Friday, October 28, 2011

Salmon with Red Pepper Pesto

If you need a quick dinner idea for this busy weekend or any busy weekend, this is a great one. It has just a few steps and tastes fabulous. My kids absolutely loved it. I found a great deal on some wild caught fresh salmon and had some roasted red peppers in my fridge, so this dinner was a no-brainer. The salmon cooks up in no time and while it cooks, the sauce is blended quickly in the food processor. Fast and easy, but also delicious.

Have a great weekend!

Here is the recipe for Salmon Red Pepper Pesto

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie with Hazelnut Streusel

When my sister was visiting, we also made this Sweet Potato Pie with Hazelnut Streusel. I haven't ever made sweet potato pie before, but I figured this was a good recipe to start out with. My sister isn't a fan of pie crust and we were looking to save time, so we made it without the crust.
It was easy and delicious. The streusel gave a nice crunch to the whole thing and we didn't miss the crust at all.

Here is the recipe for Sweet Potato Pie with Hazelnut Streusel
* I added some oats to the streusel

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sweet Potato Graham Muffins

Like I mentioned before, when my sister was here for a quick visit, we had huge sweet potatoes that we needed to use, so it was basically sweet potato weekend. I had seen this muffin recipe from Whole Foods and thought it looked great. My sister was excited about it too, so on Sunday morning before church, we whipped them up. I made a few changes, mostly because I've discovered that with muffins, you can exchange most of the butter/oil for low-fat or nonfat buttermilk and still get a nice, moist, delicious muffin. I like muffins that are healthy tasting and not too sweet and that's exactly what these muffins were. Now, if you care about the taste of your graham crackers, I would use a brand that you think tastes great, as they are crushed up in the batter and also on top. This is no time for a cheap store brand (unless they taste amazing).

Here is the original recipe for Sweet Potato Graham Muffins
* I used 1 1/2 Tbls canola oil instead of the butter
* I used 1 cup nonfat buttermilk instead of the yogurt
* I added 1 tsp ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients
* I added 1 tsp vanilla extract to the wet ingredients

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque

My sister came to visit for a quick weekend trip and I told her to find some recipes that use sweet potatoes, because I had a couple of extra large ones that really needed to be dealt with. She emailed me the recipe for this soup and I thought it sounded pretty interesting. When she was here, we decided to make this for lunch on a rainy day.

This soup is pretty easy to make, but as I was throwing it together, I was getting a little worried about the final product. V8, green chiles, sweet potatoes and peanut butter?? I was a tad bit hesitant to try it, but once I did, I realized that it was fabulous. It was spicy, creamy, and had great flavor from the sweet potatoes. As I was eating this, I realized that I no longer despise sweet potatoes. In fact, I can honestly now say that I like them. Thank you Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque!

Here is the recipe for Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque
I added chopped peanuts as a garnish

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spinach (Swiss Chard), Pasta, and Pea Soup

Besides eggplant, I've still got swiss chard growing in my garden out back. It just keeps growing back and I am happy about that. I love being able to go out and cut my swiss chard when I need some for a recipe.

I found this soup in a recent issue of Cooking Light and since it was a "superfast" meal, I knew it would be perfect to make on a night when my son has Cub Scouts. I added some green pepper (also from the garden) and used swiss chard instead of spinach. Quick and Easy!

Here is the recipe for Spinach, Pasta, and Pea Soup

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagne

A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to get together and make this lasagne with her. I thought that cooking together sounded like a blast, so I quickly agreed to come over later that week with all my supplies to put this lasagne together. I usually avoid recipes that have tons of cheese and milk, since we have some lactose intolerance issues with certain members of my family, but not this time. My friend had tried this recipe before and loved it. She said that lots of the comments on epicurious said it took forever to put together, but we didn't think it was so bad. I prepped my squash, herbs, nuts, cheese, etc., before I went to her house, so we just cooked the squash, made the sauce and then assembled the lasagne.

It was so nice to have this made and waiting in the fridge, so that when dinner time rolled around, all I had to do was put it in the oven. This made a ton of lasagne! I know the recipe said that it serves 6, but in order for that to happen, someone would have to eat a ton of this. We did even eat half of it that night. The butternut squash, sage and hazelnuts go perfectly with the cheese and sauce. All we had on the side was a huge salad of mixed baby greens and it was a filling meal. I ended up freezing the leftovers, so we could enjoy them later.

