Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipes, Round 2

Here we go! Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I'm about to get started on cooking everything. But before our kitchen turns into a whirlpool of holiday cooking, I thought I'd share our soup for this year.

It seems that every year we come up with a new variation of this soup to serve at Thanksgiving. As long as it's got sweet potato or squash involved and is silky smooth, it somehow makes it onto our Thanksgiving table. This soup is no exception, with sweet, caramelized roasted butternut squash and apples and a warm hint of spice. The savory granola on top is a unique crispy topping that's perfectly nutty, salty, and herby.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Ingredients:
2 lbs chopped butternut squash (I used one of those plastic containers of pre-chopped squash)
4 medium apples, chopped into about 1 inch pieces(I used Golden Delicious)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper
milk/cream/yogurt (optional)

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or a silicon baking mat.
2. Spread the butternut squash and apples into an even layer on the baking sheet.
3. In a small bowl, mix all the spices with the olive oil, then drizzle over the squash and apples. Toss to coat.
4. Roast the squash and apples for about 40 minutes, until very soft and caramelized.
5. Puree the roasted squash and apples in a blender with enough vegetable broth to reach your desired consistency.
6. Season with salt and pepper, and finish with a splash of milk, cream, or a dollop of yogurt for a creamier texture if you'd like.

 

Savory Walnut-Thyme Granola
Ingredients:
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg white
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
dash nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, then spread evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake the granola for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipes, Round 1

As promised, I have some great Thanksgiving recipes here for you as you finalize your menu these next few days! Sorry about the last minute recipe posting, I would have been preparing for Thanksgiving all November if I could have been! Just a heads up for the next post: If you need a good soup recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, stock up on butternut squash, apples, and walnuts!

This stuffing is deliciously sweet and savory, and super moist. If you prefer a crispier or more crumbly stuffing, cut back the stock a little or bake uncovered for the whole time.

Stuffing with Apples, Chestnuts, and Herbs
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping cup chopped celery
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 medium apples, chopped
1 cup chopped cooked chestnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
8 cups stale whole grain bread cubes
3 cups vegetable stock
2 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a large skillet (preferably oven-safe), heat the olive oil. Add the celery, onion, and apple, and saute for about 10 minutes, until soft.
3. Stir in the chestnuts and herbs, then turn off the heat.
4. Toss the bread cubes into the skillet.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the stock and eggs. Pour this over the bread mixture and toss until combined.
6. Either bake in the oven-proof skillet or transfer the stuffing mixture to a baking dish, then cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes.






This cranberry sauce is really easy and delicous, with chunks of apple and a warm cinnamon note. You can make this a few days in advance (now!) and refrigerate it until you're ready to serve. Leftovers are great mixed into plain yogurt, on ice cream, or on a Thankgiving leftover sandwich.

Apple Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce
Ingredients:
1 lb fresh cranberries
1 cup apple cider
2 medium apples, finely chopped
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup dark agave nectar

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until the cranberries all ahve burst and the sauce starts to thicken.
2. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens as much as you'd like, keeping in mind that it will thicken as it cools.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Pear Gingerbread

It's beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving!

Now that I'm back home for Thanksgiving break, you can bet I'm spending most of my time in the kitchen. Get ready for a steady flow of Thanksgiving recipes!

Here's a great dessert to add into your Thanksgiving menu. It's super light and fluffy, not too sweet, and studded with chewy, spicy candied ginger and fresh, juicy pears. Cut this gingerbread into big squares (It's not sturdy enough to be cut into tiny bite-sized pieces) and top with vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Pear Gingerbread
Ingredients:
20 pitted dates
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon dark molasses
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chopped ripe pear
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger, plus more for sprinkling on top

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 square pan with foil, spray with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine the dates, almond milk, oil, molasses, and spices; blend until smooth. It's okay to have a few finely chopped bits of date, the mixture doesn't need to be completely pureed.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in the date mixture until it forms a batter.
4. Fold in the chopped pear and ginger.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and top with extra chopped candied ginger (I used about 2 more tablespoons).
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving, otherwise it might fall apart as you're cutting into it.


 






Saturday, November 10, 2012

Moroccan Couscous Salad

For my public speaking class, everyone had to choose a country to be the basis of several presentations. I chose Morocco on a whim, thinking that if a food presentation was ever involved, it would be a pretty tasty presentation! So when it came time to do a demonstration based on your country, I chose to demonstrate how to make a Moroccan couscous salad. It went over really well and I had this fantastic dish leftover for several meals later (plus the test round, meaning LOTS of couscous salad). Good thing this salad is absolutely amazing. The raisins make the dish, so don't leave them out. Between the earthy, flavorful dressing, crunchy peppers, fresh cilantro, and sweet bursts of raisins, this salad is amazingly addictive. Not to mention it's easy and can be made without a stove!

