December 27, 2010

Cranberry-almond couscous salad

I made this salad twice this holiday season. Once for a potluck lunch at work and once for a family gathering. It was a hit at both. The colors and ingredients are festive for the holidays, but the salad is really light and full of fresh ingredients and tastes. It was a nice side dish to serve with all of the other holiday foods, which tend to be heavier and richer. Another great thing about this salad is that it is a snap to make. You can even make the couscous the night before and then stir in the remaining ingredients the next day. 

December 26, 2010

Cranberry-walnut bread

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I did; despite my nagging cold and cough. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful husband and family. I must make sure I remember to appreciate them every day of the year. I am a lucky girl and I received quite a few cooking/food related Christmas gifts. I'm sure I'll be posting about my new cookbooks and toys as I begin to use them.

I made this cranberry-walnut quick bread to take to my Grandmother's house for Christmas morning breakfast. Since I hadn't been feeling well, I wanted something quick and easy. This quick bread was a great choice. I love that it uses fresh cranberries instead of dried. The bread is tart and just slightly sweet, which I really enjoyed paired next to all the super sweet holiday treats. Serve it warmed or room temperature and you can eat it as is or top it with some butter or cream cheese to make it even extra special. The recipe is adapted from here and will make one loaf.

December 20, 2010


I like to have a spice cookie with my Christmas cookie spread. Usually, given my love of ginger, I make my crystallized ginger spice cookies. This year I wanted to try something different though. I found this recipe for Pfeffernüsse (originally from Martha Stewart), a traditional German Christmas cookie, that means "pepper nuts." These cookies are slightly spicy and cake-like in texture. I really like them a lot. I enjoy having a spice cookie full of all the holiday flavors and that isn't super sweet. Although this particular recipe didn't call for nuts, I added them because I felt that a cookie that means "pepper nuts" should contain nuts. The recipe below is my slightly modified version and it will make about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

December 17, 2010

Chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies

I've been slacking on my Christmas preparations this year. Not because I don't want to do it, or that I don't enjoy doing it - I just haven't had a lot of time (or ambition)... I finally started getting my cookies done and think I've picked out a good variety this year. I always try to have a chocolate and peppermint cookie because I love the combination. I was searching for a new recipe and came across this one from Bakers Royale. I think the cookies turned out good. They took a bit longer to cook for me, but otherwise were great. I made the dough a couple days ahead of time and left it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Then I just pulled it out and was able to get these baked in an evening after dinner (while listening to some Perry Como Christmas songs). The recipe will yield about 3 dozen cookies.

December 13, 2010

Roasted buttercup squash and apple soup

I'm still well stocked on winter squash from the giant basket I bought at the end of our farmer's market this fall. We also still have a few apples left from apple picking this year. I wanted to make a simple soup that really highlighted the squash with a few background accents of other flavors. I chose a golden buttercup squash for this soup, but you could use any winter squash you choose.

This soup is also my entry to this month's Healing Foods which is highlighting winter squash. Winter squash are high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and other nutrients. Aside from being delicious and beautiful, winter squash are good for you, too!

December 11, 2010

Gingerbread pancakes with clementine-yogurt sauce

What a wonderful way to start off a cold December Saturday morning, or a holiday breakfast! These gingerbread pancakes are just sweet enough and have a warm spice to them that really reminds you of eating a gingerbread cookie. The yogurt sauce is tangy and slightly sweet with a hint of clementine flavor running through it. When you top these pancakes with the white sauce, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and some dried cranberries, it makes them really festive (like snow)! Start your day out with these pancakes before wrapping presents, decorating the tree, baking cookies, or any other holiday activities you have planned. They are a sure way to begin your day off in the holiday mood! This recipe will make about eight 4-inch pancakes, or about 2-3 servings. It can easily be doubled for more people. 

