Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup


We Delshads are big fans of soup! When it's cool outside, there's just nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of soup. This was, however, my first time making pumpkin soup. I've seen a lot of winter squash soups floating around the blogosphere lately and this Halloween afternoon I decided to give it a go!

This soup is very creamy, with a complex mix of spicy and sweet flavors that left us both licking our bowls (truth be told, I licked the pot clean too). It is important to use a pumpkin that is meant for cooking, not your leftover jack-o-lanterns. Small "pie pumpkins" are your best bet. You can also feel free to substitute butternut squash or sweet potatoes for the pumpkin.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup
A 2 pound (approx.) pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced
2-3 Cups of water
olive oil for coating the pot
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper (such as cayenne)
1 Tablespoon of turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons coriander seeds or 1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 Can of coconut milk (about 2/3 cup)
cilantro for garnish (optional)

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat, coat the pan with little olive oil (1-2 Tablespoons).
2) Add the diced onions, and saute until they are translucent (7-8 minutes).
3) Add the garlic and ginger, saute another 5 minutes.
4) Add all of the spices, and let them toast for 1-2 minutes.
5) Add the diced pumpkin, and enough water to almost cover the squash. Cover and let simmer until the pumpkin is tender (around 30 minutes).
6) Puree the soup, return it to the pot, stir in the coconut milk, and bring the soup back to a simmer.
7) Ladle piping hot soup into bowls and garnish with a little cilantro.

Happy Halloween!!!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I've also included this as part of Jenna's Pumpkin Recipe Link-up over at the Newlywed's Blog, and Tina's Pumpkin Recipe Link-up at Mom's Crazy Cooking. Head over to both cites for a wide array of tasty pumpkin eats!

Last, I 've linked this recipe to one more really fantastic recipe sharing event - a Gluten Free Holiday. This event was organized by Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, it will take place every Thursday in November and December, with different themes each week, and different bloggers hosting each week. This week's theme is Gluten Free Holiday Recipes made healthier and it is being hosted by Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs. If you ask me, a holiday meal isn't complete without something containing pumpkin, winter squash, or sweet potatoes. These fall veggies are my absolute favorites, they always satisfy my sweet tooth without any added sweetner. As a bonus these veggies are some of the most nutrient dense foods around!

While this soup may not be the most "traditional" holiday recipe, the creamy pumpkin spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg provides a comforting warmth and flavor that screams Thanksgiving! I think this soup would be a great way to start your turkey day meal, it would also be a nice light lunch or dinner in the days before and after the big feast! Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Banana Date Bread


I am always looking for ways to make tasty baked goods with less sugar - this recipe is my greatest success yet! This bread relies solely on fruit, bananas and dates, for sweetness. Alfred has a BIG sweet tooth and he didn't miss the sugar at all! So, this is one treat you can feel good about serving yourself and your loved ones!

Banana Date Loaf (Makes 1 Loaf)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract or Rum
2 Tablespoons Oil (I used olive oil)
2 Tablespoons Boiling Water
1 Cup Pitted Dates, diced
2 Cups of Flour (because I made this for Alfred I used 1 Cup All Purpose, 1 Cup Whole Wheat, you could also use a gluten-free all purpose flour blend if that suits your needs)
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch Salt
3 large, very ripe Bananas, mashed thoroughly or pureed
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 Cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil and flour your loaf pan so the bread will not stick.
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the vanilla/rum, oil, hot water, and dates. Set aside.
3) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
4) Use a fork to gently mash the date mixture then mix in the bananas and egg.
5) Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
6) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.
7) Bake the bread in the center of your oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a rack or a plate.





Enjoy a slice for breakfast, tea time, or dessert!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Citrus Scented Olive Oil Cake



I drew ideas for this recipe from several different sources – but my main objective was to use up some leftover buttermilk I had sitting in the fridge. Mission accomplished! All in all this is a very simple, yet flavorful sweet cake; it pairs perfectly with a cup of tea. The sugar and almond topping create a lovely crunchy crust, and the buttermilk and olive oil yield a light, moist interior.