Moroccan Couscous Salad
Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat couscous (I've seen brown rice couscous that's gluten free!)
1 cup water
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (any color)
2 tablespoons grated carrot
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup raisins
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (most kinds will work, I used white)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped, pressed, or grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and cayenne, to taste

Directions:
1. Heat the water in the microwave or bring to a boil in a tea kettle. Pour it over the couscous in a tupperware container or bowl, cover, and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
2. Mix in the bell pepper, carrot, cilantro, and raisins, and chickpeas.
3. Mix the remaining ingredients (oil through cinnamon) in a medium bowl to make the dressing. Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture and toss to coat.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Apple Pie Muesli

I started out making this recipe as an attempt at granola bars or energy bites of some sort, but midway through I remembered that I've been wanting to make a muesli-type thing for a while. It's almost like oatmeal, granola, and apple pie all rolled into one. You don't actually cook it, so it's not crispy like granola, but it's not soupy like oatmeal either...maybe it's cookie dough-ish? Whatever you want to consider it, it's delicious as a yogurt topping, or on ice cream, or crumbled over apple slices with peanut butter. Yum.

Apple Pie Muesli
(serves 2)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apples
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
few drops of vanilla extract
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
2. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. The longer you refrigerate it, the firmer it will be, so go for as long or short as you'd like.





Friday, November 2, 2012

Want Me To Cook For You?

Can you believe it's already November?! The Starbucks on campus broke out the peppermint mochas, gingerbread lattes, and snowflake cups yesterday, it's beginning to look like the holiday season!

But before we skip right on into winter, let's not forget about my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving! (okay maybe it's tied with Christmas...)

Cooking for Thanksgiving is really one of my favorite things to do. It's so comforting, fun, cozy, and exciting. Since I was about 13, I've taken the reigns on Thanksgiving dinner, and there's nothing I'd rather do this time of year than plan out menus and recipe-test all sorts of Thanksgiving treats.

Don't you want me to do this for you?! I don't have a commercial kitchen, so I can't really call this a business. But if you want me to cook you all sorts of delicious Thanksgiving dishes, we can call it a donation to my Broke Culinary School Student Fund.

Of course I'm always excited to try out new things and adapt any recipe to any dietary restriction, so make requests if there's something you've been wanting to try but don't want to have to make yourself!

Here are some things I'm thinking of making for my Thanksgiving table, although I obviously haven't narrowed down the list....at all. I'd be happy to try out any of these (which can all easily be made dairy/gluten/nut/whatever else free) or, really, anything else for your table, too!

  • Cranberry sauce with pears and ginger
  • Cranberry sauce with orange and walnuts
  • Cranberry sauce with apple cider and cinnamon
  • Apple cider and rosemary gravy
  • Mushroom, thyme, and truffle gravy
  • Stuffing with mushrooms and walnuts
  • Stuffing with dried figs, hazelnuts, and sage
  • Stuffing with apples, chestnuts, sage, and rosemary
  • Pumpkin cornbread stuffing with sage and pecans
  • Maple-roasted sweet potatoes and pecans
  • Praline mashed sweet potatoes
  • Roasted sweet potatoes and apples
  • Spiced roasted cauliflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Green beans with caramelized onions
  • Roasted broccoli with pine nuts
  • Garlic and herb mashed potatoes
  • Roasted pumpkin soup with savory granola
  • Chestnut soup with pecorino cheese
  • Pumpkin and black bean soup
  • Cauliflower and apple soup
  • Pumpkin Biscuits with maple walnut butter
  • Blue cheese and cranberry tartlets with walnut crust
  • Butternut squash hummus
  • Mini pumpkin cheesecakes/pumpkin pies
  • Chai spiced pumpkin pie
  • Pumpkin pie thumbrint cookies
  • "Caramel" apples
  • Cinnamon white hot chocolate
(for breakfast)
  • Baked pumpkin or apple cider donuts
  • Cinnamon roll pancakes
  • Pumpkin coffee cake
  • Apple oatmeal muffins
  • Maple pumpkin muffins
  • Chai pancakes with cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin chai lattes
  • Pumpkin spice coffee creamer
What a list! I'm sure I'll come up with more by the time Thanksgiving break rolls around (only 2 more weeks!)

Again, if you'd like me to make any of these things, or any other dishes or adaptations, please let me know! You can leave a comment below, or email me at jax-11@comcast.net and we can work out details. If you'd rather do the cooking yourself but are intruiged by something I listed up there, let me know and I'll experiment and get a recipe posted before Thanksgiving.

Happy November!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

College Cooking: Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

Slowly but surely, I'm finding more things to cook in college, which makes me very happy!

