There was this time a few weeks ago when I really thought I had it together and then, poof, it all collapsed.
I felt great, I had this fantastic veggie burger recipe all queued up and then, life hit me. Not a literal punch in the face, more of like a “hey, stop biting off more than you can chew!” kind of way. Hence, the delayed post and hence why I have yet to update and face-lift my little blog here. But you’re here and I’m here now, so let’s celebrate that little victory, shall we?
Looking to use up that dried fruit or last teensy bit of nuts tucked away in your pantry? Well, then I have a recipe for you! Spare the lives of those tasty treats by using them in my Kitchen Sink Applesauce Bread.
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
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.
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
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
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
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
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.
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.
This recipe makes about 2 cups squash. About a 1/2 cup serving each for four people.
Here’s the deal, I am not super fancy. Nope, in fact, far from it. I despise dressing up and wearing makeup, but adore having a fresh face and wearing my workout/yoga gear all day. Yes, I am one of those women. In essence, I like being comfortable because when I’m comfortable, I feel like myself. Lucky for me I have a husband who also appreciates my casual approach to life! 🙂 Why do I bother telling you this? Well, because unlike my personal style/lifestyle, I actually like for my food to have flair with a hint of fancy.
I don’t know how my love affair of Mexican food began. It sure wasn’t inspired by anything I ate while growing up. I’m from the Midwest, so that’s part of my excuse. But, really, when I was younger (dating myself here), the closest I could get to Mexican food was a certain fast food chain (hello, chalupa) and a certain fast-casual food chain (hola, unlimited chips and salsa!). It’s a wonder, then, how I came to love Mexican food so much.
But I do love it and it has changed my life in the best, most positive way possible. How can a cuisine do that you ask? Simply, by educating me about food. I read so many great recipes featuring Mexican cooking and Mexican chefs, and I learned two important lessons. The first lesson I learned was the necessity of properly using spices to season food. The second lesson I learned was the importance of layering flavor, an indispensable tool used to build a recipe so that dishes go from ok to awesome. Those two lessons are the inspiration for how I make many of my dishes, including this Chicken Posole.
It’s not just another stew, it’s something that honors those lessons of properly using spices and building flavor. It’s brimming with everything from cumin to green chiles to the super delicious and texturally-pleasing hominy. This Chicken Posole is a tribute to honestly good food. It can fill any hungry or “hangry” belly and bring a smile to any face.
READ THIS PEOPLE!
Whew, did I get your attention? Good, that was on purpose. I want you to read this part because these are tips for success, including a few reasons why I did what I did with this recipe. Read on…
Buy the skin-on, bone-in chicken. Trust me! The skin helps add depth of flavor in two ways. First, when you sear it, you’ll get some yummy browned bits that stick to the pan, that’s called fond, and it’s good stuff. Second, you’ll cook the chicken with the skin-on, which will give your stew a really nice, enhanced chicken broth taste. (Don’t worry, you’ll take the skin off and bones off before you eat it!)
Back to that chicken, don’t even think about touching it or peeking at it while you’re searing it. You’ll just rip the skin right off and you’ll be mad and cry. I want you to be happy.
I add flour here, why? Because I want a stew that’s thick and by adding this flour and cooking it with the fat, I accomplish that. No whimpy stew broth for me!
And here, the montage of pictures honoring this Chicken Posole
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (25-ounce) can hominy, drained
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat the oil in a pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season the chicken with salt then arrange, skin-side down in the pot. Cook about 6-7 minutes, until skin is golden brown. Move to a plate.
Add the onion and carrots to the pot and cook until softened, about 6-7 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook and stir for 1 more minute. Add the chicken broth, stirring to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring mixture to a simmer then add the chicken, pressing it into the liquid to fully submerge it. Reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered, until chicken is cooked (has reached an internal temperature of 165’F), about 25 minutes. Check occasionally during cooking to ensure that chicken is still submerged. Add water, 1/2 cup at a time to keep chicken in the cooking liquid.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool 5 minutes. (At this point you can also skim the surface of the soup to remove any scum or excess oil/fat.)
Carefully remove and discard skin. Using a fork, remove the meat from the bones. Discard bones. Roughly chop the chicken and add it back to the pot along with the drained beans, hominy and chiles. Cook an additional 10 minutes.
Stir in lime juice and cilantro and serve.
This recipe makes about 9 cups of stew, this allows for a generous 1 1/2 cup portion for 6 people.
Here’s the deal, my family loves granola bars. I’m sure you can relate. I mean, is there really a more perfect snack? Well, of course there is, but this one is just so handy, which makes it the “perfect” snack in my eyes. Here’s the problem though, crappy granola bars are everywhere! Even worse, really good granola bars are expensive! Ugh!
What’s a mom, wife, daughter, friend to do? Why, make my own and share the recipe with YOU, my faithful followers! 🙂
Yes, I want you to have the option of making your own bars because you know, just as much as I do, that granola bars rock. So take that money you were going to spend on the crappy or expensive bars and use it to buy the ingredients to make these perfect little Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars.
Need more reasons to love these? Thought so!
They freeze well. Yes they do! So make a double batch and keep some in the freezer so you’re never without. Just cut them before freezing them, then stuff them into a re-sealable freezer bag. Give them a little room and lay them flat in the freezer. Once partially frozen, you can rearrange them and they won’t stick.
They taste good and your kids will eat them. This means no more fights about other junk they want to eat. They will like them and beg you for more. Which, in my world, is sooo much nicer than hearing them beg for pink cupcakes!
