Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 11: Break the Rules: Sweet Potatoes

Breakfast for Dinner has always been one of my favorite...because it breaks all the rules. Sweet potatoes are kind of the same dessert for dinner. Yes, it involves brown sugar and sweet potatoes, but you'll receive 300% of your Vitamin C in just one meal. Let's get to it.

(Mom, I hope you're not reading this...although my love for sweet potatoes totally came from your side of the family. Just remember...I used to whine if I had to eat the meat on my plate and NEVER hesitated to eat my veggies.)

Break the Rules: Sweet Potatoes
Okay, so this isn't really a recipe, but if you want to know how I make 'em, read on!

1 chunky sweet potato (yam, yam, yam), that isn't too skinny but is as 'fat' as you can find
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1 TB butter
1/2 to 1 tsp of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Step one: Rinse and poke a few fork holes throughout the potato. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. (Don't judge.)

Step two: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the potato in foil and it in the oven, straight on the middle rack. Bake for 20-ish minutes, or until soft and tender to the (oven mitt-covered) touch. 

Step three: Unwrap, set on a plate, and slice open (half lengthwise). Top with the rest of the ingredients (and maybe some caramel sauce or other rule-breakers).

Eat, you rebel, eat. And, for those of you that live with a guy who'd rather eat a sponge than a sweet potato, enjoy it gloriously. Happy weekend, friends!!

Happy eating!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 10: Garlicky Salsa Verde

The average Texan consumes so, so much salsa. And it's a year-round thing. So, even though this is a Fall-focused 31-day challenge (that is stretching out into November, heh)...I'm adding salsa verde. Because I can. And you can, too. Plus, tomatillo season goes into November.

Garlicky Salsa Verde
Tomatillos are those little green jewels most tend to walk right past at the grocery store or farmer's market. They are part of the nightshade family, which is related to the tomato. They grow in husks and are great roasted, chopped on top of a salad, or however you like.
Makes 3-4 cups of salsa

1 pound of tomatillos (the little green "tomatoes"), about 8 or 9 of them
5 garlic cloves
1/3 cup chopped onions (one-quarter of a large onion)
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 handful of cilantro (2/3 cup-ish), thick stems removed
1/4 cup water
2 tsp chili powder
6 dashes of Chipotle Tabasco
Salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt)

Step One: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove husks and rinse the tomatillos; remove peel from garlic. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread out the tomatillos and the garlic. Bake for 5 minutes, then flip the tomatillos and bake for 5 more minutes, or until tomatillos are an olive color. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool a bit.

Step Two: In a blender or food processor, add the remaining ingredients, including a little salt and pepper. Next, add the garlic cloves and the tomatillos (plus any juices from the tomatillos). Blend until it is the consistency you prefer. (I prefer pretty smooth...few chunks.) Grab some chips and eat! Or top on some enchiladas. MMM.

With help from
Rick Bayless & The Homesick Texan, but mostly by trial and error :)


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 9: Cranberry Pumpkin Sunflower Oats

 Creamy, dreamy aromas of spices and pumpkin pie. That's worth getting out of bed for.

Cranberry Pumpkin Sunflower Oats
Makes 4 servings; reheats well for Monday through Thursday breakfasts. You're welcome. :)

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups milk of your choice
Dash of salt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of Allspice
2 TB brown sugar
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

In a medium pot on medium heat, combine the oats, water, milk and salt. Let heat until it gets bubbly, and then start stirring constantly.

Stir in pumpkin puree, spices and sugar. Let cook for 2 more minutes, or until piping hot.

Serve in a bowl with 1 TB sunflower seeds and 2 TB dried cranberries sprinkled on top (for each serving). Breathe in the aromas of fall and eat until you are full!

***Pairs wonderfully with a hot mug of chai tea...***


Happy eating!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 8: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

Ever bake with oatmeal? Me, not so much. But I'm an oatmeal lover, all kinds of oatmeal. And who doesn't love cake? Let's combine them.

Chocolate Chip Irish Oatmeal Cake
My in-laws' Irish heritage runs deep. I know very little about my own Irish roots. But Irish oats are delicious (heh), and so that calls for incorporating them into a dense, delicious chocolate cake that wouldn't be overshadowed next to a Guinness. Also great with black coffee or a Fall hot cocoa.

1 cup Irish oats (steel cut oats)
1 3/4 cups boiling water 
6 TB butter/margarine
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 TB cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet) 
Powdered sugar, enough for dusting the top

In a large bowl, carefully combine the dry oats and the boiling water, letting it sit for about 10 minutes together. Next, add the butter and let it melt. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

After that, add both sugars and then whisk in the egg. In a second bowl, whisk together the two flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and optional cinnamon; then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a nonstick 9X13 pan, pour the batter in. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until center of cake is firm. (This is a dense cake!). Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm or room temperature.

Adapted from McCann's Irish Oatmeal

Happy eating!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Portland in the Fall

We snapped a few last photos of the roses before the first cold came...while it's well into October, we've had some gorgeous, sunny days. I'll share those with you as soon as we take them! Hope you enjoy your hometown as much as we're in awe of the beauty of the Northwest!

