Roasted Carrots

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I am always looking to breathe new air into side dishes. Side dishes always seem to be an after thought to the main entree, but there is no reason they shouldn’t be delicious and compliment your meal. These carrots are deliciously easy. Roasting the carrots really brings out their sweetness and using small carrots allows for a smaller bit, rather than that chewy bite that thicker carrots lend. These carrots take just a few minutes to prepare and the oven does the rest, leaving you time to finish the rest of your meal, entertain guests, or ask your child to wash their hands for the third time! The great thing about these are they are light and a healthier option, perfect for holidays when things become laden down with calorie rich ingredients.

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs small carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh dill or parsley

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large baking sheet; toss to coat. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until tender, turning carrots after 20 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs.

Place carrots on a serving platter; garish with dill or parsley.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information

Servings size, about 5 carrot slices.

Calories 92, Fat 3.7g, Protein 1.4g, Carbohydrates 14.6g, Fiber 4.3g, Cholesterol 0mg, Iron 0.5mg, Sodium 264mg, Calcium 52mg.

Source: Cooking Light Lighten Up, America!

 

Here is another amazing recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, The Redhead Baker. She always has such a a great assortment of unique recipes to try and I love seeing what she comes up with next. I can not wait to try this recipe out, it looks and sounds divine and it would mean I’m able to stand at my stove again once I ditch this big pregnant belly! Make sure to check out more from The Redhead Baker!

risotto-stuffed acorn squash

One of the best parts of being a food blogger is belonging to the food “blogosphere,” the community of food bloggers. I’ve gotten to “meet” and interact with some great people and make new friends, like Maeghan.

So, when Maeghan asked me to guest post on her blog as she gets ready for the arrival of her baby boy, I was thrilled to help out.

I’ve had an idea for stuffed squash in my mind for quite some time, and decided that the special occasion of guest posting on Maeghan’s blog was the perfect time to make this special-occasion-worthy recipe! The squash creates its own bowl, and the presentation will be sure to impress!

Each component of this recipe is delicious on its own, but putting them together makes them delicious. This recipe is also very adaptable – you can change up the flavors in the risotto, or you can change up the variety of squash.

The recipe makes a lot of risotto, so if your squash are on the smaller side, you’ll likely have more than you need.

If you’ve never made risotto before, it’s a very hands-on recipe and requires a lot of attention and stirring, which is why I usually save it for special occasions. Cooks are divided over whether it can be made ahead and reheated. Some say it gets “gloppy.” You could roast the squash and partially cook the risotto, leaving one or two cups of hot broth out, and finish it just before your guests arrive.

Risotto-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Inspired by Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • Two medium acorn squash, 2.5 to 3 lbs each
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  •  4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into .5-inch strips
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only
  • 10 cups (80 fluid ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2.5 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry vermouth
  • .5-cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with tinfoil, and spray with nonstick spray.

Cut each squash in half. Remove the seeds and hollow out a bowl, leaving about an inch around the sides and bottom. Slice off about half an inch of the bottom, if necessary, so the squash doesn’t roll around.  Brush a little extra virgin olive oil on the insides of the squash halves and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, cut each leek in half lengthwise, and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Pat dry, then slice into .5-inch pieces. Pour the broth into a large saucepan or stockpot, and set over medium heat to come to a simmer.

Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned but not crispy. Add the leeks to the pan and cook about 2 minutes, until the leeks begin to soften. Add the Arborio rice to the pan, and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute.

Add the vermouth to the pan and stir until the wine is absorbed by the rice. Add one cup of the hot broth to the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Add another cup of hot broth, and repeat the constant stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding hot broth, one cup at a time, and stirring constantly until absorbed, until the rice is al dente (you may not need all of the broth).

Remove the skillet from the stove. Stir in the grated Parmesan, then the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the squash from the oven, and fill each half with .75 to 1 cup of the risotto. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and return the stuffed squash halves to the oven, roasting another 20 minutes.

Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

Guest post by The Redhead Baker

Monkey Bread

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I have a question to ask. Is monkey bread a dessert, snack, or a sweet breakfast item? For me, it’s all of the above. You eat it until it’s gone. It’s such a versatile sweet treat and I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like it. As we get into colder weather I’m always looking for things to bake that we can snack on through the day on a lazy weekend. This fits the bill perfectly. It’s not an everyday treat, but it’s fun and special. It’s even special enough to make for any of the holiday mornings that are coming up. There is nothing like getting the morning going with the aroma from this sweet treat and the presentation always receives a lot of “ohh’s and ahh’s.”

