Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pumpkin Bread

I'm squeezing in one last fall recipe!

A few weeks ago my daughter was learning about pumpkins in kindergarten, and she asked if we could make pumpkin bread. So we picked up a can of pumpkin and went in search of an easy recipe.

Easy is a must for me when it comes to baking. Too much measuring makes me crazy! So this recipe was perfect - easy ingredients and easy directions. The bread turned out perfectly moist and wasn't overly pumpkin-y or spicy like some pumpkin sweets can be. We enjoyed it for breakfast for a few days and I plan on making it again next year as soon as the leaves start to turn and pumpkin is available in the market!

Pumpkin Bread
Source: Cheese Curd in Paradise

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c canned pumpkin
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick baking spray
  • Stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine oil, applesauce, vanilla and sugar. Mix until smooth.
  • Add the eggs and pumpkin.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Vegetable and Quinoa Soup





A few weeks ago my husband and I had a date night and chose to dine at a Peruvian restaurant near us. We had been there before when they first opened and were excited to try more things off the menu. 

My husband chose ceviche for his app, and I went with a Peruvian Vegetable and Quinoa Soup. After my first bite I knew I would be ordering this soup every time we go back. I also knew that I was going to need to recreate it at home. 

The next week I googled Peruvian soup recipes and while they all consistently had lots of vegetables and quinoa, I couldn't find any consistency in regards to seasoning and spices. So instead, I thought back to the soup I had at the restaurant - it was very simple, clean, and fresh. I decided to keep mine very simple with just a pinch of oregano and cumin as seasoning and guess what? It worked perfectly. 


I love the simplicity of this soup, both in preparation and flavor. And although it is a pretty light and healthy soup, it is definitely hearty enough to enjoy on its own. I ate it for lunch every day for 4 days in a row, and was disappointed when it was gone.




Vegetable and Quinoa Soup

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sm onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 each of these veggies, chopped into the same sized pieces:russet potato, red pepper, green pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, carrot, celery.
  • 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
  • 8 oz canned chopped tomatoes, with juices
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c rinsed quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
Directions
  • Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot
  • Add the onions and saute 2-3 minutes, until softened
  • Add the garlic and saute 1 minute
  • Add all of the vegetables except the peas; saute 2 minutes.
  • Add the peas and tomatoes; stir to combine.
  • Add the broth, quinoa, cumin, and oregano.
  • Bring to a simmer and then cover, simmering for 20 minutes until the quinoa and potatoes are cooked through. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gorgonzola Truffles


With the holidays approaching I see a lot of requests for appetizer recipes. I LOVE appetizers and could easily make a meal out of them. To check out all of my appetizers, click here. I have a nice mix of dips, spreads, cold, hot, easy, and fancy.

Last spring I hosted our neighborhood's girls' night and served an array of apps - 
Caprese Bites
Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Pesto Dip with Toasted Baguettes
Hummus and Pita Chips
Loaded Baked Potato Phylo Bites
Ham and Cheese Pinwheels on Whole Wheat Tortillas
Veggie Crudite with Dip
Gorgonzola Truffles with Pecans
And for our game tables I put out bowls of bar snacks and chocolate covered pretzels 
Dessert was a Sundae Bar with ice cream, brownies, and bowls of toppings 

These Gorgonzola Truffles were super easy to make. The original recipe called for coating them in bacon - doesn't that sound heavenly? I am a strong believer that bacon makes everything better, but the ONLY reason I didn't not use bacon was because I already had bacon in another app. I thought pecans (or walnuts) would be a nice change. 

I made these a bit smaller than the recipe recommended, and the next time I'd make them even smaller. They are very rich and it would be nice if they were truly one-bite. What I loved about them is I could prep the mixture the day before and roll them into balls once the mixture was firm. Once I was ready to serve, all I had to do was roll them in the pecans. 

Gorgonzola Truffles
Source: The Way to His Heart
Ingredients
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 tsp finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 c pecans, roughly chopped or gently crushed (or for the original recipe, use bacon)
  • Apple slices, pear slices, grapes (optional), for plating and serving
Directions
  • Beat the first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Cover tightly and chill at least one hour until firm (or up to 3 days). 
  • Roll the cheese mixture into balls (I recommend 1/2 inch). Roll in the nuts and serve immediately. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Tostadas


I feel like it was just summer, but here we are nearing Thanksgiving and dealing with darkness at 5 PM. In some ways I like that it gets dark early because my nights feel longer (and my Kindergarten kid feels like she is staying up "really, really late!!!" although she catches on after a few days... ). I also tend to go to bed a bit earlier this time of year, which is always a good thing. But if I have to drive at night, forget it. I hate driving in the dark (part of that may be because I could probably use glasses for night driving but I just haven't gotten them yet. Getting old is tough!). 

I usually turn to comfort food this time of year - creamy dishes, casseroles, soups, and stews. But eating like that just isn't good for my waistline (another problem with this whole getting older thing). So I'm changing things up and sticking to lighter meals and less carbs and sugar. A big perk to this recipe is that it makes it feel like spring or summer. 
I stumbled across this recipe by Cooking Light when looking for ideas for grilled chicken. Yes, you can grill even if it is dark. Just put on an outside light or get one of those clip on lights made specifically for grilling at night. We will (I mean, my husband will) grill year round as long as it isn't the middle of a blizzard and we can't get to the grill. 
 I liked that the tortillas were crisped in the oven, and not fried. I used that as my inspiration for this dinner, and changed up the ingredients and directions, including marinating and grilling my chicken. We all loved these and were able to personalize them, using ingredients we all liked from the pile of veggies that we grilled. The tortillas were very crispy and we were able to pick them up to eat like a tostada or pizza. 


Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Tostadas
Inspired by: Cooking Light
Ingredients
  • 1 lb of chicken (I used boneless breasts - use what you like)
  • Marinade: 1/2 c olive oil, 1/4 tsp cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp cumin and chili powder, 2 cloves crushed garlic, handful of cilantro, juice from 1/2 of a lime, zest from 1/2 of a lime. 
  • 1/2 of a red onion sliced into rings
  • 1/2 each green and red pepper sliced into large pieces (if there are 4 "sides" to your pepper, cut off 2 of them)
  • 1 sm zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 sm yellow squash, halved lengthwise
  • 8-10 grape or cherry tomatoes on a skewer
  • Olive oil spray, salt and pepper
  • 1 c Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 sm flour tortillas
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Optional: sour cream, for serving
Directions
  • Mix all of the marinade ingredients except the lime juice and zest. Pour over the chicken in a shallow bowl; cover and marinate in the fridge 8 hours to overnight. 1 hour before cooking, add the lime juice and zest. 
  • Spray all of your veggies with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper
  • Heat your grill and grill the chicken until it reaches 160 degrees; let rest 5-10 minutes and then chop into bite sized pieces. 
  • Grill your veggies for a few minutes until very lightly charred; chop them into bite sized pieces.
  • Turn on the broiler in your oven. Spray the tortillas with olive oil spray and place on a cookie sheet under the broiler for 2 minutes. Flip and broil another 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the tortillas from the oven and top with the chicken, veggies, and then cheese.
  • Return them to the oven under the broiler until the cheese has melted.
  • Top with fresh cilantro.