29.9.13

Healthy Pumpkin Bread




It's that time again.

All my favorite bloggers are posting pumpkin things.

I also want to eat all the pumpkin things.

Here are a few that I've been lusting over:

Whole wheat pumpkin spice muffins

Pumpkin cheesecake pillow popovers

Healthy maple glazed pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin spice cheesecake bars


So, as I'm sure you're wondering, why add another pumpkin recipe to the already-pumpkin-overloaded-interwebs?

Well, I happen to think this particular pumpkin recipe is a keeper. I found it five years ago and have been making it every October since without fail.

This is a healthy-ish version of pumpkin bread made with whole wheat flour, less sugar, and less fat than most recipes. I also seem to add or substitute one ingredient for another every time that I make it, but it always turns out well. This time I substituted healthier olive oil for the canola oil and added in some superfood flax seeds into the streusel topping.

This recipe makes 2 loaves, which I like. I usually keep one for us and give the other one away.

This weekend, I gave the other loaf to a friend's parents who were hosting us for the weekend. They LOVED it. In fact, her mom called the pumpkin bread "the highlight of the weekend."

Told you it was a keeper.

This bread is not overly sweet. If you've got a sweet tooth, you could add additional sugar, or do as we did and smear a slice with some honey walnut cream cheese. YUM!

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Streusel Topping

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
3 tablespoons flax seeds (or pecans or walnuts or pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup brown sugar
scant 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare 2 nine-inch loaf pans with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, milk eggs, olive oil, and vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined.

Pour batter into loaf pans and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

When there are about 10 minutes left on the timer, start the streusel topping.

In a small bowl, combine oats, flax seeds, sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon.

Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the cold butter into the mixture until it is crumbly.

Remove the loaves from the oven. Sprinkle evenly with streusel and bake for another 35 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.


Pumpkin bread recipe adapted from Live Better America

Streusel Topping recipe adapted from Eat Live Run


21.9.13

Fall Superfood Salad with Roasted Carrots & Chickpeas




Remember this superfood salad I made last spring? 

I was obsessed with it and ate it every week for about a month. 

Then summer came and I got obsessed with fresh corn and this chopped salad

Now it's fall and, obviously,  I need another salad to become obsessed with. 


I've found one. 

I first got hooked on the whole roasted carrot/avocado combo at my sister's house. She served it to me in a salad and I was immediately smitten. Did I mention she's a genius in the kitchen? 

I tell you friends, there is something wonderful about the combination of avocado and roasted carrots. I think it's a texture thing. Also, the carrots undergo a sort of metamorphosis when roasted. They become sweet and softened and all kinds of crave-worthy. Combine those crazy carrots with creamy avocado? Uh-mazing. 

I think that's the connection between the three salads I'm obsessed with. They're salads that don't taste like salads. Weird, but true.  


Keeping with the busyness of fall schedules, I left this recipe relatively simple. I used italian seasoning on both the carrots and chickpeas, but you could easily substitute with whatever combination of spices you like. 

To keep the ingredient list short, I also nixed the quinoa and almonds, but you could add those in too. Just don't skip the carrots. Or the avocado. Or the cheese. Unless you're lactose intolerant, or a vegan, or doing paleo. Then you can skip the cheese. 

Just make it yours. And make it, like, tomorrow. 

You won't regret it. 




Fall Superfood Salad

Ingredients:
1 16 oz bag carrots
2 cans chickpeas, drained & rinsed**
salt & pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
Italian Seasoning mix
1 avocado, cubed
1 head Romaine lettuce
Fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.

Peel and clean carrots. Cut into 1-inch slices.

Place on cookie sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and desired amount of Italian seasoning.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring at least once to prevent burning.

After the carrots have baked for almost 10 minutes, place chickpeas on separate cookie sheet, repeating the with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt & pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook for 8-10 minutes.

Let carrots and chickpeas cool slightly before assembling the salad with remaining ingredients.

*This will make a lot more chickpeas than you actually need. They are super addicting though, so it's nice to have some extra to snack on.

15.9.13

Acorn Squash Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

Cupcakes!


Squash!


Are you thinking what I'm thinking? 

Yes, I put squash in my cupcakes. 

Yes it was a good decision. 