Your kids (or hey, even someone else’s) can help you make these! Woo hoo! Who doesn’t need an extra set of hands in the kitchen? And listen, getting kids into the kitchen is one of the best things we can do as parents or care givers!
They make great gifts. Oh indeed and what about hostess gifts? Yes, that too! I mean, wouldn’t you want these wrapped up and given to you? I’ll take them over a candle any day!
Enjoy, my friends!
And here are the pretty pictures:
Check out how I made these beautiful Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars!
A Fall spin on the classic granola bar. This one is also gluten and nut free!
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup prunes, very finely chopped (or pulsed find in a food processor)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, very finely chopped (or pulsed find in a food processor)
Preheat the oven to 300’F. Line a 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper. (Using two overlapping strips works well here for removing the bars from the pan after baking.)
In a large bowl, combine the oats and pumpkin seeds.
Heat a small pot or pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the pumpkin pie spice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin puree and cook 1 more minute. Stir in the maple syrup, salt, prunes and cranberries. Remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture.
Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Using a piece of foil, wax paper or parchment paper, cover the granola bars and push down evenly on the top to compress the mixture. The firmer the bar, the better it will hold together after it’s cooked. Remove foil, wax paper or parchment and place in the oven.
Cook bars for 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Once cooled, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours. Using the parchment paper, remove the bars from the pan and cut into individual bars. (Why chill them? This helps them firm up, which makes cutting them easier!)
Cut bars can be kept in the refrigerator about 5 days and up to 2 months in the freezer.
To keep this one GF, just be sure to use gluten-free oats.
Why I made this recipe: Because I am smitten with smoothies and equally smitten with matcha tea. So why not combine the two? Oh, and because I was hungry and I had these things in my house. Just being honest.
Why I love this recipe: This mango matcha smoothie is one of those recipes that’s super simple to make, yet the ingredients make it feel sophisticated. Love it for that and also because it tastes great.
How this recipe is healthy: Lots of reasons. First, portion size. It’s just one cup, which in my world, is the perfect size for a smoothie. Because let’s face it, take-out smoothies end up more like colossal milk shakes rather than nutritious, cups of joy. Second, it’s got matcha tea powder in it, a really interesting type of tea made out of whole tea leaves, which means you get loads of antioxidants, including those that may help prevent certain diseases like heart disease. Nothing wrong with that, right? Also, I like it because it’s not super sweet. This isn’t dessert, it’s a snack or a nice supplement to breakfast or lunch. Enjoy it as is or use it as the base for an amazing smoothie bowl. Yum!
Why I made this recipe: Because certain people in my life (ahem, my friend since the 2nd grade, to be precise) told me they need quick recipes that taste good, can serve a small army, I mean, family, and aren’t loaded with unhealthy ingredients. Enter the Slow Cooker Jamaican Jerk Pork recipe.
Why I love this recipe: Mission accomplished! I’m pretty sure I met all of the criteria established during the serious brain storming session when said friend (see above) was last in town for a visit. Fast, simple ingredients, large quantity, tasty, healthy and freezable! Woo hoo! It’s always good to make sure your friends are happy.
Why this recipe is healthy: Instead of using pork shoulder, a relatively fatty cut of pork, I chose pork loin roast. This is a leaner cut and performs quite well in the slow cooker. Sometimes there’s a little extra layer of fat on this cut too, so feel free to cut some of that off before putting the rub on it. Besides that, pretty much that dry rub, pineapple and slow-cooking make this a relative healthy alternative to so many other pulled pork recipes.
A simple rub of vibrant jerk spices makes this pork perfect in a sandwich, on top of a bed of lettuce or whole grains, stuffed in a pita or as a topping for pizza.
2–3 tablespoons jerk seasoning (use 2 for less heat, 3 for more heat)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 1/2 pounds pork loin roast, trimmed of excess fat
1 small yellow or white onion, sliced
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
In a bowl, combine the jerk seasoning, brown sugar, garlic and salt. Rub seasoning mixture all over pork roast. If doing this step the night before, place the pork in a rimmed baking dish or rimmed sheet pan, cover and refrigerate.
Spread the sliced onions in the bottom of a 4 1/2-6 quart slow cooker. Place pork roast on top of the onions.
Pour 1/2 cup pineapple juice and the chicken broth around the roast. Cover slow cooker with a lid and cook on low for 8 hours.
Carefully remove 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid and discard. Using two forks, shred pork in the slow cooker. Add the remaining 1/4 cup pineapple juice and the apple cider vinegar. Cover and cook on low for at least 30 more minutes. Season with salt and serve.
This recipe makes about 6 cups of pulled pork. Lucky you!
Not hot enough? Top with a dash of hot sauce before serving.
Making sandwiches? Top with a carrot or cabbage slaw tossed with a simple dressing of apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and canola oil.
I’m keeping this post simple because I feel it could easily get out of hand, fast!
Here’s the deal, like the rest of America, I am in love with pumpkin.
For some people, this is just a trendy type of love, but for me, it’s the real deal and it’s got roots, people, serious roots. You see my love of pumpkin stems from my love of Halloween. And that love story began a long, long time ago, back when I was embarking on my first trick-or-treating experience. Long before I knew that candy was just the beginning of my beautiful (and believe it or not, healthy) relationship with all things sugar. Now that I have such an advanced palate (uh huh, yep, I do. Ha!) and a degree in Nutrition, I can take what I love and put a de”light”full spin on it. Enter, my pumpkin spice granola.