Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash Rings

Last night was Wednesday night, usually dinner at my house with my son and his girl friend.  It's a wonderful time for me because they are my "testers" and are ardent fans of my cooking and baking.  Moving forward into my Autumn squash phase; I decided to make something venturesome with acorn squash.  I hadn't really planned a "dinner" so I asked them if they would like to have breakfast for dinner, they agreed with the plan. I had purchased bacon from the butcher for the first time in more years than I can remember and we planned on having bacon, the big apple pancake, and this recipe.  We all got excited as we began to discuss the dinner; or maybe it was just me who got excited, not sure about that (?)  Well, anyway we all participated in the preparation of dinner and fun was had by all.......So, for the recipe:

1         medium acorn squash
1/2      cup quinoa, cooked in 1 cup vegetable broth
1         tablespoon olive oil
1/2      large onion, diced
1         medium apple, diced
1/4      cup dried cranberries, chopped
2         tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1/3      cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1-2      teaspoons fresh sage, minced
1         egg, whisked
2         teaspoon butter, melted
2         teaspoons maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.  Using olive oil mister; spray baking sheet.

Cut acorn squash in 2 inch rounds, remove seeds, and place on baking sheet.  Melt butter; mix with maple syrup and brush the top and sides of the squash, set aside.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat, add onion, cook for about 10 minutes or until it begins to brown, add apple, cook for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Combine quinoa, onion and apple mixture, cheese, walnuts, cranberries, egg, sage, and salt and pepper; mix well.  Fill each squash ring with as much mixture without overflowing.  Spray centers with cooking spray.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until tops are golden brown and squash is tender.  Enjoy   : )  -Noni

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quinoa Vegetable Mini Cups

I'm always on the look out for something to make that I can grab out of the freezer and quickly heat up when I run out of time and energy.  Since I rarely eat fast food and sometimes don't feel like eating what I had for dinner last night, it's good to have something in "reserve".  This recipe can have so many different variations; depending on what you have in your refrigerator and what type of grain,vegetables, spices, and cheeses you prefer.  So this is what I made today based on what I had.

2      cups Quinoa, cooked
2      eggs
2      egg whites
1      cup sweet potato, cooked (you could use any squash variety; uncooked)
2      green onions (you could use regular onions, shallots, garlic, or none)
1/4   cup parsley
1      tablespoon fresh basil
1/4   teaspoon sage
1/2   cup chicken sausage, cooked (any cooked meat can be used)
1/2   cup cheddar/mozzarella, shredded (any cheese can be used)
1/4   cup ricotta
2      tablespoons fresh Romano, grated
A dash of Cayenne and garlic salt.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350.  Generously See how I made the font bold and underlined there?  It's because what I'm about to type next is very important to follow.  Generously grease mini muffin tins with cooking spray.  Okay, the truth is......I wasn't generous enough and some of my cute little mini's stuck to the bottom of the tin, so be generous, okay?!!!

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Season to your liking.  Spoon into each cup of the muffin tin and bake 15 to 20 minutes.  If you use larger muffin tins; adjust the time accordingly.  Cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tin.  Enjoy!  : )  -Noni

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Persimmon Cookies

My mother liked lots of fruits that I really didn't care for, like persimmons, papayas, guavas, mangoes, I really thought they were "yucky" and I think a lot of it had to do with the texture of the fruit and maybe the "muskiness" as well.  When I went to the farmer's market last Sunday; many of the booths has persimmons, one of them was passing out samples; so I asked the woman for a taste, to my surprise, it was delightful!  I asked her to choose two that were ripe and purchased them to take home and eat.  Once I got them home; fear set in, what was I going to do with them?  When my son came over for dinner on Wednesday night, I asked him if he would like me to cut one open to have for dinner; he hesitated and then declared that he wasn't sure that he liked them.  lol!  This morning I got up and after researching on the internet; still feeling reluctant; I cut open the softest one, it was a beautiful color, and very soft, gooey, and slimy on the inside.  I freaked out!!!  I cut open the other one and it was firm and a different color; it tasted good and the soft one tasted sweet and good as well.  I went on line to search for a recipe to try; most recipes were for persimmon pudding, which is really like a bread, after some searching, I found a cookie recipe to try.  And if you have been reading this blog, you know that I'm going to "tweak" it and change it up to suit my dietary style; which I did.  I substituted honey for the sugar; using 1/2 the amount and used 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour and 1 cup Oat Flour for the 2 cups AP Flour (you can use any combination of flours that you wish), other than that, I followed the recipe.  I loved the outcome, the cookies remind me of the islands because of the spices they are very nice with tea in the afternoon to satisfy your sweet tooth!  Enjoy!  : )    -Noni

