Favorite Fall Recipes

Where does the time go? I have been nannying for two months now and I feel like I’ve become a mom. I am with the two kids about 40 hours a week and by the time I get home, I just want to crash on the couch and order take out. **Shout out to all those moms out there who don’t get to “clock out” at the end of the day!** It’s a horrible habit but I can’t seem to break the cycle. I have, however, managed to make two of my fall favorites the past few weekends: pumpkin gingersnap cookies and curried celery root and roasted sweet potato soup.

These are my favorite fall cookies that are easy but a bit time consuming. So many of my childhood holiday memories are connected to the cookies, pies and other baked goods my mom used to make around this time of year. Now that I am out on my own, I am trying to create some of my own holiday food traditions.

I stumbled upon this recipe last fall when I had some extra canned pumpkin in my pantry. Gingersnaps were always part of my mom’s repertoire so I thought theses Pumpkin Gingersnaps would be the perfect addition to mine.

Pumpkin Gingersnaps 

½ cup of butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies

½ cup of pure pumpkin (I used Trader Joe’s canned pumpkin)

¼ cup of molasses

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

In the bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and smooth using a hand mixer (or a standing mixer if you have one). Add the pumpkin, molasses, egg, and vanilla extract, mix until well combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 1 hour. The dough can be chilled for 2-3 days.*

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Place sugar in a small bowl. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in sugar until well coated and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until cookies look cracked and set at the edges. The cookies will still be soft.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a 2-3 minutes after removing them from the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I cannot stress enough how important it is that you let the dough chill for AT LEAST one hour. I usually leave mine overnight. If you attempt to roll the dough in your hands and sugar before it is properly chilled, you will have a frustrating sticky mess on your hands (literally). The longer the dough chills, the easier the rolling will be!

This next recipe is loosely on Mark Bittman’s Creamy Curried Celery Root Soup.

Curried Celery Root and Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

Salt and black pepper

1  pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes

1/2 pound sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch cubes

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put sweet potato in a large bowl and coat with 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/2 tablespoon of curry powder. Toss to coat. Spread out on a lined cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes (it might take a little longer so just check in 3-5 minute increments).

Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. When it’s melted, add the onion and cook until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes

Add 1/2 tablespoon of curry powder and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute

Add the cubed celery root and stir just to coat it in the curry powder, then add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat so that the stock bubbles gently and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery root is fully tender, 15 to 20 minutes more

Cool the roasted sweet potato and the cooked celery root cool slightly. Add both to a blender or food processor, and purée carefully. You may also add the sweet potato to the celery root, stock and spices and use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pan.

These recipes have become a part of my fall/holiday tradition and I hope you will try them out. They are a little tricky at first but practice makes perfect! Once you get a hang of these, they will be great fall backs when you’re in need for a fall pick-me-up! Enjoy!

If you’re looking for some fall inspiration, check out this list of seasonal fall fruits and vegetables and some other fall recipes, in this  from Buzzfeed!

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DIY Raw Cleanse

Every once in a while I can tell that my body needs to be rebooted. This is when I turn to cleansing. I have done a few different kinds (Organic Avenue and Isagenix to name two) but they can get very expensive, very quickly. When I got home from the beach after the 4th of July, I knew I needed to cleanse. 6 days of beer, wine and all those American favorites- burgers, steaks, hot dogs, chips, bagels, etc- had put me over the edge. I did some research and found this easy-to-follow DIY raw cleanse on a blog called Small Kitchen College.

The thing I like about this cleanse is it can be 100% tailored to your needs. We decided to do it for just one day to do a quick reboot but we’ve committed to doing this once a week. You can also try cleansing for 3 days a week every once in a while or, if you have the will power that I definitely do not, you can cleanse for a week every month or for one month every year!

Here’s what to do:

1. Begin the day with a large glass of filtered water with the juice of half a lemon. This aids digestion and stimulates the liver to begin the day’s detoxification process. Add a dash of cayenne pepper to balance out your blood sugar.

2. Only consume liquids (smoothies, fresh juices, herbal tea, water) until noon. Snack on raw fruits and veggies if necessary.

3. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of filtered water each day. For example, if you weigh 120 lbs. you should drink at least 60 oz. of water. This is a good rule of thumb for overall health!

