Butternut Squash with Brown Sugar Roasted Pecans

It’s getting personal here. I love nuts. Yes, I do. So you can just imagine the absolute joy I experienced when I saw that the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was nuts. “What!? Really?” I’m pretty sure I gasped that exact sentence when I read the good news. Then, just excitement…what was I going to make to celebrate my love for nuts? Immediately, I went to my new obsession (yes, I have a new one now, pumpkin has taken 2nd place), butternut squash. Just what could I do with that?

Oh yes, yes, I’ve got it, Butternut Squash with Brown Sugar Roasted Pecans!

Um, it’s pure heaven. Because who doesn’t love roasted, sweet butternut squash? And who doesn’t adore candied pecans or tangy feta cheese? Right? And so, how about I put all of those together? Um, ok, done! This one is really good people…it got two thumbs up around here in my house and I have to say that I’ve been going back to my fridge multiple time for big, heaping spoonfuls. Pair it with a roasted chicken or turkey or add it to a salad made with dark greens. And just a word of advice, you’ll want to make a double batch.

The Picture Montage Honoring The Fabulous Butternut Squash with Brown Sugar Roasted Pecans

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Butternut Squash with Brown Sugar Roasted Pecans


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A side dish that will make everyone happy. Roasted butternut squash is paired with lightly candied pecans then tossed with fresh thyme and feta cheese.


Scale

Ingredients

For the pecans

  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup whole pecans

For the squash

  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

To serve

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Instructions

Prep

  1. Preheat the oven the 400’F and line one large sheet pan with foil or parchment paper and one small sheet pan with foil or parchment paper. Spray both with non-stick cooking spray.

For the pecans

  1. To a medium pot, add the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the cinnamon and salt and then the pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute or until mixture has thickened and pecans appear coated. Spread the the pecans out onto the small sheet pan and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To cook the squash

  1. Place the cubed squash in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread the squash out in an even layer onto the prepared, large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and lightly brown, about 30-35 minutes.
  2. Transfer roasted squash back to the mixing bowl. Roughly chop the pecans and add to the squash along with the thyme and feta cheese. Toss to combine and serve.

Notes

  • This recipe makes about 2 cups squash. About a 1/2 cup serving each for four people.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 143
  • Sugar: 4
  • Sodium: 240
  • Fat: 13
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 11
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 6
  • Protein: 2
  • Cholesterol: 4

 


Basic Black Beans From Scratch – Recipe Redux

Looking to “amp-up” your freezer-meal arsenal? Have no fear, because my Basic Black Beans are here!

Ok, so that was a little hokey, but it’s true! This month’s theme for the Recipe Redux was to share one of our favorite freezer meals. Immediately, I thought of my favorite recipe for basic black beans. How many times have they saved my life? More than I can count, let’s just say that.

What’s so great about these beans? EVERYTHING!

I’m not joking. They are just an all-around hero in my house and let me tell you why. First, they are made from scratch and that makes for some pretty perfect beans. Oh, I hear you mocking me about that, but hear me out. When you cook beans from scratch, you get to flavor them and control their firmness. Have you ever tried to eat a bean from a can, just by itself? It’s not that great, right? Generally flavorless and slightly on the mushy side, right? Well, those beans have their purpose, but not when I just want to sit down and eat a bowl full. Second, these beans are freezer champions. Meaning, you can stick these beauties in the freezer and then break off bits and pieces when you want them. It’s amazing and such a time saver!

Oh, I can almost hear you now…”Sara, this is great, but what the heck am I going to do with all of these beans?”

Don’t freak out! I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that! There’s sooooo much you can do with these. First, you can literally just eat them out of the pot like soup. Top a bowl of black beans with Greek yogurt, a little salsa and cheddar cheese and you’ve got an amazing meal. Or, drain them and add them to tacos or burritos. Still not buying it? Try mashing them up and putting them in a quesadilla or on top of a piece of whole grain toast along with some avocado. Sound good? Whew…now go make them and see for yourself!

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Basic Black Beans From Scratch


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

With just a little planning, delicious black beans can be yours to be used in any meal. These beans freeze well, so enjoy some now and stick them in the freezer to have later.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Instructions

The night before

  1. Place the rinsed black beans in one or two large, sealable container(s) and pour enough water over them to cover by a few inches (they’ll expand a little, so give them room!)

