Monthly Archives:

October 2012

Mexican Brownies with Espresso Glaze

So, this definitely isn’t my best attempt at photographing a brownie. I’d like to say sorry to the brownies for not giving them the time or flattering light they deserved. However, despite a forced pre-dawn photo debut, a glance at these chocolaty squares still makes my mouth water.

Although, there might be a chance that’s because I already know what they taste like. And what they taste like is good.

In fact, these were so rich and chocolaty that this sleepy photographer devoured two of them for breakfast before walking out the door with the remainder—of which got quickly eaten at a work party that night.

I planned my first open house party for my new job, and ended up giving it a Mexican food theme. What Mexican had to do with the event mattered little to me. What really mattered here was getting an extra large bowl of guacamole on the table and pairing it with the quesadilla platter of my dreams. I’m pretty sure the office agreed that this was a win for everyone. I think the guests conquered.

But of course, as a cook and food blogger, I wasn’t going to let the entire party pass by solely on catered food. I don’t care how delicious that guacamole was, a touch of F-F-F was a mandatory part of the table spread. Leaving dessert out of the catering menu, it was easy to decide what I’d contribute. But deciding on exactly which sweet item to make wasn’t such an easy task.

Mexican desserts aren’t really in my repertoire and when I reached out on F-F-F’s Facebook page for some help, it became clear this was probably true for many of my fans, too. (Though correct me if I’m wrong. I’d love to hear of your ideas and recipes.) After browsing the internet for ideas, I came back to the idea of brownies, a classic party option, loved by all, that can easily be considered finger food.

Cinnamon and espresso give these brownies their flare, and a touch of cayenne adds a small kick to their fancy, but not too schmancy glaze. Rich, fudgy, and a touch of spicy, peppy personality, it’s hard not to love this homemade option on the party table.

As a note, this is not a healthy brownie. But sometimes good health calls for moderation of indulgence. Especially after the stress of your first month on a new job. For an occasion like that, these will hit the spot, all in good health I assure you. Cheers.

Click here for recipe…

Roasted Apple Butternut Squash Soup with Sage

When I went apple picking a few weeks back, I strolled up to my dad with my 1/2-filled bushel of fresh red and yellow speckled beauties and told him I was calling it a day. To my eyes, there were more Jonathans in that basket than I could ever fit into my future fall breakfasts. And plus, I wanted to save some apple-inclined taste buds for the Honeycrisps that were soon to arrive.

“What’s wrong with you? Aren’t you going to finish filling up that bushel?” my dad asked me. A shock took over his face as if I just comitted some sort of crime.

“I’ll never eat all of the ones I have,” I replied before taking a breath to lift the 15lb. wooden crate from the grass.

“Of course you will. That’s nothing. Go fill up that basket.”

So off I went, adding a few more pounds into my arms as I strolled down the 100-foot rows of the apple forest. It’s hard to protest a request to pick more tree-ripened fruit.

Fortunately, the refridgerator truly does wonders for storing apples, and weeks after our family venture, I found myself left with a handful still ready to use on my kitchen table.

Two of them went into this soup. A soup I might say I found myself ridiculously proud of upon the 10 pm, Monday night finishing touches of fresh sage. Pure, velvety heaven. And with that beautiful orange color, you know it has to be packed with nutrients, too. This is definitely one of my favorite soups (and recipes!) I’ve made in a long time. Pair with a slice of crusty bread, and it could become one of your favorite meals, too.

Click here for recipe…

Autumn Pumpkin Chard Chili

When the pumpkin bug finally hit me, the results were glorious – these Pumpkin Pie Muffins were a huge success. Ever since their departure from the oven, I had been antsy to get my hands on some more of the puree. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one with this desire on my mind.

I swear, the pumpkin bug is just like the flu. Around this time every year, it spreads like an orange wildfire, and almost always I encounter a shortage at the grocery store. No more PUMPKIN!? What an autumn dilemma. How’s a girl supposed to experiment with pumpkin in everything from chili to hummus without a steady supply at my disposal?

If I were still in my school days, I’d hop my butt over to the closest farm patch and get my hands slimy with a fat, fresh ol’ jack-o-lanterm. (If you’ve never roasted one, the pumpkin seeds alone are totally worth the effort.) But those days are gone and my free time seems to be too.

Luckily, I still find time to stalk the grocery store. Perhaps if I ditched my grocery store hobby I’d have more free time…but then I wouldn’t be around for restock day. My last pumpkin purchase led me to this chili, which is given a nice creamy heartiness from the seasonal ingredient. The chili itself gets a full-bodied flavor from its heavy load of spices, complimented by an earthiness from the chard. That being said, don’t expect the pumpkin to be the star flavor here, although I could definitely picture actual pumpkin chunks or butternut squash as a nice addition to this dish.

Instead, as I said before, the pumpkin lends an element of richness to this dish—one that happens to be incredibly fiber-filled, fat-free, and packed with vitamin A. Like most chili, this makes a great tummy-warming meal for a crisp autumn day, and the pumpkin only adds to that feeling.

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Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Coconut Curry

Butternut squash or sweet potatoes? That’s a tough autumn call. When your parents are stock piling both from the late summer garden, luckily the choice only comes on the basis of making recipes like this one. For this, I chose to go with butternut squash, letting the primary sweetness shine through from the coconut milk. Though, I have a feeling sweet potatoes would work too, or perhaps you’d like to opt for a combo.
One decision you don’t need to debate over is what variety of coconut milk to choose. Unless you’re drinking the stuff down on a daily basis, go for a can of the regular, full-fat. I’m all for healthy, low-fat recipes, but the light type just won’t cut it here. You need the sweetness and creaminess of the original. Everything in moderation, and I think we can all agree that the rest of the ingredients make this one nutritious meal. And satisfying, too.
Pair with your favorite grain. I chose millet to play up the nuttiness of the butternut, but basmati rice would serve as a nice side as well.

Asian Pasta With Tofu, Mushrooms and Broccoli

How I had all these ingredients miraculously in my kitchen before making this recipe, I don’t know. But even if you don’t, it’s worth a trip to the store to gather the power that makes these soba noodles shine.

Soba noodles are my favorite because of this chewable texture they have. With regular al dente pasta, sometimes I feel like I’m chewing for ever. Soba’s different. It’s not soft or mushy, but it’s also not jaw-aching, and it also has this great nutty flavor that goes well with Asian cuisine.

This Asian-inspired dish is packed with flavor. Between the ginger, mushrooms, cilantro and sesame oil, there’s no need to worry that the tofu will turn out bland. Feel free to get creative and add others vegetables you might have on hand, like snow peas or water chestnuts. Sadly, those were two items I did not have in my fridge at the time, but I’m sure they’d make great additions.

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