Roasted Red Pepper and Pumpkin ‘Cream’ Sauce

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Glorious colors of fall! Here the leaves have finally turned color and as I am typing this I can see the red and yellow leaves glow in the sunlight, and the bronze and ‘still green’ leaves add depth to the shadows. The birds have returned to the bird feeder in droves, the nights finally have that crisp quality you only experience on an early morning in fall and I am enjoying the view to say the least.

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To celebrate fall, with its vibrant orange of pumpkins, golden corn field and that last rest of summer’s warmth int he afternoon, I roasted up a brightly colored, mighty tasty and versatile sauce/dip/spread. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cooked pumpkin (or canned)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt

Directions

  1. Roast whole red pepper until blackened in spots all over by holding it over a gas flame or placing under the broiler, then place in paper bag to cool a bit (the steam will loosen the skin making it easier to peel, added bonus, you won’t burn your fingers as much).
  2. Peel red pepper (don’t have a guy do this, for some reason their hands are not made the same as ours and they cannot handle heat, as per my experience 😉 ) , this works best using a paper towel and literally rubbing the skin off. Cut in half and discard the seeds, then chop flesh.
  3. Place pepper in your food processor or blender. I use a really cute mini processor for sauces and dips. And blend until you have a chunky mess, add the olive oil, blend until fairly smooth.
  4. Add the pumpkin and salt and process some more. The result should not have any chunks left in it but be smooooooth.
  5. Gently reheat to use over pasta, like the Pumpkin Goat Cheese Ravioli for example or chill and use as a spread for sandwiches or serve cold as a dip for veggies.                              Yields about 1 1/2 cups.

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

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One of my favorite breakfast spots in the area makes this amazing stuffed french toast that’s to die for.  They are, however, closed on Sundays, which would only be like the perfect brunch day. So obviously it was only a matter of time until I had to try and recreate so I could have it anytime. Ahh the convenience of it 😉 And of course I will still go and have breakfast there, some days there is nothing better than to just sit down and have someone do all the work for you, including the dishes 🙂

Here’s my version using, you guessed it, some of that pumpkin that’s still left over from making pumpkin lattes, mini tartletts and goat cheese pumpkin ravioli. If you cook for one or two people only, you gotta be inventive and use what you have several different ways, so it doesn’t go bad, and I am not one to waste anything if I can help it, so bare with me if you feel pumpkin OD coming on. I’ll be onto something else soon, I promise.

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Any bread will work for this, crusty bread just has to be soaked a bit longer. We used to make a dish like this back home, using any leftover day old bread, although we didn’t call it ‘french toast’, and we did not stuff it with anything.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of toast bread (or any day old bread, roughly equivalent in size, I used Ezekiel)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk, warm
  • coconut oil for cooking
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp granulated palm sugar, or sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • optional grated coconut for garnish, toasted if desired

Directions:

  1. Soften cream cheese, and stir until smooth
  2. Add the spices, sugar and the pumpkin puree, mix until incorporated.
  3. Place milk and eggs in two separate deep flat dishes
  4. Turn the bread in the milk, then turn in the beaten egg and place in heated skillet. Cook until golden brown, then flip over to cook the second side. Remove from pan and set aside and keep warm.
  5. After making the second slice, while still in the skillet, top with 3 tblsp pumpkin cream cheese mix and top with another slice of french toast, and sprinkle with toasted coconut. (If your skillet is big enough, you might be able to cook all four slices at once, but mine only fits 2)

THE best!

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Minis

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Ahhh it’s Fall, and I love me some pumpkin cheese cake. But ever notice how heavy that stuff is? I have a hard time finishing those huge pieces one is supposed to eat. How about bite sized, nah, too small maybe 3-4 bites? Now we’re talking! And while we’re at it, make it easy and quick as well.

That’s right, my friends, I want my (cheese) cake and eat it too (could not resist that one) And as you might know, I am not one for letting anything go to waste and so I was going through my fridge to see what’s on hand that might be useful.

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The result? SUPER EASY, and besides the crust, NO BAKING! And to top that, you can make these in the toaster oven, in fact they turn out better in the toaster oven 🙂 Win!
Here is my secret weapon of choice: left over pot sticker wrappers! That’s right, and we are going to blind bake (or toasterize)  them into crunchy littlte tartlet shells.

