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Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Roasted Butternut Squash with Honey-Soy-Mirin Glaze and Honey-Pomegranate Sauce

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Leave the zucchini and other fair-weather vegetables to summer. Winter calls for thick-skinned squashes. img_6321

My favorite is butternut squash. In my opinion, it not only has the best flavor, but the best texture as well. When cooked down, it’s creamy and smooth, and incredibly diverse. 

Roasting brings out the sweetness and beauty in most vegetables, but this is especially true of squash. My mother wanted me to roast squash for Thanksgiving and I wanted to come up with something that was familiar, that I knew would be liked, but something every-so-slightly different. I came up with an easy, delicious honey-soy-mirin glaze and honey-pomegranate sauce…because, you know, pomegranates. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard how healthful pomegranates are. Here’s a quick rundown of their health benefits:

Based on US RDA, one cup of pomegranate seeds contains 7 grams fiber, 3 img_6349grams protein, 30% vitamin C, 36% vitamin K, 16% folate, and 12% potassium. They have antiinflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.They help fight cancer, especially prostate and breast, and heart disease, and have been known to improve memory function.

Delicious AND healthy. Do you need anything more? Give this a try on a cold winter day…or even a warm one. Enjoy!img_6356

Roasted Butternut Squash with Honey-Soy-Mirin Glaze and Honey-Pomegranate Sauce

2-3 pound butternut squash
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Honey-Pomegranate Sauce

1 pomegranate
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine or ginger ale

Grease a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel and seed the squash. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place them in a large bowl.img_6324In a small bowl, mix together the honey, olive oil, soy sauce, mirin. pour over the squash.img_6325

Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Use your hands to spread the mixture over both sides of the squash. Lay the slices neatly on the baking sheet in a single layer.

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Roast until almost tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue roasting until fully tender and golden brown at the edges.img_6348Meanwhile, make the Honey-Pomegranate Sauce. Cut open the pomegranate and place the pieces in a large bowl of cool water. Separate the seeds from the membrane and discard the skin. Let the membranes rise to the top and scoop them out.img_6353Drain in a mesh strainer and rinse.img_6355Measure out ½ cup seeds and place in a small pot. Reserve the remaining seeds for the top or another purpose. Mix together the honey and wine and add to pomegranate seeds. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.img_6358Transfer cooked squash to a serving platter. Drizzle sauce over top, sprinkle on some fresh pomegranate seeds, and serve.img_6371

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Ah, The Cranberry Sauce

Still looking at the bowl of leftover cranberry sauce in the fridge? The nice img_0020thing about cranberry sauce is that it has a pretty long shelf life (the sugar acts as a preservative). But the question is always, what do I do with it all?

Well, I’m here to help. Once again, here is my list of 12 things to do with leftover cranberry sauce.

  1. Mix a tablespoon of it into chicken or tuna salad.
  2. Make a salad dressing. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons to a homemade vinaigrette.
  3. Use it as a sauce for meats, vegetables, fish, and (my favorite) vegetarian “chicken” patties.
  4. Mix about ½ cup to 1 cup of it into cheesecake before placing it in the oven. (Just swirl it in; don’t overmix.)
  5. Dollop some on top of slices of pound or angel cake.
  6. Stir about 1 cup of it into a big pot of chili.
  7. Make ketchup out of it—add it to a traditional homemade ketchup recipe.
  8. Turn it into salsa by adding some minced jalapeno or some chili powder and cumin to it, or a chutney by adding other dried or fresh fruits, such as raisins, chopped dates, or chopped apple.
  9. Use it as jam for toast, muffins, or bagels.
  10. Mix about ¼ cup into muffin batter (these will be the best cranberry muffins ever!).
  11. Use it as an ingredient in homemade ice cream.
  12. Add it to a breakfast bread.img_5650

This recipe is a healthy loaf (which many people appreciate after Thanksgiving), using whole wheat flour and flax seeds. You can have a healthy post-Thanksgiving breakfast or snack while still enjoying holiday flavors. You don’t need a lot of sugar, either, because there are sweeteners already in the sauce. As for the flax seeds, use a clean coffee grinder to grind it until you get a coarse powder. Enjoy!

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Cranberry Sauce-Walnut Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
2 tablespoons sugar or maple crystals
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
½ cup cranberry sauce
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper so that parchment sticks out of the sides (or grease it very well).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, flax seeds, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.img_5633In a small bowl, mix together eggs and buttermilk.img_5634Mix this into the flour mixture just until all dry ingredients are moistened.img_5635Stir in the walnuts. Swirl in the cranberry sauce, but don’t mix it in completely—you just want it to run through the batter.img_5638Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out fairly clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Some moist cranberry on the toothpick is okay.