December 9, 2010

Pumpkin risotto

I made this risotto one evening when my husband was at class. I don't usually like to cook for myself and end up eating leftovers or something easy like a sandwich when it's just me. This night though, I was in the cooking mood. I decided to try to use up some more of my pumpkin puree and I've been wanting to try the mini-blue hubbard squash I had bought at the farmer's market. I also had some sage still lying around from Thanksgiving. I decided to make a risotto and to roast the squash and use it as my bowl. It was quite good and the presentation was lovely. The blue hubbard squash was also good -- not too sweet with a dense flesh. This recipe will make enough risotto to fill two halves of a medium squash and will feed two as a main dish with the squash bowls. You can easily double the recipe to serve more people. 

December 6, 2010

Swedish meatballs

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and comforting dish. The spices and flavors make them perfect for around the winter holidays, or any winter evening where you want a warming and hearty meal.

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and comforting dish. The spices and flavors make them perfect for around the winter holidays, or any winter evening where you want a warming and hearty meal.

This recipe post is from back in 2010 and I'm updating it now with better photos and more. When I first made these ten years ago, my only experience with Swedish meatballs was a dish my brother made when he was about 10 years old out of a kids cookbook. I remember they were tasty, but I'm willing to bet they were not authentic. I've tweaked this recipe ever so slightly over the years. My recipe does not contain sour cream (though you can certainly add some if you wish) and it definitely does contain nutmeg and allspice. You will find tons of variations of this recipe, but this is how we make them.We love to make these around the holidays and make a double batch to freeze for eating throughout the cold winter.

While we try to keep the meatball recipe fairly traditional, we like to serve ours on egg noodles, which is not traditional. Boiled or pureed potatoes would be a more traditional choice, but they are all delicious. Make sure you look to find lingonberry sauce to serve with your meatballs. It's a perfect compliment to the flavors of the meatballs and the gravy. We also serve these with a side of peas and green beans for a complete meal. They are even a hit with the kids, which is always a bonus! We've served these for both Christmas Eve and New Year's Day over the years and it's a perfect holiday time meal.

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and comforting dish. The spices and flavors make them perfect for around the winter holidays, or any winter evening where you want a warming and hearty meal.

December 4, 2010

Turkey and cranberry paninis

These sandwiches are another way I used up some of our leftover turkey. It was a bonus because it also used up some of our leftover cranberry sauce. This is hardly even a recipe really, but I just enjoyed them a lot. In college, I used to order a turkey and cranberry panini every once in a while from a coffee shop on campus and I always enjoyed it. I had never had one of these sandwiches before or after that. I remembered them recently and knew for sure that I needed to make these. I made two sandwiches on panini rolls I bought at the bakery. You could use any hearty bread. The below recipe is per sandwich.

December 2, 2010

Molten chocolate lava cake

These little cakes are the perfect way to satisfy a chocolate craving. They are a tasty single-serving treat for when you want a dessert that is warm and gooey and full of chocolate. I've made these cakes twice now and they do not disappoint. I found this recipe when I was looking for a way replicate these cakes at home (I've had a similar dessert at a restaurant). I changed it a little bit and found it was a perfect way to make one for each of us. I must admit that once I got to the last couple of bites, I had my fill of chocolate. They are a pretty sweet treat, but they are good as an occasionally dessert! This recipe makes two little cakes in individual ramekins.

November 29, 2010

Creamy cauliflower soup

Oh, how I love soup! Soup weather is upon us in full force now. I had some local cauliflower in the refrigerator that was nagging me to make it into a creamy, cheesy soup and I happily obliged. I made this soup for dinner one cool evening after a long day at work. It was the perfect cup of comfort to snuggle up with (along with my husband and a blanket). I am a big fan of cauliflower, too. In fact, I'm a big fan of vegetables in general. Recently I was involved in a conversation with people who were all discussing the vegetables that they refuse to eat... I could not think of one vegetable I refuse to eat. I rather enjoy eating them. My least favorite vegetable would probably be spaghetti squash, but I've even found ways to love that, too. But, back to the cauliflower soup....

November 27, 2010

Waldorf turkey salad pitas

This is one of the ways I've come up with the use up some of our leftover turkey. This was the first time I had ever even cooked a turkey (and my first time making Thanksgiving dinner). We ordered an organic, free-range turkey from a local market. It was certainly much more expensive than a supermarket turkey, but I think it was completely worth it. This turkey salad has a lot of autumn flavors in it, but they are mixed up a bit differently in this pita. 