4. Eat as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible. Go for organic, especially for the dirty dozen.

5. Enjoy 1/2 cup raw nuts and and seeds per day.

6. Fill up on 2 cups of cooked whole grains throughout the afternoon and evening. But! Avoid gluten (whole wheat, barley, rye).

7. Follow the 80/20 Rule: at least 80% of your cleanse should include raw foods, and 20% can be cooked vegetables, grains, and beans.

8. Take a daily multivitamin.

9. Eliminate: dairy, eggs, meat, fish, sugar, gluten, and alcohol. Cut out caffeine if you can, but this is where I cheat. A small cup of coffee or tea in the morning is actually good for you!

I decided to easiest way to shop for this cleanse was to order from Fresh Direct.

Here’s What I got:

Almond Milk- Blue Almond Unsweetened Vanilla

Naked 100% Fuit Smoothie Blue Machine

Kale Pineapple Breakfast Smoothie ingredients

6 Organic Lemons

Organic Strawberries

Organic Red Grapes

Arugula

Organic Red Bell Pepper

Avocado

Cucumber

Organic Shelled Sunflower Seeds

Organic Raw Almonds

Fresh Direct Super Salads*

Chamomile Herbal Tea

We loosely followed the above guidelines and kind of did our own thing. Although we only did this for one day, I felt a huge difference. I lost 2 pounds (most of which, I understand, was water weight) and felt thinner and full of energy. Our groceries cost about $120 (we originally planned on doing the cleanse longer so we bought groceries for 3 days- $20/person/day) but we have added many of the ingredients into other healthy meals on non-cleanse days. This is by far the cheapest and most flexible plan I have ever found for cleansing and I plan on doing it at least once a week to keep myself on track!

I hope you’ll try it out and let me know how it goes!

* I bought these instead of doing grains on my own- I was not happy with them because they lacked flavor and texture.

 

Summer Salad Ideas

After a great week away at the beach for the 4th of July, I was happy to stumble upon this article from Buzzfeed about summer fruit salads. My favorite on this list is #6- grilling fruit, especially stone fruit, is the best thing about summer! The recipe in the Buzzfeed was taken from the Healthy Foodie and it looks absolutely delicious.

Something I did over the weekend to change things up a bit was the “grill” strawberries with balsamic and brown sugar. This was great to pick at and eat after our meal of burgers and sausage on the 4th but I think it would be even better over some vanilla ice cream. This is along the same idea as the compote I posted about a few days back but the grill imparts an intense flavor that cannot be matched in any other way.

Ingredients

12 strawberries

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 packet brown sugar in the raw

tin foil

Directions

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat

Cut the stems off of the strawberries and cut them in half length-wise

Make a small “bowl” out of tin foil and arrange the strawberries in a single layer

Sprinkle the strawberries with the brown sugar in the raw and drizzle them with the balsamic vinegar

Cook on the grill for about 15 minutes until the strawberries begin the break down but still hold their shape

WW Points: 1 point per serving 

(makes 2 servings)

 

Great Father’s Day Idea

While I try to work my way out of this rut, I am going to stick to great things to read, try or buy! I was wandering my way around Facebook this morning and stumbled upon a great company based in Brooklyn called Mantry. Mantry is a food-of-the-month club that sends members a wooden box (made in Brooklyn) full of artisanal products from all over the United States.

crates

If you are still struggling with a gift idea for the father(s) in your life, check them out! For $75/month this is a great way to try some new and unusual products while supporting local producers!

Grilled Caesar Salad

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One of my favorites things to make during grilling season is a grilled Caesar Salad. It is so simple to prepare yet grilling the romaine completely elevates this “recipe.” I honestly hesitate calling it a recipe! The first time I tried this was at my friend’s house in high school. Her mom used to cook for us all the time and this is one of the recipes I have taken on as my own!

Grilled Caesar Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce (try to get one that holds it shape- no leaves falling off)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Caesar dressing (store bought or homemade)

Croutons (store bought or homemade)

Directions

Start your grill (propane, charcoal or grill pan) and bring to a moderate heat. You want to grill and heat the lettuce slowly but you want it warm enough to leave grill marks.

