Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brandied Cranberry Sauce and Thanksgiving 2012

This year Thanksgiving dinner was all me.  Step one of dinner was to Turkey Trot - aka run 1 mile, and walk the rest.  Somehow, I can bike 100 miles, but a 5k?  Forget it.  A problem I may tackle another day.  But, I am loving the tradition of doing the Arlington Turkey Trot with friends before cooking up a literal storm (with the help of my awesome sous chefs, my parents.)

Needless to say everything was delicious.  Oven Roasted Turkey; Wild Rice Stuffing; Raw Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing, Walnuts and Pomegranates; Cauliflower Gruyere Gratin, Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup; Herb Riesling Gravy; Brandied Cranberry Sauce. And everything topped off with Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and Irish Coffee (thanks to brother for taking on the coffee making, I was busy sitting at that  point.)  

I was a busy girl but I truly love playing in the kitchen.  I could do that for days.  Dinner this year was me, my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, new nephew, my 'Japanese sister,' her husband, their two kids, and the Best Man from their wedding - all hanging out in the living room in my teencie apartment.  Somehow, it worked.  

I potentially will post all of the recipes I used.  Some of them I adjusted a lot, like this Cranberry Sauce.  I used probably half the sugar most recipes call for, and heard no complaints.  I merged probably 2-3 recipes, so I feel safe to call this one mine.  I love cranberry sauce.  A lot.  I like it even better fresh, with some fresh orange zest, and brandy.  I made this recipe X 3.  Because I wanted leftovers.  Lots of leftovers.  A batch of 3 served 8 for dinner with 2 large ball jars left.  As I type, only 1/4 a ball jar remain.  Tragic.  I love this in my pumpkin oatmeal in lieu of sugar.  It's the best breakfast in the world, trust me.

1 package fresh cranberries
1/2 C brandy
The zest and the juice of 1 orange
3/4 C sugar (more if desired - but I like tart cranberry sauce)

Rinse and sort cranberries.  Put in a crockpot with sugar, orange juice, and orange zest.  4ish hours on low or probably half that time on high.  Use a spoon to smoosh some of the cranberries.  Wait towards the end to add the brandy.  Voila!  I like serving it in a Ball jar.  It makes putting a lid on it and keeping in the fridge easy.  And it looks pretty on the table.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Masala Spiced Spaghetti Squash

It's totally normal to put spaghetti squash in the microwave, while you take a shower in the morning, right?

No need to reinvent the wheel if there's a good looking recipe out there.  I came across this and thought it looked delish.  Sure enough, it is. Also, it accomplished two goals... Going into the season of indulgence and cookies, I want light vegetable laden lunches.  And this used a CSA spaghetti squash half that was in the freezer so also making space for Turkey Day leftovers.  (Yes, you can freeze halves of squash and use them months later.  I swear, if I wasn't in an apartment, I'd have a deep freezer.)

Anyways, I had meant to make this last night, but ran out of time.  But, there were only a few ingredients.  And you can cook the squash in the microwave.  Take the half out of the freezer, microwave for 15 minutes (maybe while you take a shower.)  Easy to get it done this morning before work.   

I followed the recipe below, minus the fresh cilantro - just didn't have any on hand.  I also halved the recipe. This was lunch with a smashed hard boiled egg on top.  Side of kale chips, laughing cow cheese wedge, apples, and chunk of office bagel.  The squash doesn't look like much, but it's tasty!  

Healthy Curried Spaghetti Squash

Source - Food Network


  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 3/4 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the cut-side down in a microwave-safe baking dish (the halves can overlap one another a bit) and add 1 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until very tender and a knife easily pierces the skin of the squash, 15 to 18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Carefully uncover and let stand until cool enough to handle but still warm.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet. Add the ginger and garam masala until fragrant. Stir in the lemon juice and honey. Season with the salt. The sauce should be sweet and sour.
Scrape the flesh of the squash into a bowl, using a fork, to make long noodle-like strands. Toss with the sauce and cilantro. Season with additional salt.
Per serving: Calories: 130; Total Fat 4.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 0.5 gram; Protein: 2 grams; Total carbohydrates: 23 grams; Sugar: 6 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 160 milligrams

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crockpot Applesauce

I recently went apple picking with friends and needed to process a crap ton of apples.  After all the work of picking perfect apples.  I got to check out and they literally had half bushels for $5 that had slight imperfections.  Translation?  I couldn't not buy them and they were perfect for applesauce.  And the best discovery?  You can freeze homemade applesauce in freezer bags.  I usually always use quart size and portion 1-2 servings per bag I plan to freeze. It stacks well to save space.

Crockpot Applesauce
Serves several

A lot of apples
Half a bag of real cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Decent sprinkle of cinnamon
1/4 C water

Slice your apples to desired consistency   If you want more chunky cinnamon apples rather than applesauce - you can chunk apples.  Makes for a good mock apple crisp if you top with granola.  Also makes a nice oatmeal topper.  If I want chunky applesauce, I use my fun apple slicer, corer, and peeler contraption - though I usually keep the peels on.  And if I want my applesauce runny, I cook longer, and may even use the immersion blender to get a smooth consistency.  All depends what I'm in the mood for.

Fill the crockpot to the brim with apples. Add other ingredients.  Turn on low for 4 hours or high for 2.   If you want more cinnamon apple consistency don't cook as long and they will still look like apples.  