To cook the beans

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, stirring and cook an additional 1 minute.
  2. Drain the beans from the soaking liquid (you can toss the soaking liquid) and place in the pot with the onions and cumin. Add the water, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover partially with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, Add the salt and cook an additional 15-20 minutes or until the beans are tender, but still holding their shape.
  3. Remove beans from the heat and stir in the Mexican oregano.
  4. Serve as is for the perfect side dish or drain and add to tacos or quesadillas. They can also be served as soup and topped with Greek yogurt, chopped tomatoes and fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • Makes about 6 cups drained black beans.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 12
  • Calories: 146
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 8
  • Fat: 2
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 25
  • Protein: 8
  • Cholesterol: 0

 


Recipe Redux: Carrot Cake Pancakes

The theme of this month’s redux is “back to the dinner table” and I love this theme because I am a huge advocate of sitting down at the table and eating and enjoying meals as a family. When I grew up, this was something we did, maybe not for every meal, but as often as we could. Sure, it was a little crazy at times and there were definitely instances where foods was pushed around on plates or tossed across the table, but it was great and I have many fond memories of sitting and eating with my family.

The tradition of sitting down and eating dinner as a family continues at my house. And to honor the family dinner, I thought pancakes were in order since they happen to be one of our favorite foods. And hey, breakfast for dinner is always fun, right?

My husband happens to really like carrot cake, so he inspired these little Carrot Cake Pancakes. It’s totally like having your cake and eating it too. The great thing about them is that these little cakes are loaded with nutrition instead of fat and calories. 

To top off the theme of family, I have to include a special thanks to two very special people who helped me with this recipe and blog post, my mom and her husband Stan. Notice how awesome these pics look? Yup, that’s their handiwork! My mom created those amazing vignettes and Stan was an expert at holding the makeshift paper “screen” to help create/block light. They also happily obliged to taste-testing, and judging by the looks of the empty plate, I’m assuming they liked them. 

So, from my family to yours, we wish you many happy meals at the table!

P.S. – These little cuties are super delicious with a little drizzle of maple syrup and a light dusting with powdered sugar. 🙂

 

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Carrot Cake Pancakes


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

The tasty goodness of carrot cake without all of the fat and calories!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup low fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 cups finely grated carrot

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and brown sugar. Stir in the nuts and carrots. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir gently until combined.
  3. Heat non-stick pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Once hot, spray with non-stick cooking spray and drop pancakes onto hot pan using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Cook on the first side until batter begins to bubble, then flip and cook the other side an additional 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.

Notes

  • This recipe serves 8, which gives each person two delicious pancakes apiece.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8
  • Calories: 243
  • Sugar: 8
  • Sodium: 254
  • Fat: 10
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 8
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 33
  • Protein: 7
  • Cholesterol: 49


Recipe Redux: Lacinato Kale Salad with Peaches and Maple Vinaigrette

July is an amazing time of year in Chicago. The parks are bursting with activity, the pools are packed with every kid in the neighborhood and it seems like everyone is outside, enjoying every ray of sunshine. It’s a magical time of year here, and I love it. That energy always inspires me in the kitchen. I’ve long forgotten about those hearty winter dishes because my “palette” has been replaced with fresh, beautiful, summer produce.

That brings me to this month’s Recipe Redux theme, which is simply, use the beautiful produce that surrounds you to create a delicious dish. Challenge accepted! Seeing as I love a good salad, I turned my sights to one of my favorite greens, kale. Not just any kale though, dark green, dinosaur or lacinato kale. I love this type of kale, not just because it’s nutritious (that dark green color means it’s laden with good-for-you antioxidants!), but because it’s a bit sweeter and a little more tender than it’s conventional counterpart. It also makes a lovely salad when sliced into fun, thin little ribbons.

Kale is a good start, but then, what should I top it with? Well, of course more gorgeous produce! How about a bell pepper and oh, what about a delicious, ripe, juicy peach? And for a little crunch (and to get some healthy fats in there), how about some walnuts? Then, to keep things simple, a vinaigrette made with only five ingredients, all of which are kitchen staples. Success! (I forgot to mention the goat cheese, a definite necessity, don’t leave it out!)

Enjoy this lacinato kale salad with peaches and maple vinaigrette as a meal by topping it with grilled chicken or tofu. Or scoop it into bowls and serve it on the side with any summer meal. It can make a great appetizer too, a perfect starter that’s refreshing and just happens to be nutritious too!

