Tag Archives: baking

5-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

I feel like, before I go ahead with this recipe, I need to issue a warning: this recipe is dangerous.  It’s way too easy, way too convenient and perhaps just a little too indulgent (the cake base on its own is about 400 calories).  You might find yourself whipping up this cake far too often for your own good, so proceed with caution.

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On the other hand, this cake might be your best friend on days you really need a quick boost of warm chocolate without going to the store or spending an hour baking a cake.  In fact, you can make this little gem in five minutes flat, I guarantee it (I don’t actually guarantee it).  It’s especially nice on snow days with coffee, and it would totally impress an unexpected guest – most if not all of the ingredients are probably in your kitchen anyway!  If you don’t believe how easy it is, go ahead and give it a try.  But know the awesome addictive power of a five-minute cake.

5-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug (adapted from The Family Kitchen)

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon water (or a bit more if needed)
  • optional: sea salt, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, salted caramel candy, instant coffee, peanut butter…?

In a small bowl (think soup bowl sized), mix your mandatory chocolate cake ingredients.  All of them.  Seriously, just throw that stuff together and stir away.  If you’re adding in something that will fill the whole cake, stir it in now: a small handful of chopped nuts, a quarter teaspoon each of cinnamon and chili, a half teaspoon maybe of instant coffee powder?  Not all of them of course.  Don’t be greedy.  Pick a theme, you can always make another one later.

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Then grease or spray a regular-sized coffee mug (something around 12 ounces) and pour the batter into the mug.  If you’re adding something that isn’t incorporated into the whole cake batter, pop it in now: drop a couple caramel candies in the center, swirl in a tablespoon of peanut butter, top with crushed pretzels or sprinkle with sea salt.

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Finally, microwave your mug of goodness for one-and-a-half to two minutes on high power.  The mug will be hot, so remove it carefully and let cool a minute.  Then…indulge.  It’s really that easy.  And addictive. Beware!

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Clean Eating. But First, Banana Bread.

If you remember, dear readers, one thing on my 24 Before 25 list was to go a whole month without eating high fructose corn syrup. In the past month or so I’ve tried – and failed – about three times to do this.  Actually, I wasn’t really failing at not eating high fructose corn syrup – that turned out to be pretty easy.  What I was failing at was not eating something overly processed that technically didn’t contain HFCS (maybe just corn syrup) that then led me to feel like I was eating gross processed crap anyway and turn to more junky foods with the resolution that I would eat clean again starting tomorrow.  I’d get about a week again and then cave again.

The problem was, even though I was technically following my rule, I knew the real goal of the rule was to eat less processed food in general.  So even though my list item is still to go a month without eating HFCS, what I’m really going to do is a month – hopefully more – of clean eating.

There are a lot of ideas of good or clean eating out there.  No dairy!  No gluten!  Everything raw!  So what are my rules for clean eating?

What I will be cutting out:

  • HFCS
  • Chemicals I can’t pronounce or identify on a store shelf (i.e. those crazy stabilizers, flavorings and preservatives in packaged food)
  • Most refined sugar, with the occasional exception for things I bake myself
  • As much white flour and refined carbs as possible

What I won’t be cutting out:

  • Dairy (I rarely eat it anyway, but I like yogurt for breakfast sometimes)
  • Alcohol (but I’ll only drink my usual quality craft beer and whiskey)
  • Caffeine (green tea is totally good for you!)
  • Gluten
  • Fruit (yes, some extreme diets think fruit has to much sugar)

Basically I’m not going crazy orthorexic (orthorexic – obsession with right eating) fad diet here and cutting out whole food groups, I’m just sticking to a faith that anything whole and natural is good for you and anything packaged and processed is not.  Tomorrow will be the day I start, and I’ll go through the end of February – that’ll make a whole month.  Are you in?

But that’s tomorrow, and today, today there’s banana bread.  Not that banana bread necessarily breaks any clean eating rules – especially not my banana bread! My banana bread, which was sort of inspired by this recipe from Joy the Baker and this recipe from Allrecipes, is full of good things like millet and yogurt and fruit and had minimal bad things like sugar and oil.  Okay, so there is flour.  But it’s bread.  Duh.

