Dinners

Recipe—Mummy Dogs

I love it when I find a fun themed meal for the different holidays. I got the recipe for these mummy dogs from my friend Christa’s blog, which you should totally check out! (www.creativelychrista.wordpress.com) Christa always has lots of great kid friendly recipes as well as awesome craft projects and more.

I thought these were perfect for my little goblin this Halloween not only because they are festive but also because they are incredibly quick and easy to make! Christa’s version is much healthier than mine since she used turkey dogs and whole-wheat pizza dough. On days I work our evenings are already chaotic but when you add in getting dressed up in costumes, setting up the spooky décor, and trick or treating to the mix and it’s just a mad house! What’s not to love about a $5 dinner you can get done in less than 20 minutes and that the kids will love! I have a feeling we will be making this ghoulish recipe every Halloween. Thanks for the recipe Christa!

INGREDIENTS
1 can refrigerated pizza dough (I like Pillsbury)
1 package hotdogs
mustard and ketchup

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • On a large cutting board lay out your pizza dough and cut into 1/2” strips.
  • Cut those strips in half.
  • Use the strips to wrap the hotdogs up like mummies making sure to leave an exposed area at one end for the face.
  • Place the wrapped hot dogs on a greased cookie sheet as you finish them.
  • Bake for 12–15 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown.
  • Once removed from the oven, allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Use the mustard to dot some crazy eyes on these bad “dogs.”

Have a happy Halloweenie everyone!

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Sweet Treats

Recipe—Pear and Pecan Crisp

I have these fabulous friends who always have loads of fresh fruits and veggies on hand and I am lucky enough to have them share with me. The other day when I was visiting they had palettes of beautiful golden pears and I was fortunate enough to score some. Saweeet! I waited until the pears were perfectly ripe and then I created this delicious pear crisp for an office party. (My coworkers are so lucky to have me!) It was really a hit and super easy to make. Most people expect apple crisp when they see something like this so the pears are a pleasant surprise. They really were so sweet and packed with juice. Rather than an oat topping like many of my crisps, I made this with a streusel topping. This is a perfect fall dessert. I think I may be serving it up come Thanksgiving!

FILLING INGREDIENTS
5 large pears, cored and diced
2/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt

STREUSEL TOPPING INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c pecans, finely chopped
1/2 c butter (1 stick), melted

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine all the filling ingredients, pears, sugar, and salt. Set aside
  • In a separate bowl stir together the following topping ingredients flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the dry ingredients stirring while you go until it is evenly combined. The mix should be nice and crumbly.
  • Pour the pears into a large greased baking dish (7″ x 11″ worked great for me) and top with streusel crumbs.
  • Bake for 30–35 minutes or until the topping just begins to turn a golden brown.
  • Serve warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Appetizers, Dinners, Side Dishes, Snacks

Recipe—Butternut Squash Crisps

Over the past couple of weeks I have been getting squash on a regular basis from my produce delivery. I’ve been having fun trying to come up with creative ways to prepare them. These butternut squash crisps are a cross between potato chips and potato wedges, but with squash. They’re a fun way to enjoy this popular fall veggie. My son loves sauce so if you or your kids are the same way serve it with a little side of ranch. Happy dipping!

Note: For a crispier squash cut the slices thin otherwise they may come out soggy.

INGREDIENTS
1 butternut squash
2 tsp olive oil
1/3 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c parsley, chopped
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Peel the squash using a vegetable peeler.
  • Cut the ends off and slice in half lengthwise.
  • Scoop out all the seeds and stringy pulp.
  • Cut into 1/4” slices or smaller. The thinner they are the crispier they will be.
  • Put the slices of squash in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat evenly.
  • Spread the squash out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet making sure they don’t overlap. You may need to use two sheets.
  • In a blender pulse together breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the squash slices.
  • Bake squash for 25–30 minutes until the tops of the “crisps” are golden brown.
Brunch, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Spiced Carrot Bread

With my produce now being delivered weekly, rather than bi-weekly, I am finding myself with leftover items when the weekend rolls around. This equates to some creative cooking. I still had some giant carrots from the previous week and decided to make some spiced carrot bread with them. This bread is quick and easy to make, the challenge is waiting for it to bake and cool because it smells so incredibly good while in the oven. You just want to eat it right away! My entire house had the aroma of sweet spices wafting around for days, perfect for fall. While this would be fabulous with a cream cheese based frosting, I wanted something that didn’t require refrigeration. It gives the bread just the perfect amount of sweetness. Enjoy it as is for breakfast or topped with whipped cream for dessert, either way you will be indulging your sweet tooth while getting in a healthy serving of veggies.

Note: This recipe makes two loaves of spiced carrot bread. Enjoy one now and freeze one for later! 

