Warm up winter

OW Staff | 2/6/2008, 5 p.m.

This season, family and guests will cheer for meat and potatoes. But not your mother's ground round and potatoes - instead, get creative with lean, savory beef and tender, nutritious sweet potatoes.
The rich, complex flavors of seared beef make a winning combination with the healthful sweetness of versatile sweet potatoes, while satisfying the seasonal shift toward delicious, filling comfort foods.
Beef and sweet potatoes also score points for being easy to prepare. The recipes showcased here feature innovative takes on standards like soups, sandwiches and wraps. In the mood for soup and sandwiches? Creamy, steamy pureed sweet potato soup along with hearty grilled sirloin on a sliced baguette will certainly satisfy. Imagine a perfectly grilled filet served on a sweet potato biscuit, topped with roasted red peppers, portobellos, Monterey Jack cheese and bacon. Looking for something lighter? Think of the sweet-savory combination of lean sirloin, paired with a sweet potato, pear and apple slaw, rolled in a wrap.
What are you waiting for? Invite some friends over and watch them become big fans of the new and improved meat and potatoes.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing beef and sweet potatoes for recipes.
Sweet Potatoes - Don't refrigerate uncooked fresh sweet potatoes. Store at 55 to 65 degrees F. One 15-ounce can of sweet potatoes (yams) equals one cup fresh. Opt for sweet potatoes from Louisiana (canned or fresh). The state's unique climate and soil conditions are ideal for growing a naturally sweeter and more flavorful sweet potato.
Beef - Many lean cuts of beef are available. Look for those with "round" or "loin" in the name, such as top sirloin or tenderloin. For the best results, start with the highest quality ingredients. Look for the Certified Angus Beef® brand, which comes from the highly acclaimed Angus breed of cattle known for its flavorful meat. Only 8 percent of all U.S. beef can meet the brand's 10 strict quality specifications.
For more tasty recipes starring the Certified Angus Beef® brand or Louisiana Sweet Potatoes, visit www.certifiedangusbeef.com and www.sweetpotato.org.

Sweet Potato Soup
1 (40-ounce) can sweet potatoes, drained and rinsed, or 2 2/3 cups cooked, mashed fresh sweet potatoes
4 cups beef broth
1 cup apple juice
1 apple, unpeeled, cored and quartered
3 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
4 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
2. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust consistency with additional beef broth, if necessary. Serve with sandwiches.

Grilled Steak Sandwich
1 1/2 pounds Certified Angus Beef® top sirloin steaks
Salt and pepper to taste
16 French baguette slices, cut on the bias
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
1. Preheat grill to medium-high. Season top sirloin with salt and pepper, and grill to medium rare (140 degrees F internal temperature) or desired doneness. Remove from heat, let rest 5 minutes and slice thin.
2. Butter one side of bread slices. Place four slices, butter-side down, in skillet over medium heat. Layer steak, peppers, mozzarella and another slice of bread on each. Toast sandwiches until golden brown, flipping once. Serves 8