Category Archives: fall

Thanksgiving Recipes: The Best of the Web

Thanksgiving is just over two short weeks away and what better time to try new recipes than a holiday that is almost entirely focused on food?

We spend with a casual feast and a huge crowd of family and friends. Everyone signs on to bring a dish or many dishes and just as quickly as they are put out they starts to disappear.

In years past I have always left the cooking to my mom, but this year I am excited to try some new recipes.
Here are some of my favorites:


Source (L-R): Caramel apples, Roasted Squash, Biscotti, Meatballs, Hand Pies, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower

I love the idea of mixing savory with sweet, and the fall produce that is featured during Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity.

I love the saltiness of cheddar paired with a crisp apple, the tartness of cranberries with a perfectly seasoned turkey, fresh aromatic herbs with the depth of autumn squash.

What are your Thanksgiving favorite recipes?

Whether you’re ordering in take-out Chinese, have a Whole Foods Thanksgiving, or hostessing like Martha, I hope you have a delicious, simple and stress free Thanksgiving!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

A few weeks ago I scraped together some vegetables from the refrigerator to make a pasta dish.  A few bites in Mark, my most honest taste tester, proclaimed it the best pasta dish I had ever made.  When I find a good thing or a great recipe, I stick with it  – I have made this dinner for the last three weeks!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Ingredients
1 large eggplant
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls of green beans
2 links of chicken sausage (optional)
1 onion
Spaghetti for 2 (1/2 box of Quinoa Heritage spaghetti)
1 tbsp Olive oil for the pan
Olive oil spray
Garlic (I use cubes, three)
Basil (I use cubes, three)
Salt and Pepper
Pepperoncino to taste
Parmigiana Cheese to taste

 The great thing is that with this recipe there are no rules.  Did you want more pasta than vegetables?  Sure.  Love green beans?  Make it three handfuls!

Cut the eggplant width-wise into coins and then cut across into cubes.  Prepare a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with extra virgin olive oil spray.  Spread the eggplant evenly on the sheet, spray eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Bake on the top shelf of the oven at 350 for 35 minutes.

While the eggplant is roasting, get to work on the rest of the ingredients.  In a sauce pan melt the onions in olive oil with garlic and basil.  If you’re including the sausage, add slices to pan. Then, add the cleaned green beans and sautee on low/medium heat.  The green beans can hang out on their own for a little while without much attention, just a stir here and there.  I top the pan with a cover to allow the steam to soften the beans, but not too soft.

After the eggplant has been roasting for 15 – 20 minutes add to the oven the halved cherry tomatoes, also treated with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place the tomatoes on the top shelf to allow them to get blistered.

During this time, set the water to boil for your pasta of choice.  After the vegetables are cooked/roasted and the pasta is perfectly al dente, add the drained pasta to the green beans pan, along with the eggplant and tomatoes.  Give the entire pan a light drizzle of olive oil and gently stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Serve with fresh shaved Parmigiano and a sprinkle of pepperoncino – and then you can also weigh in if this is your favorite pasta dish to date.

P.S. Mark, this is dinner tonight!

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Orange Biscotti

If we’re being honest, any time of the year is a good time for cookies, but the start of Fall seems like an especially good time for cookies that are meant to enjoyed with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.

This little cookie is inspired by the season and full of flavor, so really 1 or 2 (or 3 or 4) is enough.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Orange Biscotti
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon GF corn starch
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/8 teaspoon of Kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice
1/8 cup dark chocolate chips
1/8 cup pistachio nuts
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
Sprinkle of sugar
Set oven to 350 degrees
In the bowl of a food processor combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, corn starch, baking soda and salt.  The ingredients will pulse to be even finer and fully integrated.
Then add the orange juice and the agave syrup and pulse again until the ingredients start to form together into a ball. (Helpful hint: scrape with a spoon the batter away from the edges).  Add the pistachio nuts, the chocolate chips and orange zest and pulse one more time.
Pour all of the ingredients onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Use your hands, or the parchment paper to guide the dough into a loaf shape, about an inch tall and 8-10″ long.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool – for about 15 minutes.  Then with a sharp knife cut the loaf in a diagonal and if you’d a little extra sweetness, sprinkle with sugar.  Then separate the slices cookies by a few millimeters and rebake for another 15 minutes at 300 degrees.
Finally, you know what to do… eat and enjoy!