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Lacinato Kale Salad with Peaches and Maple Vinaigrette


  • Author: Sara Haas
Scale

Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the salad

  • 1 bunch (about 12 ounces) lacinato kale, thoroughly washed
  • 1 ripe peach, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and shallot. Continue to whisk while streaming in the olive oil, mixing until combined.
  2. To make the salad: Remove the stems from the kale and reserve for another use (slice and use in a soup, for example). Thinly slice the kale leaves and place them in a large mixing bowl. Give the kale leaves a good massage with your hands to help soften them. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Let sit for about 10 minutes then add the peach slices, walnuts, shallot, pepper, goat cheese, along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the remaining dressing and carefully toss everything together. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • This recipe makes about 8 cups of salad.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 195
  • Sugar: 5
  • Sodium: 78
  • Fat: 15
  • Saturated Fat: 3
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 13
  • Protein: 6
  • Cholesterol: 5


Phyllo Cherry Pie Tartlets: Recipe Redux

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My grandmother passed away when I was a Freshman in college. It was a sad time for me. I remember packing my bags and making the trek home for her funeral. Like most grandmothers, she meant so much to me. It wasn’t until she passed that I really started to appreciate all that she was.

What I loved most about her was her vibrant personality and unique outlook on life. She lived life to it’s fullest, having a blast doing just about everything. She loved playing cards and Boggle (a game I’m not even sure exists anymore) and she adored hosting parties and cooking fabulous food for holidays. She did it up right, laying out the best china and lighting candles. I don’t think I appreciated it then, but I do remember thinking it was “kind of cool.” She was a spunky, sassy Martha Stewart…a lit cigarette in one hand and a wooden spoon stuck in a pot of something tasty in the other. I can still picture her now at the stove.Iphone062015 060

While I wish we had more time to spend together, as I’m sure I would totally appreciate her so much more now, I am so grateful for all of my memories. There’s one memory that stands out for me..it’s her famous cherry pie. I’m pretty sure it came from the back of Eagle Brand Milk can, but she didn’t identify the source on her recipe card. Anyway, it was delicious! A crust topped with almonds, then filled with a decadently rich filling and topped with sweetened, tart cherries. It was to die for (and a total calorie bomb!)

This month’s Recipe Redux theme was to “redux” one of our favorite pie recipes. I had no hesitation deciding to honor my grandmother’s cherry pie recipe. While she certainly wouldn’t have deemed it necessary to “lighten-up” a dessert, I still think she would be surprised at how well the modifications to her classic cherry pie turned out. To undo some of the calorie damage, I took out plenty of the sugar and also lightened up the crust, opting for mini-phyllo cups instead. It’s a perfect sweet treat and a lovely addition to any party, picnic or shower.

So, break out the china and light the candles, because you’re in for a treat!

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Phyllo Cherry Pie Tartlets


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A perfect bite of tart cherries piled on top of a sweet, almond and lemon-infused filling.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Phyllo Shells

  • 30 mini phyllo cups (found in the freezer section), thawed
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

For the Filling

  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream, whipped

For the Cherries

  • 14 1/2 ounce can of water-packed tart cherries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch

Instructions

To Prepare the Phyllo Shells

  1. Line the shells on a sheet pan and place a few toasted, sliced almonds in each shell. Keep nearby while you make the filling.

To Make the Filling

  1. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract and almond extract in a mixing bowl. Fold in the whipped cream. Fill each phyllo cup with a heaping teaspoon of the filling. Cover the pan with plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.

To Make the Cherry Topping

  1. Drain the cherry water (about 1/2 cup) from the cherries into a sauce pan. Add in the sugar and cornstarch, whisking until combined. Set the mixture over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add the drained cherries to pan and stir.
  2. Remove the phyllo shells from the refrigerator. Top each shell with a spoonful of the cherry mixture. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 15
  • Calories: 197
  • Sugar: 11
  • Sodium: 205
  • Fat: 5
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 32
  • Protein: 4
  • Cholesterol: 10


Homemade Marinara Sauce – Recipe Redux

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Pizza and pasta are staples in my house. You can safely assume then, that I’ve purchased more than my fair share of jarred marinara sauce. Blown away by the cost of a jar of organic pasta sauce, I decided there was no reason I couldn’t make my own. So after some trial and error, I was finally able to come up with one that I really liked and it’s been a staple in my kitchen ever since.