I noticed once I was looking at the photos that I forgot to add the walnuts to my pita! I didn't notice when I was eating it though. I don't like to put in the nuts until right before I'm going to eat it because I don't like soggy nuts... So we'll just pretend there are walnuts in the photos, or you can leave them out. This recipe will make approximately 4-6 pitas, depending on the size of your pita bread. You can also make sandwiches or wraps instead of pitas. 

November 26, 2010

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread

My husband reminded me recently that I hadn't made pumpkin bread yet this fall. I couldn't believe it. It's one of our favorites. This bread is so moist and so tasty. I don't remember where I originally found the recipe for this bread, but I've been making it for a few years now. I usually start making it in October, but this year I didn't get to it until the week of Thanksgiving (maybe it's because I've been making so many other pumpkin things lately). It was definitely as good as we remembered it! So if you have some pumpkin puree in your refrigerator that you need to use up, or you still haven't had your fill of pumpkin yet for the season, make some chocolate chip pumpkin bread. 

November 24, 2010

Cranberry-orange sauce

Week 10 - and the final week - of Fall Fest is here! I really enjoyed celebrating and creating recipes each week featuring a seasonal ingredient. The last week of Fall Fest doesn't have a theme ingredient though. It's the Bounty to be Thankful for. As I am in the process of preparing to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner tonight, I'm going with this cranberry-orange sauce. Although the cranberries are not local, they are still a wonderful fall dish and a famous Thanksgiving side dish. I just finished making this a little while ago and am looking forward to making dinner tomorrow. Thanksgiving is a wonderful celebration of all things fall and fall produce. Giving thanks for these foods along with family and friends is a lovely way to spend a day. Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone! 

November 21, 2010

Sour cream and onion dip

I have been seriously craving chips and onion dip lately. So when I went grocery shopping the other day, I picked up a couple of dip containers and read the ingredients... lots of MSG and other scary ingredients. So, I put the dip container down and decided that it can't be too difficult to make onion dip that doesn't come pre-made or from a packet. I make roasted red pepper dip as a holiday snack. I understand that in no way are chips and dip a healthy snack, but I figured I could at least make it out of items I could pronounce and recognize - perhaps making me feel a bit less guilty. The dip was really easy to make and it was very good (be prepared to have extreme onion breath). 

November 20, 2010

Tex-Mex turkey-stuffed baked winter squash

My husband had been requesting a baked stuffed pumpkin. So I did some research to see what would be the best things to stuff inside the pumpkin. I don't think there's an answer to that question. I saw a lot of recipes for baked pumpkins stuffed with everything from day-old bread and cheese, rice and vegetables, ground beef, more cheese, apples, herbs, nuts -- basically anything you think would go well with pumpkins would be good. Since I only had one pie pumpkin on hand, I decided to use one pumpkin and one squash (which happened to be a sweet dumpling and the sweetness of this squash went really well with the stuffing). I wanted to make a hearty stuffing that had a bit of a kick to it. I really like the combination of Tex-Mex flavors with squash. I wanted to mix some black beans or rice into the stuffing, too, but I knew that it would make too much stuffing for just two winter squash. So - maybe next time. If you are making more of these though, adding those items would be a great way to stretch the stuffing. This will feed 3-4 people as a main dish, depending on the size of your squash. 

November 15, 2010

Moroccan spiced chickpea and lentil soup

It's soup season again! I was reading a lot of recipes for Moroccan chickpea and lentil soup after seeing it and smelling it in the "take out" section of our grocery. I had to make it. I used what I had on hand and came up with my own combination of ingredients. The soup was wonderful! I enjoyed this soup a lot and it's a very healthy and satisfying soup (plus a great vegetarian meal). The combination of spices are warm, but not hot, and full of flavor. 

