October 31, 2011

Maple glazed pumpkin cake

I saw this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs recently and knew that it would be a perfect dessert for my Halloween/Octoberfest dinner I made over the weekend for a few family members. I'm not usually a big cake making person, but this one looked so good and so easy, plus the ingredients were healthier than most cakes - so I figured I'd give it a try. The cake turned out nicely. It was a pretty dense cake, probably from all the eggs. I like the combination of pumpkin and maple and this cake uses olive oil as its fat, which is a nice change. 

If you are looking for a fall dessert, give this one a try. I think it would be a nice addition to Thanksgiving as well. It will pair nicely with a cup of hot apple cider or tea. Below is my modified version of the original recipe posted on Healthy Green Kitchen. The original recipe calls for all organic products. I rarely specifically call for organic in the recipes on my blog, but it is what I use as much as I can. I encourage you to use organic products as much as possible as well.

October 27, 2011

Apple-pecan spice bread

I'm getting down to the last of our apples from apple picking (except the ones we've stashed in the refrigerator crisper for snacks). I love to make quick breads and muffins, even though they aren't necessarily the healthiest of foods, but I try to make them with good ingredients so I don't feel as bad... I like this bread because it has chunks of apples and lots of my favorite cool-weather spices. This part is perfect for right now because I saw the first snow of the season this afternoon. It was a short, wet snow that melted right away, but it's still very cold and damp outside. There's something magical about the first snow of the season, even here in western NY where we have a long winter. I'm not ready for fall to be over yet, but this is perfect weather for a slice of this bread and a hot cup of tea. Plus the baking will warm your home with the heat of the oven and the aroma of spices. This recipe will make one loaf of bread. 

October 25, 2011

Brown sugar and cinnamon baked acorn squash

So at the farmer's market this weekend, we hoarded a good stash of winter squash just like last year. One farmer offers a basket of squash for $10.00 when the market is getting down to its final weeks. I think we got about 13 winter squash including acorn, butternut, golden buttercup, carnival, delicata, sweet dumpling, and one blue hubbard - less than $1.00 a piece! I love deals like that and squash is one of my favorite foods - I look forward to it all year. So, expect to see a lot of squash recipes from me again this year! This recipe is a pretty simple side dish, but also really delicious. You could use any winter squash in place of acorn, but I like that acorn isn't too sweet in itself so the caramelized brown sugar doesn't make it too sweet.

October 23, 2011

Ginger-vanilla pear sauce

While I do love making applesauce each year after apple picking, this year I thought I would also try some pear sauce. I picked up some Bartlett pears at the farmer's market and thought about how I wanted to spice up the pears to differentiate this sauce from the applesauce I make. I really like ginger and pear together so I decided to try fresh ginger root in the sauce. Then I decided that some vanilla bean would also work nicely in this sauce. The mellow and sweet pears combined with some sugar, spicy ginger, and savory vanilla creates a complex sauce that is sure to surprise people expecting the usual cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. I made a smaller batch of this to give it a try, but will make a bigger one next time. The recipe will make about 3 cups of sauce, depending on the size of your pears. You can easily make a larger batch and then put it in freezer containers (I have a container frozen to thaw out for Thanksgiving dinner) to have pear sauce all season.

October 16, 2011

Sauteed red Swiss chard

We found the most vibrantly colored red Swiss chard at the farmer's market that I had ever seen. It was so beautiful, we were compelled to buy it and cook it up to eat that evening with our dinner. Many recipes for chard I read call for removing and discarding the stems. The stems are the most colorful part on chard, so I wanted to incorporate them into the recipe. 

I cut off the very ends of the stems where they were split and really fat. Then I sliced up the more tender part of the stems into about a 1/2-inch dice and put them in a pile. I cooked these first and then later added the leaves and it turned out great. The stems were tender and delicious. The color and freshness of this Swiss chard really made us feel like we were getting our vitamins for the day. If you find other colors, feel free to use those as well. Sometimes Swiss chard has white or yellow stems. Chard is bitter, like many greens, so it's great paired with something sweet and/or creamy. I served it with an apple cider and mustard braised beef roast and celery root and apple puree. The below recipe is for a side dish that will serve about four people.

October 14, 2011

Chipotle sweet potato soup

Soup is the ultimate cold-weather food. When the season turns cool, I immediately start turning to soup recipes. I have quite a lot of favorites, but am always trying out new ones, too. Soup from a can is something I've vowed to never eat again. For one, soup is simple to make at home and the types you can make are pretty much endless. Also, even if you buy the "healthy" soups, they usually still have a lot of sodium and are mostly broth. I'm a big believer in ingredient quality and control - I want to know what is in my soup, including how much salt (or MSG). Plus it's a great way to use a variety of vegetables.

I was in the mood for something spicy when I made this soup and it did not disappoint. The sweet potatoes and a bit of sugar helped to counterbalance the chipotle. When the sweet potatoes were pureed, they were creamy and smooth, giving the soup a very luxurious feel. If you don't like a lot of heat and spice, you may want to cut back on the amount of adobo sauce. This recipe will make about four servings. 

October 8, 2011

Roasted chicken thighs with garlic cloves

This is my version of Nigella Lawson's chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. My husband and I love garlic and we eat it all the time. However, even for us garlic lovers, 40 cloves can be quite a lot for two people to eat at a meal (her recipe is for more than two). So, I cut down the amounts of chicken and garlic here. I also use boneless and skinless chicken thighs rather than bone-in as the recipe calls for - this is really only because these are the only free-range, organic chicken thighs I can readily find.

I was lucky enough to have two kinds of garlic - I don't really know the differences, but one was from my father-in-law's garden and had a purple/pink colored skin while the other was the regular white garlic. Both were really delicious when they were soft and sweet from the roasting. Oven-roasting garlic completely changes its flavor to become sweet and creamy. We like to "pop" the garlic out of the skin and spread it on some crusty bread. I think that's the best way to use roasted garlic. This recipe will make a meal for two. 

October 4, 2011

Curried butternut squash and yellow pea soup

Soup and squash season is upon us again! This is a soup to make for anyone who still thinks that vegetarian food is boring or bland. It is so full of flavor, texture, and warmth that it will not disappoint. Slightly spiced with ginger, curry powder, and a touch of cayenne pepper, this soup packs a delicious flavor punch. The combination of vegetables, including butternut squash and carrots, lend a nice body and sweetness to this soup that compliment the spices. Then the addition of coconut milk gives a nice creaminess to the soup and really makes it feel and taste like curry. I put yellow peas in the soup, but I think that red lentils would also work well. 

The recipe made a large pot of soup that would be enough for about eight bowls. It's great to make and put in the refrigerator for easy weekday lunches or a quick dinner. Serve it as a starter or a main dish with a salad. This soup is my entry to this month's Healing Foods event, which features coconut. This soup is full of healthy ingredients, including the coconut oil and milk.