Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

I will readily admit that Spaghetti Squash has never been a favorite. That’s probably an understatement – I couldn’t stand it. So, I wasn’t very excited to get two from our CSA – they hung out in my pantry for a few weeks as I pondered whether to try them or to give them away. Yes, yes, I know…shameful. In the end, I consulted with a few great cooks and decided to keep them and give them another try. I’m happy to report that this preparation changed my mind. This was a total hit with the family! I served it as a side dish alongside pork chops. You can change the herbs and the amounts for what you prefer but the sage was absolutely amazing.

Sautéed Spaghetti Squash

SAUTEED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
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2 sm-med. Spaghetti Squash
4 Tb. butter (you could sub olive oil if you are vegan)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-3 Tb. Fresh Sage
1-2 Tb. Fresh Parsley
1-2 tsp. Fresh Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut Spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a shallow baking sheet (like a bar pan or jelly roll pan). Add water to 1/2 inch. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes (I actually turned mine over). Scrape out seeds. In a separate bowl, scrape out the squash.

In a skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and herbs. Cook for a few minutes until garlic is softened and the herbs are aromatic. Add the squash and sauté for 5 minutes until heated through and combined with butter and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Cookies

Do you have pumpkin and cranberries leftover after your Thanksgiving festivities? If so, these cookies are a perfect way to use them up. I brought these cookies to a movie night with some friends. They were very well received.

Don’t let the long ingredient list intimidate you. These come together easily and while the pumpkin cream cheese frosting is an extra step, it takes the cookies to the next level of deliciousness! As usual, these are gluten-free. However, if you can eat regular wheat flour, then just use that in place of the gluten-free flour, and omit the xanthan gum.

Because these cookies have a soft, cakey texture, they are best enjoyed within a couple of days of baking. Otherwise, pop the extras in the freezer to enjoy another time.

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY SPICE COOKIES
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2 1/4 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour mix
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. plain yogurt
2/3 c. chopped fresh of frozen cranberries

Icing
2 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 – 2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
3/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash each of ginger, nutmeg, and cloves

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugars and butter and using a mixer, beat until fluffy and lightened in color. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time; mixing completely between each. Stir in the vanilla.

To the pumpkin mixture, add the flour mixture alternating with the yogurt. Mix between each addition. Stir in the cranberries.

Drop by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took the full 12 minutes) or until edges are golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing: Heat the butter in a saucepan until lightly browned, but not burned, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in the cream and vanilla. Add some powdered sugar to make a paste. Then add the remaining powdered sugar slowly, whisking until fully combined (add powdered sugar until icing is desired consistency). Stir in spices and the pumpkin puree.

Balsamic Figs w/Yogurt Cream Cheese & Walnuts

Seriously, I have been missing out. I have always associated figs with those packaged fig cookies which were a treat as a child. My goodness people, if you have not eaten a fresh fig, get yourself to the store immediately and buy some. They are splendid. Maybe I’ve had them before but it seems I would remember…

These were a splurge at the farmer’s market. We wanted to try something new and the seller had samples. One taste and we were totally hooked. We debated how to prepare them and finally settled on this recipe. It was inspired by a recipe on Food Network, I believe. They were difficult to successfully photograph but they were not difficult to eat. This dessert is not super sweet but it is comforting and delicious. It would be a lovely treat during the hustle and bustle of the holidays!

BALSAMIC FIGS with YOGURT CREAM CHEESE & TOASTED WALNUTS
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8 figs, sliced in 1/2

Balsamic Reduction:
1/4 c. orange juice
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
2 Tb. honey

Combine and boil for 5 minutes to reduce to a more syrupy consistency.

Heat broiler. Toss the figs in the balsamic reduction and then place cut side up on a pan and broil for 5-6 minutes until caramelized.

3 Tb. chopped Walnuts, toasted in butter

Yogurt Cream Cheese:
1/4 c. cream cheese
1/4 c. plain yogurts
1 Tb. honey

Beat until smooth.

To serve: place figs on plate and drizzle the remaining reduction from the pan, spoon the yogurt cream cheese over them and top with the walnuts.

Sweet Potato Maple Bacon Pie

Deliciouness abounds in this pie. I absolutely love the combination of sweet and salty. The candied bacon and maple cream kind of stole the show – as in, I could eat a whole bowl of just those two combined. 🙂 Seriously though, this pie was good! I served it to my parents and husband and they all proclaimed it delicious and they were all surprised at how much they LOVED the bacon.