This month’s Recipe Redux theme invited us to share our recipe for something that we once purchased, but now make from scratch. I am happy to share this marinara recipe, a healthy, low-sodium alternative to the jarred stuff. Don’t worry if you can’t eat it all at once, it freezes amazingly and also makes the perfect gift.

 

Simple ingredients are the key to this marinara.

Simple ingredients are the key to this marinara.

 

Peppers, onions and garlic add layers of flavor!

Peppers, onions and garlic add the right touch of sweetness and complexity.

 

Bay leaf is a perfect, flavorful addition.

Bay leaf is a perfect, flavorful addition.

 

This marinara can be blended right in the pan, but be careful with the hot liquids!

This marinara can be blended right in the pan, but be careful with the hot liquids!

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Homemade Marinara


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A simple homemade tomato sauce that’s perfect for pizza or tossed with pasta.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red (or yellow) bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil a deep-sided sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and the peppers and cook, stirring frequently until vegetables are slightly tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the tomato paste, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the diced tomatoes (entire can with juices), water and vinegar. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift off any of the brown bits stuck to the pan. Add the Italian seasoning, bay leaf and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  2. Remove the bay leaf and add the salt. Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the mixture until smooth. Alternatively, work in batches using a blender or food processor for pureeing, exercising caution with the hot mixture (follow manufacturer’s instructions for pureeing hot or warm ingredients).
  3. Use immediately or allow to cool then refrigerate or freeze.

Notes

  • This recipe makes about 4 1/2 to 5 cups of marinara.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 402
  • Sugar: 35
  • Sodium: 1325
  • Fat: 15
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 66
  • Protein: 9
  • Cholesterol: 0

 


Vanilla Coconut Whole Wheat Waffles

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Transporting your waffles to a warm, happy place.

 

I love when Recipe Redux time rolls around each month. It gives me inspiration for creative time in the kitchen, which I love. This month’s theme is “stop being wasteful and use the stuff that’s been sitting in your pantry!” Ok, that’s just my summation of the theme. It was put more eloquently of course, but that’s basically it. Pick something that’s been in the pantry for awhile and put it to good use. Great idea!

So off I went to my pantry, on the hunt for something inspiring. I opened the door and immediately (and embarrassingly) noted its “fullness.” Ugh, there was plenty of food in there that was simply begging to be used. So I acknowledged my pantry with a quick “noted” comment and promised to cook and use that food before it went to waste. Then it was back to my original task…finding the one thing that’s been in there for far too long. After a quick inventory, it came down to three things: brown rice, canned diced chiles and light coconut milk. A glance at the packages revealed that the light coconut milk would be heading to the trash can soon if I didn’t use it, so the light coconut milk was the winner. Now, just what was I going to do with it?

I immediately thought of Thai food. So many delicious dishes use coconut milk and I had a million (ok, maybe just two or three) ideas running through my head. But then something struck me. Maybe it was the delicious scent coming from the apartment next door, but I swear I smelled waffles. It smelled so amazing, that my thoughts of Thai food were immediately replaced with thoughts of waffles. Then, the light bulb went off and my Vanilla Coconut Whole Wheat Waffles were born.

I adore waffles which made this recipe even more fun to create! They are a great breakfast option, especially when all-purpose white flour gets replaced with whole wheat flour and when a simple topping of fresh fruit is the perfect finishing touch. Coconut milk and a little toasted coconut add a fun tropical twist and the vanilla bean paste add just the right of balance and “sweetness.” These are a perfect treat for breakfast or a handy snack. Try these waffles and I promise you’ll fall in love.

Ok, so my part is done…now it’s time to take a look at what’s in your pantry!

 

Delicious vanilla bean paste. A pantry must-have!

Delicious vanilla bean paste. A pantry must-have!

 

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Coconut Vanilla Whole Wheat Waffles


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

Yields about 10 Belgian-style waffles, 4-inches by 4 1/2-inches


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (or canola oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the waffle iron.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and flax seed.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milks, butter, vanilla and brown sugar.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Note that the batter will be slightly lumpy. Gently stir in the coconut.
  5. Cook waffles following waffle iron manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Serve garnished with freshly chopped mango and toasted coconut.