Set pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto the rack. Serve warm or cool completely.

If you have any cranberry sauce left, dollop a spoonful on each slice.img_5654

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Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist

cranberry enhancedA few years ago, I introduced a recipe for Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist. I think using sorghum syrup is a great way to enjoy traditional dishes without using white cane sugar.

In my cranberry sauce, it also adds a different dimension to the flavor. And it’s still one of my favorite cranberry sauce recipes.

So, below is a reprint of my original post from 2013. I hope you like it. Have a fun, safe, and peaceful Thanksgiving.

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Mashed Purple Potatoes

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Thanksgiving is coming up and people are always looking for new and different ways to serve favorite and/or traditional dishes. Purple potatoes are a great way to liven up the table.

Purple potatoes are originally from South America (where img_6316potatoes in general are originally from), particularly Peru and Bolivia. In fact, they’re sometimes referred to as Purple Peruvian potatoes. While they taste pretty much the same as standard white potatoes, because of their pigment, purple potatoes are high in antioxidants—4 times as much as white potatoes. Antioxidants are cancer-fighting agents, are good for immunity and heart health.

I found some beautiful purple potatoes at the farmers’ market and decided to mash them. Their dramatic blue/purple color makes this a special dish while still giving everyone the scrumptious mashed potatoes they’ve come to love and expect.

Enjoy.

Mashed Purple Potatoes

6 small to medium purple potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon half-n-half
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Scrub the potatoes and cut them in halves or quarters. Place them in a medium pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil.img_6317

Lower the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain well and let cool a bit. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel off the skin.img_6338

Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, half-n-half, salt, and pepper. Mash with a potato masher. (Don’t use a food processor or blender, as this will make the potatoes gummy.)img_6339

Check the potatoes for seasoning and adjust, if needed.

 

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Pumpkins, Ghoulies, and Ravioli, Oh My

Photo: pikabu.ru

Photo: pikabu.ru

Hi, fellow foodies. We are in full pumpkin swing and candy is popping up all over the place! If you haven’t already, start stocking up because those trick-or-treaters will be knocking on your door in about a week. And you don’t want your house toilet papered, do you?

For any of you having ghoulish gatherings and sinister soirees, there are lots of horrific recipes out there that will make your guests scream…or at least look twice at what they’re eating and drinking. There are recipes out there for every type of ghoulish treat, from cute ghosts and witches to truly horrifying zombies and body parts.

Photo: HalfBaked Harvest.com

Photo: HalfBaked Harvest.com

If you’re going to be doing any pumpkin carving, don’t throw away all that fabulous flesh and those beautiful seeds! To me, throwing out all that stuff is an abomination. You can prepare the flesh and use it in recipes, the same as you would canned pumpkin. Never done it before? I’ll tell you how.

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Cranberry Bread

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Do you still have cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving? I’ll bet many of you do. Maybe it’s a stray can hanging out in the pantry, or it’s a cup or so in the fridge that you haven’t been able to bring yourself to throw out. That’s okay—cranberry sauce lasts a long time in the refrigerator, but at this point, use it or lose it.

There are many things you can do with leftover cranberry sauce, but making a loaf is one of my favorites. (This is a wheat-free version, but it has spelt flour, so if you have—or are making it for someone with—Celiac disease, this isn’t the right recipe for you. It also contains soy flour, so if you’re avoiding soy, again, this isn’t right for you.)

This is not overly sweet, so it makes a nice breakfast loaf, toasted with some butter or jam. But it’s got enough sweetness and crunch from the walnuts (if you want to use them) that it makes a great snack with an extra dollop of cranberry sauce.Pilcrow & Dagger Cover

I’m happy to say that another version of this loaf (not gluten free) appears in the holiday issue of the literary magazine Pilcrow & Dagger, along with my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. Check out a sneak preview HERE. And if you’re interested in purchasing a copy, you can do so HERE.

So, rescue that leftover cranberry sauce and make this tasty loaf and enjoy.

I hope you all had a wonderful, joyful holiday season, and may 2016 bring happiness and success, whatever that means for you.

Cranberry Bread

Makes 1 (8 x 4) loaf.

