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Posts tagged “Nutmeg

Pumpkin Swirl Bread with Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread with Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Spread

My daughter, her friend and I went up to my friend’s lake house this weekend for a “girls” weekend. I wanted to bring along some fun “girly” things to eat, so I made up some chocolate mascarpone spread so we could make chocolate strawberry bruschetta, and while I was at it, I made a pumpkin maple spread too. But then I needed something to put the pumpkin spread on, so, despite the fact that it was a crazy busy day, on a total whim I started up some dough in my bread machine to make pumpkin cinnamon swirl bread. I wasn’t really sure that I would be home long enough on Saturday to bake it before we left, but somehow I managed it. And I was SO glad I did. This bread, with the pumpkin mascarpone spread is pure bliss to eat. You can just close your eyes and lose yourself in the lovely taste of it. My friend said she felt like she could just keep eating it till she exploded. I told her I wasn’t going to share that on my blog, but now here I am sharing it LOL. The young teenage girls loved it too.

We had such a fun weekend. We went for a LONG walk along the lake, then we had tea and hot chocolate and a lovely dinner … I made the salad, my daughter’s friend made cajun chicken pasta, my friend made green beans and we had rotisserie chicken and chicken sausages too, then we listened to funky music and my friend and I had wine and chatted while the girls danced their hearts out in the living room.

My friend who has three boys and has rarely (if ever?) had a girls weekend, wanted to take some of the bread home to her boys. I couldn’t let her have it ALL (my daughter wanted some!), but I did give her the smaller loaf to take home  … so the boys could try it too. I think she loved the girls weekend, but I could also tell she felt a little lost without her boys. I was craving some male energy too. Girls’ weekends are great, but … well, we need our boys, too. However, I do have to tell you my daughter and I were awfully tempted to buy this lakefront house we saw, move to the lake and leave our “city” life behind.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen. It is tempting, though …

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread with Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Spread

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Adapted from King Arthur Flour. If you don’t have a bread machine or bread attachment for your mixer, see King Arthur Flour for traditional bread-making instructions.

  • 1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup puréed pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • To make the swirl: Cooking spray (or melted butter) + cinnamon sugar

Directions:

  1. Dump all the ingredients except for the “Swirl” ingredients into your bread machine and set it on the dough setting.
  2. When the dough is ready, roll it out into a rectangle, spray with cooking spray, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and roll it up. (I rolled it up lengthwise, and the dough was long enough to make one loaf pan plus a smaller loaf.)
  3. Spray your loaf pans with cooking spray and carefully transfer the dough into them, tucking under the ends to form a nice loaf shape. Spray the loaves with cooking spray, cover with a clean towel and set in a warm place to rise.
  4. When the dough has risen to a big, puffy state (roughly double the size), bake at 375 F. for about 30 minutes or until the loaves are a deep golden brown on top and the loaves sound hollow inside when you thump them.
  5. Let the bread sit for about 5 – 10 minutes, then slice and serve with Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream.

Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Cream

  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (if you don’t have any on hand, here’s a quick recipe to make your own)
  • 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Let the cream cheese warm up a bit at room temperature, then in a small mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients until it’s all smooth and very well mixed. You can use a spoon or a mixer does the job quickly and gets the spread all nice and fluffy. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Pumpkin Swirl Bread with Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Spread

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sunday, Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowTasty TuesdayWonderful Food WednesdayNewlyweds Recipe LinkyShow & Share Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday , Full Plate Thursday and All my Bloggy Friends.


Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Do you want to hear the story of the refrigerator and the caramel rolls, how I gained a great appreciation for towels, teflon tape and good neighbors …  and how this bread pudding came to be?

It all started when my sister and her husband came to visit. The ice machine in my refrigerator has been broken for some time. We’ve been making do with ice cube trays, which was a little frustrating at times because we’d be spilling water on the floor and sometimes it was kinda hard to get the ice cubes out of the tray, but it wasn’t a terribly big deal to us. However, ice is important to my sister. She mentioned to her husband that perhaps he ought to fix the ice maker in my refrigerator. So he set out to do that. We pulled the refrigerator out of his spot, he started cleaning and investigating and finding all sorts of strange things in the grate and around the back of the fridge, some from the previous owner of the house even. He figured out what was wrong, but then he needed a part to fix it. He started calling all the local repair shops and nobody had the right part.

So we ordered the part online, he put the fridge back together and we pushed it back into place. No big deal, right? Except now the water dispenser in the door (which didn’t work before he started) was leaking. We put a cup under it and went about our business. A few days later after my sis and her husband were gone,  it started leaking faster. Like the cup would be full in an hour! You can’t really fit a bucket under there, and the part wasn’t here yet, so my kids and I rigged up a system with a piece of an old hose, some duck tape and a bucket. Then you could actually go to sleep at night and let the thing drip. It was ugly and awkward, but it worked. Then the part finally arrived, but it was days before I could get to fixing it.

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Now, I’m not a fix-it kind of person. Anytime I have to do a fix-it project I get terribly nervous, but I got my son to help me move the fridge, we shut the water off, and we set to work to put this new part in. It was going pretty good, I got the part in, tightened it up, but left the fridge out so I could observe it for a while after we turned the water on. It was dripping. Oh dear. I tried tightening it. It dripped faster. I got more towels and turned the water off. My son tried tightening it. No luck. He went downstairs all frustrated and I sat down and cried. Then I started looking for the phone number for the plumber. But then it dawned on me that my neighbor might be able to help. He was outside working on his van when I ventured over there … sure, he would look at it. He told his son to grab the teflon tape and the two of them came over to look at my fridge. It wasn’t even 15  minutes before they’d fixed it. No leak! YAY! And the ice maker works! No water will come out of the dispenser that was leaking like crazy before, but I’m okay with that.

