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COOKING WITH JESSICA KARLEY: Sweet potato planks and Mexican grilled corn

Mexican Grilled Corn1 / 2
Sweet potato planks2 / 2

Fresh vegetables are one of my favorite parts of summer, but fresh grilled veggies are even better! The smoky flavors that come from the charcoal and the added sweetness from the caramelization of the sugars along those perfect black/brown grill lines are something that I wait for all winter. The added depth of flavor can turn light vegetable side dishes into a satisfying and seemingly filling main dishes.

Grilled Sweet Potato Planks are a summer hit in my house. Sweet potato planks are similar to the fry version but without the guilty fried part and with an added hint of sweet and spice. I like that they are really easy to make. The sweet potatoes are washed and then sliced horizontally into ¼ to ½ inch planks. After they are in “plank” form, they are brushed lightly on both sides with olive oil then sprinkled with a mixture of ground cinnamon, garlic powder, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper. After 10-15 minutes on a hot grill, your sweet potato fry cravings will be truly satisfied. (Unless, of course, you are my 4 year old son who declared that he didn’t like the plank shape and demanded that I still cut his into strips. However, after the re-shaping of the sweet potato, he declared them to be “so dewicious”!)

The next, and certainly more sinful, recipe is for Mexican Grilled Corn. I love summer sweet corn, but this blew my mind the first time I tried it. Brush fresh, husked sweet corn lightly with oil and then place on a hot grill for 20 minutes, rotating about every 2-4 minutes. Sounds pretty easy, right? The kernels will make a few popping noises, and some will turn a black/brown color, which is just fine. Once the tender, grill-marked corn is brought inside, top it while still warm with an amazing blend of mayonnaise, cotija cheese, fresh squeezed lime juice, and cracked black pepper. Yes….I said mayonnaise, and no….I am not done there. After your corn is covered in the creamy goodness, finish with a dusting of smoked paprika and fresh chopped cilantro. I am willing to bet that I lost a few of you on the mayonnaise part, but this is something you really need to try. Think of it this way…..butter melts onto your corn cob and turns into a sort of oil. The same goes for mayo, which is made from oil and egg yolk. This recipe is certainly not one that is going to keep your hands very clean, so if you don’t have “corn handles” yet, you might want to consider investing in a set. I will admit that I didn’t get the kids on board with this one, yet… will come, but for now, I don’t mind having an adult only dish on the table. More for me!

Grilled Sweet Potato Planks

2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned and sliced with skin on into ½ inch planks

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat grill to medium high heat (about 350). In small bowl, combine ground spices, salt, and pepper. Brush sweet potato planks with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Place on hot grill for about 10-15 minutes, flipping after 5 minutes or as soon as they start to get tender, flex, and have had a chance to darken. When cooked through, remove them from the grill and serve.

Mexican Grilled Corn


6 ears sweet corn, husked, cleaned, ends trimmed

3/4 cup mayonnaise

Juice from one lime

½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

¼ cup chopped cilantro


Preheat grill to medium high heat. (about 350). In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lime juice, cheese, and pepper. Set aside. Spray corn with olive oil pan spray. Grill cobs for 20 minutes, rotating every 2-4 minutes or until the corn kernels are tender and marked from the grill. Remove from the heat and place on serving platter. Brush cobs with a generous amount of cheese mixture. Sprinkle lightly with smoked paprika and top with cilantro. Get your napkins ready and enjoy!