However, I'm also struggling a little bit to keep up good nutrition habits in college (big surprise there, huh?). I feel like everything I'm eating is generally healthy but it's just really hard to make sure I'm eating lots of vegetables and a variety of proteins, getting enough healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, etc. when I'm living off convenience food and boring salad bars. So, my goal is to keep doing my best by cooking my own food when I can and making sure I'm not eating too much junk, even when everyone else is snacking on endless Halloween candy.

One great snack I've come up with is this amazing peanut butter yogurt dip. It's a perfect combination of healthy fats, protein, and carbs that keeps me full and satisfied after a long run. I enjoyed it simply with apple slices and then decided to sandwich a spoonful between two banana slices and freeze it. Amazing. It was a fantastic dessert that reminded me of peanut butter ice cream or Dibs (maybe drizzle them with a little melted chocolate?). Yum.

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip
1 6 oz container plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons creamy or crunchy peanut butter (I had crunchy on hand)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
a drizzle of honey or other sweetener, to taste

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl or in the greek yogurt container.

 



For and update on my dad and my half marathon training, visit my dad's CaringBridge page and my Team In Training fundraising page!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

College Cooking: Microwave Pumpkin Butter

I though it would be fun to start a segment about college cooking. With extremely limited resources, it's hard to get in my fix of cooking and recipe creating, but it's turned over a whole new leaf of figruing out ways to cook delicious and healthy recipes with basically a can opener and a microwave.

The first thing I've really cooked, from scratch at least, here is pumpkin butter (no surprise there) and it turned out better than I could have imagined. This pumpkin butter is basically like eating pumpkin pie filling on a spoon...or on oatmeal, toast, yogurt, or whatever else you want to slather it on. Plus, it smells amazing. I could hear people walking by my room asking why it smelled like someone was baking pumpkin pie...yeah that was me. But best of all, it's super easy! You just mix together a few ingredients, microwave, and you're left with smooth, thick, sticky pumpkin butter that's absolutely perfect for fall.

Microwave Pumpkin Butter
 
Ingredients:
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon raw sugar or brown sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw packets from Starbucks)
2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup for a vegan option)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
 
Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a microwave-safe bowl
2. Cover/wrap the bowl with a paper towel, then microwave on full power for 5 minutes.
3. Remove the bowl from the microwave, stir, replace the paper towel, and microwave for another 3 minutes.
 


 
Like I said, this stuff is super thick and smooth and tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. There's not much more I could ask for from my humble little dorm microwave!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Season

It's finally time for pumpkin recipes! I would say that fall is my favorite season, but I say that about every season when it's rolling in, so I'll just say that I love fall. Possibly it's because I get to make endless pumpkin recipes and it's actually acceptable for the time of year.

As you know, I don't have a kitchen in college, which is probably the hardest part of being here. But last weekend I was able to sneak away to Cape Cod with some great friends from back home and be in a kitchen again! The Cape was such a wonderful vacation with the long Colombus Day weekend, and I loved finally being able to whip up some autumn recipes. First on my list: pumpkin scones and granola.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones with Oatmeal and Cranberries


There's nothing I love more on a chilly fall day than curling up with a cozy blanket, hot tea, and a sweet, spiced pumpkin treat for breakfast. These scones fit right into that picture. They're moist and soft, hearty and oaty, sweet and cinnamon-y, comforting, and simply delicious.

Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or mix together your own cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
6 tbsp milk (dairy or nondairy)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Glaze:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
dash pumpkin pie spice

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients (oats through brown sugar).
3. In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, milk, and oil.
4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in the cranberries.
5. Shape the dough into a rectangle on the baking sheet, then cut into 8 triangles.
6. Bake for 23-27 minutes, until the scones are firm to the touch. (I baked mine for 22 minutes, then took them out and separated the scones, then ended up baking them for another few minutes until they were completely cooked through.
7. Let the scones cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the glaze ingredients and drizzle the glaze over the scones.











Pumpkin Spice Granola

 
Another thing I love during the fall is crunchy granola as a snack. It's so comforting and nutty, and adding pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice only adds to it's special place in my heart. However, a lot of the granola you buy in stores have a ton of added oils, refined sugars, and other ingredients that really aren't necessary! I made my granola without any added oil and it turned out wonderfully crunchy and clustered, with a spicy not-too-sweet flavor. I really love the unique flavor of hazelnuts in this granola, but feel free to use whatever nuts you have around. Granola Perfection!

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
6 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking
sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, then crumble the mixture evenly onto the baking sheet.
3. Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow to cool completely. (It's okay if it's not completely crispy right when it comes out of the oven, it will get crispier as it cools)



 
Happy Fall Baking!