STUFFED SWEET POTATOES: A Thanksgiving (Or Anytime) Treat!

stuffed sweet potatoes text

Sweet potatoes of some sort have become an integral part of Thanksgiving in the US. Sadly, they’re often dumped out of a can, sprinkled with brown sugar, then topped with marshmallows. Sigh!

I will agree that sweet potatoes can use some flavoring, so I decided to find a better way than covering them with sugar. Stuffing them offers the benefit of utilizing the skin, PLUS being able to assemble them ahead of time – a huge bonus when you’re trying to get a holiday dinner on the table.

STUFFED SWEET POTATOES – makes 2 servings

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed & minced
  • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced (use whites and greens)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) jack cheese, shredded (I like jalapeño jack for an extra kick)

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Wash unpeeled sweet potato and pierce with a sharp knife a few times. Microwave 2 minutes each side until soft in center – (about 6-8 minutes total). (You can bake them in the oven if you’d rather.) Set cooked sweet potato aside to completely cook in center while you prepare the filling.

Melt butter in a saucepan, and sauté jalapeño and scallions over medium flame for about 3-4 minutes – until the butter has browned, but not the scallions. Remove from heat and add in salt and pepper.stuffed sweet potatoes4 Slice sweet potato in half lengthwise and scrap out pulp, leaving a 1/4″ border intact. stuffed sweet potatoes7Chop pulp to break up strings, then mash. stuffed sweet potatoes5Stir mashed sweet potato into jalapeño mixture along with all but 2 T of the cheese.stuffed sweet potatoes6Fill each sweet potato shell with the mixture. Sprinkle 1 T cheese on each half.  At this point they can be covered and baked just before serving.stuffed sweet potatoes1Bake at 375º F for about 8 minutes, until sweet potatoes are hot and the cheese is melted. stuffed sweet potatoes2Serve immediately.

PUMPKIN SCONES WITH MAPLE DRIZZLE

pumpkin scones text2I’m not sure when it happened but, for better or worse, every year new foods become pumpkin flavored during Autumn.

Pumpkin pie? Sure – I’ll eat that maybe once a year…unless there’s a better choice.

Pumpkin ravioli? Yeah – a small amount encased in pasta is fine… now and then.

BUT, Pumpkin Scones? Heck, yeah!  I’ll have those anytime – especially with a maple drizzle.

Scones are super fast and easy to make – the less you mess with them, the more tender they are! So jump on board the pumpkin trend and try these delicious Pumpkin Scones!

Note: As self-proclaimed Queen of Freeze, I feel obliged to suggest (or nag) you freeze the unused pumpkin in portion sized amounts for future use. This recipe only requires 1/2 cup, so there’s plenty leftover from the can.

PUMPKIN SCONES – makes 8 scones

  • 8½ oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 T milk (any kind – I use nonfat)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Maple Drizzle – recipe follows at the end

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Cross-cut using 2 knives to break up butter into pea-sized pieces.

(If using the food processor, place butter with dry ingredients and pulse about 8 times – until the butter becomes pea-sized. Empty into a medium sized bowl.) pumpkin scones9 In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, milk, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently fold to mix.pumpkin scones11 Empty onto a well-floured counter and knead about 5 or 6 times. (I use a bench scraper to help since the dough is sticky.) pumpkin scones3With floured fingers, pat dough into an 8″ circle (try to keep the dough to an even thickness) and cut into 8 wedges.pumpkin scones5Place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet (I prefer a dark sheet that’s greased.)pumpkin scones6 Bake at 400º F with the rack in the middle position for about 16 minutes. They’re at their best when they’re slightly dark on the bottom. pumpkin scones7The last time I baked them, I thought I overcooked them (see photo), but they were amazing – a slight crunch on the outside and perfect chew inside. So when you check them for doneness, look for slightly dark sides. pumpkin scones14Then remove from oven onto wire rack to completely cool before icing.

MAPLE GLAZE

  • 1 T butter
  • about 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 T maple syrup (use the pure syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in confectioners sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend well, smashing any sugar lumps. If icing is too thin, add more sugar; if too thick, add a little milk.pumpkin scones1For easier control over the drizzle, pour icing into a spouted cup or a pastry bag with a small circle tip. Design as you wish.pumpkin scones2Allow icing to harden before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONION NAAN BREAD – For Those Who Want More From Their Naan!

onion naan textI love Indian food!  In particular, I look forward to the soft chewy naan bread.  I previously posted a plain naan bread recipe (NAAN BREAD: A SUPER SCOOPER), but thought I’d share my Onion Naan Bread recipe for those who want a more flavorful version.

Note:  It really helps to have a food processor for this recipe, but it can be done without one.

Additional Note:  As self-proclaimed Queen of Freeze, I feel obliged to suggest freezing leftover buttermilk in measured amounts for future use. (I freeze buttermilk in 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup increments since those are amounts I usually need.)