You need:

  • 4 oz cream cheese (1/2 bar, pack, block? what do you call that?), softened
  • 3-4 tbsp pumpkin puree (from can)
  • 2 tbsp suconat or coconut sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 8-10 pot sticker wrappers (or wonton wrappers, trimmed to a round shape)

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Directions

  1. Place pot sticker wrappers in individual Madeleine forms or muffin tins, place in toaster oven for about 5-6 minutes, being careful not to let them get too brown, trust me, it goes quickly. On mine I set it right between the light and the dark setting. If your toaster oven has a temp setting, turn it down to 400, but leave it on toast (depending on your muffin cups/ Madeleine forms it might take more or less time, shiny metal reflects the heat…)   Alternately, using your oven, bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just slightly golden. They will crisp up more as they cool.
  2. In the meantime place softened cream cheese in a bowl, add the coconut sugar/sweetener of choice, and stir until completely incorporated.
  3. Add spices and pumpkin and mix until uniform.
  4. When the shells are cooled a bit, fill each using a tablespoon.
  5. Refrigerated for min. 1 hour to allow to get firm, prior to serving.

Note: these are best made and eaten within a day or so, since the crust will soak up the moisture from the filling and get progressively less crunchy.

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Reena’s Amba Ma Smoothie

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Version 1: Pineapple-Cantaloupe-Raspberry

During  the fall months, there is a particular Hindu Holiday ‘Navaratri’ during which believers perform several rituals and practice fasting. It lasts 9 nights and is devoted solely to the Mother Goddess — known regionally as Durga, Bhavani, Amba, Chandika, Gauri, Parvati, Mahishasuramardini…

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The story goes: After one of the Gods (Brahma) gave the demon Mahish the power not to be destroyed by man (including male Gods) because of doing a good deed for Brahma, Mahish started to cause all sorts of terror. So, the 3 forms of God, Brahma (birth or creation), Vishnu (life or preservation) and Shiva (death or destruction) combined their energies and powers and created a female form of God (Devi or Durga) to destroy the demon, (since no man could vanquish him). She represents the furious powers of all the male gods, and is the ferocious protector of the righteous, and destroyer of the evil. Durga is usually portrayed as riding a lion, and carrying weapons in her many arms.

I’ve also heard “Durga” means ‘invincible‘ and she is the personification of ‘shakti’ or divine feminine force!

Goddess of Victory of Good over Evil

For the fasting part of the ritual, nothing except Milk, nuts and fruit can be eaten during the day. And so I created this yummy smoothie in order to take advantage of all the goodness that’s to be had from milk, nuts and fruits

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (that can be almond milk or dairy milk**, your choice)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (or other nut butter: remember peanuts aren’t really nuts)
  • 1 really ripe banana
  • 1 cup pineapple(fresh or frozen)*
  • 1 cup cantaloupe or mango pieces (fresh or frozen)*
  • 1-2 tbsp raspberries or strawberries (optional)

* Make sure that one of these is frozen. If it is still hot outside, both may be frozen or you could add some ice cubes before blending.

** If using dairy milk, the recipe is no longer dairy free or vegan

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in the blender, starting with the banana, add fruit, then the almond butter on top and pour the liquid over top.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Enjoy or pack in a cooler or lunchbox and take to work to have throughout the day.

Version 2: with Blueberries…

Ingredients, Version 2

  • 1 cup milk (that can be almond milk or dairy milk**, your choice)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (or other nut butter: remember peanuts aren’t really nuts)
  • 2 really ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)*
  • 1 cup peaches or pineapple (fresh or frozen)*

* Make sure that one of these is frozen. If it is still hot outside, both may be frozen or you could add some ice cubes before blending.

** If using dairy milk, the recipe is no longer dairy free or vegan

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Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in the blender, starting with the banana, add fruit, then the almond butter on top and pour the liquid over top.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Enjoy or pack in a cooler or lunchbox and take to work to have throughout the day.

And here’s a great thing to do with any leftover smoothie:

Pour into popsicle molds (or any small paper or plastic cups and add one of those wooden sticks they sell at craft stores) and freeze for a sugar free treat later.