I felt a moment of great gratitude for good neighbors, towels, and teflon tape.

The next morning I woke up determined to do something nice for my neighbor. I set about making some freshly baked peach caramel rolls, sure that that would be the perfect treat for him and his family on a Sunday morning. But when I finished the rolls, my neighbors were nowhere to be found. They weren’t around all day, in fact, and by the next morning, the peach caramel rolls that had looked so delicious the day before didn’t look so appetizing. They still tasted good if you warmed them up first, but they weren’t very pretty and I was NOT going to give my neighbor an ugly treat.

So I made the caramel rolls into bread pudding. I dare say, this bread pudding was even better than the rolls and it made for lovely breakfasts for me for several days … and even served as breakfast over the weekend at my parents’ place. This is the view from the dock at my parents’ place …

Gratitude

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Maybe you don’t have a big plate of caramel rolls sitting around, so I’ll give you two variations of the recipe here: one made with old caramel rolls, and another similar bread pudding made with bread and peaches.

  • 6 cups of old caramel rolls, cut into 1-inch chunks (it’s ok if they are a little stale or dry)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped (if you’re using my peach caramel rolls, cut the amount of added fruit to 2 1/2 cups)
  • Sliced almonds & raw sugar, for the top

Directions:

  1. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the chopped caramel rolls in the casserole dish. Pour the milk over the rolls and let the cubes bask in their milk bath for about 15 minutes, tossing gently every once in a while to give all the rolls a chance to soak.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs till they are a little fluffy, then add the vanilla, nutmeg and salt and whisk till everything is well blended. Mix the peaches into the egg mixture.
  3. Fold the fruit into the soaked caramel rolls. Top with almonds and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of raw (turbinado) sugar.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour or until the pudding is set.

Variation using bread: Substitute 6 cups of bread cubes for the caramel rolls. You can use any kind of bread … I think whole wheat adds a nice texture. Add 1 cup of brown sugar + 2 Tablespoons melted butter to the egg mixture.

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

This recipe was shared at Foodie Friends Friday, Scrumptious Sunday and Weekend Potluck.


Crunchy’s Cornbread on the Grill

Crunchy's Cornbread on the Grill

It was terribly windy yesterday, but my daughter wanted chicken cooked on the grill, and how could I possibly say no to that? We don’t get many evenings when we can stay home and grill. I asked her what she wanted with her chicken and gave her a couple options. When I mentioned the cornbread, that won hands down.

I’ve been wanting to try cornbread on the grill ever since A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock & Roll posted her recipe for it. My nickname for her is “Crunchy”. It’s kind of like pizza on the grill … it’s a little unexpected, something you might not think about grilling. I really love trying those sorts of things.

Crunchy's Cornbread on the Grill

(Ooops! My foot’s in the picture … shh! don’t tell anyone … maybe they won’t notice … )

Crunchy’s Cornbread on the Grill

Recipe from A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock & Roll

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A sprinkle of nutmeg (1/8 teaspoon-ish … I didn’t measure, just sprinkled some on)
  • A dash of cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon or so … again, didn’t measure)
  • A teaspoon or two of honey (it was sitting there on the counter, so just drizzled a bit in, for fun … probably about a teaspoon)
  • A slosh of vanilla (I tried to pour in just a teaspoon, but my hand lost control and I over-did the vanilla. Ooops. I would recommend about a teaspoon … not as much as I used. It was still tasty, but a little too vanilla-ish.)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Fire up your grill and push the coals over to make a “hot” area and a “cooler” area. Set your 10-inch cast iron skillet on the grill so it will get good and hot while you mix up the batter.
  2. Mix up all the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients except for the butter and stir to mix everything into a smooth batter.
  3. Put the 2 tablespoons butter in the cast iron skillet and set it back on the grill to melt. Once the butter has melted, put your oven mitt on your hand, take the skillet and swirl around the butter to coat the bottom of the pan, then pour most of the butter into your batter bowl and stir it into the batter, setting the cast iron skillet back on the grill. Pour the batter into the skillet, cover and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once.
  4. Now it was terribly windy, right? So my grill didn’t get that hot. The chicken was taking FOREVER to cook … the asparagus was just lukewarm.  The cornbread cooked up okay, except the middle part wasn’t getting done. So I cheated a little and stuck the cornbread in my oven at 350 to finish. It only took about 5 minutes for it to finish in the oven and it still had that lovely smoky grilled taste. And while the cornbread was cooking in the oven, the chicken and asparagus finished up nicely too. If you get your grill nice and hot, you probably won’t need to cheat and use the oven …

My girl and I both loved the cornbread. She had a big wedge of it and polished it right off … along with her chicken, and ran off to play with her cat in the yard, leaving me on the patio with her big plate of crumbs for company.

Crunchy's Cornbread on the Grill

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s Treasures.


Baked Strawberry Rhubarb French Toast for Mom

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked French Toast with Mascarpone Cheese

My mom loves strawberries. I know this because I remember, as a child, she always wanted one of her kids to go to Dairy Queen with her on Mother’s Day to get her free sundae. And she ALWAYS got a strawberry sundae. So I always ALWAYS think of strawberries on Mother’s Day.

My mom doesn’t live anywhere near a DQ anymore. And my dad happened to mention to me last week that they really needed to stay home and plant the garden this weekend. So my daughter and I decided that we should go surprise them with a visit. After dance rehearsal on Saturday, we hopped in the car and drove up there. We arrived a little after 5:00, walked in the house, and it was empty. Heeeeeellloooo? Mom? Dad? Anybody home? No response …but their dog was there … and the front door was open … so I knew they couldn’t be toooo far!

