Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butternut Coconut Jam

With an abundance of butternut squash thanks to my CSA, I set out to try something different.  A quick perusal of my saved recipes and I found my inspiration.  Butternut coconut jam.  Oh yes.  Grated squash, cooked down to a jam-like consistency?  Awesome.

A unique addition to a cheese plate, this jam goes perfectly well with an assertive cheese.  I tried it with goat cheese, surprising no one :)

crostini w/goat cheese and butternut coconut jam

It also worked well in a pork tenderloin (1lb) that I stuffed with sage (1-2T), butternut coconut jam (1/2c) and gorgonzola (~1/3c).  I didn't write down an exact recipe, but it was similar to this technique.

stuffed pork tenderloin w/roasted brussels, sweet potatoes, onions and cranberries

Some other potential uses for the jam:
     as a cupcake filling
     inside a grilled cheese (w/sage or rosemary, nuts and/or apples)
     stirred into oatmeal
     on top of goat cheese ice cream
     in a fall s'more, between homemade graham crackers and marshmallows

Butternut Coconut Jam
adapted from The Kitch'n

1 butternut squash (2-2.5lbs)
2c unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1/2c dark brown sugar (mine was unpacked)
1 cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
2 vanilla beans
1c dried unsweetened coconut

Peel the butternut squash and cut into pieces.  Grate the squash (I used my food processor), or cut into small pieces.  Add squash, milk, sugars and spices into a large, heavy pot.  Split the vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds and add to the squash along with the scraped pods.  Cover and cook over medium heat until the squash is soft and tender (~15min or so).

Once the squash is tender, remove the cover and continue to cook on medium heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is reduced and thick like...  jam :)  Mine took ~1hr or so.  Remove from pan from the heat and stir in the coconut.  Once cool, fish out the cloves, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pods.  I left the jam as-is as I wanted to retain some texture, but if you prefer a smooth jam mash or puree the mixture.  Store in the refrigerator.

How would you eat this butternut coconut jam?  Check back later this week for another use!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Apple Crisp

I hope everyone in the states had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday!  I'm still feeling quite grateful, for my family, for my friends... for you.  Thank you for reading and for making me smile with every comment :)

Guess what I made for you?  Apple crisp!  Fitting, I think, as apple crisp makes me think of my mom.  Along with blueberry and strawberry-rhubarb pies, it is one of her go-to desserts in the fall.

Apple Crisp w/Rosemary & Honey
Recipe by Shannon

5-6 lg apples
1T arrowroot
1t fresh lemon juice
1/2-1t freshly chopped rosemary
1t vanilla extract
1/4c clover honey

1/3c oat flour (ground oats)
1/3c brown sugar
1/3c rolled oats
1/3c chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4t salt
1/4-1/2t freshly grated nutmeg
2T extra virgin olive oil (or melted butter)

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Add chopped apples to a large bowl.  Add arrowroot, lemon juice, rosemary, vanilla and honey and toss to combine.  Pour into a large casserole (a 9x13" pan or two smaller ones).

In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, nuts, salt and nutmeg.  Add oil and stir together.  Sprinkle over the apple mixture.  Bake, until the topping is browned and apples bubbling, ~30-45min.

In case you were looking for recipes to use some leftover turkey...
Curried Turkey Salad
Crustless Turkey and Spinach Quiche
Spicy Turkey Soup w/Yogurt, Chickpeas & Mint
Sweet Potato Hash with Turkey & Eggs

What was the best thing you ate yesterday??

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cranberries are traditionally part of Thanksgiving dinner, but I wanted to come up with a slightly different way to highlight these rubies.  Deciding upon a cranberry upside-down cake, I consulted no fewer than 10 recipes for various upside-down cakes, cranberry and otherwise.  None were quite what I was envisioning, so I got to work on my own recipe.  Maple and orange were invited to the party, and a little semolina flour helped add some depth to the thin layer of cake.

Cranberries swimming in a browned-butter maple caramel

It smelled heavenly while cooking (I mean, it's essentially a browned butter caramel that ends up topping the cake), and it was delicious.   This would be a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving table, and it might very well end up at mine again!

Cake, pre-bake

The best part about this cake?  It had nothing to do with the creative process of developing the recipe, my healthy modifications, or even how it tasted.  It was who I got to share it with.  Good friends, whom I wouldn't have met had it not been for this blog (thankful!).  We divided and conquered the meal, leaving us with time to catch up, share some laughs, relax and imbibe.

