Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sweet & Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from 1 Pumpkin Pie pumpkin, mine was 8" tall
1 tbsp. melted butter/margarine (or spray margarine)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. ea. ground cinnamon, nutmeg 
*optional (ground allspice, cloves, cardamom)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove seeds from pumpkin (take off pumpkin strings), rinse in a strainer, and blot dry with a paper towel. Place in mixing bowl, stir in melted butter, and sprinkle in sugar and spices. When mixed, spread in one layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Don't be tempted to put any excess butter/sugar mixture on the seeds, the extra sugar tends to burn. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully so the sugar doesn't burn! You might hear some popping noises while baking when the seeds puff up and dry out. 
Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Scrape seeds off foil with a spatula.

The final product reminds me of CornNuts. Nice and crunchy and sweet! I'm sure these would also be great with smoked paprika instead of the pumpkin pie spices as well. Wrapped up in a cute jar they would make a great stocking stuffer!

Warm & Chewy Cranberry Walnut Bread

Makes 8-10 slices

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
2 tbsp. agave syrup + 2 tbsp. sugar (or your favorite combination of sweeteners)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries (it was half of the small bag of fresh berries for me)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice (& orange zest if you have some)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. ea. of ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the white sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

Chop the cranberries in a food processor until the berries are at least cut in half or smaller. Stir the chopped cranberries into the dry ingredients and coat. Create a well in the dry mixture and combine the beaten egg, agave syrup, orange juice, oil and chopped walnuts. Mix until everything is moist. 

Spray a 9x5x3" loaf pan with oil and fill with bread batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Let cool before slicing.

I love to eat this for breakfast in the winter. I warm up a slice and smear with cream cheese! Of course it is great on its own... or with yogurt on top. It makes the house smell great and is a hit with guests.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ginger & Roasted Chestnut Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

1 medium size butternut squash
3 tsp. grated ginger (I buy it already grated in a tube or jar)
5 roasted & peeled chestnuts (found ready-to-eat at an Asian food market) can sub. 1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cooked & peeled carrots
1 cup stock, vegetable or chicken (add more water if soup is too thick for your liking)
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper and nutmeg
2 tsp. melted butter or walnut oil
splash of heavy cream, or milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half long-ways, scrape out seeds and fibers with a spoon. Find a glass baking dish (I used a pie plate) that can fit the squash halves side-by-side, place cut side up. 

Fill the dish with a 1/4 inch of water. Drape tinfoil loosely over dish and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork tender. Remove tinfoil halfway through the cooking process. Be careful not to burn yourself on the steam built up underneath the foil or the hot water in the pan. Let the squash sit until cool enough to touch. Scoop out squash from skin. 

I prefer to steam carrots in a microwave steamer, but you can also boil until tender. Place all cooled off ingredients into your blender and pulse until smooth (adding more water if needed). Heat up portion on the stove top and serve with garnish of ground nutmeg and pepper. Perfect on a cool fall day to warm you up!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Decadent Mini Cheesecake Cups

Makes about 16-18 cupcakes (you may need to double the recipe after you taste these!)

1/2 cup of crushed graham crackers
8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar or equivalent in Stevia (or other sweetener)
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz low/fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp all purpose flour
Cooking Spray
Muffin cups

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line muffin pan with liners. Compact crushed graham crackers with a bit of cooking spray at the bottom of each well.

Beat cream cheese, sweetener and vanilla until smooth with a mixer. Mix in yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest and flour just till it's incorporated. Scoop batter into cupcake liners until filled half way.
Bake 22 minutes or until the filling doesn't move when jiggled. Remove from pan and chill in the refrigerator before serving.

