Sunday, November 27, 2011

Super Snappy Sides

I have here two of my favorite super snappy side dishes.  I grew up with versions of these and the cold weather months are just not the same without the cranberry applesauce, and the carrot raisin salad is welcome in any and all seasons!  I hope you enjoy whipping these up as much as I do!

First, the Cranberry Applesauce.

This side is so easy it's not even funny.  The only sad thing is that when I think about it, I have only ever had this at my mother's house.  Which can only mean one thing.  More people need to know about it!

This side is great with any meal, and I enjoy it hot or cold or in between.  You can omit the cinnamon if you want and replace it with some red hots. I use it as a dessert, sometimes. :)  My boys love it.

What you'll need:

  • 1  14oz can whole cranberry sauce
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

What you'll do:

  • Mix everything together until cranberry sauce is all broken up and mixed in evenly.   Serve immediately or chill until serving, at which point you can heat it if desired.

Nutrition Facts (per 1/2 cup serving):
Calories 102 (Calories from fat 1); Total Fat 0g (Saturated 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 8mg; Potassium 47mg; Total Carbohydrate 24g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Sugars 20g; Protein 0g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A 18 IU; Vitamin C 13mg; Calcium 6mg; Iron 0mg; Folate 2mcg

Now to the Carrot Raisin Salad.
Can I just say that I'm so proud of these pictures?!  I finally figured out what "white balance" is and how to use it on my camera!  Hello pretty pictures!

This is not so much a salad in my book as it's a sweeter side.  The carrots give the dish a natural sweetness that is enhanced by the raisins and a touch of cinnamon.  The original "salad" has a ton of sugar and mayo and yogurt in it.  Since we're trying to stay away from all three of those ingredients as much as possible, I figured I'd make it with just the main ingredients and it turned out great.

The bonus?  My boys each ate an entire serving, which is probably the equivalent of a huge carrot which they would otherwise not be able to fully chomp on their own.  Score!

What you'll need:

  • 1 lb carrots, grated in a food processor
  • 1 ½ cups packed black/regular raisins
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional) taste the salad first before you add it!

What you'll do:

  • Mix carrot bits with the other ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving, 3/4 cup):
Calories 61 (Calories from fat 3); Total Fat 0g (Saturated 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 43mg; Potassium 455mg; Total Carbohydrate 34g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Sugars 24g; Protein 2g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A 9482 IU; Vitamin C 4mg; Calcium 40mg; Iron 1mg; Folate 13mcg

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Bean & Squash Quesadillas

First off, I hope everyone had a great and happy Thanksgiving!  Now for a recipe that is filling and delicious and totally healthy!  Just in case you didn't eat the greatest yesterday.

Second, I would like to say a big thank you to Angela who inspired this dish.  Also that I'm so excited for her cookbook!  I found her recipe and just knew I had to try it.  I was not disappointed -- all three of my boys loved this!

I only had Acorn Squash on hand, so I used that instead of Butternut, but you could do either, I don't think it matters.  I also upped the amount of squash since the amount called for just didn't seem like enough.  These would be fabulous as burritos, too, I just didn't happen to have the large burritos, and the boys requested quesadillas, so I improvised!

We served this with salsa and a salad.  We will be making this again, and when I do it next time, I'm roasting a ton of squash so I can freeze some and make these whenever I want to!

Black Bean & Squash Quesadillas
Makes 4 quesadillas or large burritos
  • 1 med butter nut or acorn squash - microwave to soften it, scoop out the pulp, then roast for about 20 minutes at 400.  Mash it and take out 3 cups. 
  • 1 1/2 c black beans (1 can rinse and drain)
  • 1 1/2 c cooked brown rice - 3/4 c dry with 2 c water
  • 1 c chopped onion
  • 1 red bell pepper - deseeded and diced
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t cumin
  • 4-8 tortillas depending on if you're doing burritos or quesadillas
  • toppings of choice: cheese, sour cream, avocado, lettuce, salsa...  
-- Start your squash and rice.  Once done:
-- Saute onion for 5 minutes to soften.  Add the bell pepper and spices and cook for another 5 minutes.
-- Add the beans, cooked rice, and mashed squash.  Cook until heated through. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

I'm not really sure what defines   a coffee cake.  The ability to eat it in the morning ... with coffee?  The cinnamon?  The wonderful streusel topping?  I'm really not sure. 

Since I'm really not sure what exactly constitutes a coffee cake, I'm not really sure what to call this dessert.  Light cake with a hint of cinnamon and a layer of apple with a streusel topping?  Yeah - probably not.

Any way you look at it, here's a recipe for a deliciously light cake perfect for Christmas morning, an after-dinner dessert with ice cream, or with mid-morning tea with friends.

Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 3 T chilled butter - cut
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 old fashioned oats
Cake batter
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/4 c butter - room temp
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 t vanilla
  • 1/3 c milk (almond or regular)
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples - peel, core, cut into thin slices
-- In a small bowl, combine all the steusel ingredients and cut together with a pastry cutter until it's coarse and crumbly.  Set aside
-- Make the batter.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt - set aside.
-- In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar and cream until combined.  Now add the egg and vanilla and cream some more.
-- Slowly add the milk and flour mix to the creamy bowl and mix until all wet and smooth.
--  Pour into a greased 8 or 9 inch spring-foam pan.  ( i put parchment or wax paper down and that helped out quite a bit).
-- Layer the apples on top of the batter in a circular pattern.  I did a double layer and it was perfect!
-- Sprinkle the apples with the streusel topping and pop in the oven for 45-50 minutes at 350 - until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sweet Potato & Corn Chowder


The other night I had barely anything in my cupboards.  I mean, seriously, hardly anything.  A few canned goods, yes, and dry beans, and some potatoes.   Not enough time for chili, and since I was in the mood for soup, frozen veggies and rice were not going to cut it.

I will just say here that there is a HUGE plus side to meal planning: you save money buying only what you need (and don't snack as much).  The downside is when you forget that Monday is part of your meal plan now that you do grocery shopping on Tuesday.  Sigh.

So I rummaged through my freezer and found a bag of corn amid some frozen rolls and broccoli.  And inspiration hit.  A potato and corn chowder!  I figured since I wasn't really going off a recipe that I needed to be prepared for a flop, but we were all nicely surprised when we took our first bite!  While simple, the flavors were blended just right and we both had seconds.

I served this with the last bit of salad we had, and Scot was wonderful and ran by our favorite bakery to pick up some black pepper foccacia bread for me.  Can we say YUM?!  Hope you enjoy!

Sweet Potato & Corn Chowder

Serves 4-6  10 cups
Active time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Serving suggestions:  Serve this with some black pepper foccacia bread and a garden salad.

What You'll Need

  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 5 cups peeled and diced potatoes (half sweet potatoes and half regular/Idaho)  
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded (or finely chopped) carrots
  • 2 cups frozen corn OR a can of corn, drained
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup almond milk OR regular milk
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
  • cayenne pepper (optional and to taste)

What You'll Do

  • In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic about 5 minutes until soft and translucent.
  • Add the broth, potatoes, carrots, corn, and thyme.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are completely soft.
  • Transfer almost half of the soup to a blender and blend until almost smooth.  Transfer back to the pot.  Alternatively, if you have a hand blender you can use that to just get some of it blended to "cream it up".  If you have neither blender nor hand blender, use a potato masher to get the consistency you want.
  • Stir in milk and add salt, pepper, and cayenne if using.
  • Heat through and enjoy!

Time tip: Nuke potatoes a little (6-7 minutes) to speed up the simmering process

Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1/4 of recipe):
Calories 299 (Calories from fat 43); Total Fat 5g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 671mg; Potassium 1032mg; Total Carbohydrate 61g (Dietary Fiber 7g); Sugars 13g; Protein 7g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A xxx IU; Vitamin C 19329mg; Calcium 71mg; Iron 2mg; Folate 63mcg

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Pepper Green Beans

This dish was surprisingly super easy and full of tasty flavors!  I was shocked.  I got the recipe from my mother who tried and it loved it, but looking at the ingredient list, I just wasn't so sure.  And the addition of tofu that's not marinated or broiled like in this dish always makes me nervous -- but not to worry, it turned out great!

I served this as a main dish, which is what it's supposed to be, but it may end up appearing on our Thanksgiving table as a side.  Scot absolutely loved it, too, which was a huge plus.  The littlest dude wasn't too into it, but that's ok, he'll learn to love it since it's a definite repeat.  I served it with some leftover sweet potato soup, a big salad, and some bread (you could also make some brown rice).  It was perfect.

Black Pepper Green Beans
Serves 4 main dishes, 6-8 side dishes
  • 1 lb green beans - frozen of fresh
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2 T soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 2 T OO
  • 1/2 cup onion sliced thinly
  • 1 block extra firm tofu - drained and cut into 1/2 inch thick "sticks"
  • 2 T brown sugar
--Boil or microwave beans until they are bright green.  I used frozen beans and I think I stuck them in the microwave for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile:
-- Combine the lime juice, soy sauce, and pepper and set aside
--In a large skillet, saute and slightly brown the onions in 1 T OO.  This will take about 10 minutes for the onions to almost start to caramelize.  Transfer to another dish or in with the green beans if they're done.
-- Now heat the other T of OO in the skillet (don't bother to clean it!) and put the tofu on it, making sure there are no overlapping pieces.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar.  The whole pan will get pretty wet, but it's just the melted sugar coating the tofu.  Turn the tofu a few times, but cook until the pieces are browned and slightly crispy (about 10 minutes)
-- Now add in the green beans and onions and heat through.  Once hot, add in the sauce and stir to coat.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

African Stew

 This is one of the first recipes on this blog.  Two and half years ago.  My how far we've come!  Point and shoot camera to D-SLR.  Couple little sentences to a paragraph or two.  Lots of simple cheesy meals to much healthier and less cheesy ones.

I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have!