If you think about it, it's not THAT weird. I mean, we put vegetables in our baked goods all the time. Carrot cake, zucchini bread, pumpkin muffins--these things are part of our normal baking repertoire. 

I'll acknowledge that acorn squash does that usually fall into those categories, but I'm not sure why. Whenever I cook acorn squash, I load it up with butter and brown sugar/maple syrup and roast it into fall-apart-sweet-squash-submission.  Contrary to most items in the vegetable category, eating it kindofalmost feels like dessert. That's a win-win on all fronts. 


Because of its dreamy relationship with maple syrup, I originally envisioned acorn squash pancakes, but my sister's upcoming birthday, along with a stellar recipe I found for maple buttercream led me down the cupcake path pretty fast.

As we all know, once you go down the cupcake path, you never go back.


These cupcakes taste like fall.

They've got the spiced nutmeg-cinnamony vibe that pumpkin cupcakes have, but the maple buttercream elevates them to a different level altogether--a gingerbread, leaves in your hair, toasted marshmallow, crisp early morning air, first-fall-sweater-kind-of-level.

We ate these, appropriately, on the first fallish day we've had, on a picnic for my sister's birthday.

If you don't know my sister, you probably should.  She's younger than me but also better than me at most things. Yep, even cooking.

While I think most of my friends would say I can hold my own in the kitchen, the presence of my sister makes me feel inept. She can chop unwieldy vegetables, whip up fancy sauces, and prepare exotic dishes, all without a hint of stress.

She's also snarky and beautiful and true to herself, and while I know it's supposed to be the other way around, I really want to be more like her.

Happy Birthday, Bec.


 And happy fall, friends!



Acorn Squash Cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup acorn squash puree*

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375

Grease (or put cupcake liners into) a muffin pan. (This recipe makes between 18-20 cupcakes).

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cake flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

In a glass measuring container, combine milk,vanilla extract,  oil and eggs. Whisk together, then pour into dry ingredients, stirring until incorporated. Add squash puree and stir until just combined.

*To make the squash puree, cut the squash in half and remove all the seeds with a spoon. In each squash half, place 1 tablespoon butter (cut into small pieces) and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Roast on a baking sheet for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Once cooled slightly, use a fork to remove squash from its skin and continue mashing it with a fork or potato masher. You will probably only need half the squash to get 1 cup. Save the other half for later. :)   I like to do this the day before I make the cupcakes.

Maple Buttercream

Ingredients:
1 cup grade A maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks butter), softened

Directions:
Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed until sugar and syrup are incorporated.

Increase speed to high and and beat until frosting is light and fluffy. (About 3-5 minutes)

Frost immediately and refrigerate leftovers in an air tight container.

Maple Buttercream adapted from Chow.

7.9.13

Greek Baked Chicken with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce


I have been missing out on the deliciousness that is tzatziki sauce for the better part of my life. 

For many years when I saw it at restaurants I wrongly assumed it was some kind of creamy mayonnaise-based sauce.  Since I also hated mayonnaise for the better part of my life (although have now seen the light), I steered clear of it. 


It's only been in the last couple years that I learned tzatziki sauce is made of yogurt, lemon juice, and cucumber, and is, in fact, AMAZING. 

I'm going to be eating lots of it to make up for all those missed years. 


I made homemade tzatziki sauce for the first time a few weeks ago for my friend Steph. We had sweated our lives away at hot yoga, so we were starving when we got home. I threw the marinated chicken into the oven, and thirty minutes later we devoured it along with lots of cool tzatziki sauce, which we licked from our fingers.

This past weekend, when my sister and some friends came over for dinner, I knew it was time to whip up the Greek feast once again.

The tzatziki sauce is surprisingly easy to make. Peel and slice the cucumbers. Salt them well and let them hang out for a while to remove excess moisture.  Then just throw everything into the food processor and give it a whirl.


The Greek baked chicken is similarly simple.  Throw the chopped lemons and onions into a bag with the chicken, olive oil and spices and let them marinate for a few hours.  Transfer everything to a baking sheet and roast until the chicken is fragrant, lemon-infused, golden and crispy. 

When that fragrant chicken meets salty feta cheese, cool tzatziki sauce, and warm pita, it's magical, friends. 



