Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving: Maple Pumpkin Pie

This Thanksgiving was a small one. There was only Leah, Isaac, and I at home...oh, and the parents too :) Mom, being the angel that she is, decided to invite over an elderly woman by the name of Elizabeth. She was a character to say the least. We were glad to share our Thanksgiving dinner with her.
Once again, we ate like kings. Leah and I did most of the cooking, but mom did make her traditional stuffing and pumpkin pie.
I was determined to make a healthier pumpkin pie this year and to my surprise, I succeeded :)  While mom made her traditional pumpkin pie, I made a maple pumpkin pie (no sugar added, just simply pure maple syrup). It is amazing what a bit of maple flavor can do to any ordinary recipe! Sweet and creamy, this pie bursts with that "little extra" flavor.

Maple Pumpkin Pie
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup real maple syrup (feel free to add in more, sweeten to your liking)
  • 1 cup milk (I used almond milk, but you can even use half & half)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt. Stir in maple syrup, milk, flour, and cornstarch. Mix in eggs one at a time. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, or until center is set.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Butternut Squash Pizza

Butternut squash on a pizza? Wha? Don't let this odd topping freak you out. It is surprisingly delicious, trust me. The caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar make this yummy pizza even better.
And for a side dish, whole wheat pita chips and hummus. It doesn't get much better than this :)

Butternut Squash Pizza

  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1/2 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 (16 ounce) package refrigerated pizza crust dough (I use pita bread)
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sliced onion and squash in a roasting pan. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; toss to coat.
  2. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until onions are lightly browned and squash is tender; set aside.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll each ball of dough into an 8 inch round. Place the rounds on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal (you may need 2 baking sheets depending on their size). Distribute squash mixture over the two rounds and continue baking for 10 minutes, checking occasionally, or until the crust is firm. Sprinkle with cheese, remaining tablespoon olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Cut into quarters, and serve.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Flour for dusting

Pour water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer with dough hook attached. Add yeast, olive oil and honey. Allow yeast to bloom until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Add flour, then salt. Mix on medium speed for one minute. Turn the mixer down to low and mix for 2 minutes longer. Increase speed to medium and continue to mix 2 minutes longer. If at any point the dough wraps completely around the hook and is no longer kneading, turn off the machine, scrape the dough off the hook back into the bowl and return to mixing. Transfer dough to a clean work surface and knead by hand for one minute longer or until you have a round, smooth, elastic dough. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a medium sized bowl. Place dough into bowl and coat with the oil by turning over. Cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a moderately warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, usually about 2 hours.
Position an up-side down 18 x 13 aluminum sheet pan or a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Transfer the proofed dough to a clean work surface and knead it by hand until it is round, smooth and elastic, about one minute. Divide the dough into 16 pieces, (2 ounces each) and shape into balls. Cover with a clean towel and allow to proof until expanded slightly in size, about 20 minutes.
Dust a clean work surface with all-purpose flour (I like to use cornmeal). Roll dough into 6-inch circles. You may stack them between parchment paper or clean towels. Carefully and quickly place them in the oven directly on the baking sheet or stone. You may bake 2 or 3 at a time. Cook pitas for 2 minutes or until puffed. Remove with a metal spatula. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve hot or at room temperature. Once cooled, pitas may be stored in a re-sealable plastic storage bag for up to 2 days, they may also be frozen for a few months. (To keep them soft, put them in a towel or plastic bag right after you remove them from the oven.)


  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more, for drizzling
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini paste, and garlic. Process until smooth. With the machine running, add 1/4 cup olive oil, a little at a time. Season with salt and pepper. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fish and Chips

 Fish and Chips is your popular eat 'n run food that originated in the United Kingdom. Usually, it consists of deep-fried fish (cod) and deep-fried potatoes. Well as you know, I am a health nut, so I decided to "healthify" this classic dish. Instead of deep-frying, I marinated the fish and cooked it in a pan. For the fries, I swapped the normal starchy russets for vitamin-packed sweet potatoes, which I baked in the oven. The result: a super duper tasty meal :)

Delish Fish
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (6 ounce) fish fillets (salmon, tilapia, halibut, etc.)


