Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Sides

I received a sample of Musselman's applesauce to come up with some recipes utilizing it in side dishes one might have this time of year. I thought and thought... then i went into my kitchen :)

After the success of the Spirited Cranberry Sauce I made last year, I decided to put a spin on this for an appetizer I had in mind. I kept the sherry-soaked dried apricots, but used apple cider and spices when making the sauce. To finish is off, I folded in some applesauce and adjusted the sweetness. While this could easily be used as is, I thought it would make a great topper for some baked brie!

Spirited Cran-Apple-Apricot Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light

1/2c thin sliced apricots
1/4c sherry
3/4c apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1t vanilla
3-4T honey (or agave, brown sugar, or your desired sweetener)
1 package cranberries
1/2c Musselman's Natural Applesauce

Place apricots and sherry in a small bowl and let sit overnight.

Combine apricots and sherry, cider, cinnamon stick, vanilla and cranberries in a medium pot. Cook over med-low heat until thickened and desired consistency. Add 3T sweetener and applesauce, mix to incorporate, then taste and adjust to your desired level of sweetness. With the amounts I used, it was pretty tart but went perfectly with the brie :)

Don't worry, yours will look better (I didn't have a full wheel of brie)

Baked Brie w/Spirited Cran-Apple-Apricot Sauce
inspiried by The Kitch'n

1 wheel of brie
1/2-3/4c spirited cran-apple-apricot sauce
chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired

Preheat oven to 350. Cut top rind off of brie. Place in a small baking dish. Top with cranberry sauce (keep a small border). Bake for 12-15min, until heated through and cheese is bubbly. Serve in dish or transfer (carefully) to a serving platter. Serve with crackers.

I also used the applesauce to create an Acorn Apple Soup. Seasoned with a flurry (curry?) of spices, this was a delicious, light soup that would be a good addition to any meal!

Acorn Apple Soup
Serves 2

Depending on what you're in the mood for, this soup can be subtly spiced or more robust. Adjust to you're own tastebuds! The amounts listed below come out somewhere in the middle :)

1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
1/2t cinnamon
1/2t curry powder
1/6t cardamom
1/6t coriander
1/2c Musselman's Natural Applesauce (or homemade)
apple cider
1/2 apple, diced small
finely grated gruyere

Preheat oven to 425. Place squash on baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO. Sprinkle spices, then bake until squash is tender (time will depend on the size). Remove from oven.

While squash is roasting, prepare garnishes (if desired). Saute diced apple in a little butter or oil and a blend of the seasonings used to season the squash (I didn't measure, just shook some on). Set aside.

To make gruyere crisps, heat a nonstick pan to med heat. Add gruyere in small disc shapes (~1-2t per circle) and cook until melty. Using a spatula, carefully flip over discs and cook until lightly browned. Depending on how hot your pan is, this can go pretty quickly. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. I had ~ 1/3c grated gruyere and got 10 crisps.

Once cool, scoop out squash into a blender (I used an immersion blender). Add applesauce and puree. Add enough apple cider until it reaches your desired consistency. Transfer to serving bowls and top with diced apples and gruyere crisps right before serving.

If you're looking for a sweet ending, the applesauce also works well in this Apple Cake, even if it wasn't vegan ;) (I had some buttermilk handy!)

Sorry for the monster post, but I hope everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Raw Apple Crisp

I keep forgetting to tell you about a rockin' raw dessert I made after I went apple picking... raw apple crisp! I channeled Averie and attempted her recipe without a Vita-mix. Looking back at her pictures, I'm realizing I didn't not use nearly enough agave for the filling--mine wasn't saucy ;) Lip-smacking delicious, I loved this version! A bit healthier than the butter-laden topping that's all too addictive, this is a crust I can feel good about!

Raw Apple Crisp
adapted from Averie
serves 4

1/3c almond meal
2T finely shredded coconut
2 dates, diced
agave nectar
cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other spices you desire
2-4 apples, diced

Add almond meal, coconut and dates in food processor. Add agave until mixture comes together and you can press into a crust (probably 1T or so). After chopping the apples, add agave, cinnamon and other spices, to taste. Press ~1/2 crust recipe into 1 container (I used 4 smaller ones). Top with apples. Divide the rest of the "crust" and crumble on top of the apples. Refrigerate until serving.

What are you waiting for? Go make your own :)

As a bonus, I'll leave you with a picture of a random lunch from this week... baby spinach, roasted butternut squash, quinoa, dried cherries, spinach chicken sausage and a dijon vinaigrette. Mmm...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I'm impressed, you guys all recognized the painted ladies from Full House! When I got back from San Francisco, I had some ripe persimmon pulp waiting to be used. Thanks to my vacuum sealer and the coldest spot on my fridge (verging on freezer), it was still good!

Fuyu persimmons

If you've never had persimmons before, there are two varieties seen in stores (I saw a third in CA!). Fuyu persimmons (as shown above) look like an orange tomato. These can be eaten slightly under-ripe like an apple (skin included). Hachiya persimmons look more like an acorn. These you want to let fully ripen, otherwise it'll be so astringent (due to tannins) you won't want to eat another one... and that would be a shame! When it's ripe, it will be very soft (almost squishy), and you scoop out the pulp (not eating the skin). Hachiya's can be ripened in the freezer if you're short on time, otherwise just leave them at RT. The pulp can be frozen, too!

