Yesterday, I went stir crazy.

And it’s not even that I sat in the house all day, more that I was inside my head all day.  The neospinothalamic tract of the anterolateral system, the one that senses pain, temperature, and crude touch, was battling it out with the dorsal column-medial lemniscus system (or DC-ML as we in the biz call it), which senses fine touch, vibrations, posture, etc.  And then in stomped neuroradiology with its many and varied forms of MRIs and CT scans, forcing itself into the proverbial boxing ring of my inner psyche.  (Leave it to radiology to add insult to injury.  It always feels the need to add its two cents wherever it is least wanted.  And no offense to the radiologists out there.  But did I really need one more thing to add to my study sheet?)

It is a crazy world in there, let me tell you.

And so, after the madness of all that, I think you can all understand why I sent out my own version of a “Dear John letter” in the form of a tweet that read.  “I want to quit med school.”  Simple.  Concise.

Suspicious.  Because I think we all know that if I were to write a real “Dear John letter”, it would certainly not be able to be contained by the 140 character limit of Twitter.  No. It would be prosaic.  Lengthy.  There would be a nice mix of both run-on and incomplete sentences.  Variety is the spice of life, after all.  Have to stay true to form.


Anyway.  Within about thirty seconds, about twelve of you replied, all begging me to reconsider.

At which, I couldn’t help but smile.  Partly because in reality, I tell my roommates I am going to quit med school at least thirty times a day.  If not more.  And partly because.  You care.  And I care that you care.

Which begs the question.  Why?

And so, instead of committing to memory all of the first, second, and third order neurons of the somatosensory tracts.  I ruminated. Pondered.

And realized this.  I care because blogging is what keeps me afloat.  It’s something that I can look forward to every day, even when everything else is/was/will be in shambles.  Even when my pelvis was fractured and I could barely move.  Even when I had to memorize every artery, vein, and nerve of the brachial plexus.

I could take a break.  Cook and eat and write.  I could wax sarcastic about everything under the sun. I could come here, to this space. And I would always have someone to laugh with me about it.

You care, I highly suspect, because you can always come here knowing that I will probably be writing the most hallucinatory, ridiculous, outlandish things.  My posts will never be short, I can promise you that much.  They will always be kooky.  Cadavers and sperm count and latin lovers will abound.  And yet, no matter how far afield I go, it will always come back to food.  That is what makes me unique as a food blogger, I think.  That there is food, with a side of life.  Crazy, insane, off the wall life.  As seen through my highly distorted kaleidoscope colored glasses.

And so for my first challenge, I give you risotto, one of those dishes that I make when I aim to impress.  It is deceptively easy to put together, aside from the intense stirring action required, and something that people never seem to think you can accomplish at home.

This wouldn’t be an accurate representation of me without an orange vegetable and a twist, however.  And so we have sweet potato risotto.  But not the kind that you would expect, paired with the fall flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg and a touch of maple syrup (although wouldn’t that be just dreamy).  No, no, no.  I have to keep you on your toes!  This risotto is all shook up with some south of the border flavor.  Sweetness from the sweet potatoes, spice from the chipotles and chili powder, tangy from the lime juice, salty from the cotija.  It’s a veritable smorgasboard of flavor.  One that will keep you coming back for more.  Bite after bite.  Post after post.  Ridiculous after ridiculous.


Mexican Sweet Potato Risotto
Serves 4, an Eats Well With Others original

3 sweet potatoes, or about 1 1/2 lb
4 cups vegetable/chicken broth + 4 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
12 oz arborio rice
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
2 tbsp adobo sauce
1 tsp hot chile powder
1 tsp cumin
Juice from 1/2 lime
salt and black pepper, to taste
cotija cheese, freshly grated

1.  Roast the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork tender.  Let them cool so that they can be touched, then cut them in half and scrape the insides out into a bowl.  Mash with a potato masher.

2. Bring 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth plus 4 cups water to a simmer.  Add 1/4-1/2 cup of this mixture to the potatoes so that they have a looser consistency and will blend better into the risotto.