2      ripe persimmons, pureed
1      teaspoon baking soda
1     cup whole wheat flour
1     cup oat flour
1/2   teaspoon cinnamon
1/2   teaspoon cloves
1/2   teaspoon nutmeg
1/2   teaspoon salt
1      egg
1/2   cup butter
1/2   cup honey
1      cup raisins
1      cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350

Dissolve baking soda in pureed persimmons and set aside.
Sift flours, spices, and salt together, set aside.
Cream honey and butter together, beat in egg, add persimmon.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Stir in nuts and raisins.
Drop by teaspoon onto greased baking pan.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Banana Nut Bread (My Way)

Banana Nut Bread is probably a recipe in almost every American's recipe box.  My mother thought hers was the best ( and I did too until I began making my own), I had a friend who cooked and baked on her country home wood stove and she could make some pretty mean banana nut bread.  I went through a phase of my bread machine banana nut bread recipe (not because it was good, but because it was easy!), and now I have found one that I think to date is probably the best.  I roll my eyes when I read a recipe where "puffy" chested  cooks declare that they add chocolate chips to their batter.  What????  It's banana nut bread, do people really believe that chocolate chips need to be added to EVERY recipe????  Really????  Anyway......Here's what I do:

I gather all my ingredients and set them on the counter for about an hour so that they are at room temperature (someone told me to, I have no idea why, I just do it, it seems to work).

1/2       cup butter, softened
1/4       cup molasses
1/4       cup pure maple syrup
2          tablespoons honey
2          large eggs
2          medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/4       cup milk
2          teaspoons vanilla
2          cups flour (I use a combination of whole wheat, kamut, spelt, and oat)
1          teaspoon baking soda
1/2       teaspoon kosher salt
1/2       cup nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350, grease your pan of choice ( I use a loaf pan), you can use muffin tins as well.

Cream together butter, molasses, syrup, and honey on low speed of a mixer until well combined, increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated.  Add the bananas and blend on low until combined.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix just until combined.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together and add to the banana mixture, mix on medium speed until the mixture has come together and is thick and creamy, scraping the bowl to make sure all the flour mixture is incorporated into the banana mixture.  Add the nuts and pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 50 to 60 minutes if using a loaf pan.  If using muffin tins; check your time at 20 minutes and at 10 minute intervals thereafter.

Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on wire rack to cool.  After 20 minutes, lay pan on it's side to cool for another 10 to 20 minutes before attempting to remove it from the pan.  I know, I know, your home is filled with the aroma of the delicious banana nut bread and you have already waited almost 2 hours, however, it will be worth it to allow the bread to cool enough to come out of the pan as a whole loaf!!!

Sauteed Fillet of Sole

This is a fast and easy fish recipe to fix when you are having guests for dinner.  Serve with a grain and a green vegetable and or a fresh green salad.

11/2      pounds fresh sole fillets
2          tablespoons olive oil
3          tablespoons shallots, minced
1/4       cup white wine
2          tablespoons butter
Fresh herbs (lime-thyme, mint, oregano or any fresh herb to your liking)
Minced fresh chives
Lemon wedges
Salt to taste

Pat the fillets dry with paper towels, let sit for a while and repeat.  Lightly salt the fillets on both sides.  Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, when the oil is hot, carefully add the fillets to the pan and gently brown on each side.  This should take only a few minutes; the fish is done when it's flaky and is no longer translucent. Remove the fillets from the pan and place on a warm plate.  Add the shallots to the pan, saute` until soft, deglaze the pan with the white wine and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Add the butter, gently swirl to make a sauce, add the herbs and squeeze a little lemon juice into the sauce.  Spoon over the fillets and garnish with the fresh chives and a lemon wedge and serve.  Enjoy   : ) Noni

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Creamy Pumpkin Tomato Bisque Soup

