Spicy Squash Hummus

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Last week, our friend Kelly brought over a Hubbard squash fresh from her family’s farm in Wisconsin, effectively adding to my No Squash Left Behind Challenge. It had a beautiful bright orange bumpy skin, and looked like a sweet potato/pumpkin hybrid. Kelly mentioned Hubbard squash is best mashed, and I remembered a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa I’ve been meaning to try…

In celebration of the fact I am seeing Ina Garten IN PERSON on Tuesday, I thought her hummus recipe would be the perfect way to use this squash. I made a couple tweaks; using my Hubbard squash instead of butternut squash, roasting the garlic before adding, taking the Greek yogurt out of the recipe to make it dairy-free, and including some cayenne pepper to give it more of a kick. The Hubbard squash was perfect in this recipe, but many different squashes would work in this. You can use butternut squash like Ina does, or even use pumpkin puree if you don’t have time to roast a squash.

I brought this hummus to my friend’s Halloween party last night, and it was a hit! I surrounded my little hummus pumpkin with freshly cut veggies and some crackers, but this would also be amazing with warm pita bread. This hummus is healthy, flavorful, and great for snacks throughout the week or for a festive appetizer!

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I served the hummus in my hollowed-out Lumina pumpkin. Is that considered cheating my squash challenge?

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Spicy Squash Hummus

Makes 6-8 servings

1 squash, about 1 1/2 lbs (I used Hubbard)

1 can chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved on side

1 small head of garlic

4 T good olive oil

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1 t sriracha

1/4 C tahini

1/2 t cayenne pepper

1 t cinnamon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut squash lengthwise, remove seeds and brush flesh with 1 T olive oil. Salt and pepper and place on foiled baking sheet, flesh side down. Roast for 50-60 mins, until soft. Set squash aside to cool.

While oven is still on, slice top off of whole head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes (you’ll know it’s done when you can smell it). Remove foil and set aside to let cool slightly.

Scoop roasted squash out of skin and add to food processor. Add drained chickpeas, 6 roasted garlic cloves, 3 T olive oil, lemon juice, sriracha, and tahini. Pulse until combined but not smooth. Add spices and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse a few more times. If it’s looking too dry, add 1 T of reserved chickpea liquid at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with veggies and pita. Store in airtight for up to a week. Enjoy!

Cranberry Oat Bars (GF)

This morning, I needed a break from apple and pumpkin everything. Don’t worry, I’m okay… I think. I had some fresh cranberries in the fridge that I’ve been meaning to use, and the thought of warm oat bars fresh out of the oven to enjoy with my coffee was just too good to pass up. It’s Friday but my brain is already in weekend mode.

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These bars came together quickly and easily, and I love the way the crunchiness of the slivered almonds and the warm soft bursts of fresh cranberries is dispersed throughout the baked oatmeal. Cinnamon and ground ginger add some spicy warmth, making it a perfect companion for your Saturday morning coffee.

As with any breakfast I make, the goal is usually to have leftovers that I can store for on-the-go breakfasts. I think these will be perfect warmed back up in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. I’ll pat myself on the back now; breakfast for next week is ready to go!

 

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Cranberry Oat Bars

Makes 9 squares

2 C old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 C coconut flour

1/4 C tapioca flour

1/2 t sea salt

1 1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground ginger

1/3 C coconut oil, melted

1/4 C pure maple syrup

1/4 C agave (or you can just do a full 1/2 C of maple syrup)

2 eggs

1/3 C  milk of choice

1 1/4 C fresh cranberries

1/2 C slivered almonds

Tip** If you have an orange laying around, try adding a teaspoon of fresh zest to this recipe!

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 8×8 square baking pan with nonstick spray.

In large mixing bowl, combine oats and both flours. Add salt, cinnamon, and ginger and whisk together until combined.