Personally, I still like pumpkin pie better than sweet potato (it’s a texture thing) but I would totally make this again and serve it to guests and especially find more uses for that bacon. This is really an awesome twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. I’m already dreaming of the leftovers for breakfast. [Just a small note – the bacon looks dark in the picture but it was not burned I assure you!]

There are a few steps to this pie but it is not difficult and the steps do not need to be completed all at once.

SWEET POTATO MAPLE BACON PIE
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1 pie crust in a pie pan (you can make your own or buy a prepared one)
2 c. pureed sweet potato
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 c. evaporated milk
2 Tb. maple syrup
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the sweet potato, milk, egg, and maple syrup in the blender. Add the spices. Pour into the crust. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.  Then decrease oven to 350° and bake for 35-45 minutes until set.

CANDIED BACON
3 strips bacon, roughly chopped (mine was fairly thick)
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. brown sugar

Toss the bacon with brown sugar and maple syrup. Cook until crisp stirring and moving continually. It cooks fairly quickly and you need to keep an eye on it. Drain and cool completely.

MAPLE CREAM
1 c. whipped cream
2 Tb. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Just before serving, whip the cream for 1 minute. Add maple syrup and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of pie. Top with candied bacon pieces.

Autumn Chopped Salad

I enjoyed concocting this seasonal salad, packing it full of the colors, flavors, and textures of fall. And to tie it all together, a lovely fall-inspired maple vinaigrette to drizzle over top.

This would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. It will definitely be a part of our menu because right now, it’s my new favorite salad!

AUTUMN CHOPPED SALAD WITH MAPLE-DIJON VINAIGRETTE
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6-8 oz. Mixed lettuces (leaves torn or chopped)
1 pear
1 apple
1/4-1/2 c. dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds
1/4-1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
4 green onions, sliced (or chopped red onion, if you prefer)
2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (opt.)
2 oz. plain or honey goat cheese, crumbled

Wash and spin dry lettuce before placing in a large bowl. Top with pear, apple, onion, and dried cranberries. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle salad with nuts, bacon, if using, and goat cheese. Serves 4.

MAPLE-DIJON VINAIGRETTE

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Cranberries are in abundance this time of year and this dessert is a perfect way to capture the beauty and flavor of the cranberry. This is really more like an upside down cake, but for whatever reason, it’s called a pie. It’s super simple, so if you aren’t a lover of all things pie, you might just enjoy adding this sweet treat to your Thanksgiving Day dessert spread. I ate the entire pan myself, (granted, it was just a half a recipe, I didn’t eat it all in one day, and my husband apparently doesn’t like cranberries, but still…) and enjoyed every bite!

I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman blog. But I did decrease the sugar from her recipe. I like my cranberries to retain a little bit of their tartness. If I make this again, I think I’ll add a bit of orange zest to the cranberries and maybe a squeeze or two of fresh orange juice. Or, you could do as I did here and add the orange zest to your whipped cream! Also, if you don’t care for the flavor of almond extract, you might try substituting vanilla extract.

I made this gluten-free by subbing in my gluten-free all-purpose blend and it worked out great.

NANTUCKET CRANBERRY PIE
(slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
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2 heaping cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 c. sugar
orange zest (opt.)
1 c. flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
3/4-1 c. sugar (depending on how tart/sweet you want it)
1 stick of butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp coarse sugar for sprinkling (opt.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Liberally butter a cake or pie pan. Pour in the cranberries. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans, orange zest, and 1/2 c. sugar.

In a bowl, combine flour, 3/4-1 c. sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine the ingredients.

Slowly pour the batter over the cranberries, making sure to cover the surface. Spread gently, if needed.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If using coarse sugar, 5 minutes before removing from the oven, sprinkle the surface with 1 Tbsp of coarse sugar.

Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream.

Pumpkin Dutch Apple Pie

Pie is probably my favorite dessert. And I love that the typical Thanksgiving dessert is an array of pies. I always want a sliver of each kind, which likely works out to be at least two slices! 🙂 However, if your Thanksgiving celebration is on the small side and you don’t need to make more than one kind, how do you decide which flavor makes the cut? Well, here’s a pie that does double duty as both pumpkin and apple pie. This just might be your solution for Thanksgiving this year.

While browsing online, I found a recipe for this pie, but I didn’t stick with the original, instead I decreased the sugar and increased the spices. The original version lacked the pumpkin pie spice element.