Good living isn't only about the food you eat, it's about who you get to eat it with.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 8-12

A few notes on this cake;  the cake is not too sweet and could totally pass as breakfast.  The maple sugar imparts a subtle maple flavor, but if you can't find it feel free to substitute the regular stuff.  It also could be baked in a smaller skillet if you prefer a thicker layer of cake, increase the baking time a bit.

4T butter
1c maple sugar, divided
1T maple syrup
1/4c water
2 1/2c cranberries
1c white whole wheat flour
1/2c semolina flour  (or AP flour)
1/4-1/2t orange zest (I eye-balled this)
2t baking powder
1/4t salt
2 lg eggs
1c greek yogurt (I use 2%)
6T neutral oil (I used 2T melted coconut oil and 4T canola)

In an oven-proof 12" skillet, melt butter over medium heat until it starts to brown and smell nutty.  Whisk in 1/2c maple sugar, maple syrup and water and remove from the heat.  Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Add cranberries to the skillet once cool, making sure to cover the surface of the skillet.  Sift dry ingredients (flours through salt) together into a medium bowl.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, oil and 1/2c maple sugar.  Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Dollup the batter onto the cranberries and spread into an even layer.   Bake for 35-45min, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean.

Cool the cake for 15min.  Place a plate/platter on top of the cake, then flip the skillet over and remove the skillet from on top of the cake.  Serve warm or RT.

Suggested accompaniments:  maple greek yogurt, maple whipped cream or ice cream

**Edited to add:  If you don't have a large enough skillet, you can also prepare this in a springform pan or cake pan.  Simply prepare the caramel sauce in a saucepan, and then pour into your desired pan lined with parchment paper (sprayed with nonstick spray on both sides).  Add cranberries (you might not need as much) and then proceed as above.  Adjust the cooking time according to the size of your pan and thickness of the batter.

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE.  You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:  http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Persimmon Apple Spice Bread

Fuyu persimmons

In late fall I look towards the appearance of persimmons in the market.  No, they're not grown locally, but they're in season somewhere, and that's ok in my book.

Trying your first persimmon shouldn't be taken lightly.  One variety (hachiya) is quite astringent when unripe, so you want to be a little careful!  The short, squat variety (fuyu) can be eaten at any time like an apple, but the acorn shaped ones must be ripe (very soft, almost mushy and bright orange) before using the flesh. 

Wanting to embrace the season, I added in another fall favorite, apples!  Together with some Chinese Five Spice I had picked up awhile back,  you've got a deliciously warming quickbread that's perfect for breakfast, a snack, or an addition to brunch.

Persimmon Apple Spice Bread
adapted from Food Blogga
Yield:  5 small loaves

You could certainly bake this in 2 normal loaf pans or even muffin tins, just adjust the baking time accordingly.

1 3/4c white whole wheat flour
3/4c AP flour
1 1/2t baking soda
3/4t baking powder
1t salt
1t Chinese Five Spice
1/2t cinnamon
1/2t nutmeg
1 1/4c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)

3 lg eggs
1/2c oil or melted butter (I used a mix of melted coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil)
1/4c unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2c pureed persimmon pulp (traditionally made from hachiyas, but fuyus will also work)
3/4c chopped apple
3/4c toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Add the dry ingredients (flour through sugar) to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Add toasted walnuts and toss to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add oil/butter, applesauce and persimmon pulp and whisk to combine.  Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chopped apples.  Divide into mini loaf pans sprayed with nonstick spray.  Bake for 25-35min, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes clean.  Cool on a rack.

Serve warm or room temp, apple butter optional!  Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap to store for a few days, or freeze to enjoy at a later date.

If you're looking for different persimmon recipes, try  persimmon pudding, fall harvest muffins, persimmon cookies and persimmon date bread!

If you've tried persimmons, how would you describe the taste??  I was struggling with this, but I'd say sweet, with hints of honey or mango.  I'd like to know your thoughts!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kaddo Pizza

Good Living.

My definition of good living has certainly evolved over time, but these days it often involves food.  Food so good that you  get excited just thinking about it (like these pop tarts).  Food so good want to share it with your friends and family.  If only it would last that long ;)

The idea for this pizza came together a bit serendipitously at work one day, but it immediately went on the meal plan for the weekend.  I may or may not have immediately shared my plans with one or two co-workers.  Too bad they had never had Afghani food and did not share in my excitement!

I thought back to the first time I tried Afghani food, with my friends Adeeb and Christina, at Helmand in Baltimore.  It was then that I fell for kaddo, a baked sweet pumpkin served on a yogurt mint sauce and topped with a meat sauce.  This would be the basis of my pizza.

I made some of my usual choices to keep things on the healthy side (whole wheat crust, greek yogurt, reduced sugar and good quality beef) but not at any sacrifice of flavor.  Oh the flavor...  the sweet caramelized pumpkin, spiced beef and cooling mint yogurt.  Not your traditional pizza, but delicious and one worth sharing!

Kaddo Pizza
inspired by Helmand, loosely adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen
Yield:  2 10-12" pizzas

1lb whole wheat dough (if you like thick crusts, you'll need closer to 2lb of dough)

For the pumpkin:
1 sugar pumpkin
3T coconut oil, melted
1c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)

For the sauce:
2c greek yogurt (like 2%)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2t dried mint
1/2t salt

For the meat mixture:
2T extra virgin olive oil
1 lg onion, diced
1lb grass-fed beef
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
2 lg garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2t ground coriander
scant 1/2t sea salt
1t freshly ground pepper
1/2t ground tumeric
2T tomato paste
1/2c water

Preheat the oven to 300deg.  Halve and de-seed the pumpkin (I use a spoon to scrape out the seeds).  Peel (or cut off the skin of) the pumpkin and cut into wedges.  Place the pumpkin in a large baking pan or rimmed baking sheet.  Top with oil and sugar, then cover with foil.  Bake for 2.5hrs, then baste the pumpkin pieces with the accumulated juices.  Cover and return to the oven for another 45min or so.  Once pumpkin is nice and caramelized (deep orange in color), remove from the oven and set aside to cool.  [You can save the pumpkin sugar syrup here and use it for your morning oatmeal or latte!]

While the pumpkin is roasting, prepare the sauce and meat mixture.  For the sauce, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate until it's time to make the pizza.

For the meat sauce, begin by heating the oil in a large heavy bottomed skilled over medium high heat.  Add onions and saute until they're golden brown (5-10min).  Add the beef and continue to saute until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a spatula or spoon to avoid large clumps.  Once the meat is browned, add the tomato, garlic and spices, then stir to combine.  Add in the tomato paste and mix well.  Add water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until the liquid has evaporated, then set aside.

Once the pumpkin is out of the oven, turn to 400deg.  Preheat your pizza stone, if you're using one.  Dice the cooked, cooled pumpkin.  Roll out half of the dough on a surface dusted with a little cornmeal to your desired thickness (I went thin).  When it's the size of your pizza stone (or cookie sheet), remove the preheated stone from the oven, top with yogurt mint sauce, half the beef mixture, and then the roasted pumpkin.  Bake for 10-12min, until crispy.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Serve, with leftover yogurt mint sauce for dipping :)

I couldn't help but smile when eating this pizza, the memories of good friends, my first experience of Afghani food, and the creation of a new recipe.  Good living, indeed.

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE.  You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:  http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gingersnap Apple Pie w/Bacon Crisp

You still have some apples left, right?

I hope so, because it's time to make apple pie!!

I'm sure it's no surprise by now that I like to mix things up a bit.  Well, if you're like me, then you'll like this twist!  That is if you like bacon...  and who doesn't love bacon?

Ok, maybe vegetarians.  Although there are vegetarians out there who make exceptions for bacon.   For those of you who don't fall in that camp, you can leave it out.  The gingersnap crust is still delicious, and I've never met someone who doesn't like a good crumb topping.

Gingersnap Apple Pie w/Bacon Crisp
adapted from Tasting Table

For the crust:
1/4c pecan halves
1c Trader Joe's Ginger Cats crumbs (or other gingersnap cookie)
3/4c white whole wheat flour
pinch salt
1/4c oil (canola, walnut, or other mild-flavored oil)
3T maple syrup

For the filling:
5 medium apples (I used a mix of some from the orchard)
juice of 1 lemon
1t cinnamon
1/8t ground cloves
1/4-1/2t freshly ground nutmeg
1/4c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
2T white whole wheat flour

For the topping:
6 pieces applewood smoked bacon, cooked (baked or fried), drained and crumbled/chopped
1/3c rolled oats
1/3c white whole wheat flour
1/2c brown sugar
2T ground flaxseed
2T cold butter, cut into small cubes
2-3T greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 375deg.

To make the crust, add pecans, cookie crumbs, flour and salt into a food processor.  Pulse until pecans are ground and the mixture begins to resemble a coarse meal.  In a small bowl (or mixing cup), whisk together oil and maple syrup.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well (I used a fork).  Add crust mixture to the pie plate and press into the bottom and sides of the dish.

Bake crust for 10min, then remove and set on cooling rack.

For the filling, peel and thinly slice apples and place in a large bowl.  Add lemon juice to the apples and toss to coat.  In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and spices) and mix well.  Add the spiced flour to the apples and fold until the apples are just coated.  Spread apples into the cooled pie crust.

To assemble the topping, add oats, flour, sugar, flaxseed and bacon to a bowl.  Add yogurt and butter, then cut in with knives or rub between your fingers until you get pea-sized crumbs.  Sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake the pie ~45min, until the top is browned and apples are tender.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Are you a stickler for tradition or do you like to mix things up a bit?   

Now, if only I could decide whether I like this or my Apple Pie w/Rosemary Crust & Gruyere Crumble better...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pop Tarts

You never know where and when inspiration will strike.  Often it's when you least expect it.  I was eating lunch with some folks at work when the conversation somehow turned to pop tarts.  They were never my thing as a kid, and given my penchant for healthier cooking these days, I didn't give them a second thought.

That is, until I thought about my tomato jam.  I know, I know, I've already posted about it several times, but this jam uses some of summer's finest produce and a totally intriguing way.  Challenging myself to use it different ways has been part of the fun.

While I don't have a go-to healthier pie crust recipe yet, I used a cue from Winnie and used greek yogurt for some of the butter in her dough.  This seemed like a great idea and definitely helped create a healthier treat suitable for breakfast or a snack!

Enjoying food so good it makes you smile; that's good living at its finest.

Sweet & Savory Pop Tarts
crust adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen

You can certainly use whatever jam you have to fill these, and if you want to make them sweet, swap out the rosemary for 1T sugar.

2c white whole wheat flour
1/2c finely grated gruyere
1/2t sea salt
1t chopped fresh rosemary (mine was heaping)
1 stick butter, cubed
1c greek yogurt (such as Fage Total 2%)
2-4T almond milk
1 egg
tomato jam

Add flour to a large bowl along with gryere, salt and rosemary, then stir to combine.  Add butter and yogurt, and cut in using a pastry blender or a couple knives.  The dough should resemble some large pebbles at this point.  Stir in milk, 1T at a time, until the dough just comes together.  Divide dough in half, flatten into a loose rectangle, wrap in saran wrap and then refrigerate for several hours or overnight (I only waited an hour and it was fine).

Take your dough out of the fridge and let it soften a bit for ~15min.  Place one half on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle at least 9"x12" in size (I used a ruler).  Repeat with the second half of dough.  Cut each 9"x12" rectangle into nine smaller 3"x4" rectangles.  Set the trimmings aside.

Beat the egg in a small bowl to use as an egg wash.  Brush over the surface of the first dough (9 rectangles), this will be the inside of the pop tart and help hold the top on.  Add a heaping tablespoon to the center of each rectangle (Deb advises leaving at least 1/2" perimeter of bare dough around the filling).  Place a small rectangle from the second dough (not egg washed) on top of the filling.  Press around the filling with your fingertips to seal the dough on all sides, and then press with the tines of a fork.  Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork (for the steam to escape).  Repeat with remaining rectangles.

Carefully add the tarts to a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Top with grated cheese or egg wash and coarse sea salt.

Here's where I goofed.  I accidentally skipped the 30min refrigeration and found they baked better at 400deg for 18-20min, until lightly golden brown.    However, original instructions called for refrigerating them for 30min while you preheat the oven to 350deg.  Then they're baked for 20-25min.  I'd say you could do either option.

Let the pop tarts cool on the cookie sheet on a cooling rack.

These are best not too long after coming out of the oven (just don't burn your tongue!), although they will be ok for a day or two at RT.  Pop the tarts (haha) in the toaster to reheat them a bit before enjoying!

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE.  You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:  http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway.
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