Gameday Gourmet Butternut Squash Pizza

2013-10-20 19.12.26-2As promised, here is this week’s gameday recipe for an exciting weekend of games. I love this recipe because it’s a great way to use a healthy fall gourd that is abundant this time of year; we all know how much I love fall ingredients! Also, goat cheese of boring old mozzarella. So feel free to impress all of your football fanatic friends with this gourmet ‘za, or, if you’re like me and hate to share something so delicious, keep it all to yourself.

Gameday Gourmet Butternut Squash Pizza

  • basic pizza dough
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss squash with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. On a baking sheet, cook squash until soft and lightly browned, 25 minutes, stirring halfway through; set aside.

2013-10-20 18.27.51Turn out prepared pizza dough onto lightly floured baking sheet or pizza pan and mold into desired shape. Let rest for 10 minutes. While dough is resting, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cook onion (season with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper), stirring, until light brown, 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water; cook, stirring, until brown, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2013-10-20 18.57.39Sprinkle pizza dough with squash, onion, and cheese. Place baking sheet or pizza pan into the oven and bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is slightly golden brown in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice (carefully!) and serve.

Namas-tasty!

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Easy-as-Pie Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal

photo 1Happy first day of fall, readers!! Today is officially the autumnal equinox, and thus begins my absolute favorite season of the year.

Though we slowly lose our precious sunlight as the end of Daylight Savings Times approaches in November, the crisp, cool, “just-right” air still makes autumn a comforting time for many. And did you know that without the increasing darkness in the Northern Hemisphere during this time of the year, we wouldn’t be able to witness the beautiful golds, yellows, reds and oranges that are the defining features of fall foliage?!

photo 3According to National Geographic, plants can sense the waning daylight and deduce that winter is coming, so they begin to retrieve materials from their leaves before they drop off. Evergreen trees have ways to protect their needles from freezing, but leafy plants do not; therefore, they shed their leaves, typically after the first frost. Beforehand, trees such as the gorgeous Aspen that are characteristic of my beloved Colorado attempt to store up nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, much like bears packing in food before they hibernate for the winter. This natural process is what causes the springy green leaves to transform into dazzling displays of autumn color.

2014-03-02 10.43.28Enough of my rambling about changing leaves (although I do enjoy them so!). As many of you may have read last year around this time, I also absolutely adore fall because of the unique and comforting ingredients: pumpkin, apples, cranberries, I love it all! So I wanted to start the season right with a hearty recipe that is sure to keep you warm on the chilly fall days to come: pumpkin oatmeal! Simply throw a handful of ingredients into your slow cooker and let it whip up overnight. In the morning you’ll wake up to a thick, creamy and deliciously flavorful dish to rev you up for the day to come.

Easy-as-Pie Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal

Adapted from Around My Family Table

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 4 1/2 cups water (you can adjust this depending on if you like thicker or thinner oatmeal)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (about half a can)
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup brown sugar

2014-03-02 10.33.18Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stirring occasionally if you can.

Season to taste with brown sugar and top with a few dried cranberries for an extra pop of fall color!

Namas-tasty!

Gameday Pesto Portabello Pizza

2013-12-01 17.47.17Football season is upon us once again!! One of my very favorite times of the year, there are few things I find more comforting than posting up on the couch to watch my favorite players in pads tossing that pigskin. Several components are required for the optimal football viewing experience, including friends, good beers, and of course, lots of delicious food. Thus, every Thursday for the rest of the season I will be posting a new gameday recipe in anticipation of the exciting weekend of football ahead!

I may be partially biased because of my own personal passion for it, but I think most people would agree pizza and football are the perfect match. Anything you can eat with your hands ensures maximum viewing time, and pizza is less messy than most finger foods (as long as it has a good, sturdy crust). Plus, load it up with veggies (or even fruits) and you’ve got all the major food groups in one neat three-sided package!

My Gameday Pesto Portabello Pizza is less of a traditional style pizza (no tomato sauce, gasp!), but it is loaded with some awesome and complex flavors. When paired with a nice Belgian Strong Ale from Three Floyds Brewing Co., one of my favorite brews from a popular midwest pub, this pie sure didn’t last long 🙂

Pesto Portabello Pizza

Adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker

  • 2013-12-01 17.22.40basic pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Turn out prepared pizza dough onto lightly floured baking sheet or pizza pan and mold into desired shape. Let rest for 10 minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare the mushrooms and onions. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid and both the mushrooms and onions are soft and browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

S2013-12-01 17.27.27pread the pesto over the pizza dough, just as you would pizza sauce, leaving a ½-inch border uncovered. Spread the mushroom and onion mixture evenly over the pesto, and then top with the provolone and Parmesan cheeses.

Place baking sheet or pizza pan into the oven and bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice (carefully!) and serve.

Namas-tasty!

Mini Zucchini Muffins

imageSpeaking of fresh produce… having my own garden at home has afforded me TONS of naturally grown, raw veggies to use in my cooking. Squash and zucchini are always abundant during the late summer months; we’ve practically got them coming out of our ears! My autumn motto has quickly become “A zucchini a day keeps the doctor away.”