I made this again last week and remembered how much we enjoyed it.  I think it's been about a year since the last "make".  I need to make it more often, especially considering how easy it is to throw together if you use the "tips".   This is also one of Scot's favorite meals, so I really should make it more often.  And the boys love it, too.

All that to say - if you haven't tried this soup out yet - do it!  You won't regret it.  It's thick and creamy.  It's so incredibly flavorful you'll just have to go back for seconds.  The flavors enhance with the leftovers, and the rice soaks up some of the liquid, so it's quite thick the next day unless you add some water to it.  Personal preference.  Scot leaves his, I add water to mine.

African Stew

Serves 6 - 8  15 cups

Active Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

What you'll need:

  • 2 TBLS olive oil(opt)
  • 1 cup diced onion OR 1 TBLS powdered onion
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic OR a rounded ¼ tsp powdered garlic
  • 3 cups diced zucchini OR 3 cups frozen chopped green beans
  • 3 cups cubed (1/2 inch) sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup dry brown rice OR white rice (quick method)
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can chickpeas - rinsed and drained OR 2 cups cooked chunks of chicken
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups salsa
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tsp cumin

What you'll do:
Quick method:
  • Cook rice in 2 cups of the vegetable broth.
  • In a LARGE pot: saute onion, garlic and zucchini until all tender. 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, microwave the chunks of sweet potato for 6-8 minutes until soft.  Once done, add to pot.
  • Add broth, chickpeas, peanut butter, salsa and spices to the pot as well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add rice when it’s done and heat through.

    Alternatively: If you have the time, you don't have to cook the rice separately, you can just throw the dry rice into the pot when you add the broth, just use all 8 cups of broth if you go this route.

Time Saving Tips:

Cook the rice ahead of time.
Crockpot option: Combine everything raw and cook on low for 8 hours, high for 4, until sweet potatoes and zucchini are tender, and rice is cooked.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

It seems like Fall and pumpkin-themed dishes go hand-in-hand.   I'm seeing all sorts of yummy dishes all over with the orange pulp either hidden in the dish or front and center.  It's just that time of year when those of us who love pumpkin can fully revel and delight in the goodness without getting looked at funny.

Some of the recipes I'm dying to try:

(never home) maker's Pumpkin Chili
the edible perspective's Pumpkin Cornbread
and maybe for dessert to finish off a pumpkin themed dinner?
Oh She Glows' Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie

I'll let you know how they turn out. 

I hope the theme carries into Winter, because I'm not nearly as far along in my pumpkin experimentation as I'd like to be and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away! Eeek!

This morning I was hankerin' for some pumpkin muffins, though.  Dense and chewy with some sweet raisins tucked inside.  I went off an old recipe and tweaked it quite a bit, but I really enjoyed the outcome.  They were just what I was looking for and the boys and I loved every crumb.  You could add chopped nuts, craisins, or even chocolate chips instead of the raisins.

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 regular sized muffins

  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 eggs (I didn't try it, but I'm sure you can use flaxseed eggs for this)
  • 3/4 c canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 water
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 - 1 c raisins, craisins, or chocolate chips
-- Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 12-cup muffin tin with PAM or other cooking spray
-- Mix sugar with apple sauce, eggs, and pumpkin.  Mixing until all creamy.  Add water.
-- In a smaller bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except "filler").  Once mixed...
-- Add dry ingredients to wet, and stor until all wet.
-- Add which ever filler you chose
-- Fill muffin tins 2/3rds of the way full and bake for 20 minutes until nice and brown and toothpick comes out clean

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is by far the best sweet potato casserole I have ever tasted.


The topping is sweet and crunchy.  The creamy insides have just the right spices to shout "Autumn" at you as you shovel bite after bite into your mouth. was sweet potato casserole at its best.

And with Thanksgiving only THREE WEEKS away, I thought I'd share it with you all so you could enjoy it just like I know I will be.

I got the idea for this from Angela and I have decided that I just can not for the life of me follow a recipe to the T.  It's beyond me.  So here's my rendition.  Non-vegan but very easily made vegan if you want.

Sweet Potato Casserole
  • 4 large sweet potatoes cooked and mashed (I always leave my skins on due to the nutrient factor, but you could peel the potatoes before cooking, too)
  • 1 T unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 c chilled butter
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 c flour
-- Once your potatoes are cooked (either boil them or cut them and put the in the microwave until soft) and mashed, preheat your oven to 350 and grease a 2 QT baking dish
-- Add the apple sauce, vanilla, brown sugar, salt and spices tot he potatoes and mash until they are all combined and the potatoes are even creamier than when you started.  Transfer to the baking dish.
--In a small bowl, combine the sugar and flour and with a pastry cutter, cut in the chilled butter until it looks like coarse crumbs.
-- Sprinkle evenly over the mashed orange goodness and pop it in the oven for about 50 minutes.  It should be golden brown on the top.

Once you bite into this, you'll think you're having dessert for dinner.  Ahh, you'll want to just take your fork and eat only the crust (although the mashed potato part of the casserole is just as good).  Or am I the only one who reacts this way?