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Grain Free Lasagna

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Ahhh Lasagna! The whole house smells good after you make one of those…

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Earlier this year, when I was plagued by seasonal allergies, I had been experimenting with a gluten free diet, at the time, I made some Lasagna using rice pasta, you could not even tell the difference!But I was ready for something new, so when I picked up some fantastic looking eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms, at the farmers market and walked past various types of squash, including spaghetti squash, (not ready for that one yet), inspiration hit me, a light came on and I heard a voice. Nonono no, not quite, but I said to myself, “what happens, if I just plain and simply leave out the pasta completely, replace it with thin slivers of veggie instead?” The result is not only gluten free, it is also almost Paleo 😉 (There is cheese, milk and potato starch in it, sorry folks) BUT it’s 100% grain free.

For a vegetarian version, replace the meat with diced zucchini, eggplant and shredded carrot. Adjusting the skillet time accordingly.

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First I made a meat sauce, using homemade tomato sauce, ground bison and mushrooms…
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Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 small zucchini
  • olive oil
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups homemade tomato sauce (or good quality store bought)
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 lb ground meat (I used bison, but beef or turkey would work as well)
  • 1 med onion, diced finely
  • oregano  and basil(dry or fresh)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp potato starch/flour
  • 2 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

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Directions

  1. Using a mandolin slicer, slice eggplant and zucchini into lengthwise thin ribbons (this is what you will be using instead of the pasta sheets). Set aside
  2. In a large skillet, heat a tbsp olive oil, add onion and cook over medium until softened, not browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms, cover and cook on medium low until the mushrooms are starting to soften.
  4. Then add meat to skillet and cook, breaking up pieces with a fork until not pink anymore.
  5. Add tomato sauce and oregano and basil (depending on the sauce you choose, you might need less or more, suggestion for dried spices is 1 tsp oregano and about a tbsp basil), stir until mixed well and heated through. Set aside
  6. To make the Béchamel Sauce:  Heat 2 tbsp butter in a medium sauce pan over medium low until melted, add in 2 tbsp potato starch, stir until incorporated
  7. Whisk in milk and salt, and stirring continuously, bring sauce to a simmer (don’t turn up the heat, this should be done slowly), and simmer for 3-5 minutes until thickened. (Use when still warm/hot)
  8. Assembling the Lasagna: Using either one 9×13″ glass dish or several smaller ones ( I like to use dishes that are 2-4 servings and freeze several, for a quick week night dinner or lunch) start by spreading some meat sauce over the bottom of the dish, then a layer of eggplant or zucchini, followed by 3/4 cup of Béchamel sauce, a handful of mozzarella, another layer of vegetables (either zucchini or eggplant, I kept doing one layer zucchini, one layer eggplant, but you could mix and match), repeating the meat sauce and Béchamel/cheese layers, finishing with a layer of Béchamel and the rest of the mozzarella.
  9. Store in the fridge until ready to bake for dinner or bake right away: Preheat oven to 350F, bake in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and the eggplant and zucchini are soft, when pierced with a knife. (Adjust baking time, if not storing in the fridge first)

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Grilled Mediterranean Eggplant with Hummus Spread

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Yep, I am still clinging on to summer, end of summer denial? Maybe juuust a bit… In my defense, I have embraced fall at least as far a pumpkins go, so think I am alright. But with how the weather was this past week end and the beginning of the week, it was grillin’ time, baby! And farmers markets and road stand are all still loaded with eggplant and zucchini, and other late summer crops, it be a shame to not grill up some yummies!

Ingredients

  • 2 md eggplant
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tbs Hummus

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  1. cut eggplant into 1/4″ thick slices lengthwise, salt on both sides and place in a colander in your sink to drain for 20 minutes (you will remove the excess salt in the next step, so no worries)
  2. Preheat gas grill or light the charcoals!
  3. pat or wipe dry with paper towel, and spray with olive oil (using your ‘Misto’) alternately, you can also use a brush to lightly brush oil onto both sides of the eggplant
  4. Grill on medium until grill marks appear, turn over and grill, with the cover down, until tender
  5. Place on platter and serve drizzled with Hummus Spread
  6. For Humus Spread: In a small bowl mix together the hummus with 2-3 tbsp water, stir until smooth.

Goes well with ‘Roasted Salmon with Coriander-Paprika Glaze’ or a nice Bison steak.