I tried this pie both warm from the oven and then cold the next morning. The chilled slice was definitely my preferred  way as the chilling time allowed the complexity of the spices and flavors to develop. So, if you decide to make this for your celebration, make it Wednesday and pop the pie into the fridge for your next day festivities.

This pie can easily be made gluten-free by substituting your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour blend for the regular all-purpose flour. And by making a gluten-free pie crust. The version you see below is 100% gluten-free, so it works out quite well!

PUMPKIN DUTCH APPLE PIE
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1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell (use your favorite gluten-free recipe for a gf version)

Apple Layer
2 c. peeled, cored, thinly sliced apples
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pumpkin Layer
1 1/2 c. pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt

Crumb Topping
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Roll out pie crust and place into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.

In a bowl, combine all of the apple layer ingredients. Pour into the pie shell. In another bowl, combine all of the pumpkin layer ingredients. Pour over the apple mixture in the pie shell.

For the crumb topping, combine the flour, pecans, and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two butter knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Before adding the crumb topping, bake for 30 minutes. Then remove from the oven and sprinkle with the crumb topping. Lower the oven to 325°F and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until the custard sets. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy cold with whipped cream!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

These were so quick to put together! They were very simple and went perfectly with the soup and salad I had made for dinner. They were light and fluffy and had terrific flavor.

I think these would be wonderful for Thanksgiving. You could change them up by adding maple syrup instead of sugar or by adding a little cinnamon. They bake for less than 15 minutes which makes them ideal to pop in right as people are gathering (and the oven is finally empty) and then pull them out warm as everyone is filling their plate. I served them with just butter but a maple butter or orange butter would also be good or a drizzle of honey.  

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
(Food Network Magazine, November 2011, Paula Deen)
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3/4 c. cooked mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
1/3 to 1/2 c. whole milk, as needed
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 Tb. sugar (I think maple syrup would be delish – you would not need quite as much milk)
1 Tb. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (with butter, oil or cooking spray).

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and 1/3 cup milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with your hands, a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sweet potato mixture and fold gently to combine. Add the remaining milk a little at a time until all the flour is moistened. The amount of milk you will need will depend on the moisture of the sweet potato.

Sprinkle a small handful of flour on a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead lightly 2 to 3 times with the palm of your hand until the mixture comes together. Pat the dough out into a 1/2-inch-thick round.

Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. Gently reroll the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light golden brown and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve these fluffy biscuits warm or at room temperature. Makes 9-12.

Raw Kale Salad

If you’re looking for a seasonal salad with a nutritional powerhouse kick, look no further than this, either to grace a holiday table, or for a burst of health in between the sugar-laden days of the holiday season.

Kale is the popular super-food of the moment. Raw kale is particularly vogue. Those two reasons, along with personal curiosity, inspired me to try this raw kale salad (recipe inspired by a Vegetarian Times recipe). And while I enjoy kale slow sauteed with onions and spices, as well as pureed in green soup, I did not find the raw version up to my particular taste buds. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, in fact this salad is loaded with lots of flavor and the health benefits are numerous, I just know kale is a vegetable I’d rather eat cooked. However, I hear rave reviews of raw kale, so give this a try, you’re body will thank you and perhaps you’ll find that raw kale is your style of salad!

RAW KALE SALAD WITH TURNIPS
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12 oz bunch kale, preferably lacinato/tuscan, stem removed, leaves cut into thin strips or chiffonade
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 c. whole pecans
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup turnip, peeled and grated
1/2 cup carrot, grated
2 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Dressing
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp agave nectar

Place kale in a bowl, and pour olive oil, vinegar, and salt over top. Using your hands, gently massage mixture into kale for 2 to 3 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss together pecans, maple syrup, olive oil, dash of salt, and dash of cayenne. Spread nut mixture in single layer on baking sheet; bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until pecans are brown and fragrant, stirring frequently. Cool in pan.

To make dressing, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Stir turnip, carrot, and green onion into the kale mixture. Toss with dressing and garnish with pecans.

Market Fresh: Fall Salad

The delicious toppings for salad during the fall season make some of the best salads. Recently I tried a new dressing on a bed of mixed greens, sliced apples, chopped walnuts, craisins, and goat cheese. It was wonderful! And really, the whole salad was brought together with the creamy, tangy, richness of the goat cheese (don’t skip it!). Everyone enjoyed the combination of flavors and the large salad bowl was empty at the end of the meal.

HONEY DIJON VINAIGRETTE (I doubled this for a great big salad)
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1 Tb. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Gradually whisk in  the oil.