***I recommend using chicken thighs as opposed to chicken breasts in this recipe, as the extra fat in the thighs gives it the extra flavor. This recipe also makes a large quantity and is easily halved.***


Greek Baked Chicken

Ingredients: 
8 chicken thighs
2 large red onions, cut into wedges
4 lemons, quartered
6 gloves garlic
2 tsp oregano
salt & pepepr
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Directions:

In a large marinating bag or plastic container, combine chicken, red onions, lemons, garlic, oregano, & 1/4 cup olive oil. Place in fridge and let marinate between 3 and 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375.

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Emtpy the marinating bag/container onto the baking sheet. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper.

Roast for 30-40 minutes or until chicken skin is golden brown & crispy.


Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
juice from 1 lemon
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 large cucumber
salt & pepper

Directions:

Peel cucumber and cut into fourths.

Using your knife or a spoon, remove all the seeds.

Cut cucumber into small pieces and place in a colander. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let sit for 15-30 minutes. Afterwards, use a paper towel or hand towel to remove excess moisture.

In a food processor, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, dill, and prepared cucumber.  Blend until smooth.

***Serve with warm pita bread, plenty of crumbled feta cheese, and crisp romaine lettuce***

Greek chicken recipe adapted from Simply Delicious.

Tzatziki sauce adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen.

1.9.13

Yogurt Parfaits with Vanilla Coconut Almond Granola & Balsamic Fig Sauce



My first week of law school has already endowed me with some stellar reasoning skills.

If a food item can reasonably be considered to exist in both the breakfast and the dessert category, that food item will be unequivocally delicious.

Thus, you should eat it.


Hello toasted vanilla coconut almond granola.  (Let's see...nuts, oats, flax seed...definitely breakfast)


 And hello sweet balsamic fig sauce. (Hmm...simple syrup, sugar, sauce...leaning toward dessert here, although there is fruit involved...)


When those two forces combine with greek yogurt, (uh, breakfast/dessert?) the result is unambiguously delicious. I am obsessed with these parfaits. The granola is lightly sweet, crunchy, and packed with healthy things. 

The balsamic fig sauce is inspired by the balsamic reduction I made to go with these ridiculous sandwiches.  The original recipe that I found for the balsamic fig sauce involved making caramel first, then adding in the water, balsamic, and butter.  As we all know (and as I enumerated in painful detail), I am a failure when it comes to caramel making.  I tried once again, and failed, once again. 

I then decided to go for the simple syrup approach instead, nix the butter, and throw the whole concoction into the food processor so that the figs would BE the sauce, rather than just chunks in the sauce. 


What resulted is a revelation. Who knew 4 simple ingredients should create such complex flavor? And sound fancy, while being super easy to make?

This sauce is SWEET, yet tempered by the slight acidity of the reduced balsamic. Words don't really do it justice, but suffice it to say that I will be eating it on everything (breakfast, dessert, and otherwise) and you should too.

Yogurt Parfaits with Vanilla Coconut Almond Granola & Balsamic Fig Sauce
   
Vanilla Coconut Almond Granola

Ingredients:

1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300. 

In a large bowl, combine almonds, oats, flax seed, coconut, sunflower seeds, and sea salt. 


In a small sauce pan, heat coconut oil & honey until melted. (You can also do this in the microwave) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almond extracts. 


Pour liquid mixture over oats mixture and stir well. Distribute granola evenly over a baking sheet at bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let granola cool for 5-10 minutes, then use a spoon to stir it around and break up any large clumps. 



Balsamic Fig Sauce

Ingredients:

3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
8 soft dried figs, chopped

Directions:
In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a rolling boil. Continue boiling for about 5 minutes, or until slightly reduced.

Add balsamic vinegar and figs. Bring to a boil again, and allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced by a third. 


Remove from heat and let cool slightly. 


Pour mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth. 


**The sauce makes about 4 servings, but you will have plenty of granola left over!


To Assemble the Yogurt Parfaits


Sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons granola in the bottom of a glass. Dollop about 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt on top, followed by 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic fig sauce, and a sprinkling of granola. Dig in! 


(The fig sauce is very sweet, so if you want to use an already sweetened yogurt or ice cream, I would reduce the amount of sauce you add.) 


Balsamic Fig Sauce inspired by Epicurious


Granola adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

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