Here is the recipe for Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagne

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Red Lentils, Eggplant and Chickpeas

My eggplant plant is still producing quite a few eggplants. A few weeks ago, I harvested 12 or so in one week and the next week I had about 10. That is a lot of eggplant. Even for someone who really likes it! I had to share some of it with friends, but I used most of it.

This recipe is something similar to what we eat on a regular basis. More often than not, I take a a look at what veggies I have on hand and pick a protein/whole grain to compliment it and then I make up something for dinner. I did kinda use a recipe as a base for this, but, like usual, I didn't really follow it. The result was delicious and very comforting.

Here is the recipe which I use mostly used as an idea to go from, I didn't really follow it
* I didn't use barley- I added bulger when I added the lentils
* I added chopped green peppers with the onion
* I added chopped kale
* I added curry powder
* I added more tomato paste
* I didn't puree it or cook it as long

Monday, October 17, 2011

Root Beer Ice Cream

For some reason, the last time I had leftover cream and egg yolks, I just couldn't think of an ice cream flavor to make. I have made so many different kinds that my mind just went blank. I decided to ask my family for suggestions and my son immediately said "Root Beer Ice CREAM!". So, the search began for a recipe. I found one pretty quickly and had to go to a couple of stores to find Root Beer Extract/Concentrate, but once I did, we were in business.

I thought the finished product tasted like a Root Beer Float and my family absolutely loved it.

Here is the recipe for Root Beer Ice Cream

Friday, October 14, 2011

Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili (kinda)

It's that time of year again- Chili season! For some reason, once the weather turns a little bit cooler, it just feels like time to make chili. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who feels that way.
I usually make a vegetable-heavy chili, sometimes with ground turkey and sometimes meatless with a few different kinds of beans. I saw this recipe in Everyday Food Magazine and it looked really delicious. I wasn't planning on adding anything extra, but I had some sweet potatoes in the fridge that needed to be used and well, an extra can of beans never really hurt anybody, right?

This was delicious!

Emeril's Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili

from Everyday Food
makes 6-8 servings

4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1.25-1.5 pounds ground turkey
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream (optional)
* I added 1 1/2 cups chopped sweet potato with the ground turkey and 1 can drained & rinsed black beans with the pinto beans + a little extra water :D

In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes. Add onions and bell pepper and cook until vegetable soften, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, and cook about 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Continually break meat up with wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.

Add tomatoes with juice, beans, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a rapid simmer. Partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. (This could take anywhere from 20-45 minutes, or more.)

Serve topped with cilantro and shredded cheese and/or sour cream, if desired.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Dinner Muffins

I don't usually serve bread with dinner, but when I saw these muffins I thought they would be a great way to liven up a week night meal. I decided to make them on a night when we were having soup and they were a great addition to enjoy on the side. My kids decided that they liked these better with some jam spread on them and I thought they were really good with or without anything on them.
I made a 1/2 recipe and got 8 muffins. They are fairly easy to mix together and bake up quickly. You do whip the egg whites and fold them into the rest of the batter, but that gives these muffins a really light, airy texture.

Here is the recipe for Whole Wheat Dinner Muffins
* I used non-fat buttermilk
* I used olive oil instead of butter
* I used non-fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Curried Split Pea Soup

I made this Split Pea Hummus a couple of months ago and it really changed the way I felt about split peas. I had another bag in the pantry and decided to try some sort of soup. I found this recipe by Alton Brown and decided it would be a great way to try split pea soup. It is very simple, with only a few ingredients and very delicious. The split peas turn out tasting like lentils, which is a really good thing in my opinion. I'm always very happy when I find out that a food I thought I didn't like is actually delicious.

Here is the recipe for Curried Split Pea Soup from Alton Brown
* I used olive oil instead of butter

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Roll Cookies

I've made Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls in the past and also tried Cinnamon Bun Cookies, so when I saw a recipe that combined those 2 ideas, I had to give it a try. I made a few changes to the recipe that I found and made these very delicious, unique cookies.

The dough is mixed together like a typical cookie dough, but it is rolled out like you would cinnamon rolls. A cinnamon-sugar mixture is sprinkled over the dough and then it is rolled up and chilled. I actually made the dough on a Tuesday afternoon and didn't have time to slice and bake the cookies until Friday morning. I had rolled the dough out on parchment paper, so once I had it filled with the cinnamon sugar and rolled up- I wrapped it in the parchment and kept it in the fridge for a couple of days.

