Friday, October 28, 2011

Jack-'O-Lantern Fruit Plate {Halloween Party}

This is more of an idea inspiration than a recipe. Just wanted to share the fun little fruit Jack-'O-Lantern my 4 year old and I made together this morning for his Preschool Harvest party. I peeled all the little Mandarin oranges (which are SO sweet and delicious this time of year) and together we arranged the fruit. All together it only took about 20 minutes (lots of peeling), which was good since we did it in a mad dash before school this morning.  I didn't want those oranges getting dried out.  It was a fun and tasty project and one that I hope all the preschoolers will enjoy as well.

Tip: We used an orange "Pumpkin-shaped" plastic platter, with slightly upturned edges, to help with this. Any circular or oval platter will work. We used just about 1 bag of Mandarin oranges, 1 celery stalk, about 8-10 strawberries, two handfuls of grapes and a 1/2 handful of blueberries.

Update: We've gone on to make this multiple times and every single time it's been a huge hit for both kids and adults alike. It's so fun and attractive to look at and everyone loves to see fresh fruit at an otherwise candy-overloaded party. It is important to wait until the last minute to peel the oranges and I like to keep them covered with plastic wrap until it's time to serve to keep them from drying out. ...click here for the recipe!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Black Bean Brownies {Gluten Free}

Are you ready for the best chocolaty, delectable, light and cakey gluten free brownies ever?  My amazing hubby came up with this "from scratch" recipe and these are delicious!  Have you ever tried adding black beans to brownies?  We've tried it a few times before and I was never a big fan of the beanie taste.  By blending the beans with the wet ingredients in a blender and using good quality chocolate the "bean" flavor is really undetectable.  I'm sure if you don't reveal the secret ingredient no one would ever guess they were enjoying the added fiber and protein of black beans in their dessert.  If you are wanting a sweet chocolaty treat these should be next on your list to try.  Enjoy!

Recipe: (makes about 9 brownies)
Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate flavored Rice Dream rice milk, may also substitute milk or any other milk substitute
1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Ghirardelli premium unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup Gluten Free flour (we used the Gluten Free Pantry brand all purpose Gluten Free flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup good quality semi sweet chocolate chips (we used Guittard)
Directions:
1. In a blender add melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, rice milk and black beans (drained and rinsed), blend until well combined and smooth.
2. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients; cocoa powder, GF flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until combined.
3. Add the liquids from the blender to the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir until well combined.
4. Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with cooking spray and pour batter in evenly. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and bake in a 350'F oven for 24-28 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
...click here for the recipe!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto


I am really excited about all the great fall produce in the market, such great colors and flavors and a sign of the changing seasons. Butternut squash may look a bit daunting but it's really easy to prepare and has a delicate sweet flavor that's delicious. Tonight we added it to a simple risotto and it turned out to be the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Sage is sometimes known as the Thanksgiving herb and it's because it pairs so well with squash and turkey and it is a great addition to this as well. The risotto requires a bit of attention and frequent stirring but it's worth it. Enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 4-6)
Ingredients:
1/2 of medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (~3 cups)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (*Be sure you get Arborio or risotto rice, which has great starchiness, substituting another type of rice will not give the same results.)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2-3 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

Cut off the end of the squash so it stands up easily and carefully
run knife along all sides to peel through the thick skin
(my hubby demonstrates so well) :)

Directions:
1. Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat, add the cubed squash and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 8-10 minutes until tender.
2. Add broth to a saucepan over medium high heat to warm it up.
3. Add rice to the skillet and 1 cup of warmed broth, stir frequently until broth is absorbed. Continue to add warm broth by the 1/2 cup, stirring each time until the liquid is absorbed, cook about 15-20 minutes until all broth is absorbed and rice is tender.
4. Add Parmesan and chopped sage and stir to combine. Serve hot with some grilled chicken and steamed veggies or green salad.
...click here for the recipe!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Turkey Pumpkin Chili {Crock Pot}


I've been hearing about pumpkin chili lately, seen some tasty looking pictures on Pinterest and there are recipes all over the internet, I decided to try making my own. I know you're thinking, "pumpkin?", "in chili?", that's what I was thinking too, but it's actually really great. Be sure you're using straight pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Plain pumpkin puree is like most any other squash puree, delicious but not overly sweet.

I waited until half way through dinner to ask if anyone could guess what the "secret" ingredient was and no one could name it. They were all pleasantly surprised to learn it was pumpkin.  I also wanted to try using dried beans and they were so delicious and easy!  This hearty chili is tasty, nutritious and perfect for fall. Enjoy!

Recipe: (Serve 4-6)
Ingredients:
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 slice bacon, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 pound dried small white beans (~1 1/4 cups)
1 (15oz) can organic pumpkin puree (or make your own as we did here)
1 quart low sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
cilantro, chopped for garnish
cheddar cheese, shredded for garnish
salt & pepper

Directions:
1. Bring a small pot of ~3 cups water to a rapid boil.

2. In a separate large skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground turkey breaking it up as it cooks. Once the meat is browned and no longer pink, push it out to the sides of the pan and to the middle add the minced garlic and diced bacon, stir until fragrant and bacon begins to render (2-3 minutes). Sprinkle cumin, chili powder and Italian Seasoning over meat mixture to lightly toast the spices and bring out their flavor.  Remove meat mixture from heat and add it to the bottom of your slow cooker.

3. To the pot of boiling water add your dried beans and boil at a rapid boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain off all the water. Add the beans to the slow cooker.

4. Add the pumpkin puree, chicken stock and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Fish out those bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper if needed and garnish with shredded cheese and cilantro. We had some tasty gluten free cornbread on the side.


*Edited to add: (12/2/13)
Lately I have been substituting a large can of white hominy for the white beans and it is delicious.  Cook as per recipe above, omitting beans and add the rinsed and drained hominy when you add the pumpkin and stock, for a tasty twist on a favorite! ...click here for the recipe!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Millet Cookies {Gluten Free, Low Fat}

My hubby created another awesome cookie recipe that got some rave reviews. These cookies have a moist cake-like texture and great flavor all while being gluten free. These aren't your ordinary chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. The sorghum and millet flours offer a great subtle sweetness and nuttiness and an unripe banana (bright yellow with a little green still) adds a light and moist texture without the fat.  Hulled millet is not just for birds. It's a healthy, easily digested whole grain that's high in protein and fiber and adds a great nutty crunch. These are tasty, you may need to make two batches. Enjoy!



Recipe: (makes 28-30 cookies)
Dry ingredients:
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup hulled millet
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 1/2 cup quick-cook oats (not instant)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Wet ingredients:
1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
1 banana (not yet ripe)  *a very ripe banana will impart more banana flavor and result in a less fluffy cookie
1-1/2 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350'F. In a electric mixer, cream butter, banana and sugar together on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. At medium-low speed add eggs one at a time then add the vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl whisk dry ingredients together, except chocolate chips. With your mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly in 3 parts allowing each part to be fully combined before adding the next. Lastly fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, spoon dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, space at least 2 inches apart. Bake at 350'F for 12-14 minutes or until slightly brown on top. Remove, let cool and firm up on the baking sheet.

...click here for the recipe!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Carrot Buckwheat Muffins {Gluten Free}


My hubby has been baking again! Our little 4 year old guy had to stay home sick from Preschool today, which was a real bummer because today was "bring your Daddy to preschool day". Boo. The dads were invited to go and have donuts with their preschooler. My hubby is so great, he hung out at home alittle later than normal since he had planned on going to the school and he and our big boy made these muffins together, just the two of them, melt my heart. It was sad to miss school but special Daddy time still happened.

Don't be deterred by their color, these muffins have buckwheat flour in them and that makes them turn out dark but still very tasty! They are hearty and still have the perfect balance of sweetness and moisture thanks to the raisins. I love the clever and delicious addition of applesauce, which is a great low-fat alternative. These are a fun, healthy and gluten free treat. Enjoy!


Recipe: (makes 30-34 mini muffins or 14-18 regular sized muffins*)
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups organic buckwheat flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 egg
2 cups apple sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 5-10 minutes to plump
1 cup finely grated carrot (~2 medium carrots)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375'F. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients buckwheat flour through ground ginger, whisk to combine.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, oil, vanilla, raisins and carrots. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Scoop using a small ice cream scoop into a muffin tin coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 375'F for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
*You will need to increase the baking time to 20-25 minutes if using a regular sized muffin tin or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.
...click here for the recipe!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes {Gluten Free}

My hubby made some dee-licious pumpkin buckwheat pancakes!  They are such a fun fall variation on plain old pancakes.  The pumpkin puree made them so tasty, moist and fluffy and the mix of warm spices were perfect.  You can buy organic pumpkin puree or make your own.  Check out our pumpkin pie bread recipe to see how we made our own puree.  The buckwheat adds some great nutrition too, it's high in protein, iron and fiber.  Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and it IS gluten free.  Enjoy!
Recipe: (makes 18-24 pancakes)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup rice milk (or you can use skim milk instead)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic pumpkin puree (~7 oz)
1 egg
1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions:
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, whisk together.  Next, in a separate smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients (rice milk, pumpkin puree, egg, oil) and stir until well mixed.
2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly pour a small amount of the wet ingredients into the well, stir gently.  Continue to add the wets to the dry, mixing slowly so the batter stays aerated and fluffy.
3. Once fully combined let sit for a couple minutes while you heat up your griddle over medium-high heat.  Pour batter by the 1/2 cup onto the grill pan and cook as you would any other pancakes.  We generally flip when tiny bubbles appear around the edge of each pancake then cook an additional 1-2 minutes on the second side until done.  Serve hot with syrup, powdered sugar and fresh fruit.
...click here for the recipe!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Ribollita Soup

Ribollita is a famous Tuscan soup, although I must admit I'd never heard of it before. There are many variations but the main ingredients usually include leftover bread, cannellini beans and inexpensive vegetables such as carrots, root veggies, potatoes and cabbage. The name Ribollita literally means "reboiled".  I say "usually" includes leftover bread because I skipped that.  I was afraid that our tasty gluten free bread may disintegrate into the broth.  It would be wonderful with stale French or Sourdough bread added if you aren't eating gluten free.  We had our gluten free cornbread on the side instead, perfect for dipping.  Add in whatever yummy fall veggies you have on hand and enjoy!

Recipe: (serves 4)
Ingredients:
2 slices uncured bacon, diced
3-5 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cubed
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves only, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch organic Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves finely shredded
2 cups organic fresh spinach leaves, chopped
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
1 (14oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4-5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated plus more for garnish

delicious organic Swiss chard

Directions:
1. In a large pot over medium-high heat add the bacon and brown for 2 minutes.  Add the cubed potatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes until potatoes are browned and bacon is rendered.
2. Add the carrots, garlic, celery, bay leaf, rosemary, salt and pepper and saute together, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes until just tender.  Add the chard and spinach and sprinkle of nutmeg.
3. Stir in the beans (*and 2 slices of stale bread, cubed, if using) and add the chicken broth and water.  Add more or less broth for the consistency you prefer.  Bring to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer and cover for 5-7 minutes.  Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, remove from heat and serve in soup bowls with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan on top.
...click here for the recipe!




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