I have a confession to make…I am not a huge fan of sweet potatoes, unless they have savory spices on them.  I love to make sweet potato fries and put cumin, cayenne, and garlic on them, but for this recipe, I tried something different.  I used Cajun seasoning, salt, and cinnamon.  They turned out great!  They’re spicy with a hint of cinnamon.  

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Olive oil
Cajun seasoning, to taste
Salt, to taste
Cinnamon, to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil (you want them to be lightly coated) and sprinkle with seasonings.  Toss them around with your hands to coat them well.  Bake at 400 degrees until crisp on edges and tender in the middle, about 30-40 minutes.

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These cookies are really good and really easy to make.  The cookie recipe is one from epicurious.com that is part of a recipe for chocolate candy cane cookies.   The filling recipe I modified to make cinnamon instead of peppermint.  Try them this weekend.


1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

1 cup powdered sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa power, and salt. Set aside.  In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg.  Add the flour mixture and beat until blended (I found that after a certain point, I had to mix it with my hands).  Scoop the dough by tablespoonfuls and roll into balls.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Using the bottom of a glass, flatten the cookies until they’re about 2-inch rounds (the edges will crack some).  Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, or until the cookies no longer look wet, and a small indentation appears on the top of them when lightly pressed with fingers.  Cool completely on racks before filling.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, powdered sugar, and cinnamon with a mixer until well blended.  Spread filling on one cookie and top with another.  Store them in an airtight container.

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     Goodness, I was a bit stumped when it came to doing my savory dishes for Cinnamon Week. My Cinnamon Pork didn't come out quite like I expected, so I had to improvise and ended making that appetizer the next day into sliders! Sometimes our ideas are clarified with time. 
     There was really hardly a creative process with this one, save for substituting some ingredients. I found this recipe for Stifado, or a Greek-Style Beef Stew, on Yummly.com. I had to do conversions from metric measurements, and the recipe called for whole beef, but I only had ground beef. And I didn't have red wine vinegar, so I added red wine and vinegar (did you know that's all you have to do?). I also decided to add chickpeas. It came out really nice! The vinegar actually added a brightness to it. Lovely with cornbread or a toasted slice of sourdough.
     Happy Eating!   --- Jenny

1-1 ½ pound ground beef, cooked
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/3 cup red table wine
¼ cup white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
3 gloves garlic, diced
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
3-4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley

Pan-fry the beef until fully cooked. Add to a large stockpot, add all other ingredients, and simmer for 1 hour.

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“Aaaack!” Eloise exclaimed in horror. “The party is THIS weekend, and I have no idea what to bring. I don't want to take the same, old, boring dip!”

[Enter the hero.]

“Never fear! Kitchen Psycho is here! I have something that's just right for this time of year, and your friends and family will LOVE it!”

[Kitchen Psycho and Eloise embrace]

“Oh, thank you! What would I do without you?” Eloise wonders.

“I've been wondering the same thing!” Kitchen Psycho quips.

[They both chuckle.]
 [End of scene.]

     If only it were as easy as the commercials! In my opinion, there are two types of people in the world: the kind that do things the easy way, and the kind that do it the right way. Sometimes, the two are the same. But when it comes to food, that equality is not common. Often, the easy stuff is full of preservatives, hormones, fake sugars, BLECH! How often do people fix cheese dip out of Velveeta? I rest my case. That stuff isn't even real cheese! Food should be made with with real ingredients and from scratch! But I digress...
     This week, I have dedicated one of my posts as a DOUBLE post, meaning, it can be seen on TWO blogs. Sumptuous Spoonfuls has been so kind as to grant us a small stint on their blog, and of course you are viewing it on www.kitchenpsycho.com!  By the way, for those of you reading it here at KP, do us a favor and visit http://sumptuousspoonfuls.wordpress.com/. Anne's got some great food and great photos over there!

     Well, today we have an appetizer for you. It's a super easy slow-cooker recipe, and it's great for bringing to a get-together. I found this on www.allrecipes.com under the name “Cinnamon Pork”. The only improvement I would make is this: Add a few slices of bacon to the pot. Because everything is better with bacon, right?
     The slider idea is purely my creation. You can choose to make a Main Dish out of this by slicing the pork tenderloin into medallions and serving with rice and a veggie, say, steamed broccoli.
--- Jennifer

SLOW COOKER CINNAMON PORK SLIDERS (recipe from www.Allrecipes.com)
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 garlic clove, minced
2 (3/4 pound) pork tenderloins, cut in chunks

Add everything to slow cooker and cook on low 4-5 hours.

For sliders:
small wheat dinner rolls
slices of cinnamon pork
goat cheese, softened
dash of Chinese Five Spice
slices of tomato and lettuce

Spread goat cheese onto sliced rolls. Sprinkle with Five Spice and layer slices of pork, tomato and lettuce.

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     Picture it: there I was, planted in front of the computer screen, already with two dessert ideas for Cinnamon Week, when, LO! And behold! Leave it to a Kitchen Psycho to come up with her own idea! I thought of Chai, and all the wonderful spices that are incorporated into that lovely Eastern drink. Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon. YES. 
     So, as has become my custom when I think I have invented a new dish, I search the internet to see who beat me to it. I found only one recipe that fit my precise idea, then I made an icing for it, and believe you me, the icing really does make the cake! Or bread, in this case. This one smells absolutely GORGEOUS as it bakes!
--- Jenny

(inspired by recipe on Food.com)

3 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup  slivered almonds 

     Preheat oven to 350º. In a large mixing bowl, mix butter into mashed bananas. Add sugar, egg and almond extract. Sprinkle baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt over entire mixture and mix well. Add flour and nuts last and mix well. Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Bake 60-75 minutes. Cool on a rack before removing from pan.
Note: As a substitute for allspice, you may mix equal amounts of cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg.

Coffee Spice Icing
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablebspoon butter, melted
¼ cup brewed coffee
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

     Blend with a mixer. Add coffee or powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved. 

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When we decided to do cinnamon as one of our secret ingredients, I immediately thought of Moroccan food.  One cooking utensil that’s on my kitchen wish-list is a tagine, which is a Moroccan clay pot in which slow cooked stews of the same name are made.   Since I don’t have a tagine, I decided to make a quick Moroccan stew.  I surfed the net, looked at a ton of recipes, took ideas from several recipes, and added a few of my own ideas to come up with my main dish.  It’s a quick, easy meal that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner when you just want to have something a little exotic.  Try it tonight!

1 package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 ½ pounds), cut into large bite-size pieces
Olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 bell peppers, cut into large chunks
2 carrots, cut in a large dice
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (depends on how much garlic you like)
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I like Saigon cinnamon)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
For garnish: chopped almonds, chopped Kalamata olives, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh parsley
For serving: couscous, cooked to package directions

In a large, deep skillet with lid, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add a little more olive oil if you need to, and then add the carrots and sauté for3-4 minutes.  Add the onions, bell peppers, and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper; sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Put the chicken back in the skillet with the veggies.  Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and chicken stock and stir well to combine.  Add the spices and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Prepare the couscous while the stew simmers. 
Serve the stew over the couscous and top with your choice of garnish (I used them all).  

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