Sweet potato gnocchi with pesto and more fun leftover ideas

To keep things interesting, I'm challenging myself with a new cooking technique each month. Last month it was making homemade bread. This month it is making my own gnocchi, which is much easier than I thought! I made this for a cooking club last week and everyone loved it! My husband and kids really enjoyed it too.

Click link for gnocchi recipe. The cheese sauce is great but I thought a little too heavy with the gnocchi, so the second time I made it with pesto. 

Fresh basil, handful
2 Cloves of Garlic, smashed
Olive oil, about ¼ cup
Parmesan, about ¼ cup shredded
Salt and lemon pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients together in food processor while drizzling in olive oil, until smooth. Can add pine nuts or walnuts if you like. I also sometimes do half blanched kale and half basil. 

 I used some of  the leftover mashed sweet potatoes I did not use to make the gnocchi and made chicken mango and black bean quesadillas. They were so good! Just spread a layer of sweet potatoes on the bottom half of the tortilla. Then in a bowl, mix leftover chicken with mango, black beans, cheddar, mozzarella and some cumin. Spread chicken mixture on top of sweet potato, fold tortilla over and bake in a 375 degree oven for 5-8 minutes.

 I also made one of my kids' favorites last week. Meatloaf "cupcakes" with mashed potato "frosting" and peas "sprinkles." This is such a fun way to get kids to eat dinner. Karina enjoyed sprinkling the peas on the plates :) I had so much leftover sweet potatoes from the gnocchi, that I added it to my meatloaf too!

Mix about 2-3 lbs of ground meat (whichever you like, turkey, chicken, pork, beef I like to use a mix of pork and beef), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs, 1/2 onion - grated, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup cooked shredded vegetables (I've used leftover carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, or all three combined), salt, lemon pepper and coriander.

The key to good meatloaf  is to do what the professionals do and cook a small pattie of meat in a pan and taste it so you know if the seasonings are right. I know its an extra step, but it is so worth it! That way you know to add more seasoning.

Grease your muffin tin and use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop out the meatloaf mixture, roll it in your hand to make a giant meatball and then drop it in the muffin tin. Cook at 375 for about 35- 45 minutes (may be longer or shorter depending on your oven). About half way through brush with mixture of 2 parts ketchup and one part Sweet Chili sauce (I love Trader Joe's sauce) that has been heating on the stove. At the end brush again.

Put mashed potatoes into a large ziploc bag and cut off one corner and use it to pipe mashed potatoes on top of your muffins. Then sprinkle with peas. (I just used frozen that I microwaved for 3 minutes).

For the leftover mashed potatoes and even the meatloaf, add it to your eggs in the morning and just scramble together to make a hash with some bacon or ham deli meat that you need to use up and serve with fruit. Below I gave it to my kids with some chocolate zucchini bread on Saturday. This chocolate zucchini bread recipe is good, but for me needs a little more sweetening and moisture. Kids loved it regardless!

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