Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ok.  Heads up.  This cake is so delicious, super moist and perfect for Fall.  It was so good, in fact, I was compelled to share with our neighbors (because I like to share, but also because I would have eaten more than my fair share if it'd been left in the house!)  The frosting is really what makes the dessert so scrumptious.  Don't be fooled by the sweet potato ingredient.  It is most definitely a cake.  But why not add a side of veggies with your dessert when you can?!

for the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (*see note below)
2 large eggs

for the frosting:4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Grease and flour 13" x 9" cake pan. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger). Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mashed sweet potato and buttermilk.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, mix the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat to combine.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sweet potato buttermilk mixture.
Beat all until well combined.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely in the pan.

to make the frosting:In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
Add vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon and beat well.
Gradually, add sugar and beat well until thick and smooth.
Spread over cooled cake.

*This recipe calls for only 1/2 of a cup of mashed sweet potato. A fast and easy way to make it is to take one medium sweet potato, scrub it clean, prick it with a fork and microwave it for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once half-way through. Then just let it cool until safe to the touch, slice in half and scoop out the flesh. Mash it in a small bowl and let cool completely before mixing with buttermilk.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Honey and Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins

Thank you, Ranee, for posting about these deliciously sweet muffins.  They are probably the most moist muffins I've ever had (except for the kind that claim to be muffins but are actually cupcakes!).

3 cups grated zucchini
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, vanilla, olive oil, maple syrup, and honey. Stir gently until mixed; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine and make a well in the middle. Pour the wet mixture from step one into the well and stir just a few times until barely combined. Overmixing makes the muffins tough and hard, so I try to limit myself to 15 big around-the-bowl stirs.

Pour the batter in a muffin tin greased with nonstick cooking spray or lined with paper cups. You should be able to get 6-8 jumbo muffins or 15-16 regular sized muffins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and the tops spring back when you press on them.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Butternut Sage Orzo

Using orzo in this dish creates a taste similar to risotto, but without having to constantly watch and stir the pot.  The leftovers were even better.  

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 butternut squash; peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup white wine or additional broth
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Tbsp fresh sage, or 1 1/2 tsp dried (if using dried, add it to the simmering butternut)

In a large frying pan or dutch oven, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add squash pieces and stir to coat, then add 1/2 cup broth and white wine.  Simmer until squash is almost tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

While squash cooks, bring 4 cups broth (or water) to a boil in a large saucepan and then add orzo.  Boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 8 minutes.  Drain.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in squash mixture.

recipe taken from Simply in Season

Friday, October 10, 2014

Keilbasa, Onion, Pepper, and Potato Hash

This comes together so quickly.  I would have thrown it all in one pan had I not read the notes saying that keeping the potatoes separate until the very end is what keeps them crispy, which was my son's favorite part of the dish!  Add some fried eggs and you have an easy and hearty dinner.

1 (14 ounce) package turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a heavy bottomed skillet (I like to use my cast iron), heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, around 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even browning.  

In a separate skillet, brown the sliced kielbasa for around 5 minutes in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.  Remove the kielbasa from the pan and set aside.  Add the peppers and onions to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.  

Add the cooked potatoes and kielbasa to the skillet with the onions and peppers and mix everything together.  Serve nice and hot!

Some notes:  
-I use two skillets to make this recipe.  I used to make it in one, but something always came out wrong.  I've learned that when I cook my potatoes in a separate skillet they cook more evenly and stay nice any crispy when they're added to the other ingredients right before serving.
-Sometimes I'll add some minced garlic to the peppers and onions, but it tastes just as good without it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup

This was simply delicious.  The pureed vegetables add a nice texture to the mix.  I love the natural sweetness that comes from the potatoes and squash.  I used some chicken from a bird I roasted earlier in the week, which added a nice flavor to the pot.  I love soup, especially when we get to eat it in the Fall!

