks like sheep’s wool.

Vegan jewelry and a giveaway from Christy Robinson DesignsWhile I support any reason that a person chooses to live a more compassionate lifestyle, for me the reason that I went vegan was because I wanted to minimize harm. If I have a choice to not bring suffering to others, then that’s what I want. I think being vegan is a really healthy and joyful way to live, but the number one reason I am vegan is for the animals.  So the message that I wanted on my necklace was Vegan for Them.

Christy was such a delight to work with, listened to my requests, and then made a necklace that exceeded my hopes. Even after all of these years, all of the pieces have held up beautifully.  (When not in use, I keep the jewelry in plastic baggies, away from the air that tarnishes the silver portions.  To polish the silver, I use a polishing cloth.)

Vegan-themed jewelry & more from Cristy Robinson Designs + a giveaway!Before the holidays, I contacted Christy about doing a giveaway here at Cadry’s Kitchen. Christy generously agreed and offered that I could pick the item up for grabs. I decided on the goat necklace below. I have given a version of that necklace as a gift in the past, and I just love the sentiment. Plus, goats are very close to my heart. I love their enthusiasm for life.

The quote comes from a lyric by The Smiths, and it says, It takes strength to be gentle and kind. In our world, there are many who believe that might equals right and that power comes with a fist. I see it differently. When I see people who are brave enough to be gentle, kind, and compassionate, even when it’s unpopular or met with criticism, that’s where I find real strength.

This giveaway is open to readers worldwide. A winner will be chosen randomly. Please make sure that I have a way of contacting you either by email or by blog. If I’m not able to reach you, I’ll have to pick a different winner.

Christy is also having a Cyber Monday sale on her Etsy site for today only for 15% off with the code CYBERMONDAY15.

It takes strength to be gentle & kind - necklace by Christy Robinson

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Photo credit: Goat photo by Christy Robinson, remaining photos by Cadry Nelson