Mom was down on the dock, checking the fishing lines. That’s my mom, always fishing. Or reading. Or gardening. And dad? He had gone off mushroom hunting. Mom tried to call his phone, but she was having trouble. So I called him.

He made it really easy for me NOT to tell him we were there at his house. He mentioned right away he was on his way home and told me about his mushroom hunt and how I would have to call mom on her phone … he asked what I was doing. “Oh, not much,”  I said. We talked for a while … and I managed not to say anything about us visiting … So he was a little surprised when he drove in … hee hee.

Anyway, I made them some thai curry for dinner last night … and then I made this for mom for breakfast today. Because she loves strawberries …  I think Mom really enjoyed it … And then we planted the garden together. It’s been a long time since I have helped with the planting of the garden.

I love you so much, Mom. There isn’t anything I can give you, let alone anything I can do for you to thank you for all that you’ve done for me. I feel like this is such a feeble attempt at saying thank you … but I just felt like the best thing I could do as a daughter on Mother’s Day was to just BE with you. That’s the best Mother’s Day gift I could think of. I can’t take you to Dairy Queen for your strawberry sundae anymore. But I CAN make you something wonderful with strawberries …

We ate breakfast on the patio in the sunshine, overlooking the lake. I think it was much better than Dairy Queen. I hope my Mom agrees …

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked French Toast with Almonds & Mascarpone Cheese

Baked Strawberry Rhubarb French Toast

Adapted from “From Valerie’s Kitchen

  • About 4 1/2 cups of bread, cubed (I used my dad’s whole wheat yogurt bread)
  • 4 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup of chopped strawberries
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • Sliced fresh strawberries

Directions:

  1. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass or ceramic (non-metal) pan with cooking spray. (The acid in the rhubarb will react with metal, so I like to use glass pans when I’m baking with rhubarb.) Make a layer of bread cubes in the bottom of the pan. Top with the rhubarb and the chopped strawberries, and add dabs of the Mascarpone cheese. Add the rest of the bread cubes.
  2. Mix up the “goop” … in a bowl, whisk the eggs, then add milk, vanilla, almond extract, 3 tablespoons sugar and spices. Whisk till smooth. Pour over the bread cubes in the pan, then gently stir to make sure all the cubes get moist. At this point, you can cover the pan and refrigerate for an hour or several or even overnight. I just let it sit for about 15 minutes, and gently stirred around the cubes again to make sure all the bread cubes got a good soaking. It made a little bit of a mess with the mascarpone, but now we’re going to add the topping so that will make it all pretty again.
  3. About an hour before you’re ready to eat, make the topping by melting the butter. Then in a small bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds. Sprinkle this all over your french toast bake, then add fresh sliced strawberries to your heart’s content.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 40 – 45 minutes or until the eggs are set. Let the dish set for about 5 minutes after you remove it from the oven, then serve.
Mom got the first piece.

Strawberry Rhubarb Baked French Toast with Mascarpone and Cinnamon Toasted Almonds for my Mom

This recipe was shared at Mom’s Everyday MealsMealtime Monday,  Trick or Treat TuesdaysTotally Tasty TuesdaysDelicious Dish TuesdayCast Party Wednesdays and This Week’s Cravings: Eggs.


Tropical Trail Mix Granola

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

I am SOoooo into homemade granola! I love love love love LOVE it! Ideas for different granola flavors are bouncing around in my head like crazy. The idea for this tropical granola sprung from a peanut butter trail mix cookie I used to make with tropical trail mix (come to think of it, I need to make those cookies again sometime for the blog …)

But not today … nope no siree bob … Today it’s time for GRANOLA! The perfect sweet healthy snack to munch on when you need a little boost of energy. That wonderful crunchy mix that is so welcome sprinkled on yogurt … or in a bowl with fruit and milk.  This granola is chock full of tropical fruits, so you don’t need to even add any more fruit … unless, of course, you want to. It is awfully good with a couple fresh strawberries tossed in.

You are going to love this stuff. I just know it.

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

Dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup peanuts
  • 3/4 pecans
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal or flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran or wheat germ
Wet ingredients:
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional … you can lower the amount of salt or leave it out for a low-sodium granola)
  • 1/4 cup honey
And then mix in …
  • 2 cups mixed dried tropical fruit pieces (pineapple, coconut, mango, banana chips, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats, flax, wheat bran and nuts. Set aside.
  2. In a separate small bowl, mash the banana very well until it’s smooth (not too lumpy). Put the banana in a small saucepan with the maple syrup, and other wet ingredients. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Stir in the honey and remove from heat.
  3. Pour the hot sweet sticky banana mixture over the nutty oat mixture in the bowl. Stir it all up until it’s well mixed.
  4. Spread all this wonderful stuff out into a thin layer on a large jellyroll pan (or other big flat baking pan with an edge to it). Set it in the oven and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. It should be browned to a lovely brown color and smelling fantastic. You can taste a little sample to see if it’s crunchy enough. If it’s not, bake it a little longer.
  5. Let the granola cool for a bit before stirring in the fruit. Store in an airtight container. It will keep for about a month or so. There’s NO way mine is going to last that long …

Tropical Trail Mix Granola

This recipe was shared on Totally Tasty Tuesdays and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

I make this pudding at least one time every spring when the rhubarb comes in.

So it was Easter weekend, we were up at my mom and dad’s place and my mom’s rhubarb was one of the few things that was already growing. It was still small, but I couldn’t resist picking some of it and making my favorite bread pudding. I made it for breakfast and the pudding didn’t last long … both the kids and adults loved it. I think the pretty color of the berries and the rhubarb  lured everyone in. I didn’t have much time or opportunity to photograph it. They didn’t quite seem to get that I need to take pictures of my food (and that’s funny because it’s not like me taking pictures of food is a NEW thing) … but then, I’m not all that used to having a lot of eager eaters around either.

