Sweet Potato Butternut Casserole with Candied Pecans

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is time for my favorite Turkey Day staple. Here’s a recipe for my family’s sweet potato butternut casserole with candied pecans — a fail-proof winner! My family typically makes it with only sweet potatoes but I modified the recipe this year to incorporate butternut squash. It makes the dish lighter and is still incredibly delicious — more like a sweet potato/ butternut crumble than a veggie side.

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Ingredients:

1 1/4 c mashed sweet potatoes

1 1/4 c butternut squash (alternatively, swap this amount for sweet potatoes)

1/4 c brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 c melted butter (I used earth balance)

3 tbsp milk of choice

1/4 tsp salt

Roast sweet potatoes and butternut squash at 350 until done. Cool, and scoop out with spoon. Puree in food processor until smooth. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into greased casserole dish and top with the following just before baking.

Pecan topping:

1/4 c almond meal

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c chopped pecans

3 tbsp c melted butter

Mix the first three ingredients together and sprinkle on the casserole. Then pour melted butter on top. Bake uncovered for one hour at 350.

Healthy Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Icing

Well I’ve posted a pumpkin pie, muffin, and bread recipe. Scones were next on my list. I topped them with a family favorite: cream cheese icing. Perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea, or a healthy dessert.

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Ingredients:

2 c whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 c brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4th tsp cloves

1/4 c maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp orange extract

1 c pumpkin purée

1/3 c cold butter

1/4th cup plain yogurt

Top with cream cheese icing (recipe below)

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder,  and spices. In a separate bowl, mix the maple syrup, vanilla, orange extract, and pumpkin purée. Mix both bowls together. Add cold butter and yogurt. You may need to use your hands to knead the dough and thoroughly incorporate the butter into the mixture. Place dough in a well greased round baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 min. Cut into 8 pieces.

Cream cheese icing:

Combine 1 box (16 ounces) powdered sugar, 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup margarine, softened and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl. Beat until smooth.

Best Carrot Cake

This is my family’s favorite cake that we make at least once a year. This year it was for my 25th birthday. Anyone who claims they do not like carrot cake because it’s “healthy,” has not tasted this cake.

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The recipe is an old xeroxed page from somebody else’s cookbook, so unfortunately I can’t give proper credit. However, there is a blurb at the bottom of the page, which says:

Grace Meadows from Taylorville, Illinois was a finalist in the “Bake-A-Cake” category of the Blue Ribbon Culinary Contest at the Illinois State Fair, Springfield, Illinois.

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my family does!

Directions:

Makes 8 to 10 servings

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups brown sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

3 cups grated carrot

1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

Cream Cheese Icing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Beat eggs and oil in a small bowl. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Add egg mixture; mix well. Stir in carrots and pecans. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Spread with Cream Cheese Icing.

Cream Cheese Icing: Combine 1 box (16 ounces) powdered sugar, 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup margarine, softened and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl. Beat until smooth.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

The season of bulky scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, and colorful leaves is upon us. Happy fall folks!

Now that it’s officially pumpkin season, here’s one of my favorites – spiced pumpkin bread!

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1/2 c honey, maple syrup, or agave

1/4th c brown sugar

1/2 c coconut oil

2 eggs

1/4th c almond milk (or milk of choice)

1/4th c apple sauce

1 c pumpkin purée

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp baking soda

2 c whole wheat flour

Pecans or walnuts (optional)

Sprinkle oats on top (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the coconut oil then immediately mix it with the honey, sugar, and eggs. The coconut oil will begin to solidify so stir in other ingredients right away. If clumps of coconut oil begin to appear, place in warm place (for instance, on top of the oven). Then add in the almond milk, pumpkin purée, apple sauce, and vanilla.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and flour) then combine it with the coconut oil mixture.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (9″ x 5″ x 2 1/2″). Sprinkle a few oats and cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, around 35 minutes.
  5. Let cool and serve with pumpkin butter from TJ’s.

Falafel Collard Greens Wrap with Tzatziki Sauce

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These tasty fried fritters are perfect to serve as an appetizer or as a protein in a sandwich or wrap. It is typically served inside pita bread with hummus. I opted for a collard greens wrap with homemade tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and cabbage. Roasted eggplant would be a nice addition.

Falafel:

2 C dried chickpeas

1  bunch of parsley

1 chopped onion

1/4th C finely chopped cilantro

4-6 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

3 tbs lemon juice

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight then drain. Do not use canned chickpeas!
  2. Mix soaked chickpeas, parsley, onion, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and lemon juice together in a food processor. Blend until thoroughly mixed, but not completely smooth.
  3. Mold the chickpea mixture into balls with two spoons and fry in avocado oil (used for high temperature cooking). Alternatively, you can use an ice cream scoop to form the balls. Fry until golden brown.
  4. Heat collard greens in oven or microwave until soft. Place falafel, chopped cabbage, tomatoes, and a dollop of tzatziki (recipe below) in the center of the greens. Roll like a burrito. Voila!

Tzatziki sauce:

2 C greek whole milk yogurt

1 finely grated cucumber

2 cloves of minced garlic

2-3 tbs of fresh dill

1 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Grate cucumber and mix ingredients together. Let chill for 1-2 hours.

 

Spiced Persimmon Bread

This is a variation of James Beard’s Amazing Persimmon bread recipe. It was my first time baking with persimmons and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The persimmons paired with the spices and nuts make it an ideal bread for fall and winter. Use very ripe and soft Hachiya persimmons. Once the persimmons are mushy, you can simply peel off the skin and mash them with a fork. No food processor or blender necessary.

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Ingredients:

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup honey

1/4 cup apple sauce

3/4  cup coconut oil

3 eggs

1/4 cup cognac

1 tsp salt

11/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ginger

2 cups persimmon purée

1 ½ to 2 cups walnuts or pecans

1 ½ to 2 cups raisins or diced fruits (apricots, dates, or cranberries)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, honey, apple sauce, coconut oil, and eggs.
  3. Peel and purée the persimmons (note: I like to leave some whole persimmon pieces in mine). Mix in the cognac. Then add to the second mixture with the wet ingredients.
  4. Combine the two mixtures then fold in nuts and dried fruit.
  5. Transfer the batter into a well-greased bread dish.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow the bread to cool before serving.

Winter Veggies

Roasted Root Vegetables with Thyme and Apples

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Ingredients:

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 gala apples

5-6 carrots

2 large beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

Thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop vegetables and apples into thin slices.
  2. Dress with the olive oil and spices.
  3. Roast at 450°F for about 40-45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown. Stir occasionally.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates  

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Ingredients:

1 pound Brussels sprouts

1/2 cup pomegranates

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Trim and clean Brussels sprouts. Cut each one in half.
  2. Toss the Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  3. Roast at 400°F for 25-30 minutes until crispy.
  4. In a sauce pan, combine brown sugar, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  5. Combine roasted Brussels sprouts and pomegranates. Then drizzle the sauce over the roasted Brussels sprouts.