  1. Combine the black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to make a paste. Spread the paste all over the fish fillets, and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook the fillets in the hot pan until golden brown on each side, and no longer translucent in the center, about 4 minutes per side.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into French fries
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, cinnamon, cumin


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a plastic bag, combine the sweet potatoes, olive oil, and seasonings. Close and shake the bag until the fries are evenly coated. Spread the fries out in a single layer on one large baking sheet (sprayed with oil).
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until crispy and brown on one side. Turn the fries over using a spatula halfway during cooking. Thinner fries may not take as long.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Panang Curry

Panang curry is a type of Thai curry. It is much different than the ordinary red, yellow, green, and brown curries. It is both spicy and sweet...and absolutely mouthwatering. You can either buy panang curry paste from the store or you can make it from scratch. I have included a recipe for the paste and a recipe for the dish. Feel free to add any type of meat or vegetables.

Panang Curry
Panang Curry Paste

  • 5 large Chilly peppers (red, dried, seeded and soaked)
  • 1 teaspoon Galangal (a root), sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Lemongrass, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 clove Garlic, chopped
  • 5 Shallots, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts (optional)
  • 12 tablespoons Kaffir Lime (the rind), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Shrimp paste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (sea salt)
  • 2 teaspoons Pepper (white)
 To make the panang curry paste, simply combine all the ingredients and blend them together in a food processor or blender.
The ingredients for the Panang curry recipe are as follows:


Panang Curry (Main Dish)

  • Your choice of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or any other meat (or none)
  • Your choice of vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, onion, eggplant, carrot, etc.)
  • 1-2 cans Coconut milk (use light coconut milk if you prefer)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Panang Curry Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Peas
  • 4-6 Kaffir lime leaves
  • Sweet basil leaves (for garnish)
  • Some water (to thin out and make more soupy, less thick)

Making your Panang Curry:

Making the curry: Bring the coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, and fish sauce together in a pot, bring to a boil. Next, add your meat and/or vegetables. When almost cooked, add kaffir lime leaves and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Before you remove from heat, make sure the meat or fish is cooked all the way! If you find that you've boiled down your curry too much - and it tastes too thick, salty and concentrated, add some water to thin it out.
Serving the curry: When you're all done, remove everything from the heat, and fill a bowl about halfway with rice, then top with curry. Or, for a more traditional approach, stuff all the rice in a small bowl, then turn the bowl upside down on a plate and tap it until the rice ball falls out (this is an easy way to make a fancy looking rice ball, like the ones you're served in Thai restaurants). Next, pour a good portion of curry into a medium sized bowl, and place it next to the rice ball and serve. You may want to garnish it with sweet basil leaves before serving.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin Corn Chowder

Okay, I admit...I am obsessed with soup. But I promise that this one is also very good. It is thick and has a fantastic autumn flavor. Yum :)

Pumpkin Corn Chowder
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced leeks or 8 large green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2  cloves  garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 2  cups  1-inch cubes sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces)
  • 1  14-ounce can  vegetable broth
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • 1  15-ounce can  pumpkin
  • 1  14.75-ounce can  cream-style corn
  • 1  10.75-ounce can  reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed cream of celery or onion soup
  • 1  cup  milk (or omit soup and milk and simply add coconut milk to taste)
  • 1  tablespoon  snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 2  tablespoons  pumpkin seeds, toasted
  •     Dairy sour cream (optional)
  •     Assorted crackers (optional)


1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven or pot, melt butter. Add leeks and garlic. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in cumin and stir for 30 seconds. Add sweet potatoes, broth, salt and black pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. Stir pumpkin, corn, celery soup, milk and thyme into potato mixture. Cook over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. To serve, sprinkle soup with pumpkin seeds. If you like, garnish soup with sour cream and serve with crackers. Makes 6 servings (8 cups).

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