I split it up into two puddings: one with pecans on top, one without (on the off chance that my daughter who doesn’t like nuts would try it … and she did!), but you can do this all in one casserole dish.

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

  • 6 cups of bread cubes
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups fruit (I used 2 cups rhubarb, 2 cups raspberries this time, but I’ve also done this pudding with all rhubarb or all berries)
  • Chopped pecans & raw sugar, for the top

Directions:

  1. Spray your casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the bread in the casserole dish. Pour the milk over the bread and let the bread cubes bask in their milk bath for about 15 minutes, tossing gently every once in a while to give all the bread a chance to soak.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs till they are a little fluffy, then add the vanilla, sugar, nutmeg and salt and whisk till everything is well blended. Mix the rhubarb and berries into the egg mixture.
  3. Fold the fruit into the soaked bread. Top with pecans and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of raw (turbinado) sugar.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour or until the pudding is set.

Raspberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

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This recipe was also shared at Weekend Potluck, Successful Saturdays, and Meatless Mondays.


Banana Colada Ice Cream with Spiced Fruit Compote

Banana Colada Ice Cream with Honey Spice Fruit Compote

The other day I was cruising around the blogosphere when I saw some coconut ice cream … I’m not much of a fan of that dried shredded coconut, but I love the flavor of coconut … and I thought: wouldn’t coconut ice cream be dreamy? Or better yet, coconut RUM ice cream? Oh and then you could go a step further and make it pina colada ice cream.

I didn’t want all the fat and sugar from the recipe I saw so I made up my own. It’s fruity with that creamy coconut taste and an underlying hint of banana … because frozen bananas have a luscious creaminess to them that no other fruit can quite attain.

And just for good measure (and a little color!) I added some more fruit on top.

Banana Colada Ice Cream with Honey Spice Fruit Compote

Banana Colada Ice Cream

  • 2 cups fat free half and half
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 of a can of light coconut juice
  • 1/4 cup pineapple orange juice concentrate
  • 3 Tablespoons of coconut rum

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix half & half & sugar. Heat, stirring frequently, until small bubbles form at the edge of the pan.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a whisk or mixer until frothy.
  3. Slowly drizzle a stream of the hot cream mixture (about 1 cup of it) into the egg, whisking or beating constantly.
  4. Gradually add the egg mixture back into the remaining hot cream mixture in the saucepan, whisking as you go.
  5. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon–roughly 5 minutes.
  6. Pour the hot mixture into a blender with the vanilla, frozen bananas, pineapple orange juice concentrate and coconut rum. Blend until smooth.
  7. Put the mixture in the fridge until cool. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Serve topped with the honey spiced fruit compote

Honey Spiced Fruit Compote

This makes a small batch of fruit compote, just enough for about 2-3 servings, depending on how much fruit you pile on and how big your servings are. Mix up the fruits if you like — pineapple or mango would be wonderful too.

  • 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and chopped
  • 5 – 7 strawberries, tops removed and chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • A dash of each: nutmeg and ground ginger
  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced

Mix all the ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes or so or until the fruits start juicing a bit. Pour over the frozen ice cream.

Banana Colada Ice Cream with Honey Spiced Fruit Compote

This recipe was shared on Newlyweds Recipe LinkyMelt in your Mouth MondaysFull Plate Thursdays, A Crafty Cook’s April Link Party, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Lowfat Apple Berry Granola Crisp

Lowfat Apple Berry Granola Crisp

It was raining this morning and I’d been gone all weekend. I needed to bake something. I have these frozen apples in a bag my friend gave me for making apple pies, but I’m not so good at pies. Have I mentioned my fear of crusts? I am not good with pie crust … and besides pie crust has so much fat in it! And I don’t need any of that … so how about a crisp? Crisps are easy, relatively healthy and yummy. Especially if you can cut out some of the fat and sugar in the topping. You can really make this crisp with any kind of fruit you like … I’m thinking peach crisp will most likely be next …

Lowfat Apple Berry Granola Crisp

Lowfat Apple Berry Granola Crisp

Adapted from Food.com

  • 6 cups mixed apples (peeled and sliced) and berries (use any proportions you like … I used mostly apples, and just a few raspberries because that’s what I had on hand)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon quick-cooking tapioca (not whole pearl)
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch square baking dish (or 10-inch pie pan) with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the fruit layer ingredients. Spread the fruit evenly in your baking dish and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg white, oil, vanilla, and fruit juice and then stir into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Stir in the granola.
  5. Sprinkle the oat-sy granola topping over the fruit.
  6. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the fruit is soft and bubbly and the topping is crisp and golden.
  7. Serve warm. Top with lowfat ice cream or frozen yogurt if you like … or even a bit of greek yogurt. That would be yummy too.

Lowfat Apple Berry Granola Crisp

This recipe was shared at Crazy Sweet TuesdayTotally Tasty TuesdaysMidweek Fiesta, Cast Party WednesdayFull Plate ThursdaysFit & Fabulous Fridays, and Successful Saturday.


Homemade Maple Cranberry Pecan Granola

Homemade Maple Cranberry Pecan- Granola

I have long been fascinated with the idea of making my own granola. I don’t know why it took me so long to actually DO it. Suddenly several of my foodie friends are talking about it, so perhaps it was the power of suggestion? I don’t know. I just know that last week I suddenly felt a strong urge to make granola.

