Friday, November 28, 2014

Native Foods: Acorn Squash and Red Cranberry Bean Soup

Acorn squash is considered to be a winter squash, but it belongs to the same species as summer squash. Odd, huh?

I sliced one up and cooked it with red cranberry beans, which originated in South America 

Ingredient list:

-1 acorn squash. peeled and sliced.
-3 cups of cooked red cranberry beans (I soaked the beans overnight and then boiled them the next day.)
-1 cup of corn kernels
-32 ounces of vegetable broth
-6-8 cups of water
-1 tsp of dried basil
-1/2 tsp of dried oregano
-1 tsp of salt
-1 onion
-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-Canola oil or any cooking oil

1) Pour a little oil into a large pot. Peel and dice the onion and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.

2) Put in the beans, squash and broth. Cook for 20 minutes.

3) As the broth cooks down, add water to thin it out.

4) Cook for an additional 30 minutes. When the squash and beans are tender, add the corn, herbs and salt. Cook for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Native Foods: Spicy Habanero Cornmeal Cookies

November means the return of Native Foods! Are you as excited as I am?

Say "yes". Otherwise you'll hurt my feelings.

Last year, I stuck to cookbooks for Native recipes. This particular recipe was one I worked on myself.

Corn is known as a staple crop for indigenous peoples, and I wrote a bit about it in this post and this post.

We have to thank Mesoamericans for today's post because they cultivated both corn and chocolate. 

You can read more about the history of chocolate here. 

Ingredient list:

-1/2 cup of butter
-1/2 cup of sugar
-1/4 cup of brown sugar
-1 tsp of chocolate extract
-1 egg
-1/4 tsp of hot sauce
-1/2 tsp of baking soda
-1/4 tsp of salt
-1/2 cup of masa harina
-1/2 cup of all purpose flour
-1/4 cup of fine yellow cornmeal
-3/4 cup of chopped spicy habanero chocolate (I used this brand), chopped. 

NOTE: I used 3 of the Spicy Habanero Chocolate Bars, but companies such as Lindt and Vosges also make chili chocolate.

1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add the extract.

2) In a small bowl, beat together the hot sauce and egg. Add this to the butter/sugar mixture.

3) Sift together the flour, masa harina, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. Gradually add this to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

4) Finally, mix in the chopped chocolate.

5) Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Spaghetti Squash

It's a lot of fun trying out different squash varieties. I can't believe I stuck with basic butternut for so long.

Sorry, butternut. You're awesome and delicious, but I think we need to see other people.

I paired up spaghetti squash with some roasted cauliflower and other vegetables for a healthy alternative to pasta. I swear, I can't get over how cool it is that this squash looks so much like pasta!

I think I need to get out more and interact with normal people instead of obsessing over squash.

Ingredient list:

-1 spaghetti squash
-12 ounces of cauliflower
-2 large bell peppers or 4 small ones, sliced into strips
-1 carrot, peeled and chopped
-7 mushrooms, quartered and wiped
-Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning (or your favorite seasoning)
-1 tsp of garlic powder
-Olive oil
-Sea salt
-Black pepper
-Red pepper flakes

1) Cut the squash in half lengthwise and place it on a baking sheet. Scoop out the seeds, discard them then rub the insides of the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle on some black pepper and sea salt. Bake in the preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

2) In a bowl, add the chopped cauliflower, sliced bell peppers, and mushrooms. Pour some olive oil and mix with a spoon or your hands. Sprinkle on 1 tsp of Mrs. Dash seasoning, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. 1/4 tsp of sea salt and 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes. Mix well to coat everything and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

3) Using a fork, scrape out the squash into a bowl. Cover the bowl to keep it warm until you're ready to eat.


Brussel Sprout and Two Potato Soup

The one thing I do like about cold weather is that it marks the beginning of warm, comforting soup season.

In case no one else thinks of winter as soup season, I just informed you of that. I need to be credited for it. It's really, really important.

Ingredient list

-4 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
-2 cups of brussel sprouts, chopped into halves
-2 stalks of celery, chopped
-1 onion, peeled and diced
-2 chicken bouillon cubes (I bought a kind that is suitable for vegetarians)
-3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
-8-10 cups of water
-1/2 tsp each of dried oregano and parsley
-1/4 tsp of dried thyme
-1 tsp of salt
-Olive oil

1)  Start by sauteeing the onions and carrots in some olive oil. Once the onions become translucent, add foru cups of water and the 2 bouillon cubes. Stir to dissolve the cubes, then add the celery, potatoes and brussel sprouts.

2) Stir to mix and let it cook for 20 minutes.