3. As the broth/water is getting to a simmer, head 1 tbsp olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion into the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes or until translucent.  Add the rice to the skillet and saute for one minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.  Add in the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce.  Stir.

4.  Pour the broth/water mixture into the rice in 1/2 cup-ish increments, stirring continuously, and only adding the next half cup after the previous one has almost evaporated.  Keep doing this until the arborio rice is just about al dente.  Add the sweet potato mash to this mixture, stirring it in until it is fully incorporated.  Add the cumin and chile powder.  Mix in.  Add the lime juice and salt/pepper to taste.

5.  Ladle into four bowls. Grate some cotija cheese on top of each bowl.

I am submitting this to Hearth and Soul!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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114 Responses to Mexican Sweet Potato Risotto – Project Food Blog Challenge #1

  1. You definitely are unique, Joanne. Uniquely awesome :). I always look forward to your posts, most of which make me laugh out loud, a few of which have made me tear up, and all of which have made me hungry. This risotto is clearly another winner. Good luck with studying. I know you’ll get through and with flying colors!

  2. I am getting hungry just looking at the risotto.Learned something new as well–never heard of Cojita Cheese until now. Hey, good luck with the PFB challenge.

  3. SE says:

    looks very interesting..do check out the one on my blog..which could be made with sweet potato as well !

  4. I want it now! This second! I just read sweet potatoes help ward off wrinkles!

    I know what you mean about blogging – it’s a total escape! Love this!

  5. Megan says:

    I have always loved your posts. I agree that blogging is a stress relief. I came home yesterday wanting to throw my computer out the window or punch a whole in the wall (which probably would never happen). Work stress, so fun, so able to make me a crazy person.So I sat down to read my faves and write a blog post, cook something yummy, and come to know that other people out there care more about me than my ability to rationalize data. A comforting thought indeed. This risotto looks amazing. I wil have to try it soon!

  6. Karla says:

    Hi, Joanne!!! (Seems like a while since we’ve switched comments–been missing you!) This looks like THE perfect fall weather comfort food! Yum! What is cojita cheese? Where do you find it in the store? Is there a decent substitute?

  7. Little Inbox says:

    This comfort food looks absolutely flavorful! Suitable for meatless day. 🙂

  8. Simply Life says:

    Nice job coming up with this – it sounds delicious!

  9. Giovanna says:

    I care! And remember what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
    And as long as you are not getting sperm counts from latin lover cadavers, I think you will be okay! ; )

  10. Kristen says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Kristen says:

    A great read, a great PFB entry, a great dish!

  12. sra says:

    KOOKY is why I come here, not even for the food 😀 In my own case, the food is almost an excuse for the story or whatever it is that I want to say. And I agree blogging is great relief from stress, I forget everything when I’m doing a post, let’s hope we never lose that gift.

  13. You are a winner in my books Joanne. Leep up the great work and the awesome recipes coming.

  14. Sara says:

    We do care! Nothing good comes easy…unfortunately.

    I’ve not ever thought about using sweet potatoes in a Mexican-inspired dish. The combo of sweet/spicy makes perfect sense, tho.

  15. Wow, this looks amazing. I am so making this. I have just discovered the beauty of risotto and paired with sweet potatoes and chipotle just knocks my socks off!

    Yes, you’re right, we like you because you are kooky!

  16. Delicious! I make a sweet potato soup with cumin and chili powder not unlike the flavors here. Boyfriend loves it.

    Also, I think if you DON’T say you want to quit med school at least once a day, there’s something seriously wrong with you. I still want to quit sometimes and I’m almost done!

    Date Sunday night perhaps?

  17. Pam says:

    You HAVE to stay in med school, becaue I am learning all my medical terminology from you. I’m sure I am using it all incorrectly, but luckily no one knows any better.

    BTW, this risotto sounds amazing!

  18. Dawn says:

    This recipe is serious. I hafta try it. Mexican flavors with sweet potato? Cheese? Be still my heart.

