Thanksgiving Prep

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I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.  Recently I discovered a new website (well new to me, at least), Primavera Kitchen, which has lots of healthy recipes.  Since I’m trying to cut down on carbs, I decided to give the Roasted Butternut Squash Mash at try.  The recipe was easy to follow, and while the squash was cooking in the oven, I was able to prep and complete other dishes.

1121181411_HDR~2Here is the squash cleaned, seasoned with salt, pepper, and minced garlic, and ready to pop into the oven for about 40 minutes.

Now on to other dishes – homemade cranberry sauce is a must in my house.  I just follow the basic recipe on the bag – with a few tweaks.  I replace half the sugar with raw honey, and add a dash of ground cloves.   1121181428_HDR~2

Once the berries are fully cooked, just remove from the heat and add the zest and juice of one orange.  I love using my vintage glass juicer; for some reason it just makes me happy.  1121181436_HDR~2

Spoon the finished sauce into a serving dish, let cool, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.1121181447_HDR~2 Of course, if you’re like me you probably can’t wait to enjoy this yummy side dish, and sneak a little advance taste. Definitely one of the perks of being the cook!

1121181451_HDR~2While the cranberries were cooking, I used the time to chop the veggies for the dressing.  Originally, I was going to to skip the dressing, but decided to won’t be Thanksgiving without this traditional dish.

 

1121181535a_HDR~2My husband loves celery, so I always add extra along with the onion and some carrots for extra crunch and color.  Plus they’re good for you!  I like moist dressing, so I use about twice the amount of liquid (using the recipe on the package as a guideline) and one beaten egg to hold it all together.  Once it’s all mixed together, just pop it into a covered casserole, refrigerate and you have one more dish ready for your Thanksgiving feast!

1121181452a_HDR~3While I was making the cranberry sauce and the dressing, the squash continued to cook.  Once it was fork tender, I simply removed it from the oven and let it cool while finishing the dressing.  It came out slightly browned and the roasted garlic smelled heavenly.

Once the cooked squash is cool enough to handle, scooped out from the shell into a bowl or pot for mashing.

1121181545a_HDR~3I mostly followed the recipe, but omitted the ghee as my husband doesn’t care for butter on his vegetables and after tasting, I didn’t think that this yummy dish really needed the butter.  You can use a regular or hand-held mixer to mash the squash.  Or, go old school and use a potato masher.  The one I have is over 60 years old and used to belong to my mother.  It has seen a lot of action through the years and still works great!  🙂

 

1121181553_HDR~4My mashed squash it in a serving dish, and tomorrow all I need to do is heat it up a bit in the microwave.

I’ve certainly gotten a good head start on the cooking for tomorrow.  All that’s left to do is to clean and prep the turkey for cooking and get my vegetables ready.  I’m going to put fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, & thyme) in the bird’s cavity and  I plan on using Primavera Kitchen’s recipe for roasted Brussel Sprouts, adding carrots and parsnips, too.

 

Hope you have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving!  I know that I am thankful to Olivia of Primavera Kitchen for sharing her recipes with us.

Enjoy, Mary

 

 

 

 

 

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A Home Cooked 4th!

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I wasn’t planning on making potato salad, but when buying grass fed beef (trust me, it tastes sooo much better) for burgers, I saw a bag of potatoes and figured why not!  It’s not hard to make and if you know your way around the kitchen, you really don’t need to refer to a written recipe.

Knowing I wanted to get an early start, so everything could be nice and chilled for later today, I started at about 7:45 and was out of the kitchen with potatoes and eggs cooked, and dishes done by 8:30.  That’s with all of my usual distractions including making and drinking coffee, and taking photographs, too.  Here’s my morning prep:

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Scrub and chop your potatoes. I leave the skins on because there are more nutrients there.  (Totally staged shot, because I’m left handed. HaHa)

 

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Put eggs in a pan of cold water with about 1t of salt & 1T of vinegar (makes for easier peeling). Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Let sit for 20 minutes off heat.

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Add chopped potatoes to cold salted water and bring to boil.

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Bring potatoes to a rolling boil; reduce heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Taste for desired doneness.

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Drain eggs; run under cold water and place in ice bath to halt cooking.

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Drain potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop further cooking.

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Wash up your dishes. I like to clean as I cook so there is not a big mess in the kitchen.

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Have a refreshing beverage, you earned it!

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I’m having cold brew iced tea.

 

Next steps for later in the day.

Potatoes and eggs are cooked and cooled! Now it’s time to gather our ingredients and make some potato salad – – –

Time to practice our knife skills – –

Peel and chop the eggs:

 

The ingredients are chopped,  so now we need some seasonings – –

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French seasoning mix, Italian dressing, mayonnaise, salt & pepper.

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Oops, almost forgot the dill.

 

Let’s mix it all together – –

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Add potatoes to large mixing bowl and season with the Italian dressing – about 2T

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Add and stir in the chopped ingredients. The eggs to the left are for Deviled Eggs.