So what did I do with my persimmon pulp?? I tried Joy's Persimmon Pudding, using buttermilk instead of milk, white whole wheat flour, and baking it with the foil on then off (half the time). I don't even know how to describe this, except moist and yummy! I really enjoyed it... for dessert and breakfast ;)

Persimmon Pudding

I also made a small batch of muffins using Susan's recipe for a Fall Harvest Cake. Incredibly moist (I'm sensing a theme) from the persimmon puree and studded with freshly picked apples, these little cakes disappeared very quickly!

Fall Harvest Muffins

Next time you see these babies in the store, pick some up and treat your tastebuds! Do you have a favorite thing to do with persimmons???

What, you wanted chocolate instead? Click here for Katie's contest!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

San Francisco

Finally, more pictures from last weekend!

The scene below was featured on a tv show... anyone recognize it???

From the Ferry Building...
Winter Spice Tea


Buddha's Hands

Persimmons as far as the eye could see!
(I so wanted to take a box of these home in my luggage!!!)

And more from around the city...

Flax crackers with avocado, tomato & Basil (from Alive)

The Golden Gate Bridge
from our Saturday morning run (thanks for the picture Meghann)

Nature's Pride Brunch

Trolley car

the setting sun peeking through the trees


the loot

Some amazing people (I was bad at taking pictures with people, I apologize to those I should've insisted on catching!)

Me & Tina

And finally, pictures (from Sabrina and Tina) of my Nature's Pride demo.

Thanks again Foodbuzz and Nature's Pride!!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kindness all around

I have more San Francisco pictures coming, but first things first. So many amazing things going on around the blogs, but I think the best is Katie's Operation Chocolate-Covered Kindness! Click away on CCK to raise money for The Enough project!

Some contest love, if that's what you're looking for... lots of loot to celebrate An Apple A Day's Blogiversary, a chance to try Stogo (in NYC) from Gena, a tera's whey giveaway from The Healthy Everythingtarian, and if she wasn't already giving enough, Katie is also giving us a chance to pick our own prize!

~Phew~ I still feel very behind from all that's been going on the past few weeks, but hopefully I'll catch up :/ I also want to thank Brandi before I forget. She passed along an award to me! I was very excited to meet her (and her hubby Nick) this past weekend :) Hopefully we'll meet again soon!

Now for 7 things about me that come along with this...
1- I feel badly for crumbs. If I'm at home, I tend to eat the crumbs first so they don't feel bad ;)
2- I don't know how to dive, and I'm too scared to learn now.
3- I'm not a coffee drinker, and never have been. Tea, please!
4- Finding Nemo is one of my favorite movies :)
5- I was a Girl Scout, as a Brownie and Junior! Good ol' Troop 12, still friends with some of those gals!
6- My right foot is ~1/2 a size larger than my left. (how rude!)
7- I have a bad habit of cracking my knuckles. I used to be alot worse, now it usually only happens when I'm nervous.

To share the love... I'm passing the award on to Sarah, Kerstin, Kelly, Sabrina, Diana, Mary Kate, and Sagan. If you haven't checked out these lovely ladies, I encourage you to go do so now ;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

1st Annual Foodbuzz Festival

I'm on the plane, somewhere over Nebraska, recounting a fabulous weekend in San Francisco. Foodbuzz did an amazing job with the Festival, I can't thank them enough!! There are quite a few thorough recaps of the event (just check out the list of attendees), so I thought I would highlight my favorite eats of the weekend.

I started Friday night off right--with dessert! A pumpkin spice cupcake from Mission Minis

A buttery, rich Zucchini Mushroom hand pie from The Pie Truck (Sabrina and I, "Cheers!")

A lavender-pomegranate cheesecake from Alive, with a coconut base (I love this coconut milk trend!). I loved the subtle, light flavors of this raw, vegan cheesecake!

Excellent thin crust pizza from Pizza Politana

A gluten-free bread from Blue Bottle Coffee that married Arborio Rice, Brandy, and Wine! Thanks for sharing Tina :)

Fresh, local honey yogurt from Saint Benoit in it's own awesome crock!

An appetizer from aquarius that I *think* involved a goat cheese mousse underneath some sort of meat (maybe like a carpaccio?) and topped with a lemon meringue. Best in one bite, this was very unique and tasty! Anyone else remember what this was exactly??

A meatball from Chef Paul of Americano, made with Hearst beef

Some delicious cheese...

And so much incredible chocolate I couldn't pick favorites (or pictures) :)

Pumpkin Pie Caramallows from BonBonBar

Amazingly dough-y cookies from Annie the baker

Brussels sprouts that made me a lover!! From our Outsanding in the Field dinner Saturday night at Greenleef Produce, these roasted brussels sprouts were topped with ponzu fried garlic, guanciale and bonito flakes. Definitely recreating!!

Another good bite from dinner was the tuna appetizer. "Ahi tunnato on paine de mie with gochukaru and parsley," I seem to recall it was described as tuna poached in oil that was then reduced to form a foam that topped the tuna. Or something like that ;)

Pistachio Macarons from Miette (thanks for the tip Esi). I really need to try making these gems at home!

I also owe a huge thank you to Nature's Pride, who not only sponsored my trip, but gave me the opportunity to prepare my Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding during the Tasting Pavilion! It seemed to be a hit, but I don't know if it was because I was standing right there ;)

All I have to say is holy food!! It's a good thing we don't do this every weekend :)
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