Monkey bread is one of those timeless classics that are fun to eat, but maybe not so fun to make. It doesn’t take long, but over the years we’ve all made adjustments to make it go by quicker. The problem is, with those adjustments came lots of fat and calories. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is still a sweet treat that should be eaten in moderation, but the recipe listed below will cut your calorie and fat intake by half. What does that mean? Get into your kitchen and make some money bread soon, you’ll be glad you did!

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Monkey Bread

Ingredients

  • 13.5 oz. all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
  • 4.75 oz whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg quick-rise yeast
  • 1 cup very warm milk (120 -130 F)
  • 1/4 cup very warm orange juice (120 -130F)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp fat-free milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flours, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached; mix until combined. With mixer on, slowly add 1 cup milk, juice, honey, and 2 tablespoons of butter; mix dough at medium speed for 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85F), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.

Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Combine 3 tablespoons milk and 2 tablespoons butter in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.

Punch dough down; divide into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll into an 8-inch rope. Cut each dough rope into 8 equal pieces, shaping each piece into a 1-inch ball. Dip each ball in milk mixture, turning to coat, and roll in sugar mixture. Layer balls in a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 dough ropes. Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Place a plate upside down on top of bread; invert onto plate. Combine powdered sugar, remaining milk, and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Microwave at HIGH 20 seconds or until warm. Drizzle over bread.

Serves 16, 4 pieces and 1 teaspoon of sauce

Nutritional Information

Per serving: Calories 234; Fat 3.4g; Protein 4.5g; Carbohydrate 47.2g; Fiber 1.9g; Cholesterol 9mg; Iron 1.5 mg; Sodium 184mg; Calcium 43mg

Source: Cooking Light October 2011, Cooking Light Lighten Up, America!

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

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I love fall desserts and Thanksgiving is a great time to sample a little taste of each kind. You’ve got apple pies, pumpkin pies, chocolate pies, etc. I’m a huge fan of cheesecake, but no one in my household cares for them so I try to utilize larger family functions and make something I love and can have a taste in hopes that at least a few others will enjoy it as well!

If you were following me last year, you may remember we never made it to the family Thanksgiving dinner. My daughter got sick and we whipped up a quick feast at home. Since my husband doesn’t enjoy cheesecake and that was the only dessert we had on hand, we made a quick apple pie. He had his pie and I had my cheesecake. We may have eaten a lot of dessert that weekend! The good thing is cheesecake does freeze well!

Since this was my first foray into baking a pumpkin cheesecake and it was for family, the stakes were high. I decided to go with a reputable recipe that didn’t let me down. This recipe is long, but filled with tips that will give you a no fail cheesecake that will be show worthy. When it comes to cheesecakes, chilling is the most important part. Don’t skip it! This is the difference between a beautiful, tall cheesecake and one that falls flat. Using a water bath is always a big conversation when it comes to making cheesecakes. I use one, as does this recipe, because it creates moisture which keeps the top flat and prevents it from cracking. Because of oven temperature differences, check the cake at about 1 1/4 hours for doneness.

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Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 9 whole graham crackers (5 ounces) broken into large pieces
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 1 1/3 cup (10 1/3 ounces) sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 pounds )three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp juice from 1 lemon
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream

 For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and head the oven to 325 F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Place the crackers, sugar, and spices in a food processor and process until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, drizzle the melted butter over, and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs into the prepared springform pan and spread the crumbs into an even layer, using a flat bottomed cup. Use the curved edge of a spoon to seal down the crumbs in the edges.

Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cook on a wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two 18-inch-square pieces of heavy-duty foil; set the springform pan in a roasting pan.

For the filling:

Bring about 4 quarts water to a simmer in a stockpot. While the crust is cooling, whisk the sugar, spices, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels. Press firmly until the towels and discard. Grasp the bottom towels and fold the pumpkin in half; peel back the towels. Repeat and flip the pumpkin onto the baking sheet; discard the towels.

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl of a stand mixer set a medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Spate the beat and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula. Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and bet at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 of the eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.

Pour the filling into the springform pan and smooth the surface; set the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough of the boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and the center of the cake reads 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set the roasting pan on a wire rack and cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set on a wire rack; run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake and cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

To serve:

Remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the pan bottom to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving platter. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 12 to 16

Source: Baking Illustrated