ONION NAAN BREAD – makes 8 naan breads

  • 1/2 cup water at 110º – 115º Fahrenheit
  • 1 T honey
  • 1/2 T dry yeast
  • 2½ – 3½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 4 cups (about 1 lb) onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • about 9 T olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 T baking powder

In a food processor fitted with steel blade, blend together the water, honey, yeast, and 1/2 cup of the flour. Let sit in covered processor for 1/2 an hour. onion naan2During the half hour wait, sauté the onions: In a skillet put 3 T olive oil, the onions, and salt. onion naan3Over medium to medium/high heat cook until onions are well browned. Adjust heat as necessary. (This step can be done ahead of time.) Remove from heat to cool a bit.onion naan4 Once the dough has set for 1/2 hour, add in 3 T olive oil, buttermilk, baking powder, onions, and about 1 cup of the flour. Blend to combine and break down onion somewhat.onion naan5 Add flour in increments until you get a dough that’s only slightly tacky to the touch. ham loaf14Pour dough into an oiled bowl, flip dough so both sides are oiled, and cover. Let rest about 1 hour, until doubled in size.onion naan6 Pour dough onto a lightly oiled counter (not floured). Cut into 8 pieces.

On stovetop over medium flame, heat a dry skillet or griddle. Roll out 1 or 2 balls (depending on size of skillet) to about 7″ in diameter (very thin!) on lightly oiled counter. When skillet is hot, peel dough off counter and place on skillet. Lightly brush top with olive oil.onion naan7As it’s cooking, roll out next dough ball(s).

Let dough cook until lightly browned on bottom – about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until bottom is browned. onion naan8Remove to a tea towel and wrap to keep warm.

EGGPLANT-TOMATO STIR-FRY

eggplant-tomato stir fry

The old saying proves true: you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

I was given the recipe for Eggplant-Tomato Stir-Fry years ago when my husband and I were in a gourmet group. Looking at the ingredients, I was completely unimpressed. However, when I made and tasted it, I was completely IMpressed by how well the flavors blended.

As with most stir-frys, it’s all about the prep. With Eggplant-Tomato Stir-Fry, you wash and chop the veggies, and the cooking goes quickly. Yes, at the end, you do need to cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, but that’s hands-off.

EGGPLANT/TOMATO STIR-FRY

  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, cut into bite-sized slices
  • 1 medium eggplant, unpeeled and 1″ cubed
  • 1 red pepper, cut into slices or cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3½ oz (3½cups) fresh spinach leaves, chopped (or 1 frozen 10 oz package chopped)
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise then cut into half moons
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Prepare veggies.tomato veg medley4

Heat oil in large skillet – I used a 14″ stainless steel pan. When oil is shimmering, add onions and sauté over medium/high for 2 minutes. tomato veg medley5One by one, continue to add eggplant, red pepper, garlic & spinach together, zucchini, and finally the tomatoes, cooking each 2 minutes before adding the next. Stir in the salt and pepper.

Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until veggies are tender but not mushy. tomato veg medley1Taste for seasoning, adjusting as needed.

GREEN CHILI STEW: Fast, Easy, and Delicious!!!

green chili stew textGreen Chili Stew is an incredibly tasty blend of flavors that’s quick to put together. The little pop of lime is my favorite part!

You can tailor this recipe to your needs: roast the chilis yourself or buy canned, use the type of chilis I recommend or amp it up (or down), use fake chicken (nowadays known as “plant-based”) or use tofu. It’s up to you!!!

As Queen of Freeze, I always encourage people to make large quantities of something that freezes well (after trying it first). However, this stew is so delicious that there’s never any left to freeze so I’m not sure how well it would do. I suspect it would be fine.

GREEN CHILI STEW – makes 11 cups

  • 1/2 lb corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 jalapeño chilis
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1 New Mexico or Anaheim chili
  • optional in place of fresh chilis: 2  4-oz cans diced mild green chilis                                                                                                 1  4-oz can diced hot green chilis
  • 1½ tsp vegetable or avocado oil
  • 1 large (about 3 cups) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1/2 T coriander
  • 1 tsp + more salt if needed, divided
  • 1  15-oz can hominy, drained
  • 1  15-oz can white beans (I use cannellini beans), drained
  • 14 oz fresh tomatillos, chopped
  • 3½ cups vegetable stock (I use homemade vegetable stock)
  • 8½ oz fake chicken (I’ve used Worthington frozen ‘chicken’ log & Beyond Meat frozen seasoned ‘chicken’ – they’re both good)
  • optional in place of fake chicken: 1 block of tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit, rack in upper third.

Spread corn out on rimmed cookie sheet and bake in preheated 400º F oven until corn starts to brown (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven. green chili stew3If you’re using fresh chilis, turn oven to broil. Wash and cut pepper and chilis top to bottom. Discard seeds and ribs. Lay cut side down on cookie sheet.green chili stew1Broil until skin starts to blacken. (It only takes a few minutes, so keep an eye on it!!!). Remove and discard blackened skin. green chili stew2Chop skinless pepper and chilis into bite-sized pieces.