Friday, November 16, 2012

Overnight Soaked Oats: My Go To Breakfast

I think I first came across a soaked oats recipe from Mark Bittman.  It has forever altered my breakfast routine.  While his recipe was loaded with dried fruit, I generally go for real or frozen without the added sugar.  This is so simple to put together the night before and have breakfast that is very grab and go.  It's a staple on days I need to be out the door early and quite frankly, delicious on any day.  On mornings I pay a visit to the personal trainer, it's also easy to eat half before and half after.  You can play with your favorite fruit and nut combos (and trust me, even pumpkin works.)     

Overnight Soaked Oats
Serves 1
Ingredient Options:

  • 1/2 C old fashioned rolled oats 
  • 3/4 - 1 C milk or a combo of plain greek yogurt/kefir and milk  (The less milk the thicker it will be.  Yogurt also gives a nice tartness.  Up to you.  Play with it.  Keifir works wonders in the dairy mix.
  • 1 tsp local honey (maple syrup, splenda, sugar in the raw, brown sugar all work)
  • A generous sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Sliced banana; blueberries; strawberries; peaches; mango; cherries; real cranberries; whatever you have in the freezer or fresh - can't go wrong.  I've also done this with canned pumpkin - I just use pie spice, and a little less dairy.  
  • 4 crushed walnut halves or pecan halves or peanuts (or 1 or 2 T of PB2)

The night before put oats, dairy, cinnamon, fruit (if you're using frozen or dried), and honey/sweetener of choice in a sealed container.  Shake a tad if desired to blend.  Refrigerate overnight... Indulge in the morning with a perfect, 'I have no time in the morning but want a healthful breakfast, breakfast.'  

If you are using dried fruit (craisins, blueberries, diced apricots) or frozen (cherries, blueberries, etc..), I add those in the night before to plump up (if dried) or defrost (if frozen).

If I'm adding fresh fruit (banana, berries, etc) I slice up and add the morning I'm eating soaked oats.  Tends to get slimy or soggy if added the night before.  Lessons from trial and error.  

Favorite combos: 
Frozen cherries, vanilla extract, pecans, cinnamon;
Pumpkin, banana, real cranberries or a dollop of cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup;
Frozen blueberries and frozen peaches and pecans;
Banana and peanuts/peanut butter;
2 T PB2, banana, 1 T sugar in the raw, 1 T hershey's cocoa powder, keifir, milk.

Picture is:
1/4 C of a grain blend that was a gift from a colleague and is delicious; 1/2 C Plain 0% greek yogurt; 1/4 C skim milk; frozen blueberries; frozen mangoes; cinnamon; 1 tsp honey; 3 walnut halves.

Eat up!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Amazing Pumpkin Oatmeal

This is heaven in a bowl.  I have converted people who claim to not like oatmeal with this.  It tastes like you are eating a bowl of pie.  This can just as easily be dinner.  You can bet your ass this is where the leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving will be going in my life.

Amazing Pumpkin Oatmeal
Serves 1  (I like breakfast to stick with me, might be too much for others...)

1/2 C  old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 C skim milk
1/2 C water
a few blops of canned pumpkin (1/3 C perhaps)
a few spoonfuls of cranberry sauce (homemade is best)
a wee bit of brown sugar or splenda if you like oats sweet
3 pecan halves crushed
a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
a sliced banana if you are starving to death

Add oats, milk, and water to a small saucepan.  Simmer on low.  Very low.  Stirring on occasion.  Slice banana and put in the bowl you plan to eat out of.  Once oats have come to your preferred Goldilocks consistency - not too thick, not too soupy, add pumpkin, pie spice, and sugar/splenda (if desired.)  Keep heating until pumpkin is mixed well in the oats.  Scoop oatmeal into bowl to top banana.  Top oatmeal with a few spoonfuls of cranberry sauce.  And pecan crumbles.


Vegetable Curry Mess

I made this Monday - after just getting back from a weekend of overindulgence of burgers and nachos. I wanted simple. I wanted vegetables. I wanted healthy protein. And I wanted tasty. It certainly came out that way! And it was lunch today with a small portion of blackened salmon; some butternut squash; crackers; and 2 small apples.

Vegetable Curry Mess
Makes 4-6 portions

1 can whole tomatoes
1 can well rinsed chickpeas
1 can pumpkin (This ended up being a partial can that was leftover in the fridge and needed to be eaten.  A last minute, but welcomed addition.)
A decent amount of Kale
Spices on hand (cumin, curry, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, coriander, salt, whatever you have...)

Add everything to a pot. Crush tomatoes in your hands. (This is the best part.) Wash a few stems of kale and tear bits off the rib. Simmer all ingredients until you feel like eating, since you're basically just heating up vegetables. About 15-20 minutes. If you wanted more food it would be good with a piece of naan or rice.  Freeze remaining portions in handy dandy quart sized freezer bags. 

Welcome to my blog!

I got the idea to start blogging (again). I love to play in the kitchen, a lot. For me it is therapeutic and relaxing to just crank up the tunes, ignore the world outside, and simply go to town in the kitchen and hope what I create is edible. So, here it is, just what you are all waiting for, another food blog. (Ba da da.) I cook for one. And I don't really find that I struggle with that cooking for one fear that I always hear about. The freezer is my friend. And halving recipes. And cooking for friends. But I've decided to start documenting the wonders that come out of my kitchen. Sometimes I ponder catering. Maybe I will some day. For now, I will just throw it out to the blogosphere. Hope y'all enjoy!