Cut the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise then cut each half in half again. Make sure you take care to keep all the leaves in tack!

Brush each 1/4 of romaine on all sides with 1-2 tsp of olive oil (just enough to lightly coat ) and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place on the grill turning every 2-4 minutes until the outside of the lettuce is warmed through and has grill marks.

Drizzle with dressing and top with croutons. Serve immediately.

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This is by far the worst “recipe” I have written on this blog but that is mainly because grilling lettuce is all about trial and error. I have made this salad a number of times and it turns out differently every time. Just wing it and I promise it will turn out well!

Fancy Jell-O Shots

With Memorial Day coming up, I thought I would share one of my favorite “drinks” to have at a summer party. I have made a few versions of these over the years and it’s a fun way to get creative in the kitchen. Change it up by pairing orange Jell-O with an orange with orange liqueur or use lemons! You can do whatever you want to with this! Prepare them ahead and pull them out when guests arrive and they will be so impressed! I haven’t tried the strawberry margarita version yet but they are on my list of treats to make this weekend.

Strawberry Margarita Jell-O Shot

Strawberry jello shot

Ingredients

24-30 large strawberries

1 box Strawberry Jell-O

1 cup tequila

3/4 cup cointreau

Sugar

1-2 limes

Special equipment
A melon baller or small measuring spoon with relatively sharp edges

Directions

Balancing the strawberry on its side, parallel to the cutting board at the point where it is widest, cut off the top.

Still holding it the same way, cut off a tiny part of the strawberry’s bottom tip so the berry can stand upright. Make sure not to cut off too much or you’ll create a hole at the bottom. Repeat with all remaining strawberries.

Using a melon baller or small measuring spoon, carefully scoop out the insides of the strawberries.

Put them all on a baking sheet and dry them a little with a paper towel.

Combine Jell-O mix with 3/4 cup boiling water and stir 2 minutes to completely dissolve.

Stir tequila and cointreau into the Jell-O mixture.

Using a container with a spout, pour Jell-O/booze mixture into strawberry cups. Fill them up as much as possible, because Jell-O shrinks when it solidifies.

Refrigerate four hours or until firm.

To finish
Zest lime into a plate of sugar.

Slice lime (you can use the same one if you don’t care about the aesthetics, or a new one if you do) into thin rounds, then cut into small wedges. You may also want to cut a small chunk through the center of each wedge’s flesh so they can balance on the tip of the strawberry.

 Wet the sides of the solidified Jell-O shot with lime or water, roll in your sugar-lime zest, and garnish with lime wedge.

Citron Vodka Jell-O Shot

lime-jello-shots

Ingredients

1 box of lime Jell-O

Limes (as many as you would like)

Your choice of liquor (Absolut Citron for a crisp and citrus flavor or Tequila for a quick interpretation of a “margarita” shot)

Directions

Cut the limes in half lengthwise and clear out the insides.

Prepare the Jell-O according to the instructions on the box. Reduce the water portion by ¼ cup and replace with your alcohol of choice.

You want to make sure that your limes are set onto a surface that will keep them up right.Try using a muffin pan.

Pour your Jell-O mix into the lime shells and then place them into the refrigerator to set over night or for however long the Jell-O box instructs.

When they are ready, cut each lime in half to make the perfect bight sized lime Jell-O shot!

*Photos: Macey J. Foronda/Buzzfeed (strawberry) and Frock Candy Blog (lime)

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers- The Recipe

Lauren hosted a Cinco de Mayo party yesterday and I was in charge of bringing an appetizer. I wanted something delicious and different than guacamole, salsa or 7-layer dip. I also wanted to keep the cost down as much as possible because I just paid rent! When I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew I had to try it. The thing that caught my eye immediately was there are only 3 ingredients! I only changed a few things so here’s how I did it:

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

10 medium fresh jalapeno peppers

4 ounces light cream cheese, softened (original recipe calls for full-fat cream cheese)

10 bacon strips, halved

Directions

Cut peppers in half lengthwise

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Remove seeds, stems and center membrane

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Stuff each half with about 2 teaspoons of cream cheese

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Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpick

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Place on a broiler rack that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until bacon is crisp (I put them under the broiler for an additional 2 minutes to get the bacon extra crispy). Remove toothpicks. Serve immediately. 