Fig Season

Figs are funny kind of thing, well, not in the ha ha sense, but funny in the way that I never really knew what they were or what they tasted like.  I was definitely not a Fig Newton kind of kid, not fun enough.  But, now, my, oh, my – figs are such lovely delectable bites.

They’re delicious, not too sweet, full of flavor and pretty rich for a fruit, and right now they are in season… So, hello, don’t wait around too long, go and find some or make a delightful little snack – after finishing the blog 🙂

Some fig inspiration:

How amazing would homemade jam be?  Then you could make your own homemade Fig Newtons!

Fig Jam from Delicious Shots

Fig and Pig, Pig and Fig!  Open faced fig and prosciutto sandwich?  Molto bene!

Italian Fig Sandwich from Spoon Fork Bacon

Ooey, gooey cheese and drippy, sweet figs.  Seriously, this is the kind of “snack” I’d eat by the spoonful.  Is that bad?

Brie with Figs and Almonds the Enchanted Cook

This recipe is happening!  Gluten free and figgy!

Fig and Quinoa Cupcakes from The Cupcake Blog

The piece de resistance!  How stunning is this cake?  What a beautiful finale this would be for a dinner party.

Fig, Mascarpone and Pistachio Tart from Desserts for Breakfast

Have you tried figs, would you?  Are you intimidated by this “strange fruit”?

Some figgy history, from Serious Eats: The fig tree was a common theme in the Bible, and the Egyptians considered figs to be sacred, often burying the dead with baskets of figs. In ancient Greece, Plato wrote that athletes were fed figs to make them stronger. Fig culture spread to the northern Mediterranean and Adriatic shores until it reached southern Italy, and then the rest of Europe. When the Spanish planted figs in Mexico, and the Franciscan monks moved northward with pockets full of figs–that’s when they came to the States.

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread

I have a serious love for apples, and not just any old kind, my personal favorite is Honeycrisp apples.  They are a little tart, a lot of sweet, and only available in the fall.

Well, what do you know… it’s the fall and it’s Rosh Hashanah time and so there is barely a time that’s better for apples and honey than right now.

This easy recipe is great to have a round during a long holiday weekend, or to use up your favorite apples.

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread
In a small bowl
2 cups Gluten Free Flour (Namaste Brand)
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 apple sauce cup, about 4 oz.
2/3 cup of honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup of chopped apple, or about 1 large apple (Honeycrisp) – I like it really apple-y
Sprinkle of cinnamon and raw sugar

In a small  bowl sift the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix with a whisk the oil, honey and apple sauce.  Here’s a tip first pour the oil, then when you pour the honey out of the same measuring cup it will slide right out.  When mixing you may need to give it a little muscle to break down the stickiness of the honey and to have a smooth liquid base.  Then add the vanilla and eggs.  Mix until fully combined.

Then slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet.

When the two sets of ingredients are fully incorporated add the chopped apples and give it a good stir so that the apples get covered in batter.

Pour the batter into an oiled 9 x 5 pan, and bake for 55 – 60 minutes at 325 degrees.

This little bread isn’t too sweet and so it makes for a great breakfast or snack.  Try it warm with some butter, or cheese, or nut spread.


First Day of Fall

Today is officially the first day of Fall.  From here on out welcome the pumpkin spice everything, roasted roots vegetables, apples, pears, cinnamon, honey, scuffed leather boots, chunky knits sweaters, cashmere throws, football, tailgates, crisp air, family dinners.

Fall 2011

Source: American in Paris, leaves, Candles, Boots, Pear

Are you inspired for the season?  How will you celebrate the start of autumn this weekend?  I hope it’s filled with warmth and a fun adventure!

Gluten Free Apple Muffins

Easy holiday, or anytime recipe, no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, no mixer!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is quickly approaching and I am excited for the many baking opportunities.  It is customary to wish people a “Sweet New Year” and even more customary to enjoy the sweetness of the season’s bounty of fruits, particularly apples, with honey.

