Day 295–Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Granola

English: A chocolate chip granola bar made by ...

What’s in that granola bar? Read the labels! Or better yet, make your own!

We’ve learned a lot this year reading the labels of everything we buy–even cleaners and beauty products. It never ceases to amaze me what is allowed to be in our food and don’t even get me started about what is in makeup. Heather at Sugar Dish Me had an eye-opening experience as well with food that is labeled and recognized to be “healthy”. Instead of just being bummed out that some “health food” is not all that healthy (there are, by the way, no FDA requirements for a food to be labeled “healthy”), she took the initiative to make her own awesome granola packed with goodness. And quinoa (which is its own special kind of goodness)! I’ve never had quinoa in granola, but I’m looking forward to it. Check it out! I am totally making this over the weekend and plan to sprinkle it over my oatmeal.

HERE is Heather’s very funny story and her recipe!

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Day 293–Sauteed Cabbage and Apples

Various apples

Apples combined with cabbage? Yummy and soul satisfying!

I am simply loco for apples and pumpkins this time of year. I think Trader Joes has about 20,000 new pumpkin flavored foods this fall and I’ll probably try about 5,000 of those before December. Yum.

In spite of our late freeze this year, which took a major toll on our NC apple crops, we’re still finding delicious, local apples at our farmer’s markets. The prices are higher, but they are so delicious that I’m willing to splurge on apples to eat in hand and to use in recipes, but making apple butter or canning apples probably won’t happen this year.

We made this recipe a couple of weeks ago when we received a lovely head of green cabbage in our Produce Box. Not only is this dish a  delicious way to enjoy local cabbage, but it also is very economical and deeply satisfying. Unlike some vegetable dishes, this seems to taste even better warmed up later, so make plenty! We served this with pan seared pork chops from Mae Farm in Louisburg, NC and it made for a simple, but incredibly good meal! You could also serve this as a main course with some crusty bread and have a terrific rustic winter meal! If you want a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and use 3 tbsp. of olive oil and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Sautéed Cabbage and Apples

  • 8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 3 large apples (granny smith or gala), peeled, cored and sliced thick
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon pieces over medium heat and stir often to keep them from sticking. Cook until browned, but not too crisp (about 6-7 minutes).
  2. Remove bacon from pot and set aside. Reduce drippings to about 3 tbsp.
  3. Add onion and carrots to the pot and cook over medium/high heat about 4 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add apple cider vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits.
  5. Add the cabbage and stir to combine. Cook about 10 minutes until cabbage softens. Add apples, stock and coriander. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Check frequently to make sure the cabbage is not sticking. Add a bit of water or more stock if needed.
  6. Add bacon back into the pot and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve!

Day 292–Bad, Bad Blogger and Apple Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I am a bad, bad blogger. Up until this point I’ve been pretty good at posting several times a week if not every day. But the last two weeks have been absolute craziness, with parts of my world taking over and wreaking havoc on everything else. I believe I have survived the worst of that and now I’m back and (hopefully) on a more sane schedule. At least, I certainly hope so because that was one wild ride!

I haven’t had much of a chance to cook anything recently, but this dish of apple stuffed sweet potatoes was a winner. It has all the great hallmarks of fall–sweet potato, pumpkin pie spice, apples and maple syrup. This would make a great side dish or a light meal in itself. We have an abundance of sweet potatoes at our farmers markets and apples are available here although not in our usual quantities.

So here is to restarts and a better work/life balance for the rest of the fall! Enjoy!

Apple Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium apples like granny smith or galas
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork and roast in the oven until soft (about an hour depending on how large your potatoes are). Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350.
  3. While potatoes cool a bit, peel/core and chop the apples into 1/2″ chunks.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add apples. Cook apples for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add brown sugar and spice to the apples and stir. Add more butter if you need it. Reduce heat to low and cook until apples are soft. Set aside.
  6. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut skins and scoop potato flesh into a medium-sized bowl. Add apple mixture and mix together until combined.
  7. Spoon mixture back into the potato skin shells. Top with chopped pecans, put on a baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and drizzle with maple syrup.
  9. Serve!

Day 270–Yellow Squash Muffins

There are some food combinations that immediately speak to me–chocolate and hazelnut, tomato and garlic, bacon and, well, anything. Other combinations make me wonder–is this a joke? This recipe falls in the latter category. Yellow squash and applesauce? Blech. Since I had some homemade applesauce and large, lovely yellow squash on hand, I thought I’d throw caution to the wind and give this a try. This recipe is from Food.com, but was shared with me via our weekly Produce Box. How was it? Abso-freakin-lutely delicious. These taste more like corn muffins, but they don’t have any corn in them. We loved them. They are moist and light and not too sweet. Perfect with our acorn squash and apple soup and they would be delicious with chili as well. We ate our fill and froze the rest for some future fall soup nights!