  1. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 2 cups cooked chicken, lightly shredded or chopped into bite-size pieces
  3. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice
  5. 1/2 butternut squash, or other pumpkin variety, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  6. 3-4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  7. 1 tsp dried sage
  8. 1 tsp dried parsley
  9. 1 bay leaf
  10. 1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
  11. pepper to taste
  12. 1 1/13 cups whole milk 

  13. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and squash and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the stock, sage, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Simmer, uncovered, over moderately low heat, until the  the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  14. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1 1/2 cups of the vegetables to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth.  Add a little broth to smooth out if the mixture is too thick.  Return the puree to the saucepan. Add the chicken.  Stir in the milk and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Simmer the soup for 3 minutes, then discard the bay leaf.  Serve hot.
adapted from original recipe found here

Friday, September 26, 2014

Banana Oat Breakfast Muffins

Since I seem to be on a muffin kick (when am I not?!), here is another flourless through-it-all-in-the-blender-and-pour recipe.  I'd like to try making the batter the night before and keeping it in the fridge until the morning to see how that would work.  The muffins are dense, but worked well as a breakfast for my gingersnaps.  Instead of putting the chocolate chips in the batter, I just sprinkled three or four on each muffin cup once they were full.  The appearance of something having a lot of chocolate chips in it goes a long way for my kiddos, when three or four per muffin was enough to satisfy.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
¼ cup brown sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup chocolate chips, mini or regular (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying cavities with cooking spray. Set aside.

Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips to a blender or food processor and process on high until oats are broken down and batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full. Optional: sprinkle a few chocolate chips over the top of each muffin.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before removing. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pumpkin Oat and Honey Muffins

These little snackies have no flour and no sugar in them, but no one in my family seemed to miss those ingredients.  I hesitate to call them muffins because they had more of a sunken-down "pile" look and dense texture to them after cooling.  But looks aren't everything and I'll make these again anyway.  I love that I can pour the batter straight from my Vitamix into the pan.

original recipe found here

2 1/2 c oats (regular or quick is fine)
1 c plain nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 c honey
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray tin with non-stick cooking spray.  My most favorite is called Baker's Joy (it has flour added in). You could also use a silicone muffin pan.  (I don't recommend using paper liners for these.

Place all of the liquid ingredients in the blender (including pumpkin), and then blend adding oats in 1/2 c at a time until smooth.  You may need to stop the blender a few times to stir.  Stir in chopped walnuts after blending is complete.

Divide batter among 12 muffin cups and bake for 20 min. or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Zucchini Carrot Squares

I made a batch of these muffin-like squares for my family to have as snacks last week.  In the end, I think the batter would have worked just as well in a muffin tin and easier to hand out to little hands.  But they were good nonetheless.  Everyone was a fan!

adapted from this recipe

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine all other ingredients.
Add carrot mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.
Tastes nicely with cream cheese or butter!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Avacado Tuna Wrap

I saw this idea floating around on pinterest and decided to give it a try.  My son (who eats more than I do) and I both made the mix into a wrap.  There was more than enough for us to share lunch.

one can tuna
one ripe avocado
two hard-boiled eggs, yolk removed and whites diced
salt and pepper to taste
a small spoonful of mayonnaise, optional

Mash everything together in a medium bowl with a fork or potato masher.  Season to taste.
Serve as a wrap, sandwich, on toast, with crackers, or just eat with a spoon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Banana Oatmeal Bread

I'm slowly building up my baking cupboard again and, thankfully, had what I needed to make this yummy bread for breakfast.  I made some changes from the original recipe and baked the "loaf" in a circle casserole dish that I used to mix the batter in, because that's all I have available in our hotel kitchen!  I served it up in wedge slices with some yogurt and we pretended we were eating cake!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
4 tsp canola oil
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup oats

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients.  Add oil and eggs; mix thoroughly.  Add mashed bananas and oats to batter and stir until well combined.

Spray a loaf pan (or casserole dish!) with cooking spray.  Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch and springs back when lightly pressed, 40-50 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes.

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