Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Pies

It’s been a while since I’ve cooked with rhubarb, but I saw some at the grocery store the other day and decided to cook something with it before it’s out of season. I’ve been busy with a new job (yay employment!) so it’s been sitting in my fridge for a few days. I bought some strawberries today and was excited to make a strawberry rhubarb pie (one of my favs!), but realized I didn’t have enough of either ingredient for a full-size pie. I was able to cobble a few recipes together to make these mini pies.

Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Pies

Mini Pies 1

Ingredients

Crust (Note: This only made enough dough for bottom crusts so if you want a top crust or lattice you’ll need to make more)

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (more as necessary) coconut oil, cool enough to be solid
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cups ice water

Filling

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the oil to the bowl and cut it into the flour mixture (like you would butter). Work the oil in with your hands as needed until the mixture sticks together when you squeeze it. Add 1/3 cup water and knead the dough until you can form it into a large ball, adding more water as needed.
  3. Roll the dough out on a clean surface dusted with flour. You’ll want it pretty thin. Tear the dough into pieces and press into the muffin cups. Prick the bottoms with a fork and pop in the oven. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is set and the edges are starting to brown. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 350° F.
  4. In a medium saucepan combine the water, tapioca starch, rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture gets bubbly and gooey. Remove from the heat and mix in the strawberries.
  5. Scoop the strawberry rhubarb mixture into the mini pie crusts. Return to the oven and bake until the fruit mixture is bubbly and the edges of the crust are golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan a bit before digging in.

These would probably be great with some coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon/sugar.

Source: An amalgam of recipes from Food52, EatingWell, and Sun Diego Eats

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Cinnamon-Vanilla Icing

I’ve been on a “use-everything-up” kick recently, and noticed that we had a lonely can of pumpkin hanging out in our pantry. I’m a carb lover (especially in the winter – I should be hibernating!) so cookies seemed like the perfect use for that can of pumpkin. The first time I made these cookies (without the nuts) they were pretty flavorless, but seemed to become more flavorful after sitting in the cookie jar for a few days. I decided to up the spice level and add the nuts the second time around, and they turned out much better.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Cinnamon-Vanilla Icing

Pumpkin cookies 1

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Icing

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine the flours, oats, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In another large bowl mix together the sugar, oil, applesauce, molasses, pumpkin, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches and then fold in the walnuts.
  4. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet and flatten with a fork. If you’re baking multiple sheets of cookies at one time, bake for eight minutes and then switch the baking sheets around in the oven. If you’re baking one sheet at a time bake for 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to racks to cool.
  5. Whisk the powdered sugar, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly. Once the cookies have cooled use a spoon to drizzle them with the icing.

 

Source: Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

Tasty Thanksgiving Recipes

Uffda… it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here. The job hunt and activist causes have kept me quite busy, and I’ve been suffering from a severe lack of inspiration and motivation. Thanksgiving dinner served as the perfect excuse to look up some recipes and write a blog post.

I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of the canned cranberry sauce that’s everywhere in the grocery stores this time of year. I grew up eating the stuff, and I still love it. This year I wanted to try something a little more… sophisticated (and less corn syrup-y) so I decided to make my own cranberry sauce.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce 3

*This tastes even better the next day, so keep that in mind when deciding when to start cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the cranberries, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and 3/4 cup water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes. The cranberries will start to pop during this time and the mixture will thicken a bit.
  2. Add the orange zest, chopped candied ginger, and orange juice and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for an 1 to 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and fish out the cinnamon stick. Add additional sweetener as desired.

Source: Adapted from the kitchn

Sticking with the theme of “less processed foods are tastier,” I decided to make homemade rolls as well.