November 13, 2010

Pumpkin pancakes

Pumpkin and pancakes -- two of my favorite things combined into one. I'm always experimenting with pancake recipes. Pumpkin pancakes are definitely one of my favorites and they are a wonderful way to use up pumpkin puree and to treat yourself and your family to a fall-themed breakfast. I try to make them somewhat good for you by using whole wheat flour. These pancakes are very similar to my sweet potato pancakes. I think that you could use almost any winter squash puree in this recipe and they would be wonderful. I really love this time of year and I love to utilize the in season produce of fall. Plus, I think that weekend breakfasts are absolutely wonderful. This recipe will serve about 4 people. 

November 12, 2010

Cider-braised short ribs

Last Sunday was our one year wedding anniversary! My husband had a pretty nasty cold, so we didn't do much that day. I wanted to make him a comforting and delicious dinner to sooth his cold and to celebrate the day -- and I also did not want to go to the store. We bought some beef before our farmer's market closed to hopefully last us a few months. So I was looking around to see what I could make with what we had already. I found the short ribs and thought they'd be perfect for a slow-cooking comfort meal. I also found some apple cider in the refrigerator that was starting to get a little bubbly. I thought that it would be a really good flavor for slow-cooked beef and vegetables, and it was. I served it over rutabaga and potato puree (one of my new favorite side dishes) except this time I just mashed it. This recipe (with puree or other potato side dish) will serve four people (or two with lunch leftovers). 

November 10, 2010

Red cabbage and green apple slaw

Week 8 of Fall Fest has arrived and this week celebrates Brassicas. Brassicas are a genus of the mustard family and include some of my favorite vegetables like brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and cabbage. This recipe features cabbage. This slaw is really quick and simple, but also very flavorful and colorful. It utilizes fall produce and makes a great side dish to many meals. I used red cabbage and green apple because I liked the contrast in colors and the tartness of the green apple. This recipe will make serve 4-6 people as a side dish. 

November 8, 2010

Macaroni and cheese

It's the time of year for comfort food and macaroni and cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods. It's a perfect dish for a cold day or after a rough day at work. Macaroni and cheese is at its best when it is bubbling from the oven and beginning to form patches of browned cheesy goodness. For this batch of macaroni and cheese, I used all cheddar cheese and I used penne pasta. You can switch up the cheese and mix a couple of different kinds. Sometimes I add some mozzarella (or smoked mozzarella), Monterey jack, or any other cheese that melts well, but the majority is always cheddar. Make sure you get a high-quality cheese (i.e., not a processed cheese) so that it melts well and does not get grainy or oily. You can use a different type of pasta as well. 

November 6, 2010

Pumpkin-corn muffins

It's the time of year when I become out of control with all things pumpkin (and also squash, apple, and more). It's OK though, because seasonal eating is good. These muffins were something I threw together one evening during the week with some pumpkin puree I had in the refrigerator. I found this recipe and thought to myself "hmmmm... why didn't I think of that?" These muffins were really moist from the yogurt and only slightly sweet. If you wanted them to be more "breakfasty" or if you like your cornbread on the sweet side, you may want to add some more sugar or some honey. The white specks in my muffins are from the white corn meal I used (because that's what I had), but you can use yellow. This recipe will make 12 muffins. I think these would be a nice addition to a Thanksgiving meal as well. 

November 3, 2010

Maple-mustard roasted baby turnips

Week 7 of Fall Fest is here and this week we celebrate root vegetables. I've really been discovering more root vegetables this year with our local farmer's market. Turnips have been one of my favorite discoveries, and, in particular, baby turnips. Aside from being cute, they are super tasty! The baby ones are slightly spicy, but also sweet and juicy. My favorite way of making them so far is this recipe. It's really simple and a great fall side dish (it would also make a good Thanksgiving side dish). I'm always looking for new and interesting vegetable side dishes and this one is high on that list.

November 1, 2010

Pumpkin cheesecake tart in a ginger snap crust

I love pumpkin pie and I love cheesecake; therefore, this pumpkin cheesecake tart is perfect for me! In case that wasn't good enough, it's in a ginger snap crust! I used the filling recipe from here for some ideas and decided to make a ginger snap cookie crust rather than the traditional graham cracker. I substituted maple syrup for some of the brown sugar in this recipe to give it an extra kick of fall flavor. One thing I didn't realize until I was already in the process of making the filling is that this recipe will make enough for two tart fillings (or maybe one pie). I refrigerated the second half to bake up in some ramekins a couple days later. Also -- this tart would make a nice Thanksgiving dessert. 