Frankly, I could eat apples and honey any time of day or year, but I realize that to snack or travel too far with this sweet snack can become a bit of a sticky situation.  So, instead, we have muffins.

Gluten Free Apple Muffins
1 1/2 cups of GF all purpose flour (Namaste brand)
1/2 cup of GF Oats
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
2 4oz. containers of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of agave syrup
1 large (Braeburn) apple grated
1/4 apple chopped and cinnamon for garnish
Set oven to 325 degrees

In a medium size bowl mix the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and cinnamon and salt.

In a separate larger bowl mix the canola oil, agave syrup, and vanilla extract.  Add to that the eggs and whisk by hand.  Then add the apple sauce and continue to mix.

Then using a box grater, grate a large apple into the wet ingredients.  I used a Braeburn apple, which has a sweet but tart flavor, but you could use whatever kind of apple you most prefer.  Fold the grated apple into the wet ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and continue to stir, stopping when the dry ingredients are completely incorporated and before you over mix.

Scoop large spoonfuls into muffin liners and then you can add slivers of chopped apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top.  The apple sliver remind me of shark fins, but taste delicious, and serves as a hint of all the amazing apple goodness inside.

Bake for 25 minutes and then enjoy.  These are delicious alone, or with a pad of butter, smear of almond butter, or maybe even a slice of sharp cheddar.

This will be the first of many sweet things as we move into fall!


Apple Oatmeal Kugel

Over the long and sometimes warm and sometimes very cold weekend I spent a lot of time behind my stove.  I really like to cook over the weekends and sometimes you (I) cook too much.  I also really don’t like to throw things away that taste great, and well, eating the leftovers to get rid of it all doesn’t really do anyone any good.

So, as necessity is the mother of all inventions, a new recipe was born.  It’s not exactly seasonal (apples really makes me think of the fall) but it is definitely comforting.
Apple Oatmeal Kugel*
2 cups cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 – 2 apples chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 tbsp almond butter (negotiable*)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turbinado sugar (optional)
Juice from a 1/4 lemon
1/8 cup of slivered almonds

Step 1: Breakfast.  If you’re like me, when you woke up you thought about making something fun with low cholesterol oatmeal, but you have to have breakfast first.  So, you made an abundant amount of oatmeal. By the way cooking oatmeal is always a 2 (water) to 1 (oatmeal) ratio.  In this case I wanted a less watery version, so I went 3 cups of water, 2 cups of oatmeal, Mark and I both had a small bowl of oatmeal with toppings and about 2 cups of cooked oatmeal remained.  Don’t throw out the leftover cooked oatmeal!

Step 2: Oatmeal Toppings.  While the water is boiling and the oatmeal is cooking, chop up your favorite kind of apple (mine is Honey Crisp – they are out of this world good).  Add the apples and raisins to a pan on medium heat with a smidge of butter (like a 1/4 of 1/4 tbsp).  Let the apples and raisins begin to soften and add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and continue to stir so that the fruit is completely covered.  For your breakfast take 1/8 cup of apples and raisins and reserve the rest for later.
Step 2: Dry Ingredients: After you finish your breakfast return to the pot where the oatmeal has now cooled.  Add the whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Combine all of these ingredients.  If the oatmeal is overly sticky – mine was – slowly add 1/8 cup of water at a time until it has a smoother consistency.

Step 3: Wet ingredients.  I included 1/2 tablespoon of almond butter in the oatmeal.  It added a warmer hint of color, but didn’t change the flavor – this is totally up to you to include.  For a nutty flavor I’d recommend at least a tablespoon.  Add the egg and the brown sugar and continue to incorporate.