Multnomah Falls...I never get sick of this!

The roses are a foot taller than me. :)

Happy breathing!

Day 7: Smokin' Tofu

I know, I know, it's tofu...but would a bbq-raised Texan bring you a bland, eggy substance and call it SMOKIN'? I think not. Let's get busy.

Tofu is a blank canvas for so much...I actually love smoked tofu in stuff but it's often hard to find at the store or more pricey than the reg tofu. Get organic tofu if you's the real stuff. This is quick, easy, and sure to satisfy even the carnivore grizzly bears in your home.

Smokin' Tofu
Block of extra firm tofu (14 oz or so)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (homemade or store bought)
1 TB sesame oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco chipotle, for example)
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper

Supplies: towel, heavy book(s), bowl + brush, rimmed baking sheet, cooling rack (see photo)

Step one: Drain the tofu. It sounds gross, but tofu is a sponge--the more water you drain out means the more flavor/smoke liquid you can inject in. We want the tofu as dry as possible, so wrap the tofu in an absorbent kitchen towel. Place your heaviest cookbook or textbook on top of the tofu and let the towel absorb the liquid, about 20 minutes.

Step two: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (This is the universal temp for cornbread, french fries, roasted veggies and all things hearty and awesome. FYI.) Slice the tofu into "finger-sized" strips, about 14 will come out of a 14 oz block of tofu. In a small bowl, combine all of the seasoning ingredients (sauce, oil, smoke, salt, hot sauce and pepper).

Step three: Place the cooking rack on top of the baking sheet. Line the tofu onto the rack and brush the bbq sauce mixture onto BOTH sides of the tofu. (OPTION: If you have a little time, put the tofu into a gallon zipper bag with the sauce and let marinade for an hour or two. Then, use the excess sauce to brush on the tofu.)

Step four: Bake the tofu for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through and brush with the rest of the sauce. Serve piping hot with a baked potato, fries and some beautiful steamed broccoli.

Happy eating!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 6: Caramel Apple Glazed Popcorn

Oh, dear, I missed a day! Fail. Oh, well, let's eat something awesome.

Remember that 12-hour applesauce I made a few days ago? Let's use it!

Caramel Apple Glazed Popcorn
Gooey, caramel, nutty, apple happiness in a bed of fluffy, salty, crunchy popcorn pillows. This might be the best snack I've ever tasted. Decadent.

1 apple
6 cups plain or salted popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Step One: If you don't have baked apples or broken down 12-hour applesauce (apple butter might work), core and slice an apple into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 200 degrees until dry but still a little soft, about 2 hours. Chop enough to make 1/2 cup. Or just use 1/2 cup of your chopped stewed apples or 12-hour applesauce.

Step Two: In a saucepan, boil the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt until it reaches 300 degrees (use your candy themometer). This'll take 5-10 minutes.

Step three: Mix the sugar mixture with the popcorn and toss in the apples and pecans and stir. Let cool slightly, then form into balls or just eat straight out of the bowl. (I dare you!) Enjoy this.

 Lightly adapted from Food Network

Happy snacking!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5: Fall Football Queso

Matt and I have a lot in common. A deep-rooted love for football is not one of them. He is really sweet to walk away from games and hang out with me on the weekends, but I know he could easily watch five games straight and be happy as a clam. What we DO have in common is QUESO. And I'll eat queso in front of a football game any day, any time. Even if it means I have no idea how the game works. It's time to share Matt's super awesome, super creamy "y'all come" queso. We are Texan, after all, and a y'all is in order.

Fall Football Queso
For the record, every time my husband [Matt] makes queso, it is good. However, he rarely repeats the same recipe...okay, he never repeats the same way twice. But this one was worth writing down. Here goes.
1 pound ground pork
Chipotle taco seasoning packet (1/2 of one)
2 t. Chipotle Tabasco (5 shakes)
1/2 t. granulated garlic
Dash of cayenne pepper and black pepper
1 pound loaf of lowfat Velveeta, cubed
2 cans Original Rotel, drained
1/4 cup diced green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro 

Step one: 
Brown the pork in a pan. Drain it and add the seasoning packet (1/2), Tabasco, garlic, and 2 peppers. Cook on low-medium heat for a few more minutes, so the seasoning will be absorbed better.

Step two: Turn the Crock Pot (we used a 4-quart) onto High. Add the remaining ingredients, as well as the pork. Cover with lid and keep it on High until the cheese is completely melted. Stir every 20-30 minutes. 

Step three: Once the cheese is melted, turn the heat down to Low and let simmer for 2 hours (or until you're ready to serve). The longer you let it simmer, the better. :) 

Enjoy with chips, veggies, or any other favorite dippers.

Happy football and eating!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4: 12 Hour Applesauce

I know, I know. Who has 12 hours for anything, except working?

But this is warm, cinnamon-y applesauce that cooks in a slow cooker. Let's do it!