  19. Ha ha, ders so muc dat goes in der aint it?
    Radiology…waz cooking babes???? :-))))))

    Ahh an eats well with others original is so so so welcome and deliciously so!!!

    Oh no, i tink its fine u say u wanna quit ,and i knw u wont too:-)
    coz deep down der, how muc u love abt food ,u love medicine, wait not deep down …but all around…

    Ur pics here are so yummy dat i want some now!!

  20. Mo Diva says:

    dude, i just love this recipe!

  21. Joanne, i ponder daily how you do all you do. I turned my 1st post for the contest in today, and understand what you are saying about the strangers that are so important to our blog life. It is a good thing (even if somehow you are passed over to advancing to the next challenge) to examine who we are and why we do what we do.

    And you were my inspiration to make my first risotto way back when. This sounds like something special.

    You will have my vote, I look forward to reading your every post


  22. Tasha says:

    YUM! Sweet potato risotto with Mexican flavors? I’m sold.

    Your always witty (and yes, often belovedly kooky!) posts are a delight to read. Your writing combined with beautiful photography plus your adventurous nature in the kitchen, makes for a blog I always really enjoy.

  23. elra says:

    Joanne … first thing I did was looking up my dictionary to look for that “kooky” word 🙂 English is my second language, so that is why. But, I think I must agree with most of your reader, that your kookiness is what make us keep coming and visit. That is a good sign no?
    The other thing why we keep visiting you is the food that you show us, they beautiful and delicious! This risotto is no exception.

  24. Marcia says:

    So…I love risotto. Love it. Make it in the pressure cooker.

    And I’m not a big fan of the sweet in main dishes. Never have been. I mean, if I see a dish with raisins, I know I SHOULD try it, but I never do. Because raisins are dessert.

    But risotto with chipotle?? I am SOOO there. And i think I have short grain brown rice in the pantry. Woo!

  25. Katerina says:

    I am bookmarking this to make it with my chicken enchiladas. Good luck to the contest.

  26. Amy says:

    And this is why you will most definitely be a contender in Project Food Blog – you have it all: Writing, wit, mouth-watering photos, and fantastic recipes like risotto made with sweet potatoes. Oh, and you say things like “kooky” and “Cadavers and sperm count and latin lovers will abound.” No contest.

  27. Never thought that sweet potato could be used this way too,love to have it now, it looks really good…

  28. Nelly says:

    Honestly, even from just the little snippets of absolutely confounding medi-babble you drop in here in a regular basis, I’d be amazed if you never once had a moment of “grah-I-can-no-longer-do-this!” -ness. Bodies are confusing! Give me rocket ships and galaxies any day ;P

    I never really liked sweet potatoes – I thought they tasted too concentrated – but I’ve since discovered that when they’re tempered with other flavors and textures they’re not that bad. How do you think this would be with quinoa instead of rice?

  29. Louanne says:

    What a delicious combination of flavors! Thanks for sharing such an awesome recipe, Joanne!

  30. Monet says:

    You are such a unique and bright presence in my blogging world. Blogging keeps me afloat too right now. I’m trudging through graduate school, and I need this as much as I need food (well maybe not that much…) But anyway, I wish you the best of luck on this project…you will do great, and your risotto looks amazing, as always

  31. Kristin says:

    This is perfect for fall. I am a new fan of risotto and am always looking for new ways to spruce it up.

  32. Julie says:

    i wiiish i saw your twitter comment! i would have tweet smacked you silly. you can only quit med school if you become my personal chef.

    …for free…

    haha 🙂

  33. That Girl says:

    Thiis is such a logical jump from butternut squash risotto. And yet nothing I would have thought of on my own. Brillant!

  34. Mary says:

    How perfect. This post has just the right tone for the competition. You are going to do well :-). Have a fabulous day. Blessings…Mary

  35. Kelsey says:

    urgh i need to find time to work on my PFB post.
    im really happy you chose sweet potatoes to make there way in to your submission 🙂 you better make it through the next round with this!!

    ps. equally agree with ur stance on blogging and where it fits into your life. i feel the same way- it gives me something to look forward to. my life would feel much less meaningful if i didnt know there were hundreds of people out there caring to take a couple min each day to see what uve been up to and support you. its an amazing feeling.

    love uuuuuu!!!