October 31, 2010

Chili with pumpkin and black beans

Halloween dinner this year was a chili with pumpkin puree and black beans. This chili had heat and spice and flavor. I was a bit skeptical of pumpkin puree in chili, but I kept seeing recipes with it and figured I'd give it a try. I used my basic chili recipe and changed it up with the addition of the pumpkin and some cinnamon. You could taste just a hint of pumpkin that went well with the spice combination in the chili. Although I made this for our Halloween dinner, it would be a great treat for any cool fall or winter day. This pot of chili fed four people with no leftovers.

October 28, 2010

Beef and Guinness pie

I made this pie especially for my husband on a cold, fall, Sunday afternoon. I've made Shepherd's pie before, but this one was different. It was Shepherd's pie to the next level. Cubed beef instead of ground beef and a full bottle of Guinness in the gravy. The beef was amazingly, melt-in-your-mouth tender... and the gravy... oh, the gravy. I highly recommend giving this a try. This recipe should easily serve four people quite generously.

October 25, 2010

Rutabaga and potato puree

In my quest to make more interesting and delicious vegetable side dishes, I decided to buy a rutabaga at the farmer's market. I'd never had a rutabaga before, so I did some searching and reading. Everything I read said it was similar in taste to a turnip, but milder and a bit sweet. I made this puree as a side for my Autumn pork roast instead of the usual sweet potato. The puree was so good! I loved it. It was slightly spicy, creamy, and just plain good. So, don't shy away from the rutabaga. The next time you see one sitting there are the market, take it home and give it a try!

October 23, 2010

Butternut squash, cauliflower, and potato curry

I was watching Nigella Lawson's new show last week and she threw together a quick and easy curry using leftover vegetables from her refrigerator. I had been wanting to have a curry, especially because I had a cold and I love to eat spicy foods when I'm really congested. I also remembered reading a butternut squash curry recipe in the October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. So this recipe is like a combination of both of the recipes using the ingredients I had on hand. It was also nice that my cilantro made a fall comeback so I was able to pick some fresh out of our little herb garden. You can use any vegetables you have and any combination you like, but these three are a great fall combination. The butternut squash helps to offset the warmth of the curry with its creamy sweetness. This is a quick and easy curry with more Indian flavors than say a Thai curry. This recipe will serve about four people. 

October 20, 2010

Pear, blue cheese, and arugula stuffed chicken

It's week 5 of Fall Fest now and this week celebrates pears. It just so happened that we picked some up at the farmer's market over the weekend. I decided to use pears in a savory dish and this is what I came up with. I love the combination of flavors in this chicken. I used organic, free-range chicken, so the breasts weren't as huge as the ones you often see and this does make butterflying and stuffing the chicken a little more difficult. But, they still turned out good and work just fine. I made this recipe for just my husband and I, so the below quantities are for two servings. You can easily make more stuffing to fill up more chicken breasts though.  

October 15, 2010

Spaghetti squash gratin

I love winter squash, but spaghetti squash is one squash that I've just never loved. I've tried it many times and it's always just been OK to me. We always end up with some because my father-in-law always grows them. So, as I've been looking and looking at this spaghetti squash sitting in my squash basket, I decided to try it draped and covered in cheese. Well, guess what? I finally found a way to eat spaghetti squash that is quite yummy (no shock there as anything gratin is yummy). So if you have been looking for a way to use those spaghetti squash, given this a try. We ate this as a main dish with a salad and some crusty bread, but it's probably best as a side dish. 

October 11, 2010

Shiitake mushroom and barley soup

This soup was inspired by an early, cool Saturday morning trip to the farmer's market. The farmer who grows and sells shiitake mushrooms was giving out samples of a hot and delicious shiitake and barley soup. I tasted a sample and bought some mushrooms feeling pretty confident that I would be able to replicate the soup at home. So when I got home I got to work on making the soup. The soup is really simple in ingredients and is very filling with the barley. It was easy to make and a comforting to eat on a cool autumn day. I think I got the recipe pretty close to the farmer's -- both were delicious.