BREAD INGREDIENTS
1 c oil
4 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 c sugar
2 c shredded carrots (2–3 large carrots)
4 c flour
1/2  tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2  tsp baking soda
1/2  tsp nutmeg
1/2  tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

FROSTING INGREDIENTS
1/4 c butter, melted
1 tbsp water
1 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

BREAD STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Spray two loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl whisk together oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and sugar.
  • Stir in the shredded carrots.
  • In a second large mixing bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until well combined.
  • Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.
  • Bake for 60–70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost clean when inserted in the middle.
  • Allow loaves to sit in the pans for 5 minutes and then carefully remove and place on a cutting board or cooling rack.
  • Allow loaves to cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING STEPS

  • Once the loaves have cooled completely stir together the melted butter and water.
  • Add in half of the powdered sugar and beat using the fork until smooth.
  • Add in the remaining powdered sugar and continue beating until the frosting is nice and smooth.
  • Stir in the cinnamon.
  • Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag. (If using a Ziploc bag cut off a small corner of the bag.)
  • Drizzle both loaves with the frosting and allow to set for 15 minutes before slicing.
Dinners

Recipe—Sweet Potato Burritos

I have always been a lover of sweet potatoes… at Thanksgiving. Besides the typical mashed sweet potatoes I make with candied pecans and then of course the trending sweet potato fries I just don’t really cook with them that often. Not because I don’t love them, but because I just really only know one or two ways to make them. The other night I saw recipe for Mexican stuffed sweet potatoes and I thought to myself, okay interesting. And then the next week I happened to get two perfect sweet potatoes in my organic produce box. Coincidence, I think not. I knew these sweet potatoes were destined to be something different and fabulous. They became the primary filling for sweet potato burritos. And they were wonderful! These sweet potato burritos are flavor packed, healthy, and unlike anything you have ever had before. The sweet potato really takes on a while new identity when mixed with these strong Mexican flavors. Since I am trying to serve one vegetarian meal a week in our house these were perfect but they would also be great with some grilled chicken or even an added scoop of rice. Why not try something totally unique and give these a try.

Note: This makes approximately 8 burritos. I wrapped my extras up in saran wrap minus the avocado and they freeze and reheat great. Perfect for a speedy lunch later down the road!

INGREDIENTS
2 large sweet potatoes
15.25 oz canned corn, drained
1 tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
15.25 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
2 oz cream cheese
1/3 c sour cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
8 burrito sized tortillas
1–2 c pepper jack, cheese shredded
1 avocado, sliced

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Bake the sweet potatoes for 45–60 minutes or until they are fork tender.
  • Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and allow to cool.
  • While sweet potatoes are cooling place the corn in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Roast the corn for several minutes before stirring. Let it roast for a few more minutes until the corn is brown and roasted on the outside.
  • Add in the butter, onion, garlic, and jalapeño and cook until onions are translucent.
  • Add the black beans to the skillet and allow to continue cooking on lowest heat.
  • Cut the sweet potatoes in half and scoop out the meaty insides into a bowl.
  • Coarsely mash the sweet potatoes with the cream cheese, sour cream, salt, cumin, chili powder, and lime juice. Stir in the cilantro.
  • Heat up your tortillas in the microwave or stovetop.
  • Spread each tortilla with a layer of the sweet potato mash and add a scoopful of the corn mixture to the middle. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and add in the avoado.  Roll up the burrito and continue repeating until all the fillings are gone.
  • As you finish each burrito place them in a baking dish.
  • Bake burritos in the oven for 10 minutes to melt the cheese and brown the tops of the burritos.
  • Remove burritos from the oven and serve.
Salads

Recipe—Pomegranate Pear Salad with Goat Cheese

When people typically think of big fresh salads they think of summer. Salads are perfect year round if you know how to incorporate fresh seasonal produce. Well here is a perfect fall salad recipe. It is bright, colorful, and bursting with flavor. The flavors all complement each other really nicely. The sweetness of the fruit, richness of the goat cheese, nuttiness from the walnuts, and the bite of the basil create a perfect flavor symphony. This may even be making one of my holiday dinner menus this year.

Note: Many grocery stores now sell containers of the pomegranate seeds all cleaned and ready to use. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of removing the seeds yourself this can be a great time saver.

DRESSING INGREDIENTS
1/4 c pomegranate juice (I use POM)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp brown sugar
fresh ground pepper

SALAD INGREDIENTS
6 c (9 oz bag) fresh spinach
2–4 oz goat cheese
1/2 c walnuts or pecans
1–2 pears, cored and sliced
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped

STEPS

  • Whisk together all dressing ingredients.
  • Toss the spinach with the dressing.
  • Crumble the goat cheese over the salad.
  • Top with walnuts, pear slices, pomegranate seeds, and fresh basil.
  • Serve immediately.
Appetizers, Snacks, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Toffee Apple Dip

I love it when I can find festive after school snacks for my little munchkin. While this isn’t the healthiest snack, we sure had fun making it together. We had it “whipped” up in less than 5 minutes and eaten in almost the same amount of time. Just kidding, I demonstrated some self-control and saved a little for my husband to enjoy for dessert that night. This was so good that when we ran out of apples I was just using my fingers to scoop it out. I know, I’m ashamed, but I couldn’t help it! It was really yummy! A better name for this is probably “Apple Crack”. After we finished the dip off we were trying to think about what else would go well with it and we think some graham crackers or Nilla wafers would make great dippers too. Enjoy! (And I know you will!)

Note: This is the perfect amount for 3–5 people but if you want to make it for a group definitely double or triple the recipe.

INGREDIENTS
1 Heath bar
8 oz cream cheese (1 block)
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3–5 apples sliced

STEPS

  • Using a very sharp knife cut the Heath bar up into small bits. Set a tablespoon of the bits aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla,
  • Stir in the majority of the Heath bits.
  • Transfer to a small serving bowl.
  • Top with reserved Heath bits.
  • Serve with sliced apples.