On Sunday morning at 5:00 the queen (Bella) woke me up, and even though I attempted (and that is the operative word here, attempted) to coax her to stay in bed, she began to dance and sing (well, bark) that she was happy and wanted to get up and eat!!  So I schlepped into the kitchen to prepare my coffee and her breakfast; this week it was a special "cake".  While my coffee is brewing I'm in my head  formulating the list for my trek to the Sunday Farmer's Market; farm fresh fertile eggs, green leafy vegetables, apples, maybe some peaches, and some mushrooms.  I decided to puree the pumpkin that I roasted yesterday so that I can make some soup today and some other "pumpkiney" things, yet to be determined prior to heading out to the market since I'm up so early.  As I'm perusing the shelves and the door of my refrigerator, I realize that I have a box of tomato bisque soup that I have had two bowls from and now I need to "re-purpose" the left over soup.  Since I'm still having my Autumn love affair with pumpkins; I decided these two would be a nice combination.  After some other additions, several taste tests, and a dash of this and a dash of that, this is the finished product I came up with, and by the time it was all over and done with I had eaten my breakfast as well!!!  As I'm licking the last drop from my spoon, I check the clock on the stove and wonder where has the time gone?  I dash into the living room to put my lap top to "sleep" so that I can shower and get to the market and the time on my lap top is different than the time on the stove, (do you know where I'm going with this?) ah, yes, daylight savings time, we gained an hour overnight, just like magic, and Bella forgot to set the clocks back!!!  You see, to her it doesn't matter what time the clocks register, she knows what time it is, so her 5:00 was really a sleep in 'till 6:00.  It was a laughable start to the day.

1      tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2   onion, finely chopped
2      tablespoons maple syrup
2      tablespoons tomato paste
11/2  cups vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth)
2      cups pumpkin puree
11/2   cups tomato cream bisque soup (or regular tomato soup would be fine)
1/2   cup applesauce, mashed (my homemade, see the recipe posted earlier)
1      tablespoon fresh lime-thyme
1      teaspoon ground roasted garlic
11/2   teaspoon sea salt
1/4   teaspoon celery salt
dash of: cayenne, paprika, and coriander

In a soup pot over medium heat; add vegetable oil, when oil is hot, add onion and saute until onion is translucent, add tomato paste and maple syrup, stir well, add the broth, stir well, add the pumpkin, tomato soup, apple sauce, and seasonings, stir, cover, and simmer until all the flavors are incorporated.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste, puree the soup in a blender or food processor and serve.  Enjoy!  : )   -Noni

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Jamaican Grandmother's Bread Puddin

Now, let me tell ya, darlin, she didn't exactly make it dis way, but she woulda liked it.  : )  I will include my version of the butter rum sauce that she put on it, however, I don't do rum, and I try not to do sugar...... and you know all the rest.  So, my friends, if there are any out there reading this, snif snif ....if you don't like custard y bread puddin, don't read any further, cause you will not like this!

1       loaf of bread (I use sprouted grain bread)
1/2    cup butter
12     eggs
3       tablespoons vanilla
5       cups 1/2 & 1/2   or 2 1/2 cups cream and 2 1/2 cups milk  : )
1/2-1  cup sweetener (I use a combo of two of the following: honey, agave, or maple syrup) you can use sugar if you prefer
1       tablespoon cinnamon
1       teaspoon nutmeg
sprinkle of cardamon for the top prior to baking
1/4    cup each of nuts and dried fruit (I use combos like; almonds and cherries, raisins and walnuts, cranberries and pecans)  make up your own family favorite, or don't add any at all.

 Begin by toasting each piece of bread and buttering one side, then stacking each piece on top of the other so that the buttered side is touching the side you didn't butter, cut the bread into bite sized pieces and put into a large bowl, stew pot, or pan.  Everyone with me?  Okay.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Beat the eggs with the vanilla, add the sweetener, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg mix well, pour the egg mixture over the bread, fold the mixture making sure all the bread pieces are covered with the egg mixture.  Add the 1/2 & 1/2 and mix well. Let stand a few minutes for the bread to absorb some of the mixture.  You can bake this in a 9 x 13 baking dish (it's really full, so put a baking sheet under the pan as the bread "puffs up" during the baking) or you can use several different casserole dishes (like I do!).  Sprinkle the top with cardamon.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of your baking dish.  It's best to begin checking at about 60 minutes.  I use different dishes so that I can use different combinations of fruit and nuts, I fill the baking dishes and then add the fruit and nuts then I sprinkle additional cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon on top before baking.