Step 4: Back to the apples.  The apples and raisin have cooled and should a soft golden color.  Bring the pan back to a medium-low heat and add the vanilla and lemon juice.  Cook the apples until the juice is absorbed.
Step 5: Bring it all together.  Combine the apples and raisins into the oatmeal and then spread the entire mix into a 9×9 baking dish.  If so desired, and I am sure it is desired, sprinkle on additional cinnamon, turbinado (raw) sugar, and some almonds.  Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.  
Here is the warning: your kitchen will have the warm, sweet smell of cinnamon, vanilla and apples.  You’ll know how relatively healthy this little snack is and will have a hard time just eating one bite, but that’s okay, because really (not just relatively) this is a pretty healthy way to go.

*So, I am calling this a kugel, because the flavor and consistency most closely reminds me of my Nannys’ (grandmas‘ – they both make it) noodle pudding.  There are no noodles, so noodle pudding is the wrong name, and kugel kind of sounds funny, but it’s pretty much what it is.  The other thing it is, is sweet, but not too sweet, healthy, but not boring, simple but not bland and probably something that will pop up on a holiday table of mine in seasons to come.

A New Twist on a Traditional Favorite

We cook at home just about every night, and we do so for a lot of reasons: it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it’s easier and often it’s just as good.  The trick however, become making home cooked meals interesting and fun.

This weekend I took a seasonal favorite, sweet potato and upped the ante.  
Sweet Potato Coins with Arugula Pesto
2 Sweet Potatoes (I used 1 yam – that’s the lighter color)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, Pepper, Paprika to taste (just a light sprinkle)
We do homemade fries a lot, so this was a nice change.  Cut the potatoes into 1/4″ coins.  I put all of them in a colander and drizzle with olive oil so that all of the coins get an even coating.

Sprinkle the salt, pepper and paprika over the coins on a tin foil covered cookie sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  You could go longer, but 30 minutes gives the coins enough time to be crispy and golden brown.
You could stop now, and eat.  You’ll be happy, I promise.  Or… you can take it up a notch.

Arugula Pesto
2 handfuls of arugula
1.5 tbsp of pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh grated parmesean cheese
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a food processor blend all of ingredients, using a spatula to scrape down the sides.  This is a dish that you can’t really screw up, because you can continue to taste to check your flavors. I like it garlicky, maybe you want a bit less, so it is very easy to adjust.

A traditional pesto features basil, I went with arugula because we had a lot on hand and it no longer had the crisp bite that I would want for a salad.  No wasting in our house, and this new use for salad greens was a huge success, and a delicious dip for the sweet potato “chips”.

The Best Winter Salad – Seriously

In the winter I am pretty much a salad hater.  I just can’t get behind the arugula and mixed greens that I love in the spring and summer, they all just seem so blech…  Until this weekend.

In full disclosure I did not create this recipe, in fact besides finding the recipe and eating it, I have done nothing constructive.  Mark has made this salad two times in four days and I have enjoyed it everytime.  
Spiced Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad Ingredients
3/4 cup lentils
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and “cubed”
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

When we first made this it was for an impromptu New Year’s Eve dinner, happily lentils are lucky on New Years Eve.  Also lucky is that all of these ingredients were available prepared.  I am no “Semi-homemade” but, if you want to save time you can find butternut squash already peeled and cut into chunks (Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s) and lentils that have already been cooked (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Wegman’s).  Major, major time savers.

Otherwise, you can peel the squash and then cut it into 1″ thick rounds until you reach the base of the squash, and then cut the base in half and continue to cube.  I’d recommend keeping the pieces on the larger side, and forgo the urge for perfectly small squares.  The larger pieces stay firmer and provide a great texture.  I promise, it’s really very simple, and nearly impossible to screw up.

Toss the cubed squash with cumin, paprika and salt and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, and then flip the pieces and cook for another 15 minutes.  
Look at those delicious pieces of squash — ahh, Heaven!
Let the squash cool and then layer it with the lentils, which I had at room temperature, but they could also be warm, and the crumbled goat cheese and argula… Or, you could skip the arugula, it’s still pretty healthy.

To dress the “best winter salad ever” combine the left over oil/juice from the pan the squash baked on, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

I realize this doesn’t seem too salad-y, but it is a great way to play with new ingredients (lentils or goat cheese), and it is beautiful to see and eat and really affordable to prepare and it keeps well for leftovers.

Share with friends, I am sure this is lucky after New Years, too!