The amazing part about these cookies is that they actually taste like a cinnamon roll and have the texture of both a cookie and a cinnamon roll. I was really quite surprised when I bit into one and it had such an amazing, interesting texture. I was able to share these cookies with quite a few people and many others had the same reaction and look of surprise when they bit into these cookies. These cookies are the perfect fall treat and a wonderful cookie to share with friends!

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Roll Cookies adapted from this post
who adapted from Dine and Dish

Yield: 3 dozen

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1Tbls ground cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all- purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves

For the glaze:
2 Tbls butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-3 Tbls hot water

Cream together butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl, until light and fluffy. Add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. While this is beating, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture in several additions and mix until everything is combined.

In a small bowl, stir together the filling (sugar and cinnamon) until well mixed. Turn out dough onto parchment paper and spread or roll out into a large rectangle. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving about an inch around the edge. Roll up the dough jelly-roll style, using the parchment paper to help. If the dough starts to break as you're rolling, don't worry, just pinch it back together. Wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap from plastic and cut into 1/4" thick slices. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or baking stone, 1-2" apart. Bake in preheated oven 9-11 min, until just beginning to brown around the edges or until just set. Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack.

Once cookies have cooled, make the glaze by using an electric mixer to mix the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the glaze has reached desired consistency.

Place glaze in a ziploc bag, cut a small hole in the corner, and pipe glaze onto cookies, following the swirl of the cookie. Allow to set.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

This month's Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club theme was chosen by Jerry. He wanted us to have a menu full of spooky foods, that were either orange or black.

He started us off with 'Dracula's Revenge' (Baked Penne with Sausage and Garlic),

Sandi added Devilish Eggs,

I went with Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas,
I first noticed these empanadas last year and eagerly tore the page from my issue of Cooking Light. I haven't ever really been a big fan of sweet potatoes, but this savory take really made me think that it could be the turning point. Somehow, I never made them, but when the orange and black food theme came around this month, I knew they would be perfect. Orange because of the sweet potatoes and the black beans for the black part. I figured my kids would be scared to eat them, so that could count for the spooky part.

The dough for the empanadas is really easy to mix together, but it does need to chill for an hour, so make sure to add that time to your prep. The filling is fairly easy to make, if you already have your sweet potato cooked, mashed and/or pureed. I had pureed a bunch of sweet potatoes that I baked in the oven a few weeks ago and frozen the puree in little ziploc bags, so all I had to do was defrost it and I was ready to go. I made a change to the filling, just because I wanted my kids to be able to handle the heat factor- I reduced the amount of chili powder by about half.

The dough was really easy to roll out and I decided to use a fork to seal my empanadas instead of using an egg white. When I tasted one of these, I was really surprised by how good they were. The combination of spices, cilantro, black beans, etc. really took away the sweetness that usually bothers me with sweet potatoes and added a nice spice/warmth. I really, really liked these. One of my daughters also surprised me by absolutely loving them. She liked them so much that she asked me to pack a couple for her lunch the next day. My other 2 children were not big fans, but they ate them anyway. I thought they were good warm or cold. I had a few leftover and ate one cold the next day for lunch. It was fabulous. So, I am happy to report that this recipe has really changed my outlook on sweet potatoes. I hope you check out the rest of our fabulously spooky menu!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fudge Brownies- using sweet potato puree

I can't remember how I found this recipe for brownies, but I was excited because I had lots of sweet potatoes and didn't know exactly what I was going to do with them. My son loooves brownies more than anything and I thought this would be a good way to make a slightly healthier brownie for my kids to enjoy. I cooked a bunch of sweet potatoes in the oven and then pureed them in my food processor. I made these brownies and the Sweet Potato Hummus on the same day, so at least I made my kids eat veggies and hummus before we moved onto the sweets. :D

I had some leftover peanut butter frosting from this Peanut Butter Cake in the fridge and for some reason, I just can't let a little leftover frosting go to waste. Does anyone else have this problem? The frosting I slathered on top probably killed the whole healthy idea, but sometimes, a brownie just needs a little frosting.

My kids didn't know that these had sweet potato puree in them and thought they were great. I am not a brownie fanatic, so I didn't mind that these brownies taste and texture was a little bit different than a normal one. They were still very good and quite fudgy.

Here is the recipe for Fudge Brownies
* I reduced the sugar by about 1/4 cup