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (plus more for sprinkling on top of rolls, if desired)
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • egg
  • 2 1/2-3 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour)
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of rolls

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until it gets foamy. If it doesn’t get foamy you’ll need to try again with another packet of yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to the point just before it boils (this is called scalding the milk, but that’s not a super helpful term). It should be foamy around the edges and have wisps of steam coming off of it. Remove the milk from the heat and add it to the cubed butter in a mixing bowl. Stir to melt the butter, then add the brown sugar, rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Mix well and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add the egg and mix well. Add the yeast and mix to incorporate it. Mix in 2 ½ cups of the flour, then add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as you need for the dough to lose its sheen. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough into a greased bowl. Turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours.
  5. Knead the chilled dough slightly. You can do this in the bowl or on a floured surface. Break the dough up into 12 balls. Press each ball into a flat-ish rectangle, then roll it up and tuck the ends under. Place the rolls seam-side down in a greased 9-inch pan. I used a square pan and it worked fine. Brush all over with melted butter and sprinkle with some rolled oats. Let the rolls rise in a warm place until they’re about double in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the rolls are brown and sound hollow when you tap them. The internal temperature should be right around 190 degrees. Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool slightly before eating.

Source: Adapted from Food 52.

And finally, Thanksgiving just isn’t complete (in my mind) without pie. This one’s a dairy-free pumpkin pie, and it’s pretty darn good.

Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie 1

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1 /4 cups almond milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 425° F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the oil and almond milk into the well. Mix until a dough forms, then press the dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges if desired.
  3. Mix the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl; set aside. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond milk. Add the pumpkin mixture to the sugar mixture mix well. Pour into the prepared crust and place on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven. You may have some filling left, I used mine to make muffins.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes at 425° F. Reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for 75 to 85 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. I checked for doneness every ten minutes or so after the 60 minute mark. The center may be a bit soft but will firm up later, especially if you refrigerate the pie.

The crust was a little too thick and a bit dry, but the filling was absolutely delicious.

Source: Adapted from AllRecipes

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramelized Nuts

Pumpkin is one of my favorite fall flavors, one that I occasionally like to use during other seasons. That’s one reason why I like canned pumpkin – it’s available year-round and it’s quicker and easier than using homemade pumpkin purée. I’d like to make my own pumpkin purée someday, but for now I’ll stick with the canned stuff.

This cake is chock full of pumpkin flavor, and the cream cheese frosting and caramelized nuts add a nice bit of sweetness and crunch.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramelized Nuts

Pumpkin Cake 1

 

 

Pumpkin Cake 2

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (9 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • large eggs (room temperature), yolks and whites separated 

Frosting

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (AKA confectioner’s sugar)
  • pinch of cardamom

Caramelized Nuts

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts (I used pecans and walnuts), crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray the paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
  3. Use handheld or stand mixture to mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and salt. Add egg yolks one at a time.
  4. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until they’re foamy and white in color. Fold into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick or knife. You can cover the edges with tin foil and cook longer if the middle is not quite done. Let the cake sit in the pan for 20 minutes after you take it out of the oven, then carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a surface that will make it easy to frost.
  7. Make the frosting: Use handheld or stand mixture to mix the butter and cream cheese together. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the cardamom and mix until incorporated.
  8. Caramelize the nuts: In a small saucepan, caramelize 1 tbsp sugar, moving it around in the pan frequently so it doesn’t burn. Once it’s turned a nice golden brown, add 1 tbsp of butter and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens a bit. Add the nuts and stir to coat. Pour nuts onto parchment paper-lined plate to cool.
  9. Once the cake has fully cooled, frost to your liking, then sprinkle the caramelized nuts on top.

Source: Adapted from Food 52.

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fall is my favorite season. Cooler weather, crisp smell in the air, bonfires, apple orchard trips, fall colors… and the FOOD. Apples, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, Brussels sprouts – so many tasty, healthy foods are in season in the fall. And there are so many great ways to prepare fall produce, too.

One of my favorite fall foods is squash, and I love the traditional ‘roast in the oven with butter and brown sugar’ technique. But some days I’m looking for something a little more filling (no pun intended!) than just the squash itself. If you search for “stuffed acorn squash” online you’ll find a ton of different recipes, many featuring some sort of grain/vegetable/protein mix. I tried brown rice, kale, and raisins a few days ago, but felt like the brown rice lacked the flavor and texture I was looking for. So, I decided to try farro, an ancient grain that I’ve used in a previous recipe, because I thought its nuttier, chewier texture would complement the other ingredients well.

Though I used the specified ingredients below, it’s really easy to change out the grains/greens/fruit that I used for other ingredients, as long as you account for any changes in prep time (if you’re going to use meat, for example). Personalize your recipe with whatever combination of ingredients appeals to you.