These are great for parties. I made these for a birthday party (you could probably tell by the balloons on the muffin papers). Top with sprinkles or fruit for decoration! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Easy Enchilada Casserole

Makes 4 servings

1 package corn tortillas
Shredded pork or chicken (or you can use the carnitas recipe from this blog)
1 can Hatch green chile sauce
2 tbsp. sour cream
1 package of shredded mexican cheese
1 roasted poblano pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika, chile powder, & ground pepper
cilantro & avocado slices to garnish

When you need a quick dinner and all you have is some dried out corn tortillas, you can easily turn it into a cheesy, saucy, casserole.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Coat your poblano pepper in oil and broil until the skin blisters and chars (I roast it in my toaster oven). Start by spraying a large round glass or oven safe dish with oil. Mix together the green sauce, sour cream, and spices. Coat the bottom of the dish with the sauce. Add the first tortilla and cover with more sauce. Layer on chunks of shredded meat, diced poblano peppers, and shredded cheese. Add another tortilla, sauce and filling. Repeat until your dish is full. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbling around the edges. Serve hot out of the oven with chopped cilantro and avocado.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spiced Lamb Wraps

  • Makes 2 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lamb meat or 2 lamb steaks
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs freshly grated ginger (or in a jar/tube)
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Trader Joe's brand Tabouli
1/4 cucumber thinly slivered
Shredded lettuce
1 tomato, diced
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Middle Eastern Flatbread
Hot sauce (optional)

Lamb is known for being tough if cooked incorrectly. That's why I use a pressure cooker; it keeps all the moisture in and creates tender, pull apart the meat for a 'taco.' I know there are a lot of spices in this recipe, but man it makes for a tasty, complex flavor. 

First I mix all the spices and olive oil in a plastic bag with the meat portions, shake, and let sit in the fridge overnight. Simply heat up your pressure cooker base with a splash of olive and brown the lamb on all sides. Add chicken broth/water to almost cover the meat and pressurize.

Cook for 1.5 hours in the pressure cooker. Remove from heat, release steam, and let cool 15 minutes or so before opening.

Shred meat with tongs and a fork then fill warmed flatbread with meat, tabouli, and other toppings of your liking.
Enjoy the tender lamb!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Juicy Italian Sausage & Fennel Meatballs

Makes about 4 servings (16-18 balls)
1/2 pound bulk raw Italian Sausage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 piece of bread (or any other piece of stale bread you have around or sub. breadcrumbs)
1 egg
3 tbsp. milk (a.k.a. a splash)
1 tsp. freshly ground fennel seeds
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp. ea. salt & fresh cracked pepper
3 tbsp. pasta sauce
Sprinkle of grated parmesan to finish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Defrost your ground meats and add to a large mixing bowl. Tear small pieces of bread into your mixing bowl and add milk over it. Grind or smash the fennel seeds to bring out the flavor. Mix in the egg and the other seasonings.
Stir together and form into small 1 in. balls. Spray glass baking dish with oil, then coat bottom with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Assemble meatballs so they are barely touching in the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden on top and the sauce is bubbly.
Pour meatballs and sauce over your favorite pasta dish and enjoy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pressure-cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

I love using pressure cookers! It takes meals that usually take all day, achievable when you get home from work. This makes the most tender corned beef ever!

Makes about 8 servings

1 small piece of not-overly-fatty cut of corned beef (otherwise you would eat this for weeks)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, cut in equal rounds
1/2 head of cabbage, cut into strips
1 can of beef broth (just add water until almost covering the meat)
1 tsp sea salt
ground pepper to taste
Pickling spices, wrapped & tied in cheese cloth (comes in the package plus a bit more if you have some on hand)

Heat a splash of olive oil over medium in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Sweat out the onions until caramelized and move them off to the edge of the pan. Sear both sides of the meat to give some color. 

Season with salt and pepper, you can always add a bit more when it's finished. Throw in the carrots and cabbage. Add the container of beef broth, if you are using a bigger cut of meat, then add a carton of broth. Submerge the seasoning packed under the broth. If the broth doesn't quite cover the meat, add water until the meat is mostly covered in liquid. Remember, the cabbage will wilt quickly down into the broth, so it's not a problem if that is partially above liquid level.

Securely put on the pressure cooker lid on, turn up the heat until the pressure builds, then reduce to low heat (follow the instructions that came with your pressure cooker). Cook for 2 hours. Turn off and let cool enough to remove lid. Uncover the cooker and cook a bit longer to reduce the liquid if desired. Remove the spice packet. 

Serve nice and hot with bread or make a ruben (great for leftovers). Don't forget to share with your friends! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Roasted Rosemary Root Veggies

Sometimes you just get tired of eating potatoes or carrots and need a change of side. There are so many different root vegetables out there to try. They might not all be a favorite, but it is worth a try to find what you like best.