And guess what’s for desert… Pumpkin Cheesecake Minis! (recipe soon)

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Roasted Salmon with Coriander-Paprika Glaze

Our Sunday night ‘still hanging on to summer’ dinner 😉


Salmon is one of those cold water fish, high in Omega-3’s, we all know by now we’re supposed to have more of ‘those ones’ in our diet, but how to go about it?

Last Weekend I created this quick and easy recipe that can be whipped up in a minute with minimal effort. And let’s face it, I haven’t met anyone that could not use another 10 minutes recipe! That’s how simple this roasted salmon is to make, although it tastes and looks like you labored in the kitchen for a lot longer 😉 And who doesn’t like to get some easy earned praise?

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of salmon, about 3-4 oz each
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp paprika (sweet)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Directions

  1.  Crush the coriander seeds in a mortar or use a spice mill
  2. Combine lemon juice, olive oil and honey in a small bowl
  3. Add coriander, paprika, and salt, and stir well until incorporated
  4. brush the salmon fillets all over with the glaze and bake in the middle of the preheated oven at 400F for 10 minutes, or until opaque through, brushing tops one time at 7 minutes (10 minutes should be all it takes, unless you have an exceptionally fat pieces of fish)

You could use any extra glaze as seasoning for roasting red bell pepper slices alongside the salmon like we did here…

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or just have the salmon with some grilled eggplant and hummus spread!

either way: make it.  It’s super yummy!

‘Summer in a Jar’ (Canned European Plum Compote)

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On Saturday we spend part of the day rummaging and discovering our way through a local antique place. I got some great deals on glass custard dishes, and a couple of old glass bottles we’ll be using to store my home made salad dressing (like the Greek Feta Buttermilk Dressing). It was rainy and the the temperature was steadily dropping, so being inside for several hours looking through old kitchen and household items, books and furniture was fun!

The trees behind my house are changing color, the first touches of fall, the first signs of frost (it only went down to 37 at my house, yipee!), and I have to come to terms with the fact that summer is definitely, absolutely over. No more denial. It’s FALL! Don’t get me wrong I LOVE fall, it’s just I really, really, REALLY liked summer this year and it’s hard to let go of something dear. In order to be able to take advantage of end of summer, super ripe, bursting with flavor European plums (aka prune plums, they are the smaller, oval purple/blue ones, that look a bit hazed over vs shiny) for a little while longer, I decided to cook them up into a compote, that can be used on Crêpes, pancakes or eaten as s desert (cold or warmed up) with some whipped cream or stir into greek yogurt as a treat!

or over cottage cheese…

If you live near an Italian or even Russian Market, you might have an easier time finding this old world favorite as not all stores are carrying them in our area and the seasonal availability is limited to a short window of opportunity. At my parents garden in Switzerland they would usually ripen sometime in late August or early September.

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Today, after having found a nice (hopefully not quite yet) last batch at the farmers market, Now let’s see if we can make that preserving magic happen, for when fall or winter really hits and we are all longing for something that tastes of SUMMER!

Ingredients

  • 5 cups prune plums, halved, pitted (or 4 cups plums and 1 cup apple)
  • 1 -3 tbsp sucanat/rapadura*, raw sugar or other real sweetener of choice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp tapioca
  • 3 pint canning jars and lids, bands, washed in the dishwasher
  • 21 qt water bath canner with canning rack
  • small sauce pan with boiling water ( to sterilize lids)

Directions

  • Prep the canner: fill with required amount of hot water and bring to a simmer. Heat water in small sauce pan, add the lids to it and bring to a simmer.
  • In a medium sauce pan, combine the plums with the rest of the ingredients above and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally . Keep at a simmer of 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover and set aside.

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    • If your jars are still hot (they juts came out of the dishwasher) sit them on a kitchen towel and fill one at a time with the compote, using a ladle and a canning funnel, leaving a 1/2″ head space (If they are cold, heat them submerged in the canner, in order to prevent them from breaking from the quick temperature change)
    • Wipe rim with clean paper towel, so not compote or juice clings to the top, then center one of the prepares lids on top, then tighten band (not too much, juts fingertip tight) with your fingertips only! When all the jars are filled and lidded (is that a word?), place them on the canning rack an lower into your canner, making sure all jars are covered by 1″ of water.