Citrus Scented Olive Oil Cake
Ingredients:
•2 large eggs, room temperature
•3/4 cup sugar (I used evaporate cane juice)
•3/4 cup all-purpose flour
•1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or more all-purpose flour)
•1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
•1/4 tsp salt
•1 tsp baking powder
•Zest from l lemon and 1 tangerine, finely grated or minced
•1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
•2/3 cup buttermilk or yogurt

For topping:
•2 Tbs sugar
•1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350˚F. Oil an 8-9 inch cake pan or springform pan with olive oil.
2.In a large bowl sift together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.
3.In a large measuring cup combine olive oil and buttermilk.
4.In a separate bowl, use your finger tips to rub the sugar and zest together to release the citrus oil. Spend a couple of minutes on this - it makes all the difference!
5.In a standing mixer or using a hand mixer (I used a hand mixer) beat the sugar/zest mixture and eggs on medium high until pale yellow, about 1 minute. On medium speed, add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk/oil combination just until you have a smooth batter, don't overbeat it.
6.Pour the batter into the oiled pan. Sprinkle sugar and almond mixture on top.
7.Place in middle rack of oven, and bake until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour.
8. Let it cool a few minutes in the pan, meanwhile make a pot of teas.
9. Cut yourself a thick slice, pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy!



As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Broccoli Chowder


I am so excited to share this recipe! It is a creamy, yummy and very nutritious DAIRY FREE chowder!!! I came across the recipe that inspired me on the wonderful blog - The Mommy Bowl. Deanna has many fantastic ideas so I strongly encourage you to check out her blog!

This recipe uses an ingredient I've been wanting to try for a while, but I've been a little nervous about it. The ingredient in question is nutritional yeast, it is an orange powder, with a cheesy, nutty taste. As the name suggests nutritional yeast is highly nutritious - it is a source of complete protein and is very high in vitamin B-12. One of my neighbors also recently informed me that it is helps promote lactation in breast feeding women (of course, that is NOT a concern I have at this time!). Vegans use it as a replacement for cheese in a wide range of recipes, but a lot of people have told me it is more of an "acquired taste." I am happy to report that Alfred and I both loved the flavor it added to this soup. If anything, I would have liked to have a little more! I am looking forward to trying it on pasta, in pesto and in caesar salad dressing! For those in the Lafayette/West Lafayette area, you can purchase nutritional yeast from the bulk bins at Sunspot Natural Market (FYI: Thursdays Purdue students and employees get a 20% discount!).

The recipe also uses tahini - an ingredient I am very familiar with, but that may be new to some of you. It is sesame seed paste - basically the sesame equivalent of peanut butter. It is a staple in our household. Alfred loves it for breakfast on bread with a little honey. I like it as a dip with celery, and it is a must have for homemade hummus of baba ganoush. I've also used it to make cookies (much like peanut butter) and in an Asian flavored sauce for noodles. So if you are a tahini novice and you're not sure if you want to buy a whole jar when you just need a little for this recipe - take the plunge, there is a lot you can do with it! Plus sesame seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, among other things they are a wonderful source of calcium - which makes it especially great for those who can't eat dairy! In this recipe, it adds a wonderful creaminess and richness to the soup, so I definetly wouldn't skip it!

Without further ado, here's the recipe!

Broccoli Chowder:
3 Broccoli Heads, finely chop both the florets and the stalks (at my grocery the broccoli is usually packaged in groups of three, it yielded about 5-6 cups of chopped broccoli)
1 Large Onion, peeled and diced
1 Large Carrot, peeled and diced
2 Celery Stalks, diced
4 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
1 quart Vegetable of Chicken broth (or water, which I used because I was out of homemade broth)
1 teaspoon Ground Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Cup of cooked, pureed Cauliflower (you could substitute mashed potatoes or mashed white beans)
3 Tablespoons of Tahini
1/4 Cup of Nutritional Yeast
Olive Oil for Pot
White Wine for deglazing

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the onions, celery and carrots. Saute 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, saute another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly browned. Add a splash of white wine to the pot and use a spoon to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
2) Add the broccoli, broth or water, mustard, red pepper and salt to the pot. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
3) Transfer approximately 3 cups of the soup to a blender, along with the cauliflower puree, tahini and nutritional yeast. Blend until nice and creamy. Add this back to the pot of soup. Taste the soup and add more salt as needed.
*I wanted a chunky chowder, so I only pureed part of the broccoli - if you want a smoother soup, you can puree it all.