And I’m soooo glad I did. It is really quite simple to make and it just blows away the taste of store-bought granola, with the added bonus that you can control what goes into it. So it’s easy to make it healthier. This is so tasty, my parents and I munched on little handfuls of this granola all weekend. The first day I made it, I had three bowls of it with milk. The jar is disappearing quite quickly. (Which is exciting to me, because that means I get to try out my NEXT granola flavor! woo hoo!)

Maple Cranberry Pecan Granola

Maple Cranberry Pecan Granola

Slightly adapted from ChinDeep.

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened pearsauce (drain a can of pears and blend until smooth) or applesauce
  • 1/6 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 oz. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a very large mixing bowl, mix oats, pecans, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, flaxmeal and nutmeg.

In a small saucepan, warm the apple or pear sauce, maple syrup, honey and oil. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture until completely incorporated and everything is evenly mixed. Divide the granola between two large jellyroll pans. Bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the granola is a deep golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool completely. Mix in dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container. Keeps up to one month. But it isn’t going to last that long …

Make your Own Maple Cranberry Pecan Granola

This recipe was shared at Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays and Tuesday Talent Shows.


Funky Bejeweled Kiwi, Mango & Kumquat Salsa

Pomegranate, Kiwi, Kumquat, & Mango Salsa

I love salsa. The heat of it. The variety. The fun ways you can use it. You can put so many things in a salsa.  I had some tomatoes that were begging me to make them into salsa, but I wanted to do something a little different this time …

I’ve heard of mango salsa, but I’ve never seen or tried kiwi in a salsa. Or pomegranate seeds. I threw those in just for fun … I don’t know that the pomegranate seeds added a lot to the flavor or even the look because the background of the salsa is already red … but they are so pretty. Like little jewels. Why not have jewels in your salsa?

So I put the kiwis and the pomegranate in and still it needed something. There were three mangoes sitting there in my fruit bowl, so I decided to toss one of them in the salsa too. And then I thought: this needs something … so I added some of the flavors of a jerk seasoning. There! That is it. That is exactly what my funky fruity salsa needed. Honestly I think I might add some more jalapeno now because I am craving something so hot it almost hurts but really, this version is quite awesome just like it is. Add more jalapeno if you want it to hurt. Use less if you like a milder salsa.

Kiwi, Kumquat, Mango, and Pomegranate Salsa ... Caribbean style

Funky Bejeweled Kiwi, Mango, and Kumquat Salsa

  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes (or 1 15-oz. can)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno (adjust this amount to more or less, depending on how hot you like your salsa)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • about 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 kumquats (my kumquats were about 2 inches long, but I have seen some that are MUCH smaller … if you have smaller kumquats, use more!) … one goes into the blender, chop the other one into little chunks.
  • 2 kiwis, peeled & chopped into small pieces
  • 1 mango, peeled & chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, 1 of the kumquats and the salt and other spices.
  2. You can pour the salsa into a bowl or just stir in the rest of the ingredients right in the blender. Don’t blend it up, though, because it will ruin those beautiful hunks of fruit!

I tried the salsa with baked vegie and corn tortilla chips, but it would also be lovely with nachos, burritos, or over fish or chicken or pork or … well, salsa is just such a fun thing to have around. Especially a funky salsa like this.

Kiwi, Kumquat, Mango, and Pomegranate Salsa ... Caribbean style

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysTasty Tuesdays,  Talent Show TuesdaysCast Party Wednesdays, Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTastetastic Thursday, Katherine Martinelli’s Mango Bloghop and Full Plate Thursday.


Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

I love making food gifts for the holidays and since popcorn, nuts and berries are three of my favorite foods, it just seems natural to combine them into something gift-able.

I think I might keep this one for myself, though. It’s so yummy.

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

  • 10 – 12 cups of popped plain popcorn
  • 2 cups of nuts (I used 1 cup of almonds, 1 cup of walnuts)
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. cranberry-apple juice concentrate
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 T. ginger sugar (This is from my candied ginger recipe … if you don’t have any ginger sugar, just use 1/4 t. ginger in its place)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (Craisins … I found some that are sweetened with pomegranate juice! Isn’t that cool?)

Directions:

  1. Pop the popcorn and mix it with the nuts. Lay the popcorn/nut mixture on a large flat pan and set aside.
  2. Mix the spices, sugar, juice concentrate and oil in a small bowl till the brown sugar is dissolved and everything is well mixed.
  3. With a spoon, drizzle the spice/juice mixture over the popcorn and nuts.
  4. Bake at 300 degrees F. for 45 minutes to an hour or so, stirring every 15 minutes, until the popcorn and nuts are crunchy, not soggy.
  5. Stir in 1 cup of dried cranberries. I am thinking some chunks of candied ginger or pretzels would also be good in the mix.
  6. Store in an airtight container, like a jar or a pretty tin.

Cranberry Nut Crunch Popcorn

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, the Newlyweds Recipe LinkyWonka Wednesdays, and EveryDay Mom’s Meals.


Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice Skillet Casserole

with dill, thyme, and tomato

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice  Skillet Casserole

This is a comforting, homey dish that goes straight from stovetop to oven to the table and is a delicious, complete and healthy meal all in one pan.

I returned from Thanksgiving at my parents’ house with a car full of food, wine, a spectacular placemat my mom found for me and a very special new pan. My dad had found a couple beautiful cast iron skillets at the thrift store for $3.50, and I just casually joked that I was tempted to take one home with me. So my sweet mother cleaned one up and gave it to me to take home. Did she know how much I wanted one? My mom is the best.

We had a ham on Saturday, so everyone got a big chunk of ham to take home with them. A skillet casserole seemed like the perfect thing to make to “christen” my beautiful new cast iron skillet.