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  • Bring the water in the canner to a boil and process for 30 minutes, adjusting for altitude
  • When time is up, turn off heat and leave them in the water bath for another 5 minutes, then lifting the rack up an hooking it to the sides of the pot, remove the jars gently (don’t shake or tighten or anything) place on a kitchen towel to cool off completely.
  • check in 24 h if the seal is secure (Lid does not flex up and down when pressed in the middle) place any not properly sealed jars in the fridge and eat quickly (just the content, please)
  • Label and store, or gift 🙂
Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Hummus

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A few years back, I decided to try and cook chickpeas instead of getting the canned variety. I got a pound bag, soaked them overnight, and cooked them the next day. I have never looked at legumes the same way again. The flavor is incomparable, the taste of freshly cooked chick peas is almost nutty, yummy!

Now what I do is I will soak a couple of different varieties of dried beans and go on a  bean cooking spree: Cooking a pound at a time in my Zyliss Pressure cooker (depending on the size cooker you got, you might be able to do more than one pound) after they are done and cooled, I portion them out in individual ‘servings’, usually in snack size zip top bags (have you noticed, they seem to only be available as store brand?) and freeze. Then whenever I want to make a bean soup, hummus or a salad, I just defrost what I need and can skip the high sodium and whatever else might live in those cans of beans. For soups, I literally just drop the frozen parcel in, hummus you gotta let it defrost in the fridge overnight or use your microwave.

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Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas or equivalent frozen, defrosted
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini ( sesame seed paste)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt (use less if using canned)
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 to 3 tbs water

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a food processor/blender, adding water until desired consistency is reached.

Serve as a dip with toasted pita chips or vegetables, or thin and use as a spread on grilled veggies

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Unfinished Business: Grilled Mediterranean Eggplant with Hummus spread: taking advantage of the summer like weekend, we fired up the grill and had these puppies with a juicy, lean and clean bison steak 🙂


And Sunday night’s dinner, you ask? Oven roasted salmon with a coriander-paprika glaze… As I said, unfinished business, stay tuned, I will get to it 🙂

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Healthy Carrot Cake

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The last couple of days I have been thinking about home (the old home, where I was born and where I used to live) maybe it was brought on by roasting and eating those amazing chestnuts the other day, who can say? Anyway, we have a lot of regional specialties in Switzerland and this recipe pays homage to a Carrot Cake from the region of Aargau, and juuust in case any of you are into linguistics, the name of the dish I am going after is ‘Aargauer Rüebli Torte’. In my recipe, there is no butter or oil in the cake batter, there is limited amount of sugar compared to most regular muffin or cake recipes, hardly any flour and it can be made gluten free. It’s moist crumb is achieved without the addition of fat, in fact the only fat in it, comes from the egg yolks and the ground almonds used. Still it’s cake, it’s a desert and should be enjoyed as such, in moderation 😉 Not saying this would be a good idea, but it’s quite a way to sneak some veggies past certain people called kids 🙂

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For simplicity reasons, you can also make muffins (simplicity, because you don’t have to try to come up with believable stories on where the missing piece of cake went 😉

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 organic eggs, seperated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1/2 lemon peel
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 2 cups ground almonds, natural, not blanched (also known as almond flour)
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp flour (use oat flour to make it gluten free)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

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egg yolks , and sugar: looking dark yellow to start…


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…and light in color after stirring

Directions

  1. Mix first four ingredients in a bowl and stir until light in color and airy
  2. add lemon peel
  3. Shred the carrots on the fine side of a grater into the egg mixture
  4. add the cinnamon and allspice, stir to combine
  5. in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites  until soft peaks form, add on top of the mix
  6. sprinkle the ground almonds on top
  7. sift flour and baking powder over top and gently incorporate the almonds, egg whites and flour.
  8. Fill into prepares 8″ spring form pan ( or grease muffin cups, you can use paper liners, only bake 25 minutes) and bake at 350 F for 50 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
  9. After cooled completely, coat top of cake with sifted confectioners sugar, and marzipan carrots. Or make a white glaze by mixing  1tbsp lemon juice, 1-2 tbsp water and 1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar until mixture coats back of spoon evenly. Spread over entire top and sides of cake.

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By the way: My boyfriend, who was very adamant about not liking carrot cake, never having liked carrot cake, finally agreed to try a tiny piece, after my: ‘this is not your typical extremely sweet american carrot cake, just saying. But, alright, more for me!’ Well, he revised his opinion, in his own words: ‘OMG, this is delicious!’

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.