In separate bowl, beat coconut oil, maple syrup, agave, eggs, and milk together. Pour into dry ingredients and fold together until combined. Fold in cranberries and almonds and mix until evenly dispersed.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cut into 9 squares. Serve warm topped with yogurt and nuts, or freeze individual squares for busy weekday morning breakfasts! Enjoy.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

As the weather begins to turn and the days get shorter, I find myself craving warm, hearty meals. Pot roast is one of my Grandma’s specialties, and making it at home always reminds me of Sunday dinners at her house. She makes a hearty gravy and butter-filled mashed potatoes to go along with it, so it took me a while to find a recipe that was almost as delicious and comforting as hers without the added dairy and gluten.

I finally found a winner by adapting Cooking Light’s pot roast recipe; reducing the number of servings and turning it into the perfect slow cooker recipe.  This pot roast is my go-to cure the Sunday Scaries, and leaves us with at least one or two more meal’s worth of leftovers for weeknights. When I am on the Whole 30 or am making a conscious effort to avoid alcohol, I simply omit the wine and replace it with more beef broth.

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Instead of cooking the potatoes in the crock pot, I made dairy-free mashed potatoes to mimic Grandma’s dinner

Searing the roast before adding it to the crock pot may sound like an annoying, unnecessary step, but let me tell you- it makes a huge difference. It seals in the juice and flavor, keeping the roast tender and moist while it’s in the slow cooker. Please don’t skip this step- you will not get the same great results.

After making this a few times, I learned to add the carrots and potatoes towards the end of the cooking process so they aren’t  complete mush when the roast is ready. I like my veggies al-dente, so this fix works for me. If you’d like very soft carrots and potatoes, feel free to throw those in the crock pot at the beginning of the cooking process.

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Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 – 3 lb boneless chuck roast

1 t sea salt

1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

2 T ghee or olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

3/4 C red wine

2 C organic beef broth

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 t dried thyme, or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 t dried rosemary, or 2 t fresh rosemary, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into eighths

4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes cut into eighths

Method:

Heat dutch oven or large frying pan. Once pan is hot, add ghee or olive oil. Salt and pepper all sides of chuck roast. Add meat to pan and sear every exposed side of meat for about 1-2 minutes, until brown.

Add seared chuck roast to slow cooker, making sure to include all juice and scrapings from pan. Add onion, wine, beef broth, bay leaf, garlic, and thyme. Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

Tip** If you’ll be home while the roast is cooking, baste roast with liquid every hour or so. If you’re setting it and going to work, just make sure pot roast is mostly covered with liquid.

When there is about 1 1/2 hours of cooking left, add peeled carrots and potatoes and a little more salt and pepper to slow cooker. You’ll know beef is done when it’s tender enough to fall apart.

Cut roast into large chunks, and serve with potatoes, carrots, and a ladle of broth mixture. Enjoy!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

I will start by saying that this recipe is magical because it’s the ONLY way my husband will consider eating brussels sprouts. Yes, he is a grown man. When we met, Matt convinced me that he wasn’t a picky eater, but as the years went on, it became  clear to me that this was just a courting strategy. The man has a list of things he really dislikes, and most of the time I’m nice enough to avoid them in my recipes. Brussels sprouts are probably #1 on that list. However, there is a pizza place down the street from us that makes Detroit style pizza, and they have one non-pizza item on their menu; brussels sprouts salad. I’m pretty sure Matt didn’t know exactly what he was eating the first time we shared it as an appetizer, but now that he associates brussels sprouts salad with pizza, it’s fair game.

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I used my food processor to shred fresh brussels sprouts as the base for the salad, and then just added whatever I had sitting in the fridge. Fresh cranberries, parsley, radishes, and a simple balsamic dressing made for a vibrant and fresh salad that I will now be making all the time! The one thing I wish I remembered to add would be slivered almonds for a nice crunch, so I’ll be sure to include those next time. Pecans or pine nuts would also be great in this.