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice  Skillet Casserole

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice Skillet Casserole

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • Dried or fresh dill & thyme
  • Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup lowfat milk (I used 1%)
  • A dash of ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend … I recommend a white cheddar, swiss, or
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked Bismati rice
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat ham, chopped
  • Breadcrumbs, almond slices, tomato & feta cheese, for topping

Directions:

If you don’t have a cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet, just bake this in casserole dish.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Start the rice cooking.
  3. While the rice cooks, melt the butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper and sautee.
  4. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the flour and stir until the vegies are coated with flour.
  5. Add in the milk and stir, cooking over medium heat until you have a creamy white sauce.
  6. Continue stirring as you add the pumpkin and the shredded cheese. You should have a very creamy sauce. Season with nutmeg, dill, thyme, Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and pepper to taste.
  7. Stir the rice, tomato, and ham into the cheesy sauce.
  8. Flatten the rice mixture with the back of a spoon and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, almonds, halved cherry tomatos (or chopped tomato) and feta cheese. I sprinkled a little extra dill and thyme on top too, just for good measure.
  9. Put the skillet in the oven and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned and the casserole is good and hot.

Pumpkin, Pepper, Ham & Cheesy Rice  Skillet Casserole

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Blog Recipe LinkyThis Chick Cooks, Fit and Fabulous Fridays, and Gooseberry Patch Skillet Meals.


Brandied Pumpkin Maple Spice Ice Cream

Brandied Pumpkin Maple Spice Ice Cream

I know it might seem a little odd to be making ice cream in the fall when the weather is starting to get chilly, but think about it. This is the time of year when people are baking pies and apple crisp and don’t you always want a scoop of ice cream on top? Why use plain old vanilla ice cream when you can have something much more exciting?

Brandied Pumpkin Maple Spice Ice Cream

Brandied Pumpkin Maple Spice Ice Cream

I think next time I make this, I will use some whipping cream in place of the fat free half & half to get a more creamy texture. The flavor was amazing, the texture could have been a bit creamier.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. fat-free half & half
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • Several pieces of candied ginger (I think I used 5 pieces.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c. of cooked pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. cardamom
  • 1/8 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. brandy …  (Optional, but if you leave out the alcohol, the ice cream will get much harder in the freezer. The alcohol keeps it from freezing too hard.)

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix half & half, buttermilk & brown sugar. Add the candied ginger. Heat, stirring frequently, until small bubbles form at the edge of the pan.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a whisk or mixer until frothy.
  3. Slowly drizzle a stream of the hot cream mixture (about 1 cup of it) into the egg, whisking or beating constantly.
  4. Gradually add the egg mixture back into the remaining hot cream mixture in the saucepan, whisking as you go.
  5. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens slightly and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon–roughly 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, transfer into a glass jar and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled–at least 2 hours.
  7. Meanwhile, stir together the pumpkin or butternut squash in a bowl with the spices, vanilla, maple syrup and the brandy till smooth. If there are any chunks in the squash, run it through a blender, food processor, or handi chopper to get a smooth mixture.
  8. Once the cream mixture is cool, pull it out of the fridge and strain out and discard the candied ginger chunks.
  9. Mix together the pureed pumpkin mixture with the cooled cream mixture till they are well blended.
  10. Freeze in your ice cream maker till good and frozen. With my little Cuisinart ice cream maker, it takes about 20 minutes.

Use this ice cream atop your favorite pie or autumn dessert …  or by itself, drizzled with a little maple syrup, caramel sauce or sprinkled with a bit of chopped candied ginger. But today I’m enjoying my ice cream “plain”, just like this and it’s delicious … it has enough depth of flavor to be an elegant dessert all by itself.

Brandied Pumpkin Maple Spice Ice Cream


Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

(an almost wordless Wednesday post)

Today I am grateful for mornings. No matter how bad yesterday was, today is a new day and I get a fresh chance to start again.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Recipe and photography inspiration from Not Rachael Ray

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Mix spices together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix


Berry Bunny Love Chex Mix ♥

Berry Love Bunny Chex Mix

This would probably be the perfect chex mix to make for Valentine’s Day, but I am making it in November. Go fig.

I was going to make the Chex Apple Pie Snack Mix, but the dried apples I THOUGHT I had must have gotten eaten. So I improvised with what I have. I have a lot of love in my heart today, so this seems really fitting.

November is the month when I take a moment every day to think about what I am grateful for and today I am grateful for you. I started my blog in July … now 101 posts and 2,026 facebook likes later, I am just amazed at where this has taken me and so incredibly grateful to have met each and every one of you. It’s been an incredible, inspiring journey.

Thank you for being here. 

You will really love this snack mix. It is so tasty. I gave my daughter some and she told me to take it away before she ate it all.

Berry Bunny Love Chex Mix ♥

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. Cinnamon chex
  • 2 c. Rice chex
  • 1 c. bunny or teddy graham cookies (I used Annie’s Bunny Grahams)
  • 2 c. strawberry fiber heart-shaped cereal (I used the Fiberwise Strawberry Crunch cereal from Melaleuca, but I think Kashi has a heart-shaped cereal as well. You can sub out another cereal for this one if you prefer. I just like hearts! ♥)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. apple juice concentrate
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 T. ginger sugar (This is from my candied ginger recipe … if you don’t have any ginger sugar, just use 1/4 t. ginger in its place)
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetened dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the cereals, graham cookies, and almonds. (My daughter didn’t want me to use nuts in this mix so I left them out of this batch.)
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, mix the cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, juice concentrate, vegetable oil and ginger sugar. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds, then stir again. And then microwave it again for 30 seconds and stir once again. The mixture should be hot and bubbly.
  3. Drizzle the juice mixture over the cereal mixture, stirring to coat all the pieces evenly. (I drizzled a bit, then stirred a bit, then drizzled a bit, then stirred a bit.)
  4. Microwave uncovered on high for 2 minutes. Take out the bowl and stir. Microwave again for 2 minutes. Stir again. Microwave for 1 more minute.
  5. Stir in the cranberries and spread the mix out on a cookie sheet to cool.
  6. Store in a tightly covered container.