October 3, 2010

Pork and pepper goulash

Yet again, I've used another recipe from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home cookbook. This recipe was calling to me as a way to use up the peppers that were accumulating in our refrigerator. I also thought that this would easily be able to be cooked in the slow cooker rather than the oven and it turned out great. I do love to be able to come home from a long day at work and have the place already smelling wonderful and food almost ready to eat. The goulash was really flavorful. The recipe I used is below. It should feed about 4 people.  

October 1, 2010

Butternut squash muffins

I've been on a muffin kick lately. Usually I would make a batch of granola bars (usually without chocolate) every Sunday so that we had those for our easy weekday breakfast all week. But the past few weeks, I've been in a muffin mood. It started with the most delicious muffins I've ever had. I'm not sure any muffins will ever live up to those, but these butternut squash ones come pretty close. I very loosely followed the recipe from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home cookbook. I say loosely because, for example, I didn't make the frosting (because I wanted to keep them breakfast-friendly), I cut the sugar out by more than half, and at the very end I decided to throw in some bittersweet chocolate. The recipe I used is below and it will make 12 good-sized muffins. 

September 29, 2010

Chicken with apple and shallot sauce

Fall Fest 2010 week 2 is all about apples. This dish uses fresh apples, apple cider, and apple cider vinegar to make a yummy sauce to go over chicken (it would also be lovely over pork). The apple flavor really shines in this sauce and the caramelized shallots are a nice compliment to the sweet and tangy apples. I like to find ways to use fruit in savory dishes rather than always in desserts. This recipe will make enough for two people. 

September 26, 2010

Curry chicken salad

I actually never had curry chicken salad until last year. Once I tasted it, I thought that it would be a really easy thing to replicate at home and be great for lunches and for using up leftover roasted chicken. Well, leftover roasted chicken is what I had so I decided to make some of this up to have in the refrigerator for a tasty lunch. Luckily, I also had some cilantro that was begging to be used up, too. You can eat this on a sandwich or wrap, with some crackers, or even just put a scoop on top of a bed of greens. It's a flavorful salad and it has a nice combination of tastes and textures that really make it interesting.

September 22, 2010

Spinach and artichoke pizza

Spinach was the first topic for Fall Fest 2010 that begins today and continues each Wednesday throughout the fall. I'm hoping to participate in this and challenge myself to come up with a recipe that hi-lights the ingredient and/or topic for each week that celebrates fall.

For spinach, I made a spinach and artichoke pizza. I cheated and bought a whole wheat pizza dough ball at the bakery because I didn't have the time on a weeknight to make the dough myself. It was still really good and I love that I can get a pretty healthy pizza crust when I need. I liked this pizza a lot. It's a good way to get a lot of greens into something that everyone will enjoy. 

September 20, 2010

Spiced pickled grapes

OK, I know what you are thinking - pickled grapes?? But, trust me, they are good. They are full of sweet and tangy syrupy goodness with just a little kick of spice (from mustard seeds, black pepper, and cinnamon). I first saw pickled grapes last winter on this blog post. I immediately bookmarked it, swearing that I would try it as soon as grapes were back in season. Usually I forget about most of the stuff I bookmark for a long time (or forever). But not these soon as I saw grapes at the farmer's market over the weekend, I was buying them up and rushing home to make these (just hoping that I had all the ingredients when I got there). Well, I had most of them, except for the white wine vinegar, so I used apple cider vinegar in its place. They were still yummy. I think they would be better with a slightly firmer grape, but these were the only grapes available. I'll definitely make them again once more grapes are available.

September 19, 2010

Chicken, apple, caramelized onion, and cheese quesadillas

I got the idea for these quesadillas when I saw this recipe. As soon as I saw them, I wanted to make them. I'm really getting into fall and fall flavors now that the weather is cooler and the grocery and farmer's market are full of apples, grapes, squash, and all the other wonderful fall produce. I changed these quesadillas up a bit from the recipe that inspired them. I layered in some smoked mozzarella (any smoked cheese would be nice), cheddar, apple-wood smoked bacon, chicken, caramelized red onion, and sweet apple. They would be a great way to use up leftover chicken, too. This made four quesadillas and could easily be adjust to make more, if needed. I also made a spicy chipotle-yogurt dipping sauce (recipe below) for these and used some jarred salsa verde I had in the fridge as a second dipping sauce. Both went well with the flavor combination in these smoky-sweet, fall-inspired quesadillas.