Serve piping hot with a nice green salad for a lovely lunch or light supper!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin-y Granola


Although I have given up most grains with the hope of making my picky belly happy, I have yet to kick my oat habit. I love'em hot in oatmeal (there a pot simmering on the stove as I type) and I love'em cold like in this crunchy granola. This is actually my third granola recipe for those who are counting. This one is inspired by another love of mine - pumpkin, it features both pumpkin puree and pumpkin seeds (the ones out of the white shell - pepitas). This granola is only lightly sweet, I always eat mine with fruit and yogurt or almond milk - the fruit adds plenty of sweetness. Alfred also mixes in dried fruit (chopped figs, dates, raisins, etc.) to sweeten his up. If, however, you are looking for a sweeter treat, simply replace 1/2 cup of the pumpkin puree with a liquid sweetener of your choosing (honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.).

Pumpkin-y Granola
5 Cups of Old Fashioned Oats
2 Cups of Puffed Grains (I used millet, rice or corn would work too or more oats)
1 Cup of Raw Pepitas
1 Cup of Raw Sunflower Seeds
1 Cup Finely Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
1 1/2 Cup Pumpkin or Winter Squash Puree
1/4 Cup Molasses (I used carob molasses)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg (freshly grated is always best!)
pinch of Sea Salt

1) Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, lightly coat two large sheet pans with oil (a pastry brush is helpful here).
2) In a large bowl combine the oats, grains, pepitas, sunflower seeds and coconut.
3) In another bowl, or large measuring cup, combine the pumpkin, molasses, vanilla and spices.
4) Add the pumpkin mixture to the oat mixture, and stir well (use your hands if you need to) until the oat mixture is evenly coated with the pumpkin mixture.
5) Divide the granola evenly between the two prepared sheet pans and spread it out.
6) Bake for 20 minutes, stir the granola around and rotate the pans for even toasting.
7) Repeat until the granola is golden brown and dry.

Let the granola cool completely before storing in an airtight container. *At this point you could mix in some dried fruit if you so desire!

Enjoy this by the handful, over yogurt or with milk!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Silky Cauliflower Soup



It's no secret that I adore veggies, in recent months cauliflower has become one of my favorites. I love it in vegetarian curries, roasted in the oven, and minced in the food processor as a substitute for rice. So, when I came across this recipe for a creamy (dairy free) cauliflower soup, I knew I had to give it a try.

This soup is very simple, but very satisfying. I served ours with a green salad, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cherries and a simple vinaigrette. It was the perfect fall lunch.

Silky Cauliflower Soup
1 Large Head of Cauliflower, roughly chopped (green parts removed)
1 Large Onion, chopped
4-5 Large Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 Quart of Vegetable Broth or Chicken for non-vegetarian (preferably homemade*)
1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
Olive oil for pan
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Optional Topping - toasted garlic slices

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat, coat the pot with a little olive oil (a couple tablespoons), add the onions and garlic, saute until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes)
2) Add the cauliflower, broth, and cumin. Cover and let simmer 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is very tender.
3) Using an immersion blender or working in batches with an upright blender, puree the soup.
4) Taste the soup, add salt and pepper as needed. If desired, top each bowl of soup with toasted garlic slices.

*Because this soup contains so few ingredients, I would recommend using a good homemade broth - the quality of the broth really makes a big difference.

Like most soups, this one tastes even better reheated the next day, so double the recipe if you're feeding a crowd!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Creamy Chicken Curry


This is the second version of chicken curry I have made. In the first one , the chicken was simmered in a tomato-based sauce, this time I cooked the chicken in a creamy coconut milk-based sauce. It was absolutely delicious - Alfred and I both literally licked our plates. To be honest what made this dish was the fabulous curry powder I used. One of my dearest friends is from Sri Lanka and last time she was home her mother made a special blend of curry spices for me. This dish only contains a few ingredients, so the quality of the curry powder will determine whether it is so-so or tantalizing. If you are not a fortunate as me to have a friend with connections, make a trip to an Indian grocer store or shop at Penzey's spices online to get a good quality curry powder. You don't want a hot (madras) curry, but a flavorful combination of warm spices, such as garam masala. I'm pretty sure the Sri Lanka mixture I have also has a little ground fennel mixed in.