Berry Bunny Love Chex Mix

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Easter Blog Hop.


Curried Stuffed Summer Squash

Curried Stuffed Summer Squash

My parents came to visit this weekend and with them they brought SO much beautiful bounty from their garden: peppers, onions, potatoes, eggplant, turnips, tomatoes, yellow watermelon, butternut squash.

They brought me a jar of salsa that they had made and a box full of canned tomatoes. AND a case of dad’s homemade wine.

We debated whether we should go out for dinner or stay in and cook– but since we had SO much food in the house, well, it just seemed like we should cook up some of it!

So I took the summer squash that my friend gave me last weekend and stuffed it some of dad’s venison apple sausage, some feta cheese and a bunch of  goodies from the garden. Oh it turned out good. We had a bit of soup and some bread along with some Pinot Grigio and we were well fed and happy.

Here are the squash sisters. Aren’t they pretty? The dark green one was a winter squash that had a mild sweet taste to it and smooth texture. The brighter green stripey one on the left was the one we ate last night. I am not sure what kind of squash these are since my friend says they were volunteers in her garden, but I sure love the taste of them. Someone told me they are cushaw squashes. Do you think that’s what they are?

The squash sisters

Curried Stuffed Summer Squash

You can adjust the seasonings to your own tastes. I didn’t actually measure anything either … just threw it all together, so feel free to adjust up or down on any of the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a large summer squash or zucchini (eggplant would be good this way, too!), sliced lengthways and seeded if it has seeds in the middle like mine did
  • 1 t. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, peeled & chopped
  • 3 -4 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 5- 7 fresh mushrooms, sliced and diced
  • about 3/4 c. chopped fresh tomato
  • about 3/4 c. cooked low-fat sausage (I used 2 venison-apple sausages, but turkey or chicken sausage would be good too. Peel off the casings if the sausage has them then chop. You could also leave out the sausage if you prefer just vegies.)
  • about 3/4 c. breadcrumbs
  • About 1/3 c. feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1 – 2 t. Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 t. smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Scoop out the flesh of the summer squash with a grapefruit spoon, leaving about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick shell so it’s sturdy enough to hold the stuffing when it’s cooked.
  2. Chop up the scooped out flesh of the squash.
  3. Heat a medium saucepan to medium-high heat, then swirl around the olive oil in the pan. Add the squash, onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms and sautee until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the sausage, tomato, feta cheese, breadcrumbs, and spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spoon the stuffing back into the squash shell, packing it in so it all fits. If it doesn’t all fit back into the squash, you can bake some in a separate casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit of extra feta cheese and top with a few chopped cherry tomatoes if you like.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and everything is well heated through.
  7. Scoop out servings from the beautiful squash shell.
Curried Stuffed Summer Squash
This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.

My Daughter’s Favorite Pancakes

with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Chocolate chips

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Chocolate Chip Pancakes

My daughter must take after me because she really loves pancakes. And nutmeg. And chocolate. She wants these pancakes every single school-day morning for breakfast. Every morning I walk in her bedroom to wake her up, and then I ask her what she wants for breakfast, and every morning she mumbles “pancakes”. Sometimes she has hot chocolate with them, sometimes hot Tangerine tea, sometimes milk or even water.

She is very particular about her pancakes and always wants them made fresh. So I make up the batter, cook a couple for today, then put the rest of the batter in the fridge for tomorrow. It stays good for about three days in the fridge.

With the sweetness from the chocolate chips, she says these don’t even need syrup. And that’s exactly how she eats them every day. As finger food. So much cleaner than having a sticky syrupy plateful. And it also makes them very handy for grab-n-go snacks when we are in a rush.

I have made these so many times, I know the recipe by heart. I could make them in my sleep. And some mornings that’s exactly what I have to do! It is better if I am awake, though, and focused on pancake-making, because then there is less chance that I will burn them. Or forget the brown sugar. Most days I don’t, but there are those “bad” mornings when there is too much going on and the pancakes get neglected and I have to cook up a few more — or fix the batter.

Pancakes for my Daughter

I always put the chocolate chips in the shape of a smiley face. She likes that, too. I think these would be really lovely with bananas or peaches or apples in them, but my girl will not have any of that. She wants chocolate for breakfast. And really, can you blame her?

My Daughter’s Favorite Pancakes with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Chocolate Chips

Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. white flour
  • 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/8 c. canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c. + 2 T. of lowfat milk
  • Chocolate chips (I use the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips … they are SO good!)

Directions:

  1. Mix up all the dry ingredients, then add in the wet ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth and free of chunks. The milk doesn’t have to be measured exactly … just put in 3/4 c. then add a little more till the batter looks to be about the right consistency for pancakes. It should pour fairly quickly from a spoon when you lift it out, but not too runny.
  2. Heat your pancake pan to medium heat. Pour a few cakes into the pan, then top with chocolate chips in the shape of a smiley face. (or whatever makes your kiddos smile)
  3. Flip when golden brown on one side and let cook on the other side.
  4. Serve to your hungry munchkin(s).
Cinnamon Nutmeg Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Mmmm … Moussaka

Moussaka

When I was young, my dad did all the cooking. Mom was a registered dietician and she worked all day with food, so when she came home from work, the last thing she wanted to do was cook.