Notes

  • These waffles freeze well. Place them in a freezer bag, separated by pieces of parchment and freeze until ready to eat!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 5
  • Calories: 502
  • Sugar: 14
  • Sodium: 368
  • Fat: 25
  • Saturated Fat: 17
  • Unsaturated Fat: 7
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 59
  • Protein: 12
  • Cholesterol: 88


It’s Redux Time: Whole Wheat Crackers with Currants and Granola

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In my house, we eat a lot of crackers. It’s almost slightly embarrassing the number of boxes of crackers we go through in a month. After buying a box at a time, I finally succumbed to buying in bulk. Ironically, even though we chow-down on them, I hadn’t thought much about the crackers themselves until this month’s Recipe Redux challenge. This month’s theme is to take a recipe that we have already made and essentially “re-purpose” it. I was excited and decided my first step should include a quick trip through my blog.

You know where that landed me? Right on the granola recipe I use and make at least once a month. It’s a great one, adapted from a recipe I found on Martha Stewart’s website for Honey-Pecan Granola. At that moment, all I could think was, “wouldn’t this be a yummy base for a cracker?” Which got me thinking even more which led me to wonder why I am buying all of these silly crackers at the store when I can make them at home?

Making crackers is super simple and requires very few ingredients. After a little tinkering, I came up with a recipe that has now become a household favorite. The best part about it is that it’s a perfect way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. They can help roll out the dough and if they’re old enough, they can help cut (using a pizza cutter with an adult close by!) the dough into crackers.

Use my recipe as a base, but feel free to experiment with your own additions. I topped mine with a little dusting of cinnamon and sugar, but you can also add spices and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary. This is my gentle push, encouraging you to put that box of crackers down and make your own!
 

And here are some pics to guide you along the way!

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Simple ingredients!

 

Cracker food processor

Using a food processor makes the task even easier!

 

Process until it comes into a ball.

Process until it comes into a ball.

 

Beautiful cracker dough ball.

Beautiful cracker dough ball.

Now roll it out.

Now roll it out.

Then cut them out and bake!

Then cut them out and bake!

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Whole Wheat Crackers with Currants and Granola


  • Author: Sara Haas
  • Yield: 12 1x

Description

A simple, homemade cracker recipe filled with plenty of flavor.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons homemade granola
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup currants

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor combine the whole wheat flour, salt and the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 2/3 cup of the granola and pulse 1-2 times. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until ingredients come together in a ball.
  2. Remove the dough from the food processor and place on a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead in the currants and the 2 tablespoons granola and shape dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400’F. Cut three large sheets of parchment paper, big enough so that each piece will fit on a large sheet pan.
  4. Unwrap the dough and cut into quarters. Take one quarter of the dough and on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a circle, about 1/8″ thick. Transfer the circle to a piece of parchment and using a knife or a pizza wheel, cut into squares or other desired shape (I like 1 1/2 inch by 1 inch rectangles myself!). Continue the same process with the other 3 pieces of dough.
  5. Move the parchment with crackers onto a large sheet pan and place in the oven. Cook 6-8 minutes or until browned.
  6. Remove crackers from the pan and place them on a cooling rack. Continue the process with the remaining crackers.

Notes

  • These crackers are tasty by themselves, but also wonderful when sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar before baking. The recipe is a good base for trying other flavors too. Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg or cayenne. Or try adding more dried fruit or topping with parmesan cheese just before baking.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 1550
  • Sugar: 44
  • Sodium: 631
  • Fat: 71
  • Saturated Fat: 33
  • Unsaturated Fat: 33
  • Trans Fat: 2
  • Carbohydrates: 197
  • Protein: 32
  • Cholesterol: 122


A Perfect Pairing: Almonds and Chocolate

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Somewhere, hidden deep in the recesses of my pantry is my special stash of chocolate. It’s a secret because, well, I don’t feel like sharing it. No offense to other members of the household, but I just don’t think they would appreciate this little treasure like I do. I hold that stash near and dear to my heart. And thinking about it now, it seems rather ironic that I store it in an old trick-or-treating bucket that looks like a jack-o-lantern…totally classy and mature, I know.

I love chocolate and I have since I was little. Lots of good food memories come to mind when I think of chocolate. Because I love it so much, I suppose that could mean trouble for my waistline. But the good news is, I can control myself because I appreciate chocolate. I see chocolate as a fun indulgence or as a very lovely treat. Because of that, I try to enjoy it and savor it. That means I need less of it!

