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.

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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.

Berry Banana Bread

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Ingredients:

1 ½ c whole-wheat flour

½ c oats

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ c butter (I used earth balance)

½ c brown sugar

½ c honey

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 bananas (mashed)

1 c fresh berries

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda together.
  2. In another bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Combine the two bowls together thoroughly then mix in mashed bananas and berries.
  4. Pour mixture into a well- greased baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Zesty Coconut Cauliflower Chickpea Salad

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1 head cauliflower (chopped into bite size pieces)

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas

1 cucumber

1 tomato

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons coconut milk

juice of 2 limes

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower and chickpeas on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Cook for ~40 minutes, until the chickpeas and cauliflower have become brown on the edges and crispy.
  2. While the cauliflower and chickpeas are cooking, make the dressing by combining olive oil, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, coconut milk, and lime juice together.
  3. Cut the tomato and cucumber into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the cauliflower and chickpeas have cooled combine with the tomato and cucumber. Then toss with the dressing. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes on top.

Indispensable Pesto

This is a modified recipe from The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook. Warning: this pesto will leave a strong garlic taste in your mouth. Use less garlic if you plan on smooching anyone later in the night. For a healthy alternative try it over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.

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1 cup grated fresh Parmesan

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup melted butter (or dairy-free, non-hydrogenated Earth Balance)

10-20 cloves fresh garlic (I use the whole bulb)

1 tbs pine nuts (I throw in a handful, because I love them)

3/4 olive oil

salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Using a blender or food processor, grate enough Parmesan cheese to make one cup; add basil.
  2. Then add melted butter, followed by garlic, pine nuts and finally the oil.
  3. Allow each added ingredient to blend smoothly with the preceding ones, and let stand at least one hour.
  4. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  5. Mix pesto with pasta fresh from the boiling water. Do not add too much pesto, but allow each person a chance to adjust flavor to taste, by adding more pesto if desired.
  6. Leftover pesto will last for a quite a long while if refrigerated in a plastic container, but do not freeze.