Makes about 3 servings


2 rutabagas
1 large turnip
2 parsnips
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp of fresh/dry rosemary or Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

I recommend par-boiling these veggies before crisping in the oven. Fill a pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and let boil.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The skin can be tough on turnips & rutabagas so I take a knife and cut around the outside, sometimes peelers don't take enough off. Parsnips are similar to carrots, so a veggie peeler will work on those. Cut everything into similar sized pieces so things cook evenly, but consider leaving the turnip pieces a bit larger since those tend to cook faster. 

Carefully put pieces into the water and let boil for 8 minutes, or until a fork will pierce the veggies. Then drain off and spread out on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Spray or drizzle oil over everything then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs to taste and toss to coat. 

Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Breakfast Æbleskivers (Danish Pancake Balls)

The tradition in my house to make this for breakfast on New Years morning. Let me tell you, it's a great way to start the year off. If you want to get fancy, you can even fill these with a little jam as you turn them.

2 cups buttermilk (or you can use milk with a splash of lemon juice in it)
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp melted butter
More butter or shortening (for greasing the cast iron pan)

Yes, you do need a special pan, but once you buy one of these you pass it down through generations.

Separate the eggs and use an electric beater to whip the egg whites until they are fluffy and stiff. In another large bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients until combined. Then with a spatula, carefully fold in the egg whites to keep fluffy.

Heat the pan to medium and pour a tsp of melted butter or shortening into each well.

*So the first one might not turn out the prettiest, but you do have to practice and get the technique down.*
Pour 2 tbsp of batter into each well, making sure not to overflow the sides. Once the batter bubbles around the edges (let it cook a minute), use a wooden skewer (or fork) to slowly turn the half-moon pancake over. The uncooked batter in the center will flow out and refill the well as you flip it over. Let all sides turn golden brown and set aside the cooked ones in a kitchen towel to keep warm.

Serve with syrup, powdered sugar, jam, or applesauce!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hearty Winter Minestrone Soup

Serves 4-5 people...unless they become addicted to it, then it may be one...

1/2 an onion diced
1 diced whole head of garlic (peeled of course)
2-3 stalks of celery diced with leaves
1 carrot cubed
1 cup of fresh cut green beans
2 red potatoes cubed
1/2 a zucchini cubed
2 tsp of dry Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp of salt & pepper
Pinch of paprika (or cayenne if you want it spicy)
1 can of kidney beans (or your favorite, garbanzo or great norther are good too)
1 can of chicken broth
A splash of red wine if you have some handy
1/4 cup of pasta (your choice of shape)
A sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese
Water to add as needed as the soup cooks down

Heat a splash of oil on medium heat in a large soup pot and saute onions and garlic until soft and golden. Next add chopped celery (and some celery leaves if you have them), carrot, potato, and all the spices. Deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine, scraping the bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon and reducing the heat to a low simmer. Add the can of chicken broth and mostly drained can of beans.

Stir in the zucchini and green beans halfway through the cooking time. Feel free to add more water if the soup starts to look more like a thick stew.

Let simmer for at least a couple of hours to let the veggies cook and the broth reduce. Turn the heat back up and stir in the pasta and let cook according to the directions on the pasta container.

Serve and top with parmesan cheese. Enjoy the filling and healthy meal!

Cinnamony Snickerdoodles

During the holidays I get the urge to bake. This is one of my favorite recipes. I love things that make the entire house smell good while baking and taste great hot out of the oven. 

I based this recipe off one in "The Cookie and Biscuit Bible." A great and very tempting book :) 

Makes around 24 cookies.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1/2 cup of soft butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 cups regular flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground cloves & nutmeg
Handful of chopped walnuts (optional)

First, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs and milk. Sift in the flour, baking soda, and spices (and nuts if you want). 
Combine the ingredients until it forms a ball of dough, you may want to use a spatula to help scrape down the edges. Refrigerate for an hour or so. 

Mix together a pinch of cinnamon with a tablespoon of sugar. This is what you will roll the balls of dough in before placing on the cookie sheet. 
Roll the cold dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the bowl of sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on a silicone baking mat, parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet. Press lightly down on each ball of dough to help it spread out a bit.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy warm out of the oven with a glass of milk.