1 cup spelt flour
1 cup soy flour
¾ cup chickpea flour
¼ cup rice flour
½ cup sugar or maple crystals
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 medium eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup cranberry sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 8 x 4-inch loaf pan (or line is with parchment paper).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.IMG_5633In a small bowl, mix together eggs, buttermilk, coconut oil, and ¼ cup water.IMG_5634Mix this into the flour mixture just until all dry ingredients are moistened. If it seems dry, add a bit more water.IMG_5635

IMG_5636Stir in the walnuts, if you’re using them, then stir in the cranberry sauce, but don’t mix it in completely—just run it through.IMG_5639Spoon the batter into the loaf pan. Bake until golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out fairly clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Some moist cranberry on the knife is okay.

If the loaf starts getting very dark or starts burn around the edges but the loaf isn’t done, cover it with a piece of foil and continue baking.IMG_5645Set pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto the rack. Serve warm or cool completely.IMG_5646

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Cheese-Inspired Cocktails

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One of the nice things about the holiday season is all the festivities and food. On Wednesday, December 9, I got to do something a little different—I went to a cheese-tasting event at The French Cheese Board on 39th Street in Manhattan. It’s a chic, clean, modern space where you can purchase your favorite French cheeses.IMAG3515

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Wheel of Raclette

The event was promoted by The Baddish Group, a PR firm that specializes in food and beverage marketing, and they offered a sumptuous spread of several different cheeses, from Camembert and brie to Raclette and butter made with sea salt. They were all so fresh and flavorful that I couldn’t help going back for more. I watched as others kept going back as well, which made me feel kind of bad for the kitchen staff. They were definitely being kept hopping trying to replenish the table. A server came by with a few different hors d’oeuvres: Mac & Mimolette, Brie and Grapes on a canape, and Raclette & Potatoes. The mac ’n’ cheese was so good in its simplicity, cheese and grapes is a classic combination that can never go wrong, and a potato slice with a piece of Raclette on top was divine.

IMAG3504It was a warm, friendly gathering of people in different segments of the food industry. A couple of us were food bloggers, while others were buyers, chefs, and marketers. I’m sure that other professions were represented. Despite the incredible and uncharacteristic warm weather, a simple, lovely Christmas tree along one wall reminded us that it was the holiday season. I think that always puts people in a better mood.

Mimolette

Mimolette

My favorite cheese, by far, was the Mimolette, a pumpkin-colored cow’s milk cheese. It’s a firm cheese, which is my favorite kind, but I really liked it for its smooth, sweet flavor. Which leads me to my favorite drink of the evening.

They asked mixologist Natasha David from Nitecap, a bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, to come up with some cheese-inspired cocktails for the event.IMAG3516

Natasha created cocktails that were not only inspired by cheese but that actually used cheese. And not just in the final concoction—her creations were made with spirits that were infused with cheese.

I asked Natasha what her method for the infusions was, and here’s what she said:

The infusions were quite simpleI let the cheese sit in the booze for a certain amount of time, then strained them and froze them so that all the fat would rise to the top and then strained again. I did that twice over 48 hours.

For the Mimolette RindI used 50 g of rind to 1 750 ml bottle of Calvados for 7 hours.

For CamembertI did 60 g of Camembert to 1 750 ml bottle of Dorothy Parker gin for 5 hours.

For BleuI did 50 g to 1 750 ml bottle of Linie for 2 hours.

From there, the mixologists at the event concocted the three drinks below to accompany the hors d’oeuvres. I’m going to give an infusion a try at some point—it will definitely be a new experience for me. If you do it yourself, let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!IMAG3506

Cheese-Infused Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail #1: To accompany the Mac & Mimolette, a Mimolette Rind-Infused Calvados cocktail

2 oz. Rind-infused Busnel Calvados
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
1 barspoon Bon Mama Fig Preserves
Egg White

Method:      Shake, Strain
Glass:        Double Rocks glass with Big Block of Ice
Garnish:     Grated Mimolette

 

Cocktail #2: To accompany Brie and Grapes, a Camembert-infused Gin cocktailIMAG3508

2 oz. Camembert-infused Dorothy Parker Gin
0.75 oz. Lemon Juice
0.5 oz. Ginger Syrup
1 barspoon Lingonberry Preserves
Seltzer

Method:      Shake, Strain, Top w/ Seltzer
Glass:        Highball with Kold Draft
Garnish:     Candied Ginger

 

Cocktail #3: To accompany Racelette & Potatoes, a Bleu d’Auvergen-infused Aquavit

1.5 oz. Blue-infused Linie Aquavit
0.75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.75 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 tsp. Pickled Tomato Brine

Method:      Stir, Strain
Glass:        Nick and Nora or Martini
Garnish:     Blue cheese stuffed Pickled Tomato

This is my friend Tucker. He wanted to do something classy this holiday season.

This is my friend Tucker. He wanted to do something classy this holiday season.