Yellow Squash Muffins (makes 18)

2 lbs. yellow summer squash
2 eggs
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. applesauce (we used our crock pot applesauce)
1 c. sugar
3 c. flour (we used whole wheat pastry flour)
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with liners or lightly grease cups.
2. Wash squash, trim the ends and cut into 1-inch slices.
3. Put squash in a medium saucepan along with 1/2 cup of water and cook for about 20 minutes or until very soft.
4. Drain squash very well and mash with a potato masher.
5. Measure 2 cups of the cooked squash into a medium mixing bowl and add eggs, butter and applesauce. Stir well and set aside.
6. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of mixture and add wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
7. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
8. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Cool 5 minutes in the tin and remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Day 269–Squash and Apple Soup

I love, love, love to roast vegetables. Roasting is one of those techniques that is easy and makes great use of any vegetable from the farmer’s market. Roasted vegetables are terrific on their own as a side (or main) dish, served over pasta, worked into risotto or pureed and used in baked goods. There is something wonderful about how roasting brings out the natural sweetness and nuttiness of fresh, ripe vegetables. This soup is warming and satisfying and it takes advantage of fresh, local acorn squash and apples. Chock full of roasted goodness, thick and creamy. Great for one of those drizzly fall days when you want to hibernate. To save time, I roasted the vegetables and apples the night before so dinner the following night was super quick! This recipe makes about 8 cups–some for eating now and some for freezing to eat later!

Squash and Apple Soup

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 medium, crisp apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. or so of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cut acorn squash in half and compost the seeds. Drizzle cut sides with a bit of olive oil and put cut side down on the baking sheet.
  3. Toss the onion, garlic and apple with remaining olive oil, salt, pepper, coriander, red pepper and rosemary. Add to baking sheet.
  4. Roast vegetables for 45 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. While vegetables are cooling, put pumpkin seeds in a small cake pan and toast in oven for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
  6. Scoop pulp from the acorn squash and compost the shells. Add pulp and all roasted vegetables to a large bowl. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth (you can also do this in a standing blender).
  7. Add puree and stock to a Dutch oven. Stir well and heat. Add cream just before serving and adjust for seasonings.
  8. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish.

Day 265–Crock Pot Applesauce

I’m not sure who invented the crock pot, but I love them. I mean, I enjoy getting in the kitchen and cooking, but there is something magic about putting ingredients in a crock pot in the morning and coming home from work to find something wonderful…and finished! And while I find stirring risotto to be soothing, standing around cooking apples doesn’t have the same appeal to me. Not sure why, but there it is.

So I am loving this crock pot applesauce recipe that came with my Produce Box this week. I’m not a huge fan of cold applesauce, but I do love it warm. And mix it in with some steel cut oatmeal and I feel like I’m wearing a warm, fuzzy Snuggy all morning long. Except people aren’t rolling their eyes at me. I think it would be great with the Maple Oatmeal Bread from Sugar Dish Me also (note to self: stop dreaming about this bread and make it already).

You can alter the sugar and spices (I added clove to mine) to suit your taste. This recipe makes about 8 cups of sauce–enough to eat now and freeze some for another day!

Crock Pot Applesauce

  • 4 pounds of apples, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Put sliced apples (I leave the skins on–more fiber is never bad, right?) in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples.
  3. Mix sugar and spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over apples. Using a spoon or your very clean hands, toss the apples and the spiced sugar together until coated well.
  4. Put all in your crock pot. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  5. Mash with a potato masher for chunky sauce or use an immersion blender (careful–sauce is hot!) to blend all together.
  6. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in freezer bags to enjoy up to 1 year later.

Day 261–Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

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On a chilly night, this butternut squash risotto is pure comfort food!

 

Winter squash is a great budget saver and so absolutely satisfying to eat on a chilly day that I have a hard time getting my fill. Like sweet potatoes, winter squash can be used in either sweet or savory dishes, which makes them incredibly versatile. I never used to make squash much because the peeling/chopping/steaming just seemed to take too long, especially on a workday. Now I never bother with all those steps. Instead I just cut the squash in half and roast it cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet for about an hour, scoop out the roasted pulp and freeze it for later. The skins can be composted–nothing goes to waste!

Butternut squash all ready for the oven!

This is how they look after roasting for about 40 minutes!

A couple of weeks ago, I received some butternut squash with my Produce Box. As nice as it was to see squash again, it was about 90 degrees outside and I just wasn’t ready. So, while I was roasting some tomatoes for sauce, I popped the squash in the oven as well and then froze the cooked pulp for later. I received more in my box yesterday and decided to roast it while I took my evening run. It was all kinds of yummy goodness by the time I came home! Just perfect for butternut squash risotto–a great supper (or side dish) on a chilly evening.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