3) Add the rest of the water. Then add the herbs and salt.

4) Cook until the sprouts are tender, about 30 minutes. You may need to add more water to keep it from drying down.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

It's always nice to throw yourself into an indulgent autumn themed dessert. I found a cake recipe that included yummy pumpkin and a cream cheese frosting to offset the sweetness.

I changed a few things around, but I mostly kept the frosting recipe as is.

This recipe marks my first time making caramel! It was definitely not easy. I burned the first two pots. I'll explain later. And you can laugh at me then.

Inspired by Food and Wine
Ingredient list:


-1 cup of butter
-1 & 1/3 cup of sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
-2.5 cups of all purpose flour
-1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
-1 tsp of vanilla
-3 tsp of baking powder
-1/2 tsp of salt
-1/2 cup of milk


-1 jar of pumpkin butter

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

-1 cup of sugar
-2 cups of water
-1 tsp of vanilla
-2 tsp of heavy cream
-1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
-1 cup of powdered sugar

1) Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl. Set aside.

3) Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pumpkin and eggs. Mix well.

4) Gradually add the dry mix. Finally, add the milk. You might not need the entire half cup.

5) When you have a smooth batter, evenly pour them into the two pans. Make sure one pan doesn't have much more than the other, Bake for about 35 minutes.

6) While the cake is baking, make the caramel: boil the water and sugar for about 8 minutes. When it starts to boil down, do the white plate test. That's where you drop a tiny bit of syrup onto a white plate to look at the color.

See the deep amber color on the far left? That is the color you want. Any darker, and the syrup is ruined. The clear drops are not what you want. The light gold drop in the center is not bad, but you want a more rich flavor, so it's gotta be the deep amber color on the left. 

7) When you reach the deep amber color, turn off the heat. Be careful to watch the pot at about 9 minutes because it WILL turn quickly and you'll wind up with a scary tar-like substance and have to make two more batches. True story. It happened to.....a friend of mine. 

8) Add the vanilla and heavy cream. 

9) If the caramel hardens, you can place the pot over a larger pot of hot water and warm it until until it's soft enough to use. Make the frosting: use an electric mixer to beat together the softened cream cheese and caramel. Beat in the cup of powdered sugar.

10) After you pull the cake out of the oven, let it cool. Spread pumpkin butter over one half.

11) Top it off with the second layer.

12) Frost with the cream cheese caramel frosting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chipotle Bison Burgers with Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions

Chipotles have been on my mind recently. Most people think about their families, the meaning of life, their retirement plans.

I think about chipotles in adobo sauce. I never claimed to be normal.

Ingredient list:

-16 ounces of ground bison
-2 chipotles in adobo sauce, cut up finely
-Hamburger buns
-1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into long strips
-1 cup of sliced mushrooms
-Black pepper
-Dried oregano
-Garlic powder
-Worcestershire sauce
-1/4 cup of butter

1) Mix 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, the chopped chipotles and 1/4 tsp each of black pepper and oregano with the ground bison. Form the meat into 4 round patties.

PRO TIP: I have found that chipotles burn my fingers a little when I handle them without gloves. I use a metal spoon to hold them in place while I slice them.

2) Fry the patties in a hot skillet. Cook for a few minutes on each side.

3) While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a small pot. When it's hot, add the onions and cook until they become somewhat transparent.

4) Then add 1/8 cup of Worcestershire sauce. Mix it all up and then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms soften, for about 6-7 minutes.

5) Toast the hamburgers buns. Place a well cooked patty on it. Add whatever condiments you like (I used ketchup).

6) Before you add the "lid", spoon some yummy mushroom & onion mix on top.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cheesy Black Bean Burgers

The title of this post would be alliteration if it weren't for "cheesy".

Alliteration comes second to cheese in my book. It'll have to wait for another day/post.

I decided to tackle the basic food staple of vegetarians and make black bean burgers.

Ingredient list

-1 15 ounce can of black beans, drained but not rinsed
-Black pepper
-1 cup of bread crumbs
-Garlic powder
-Cheddar cheese
-Hamburger buns
-Red pepper flakes

1) Mash the drained black beans with 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, some black pepper, and 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes.

2) Mix in the bread crumbs to bind the ingredients together.

3) Divide the mix into four sections and shape into patties.

4) Pour a little oil into a skillet. When it gets warm, fry the patties.

5) It takes a few minutes on each side. Fry until they are brown.

6) When they're done, top them with slices of cheese and turn the heat down to low to melt the cheese. You can use a pot lid on top to trap the heat and help the cheese melt faster.