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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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.

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.

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

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Recipes makes approximately 20 cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup earth balance

¼ cup coconut oil

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

½ cup cocoa powder

2 cups shredded coconut

1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Mix melted earth balance, coconut oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla together. In another bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips together. Combine the two bowls. Mix well.
  2. Using a spoon or your hands, roll the batter into ~20 balls. Press with a fork and sprinkle with coconut.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 min. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve always loved Matcha Green Tea but it intimated me to bake with it. I finally decided to take a chance and it paid off. These cookies hit my matcha craving. I purposely made them not too sweet, although the chocolate chips make the cookies sweeter than you would expect. If you’re a matcha lover, these cookies are for you! Plus, matcha is rich in antioxidants and boosts memory.

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar (add another 1/4th cup if you prefer sweeter cookies)

1/2 cup earth balance (or preferred butter, melted)

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 cup chocolate chips

pinch of salt

Directions:

Mix flour, matcha, salt, and baking soda together. In a separate bowl, beat (with an electronic mixer or blender) the maple syrup, sugar, melted earth balance or butter, vanilla, and eggs. Once the batter is light and fluffy, mix with the dry ingredients. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Roll into 1 inch balls. This recipe makes roughly 18 cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Take out and place on wire rack until cool. Enjoy!