We always had a big garden and in the fall when the eggplant and zucchini came in, my dad would make Moussaka. The first time he made it, he made it with eggplant. This was back in the days before I liked eggplant, and I remember complaining about the eggplant, but then starting to eat the dish … and I found the cinnamon-spiced meat sauce and that creamy cheesy bechamel sauce on top was sooo lovely … I just ate AROUND the eggplant. One time, Dad made it with zucchini instead of eggplant … oh that was GOOD! So my sisters and I would always beg Dad to make Moussaka. He would whine a little about how much work it was to make Moussaka, but we would persist until he finally broke down and made it for us.

Moussaka is a layered Greek dish (can’t quite describe it as “lasagna”, but that’s the closest thing I can think of to it …) and I have seen it prepared many ways. Some include potatoes, some don’t, but they all involve the preparation of TWO sauces: a tomato-meat sauce and a white bechamel sauce. (I am going to show you an ingenious way to skip the work of making the second sauce which incidentally makes the whole dish much healthier as well.) And yes, Moussaka includes eggplant, but if you don’t like eggplant (or don’t have any), substitute zucchini. It will still be delicious.

So this recipe is for my dad, who taught me so much about cooking and still thinks he knows a better way to do everything in the kitchen. We are constantly “arguing” in the kitchen, but it’s not really a fight. It’s sort of like sparring in the kitchen. Sometimes one of us wins the other over to our own way of thinking, sometimes I just tell him to go away and let me do it my way! It always comes out tasting good, no matter whose method we follow … I regret I didn’t get to fight with him this day, but I am sure we will be cooking together again soon.

Moussaka

Moussaka

Meat Sauce:

  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 lb. of lean ground beef, lamb, or venison (I used a mix of beef and venison I had left over from my Gyro burgers)–if you like intensely flavored dishes, spice the meat as if you were making Gyro burgers before cooking it
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 – 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 c. red wine (optional)
  • 1 large can of tomatoes including the juices, all whirred in a blender or food processor to break up the tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the filling:
  • 1 medium sized eggplant, peeled
  • 1 large potato (I used several small purple potatoes from my Dad’s garden), peeled
  • about 3/4 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
For the “Bechamel Sauce”:
  • 2 c. of plain lowfat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4  t. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
And to top it all off:
  • About 3/4 c. freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • Some of the breadcrumbs reserved from earlier

Spray a large flat pan with sides (or saucepan) with cooking spray, then add olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat till the pan is hot, then add the spices and stir, allowing them to “toast” briefly in the pan. Add the meat and cook until brown.

Pour the meat into a strainer in the sink and allow the juices/fat from the meat to drain off. There should be just an ultra-thin coating of oil left in the pan from the meat. Next, put the onion, garlic and bell pepper in the pan and sautee over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent. If you are using the wine, add the wine in and let it cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine is evaporated, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Moussaka - making the meat sauce

Add the meat mixture back into the pan, and then add in about 3 cups of the processed tomatoes. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to a thick meaty tomato sauce, about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

moussaka- making the meat sauce

Now, while the sauce is cooking, thinly slice the eggplant (I usually slice it vertically) and potato. The eggplant should be no more than 1/4 inch thick. The potato slices can be even thinner. I have to show you the lovely purple-ness of these potatoes! Look at that color …

moussaka- potatoes & eggplant slices

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil and place the eggplant in a single layer on the sheet. Spray the eggplant with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 5 minutes or until just lightly golden brown on top, then flip and cook for about 5 minutes on the other side, until the eggplant is soft. If you have room you can cook the potatoes this way as well … I just threw my potatoes in a bowl, sprayed with cooking spray and cooked them in the microwave.

moussaka- roasting the eggplant

Once the meat sauce and the eggplant is done, you are ready to assemble the layers!

You can make this in a large flat casserole dish like I did or a rectangular baking pan. Spray your baking pan or casserole with cooking spray, then cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of breadcrumbs. Make this layer very thin — save some breadcrumbs to sprinkle on the top!

Top with a thin layer of the meat sauce.

moussaka- a thin layer of meat sauce

Then a layer of eggplant.

moussaka- layering on the eggplant slices

And the potato slices!

Now pour on the rest of the meat sauce and spread it flat.

moussaka- the 2nd layer of meat sauce

Okay now you can whisk together the “bechamel sauce”. Just pour the plain yogurt in a bowl and whisk together with the eggs, nutmeg and salt. (Use a fork if you don’t have a whisk.)

moussaka- making the Bechamel Sauce (the easy way)

Pour the bechamel sauce on top of the meat sauce, then sprinkle on the shredded parmesan cheese.

moussaka- topped with bechamel and cheese

And then sprinkle on the rest of the breadcrumbs.

Now bake it in a 400 degree F. oven for 45 – 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and “set” (that is, not runny, but springs back a little when you touch it). Let it rest for about 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

moussaka- all done-and-ready-to-serve

Now comes the best part!

moussaka on a fork - YUMMMM! :)

This recipe was shared at Gooseberry Patch Trip Around the World and Katherine Martinelli’s Family Recipes.


Quick Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for One

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

This is warm, comforting, and filling. It’s almost like eating a baked apple. A perfect breakfast for a chilly fall morning. My daughter loves this oatmeal. She is always cold in the morning and it helps warm her up.

It’s simple, it’s fast, it’s the perfect comfort food for breakfast before heading off to school or work.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/4 c. quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. lowfat milk
  • 1 – 2 T. brown sugar
  • A splash of vanilla
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg
  • Sprinkle of salt
Directions:
  1. Peel, core and chop the apple and put it in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
  3. Cook in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, then take it out and stir it. Cook for 1 minute longer or until the oatmeal is cooked through.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
This recipe was shared at Apple-icious and Iron Chef Mom.

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