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Beans

Healthy Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

“You must really like sauces,” said my sister as I aimed the ketchup onto my plate next to the Ranch, hot sauce and salsa. She was serving bean burgers that night, and while I’m sure only one condiment was really needed to moisten the buns, I just couldn’t help myself. I am known to be indecisive with the little things in life, especially when it comes to food.

Of course after the burger topping episode came a salad dressing decision. With a husband and three kids, my sister had FAR more dressing options than I ever keep in my fridge. I settled for balsamic on one half and a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette on the other. The looks I would’ve gotten for that one…luckily my sister already seated herself at the dinner table in the next room over.

I like options. And taste-testing. And creamy dips and sauces. Guacamole? Yes please. Hummus? I could easily eat it by the spoon. And peanut butter, too.

As I think about all of the different options, I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in holding this affinity. Which is why this past New Year’s Eve, it wasn’t hard for me to decide what I wanted to bring to my friends’ dinner party. I was going to bring some kind of dip – even if my boyfriend wasn’t all too sold on the idea. Fast forward to the taste-testing, and he didn’t question me again.

Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

I chose to use up some roasted butternut squash and immediately thought to make this on the sweet and spiced side.  Given the occasion, NYE, I wanted to send a healthy option to dinner, hence where the beans and low-fat cream cheese came in. Combined with the butternut, they delivered a classic creamy dip with some surprising nutritional power behind it. Placed on lightly buttered, toasted baguette slices, this was a HUGE hit at the party.

Make sure to include the toasted pecans and drizzle of honey. It really completes the crostini. This recipe wouldn’t be the same without its toppings, so no indecision here

Click here for recipe…

Southern Skillet Black-Eyed Peas and Cauliflower

Skillet Black Eye Pea and Cauliflower

The New York Times does a beautiful roundup of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes every fall. It’s rare that I get around to utilizing any of these ideas before Christmas, but they generally serve just as well for the days that follow. Regardless of the time frame, I strive to produce a couple of these each year in my own kitchen, even if it’s just for a self-serving dinner. This year, I started with this saucy black-eyed pea and cauliflower dish. Considering New Years Day already passed, I guess that makes me extra late on making this, but I’m putting my faith in the fact that black-eyed peas can bring be good luck all year around.

I was really impressed with the results of this recipe. Once again, the New York Time’s Well blog doesn’t fail. The dish reminded me of a slightly lighter, tangier version of baked beans, which surprisingly worked really well with the black eyed peas. I upped the cauliflower in this too, which lightened it up a bit further.

I’m not sure the combination reminded me of the holidays, or at least the dinners that are traditional in my family, but it did hold a spicy heartiness that definitely spoke of wintertime. I love the sweet variance that just a small dose of cinnamon can lend to a dish.

NYT’s suggests serving with biscuits. I would conquer, or a crusty slice of bread. Although, the recipe’s sauciness could lend itself to everything from rice to grains, too. A dab of yogurt on top also makes a nice compliment to the dish.

Skillet Black Eye Pea and Cauliflower

Tuscan White Bean Rosemary Soup

Soup season has arrived, meaning you’ll find me happily slurping down recipes like this for the next few months. I love nothing more on cool days than cupping my fingers around a hot bowl of soup, nearby a side of crusty bread waiting to be grasped by those warm hands. If I were still living at my parents’ house, you’d find a lit fireplace in that equation, too.

The heat-emitting comforts of winter can occasionally make me enjoy the season. The majesty of contrast.

This soup finds beauty in its simplicity. Good olive oil, garlic and a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs is really all you need to create a soup that’s tasty and equally as comforting. Spinach gives each bowl its color and a healthy dose of fueling nutrition, without overpowering the blend of delicate flavors.

To live as the Tuscans do, pair with a hearty slice of bread and a quality, full-bodied wine.

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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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White Beans with Eggplant and Roasted Pepper Pesto

Potato salad? Check. Deviled eggs? Check. Salad? Check.Veggie dogs/hot dogs? Check. Hummus? Check. Brownies? Check. Every other item of food needed for a picnic? Check.

In a family full of cooks, the basics are nearly always covered when it comes to throwing a party with the Dickinson crew. “Why don’t you just relax and not make anything this time,” my mom tells me. It’s the same thing she told me on Labor Day. And on Memorial Day. And probably the past five holidays before that.

“Because I WANT to make something.” Of all people, I’d think she’d understand this. But maybe not.

Regardless, I always end up making the experimental dish on the table that I typically give some long, made-up name no one could ever guess. More often than not, it’s also always the talk of the party. Not to be cocky, but generally the adventurous eaters are the people who enjoy talking about food, and when an innovative dish shows up on their plate, they come running with an eager bunch of questions. That leaves me to sweep in and run through the rhyme and reasoning of the ingredients. Rinse and repeat, and I end up sending a majority of the party home with a new recipe to make.

Luckily, it’s a process I can happily handle. Being told not to cook for a party on the other hand, well, that not so much.

This one came from the idea and desire of combining two of my favorite summer eats, pesto and roasted eggplant. With a lot of bell peppers on hand, I threw them into the mix too, bulking up the pesto with their flavor. If you have red bell peppers available—which sadly I did not—I presume this dish might turn out a tad prettier. Either way, top this dish off with a splash of tomatoes for a fresh finish. And be prepared to explain what other ingredients went in it.

Click here for recipe…