Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nutty Sweet Potato Waffles

These made a wonderful breakfast-for-dinner meal for my family.  The texture is softer than your standard waffle, and the flavor is perfect for Fall.  Happy Thanksgiving!

1/2 cup butter
3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes (approximately 2 medium potatoes)
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats, finely ground in blender
1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or cashews, finely ground in blender
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar, optional

Melt butter.  Set aside and allow to cool.

After butter has melted, stir in mashed potatoes, beaten eggs, and milk.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, nuts, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Add dry ingredients to sweet potato mixture and site until combined.  Bake in a hot waffle iron.  Maple syrup, honey, and yogurt all make nice toppings.

recipe adapted from Simply in Season

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Baked Chicken Nuggets

These have little to do with Thanksgiving or holiday food, but I've already made them twice since trying them the first time, so I felt like I needed to share.  One time I Made them, I didn't use bread or the food processor, but used store-bought bread crumbs.  They weren't near as good.  But follow the directions below and I think you'll be pleased with this healthier version of homemade chicken nuggets.  

  • 2-3 thick slices whole wheat bread (for about 1 cup of crumbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 large (about 2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch or so sized pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor or blender, place the slices of whole wheat bread and pulse until crumbs form. Add the basil, oregano and Parmesan cheese and pulse until combined. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow dish (like a pie plate) and mix in the panko crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, egg whites and water until well combined. Pat the chicken cubes dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken cubes in the egg white/olive oil mixture before taking a few of them at a time and rolling them in the bread crumb mixture to coat evenly.
  4. Place the coated chicken nuggets on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, carefully flip the nuggets over (taking care not to remove the breading) and bake for 5 minutes longer, or until cooked through (the exact time will depend on the size of the chicken pieces). Serve immediately.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Squash Stuffed Rice Pilaf

I've made several versions of this over the past few weeks and thought I'd share one of my favorite go-to meals for the Fall season.  You can play with the ingredients and use different kinds of squash to find what suits your family best!  I've done it before where you roast the pilaf inside the squash, but I find just filling the already-roasted squash with the already-preapred pilaf gets the food in my little one's mouths faster.  This is a great way to use leftover turkey as well!

1 medium squash for every two people, cut in halves or quarters, depending on size (I typically use three acorn squash for my family of five, or two butternut squash)

Preheat oven to 350.  Light oil a roasting pan.  Clean out seeds from the squash.  Place flesh-side-down on the roasting pan.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, until flesh is tender (use a fork or knife to test).

1 cup long grain rice, prepared as directed (I use half chicken broth and half water for the liquid)
1/2 cup wild rice, prepared as directed
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
two stalks celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 - 1 cup meat, optional (My favorites are cooked and crumbled bacon or leftover turkey.  Cooked and diced chicken works well, as does a mild crumbled sausage)
1/2 apple, chopped
1/4 cup fired cranberries
1/3 cup toasted nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large frying pan on medium-high heat.  Add onions, celery, and garlic and cook until they are starting to soften, about five minutes.

Add thyme, sage, meat and apple.  Cooke about five more minutes (the apple will still have a little texture to it.  You can cook it first with the onions if you want it to be softer).

Last, add rice to pan.  Turn heat down to medium, and stir while cooking a few minutes to combine everything well (you can cooke more or less time, depending on how dry you want your pilaf to be.). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove pan from heat.  Stir in cranberries and nuts.  Pile pilaf into baked squash halves, top with a dollop of butter (why not?!), and serve hot.

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Moosewood Cookbook {Moosewood Fudge Brownies}

I received this book from the Blogging For Books Program for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this book. 

I enjoy reading cookbooks (with a pad of little sticky tabs next to me, if you didn't already notice!).  I find that reading through recipes not only provides new ideas for meals, but also gives inspiration for doing my own thing with what we have on hand when the creative juices are flowing!  The 40th Anniversary edition of the Moosewood Cookbook was released last month and I've loved flipping through the pages.  The recipes feel approachable, both because of the seasonal and simple ingredients used, and also because the recipes look as though the author, Mollie Katzen, hand-wrote each recipe for you, with her own beautiful doodles included!  I won't go into the history of the cookbook, but I think it's worth a look if you enjoy recipes with a vegetarian framework focusing on the simplicity of using natural ingredients.  The variety of recipes ranges from baked goods to curries to cold soups to lots of different sauces and dips.  I opted to try out the brownies first.  After tasting the results, I'd say it was a very good decision!

As far as brownies go, it's not one of my favorite desserts to make from scratch, but these were decadent and delicious, especially paired with vanilla ice cream.  The recipe states that they "aren't for the faint of heart"!  Think rich and dense chocolate that pretty much requires a tall glass of milk or large scoop of ice cream to go with.

recipe taken from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

butter for the pan
5 oz. (5 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar (white sugar also OK)
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour (use 3/4 cup for fudgier brownies)
The recipe lists "many optional embellishments".  I chose 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Mmmmm . . . .

Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350.
Gently melt the chocolate.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in the vanilla.
Stir constantly as you drizzle in the melted chocolate.  After all the chocolate is in, beat well for a minute or two.
Stir in flour and possible embellishments.  Mix just enough to blend thoroughly.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cut into squares while still hot, then allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Butternut Harvest Stew

This perfectly Fall stew comes from my Simply in Season cookbook.  Everyone in my family loved it!  

2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp rubbed or ground sage
1 bay leaf
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped in bite-size chunks
2 medium apples, peeled and roughly chopped

Melt butter in a large saucepan.  Add pork, onion, and garlic and sauté until meat is no longer pink; drain off fat.
Add broth and spices (including bay leaf).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add squash and apples and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender.  About 20 minutes.  
Discard bay leaf and serve.

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
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