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About 1/3 cup of mayonnaise

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Time for the herbs! Season with salt & pepper to taste.

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Mix well, place in lidded container, and refrigerate.  Correct seasoning prior to serving.

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Clean up the dishes and you’re done!

 

It took me about 35 minutes to chop, mix, season, and clean up. If I hadn’t been taking photographs during the process, it would have take less time. Added bonuses to your time spent in the kitchen – – tastes better than store bought, you can control the ingredients, the satisfaction and pleasure of making good food!

 

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Don’t forget to give your kitchen supervisor a treat.

 

My Sweet Tooth

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Sometimes I try to ignore my cravings for something sweet, especially if it is baked and chocolate flavored!  Over the weekend my cravings for got the better of me so I pulled out my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook and it fell open to page 67.  I’ve never made this recipe before, so maybe it was meant to be, or maybe it was the “witch.”  Ha!Ha!

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Page 66 & 67 of Fat Witch Brownies cookbook

The “Intense Chocolate Brownies” were as the name implies, intense with the flavor of chocolate!  Of course they can’t be bad for you because the recipe uses unsalted butter, unbleached flour (please don’t buy bleached flour – it really is not good for you), 70%  cacao bittersweet chocolate, just the right amount of sugar.  Since these brownies are homemade they contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients, just lots of love.

Now, I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate on hand, but I did have some organic cocoa (purchased from Thrive Market) so with a little on-line research on making substitutions, I was ready to bake!  It really doesn’t take long to make brownies from scratch, and the recipes from Fat Witch are pretty straight forward and uncomplicated (unlike others I have tried).  Best of all I didn’t have to use my mixer, so clean-up was easier!

Even though I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – using cocoa powder and half whole wheat and half unbleached flour – the end result was delicious!  The brownies were moist, with a rich chocolate flavor and just slightly crumbly.  Since there are only two humans in my household, and I’m the big brownie eater, I am still enjoying these treats.  Being the caring parent of two cats, I don’t let them eat chocolate even when they start begging for a taste!

If you have any leftovers after making some, just make sure to store in an air tight container.

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Finished product – Cooling and waiting to be devoured!

I’ve never been disappointed with any of the recipes that I’ve made from my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook.  As a tea lover, I even tried the Earl Grey Brownies, which were delightfully different.

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Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

Hope you will try your hand at making homemade treats.  If you like chocolate, Fat Witch has some free recipes available on their website, or if you live in New York City, you can stop by the shop and buy some freshly made goodies.

Happy baking & eating 🙂

Healthy Eating and Guiltless Cookies

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Much like many people, I have been making a conscious effort to improve the quality of foods that I am eating.  Sodas were the first to go! Yes, it was hard, but I started by cutting back until I would allow myself one a week as a treat. Now I honestly do not even want that. Best of all I notice a difference in how I feel.

Adding more fresh veggies and fruit was not a problem since I have always loved and eaten lots in this area. Now I just don’t buy anything processed (canned, frozen, pre-prepped).  I even started making my own bread so that I can control the ingredients.

This all sounds good, but I must admit that there is one area that is really, really, REALLY hard for me . . . sweets.  I would always keep some ginger snaps around to snack on. I’d grab two or three from the cookies jar a couple of time a day.  My husband would take five (or more) at a time.  We decided not to buy cookies anymore and I have been missing them.  Lately, I have been craving a cookie.

Okay, so where AM I going with this? A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe on Facebook for a healthy cookie. I have seen it before, but never made them.  This time, I told myself, would be different. Well, it took a little while but I finally made them this morning! Not sure where the original recipe comes from, but this was version posted by PerezHilton.com.


3 ripe mashed bananas (I measured and had about 1 – 1/2 cups)

1/3 cup applesauce (I used unsweetened – otherwise you are defeating the purpose)

2 cups rolled oats (NOT 5 minute or instant)

1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup raisins (optional, but yummy and adds sweetness)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Basically, this is an easy one bowl recipe. You don’t even need to get out your mixer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and mash your bananas. I used the vintage potato masher that my mom gave me. Add the remaining ingredients in order, stirring after each addition. That’s it, easy peasy!

Using a medium scoop, place dollops onto a baking stone and lightly press down.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes, allow to cool for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

I only put about 8 cookies per sheet, because I was not sure how they would spread and the mixture is loose. I ended up with 2 dozen cookies (plus one that was sacrificed to the taste tester – me!) If you use metal sheets, I would recommend lining the sheets with parchment paper. Personally, I do not use cooking sprays or shortening. When necessary I will use butter (not margarine).

The results: a soft, moist, cake-like cookie with good flavor.

I took the cookies I made this morning to The Stitcher’s group at my church. We meet every Tuesday morning to work on any project that involves stitches – from crochet to quilts.  At first this group – with some very good cooks – was extremely skeptical of a sugarless, flourless, eggless, dairyless, fat free, cookie. However, one taste let to another and even to seconds and requests for the recipe.

The verdict: this is a keeper

Future modifications: add coconut, unsweetened cocoa, pecans

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think!