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This salad will be a great side dish for holiday parties, but is simple enough for any weeknight meal! You can add your protein of choice on top- grilled chicken or crumbled bacon would be delicious- and swap out the vegetables and fruit based on  what you have available. It’s very versatile and colorful. In fact, with all that red and green in there, I couldn’t help but notice it looked a lot like Christmas…TOO SOON, I KNOW.

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Brussels Sprouts Salad

Makes 4-6 servings

For the Salad:

6 C washed fresh brussels sprouts, shredded

1 C sliced radishes

1 1/2 C fresh cranberries (chopped apples would also work)

1/3 C finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1/3 C slivered almonds

For the Dressing:

1/3 C balsamic vinegar

2 T dijon mustard

2 T honey

1/3 C good quality olive oil

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

Assemble salad by layering shredded brussels sprouts with sliced radishes, cranberries, parsley, and almonds.

Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Enjoy!

Tip** If you won’t be finishing the salad in one sitting, keep dressing on the side or leftovers will be soggy.

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Rewind to 20 years ago in our tiny kitchen on Parkside, where my mom would be cooking apples on the stove, and my sister Liz and I would take turns turning the mill to strain the applesauce. We loved the fun, messy, time-intensive process, but nothing topped eating the fresh applesauce hot out of the pan. Fast-forward 20 years to my current tiny kitchen, where I’m up to my ears with apples from our trip to the orchard. I decided it was time to make applesauce.

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Since I don’t own a food mill, I decided to give slow-cooking applesauce a try.  Not only did it make my tiny kitchen smell aaaaamazing, it turned out so delicious that I am convinced I’ll never want to buy applesauce from the store again! It was so simple, and the apples we picked were so juicy and sweet that it didn’t require any added sugar.

I love this recipe because you toss the ingredients in the crock pot, set it on low, and can go work on something else. I let it cook all morning and afternoon, and this gave the applesauce a chance to really break down and let the flavors mingle. The result is perfectly chunky, cinnamon-y, naturally sweet applesauce that is perfect on its own or baked into breads, muffins, etc.

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Slow Cooker Applesauce

Makes about 8 cups

3 lb. apples (about 9 medium-sized)

Juice from 1/2 lemon

3 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick, whole

3/4 C water

Method:

Peel and thinly slice apples and add to crock pot. Squeeze lemon juice over apples and add spices and water. Give it a stir and set to low for 7-8 hours. Stir every hour or so.

Tip** If you let it cook long enough, the apples will break down on their own and shouldn’t have more than a couple little lumps. If you want a perfectly smooth consistency, you can use an immersion blender to get your desired consistency.

Keep in airtight container in fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months. Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’ve learned to live without a lot of fun dairy-filled things since coming to terms with my lactose intolerance a couple years ago, but cheesecake was really hard to let go. I used to make a marbled pumpkin cheesecake every Thanksgiving as a pumpkin pie alternative, and it was always a hit. With all my freshly- made pumpkin puree in the freezer this year, it occurred to me that  a vegan alternative could work…

Now I know that putting the words “vegan” and “cheesecake” together are going to scare a lot of you, but after bringing these bars into work and to a potluck last week, I concluded that this vegan dessert is a dairy-free success! I have officially converted numerous non-believers into vegan pumpkin cheesecake fans and it’s all thanks to Minimalist Baker for inspiring me to try a cashew-based batter.

This recipe is no-bake, but does require some time on the front end to properly soak your cashews before blending them to make your “cheesecake” batter. Keeping this in mind, be sure to allow for an hour of inactive time before you get started!

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Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Makes ~ 16 squares

For the crust:

1 C pitted medjool dates

1 1/2 C pecans

1/4 t sea salt

For the filling:

1 1/2 C raw unsalted cashews (I use pieces because they’re much cheaper!)

About 3 C boiling water

3/4 C pure maple syrup

1/2 C pumpkin puree

1/3 C full fat coconut milk

1/4 C lemon juice

2 t vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t cardamom

1 t pumpkin pie spice

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Method:

In a medium bowl, soak cashews in boiling water for about an hour. Once soaked, drain cashews and set aside.

Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper (one long sheet overlapping another so you have an “X.” This will make removing the cheesecake super easy once it’s set!

Add dates, pecans, and salt to food processor and pulse until dates break down and crust begins to stick together, forming a ball. Spray your fingers with nonstick spray and press crust into bottom of lined pan, setting in the freezer while you make filling.

Add soaked cashews to food processor and blend until smooth, adding coconut milk as needed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the pumpkin. Mix until filing is smooth, scraping sides to incorporate all ingredients.

Spoon half of filling mixture onto crust and put back into freezer. Add pumpkin puree to the other half of the filling, and pulse until combined. Spoon carefully on top of white filling, gently spreading to create an even top layer. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top, and lightly drag a toothpick or butter knife in a swirling motion.

Place in freezer for about 2 hours or until set. Remove from pan by lifting parchment paper and use chef’s knife to slice into 12-16 pieces. Keep these stored in the freezer, wrapped with plastic wrap. They should keep up to a month, but I promise they won’t last that long!

Tip** Let them sit out at room temp about 30 mins before serving so they’re not totally frozen

Enjoy!

 

Spiced Apple Muffins (GF & Nut-Free)

Matt and I ventured to the Illinois/Wisconsin border last Sunday to pick some apples, and came home with half a bushel of McIntosh. Half a bushel doesn’t sound like an intimidating amount, but let me tell you it’s WAY more than our tiny kitchen can store. So I’ve been spending the last week finding ways to enjoy them and muffins was first on the list!

Most gluten-free muffin recipes center around the use of almond flour, but since I have some nut-free people in my life, I experimented with oat flour as a replacement and they turned out great! These little guys are packed with fresh apple goodness, are refined sugar-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten free! They are filled with warm spices and will make your home smell like Fall. The sweet-cinnamony crumb topping is the final touch on these magical muffins. It sounds impossible, but they are even Matt approved and that’s how I measure a good muffin.

I was trying to use as many apples as I could, so please note that this recipe makes a double batch of muffins. Or, if you only have one muffin tin like I do, make 12 muffins and a loaf of bread! You could half the recipe, but you’d probably regret it.

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Spiced Apple Muffins

Makes 24 muffins, or 12 muffins + one loaf

For the muffins:

1 3/4 C oat flour (2 C old fashioned rolled oats)

1/4 C coconut flour

2/3 C tapioca flour

4 t cinnamon

2 t baking soda

Pinch cardamom (optional)

4 eggs

2 t vanilla

1/2 C coconut milk (or almond milk if you aren’t making nut-free)

1/3 C coconut oil, melted

1/3 C honey

2/3 C pure maple syrup

2 C shredded apples, excess liquid squeezed out

1 C small diced apples

For the crumb topping:

1 T vegan butter, melted

1 T honey

1/3 C old fashioned rolled oats (whole, not oat flour)

1 t cinnamon

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Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin tins, or grease and line loaf pan with parchment paper.

Make oat flour! I use my Vitamix for this because it’s a quick and easy clean up, but you can also pulse in your food processor or just buy oat flour at the grocery store. 2 C of regular oats makes about 1 3/4 cups of oat flour if you’re making at home.

In large bowl, combine oat flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, spices, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, and milk. Add coconut oil, honey, and maple syrup and whisk to combine. Shred 2-3 medium sized apples using food processor or by hand (these do not have to be peeled). Cut another apple into a small dice. Add all apples to wet ingredients and stir together.

Make a well in dry ingredients and carefully pour in egg/apple mixture. Using rubber spatula, carefully fold together until combined. Do not over mix! Spoon into prepared muffin tin or loaf pan.

To make crumb topping, combine ingredients and spoon on top of batter.

For muffins, bake about 18-20 mins, and for loaf bake about 35 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

If you aren’t eating them all fresh out of the oven, keep refrigerated so they stay fresh longer. Enjoy!