Friday, September 27, 2013

Favorite Fall Recipes

Mmm - pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. 
Who is excited about the Autumn season? I know I am! It is definitely my favorite season of the year. I love the cooler weather, the colorful leaves, and the beautiful skies of Autumn. I also love some of the foods that are associated with Fall, like comforting soups and everything pumpkin. This post is a collection of some of my favorite Fall recipes. Tonight I made the curried pumpkin mushroom soup, and it was so delicious! I had intended to make a kobucha squash soup, but I could not make a cut into the squash - so after 10 minutes of trying I decided to go with the pumpkin soup. It was my first soup of the season, and I am excited to make some on this list in the next couple months and to try new recipes too. What is your favorite Fall recipe?

Favorite Fall Recipes

Soups/Comfort Foods
Sweet Potato Tacos (recipe courtesy of Paladar Restaurant Annapolis)

Perfect pumpkin ice cream.

So, there you have it! I can't wait to have a new fridge so I can start cooking up some of these amazing Fall recipes. Soon I'll have another dessert to add to the list - I made some yummy pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips, walnuts, and sea salt the other night. Recipe to come very soon! Happy Fall to everyone.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Quinoa Salad with Walnuts, Raisins, Apples & Feta (with Maple Balsamic Dressing)

I went a really long time without a home-cooked meal, but I finally had one on Thursday evening! Thursday's meal was good - we had some almond-encrusted salmon, quinoa salad, and toasted rosemary and sea salt bread. Home-cooked meals always taste delicious, but I think this meal tasted even better because I had gone for so long without one. There are many things preventing me from wanting or being able to cook much these days. First, I haven't had much time to cook between work and classes. Also, our refrigerator went out, so we are using a mini fridge until further notice, so there isn't much room for food. And, I went through a period of time where I did not want to be in the kitchen at all because smells bothered me too much - because I'm pregnant (due March 28)! I started feeling better the past few days and I felt inspired to cook again. I bought some already prepared salmon and bread, and I made the quinoa salad. I came across the quinoa salad recipe on Clean Eating and I thought it sounded pretty good. I used raisins instead of dried cranberries and walnuts instead of pecans, and I added apples and feta to the salad. It made a great side to the salmon! For the dressing, I used a pecan praline balsamic vinegar that I bought that Cleo's in Annapolis. It added such an amazing flavor, but I'm sure regular balsamic would be amazing too. If you want to make it vegan, leave out the feta! This quinoa salad is easy to make and it is tasty & healthy! Enjoy.

Recipe for Quinoa Salad with Walnuts, Raisins, Apples & Feta (with Maple Balsamic Dressing)

1 3/4 cups of quinoa, rinsed well
3 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar (I used pecan praline)
3 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup
1 cup of raisins
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1/8 tsp. of sea salt
6 - 12 Tbsp. of crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 Ginger Gold or Golden Delicious Apples, diced

Cook quinoa according to package directions. While quinoa is cooking, mix together the olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar and whisk until incorporated.

Once quinoa is finished cooking, transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool completely. Place the raisins and walnuts into a large bowl. Pour in the cooled quinoa and stir. Pour the maple balsamic dressing over the quinoa and stir until it is fully absorbed. Stir in the salt. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for 1 - 2 hours.

Divide the quinoa amongst 6 dishes. Top each with the apples and feta. Sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Serve as a side or eat it for a light lunch!

Recipe Adapted from: Clean Eating

Other quinoa recipe ideas: Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Corn & Quinoa Patties, Crustless Quiche with Quinoa, Kale & Peppers, CPK-Style Quinoa Salad with Arugula, Vegan Wraps with Quinoa & Chickpeas, Quinoa, Corn & Black Bean Wraps

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Banana Muffins with a Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Crumb Topping

This past Tuesday, the special education team at the elementary school I work at celebrated a couple team birthdays with a delicious breakfast. My contribution to the breakfast was these banana muffins. At first I had planned on making quiche, but then I realized that I would not have enough time to make it on Monday night. I started a class in Towson on Monday nights - 52 miles away from my house - and I got home past 8. I was not happy that I went all the way to class and we spent the first 1.5 hours of class (out of 1.75 hours) on introductions! Anyways, I decided on trying a new recipe that looked quick and easy. I just made them the morning of the breakfast, so they were still warm when they were served. They were quite yummy, and I have made 2 batches since then! Greg and I love the muffins. The best part of the muffin is - you guessed it - the crumb topping. Mmm! If you want a quick, easy, and delicious muffin recipe, try out these banana muffins. You won't be disappointed. Enjoy!

Recipe for Banana Muffins with a Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Crumb Topping

Makes 10 - 12 muffins
For the muffins
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. of salt
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
5 1/2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
3 medium bananas, ripe to very ripe
For the crumb topping
4 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of each cup in a 12-cup muffin tin.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Put the sugar into a large bowl. Use your hands to squeeze/mash the bananas into the bowl with the sugar. Add in the egg and melted butter. With an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed, combine the banana and sugar mixture until very smooth (about 1 - 2 minutes). Pour in the flour mixture into the banana mixture and mix until dry ingredients are well incorporated. Use a spoon or cookie dough scoop to fill each muffin tin with the banana muffin batter.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add in the butter and use your hands to incorporate butter into the mixture, until the mixture becomes crumb-like. Sprinkle a generous amount of the crumb mixture over the tops of the batter in the muffin tin. Place in the oven and cook for 11 minutes, then rotate the muffin pan and cook for another 11 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. Then use a knife to pop each muffin out. Store muffins in an airtight container.

Recipe Adapted from: All Recipes

Love banana? Try these healthy & gluten-free banana oatmeal cookies

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Best Zucchini Bread!

Ok, I have to be honest. I have not tried out tons of zucchini bread recipes and I can't honestly say that this recipe is the best ever. I tried this recipe a few years ago and I absolutely love it, so that is how it earned the title of "the best zucchini bread!" It is loved by all! In the beginning of the summer, I made 8 loaves of zucchini bread with all the zucchini from our garden. Then I decided that I better get more creative with the zucchini, and that is when I went on to make recipes such as the zucchini and mushroom quesadillas, summer pasta dish, baked zucchini cakes, and zucchini brownies. We had one lone zucchini grow in the past week - the first one that had grown in a while, and I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do with the last zucchini of the season. Well, since there was just one, and since it wasn't too big, I decided on some delicious zucchini bread. I made it on Labor Day while my parents and Greg worked hard on our upstairs renovations (don't ask why they were working on Labor Day, because I really don't know). The recipe makes 2 loaves. We ate most of one loaf on Monday, and the other loaf has been enjoyed by me and Greg throughout this week. It makes a great breakfast, snack, and dessert! Enjoy.

Recipe for the Best Zucchini Bread
2 1/4 cups of grated zucchini (about 1 medium to large zucchini)
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla extract
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of baking soda
3/4 tsp. of salt
1 Tbsp. of ground cinnamon
1 cup of raisins
2/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two bread pans (8 x 4 inches).

Use a box grater to grate zucchini (I used the largest grate setting on the box grater). Measure out 2 1/4 cups of grated zucchini and set aside.

Put the vegetable oil and sugar into a large bowl. Use a mixing spoon to mix well. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and stir until well combined.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Pour into the sugar mixture and mix until ingredients are well combined. Add in the grated zucchini and mix. Fold in the raisins and chocolate chips. Pour the mixture into the bread pans. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove bread from oven, put pans on a cooling rack, and let cool completely. Then remove the bread from the pans carefully and cut into desired sized pieces.

Store bread in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe Adapted from All Recipes