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve managed to find some pretty creative ways to use these colorful gourd varieties, from zucchini noodles to sauteed zucchini and even zucchini nachos. One of my favorite techniques not only uses a lot of this healthy ingredient, it is also cleverly disguised by sugar and spices: baking with grated zucchini!

The first time I tried this recipe was with the after-school cooking program I helped to run for first through eighth graders in suburban Chicago. It yields enough of these bit-sized and flavorful muffins to feed an army, works great even at high altitude (now that I’m back in mountainous Colorado) and is super easy and fun to make with kids! I’ll definitely be keeping this one around for years to come.

Mini Zucchini Muffins

(Makes 3 dozen 1-oz mini muffins)

  • image (2)2 large eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup white sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1⁄2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease muffin pans or prepare them with baking cups.

image (1)Whisk 2 eggs; add sugar and oil. Beat until all three ingredients are well incorporated and mixture is very smooth. Mix in vanilla and zucchini. Slowly add flour, whisking until there are no flour lumps. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until batter is smooth (other than zucchini!).

Pour into prepped pans and bake for 15 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the muffin—it’s done if the toothpick comes out clean.

Namas-tasty!

Dazzling Blueberry Pie

2014-07-11 22.20.35In my last post I discussed my love for farmers markets and baking with fresh summer produce. I believe I also I mentioned my bargain-bought blueberries.  I should further admit here that when I find a good deal I typically take full advantage, and this time was no exception. I bought a lot, I mean TONS, of blueberries.

After whipping up a batch of my Scrumptious (and Easy) Blueberry Muffins, I still had several pints of fruit left. Sure, I could have done the “sensible” thing and made a simple fruit salad or included them in a nice parfait. But then I thought… PIE! One of my very favorite desserts to bake (and consume).

This all-American pie made an awesome centerpiece for my end-of-summer celebration last weekend. Simple yet flashy, serve it warm with some vanilla ice cream and you’ll have a real crowd pleaser on your hands!

Famous Blueberry Pie

adapted from Taste of Home

  • 2014-07-11 21.12.03Pastry for 9-in double pie crust (store-bought or homemade, if you need directions click here)
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

2014-07-11 21.15.10In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon juice and salt; toss gently. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with bottom pastry; flute edges. Add the filling.

Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Remove foil; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until set. Cool on a wire rack

2014-07-11 22.14.28From remaining pastry, cut out approximately 10 stars of different sizes (or use a 1/2 inch cookie cutter, if desired).  Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Randomly place stars over cooled pie.

Namas-tasty!

 

 

Scrumptious (and Easy) Blueberry Muffins

2014-02-15 11.16.36One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh produce – from the farmers market to my own backyard, there’s never a shortage of awesome organic fruits and vegetables to cook up. Nothing feeds my baking addiction better than freshly picked fruit!

A few weeks ago I decided to take advantage of some delicious looking blueberries that I managed to snag for dirt cheap. Always a favorite in my family, these blueberry muffins are deliciously thick, moist and flavorful. The best part? I manage to keep them health(ier) by replacing buttermilk and oil with 1% milk and applesauce! Not to mention all the antioxidants from those juicy ripe berries. All in all, a fantasticly wholesome way to start the day!

Scrumptious (and Easy) Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • 2014-02-15 09.40.563 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray your muffin tin of choice with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined.

2014-02-15 11.00.04In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined. Mix in milk, applesauce, and vanilla. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand. Avoid overmixing. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be VERY thick and somewhat lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until tops are lightly golden and centers appear set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before enjoying.

Namas-tasty!

(Bikini-Ready) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2014-05-26 21.03.32Howdy readers! I have to tell y’all, I am so so sOoOoO excited to share this recipe with you. Now that summer weather is FINALLY here, I’ve really been trying to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits and cutting out fatty foods. Key word here: trying. But let’s face it, the better we eat, the better we feel when it’s time to shed those clothes and bear our bikini bods… and that’s worth giving up the potato chips for, am I right?!

So, this is why I am unbelievably happy to have found this recipe for some seriously delicious cookies that are 100% guilt-free! Believe it or not, this recipe calls for no flour, sugar, oil, or flour. Zero, zilch, NADA. How is this even possible?!

These cookies use ripe bananas, peanut butter, unsweetened applesauce, and oats to create an awesomely moist and soft texture with a flavor that is to die for. Just add some spices to jazz them up and extra goodies like dried coconut and chocolate chips — as few or as many as suites your fancy!

Feel free to hit the beach or the pool and bring a couple of these waist-conscious snacks along with you. Just be prepared for the jealous stares 🙂

(Bikini-Ready) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 C. reduced-fat peanut butter
  • 2/3 C. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (sometimes if I’m feeling a little crazy I substitute dark rum… sounds weird but adds a whole other layer of flavor!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 C. quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 C. semisweet chocolate chips
  • If desired, you can also add 1/4 C. of nuts, dried fruit or unsweetened shredded coconut!

2014-05-26 20.25.43Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, and spices into the bananas.  Add in the oats, nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut; stir until well combined. Batter will seem a little wet, but this is OK!Spoon a rounded 2 tbsp. of the cookie mixture onto the lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between each and flatten slightly. Place a few more chocolate chips on top of each cookie, if desired. Bake for 20-30 minutes and allow to cool slightly.

Namas-tasty!