September 18, 2010

Sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon butter

These pancakes are hearty and full of fall flavors. They are perfect for a cool morning or as part of a weekend brunch. I made these after an early morning visit to our local farmer's market and they were delicious. I make a lot of different types of pancakes (just click on the pancakes label if you don't believe me), but I had never made sweet potato ones before. They turned out really nicely. Sweet potatoes are such a great, healthy food, too. I had a can of organic sweet potato puree in the pantry, but you can roast or boil a medium-large sweet potato, remove the skin, and mash it up if you would like. I served these pancakes with some toasted pecans, a cinnamon butter and some real maple syrup we picked up at the farmer's market. The recipe will serve about 4 people. 

September 17, 2010

Celery root and apple puree


I'm always trying to come up with more vegetarian dishes and lately I've been trying to come up with more interesting vegetable side dishes. Celery root is a something that I have never eaten until yesterday. It's one of those things I would always look at in the grocery store and wonder what in the world I would do with it. I have seen celery root in many recipes both online and in cookbooks. I decided that when I saw them return to our grocery store this fall that I would give it a try. I am glad that I did. The taste of the celery root is just like celery stalks, but stronger. I just bought my first bag of apples for the season and had a bunch of garden fresh sage so that's what I used in this side dish. This recipe will serve about 4 people as a side dish. 

September 14, 2010

Moroccan stewed chicken

Moroccan stewed chicken is a recipe I got from a co-worker. He was eating leftovers of this for lunch one day and it smelled so good. I asked him for the recipe and I have made this many times since then. It's originally from Men's Health magazine. I'm sharing the recipe that I've tweaked a bit. This meal is similar to a vegetarian version that I've posted before: Butternut squash Moroccan stew. I like both variations a lot (the chicken more for summer and the squash more for fall/winter). Another great thing about this recipe is that it is a different way to use up some of your summer zucchini harvest (along with these muffins and these enchiladas). This recipe serves two with leftovers and can easily be adjusted to serve more. You can also adjust the cayenne to your liking. This recipe will make a medium-spicy dish. 

September 12, 2010

Carrot-zucchini-ginger muffins

I made these muffins on a cool Sunday morning. Ginger is one of my favorite flavors. I love carrot cake and zucchini bread as well. So, when I saw these muffins I knew they'd be a great way to use up some of the zucchini and carrots that are taking over our refrigerator. These muffins have a slight, warm ginger flavor in the background that works well with the warm cinnamon. The combination of carrots and zucchini is a nice change. It's also really pretty because you get flecks of orange and green throughout the muffins. Using vegetables in your muffins is a nice change up from the usual fruity muffins, too. I changed the recipe a bit and those changes are reflected below. 

September 11, 2010

Roasted brussels sprouts with cranberries and hazelnuts

Brussels sprouts are a yummy vegetable. I think that when people think that they don't like vegetables like brussels sprouts, that more than likely they have just never had them cooked well. Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that probably have gotten this poor treatment -- boiled until bitter, soggy, etc. If that is how you've eaten your brussels sprouts in the past, then I don't blame you for thinking brussels sprouts are yucky. But, try them roasted until just tender and combined with a combination of sweet and salty additions, and I'm willing to bet that you may just be won over by these yummy little veggies. Even if you are already a fan, this combination is really good and makes a great side dish!

September 8, 2010

Watermelon rind pickles

I can't take full credit for these watermelon rind pickles. My husband wanted to make them and decided that he would begin the process of doing so and I became the helper. He read recipes from both the Ball cookbook and an old Betty Crocker cookbook and he choose the Betty Crocker recipe as he thought it was closest to what his grandparents used to make (except we used white vinegar instead of cider vinegar because that's what his grandparents used). We cut the recipe from the original as well because we didn't have the quantity of watermelon. The recipe below though is the full Betty Crocker recipe (with our comments/changes in parentheses).

