October 29, 2010

Dinner: West African Soup

It's a little bit funky. However, if you like the principal ingredient, the sweet potato, you'll like this hearty, nutty soup. I made it for a vegetarian friend, but it's so fiber-packed that it left me more full than many meat dishes. We ate it with crusty, grainy bread.

I'm not sure how authentic to West Africa this recipe really is. Google research told me sweet potatoes and ground nuts are common in traditional African cuisine, so that's something.
Also, beyond chopping the sweet potatoes and onions, the recipe is simple. Just dump ingredients, and simmer.
Is anyone else as excited for soup season as me? I'm all about the ease of comfort food and yields of enough to easily freeze for a second meal.

October 25, 2010

Blondies with Reese's

Chunks of the chocolate-peanut butter delights that are a Reese's top these super-thick, moist bars. Perfectly festive for fall, they won't even leave chocoholics wondering why they didn't just eat a good ole brownie instead.

The ingredients are basic, so if you happen to get a "you have to make these" recipe email from your poor baking-deprived, Singapore-exploring friend, Rachel , you can pick up some Reese's and grant her request within a few hours.
Plus, blondies are like making cookies, but easier because there's one less ingredient (baking powder or soda) and you dump the dough straight into a single pan.  

October 21, 2010

Dinner: Brunswick Stew

I had tasted Brunswick stew once or twice and not thought much of it, but the ease of this recipe won me over. Its barbeculicious taste ended up quite pleasing the parentals and myself who ate it. Like most stews, you simply dump in a bunch of veggies, let it simmer, and, poof, you have a one-dish meal that warms you from the inside out. Better yet, this one is pretty much barbecue in a bowl with some classic Southern veggies: lima beans, corn, and tomatoes.

I sauteed fresh onions, peppers, and garlic since everything else was canned, but the recipe I based it off called for zero fresh ingredients and the canned tomatoes with garlic and onion instead. Ease or more freshness, you choose.

This particular recipe makes enough to feed an army of 12-15 by my estimates, so either feed it to lots of friends or plan on several meals of leftovers for the freezer. It was also packed with pork, so if you want more than a sprinkling of veggies in a meaty stew, you could cut the meat down by as much as a half. I used pulled pork from my favorite local barbecue restaurant, but any kind would do after you cook it down with all those ingredients.

October 15, 2010

Three Things: Applesauce

I bought a large jar of plain applesauce recently and have been playing with how to best put the inexpensive, natural apple goodness to work.
1. Spice it up.
Mix it with cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or other warm spices and eat it as a snack or with a meal. It keeps much better than fresh fruit and hence is always around for fruit cravings, which for me usually come on after a max of 8 hours without natural sugary treats. Eating this particular serving of spiced applesauce with leftover homemade mac and cheese brought on serious childhood nostalgia.

2. Use it as a insta-sauce.
The sweet fruit spread complimented the savory flavor of potato pancakes I ate as a light supper. It's also good on pork and lamb.

3. Bake with it.
It adds fruity flavor and natural sweetness and can take the place of oil. I baked it in these Apple Bran Muffins (which I like only okay, but not because of the applesauce) and always put them in the ever-delicious Morning Glory Muffins. I tend to only use it as a partial oil replacement in quick breads and muffins; if I am going to make a decadent brownie or cake, it's typically going to be 100% decadent.

October 11, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

These festive black-and-white cookies are uber-chocolatey, like with the extreme richness of a fancy dark chocolate bar with a really high cocoa percentage or my scratch brownies. If you are a chocoloholic like me, you'll love them with a glass of milk to cut the chocolate. If not, less-chocolate-intense Mississippi Mud Cookies might be more up your alley in the realm of chocolate cookies.

October 7, 2010

Honey-Beer Pumpkin Bread

The only more exciting sign of fall than giant pumpkins (these babes were up to 1331 pounds (!) at the Allardt, Tennessee Pumpkin Festival we stumbled upon this weekend) is the warm spices in a slice of fresh pumpkin bread.

My go-to recipe is a Cooking Light one from a couple of years ago that calls for honey beer (or really any beer you have on hand). You can't really taste the beer all that much like you can in beer bread. I mostly like the recipe because it cuts back on the oil a bit and hence is somewhat better for you than your typical recipe. "Light" in no way diminishes the flavor. It's still plenty most and filled of warm fall flavors.

The recipe makes two loaves, so bring the extra to friends or freeze it for future eating. I like to pull chunks out of the freezer and pack it for an afternoon snack.

Like  pumpkin? Try these pumpkin snack recipes.

October 1, 2010

Recipe: Garlicky Spinach Dip

This cold, creamy dip more than lives up to to its name. You sauté  fresh spinach in several cloves of garlic, thereby making it uber-garlicky, but I also put in enough lemon juice for it to rival the garlic flavor. Add some cream cheese and sour cream and let the flavors meld for a combination your cracker won't be able to resist. This dip forever ruined my opinion of the cold spinach dip made with Knorr's soup mix, but of course fresh ingredients always win out.

Warning: The smell of garlic will fill in the air in your house, which I like, but it got my friend Rachel banned from making this dip in her parents' kitchen.