Farro-Stuffed Acorn Squash with Kale and Dried Cranberries

Stuffed squash

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup kale, torn into small pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups prepared farro (I used the microwaveable kind because it’s quicker)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 tsp brown sugar, divided use

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place squash halves, skin side up, in baking dish or pie tins. Fill dish/tins with enough water so that it’s 1″ deep. Cook squash for 35-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Poke with a fork to check for doneness.
  2. When 12-15 minutes of cook time remain for the squash, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook the kale until it’s nice and wilted, about 2 minutes (this will depend on the size of your kale pieces). Remove from heat and let cool briefly.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the farro, kale, and cranberries, drizzling with a little bit of olive oil as you mix.
  4. When the squash is done, dump the water out of  the dish/tins and let cool for a minute or two. Place 2 tsp brown sugar in each half. Fill with the farro/kale/cranberry mix, packing it in with the back of a spoon as desired. You might have some left over filling – save it for another batch or just to eat later.
  5. Place the squash halves carefully back into the dish/tins (skin side down this time), and bake for another 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Source: Inspired by the kitchn, but recipe is my own culinary genius. ; )

Spiced Mango Lassi

I’m on a tight schedule this week as I head off to DC tomorrow morning for a women’s equality rally, so I perused my collection of recipes looking for something quick and easy to make, and voilà – mango lassi. I’ve written about my love of Indian food, and particularly mango lassi, before and figured I’d give it a try. This recipe results in quite a bit of spice flavor; if that’s not your thing just cut back on the spices or eliminate them entirely.

Spiced Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups diced, peeled, pitted mango (about 1 to 1 1/2 fruits)
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. For best results serve immediately, but you can also freeze this if you want to save some for later.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, as cited in Pioneer Press “Eat” section, 8/14/2014

Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah

With all of the extra time I have while job hunting you’d think I’d be able to stay on top of things here, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve had Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook checked out from the library for a few weeks now and was all set to make this recipe when I realized I didn’t have any yeast. And then I got busy (or just lazy) and didn’t make it to the grocery store for a while.

The first time I had challah was at a sex positive Shabbat that I attended while I was an undergraduate student. Everything I ate was delicious but I remember really liking the challah. It’s been a few years since I’ve had it; when I lived in Minneapolis during grad school I would occasionally pick up a loaf from the local Kowalski’s market. This is a sweeter, somewhat healthier version (thanks to whole wheat flour) of traditional challah.

Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah

Challah

Ingredients

Bread

  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus some for the bowl
  • 2 large eggs, plus another for the egg wash
  • 2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top (if desired)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/8 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and honey together with 2/3 cup warm water. Let sit until the mixture gets foamy. Add the remaining honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, and eggs. Whisk until everything is combined.
  2. Add the flour and salt to the wet ingredients and stir everything together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and somewhat stretchy. Place in an olive oil-coated bowl and let rise for about an hour.
  4. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise make the fig paste. In a small saucepan combine the figs, orange zest, water, orange juice, salt, and the black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the figs are tender and everything looks a bit gooier, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Pour the fix mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until it forms a paste. Set aside.
  6. After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (again). Cut the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into a rectangular shape, getting it as thin as you can. Spread half of the fig paste on the dough, keeping about an inch between the paste and the edge of the dough. Roll it into a thin log and cut it in half. Seal the ends as best you can so you don’t have fig paste oozing out. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  7. Twist your dough into a challah shape. I know that’s really vague, but completing this step depends on how elastic your dough is and how thin/long your strands are… here’s a YouTube video demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPfhQJ_D338 and here’s an eHow guide: http://www.ehow.com/how_8666007_twist-challah-bread.html. My dough was not super elastic so I just twisted it a few times and tucked in the ends.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough on it. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and brush the dough with egg wash.
  9. Let the dough rise for another 40 to 45 minutes and then preheat the oven to 375° F. Brush the dough with egg wash again, and sprinkle on that extra sea salt if you want. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack, and bake the challah for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s nice and golden brown.
  10. Let the challah rest on a wire cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and eating.

As seen in the picture above, my challah strands were pretty thick (and not super elastic) so it doesn’t look as pretty as it could. Still tastes wonderful, though, which is much more important.

Source: Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman