Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Coconut Baked Oatmeal

Can I tell you, we eat A LOT of oats around here.  Like, I buy my oats by the 50 lb bag!  My oldest loves oats in almost any form, so I try to do them a couple different ways.  I mostly do steel cut oats and regular old fashion oats, but I still need some variety.  Baked oats was next.  I used to make it a lot more often and decided to start making it again.  It's no surprise all the girls loved it!

Well, 'tis the season to make everything either pumpkin or apple flavored so I decided to hang towards pumpkin on this one, since I made lots of puree this year.  And I adore coconut, especially in my granola and since oatmeal is kind of like granola, it totally works.

I LOVED the results of this oatmeal.  It turns out nice and tender but a little crunchy on top.  And, of course, all those warm spices swimming through it.  I decided to serve mine up with a splash of milk and topped with some chocolate chips and chopped pecans.  But pumpkin seeds and cranberries would also be delish, whatever you're craving.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1 egg
1/4 cup oil (I used coconut, melted)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup coconut, shredded or shaved
3 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine coconut milk, egg, melted coconut oil, pumpkin puree, vanilla and brown sugar.  Whisk until smooth and well-incorporated.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to coat evenly.  Spread into greased baking dish and bake 25-27 minutes or until slightly golden on top.

Serve warm with any desired mix-ins (i.e. milk, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips,  coconut, cranberries etc.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet Tomato Marinara

Raise your hand if you STILL have tomatoes from your garden you don't know what to do with?  Well, I don't...anymore.  I had to pick the last of them about 3 weeks ago and they were all green.  Then all of a sudden this last week they all ripened at the same time.

Lately we've gone a little over board on the Fresh Tomato Soup, although my girls devour it and would still probably eat it every day, so I wanted to see if I could make yet ANOTHER pasta sauce that I just couldn't live with out.  Score! 

All the sauces I make and have made I still like, but for different reasons.  This one is thick and rich, and slightly sweet with a hint of fennel.  I like LOTS of sauce on my pasta, but hate when it just puddles under the noodles as soon as it's poured on.  Not a problem here, this sauce ain't goin' nowhere!

Sweet Tomato Marinara
makes about 1 1/2 quarts

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small sweet onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
about 3 lbs fresh roma tomatoes, peeled and pureed (about 6 cups pureed)
2/3 cup red cooking wine, or cranberry or pomegranate juice
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. fennel seed (I ground mine in my mortar and pestle a bit)
salt and pepper

In a large saucepan or pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and saute about 5 minutes until tender and translucent.  Add garlic and saute another minute.  Add tomato puree, cooking wine (or juice), tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar and fennel.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 20-25 minutes until sauce is thickened to your liking, stirring occasionally.  Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper as necessary.  Serve warm with your favorite pasta.

Store in airtight container for about a week in the fridge and about 3 months in the freezer.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicken Fajitas

Ohhhh!  I forgot how much I LOVE fajitas. I love ordering them in restaurants where they come sizzling to the table in their own personal skillets, warm tortillas on the side.  Then topping them with a healthy dose of guac and sour cream, maybe even some fresh pico de gallo.  MMM! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Fajitas can be pretty versatile and generic, so getting the marinade right is key.  The marinade for these fajitas is delicious and bursting with flavor!  I got the recipe from my sister ages ago and our families just love them.

Chicken Fajitas
for the marinade:
juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch of onion powder

for the fajitas:
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts (about 2-3), butterflied
1 small onion, julienned
3 colored peppers, julienned
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. soy sauce
juice of half a lime
salt & pepper
6-8 8-inch flour tortillas

sliced avocado
sour cream
diced tomatoes

In a mixing bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients.  Pour into shallow baking dish, add chicken and cover with plastic wrap or place marinade and chicken in a zip top bag, pushing out the air as you seal it.  Refrigerate and let marinate for 2-3 hours.

When you're ready to prepare the fajitas, chop and gather veggies and preheat either indoor grill pan or outdoor grill.  Remove chicken from marinade and place on the grill*. Cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Slice.

While chicken is cooking, heat a large saute pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add onions and mushrooms and saute about 4-5 minutes, then add peppers and soy sauce and continue cooking until peppers are crisp tender.  Remove from heat, squeeze lime juice over the top and salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve, place chicken and veggies in a warm tortilla and top with garnishes of choice.

*Alternately you can slice the chicken before it's cooked and marinate it, then saute it in a frying pan before you cook the veggies.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thai Butternut Soup

If you haven't started making soup, it's time to get on that!!  We're having it at least once a week by now and I love it.  Soups are generally "soup-er" (haha) easy to make, take few ingredients and stretch a long way.  Plus, they can be pretty cheap as well.  This meal was literally pennies to make.  My mom gave me the squash, I used my own homemade stock and already had most of the rest of the ingredients already.   I only had to spend about $2.50 on the coconut milk and fresh lime. I also served the soup with some Artisan Bread, which is also pennies to make, which made for a delicious and very filling meal!

If you like curry even a bit, you're going to love this soup!  This is reminiscent of some of my most favorite curry dishes and so quick and easy!!

Thai Butternut Soup
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1-2 Tbsp. red curry paste
2-3 cups veggie stock
1 medium butternut squash, roasted
1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro
chopped peanuts or dollop of natural peanut butter
splash of fish sauce

*Do ahead.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Chop squash in quarters and rub with a little oil (I used coconut). Place on a silicone-lined baking sheet and bake until soft; about 25-30 minutes.  Cool, then scrape out the flesh and set aside.  Discard skins.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt coconut oil and add onion.  Saute until soft and starting to turn brown and caramelize, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, ginger and curry paste, stir and cook another 5 minutes or so.  Add in squash and about 2 cups of the stock and increase the heat a bit.  Bring to a low bubble and simmer about 5-10 minutes. 

Use an immersion blender to puree soup, otherwise use an upright blender working in batches to puree a bit at a time.  Return puree to pot and add coconut milk, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until well-incorporated.  Check for seasoning and add more stock if necessary.

Serve warm.  Garnish as desired.

SOURCE:  slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

Thursday, October 10, 2013

One Pot Pasta

I'm sure many of you have seen this one pot wonder flying around Pinterest.  I think it was originally posted on the Martha Stewart website, but regardless of where it started it's absolutely genius!  I think this is the first meal all of my kids have both liked and eaten.   Hubby and I loved it to.  It's absolutely full of flavor and fits in that category of comfort foods for me.  Nice and warm, slightly soupy and hey, there's fresh basil!!  Can't go wrong with that.  The only thing this was lacking was a nice crusty sourdough baguette.  I'm kicking myself for not making one.

Prep is a cinch, pretty much just chuck everything in the pot.  I used fresh tomatoes, so chopping them took a few extra minutes.  Canned tomatoes, however are a suitable substitute.  The pasta cooks in about 10 minutes so I'd call this dinner in 15!

One Pot Pasta
12-oz linguini
12-oz cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
4 1/2 cups chicken stock

Combine pasta (break in half if necessary), tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, pinch of salt and pepper, and stock in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.  Check for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Divide pasta among serving bowls, garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired, and extra basil.  Serve warm.

SOURCE: Martha Stewart

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mini Pumpkin Spice Scones with Chocolate Ganache Glaze

 It's not a lazy Saturday morning around here without scones.  They have pretty much been my go-to weekend breakfast indulgence and I love them!!  Now that it's fall my thoughts naturally gravitate towards pumpkin and spice...and everything nice, haha!  No really though, I keep thinking of things I can stick pumpkin into...pasta, pancakes, ice cream, muffins, soup....ya know, and pretty much everything.

These little scones scream fall and will remind you of your favorite pumpkin chocolate chip muffin.  Not too sweet and decadently drenched in dark chocolate these are sure to become your favorite weekend treat too.

Mini Pumpkin Spice Scones with Chocolate Ganache Glaze
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp.  nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream

for the ganache:
1 oz. good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 oz. heavy cream 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In large work bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, add flours, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add butter and whiz until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Alternately, you can use a mixing bowl and cut butter in using a pastry blender or 2 knives.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cream, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.  Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Stir with a spoon until a dough forms. Use your hands to bring it together. Turn onto a floured surface and knead gently, only about 3 or 4 times, adding a bit more flour, if needed. Do not over-work or dough will be chewy.

Divide dough in half.  Pat each half into about a 6-inch circle.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges. 

Place scones on un-greased baking sheet, or baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Bake until lightly brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

While scones are cooling, make ganache.  Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, heat heavy cream about 20 seconds in the microwave.   Pour over chocolate, cover and let sit about 2-3 minutes.  Remove cover and stir until smooth.  Cool 2-3 minutes in the fridge then spoon over scones.  Allow ganache to set and enjoy!

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