Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pasta e Fagioli

Adapted From The Dec 15/Jan 16 Fine Cooking Magazine

3 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ribs cellery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
5 c chicken broth
28 oz crushed San Marsano tomatoes
1/2 c basil leaves, sliced, with more to garnish
1 bay leaf
15 oz great northern beans
2 c small shell pasta
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

Place the oil, onion, garlic, and celery in a large dutch oven and saute until just softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broth, tomatoes, basil and bay leaf and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the soup slightly reduces. Add the beans and pasta and cook for another 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is just cooked through. Take off the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil.

This soup was quick, easy to make ahead, simple, and simply delicious! Especially since today was fairly brisk out, it was a perfect end of the day. We enjoyed ours with a side salad or arugula, figs, and blue cheese, topped with a homemade lemon vinaigrette. Yum!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Apple Butter

I have been staring at a bag of the lingering apples from our apple picking foray over a month ago now, just taking up valuable real estate in the fridge, and decided that action must be taken! I had been mulling over the idea of apple butter for some time now, but couldn't commit to hours of stove time, and hadn't gotten around to actually making the butter.

When I found a recipe for apple butter which involve using a dutch oven, and an oven instead of the stove-top, I got very excited!

I made apple sauce last night, and stuck it in the fridge overnight. This morning, I mixed in the sugar and cider, and then put the mixture in the oven while I did laundry and other odds and ends around the house. I did make sure to set a timer for 30 minutes, to stir the apple mixture, and I ended up turning up the heat to 300 F for most of the cooking, but otherwise stuck with the recipe.

This apple butter is delicious. Slightly tangy, soft and spreadable, a little bit sweet, and a lot delicious. I enjoyed mine on top of a slice of cinnamon raisin toast, and ms L had hers topped with some cream cheese as well. I'm already dreaming of it on top of hot, buttered toast, and smiling at the thought! The added bonus, our house smells absolutely fantastic!

I put some of the apple butter in jars in the fridge. It should keep for about a week. The other jars I popped into the freezer. Yum, yum, and yum!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding

3/4 c dates, soaked in warm water for 10 mins and dried
2 c mashed, cooled sweet potato
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 c milk (start with 1/4 c and add more for desired consistency)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Place ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, and pudding-like consistency. Top with fresh berries, coconut whipped cream, or regular whipped cream. Enjoy!

So I know what you're thinking...sweet potato chocolate pudding? Seriously, this stuff is incredible. The kids absolutely LOVED it, I tought the consistency was spot on, and the almond extract really pulls out a unique quality of the flavor. And, since it's basically like eating a vegetable with added fiber and antioxidants, you can feel good about giving this to the kidos for a snack;) Total dessert win here!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Carrot Cake Energy Bites, A New Recipe

I had tried to make carrot cake energy balls a while ago, and although D and I loved them, they received mixed reviews from the kids. I pretty much stuck to the recipe for these carrot cake energy bites, but added 10 dates, and left out the apricots. These are soft, chewy, totally tasty, and a new twist on a nut-free energy bite, so they're perfect for ms L's lunchbox too!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cinnamon Raisin Bread

2 1/4 c warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/3 c honey
1 c pumpkin puree
4 tbs melted butter, divided
3 c white whole wheat flour
3-4 c bread flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 c raisins
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Place the warm water, yeast and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and let it proof. Once it's nice and foamy, add the pumpkin puree, salt, and 3 tbs butter, and whisk together. Add 2 c white whole wheat flour, and mix with a dough hook. Once incorporated, add the remainder of the white whole wheat flour, and then add the bread flour until it is all well mixed, and a springy dough is formed. Knead in the raisins.
Place in a clean, oiled bowl, and cover to let it rise.
One the dough is doubled in size (about 1-2 hours), preheat the oven to 450F.
Divide the dough in two, and roll one of the halves out into a rectangle. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl, and sprinkle half of the mixture onto the rectangle. Starting at one end, roll the dough up into a log, and place into a bread loaf pan, seam size down. Brush with remaining tbs of butter, and cover. Do the same with the second half of dough.
Once the dough has crested about an inch over the top of the pan, lower the oven head to 400F, place the loaves into the oven. Turn them around 20 minutes, and bake another 20 or so, until they are just done and golden on top!
Let them cool on a wire wrack, and then slice and enjoy!

It's no surprise around here how much we all LOVE my go-to cinnamon raisin bread. We almost always have some sliced and frozen, ready to be toasted and topped with cream cheese.

Last year I tried a pumpkin cinnamon raisin bread, which was pretty good, but wasn't perfect. And, this year, it was time for me to venture out on a limb and create my very own whole wheat pumpkin cinnamon raisin bread! Ladies and gentlemen...here it is!

This bread is fantastic! Perfectly light, just a hint of sweetness, and utterly delicious! This is a must-bake for fall.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pumpkin and Cherry Granola

This family LOVES a good granola, and when I saw the recipe for pumpkin spice granola, it was a "must-make" for fall.

I changed a couple of minor things, like adding more flax seed, and a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds. I also left out the chocolate chips because even though everyone LOVES chocolate in this house, there was no need to add more sugar to this tasty granola!

Not only did this granola smell fantastic while baking, it truly was super simple. Leaving these amazing little clusters of crunchy goodness in its wake. OMG people, this stuff is addictive! So, so, so good...

Cranberry and Squash Pasta

1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and grated
1/4 c parmesan cheese, grated
1 c fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
splash of cream
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pasta (any small shape will do)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan. Add the onion and cook until just beginning to brown. Add the grated squash and cook, stiring every couple of minutes, until the squash is tender and slightly browned. Add the parmesan, splash of cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and cook a bit more. Add the cranberries and cook until they start to soften and pop. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit of reserved pasta water after the pasta has finished cooking.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

This meal all started with a butternut squash from our CSA, a recipe I'd seen for pasta with grated butternut squash, and the PBS show A Chef's Life. Drawing from all of these various forms of inspiration, this easy and fabulously delicious dish was born!

The sauce was sweet, hearty, perfectly fall-like, and D and I both agreed it was a wonderful way to enjoy butternut squash which isn't usually our favorite thing! The warm flavor from the nutmeg, and the prolonged cooking of the squash really lent to a caramelized flavor, full of goodness! The cranberries added a balance acidity, and a gorgeous color. This dish will certainly be making another appearance!