  36. Stella says:

    Gosh, that last photo is killer! Me wants some of this sweet potato risotto-I just said that in robot voice (smile). Oh yeah, and don’t quit med school. Not that you really would unless it was, well, imperative…

  37. Eliana says:

    Hmmmm – this looks heavenly and should certainly get you through to the next round of competition. Oh – and keep thsoe kooky posts comin!

  38. Pam says:

    I love coming here… I always laugh, smile, or reflect. You are an amazing writer and cook.

    Food blogging has saved me too. As much as I love, love, LOVE being a stay at home mom, I needed something for me. Something more than abc, 123, and snotty noses… you know?

    The risotto looks amazing – so creamy, hearty, and delicious.

  39. awesome post! i adore your writing + your recipes!

    xo Alison

  40. Looks great. I have recently discovered cotija myself and I really enjoy the flavor it brings to a recipe.

  41. I think it would taste delicious even without the cheese!

    I’m glad to hear your didn’t quit med school 😉 We need more doctors with a sense of humor in this world.

  42. Ameena says:

    What amazes me – besides this amazing dish – is that you have the energy and time to post after studying and going to school all day. Please share your secret with me!

  43. Food with a side of life! You definitely do not hesitate to give us all a glimpse into your world, which is why people love you. Wish we could all get some of this risotto. Love sweet potatoes to death!

  44. Reeni says:

    This is why I love you! Your charming uniqueness. And witty posts. Not to mention your awesome food. Love this with the southwest twist! Totally unexpected from a risotto. But so creamy and delicious.

  45. Faith says:

    I love your posts because I think they truly reflect you — smart, funny, and talented. This dish looks dreamy. I bet the sweet potato adds just the right amount of sweetness to balance the spice.

  46. Rachana says:

    I always enjoy your posts and the recipes you share.

    The risotto looks so creamy and delicious. Haven’t heard of cojita cheese until now.

  47. Martha (MM) says:

    You rock Joanne! I know you will make the most of all of your talents! I don’t know anyone who can handle everything that you do and do it all so well besides!

  48. Mari says:

    did you lose my number when you decided to make this? it looks amazing!

  49. This sounds really good–all your recipes sound good! 🙂

  50. Sounds like a delightful smorgasboard of flavors!

  51. This is so different from the way I usually think of sweet potatoes, but I can see where it would totally work- I love it!

  52. Foodjunkie says:

    Joanne, I really enjoy both your writing and your cooking. And your risotto is definitely out of the ordinary like yourself. Keep up the good work and don’t give up!

  53. Good luck for the PFB2010, Joanne!

  54. This looks heavenly. I might have to adapt the mexican ingredients as they are not available in Bulgaria. I will wish you the best of luck in both medical school and PFB, but I think medical school will be more rewarding in the long run!

  55. Beth says:

    This looks so great. I really love sweet potatoes and I can’t wait to try it!

  56. Lovely risotto, I love the twist on the flavours.
    I knew you were just wailing to the universe. My daughter tells me she wants to quit university quite often.. but secretly she loves it. I did, however, buy her a complete set of baking pans. For working through the stress. 😉

  57. This sounds fantastic! Love risotto, and it’s easy to make at home– and you can even skip an arm workout at the gym the day you makes it 🙂

  58. Vivienne says:

    It’s always good to have a creative space to escape and take a break 😉

    hang in there girl…look at the big picture and think back on why you wanted to study med in the first place…if that helps..hehe.

  59. girlichef says:

    Fabulous, Joanne…and oh, so, YOU! We definitely care 😉 Thanks for sharing it w/ hns, too!!

  60. A fantastic risotto! Good luck in the Project Food Blog!

  61. tigerfish says:

    Yep. To me, cooking keeps the sanity in us while work/study makes us insane. But surprisingly, too much of anything is not good. The other way works as well. Too much cooking or baking – go study! ;p

  62. Alisa says:

    Oh Joanne, you don’t know how unique and special you are as a food blogger! And I could so imagine you saying you would quit med school many times a day – I know I would!