September 6, 2010

Peaches and cream tart

I really do enjoy making (and, of course, eating) tarts. As my husband says -- there's a better filling to crust ratio in a tart versus a pie (not that I don't love pies, too). This tart is another recipe I found to try to use some of the local peaches we have. The recipe I used is adapted from here. The tart was very good. I'm getting better about making the sides of the tart crust as well, which makes me happy.

Peaches and cream tart
I started with the basic olive oil crust that I almost always use, except I added one tablespoon of icing sugar and used white whole wheat flour. You can use whatever crust you like. The original recipe (above) has a recipe for a sweet crust. 

for the filling:
2 large peaches, peeled*, pitted, and sliced
1/2 cup half and half (or cream)
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon Amaretto liqueur (or almond extract)
dash of salt

for the streusel topping:
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

After you have formed the crust into the tart pan, arrange the peaches around the pan in a "spoke" pattern. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining filling ingredients until well-blended. Let the bowl sit on the counter for some of the air bubbles to pop out. Then "rap" the bowl firmly onto the counter to get the rest of the air bubbles out. Pour the filling over and around the peaches. Bake for ten minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking for another 20 minutes. 

In another bowl, mix the streusel ingredients using your finger tips until it's well-combined. Place in the refrigerator until the above cooking time is up. Then you are ready to add the streusel. Carefully remove the tart from the oven and add the streusel to the top (trying to cover the cream parts and leaving some of the peaches peeking through). Place back in the oven and bake for another 18-25 minutes, until the filling is set and the streusel is golden. 

Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve when almost cooled or at room temperature. Alternatively, you can cover and refrigerate overnight and serve room temperature.

* To peel the peaches: Cut an "X" into the skin on the bottom of each peach. Blanch in boiling water for about 10 seconds and then rinse in cold water. Peel the skin from the peaches. 

August 30, 2010

Watermelon and feta salad

This was a tasty and refreshing salad to eat with our dinner on this very hot evening. It was a nice combination of juicy watermelon (from a local farmer) and salty feta. I love the combination of sweet and salty and this salad really touched on both of those tastes. Plus it has some of my other favorite things like balsamic vinegar and fresh mint. The below recipe is enough for one side salad, so adjust this recipe for the amount and number of people you are serving.

Watermelon and feta salad
1 cup of cubed watermelon
1 heaping tablespoon crumbled feta
a few pieces of very thinly sliced red onion
2-3 mint leaves, thinly sliced
scant 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
dash of sea salt

In a small saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar and salt over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until it reduces by about half. Add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and toss together. Refrigerate until the vinegar is ready. Then drizzle with the reduced vinegar while it is still warm and serve.

August 21, 2010

Spiced peach butter

I was trying to figure out something to do with all of the peaches we have and decided to try making a peach butter. I also decided that I was going to try to make it in the slow cooker overnight. I left on the skins, threw everything in the slow cooker, and set it to low before I went to bed. It was really nice to wake up to the smell of this slightly spiced peach butter on a Saturday morning. The peaches we had were very juicy and this peach butter ended up taking quite a long time to cook down in the slow cooker. When I woke up in the morning, I pureed it with the immersion blender and then bumped up the setting to high, took off the lid, and let it reduce some more. This made about 5-6 jelly jar sized containers of peach butter. It will be perfect for spreading on toast, muffins, or any other baked good! You should taste your peaches first to gauge how sweet they are and help you determine how much sugar you want to add. Start low and add more if needed.

Spiced peach butter

about 15 medium peaches, pitted and cut into chunks
about 1/4 cup granulated sugar
about 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

Put all of the ingredients in your slow cooker on the low setting. Let cook about 6-8 hours.

Puree using an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor (then return to slow cooker). Taste for sugar and spices and adjust if needed. Set slow cooker to high and continue to cook for another 1-3 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally, until your desired thickness.

Let cool. Place the peach butter in jars or freezer containers. Refrigerate for up to one month, or freeze for later.