There's an indoor fruit stand down the street, and they sell juicing apples. Funny enough, some grocery stores and lots of farms/orchards growing apples will do the same. Be kind to me, I'm new at this whole bulk produce idea. I got 1/2 case of apples for $4...there are probably 8 varieties of apples totaling 60-70 apples, I'd say. Some are bruised, funny shaped or really small, but a little peeling and slicing makes these apples perfect for juice and...applesauce!

12 Hour Applesauce
This applesauce melts in your mouth. The simple steps make it easy to make and the spices will fill your home with Fall happiness. Enjoy.
Makes 1 quart

10 apples, varying sizes
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon 
1 tsp vanilla extract

 Step One: Core and cube apples. Throw into the slow cooker, as well as all of the other ingredients, and cook on high for 2 hours. 

Step Two: Turn down to low for 8-10 more hours. Eat warm, topped on whatever you like or just plain. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

And, just because I can't help myself, here's a new photo of Sam...who loves naps and cuddling.
Happy Fall Weekend!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3: Ginger Orange Apples

Ginger Orange Apples
Apples...who doesn't love 'em? With a hint of citrus and ginger, these stewed apples are simple and delicious. Serve as a side or on top of ice cream (pie filling). This makes plenty to share.

8 apples
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
4 TB light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups orange juice
Dash of nutmeg

Step One:
Peel apples and slice into bite-sized chunks. Turn slow cooker to Low. Add apples and the rest of the ingredients and stir. Replace the lid and let cook for 2-3 hours, until apples are tender but not falling apart. Stir occasionally.

Step Two:
Serve warm or cold, but store in the fridge. :)

Our new Crock Pot with fall owls on it. :)

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2: Glazed Acorn Squash

I grew up eating squash, what I thought was squash.

You know, the yellow stuff that is available in the grocery store year-round. It's delicious, versatile and affordable. However, I am learning that it's a small blip in a family of Cucurbitas, which includes all pumpkins, squashes and gourds. I still have a lot to learn, but trying new fall veggies is a fun challenge, especially to cook with them when you've never heard of them before! It's fun, and I'm finding that living here in Portland means more affordable fall veggies, since they don't have to be transported thousands of miles and such.

Let's get started with Acorn Squash. This one is pretty common in our grocery stores around the country, and they're fairly affordable ($1 each right now). I've had this as a soup and roasted, but I think that's it. Let's try a glazed approach.

Glazed Acorn Squash
This squash is almost too simple to make. With just a few ingredients and about 30 minutes, you can make a beautiful side dish that is healthy, sweet and creamy. Embrace your inner Fall-lover.
4 servings (if you care to share)

2 acorn squash 
1 TB vegetable or coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
Salt and pepper
sheet of foil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil, and brush the oil onto the foil.
2. Carefully half the squashes, seed them with a spoon, and slice the squashes into 1-inch thick rounds. Lay the rounds onto the oiled foil.
3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and half of the brown sugar. Bake for 5 minutes, so sugar can melt. Then, flip the pieces over with tongs and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the remaining brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tender. Serve piping hot.
(Bonus: Rinse the seeds off, pat them dry with a towel, and lay flat on the cookie sheet. Salt and pepper them and let roast with the squash -about 20 minutes- for a crunchy, nutty snack!)

Adapted from:

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1: Basil Peach Preserves

The 31-day Fall Challenge is here!

Let's get started, with preserves. The humble, delicious idea of preserving your fruit is one my grandmother and her sisters used to do regularly. The fruits usually came from their gardens or a nearby farmer friend. My grandmother was one of the few (out of 8) that lived in a city, and farmers' markets weren't as popular back in the day; so she bought her fruit at the grocery store. Since I don't have a garden (yet), I'm in a similar boat. But, even if you aren't Farmer Joe or Jane, you can still make delicious preserves! I just discovered white peaches (I know, I know), so I used a bundle of these to make it happen (& they were on sale, bonus). White peaches are pretty sweet, so that allowed me to cut back on sugar.

Basil Peach Preserves
This recipe is the simplest I could find to make preserves, with a couple of my own changes. Preserves are incredibly versatile, not just for toast! Top it on pancakes or in crepes, mixed in oatmeal or yogurt, or use as a sauce for pork, shrimp, chicken or turkey. This can also be the base for a spicy jam that you top on cream cheese for an awesome holiday dip. The basil is present, but not overpowering.
Makes 3 cups of preserves

8-10 medium peaches  (about 3 1/2 pounds)
Pinch of kosher salt
Dash of cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
10 fresh basil leaves

Step One: Peel, pit and slice peaches into chunks. (If you want smaller pieces, pulse in a food processor until chunky.) I personally like chunky preserves for versatility, but it's your call.

 Step Two: Move the peaches to a large saucepan, adding salt, cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Keep boiling and stirring until the bubbles slow down, the foam subsides, the fruit rises to the top and the jam sticks to a spoon when lifted (15 minutes total). Add in the whole basil leaves and stir. Let cool for an hour, and then transfer to the fridge until completely cooled.

Step Three: Transfer cold preserves to sanitized jars. The preserves can stay in the fridge for up to 2 months. Enjoy!

Adapted from:
Martha Stewart
Georgia Peach Council 

Happy eating!