    Good luck in Project Food Blog!

  63. I’m planning to start laying in our winter supply of sweet potatoes this weekend at the farmers’ market. They really keep well for many months and we enjoy them in various ways. I will certainly add this to our list of usages!!


  64. Sippity Sup says:

    Came to check out the competition. You look strong (and I knew you would)! Good Luck! GREG

  65. Ian Low says:

    apart from the great food u serve up every post, u never cease to amuse me with yr kooky posts (as u call it )

    you are one interestin and fascinatin gal!

  66. Elizabeth says:

    Med school is the ultimate cross-training for the kitchen — you’ll be the only PhD/MD/Iron Chef on the planet. You think of such creative combinations — sweet potatoes/risotto/adobo. Fantastic!

  67. Christy says:

    I love coming here – always a fun read with great food – two favorite things of mine! This risotto looks so unusual and deliciou! thanks for linking to hearth’nsoul!

  68. sweetlife says:

    perfect risotto, love the mexican flavors of course…blogging is an escape, more like a sanity check for me… good luck on food blogger project…

  69. RamblingTart says:

    Your risotto is SO beautiful, Joanne! I just love that light sprinkling of cheese on top that makes it wonderfully pretty. 🙂 And thank you SO much for your kind comment at Lazaro’s. 🙂 You’re the best.

  70. Love this post, and love this risotto recipe! Good luck in PFB!

  71. You should totally be the next top food blogger, or whatever this contest is called. I love that your blog is food with a side of life. Crazy, funny, life. Or maybe it’s life with a side of food. They’re so intertwined I can’t tell. And I, for one, like it that way!

    And definitely don’t quit med school. I feel like I can tell it’s your passion, in a crazy, grueling, sadist kind of way!

  72. Joanne this is why you need the rice cooker! I think you can make risotto in it! And ps…how much do I want this right freakin NOW? Chipotle and I are lovers…

  73. Cynthia says:

    I so enjoy reading your posts and I am glad that you have this space to just be… you know.

  74. Catherine says:

    Wonderful dish Joanne! This Mexican risotto looks incredible and sounds absolutely delish! Beautiful post as always!
    Hugs & Blessings~

  75. El says:

    Exquisite dish. It looks incredible.

  76. Joanne, your risotto looks and sounds delish! Good luck with the contest!

  77. Shannon says:

    love the spices you gave this risotto! game on 😉

  78. Bridgett says:

    You really do have some of the most interesting and delicious recipes around. This sounds fantastic!

  79. Maria says:

    This is such a delicious idea for a recipe!

  80. grace says:

    adobo. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. that’s gotta be, like, my favorite savory ingredient ever (it can’t top cinnamon, though). delicious work, joanne!

  81. Debinhawaii says:

    Beautiful risotto and a great post/entry for PFB. Much luck in the contest!

  82. Kim says:

    Cue the music…….because this looks stunning. Mouth watering. A very fabulous and original idea! Potato risotto. Pure genius!!

    I imagine that med school tests your limits every day. In ways I’ll never know. But I also know you and I know you’ll never quit. It’s just not who you are!

    This was a great entry Joanne. Best of luck!

  83. doggybloggy says:

    I am enjoying reading everyones take on this first challenge – and boy do I love me some risotto!

  84. This makes me feel all warm and cozy! What a fantastic recipe! I’m looking forward to reading all of your posts for PFB, my friend. You are one of the best!

  85. This really makes me wish that just once, I could make a bowl of risotto that doesn’t look like a mushy bowl of poo. Thanks for sharing the deeper corners of your brain with all of us, and linking up with Hearth and Soul.

  86. Cara says:

    “This wouldn’t be an accurate representation of me without an orange vegetable and a twist, however.” You mean ME, right? Because we seem to share a foodie brain sometimes? This risotto sounds fantastic and the only thing I think of to make it better is the addition of chorizo sausage.