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Yields 20 appetizers

WW Points: 1 point per popper (whole recipe is 22 points)

Easter Sunday

For Easter I wanted to try out a few new recipes. I love everything Ina Garten so when I stumbled upon this deviled eggs, I had to try it- I mean whats not to love? Eggs and smoked salmon!

The challenges I always face are budget/food cost, keeping with in my Weight Watchers points and making sure the recipe is easy enough that I will be willing to make it over and over again.

Although this recipe isn’t the healthiest, I switched out the heavier ingredients with reduced fat or low-fat options and they still tasted great! The egg yolks add so much flavor and creaminess that you don’t miss the full fat flavors of the sour cream, cream cheese and mayo.

I also modified this recipe by leaving off the salmon roe. The roe would add a great burst of flavor but at $18.99 for about 2 oz. it’s just a tad expensive to use as a garnish. I also saved some money by buying a small plant of chives ($1.99) instead of buying the pre-cut chives for $2.49 that would just go bad in a few days anyways. Now I have chives that will keep growing back!

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Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

8 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
4 ounces good smoked salmon, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces salmon roe (optional)

Directions

Place the eggs in a pot large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a full boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the eggs stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and fill the pot with cold water. Set aside until the eggs are cool.

Peel the eggs and then slice them in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks carefully. Place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and arrange the whites on a platter in a single layer with the cut sides up and sprinkle with salt.

To the egg yolks, add the sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salmon, salt, and pepper. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. With a small spoon, fill the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (you don’t want to flatten the filling) and refrigerate for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

When ready to serve, garnish with a dollop of salmon roe and some extra chopped chives. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

WW Points: 2 points for 1 deviled egg
I’ve also recently started following Smitten Kitchen after noticing both my roommate and another friend had the cookbook. I honestly don’t know what took me so long to pay attention to this amazing blog! There are so many great recipes and the are so easy! I stumbled upon this one the other day and figured it looked delicious and too easy to mess up. I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen so all I had to buy was the broccoli and parmesan.
I followed the recipe pretty closely but I think I will change it up the next time I try it. Although buying local and seasonal is always my first choice, it’s not always the most convenient or cheapest. Next time I plan on using Trader Joe’s Broccoli florets that microwave in the bag. It is the perfect amount of broccoli, it is cut to the right size and using the microwave makes it so much easier! I also think I might try spraying them with my Pam Olive Oil spray and putting them under the broiler to lower the amount of oil used.

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Broccoli Parmesan Fritters

8 ounces (1 small-to-medium bundle, 225 grams) fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
Olive or vegetable oil for frying

 Directions

Prepare your broccoli: Separate the florets from the biggest stem(s). Cut the florets into 1-inch chunks. To prepare the stems, I like to peel them, as the skin can be thick and doesn’t cook quickly, then slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total.

Steam your broccoli until tender but not mushy: Use whatever method you prefer. My quickie, lazy method is to bring a 1/2-inch or so of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the broccoli, place a lid on it and simmer it for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli, then set it aside to cool slightly.

In the bottom of a large bowl, lightly beat your egg. Add the flour, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Then, add the somewhat cooled broccoli and, using a potato masher, mash the broccoli just a bit. You’re looking to keep the bits recognizable, but small enough (1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks) that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter in the pan. Once mashed a bit, stir or fold the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil (I usually use a mix of olive and vegetable oil), about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple of inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then to a serving plate if you’ll be eating them shortly or a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven if you’d like to keep them warm for a while until needed. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed. Serve with some of the suggestions listed in the head notes, above.

WW Points: 1 point per fritter (without oil for frying)

I also made this yogurt sauce to serve with the Fritters as a last minute addition to our Easter menu. All I had to so was buy a lemon because I had everything else on hand. To lower the fat and make it a little more WW friendly, I used low-fat Fage Greek Yogurt as the base. I also used some garlic power to up the garlicy flavor.

Lemony Garlic Yogurt Sauce

1 cup sour cream or plain, full-fat yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinches of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic

Directions

Combine all ingredients, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so the flavors can marry.

WW Points: 3 points for the entire sauce

(0 points for the amount you would put on 1 fritters)