  • 2 cups of roasted butternut squash (2 small or 1 large)
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  1. To roast the squash, cut the squash in half remove seeds and sprinkle the cut sides with olive oil. Bake (cut sides down) on a foil lined baking sheet for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Roast until soft. Cool squash and scoop out the pulp. Use the pulp immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and keep warm. Warm stock will incorporate into the rice much more quickly and you won’t have to reheat the rice each time you add stock.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add minced onion and cook until very soft–about 3 minutes (the longer you saute the onions, the sweeter they will be–just don’t burn them!)
  4. Stir in the rice and continue cooking and stirring until the rice is glossy and starting to become translucent, about 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour in the wine and stir. Cook until wine has cooked down and is absorbed by the rice. Stir in one cup of the hot stock and one cup of the squash. Cook and sir until the stock has been absorbed–about 5 minutes.
  6. Continue adding the stock, one cup at a time, letting the stock fully absorb into the rice before adding more. With the final cup of stock, add the remaining squash. Cook until stock is absorbed. This will take about 35-40 minutes.
  7. Add the Parmesan, salt and pepper (to taste). Turn off heat and let risotto sit covered for about 5 minutes. Stir and serve!

Day 259–Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

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Okra, like eggplant, is the kind of vegetable that elicits strong reactions from people. I personally love it and I’m sad that we are at the end of okra season in NC. We eat it roasted, fried, sautéed, cooked in gumbo and stewed (my personal favorite). There is some special food magic that happens when you combine okra and tomatoes. Actually, there is some wonderful magic when you combine almost anything and tomatoes. And when you cook these two veggie BFFs slowly and stew them together with onions and garlic, oh my. I could eat that for lunch and dinner every day. I keep my okra whole for this–I don’t mind the slight slime factor with okra, but keeping it whole while you cook it does decrease that aspect. This dish is easy and very healthy. If you have some leftover okra and some extra tomatoes you’re not sure what to do with, try this!

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 quart okra (best if they are smallish), washed and stems trimmed
  • 3-4 large tomatoes (about 2 lbs.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to prevent over browning. Saute for 2-3 minutes until onions are soft and translucent.
  2. While onions are cooking, core tomatoes and chop each tomato into 4-6 even pieces.
  3. Add okra to the onions and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium and saute about 3 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes to the pan, turn the heat to medium low and cook about 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes have given up their juices and the mixture starts to thicken. The okra should be very soft. If not, continue cooking, adding small amounts of water if the mixture gets dry.
  5. Correct for seasoning and serve!

Day 255–Roasted Red Pepper Ketchup

I am, overall, not a fan of standard tomato ketchup. Tomatoes, I love. Ketchup? Not so much. It’s too sweet for me and tastes nothing like the juicy summer tomatoes I adore. I found this recipe for a roasted red pepper ketchup that is so far superior to store bought ketchup that it almost needs a new name. It is full of tomato flavor, but also spicy. I canned a bunch of it and we have used it on pork chops, beef, hamburgers and potatoes. It is awesome. Is it obsessive to make my own ketchup? Maybe. Will you become obessive after you try it? Most likely. Yes, it’s that good.

This recipe is derived from Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton.

Roasted Pepper Ketchup (about 4 cups)

  • 2 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 pounds red bell peppers
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  1. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute.
  3. Scoop the tomatoes out of the water with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching the tomatoes in batches. Remove from the ice bath and drain. Peel, core, and crush the tomatoes.
  4. Heat a grill. Coat the red peppers lightly in olive oil and put on the grill on medium heat. Let peppers char and turn every few minutes so all the sides of the peppers are charred and blistered.
  5. Remove peppers from the grill and put in a large paper bag (a grocery bag works well). Close the top of the bag and let peppers sit for about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove peppers from the bag and let cool. Slip the skins off the peppers, remove the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the peppers.
  7. Combine the tomato pulp, peppers, onion, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat and puree with a stick blender.
  8. Return the puree to the heat and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 2 hours.
  9. Remove from the heat.
  10. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or can using a boiling water bath.
  11. To can, ladle into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark plance for up to 1 year.

Day 252–A Figgy Pizza

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Our figgy pizza before baking! Yum!

I’ve already written of my love of figs, so I was understandably excited to hear about a pizza with figs. Yum! And who in the world doesn’t like caramelized onions??? We are fortunate that at this time of year, we can find fresh figs, artisanal goat cheese and onions at the farmer’s market! This is really a lovely pizza and very tasty, too. Great for a Meatless Monday! Ellie picked the figs off, but she liked the goat cheese and onions together. And I was happy to eat her figs!

Fig, Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

  • 1 pizza crust (my whole wheat recipe is HERE)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 1 quart fresh figs
  • 2 oz. chevre goat cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Make the pizza dough and let rise.
  3. While pizza dough is rising, heat 4 Tbsp. of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions. Cook until translucent.
  4. Lower heat to medium low, sprinkle onions with salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking about 15 minutes until onions are browned (not burned) and caramelized. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil during cooking if you need it.
  5. Add balsamic vinegar to the onions, stir and keep warm.
  6. When dough is ready, punch down and shape into a pizza round (for the record, mine are never round–more of a free form organic shape).
  7. Brush olive oil on the pizza round. Spread onions all over dough, leaving 1″ on the edge for the crust.
  8. Arrange fig quarters on top of the onions. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top.
  9. Bake pizza for about 12 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is soft and melty.