    I envy you for having time to do this PFB thing – and wish you the best of luck!

  87. Chris says:

    Oh sure. I make adobo rice and you show me up with this risotto. You are just taunting me aren’t you? ha ha

  88. Biren says:

    This risotto sounds so comforting and tasty with the sweet potatoes. Hey, all the best with Project Food Blog!

  89. Awesome pictures and, yum, risotto is one dish that I can resist, especially that it keeps on re-inventing itself!! Love the idea of sweet potatoes!

  90. Jo Jo…I care because you are one of the most exciting and funny and intelligent people I know and I love to walk around in your medulla oblongata every week! 😉 This risotto looks wicked good! But dont quit medical school, I know your bedside manner is much i need! thanks for sharing on the hearth n soul hop! [email protected]

  91. Carolyn Jung says:

    Now, that is an inventive melding of Mexican and Italian flavors. Yum!

  92. Martha (MM) says:

    This is perfect for challenge #1 Joanne! Best of luck to you 🙂

  93. Cindy says:

    oh yes, jo, we care!! we care a lot! we really really really care about this recipe because it totally kicks ass!!! omigod, brilliant, girl! can’t wait to try it!

  94. Marisa says:

    Great flavours in this risotto! Must admit I was slightly skeptical when I read the title – starch with starch? But the spicy kick sounds kinda awesome.

    You’ve got my vote for Project Food Blog!

  95. Hi Jo jo bee! I voted for you and tweeted this so more folks can see the joy that is you! 🙂 HUGS! [email protected]

  96. Dakotapam says:

    Sounds yummy. I love risotto, don’t care for sweet potato, but I just may like this!

  97. You have so much wisdom, Dear Old Soul, in the way you write about food and life. I do feel like you’re Carrie’s SATC counterpart. I admire your courage to jump in and compete. I could never do that. I fear rejection far too much. Wishing you the best of luck.
    BTW, I take bribes for votes. This dish is a good start.

  98. Stephanie says:

    Looks amazing. You’re absolutely right about risotto, it’s easier to make than one would think.

    So after you use one chipotle chile, what do you do with the rest? I have about half a can left and I’m trying not to waste them.

  99. Marija says:

    Voted! 🙂 Love your blog!

  100. Deborah Dowd says:

    I want to encourage you- your blogging and in med school!! You have my vote!!

  101. #1 – I completely hear you about blogging keeping you sane in your busy life. I do the same.

    #2 – You get my vote because that recipe simply looks awesome.

    I hope you’ll check out my submission as well and good luck!

  102. amazingness!!! good luck in project food blog!

  103. Lindsay says:

    That looks so delicious!! I just gave you a vote! You can check out my entry here: http://tinyurl.com/2ec2hlq Thanks and Good Luck!

  104. Jean says:

    You have a lot of fans for a very good reason. Even though you likely won’t need my vote, I’ve cast it anyway because you deserve it. Much luck with the rest of the challenges on PFB!

  105. stephchows says:

    mmm it looks delicious!!! voted!

  106. Duchess says:

    This was wonderful. I want to tell you to change the title of your blog to “food, with a side of life,” (not that I dislike your current one, but that line is amazing). It’s an exceptional concept, perfectly put and one that I completely understand. Bravo!

  107. Natalie says:

    uhhh incredible, just incredible.

    i hope you win. not just bc of this recipe, i also enjoy you in general 🙂

  108. Wow I am absolutely loving this creation of yours! I never would’ve even dreamed to come up with a risotto like this.

  109. Kathryn says:

    That looks incredible! I recently made sweet potato bisque with clementines and sage and loved it. You should try it out!

  110. Leo Saumure says:

    We made this one tonight, and were blown away. My wife and I are vegetarians, so finding unique and delicious recipes like this is wonderful.

  111. Chef Jay says:

    Sweet potatoes are healthy food and this recipe made it tastes even better. I wish to share my canning salsa recipes. Hope you can visit me there soon. All the best! 🙂

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