Remove and discard paper-like green cover of tomatillos.green chili stew11 Wash tomatillos well (they feel kind of waxy) and chop into bite-sized pieces. green chili stew6In a Dutch oven, place the oil, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1 tsp salt. Sauté over medium/high heat 4 minutes, stirring often. green chili stew4Add in corn, chilis, and pepper – cook 3 minutes, stirring often.green chili stew5 Add in hominy, beans, tomatillos, vegetable stock, and fake chicken or tofu. Turn burner to medium/high heat, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to keep a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and additional salt, if needed (I usually add in 1 tsp salt).green chili stew8

 

MOROVIAN SUGAR CAKE: Snack Or Dessert – It’s All Good!

morovian coffee cake textMy introduction to Morovian Sugar Cake was a little bittersweet.

I found the recipe in a newspaper (this was well before the internet!) and it sounded intriguing. Being very young and inexperienced in the kitchen, I didn’t allow myself quite enough time. I was able to get it in the oven before I needed to go to work, but my roommates were left in charge of removing it.

All that remained when I got home was one 3″ X 3″ square. They said it was so good they couldn’t stop eating it. I ate the remains, and it was magnificent. In fact, I was amazed they were able to leave me any.

Note: Don’t repeat my mistake – allow enough time for rising!

MOROVIAN SUGAR CAKE

  • 1 cup water 100º – 104º Fahrenheit
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant mashed potatoes flakes
  • 1/4 cup instant dry milk
  • 1 tsp + 1/8 tsp salt, divided
  • 6 T + 6 T butter, melted, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • about 4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

In a measuring cup stir the water and yeast together. Let proof for 5 minutes. ham loaf1

In the food processor, pulse together the granulated sugar, potato flakes, dry milk, and 1 tsp salt. morovian coffee cake10Add in 6 T butter and eggs. Process to blend.morovian coffee cake5With machine running, pour in the proofed yeast water. morovian coffee cake4morovian coffee cake11Add 3½ cups to processor and blend. Add flour one tablespoon at a time, processing after each, until dough starts pulling away from sides of the work bowl. Stop adding flour, and run machine another 30 seconds to knead the dough. Pour dough into a greased rimmed baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) and pat dough to fill the pan evenly. Cover with a tea towel and let rise about 45 minutes. morovian coffee cake2

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

While dough is rising, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt. morovian coffee cake1After dough has risen, create pockets with your fingertip, the handle of a wooden spoon, or something else that’s about 1/2″ diameter.morovian coffee cake9 Sprinkle the sugar topping over the entire cake. Drizzle the remaining 6 T melted butter over all. morovian coffee cake8Bake at 350º F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. morovian coffee cake7Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

HEALTHIER ZUCCHINI BREAD!

zucchini bread textThey’re out there and they’re coming – those overzealous gardeners who plant way too much zucchini. You can hear the pleading in their voices – “You want some zucchini? We have lots!”

Or maybe you ARE the overzealous gardener. Either way, zucchini abounds and it needs to be dealt with. Yes, you can stir-fry, stuff, and spiralize it, but one can only eat so much zucchini.

My suggestion is to make a healthier ZUCCHINI BREAD and freeze the loaves so you can enjoy your bounty months from now.

This recipe is packed with zucchini, but let’s not get crazy – I said “healthier”, not “healthy”. Even though I swapped the vegetable oil for olive oil and the whole eggs for egg whites, there’s still sugar in the bread so bear that in mind when slicing out the portions.

Note:  This recipe makes 20 muffins.  While it’s a little more work to grease, fill, and remove the muffins from a muffin pan, the benefits are portion control, ease of grabbing however many you want from the freezer, and the whole muffin is basically an end piece (my favorite part of quick breads).zucchini bread3

2nd note:  I noted both weight and cup measurements. Weighing dry ingredients is a far more accurate way of measuring than using measuring cups, but I included cup measurements for those of you who don’t have a scale. (Put digital kitchen scale on your wish-list!)

HEALTHIER ZUCCHINI BREAD – make 1 loaf or 20 muffins

  • 7½ oz (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2¾ oz (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1½ pounds zucchini
  • 4 egg whites
  • 8¾ oz (1 + 1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T distilled vinegar
  • optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped & lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit. 

In a medium sized bowl, blend the flours, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and walnuts, if using. Set aside. zucchini bread13Using the large holes of your grater, shred the zucchini. (You can use your food processor or do it by hand.) You’ll have about 5 cups of zucchini. Take a handful of the zucchini and place it in the center of a clean tea towel. Gather the edges together and twist the ball firmly to extract as much liquid as you can. Do this with all the zucchini. (It’s better not to put too much zucchini in the towel at one time.) Discard the liquid, unless you can think of a use for it.zucchini bread15 In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, sugar, oil, vanilla, and vinegar by hand.zucchini bread14 Stir in zucchini.zucchini bread4 Pour in the dry ingredients and gently blend until the flour is incorporated – there can be some flour showing. (Over mixing quick breads can lead to a tough loaf.) zucchini bread5Pour batter into an oiled metal (or glass, if you don’t have metal) loaf pan and smooth top. zucchini bread6Bake 60-70 minutes (mine took 65 minutes), until a toothpick comes out clean.zucchini bread7 Let sit in the pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack. zucchini bread8The loaf needs to cool at least 1½ hours to firm up before slicing. Honestly, try and restrain yourself – you’ll get nicer slices if you wait.