Creamy Chicken Curry
2 Pounds of bone-in, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in half
1 Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons Curry Powder
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 teaspoon Sea Salt (plus more to taste)
1 Cup Water
1 13.5 oz. Can of Coconut Milk
1 Cup diced Carrots
1 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed
Large Handful of Cilantro, chopped

1) Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Coat the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches if necessary, sear the chicken breasts pieces on each side until they are lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side). Remove the chicken to a plate.
2) Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon stick, salt, and 1/2 cup of water. Let the mixture simmer until the water is absorbed and the onions are soft (about 5 minutes).
3) Add the seared chicken pieces back to the pot along with the remaining 1/2 cup of water, coconut milk and carrots. Cover and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
4) Add the peas and cilantro to the pot and let the curry simmer another 10 minutes.

Serve your curry piping hot with steamed basmati rice (Alfred's preference) or cauliflower rice (my preference). Enjoy!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Butternut Squash Bread


Each season brings with it wonderful new foods. Currently, we are relishing in Autumn's bounty of apples, pears, persimmons, turnips (I bought my first ever rutabaga today), sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and squash. A local farmer sells produce about a block away from our apartment, and Alfred has been visiting his farm stand nearly everyday - butternut squash, one of our favorites, are only $1 each. Alfred, always the cunning bargain hunter, has been buying nearly a dozen per week (I am not joking!).

What are we doing with all of this squash? One of my favorite breakfasts (my breakfast today actually) is roasted butternut squash with toasted pecans, served over sauteed greens. I simply peel, seed (save the seeds for toasting like pumpkin seeds!), and dice the squash. Then toss it with a little olive oil and salt, spread it on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until the pieces are fully cooked (about 45 minutes, but it will depend on the size of your chunks). Cooked, pureed butternut squash is also a great substitute for pumpkin in baked goods - pies, muffins, cookies, breads, you name it! To prepare the puree I cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, place the squash halves cut side down in a large baking dish, add about 1/4 cup of water, cover the dish with foil and bake the squash for 1 hour, or until tender. Allow the squash to cool a little, then use a spoon to scoop out all the flesh and puree it or mash it well. You can also freeze the puree for use later on (Turkey Day is just around the corner!). Butternut squash also store incredibly well - they will last for months at room temperature - so we are stalking up for the winter!

One of Alfred's favorite butternut squash flavored baked treats is the quick bread recipe posted below. You can also make muffins with the same recipe, just adjust the baking time to around 20 minutes. If you are not in the mood to roast your own squash, you can certainly substitute canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling).

Butternut Squash Bread:

Dry Ingredients:
1 3/4 Cup Flour (I use equal parts all-purpose and whole wheat; you could also substitute a gluten free flour blend if that suits your needs)
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed (optional - could also substitute wheat germ)
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/4 Cups Butternut Squash Puree
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Honey, Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar
3 Tablespoons Molasses
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, plus a little more for coating the pan.

2 Tablespoons Pepitas (hulled Pumpkin Seeds) - optional

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, lightly coat a standard (9 x 5) loaf pan with a little olive oil (a pastry brush is useful for this).
2) Sift the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir gently until you have a smooth batter.
3) Pour the batter into the oiled loaf pan, sprinkle the top of the batter with the pepitas (if using).
4) Bake the bread for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5) Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and dig in.

Allow the bread to cool completely before wrapping it in foil to store any leftovers.

We wish you all a very happy and tasty Fall!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays (this is a brand new blog carnival - make sure to stop by and help make it a sucess!), Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I'm delighted to say that this recipe was also highlighted as a featured recipe on Friday Favorites!

This is a great blog carnival, I encourage you all to stop by and check it out!