The ladies over at the Recipe Redux must have channeled my inner choco-holic when they came up with this month’s theme – our favorite pairing for chocolate. My mind of course went crazy with ideas. How about a mole? Or what about a twist on a ‘smore? When it came down to it, I decided upon a recipe that I felt would honor both the dietitian as well as the chocolate-lover in me. Reaching for almonds and my secret stash of chocolate, I bee-lined to the kitchen and got to work. I came up with a recipe that is the perfect snack or treat and one that highlights one of my favorite pairings: nuts and chocolate! Yum!
 
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Spiced Almonds with Dark Chocolate Drizzle


  • Author: Sara Haas
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x

Description

These roasted almonds are a delightful blend of sweet and savory.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 cups whole almonds
  • 2 ounces 60% dark chocolate
  • Kosher salt for finishing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300’F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the cayenne, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white and water together just until foamy. Add the almonds and toss to coat. Spread the almonds out onto the sheet pan and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Stir and toss to coat.
  4. Place nuts in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the nuts cool on the sheet pan.
  5. To a small sauce pot add the chocolate and set over low heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted. Using a small spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the almonds. Sprinkle with additional salt as desired (Kosher or sea salt).
  6. Allow chocolate to cool and harden before serving.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 2919
  • Sugar: 68
  • Sodium: 826
  • Fat: 237
  • Saturated Fat: 29
  • Unsaturated Fat: 195
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 146
  • Protein: 94
  • Cholesterol: 3

 


It’s Getting Hot in Here! Recipe Redux

Back in my days of my culinary externship I learned all about something called “family meal.” It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Actually, it was. The concept was that the kitchen staff was to make the meal (usually from leftovers or food on it’s way out in regards to freshness) for all of the employees. I had the fortunate luck of being in a kitchen with a super-talented chef who hailed from Mexico. Every day he made something amazing out of absolutely nothing. I enjoyed every mouthful and learned so much about the Mexican culture. One day he made a dish with dried chiles, and when I asked him what it was called, he told me it was chilaquiles. Well, that meal changed my life. How could just a few simple ingredients make such a delicious plate of food? First, he made a sauce; he washed and seeded some dried chiles and toasted them in a hot pan. Once lightly toasted he transferred them to a bowl and covered them with hot water to soften them. Then he pureed them up with some sauteed onion and garlic and cooked it with a little chicken broth. To that he added strips of corn tortilla and it was amazing! I cleaned my plate and felt inspired. 

Guajillo and Ancho chiles!

Guajillo and Ancho chiles!

This month’s Recipe Redux challenged us to spice things up. Immediately I thought of that yummy chilaquiles dish, but I wanted to do something to make it my own. Since Mexican food (any of it!) and pizza are my favorite foods, I figured why not use them both!? And that’s how I came up with this riff on a Mexican pizza. It’s full of flavor and by chance, also loaded with good-for-you nutrition. 

Enjoy and be sure to keep a glass of water nearby!

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Red Chile Mexican Pizza


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

Hearty whole grain pizza dough topped with a spicy red chile sauce, black beans and fresh vegetables.


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Ingredients

  • 2 dried ancho chiles, washed, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 dried Guajillo chiles, washed, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain pizza dough or 1 large pre-made whole wheat pizza crust
  • 1 cup black beans (canned or cooked from dry)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 jalapeno, sliced thinly into rounds
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

To Make the Red Chile Sauce

  1. Set a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles to the pan and toast until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chiles sit until softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Remove the chiles from the water and tear into pieces. Place the torn chiles in a blender along with 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Puree until mixture is smooth.
  3. Set the skillet (you can use the same one that you used to toast the chiles) over medium-low heat. Add the oil and once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pureed chile sauce and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with lime juice and salt. Note: If a smoother consistency is desired, transfer mixture back to the blender and process until smooth. Use caution with hot liquids.

To Make the Pizza

  1. Preheat the oven to 425’F.
  2. Shape the pizza dough into a circle between 14 and 16-inches in diameter and place on a large sheet of parchment paper. Spread a 1/2 cup of the chile mixture over the crust in an even layer. Top the pizza with the black beans, bell peppers and cheese. Arrange jalapeño slices on top of the cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese bubbly and lightly browned.
  3. Remove pizza from the oven and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions. Slice and serve.

Notes

  • This recipe makes more sauce than you will need. That’s ok, because it freezes well or you can use to as a topping for your next batch of tacos or enchiladas.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 479
  • Sugar: 2
  • Sodium: 351
  • Fat: 13
  • Saturated Fat: 6
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 71
  • Protein: 19
  • Cholesterol: 30