Vanilla Sauce

1/4      cup (here we go again) honey, maple syrup, agave, brown sugar, or what suits you
1/4      cup butter
1/4      cup heavy whipping cream
1         teaspoon vanilla (or almond or rum extract, or???)

In a small sauce pot; cook over medium heat; sweetener, butter, and cream  stirring occasionally until it begins to boil, remove from heat, add vanilla and serve over the bread pudding.  Enjoy   : )     -Noni

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gypsy Soup

This soup is a hearty soup for a cold fall or winter day.  It is complimented with homemade whole grain brown bread slathered (that must be a word) with creamy butter.  For sure a second helping is a must have a second or third (who's counting) piece of bread with honey on it and call it desert!!!

4      tablespoons olive oil
2      cups diced onions
1/2   cup chopped celery
2-4   cloves garlic, minced
2      cups pealed, diced sweet potatoes
2      teaspoons paprika
1      teaspoon turmeric
1      teaspoon dried basil
1      teaspoon salt
1      pinch cinnamon
1      pinch cayenne pepper
1      bay leaf
3      cups chicken or vegetable stock
1      tablespoon Tamari sauce (or regular soy sauce will do)
1      cup chopped fresh tomatoes
11/2  cups cooked garbanzo beans
3/4   cup chopped bell peppers

Heat stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil, when the oil is hot, add onion, celery, sweet potato, and garlic, saute for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent, season with the seasonings and stir to blend.  Stir in chicken stock and Tamari, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add tomatoes, beans, and bell peppers and simmer for about 10 more minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Enjoy!!  : )  -Noni

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

As promised, here is the recipe.  Yesterday is the first time I have made these muffins and they are worthy of  posting on the blog.  I found this recipe on line and.......that's right, I "tweaked" it to my liking.  As I usually add; you have the option to do the same.  These muffins are so moist and delish I ate one before it had completely cooled!!!  There are many cooks that believe there is no difference between canned pumpkin and fresh pumpkin and I have to say that I strongly disagree.  I purchased some organic canned pumpkin (not squash) this year and tried it in a recipe and I must say it was sub-par.  So my belief about anything canned being inferior remains intact.  You, however, must be the judge for yourself.  Preparing fresh pumpkin does take some time, so my suggestion is to do it on a cool autumn day so you can heat your kitchen with your oven; roast your pumpkin, roast several pumpkins at a time, as the pumpkin will freeze, then you have some on hand later.

For the muffins:

2 3/4      cups flour (I used a combination of whole wheat, spelt, kamut, and oat flours)
1/2         cups oats
4            tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2            teaspoons baking soda
1            teaspoon baking powder
1            teaspoon salt (I used Kosher)
2            cups pumpkin puree (I used homemade)
1/2         cup brown sugar
3            tablespoons molasses
2 to 3     tablespoons maple syrup (sweeten to your taste)
1/3         cup vegetable oil
1/2         cup apple sauce
3            eggs
1            teaspoon vanilla

Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Whisk the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.  Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

For the Streusel:

1/2         cup brown sugar
4            tablespoons butter
4            tablespoons oats
4            tablespoons flour

Beat sugar and butter until smooth and creamy, whisk oats and flour with a fork into butter mixture until topping is crumbly.

Pour batter into lined muffin tins, sprinkle with streusel (I recommend gently pressing it in a little), bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick test is clean.  If you would like more sweetness you could top with a cream cheese frosting.  See the butter cream cheese frosting recipe posted in October 2012.  Happy Autumn!!!!!  : )  -Noni

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

It's November 1st and I have been all about pumpkin for about 2 weeks now and I have a co-worker who feels the same way I do this time of year.  So I am making this for her tonight, I made some muffins earlier today....... recipe to follow.  I bought a really cool bottle to take this to her in; and if I know Rebecca she will bring it back when it's empty for more!  : )

2 cups 1/2 & 1/2
4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
3 to 5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Note:  You can use more or less syrup depending on how sweet you want your creamer.  You can add more spice if you want more of the spicy flavor.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk all the ingredients together.  Heat until mixture begins to steam, stirring occasionally, remove from heat.  Pour creamer through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth and let cool.  Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container.  So, so, so good!