December 30, 2010

Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas

After all the holiday foods (read: ham) we've been eating, both my husband and I were craving something lighter and something full of vegetable matter. This recipe is adapted from one of my new cookbooks, Clean Food. This cookbook is full of great recipes utilizing seasonal produce and whole foods. I did change the recipe a bit (and I used cheese, because I love cheese), but the overall idea was inspired from reading this book. We were both really pleased with how these tasted and I'll be making them again. They were satisfying and filling, while packing a lot of vegetables and fiber. This recipe will serve about 4 people (even more if you serve it up with some brown rice). 

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

I have been researching Swedish meatball recipes because they have been on my list of dishes I want to try. Before this, 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 tasty, but I'm willing to bet they were not authentic...

The Swedish meatball recipe I was going to follow was from Alton Brown. It had good reviews and seemed relatively easy to follow. When I went to make them, I also found this recipe that looked interesting. So the meatballs I ended up making were a cross of the two. They were very good! It seems that Swedish meatballs are usually served with boiled or mashed potatoes, but I was not in the mood for potatoes. So to make these a full meal, I served them with some egg noodles and a side of baby peas. Additionally, everywhere I looked and read about Swedish meatballs talked about lingonberry sauce. I had never heard of lingonberry sauce before, but I gave it a shot and happened to find it on my grocery store's European foods aisle. It was delicious and a perfect compliment to the spiced meatballs. It's similar in tartness to cranberries, so you could substitute cranberry sauce. The spice combination in the meatballs paired with sweet-tart lingonberry sauce felt very much like the holidays to me. They were also a perfect compliment to one another - I highly recommend looking for the sauce.

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.