Millet Banana Bread

  • 2 cups flour (try half whole wheat!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup millet

Preheat your oven to 350 and butter a 9×5 loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, blend your flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, mash your three bananas until mostly smooth – it’s okay if there are a few chunks.  Or, if you’re like me and you froze a super-ripe banana just for this purpose, simply mush up the slimy mess you will find inside.  Seriously, it’s disgusting.  I actually had to call my mom to ask her if it was normal for the frozen banana to turn into a brown, smushy tube – I remember her doing this when I was a kid, and she assured me it was.  This is what the banana looked like out of the freezer:

And this is what it looked like when I opened it.  It stayed in one gelatinous piece, and I just shook it out of its skin into the bowl.

The rest of the bananas I just chopped and rough mashed with a fork.  When that’s done, stir in your oil and yogurt.

Add the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla, and beat with a hand mixer on low for a few seconds, just until everything is blended.  Again, it’s okay if it’s a little lumpy.  No big.  More banana goodness.

Next, stir in your dry ingredients until they are just incorporated.  Add the millet and stir in until it’s evenly distributed, then put it in your prepared pan and make sure the batter is spread to the corners.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top starts to look toasty and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  I know this doesn’t sound like long enough for banana bread, and I was just as surprised when I checked the oven after 40 minutes and the top was beginning to brown.  But hey, it works.  That’s what happens when you make up recipes: you have to adjust when things come up.  And it will come up, into a dome of crunchy banana goodness.  The millet is a great textural component, but walnuts would also be good here.  You know I’m going to tell you to play around with it yourself.  Whoever said baking is an exact science was lying!

So, banana bread for dinner tonight, clean healthy eating starting tomorrow.  The hardest part will be going to work on Monday and not snacking on all the chips and treats we have in the classroom.  But I have faith.  It is on the list, after all, I have to do it!

Speaking of the list, I’ve been making a little progress.  I already told you I watched a football game, and I’ve also started (really) volunteering at a therapeutic horseback riding center.  I’m looking into swing lessons, researching the stock market, and I’ve signed up for a program that matches international pen pals.  I also started taking capoeira lessons, which is an awesome Brazilian dance-martial arts thing that I LOVE.  I know it wasn’t a list item, but I’d been wanting to go to an intro class in Denver for a long time now, and in the spirit of the list and trying new things I finally went.  Now I can’t stop.  Of course I’ll have to wait till my body stops being so sore after every class before I can start swing dancing and rock climbing.  But I’m so glad I faced my fear of the unknown, and my fear of failure, and went for it.

You know what they say: you should do at least one thing every day that scares you!

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Homemade Granola is Just Better

You know how granola is one of those fake health foods?  Like most protein bars: they scream, I’m healthy!  Athletes eat me!  That girl in your yoga class eats me!  They’re fit because of ME!!!

Granola and protein bars are usually lying.  Read the labels and you find nothing but sugar, sugar, weird chemicals, refined sources of protein, and more sugar.  That’s what I found even while perusing the granola at Vitamin Cottage, unless I wanted to pay $7 for a bag of “raw” granola, which I’m pretty sure is secretly just oats.  So I decided to make my own.

You could make some really healthy granola at home, depending on what you put in it.  Play around with grains, nuts and seasoning until you get something that suits your needs.  I just used what I had in my cupboards, and I came up with a really simple but pretty fantastic honey-nut granola.

Honey Nut Granola (makes about 2 cups)

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • about 1/3 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup whole raw walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and foil and grease a baking sheet.  Chop your nuts and mix with the oats in a large bowl.  Add the honey, oil, vanilla and cinnamon, and mix with a spoon until everything is well-incorporated.  You won’t really be able to stir this; use a downward motion with the spoon and turn the mixture frequently until it looks evenly coated.

Spread evenly on the baking sheet, but try not to let the mixture get to thin on the sides or have a lot of stray oats on the pan, as these outer edges will burn easier.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just getting toasty, stirring once (but, again, try not to let the granola stray on the edges of the batch).  It might seem soft and soggy right out of the oven, but it’ll get crunchy as it cools.  Let cool on the foil, then gently break it up and store in an airtight container.

Like I said, you can add lots of stuff to this granola: pumpkin seeds, millet, flax, maple, puffed rice, dried fruit…totally up to you.  As it is according to my recipe, each 1/4 cup serving has about 125 calories – not bad!  Just enough to add texture and a good dose of protein and healthy fat to a bowl of Greek yogurt and fruit…sans chemicals, refined sugar, and whatever else is in that scary suprmarket stuff.

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Apple Sharlotka and the List

I haven’t been baking in a while, I know.  I don’t know why…probably because I was eating my way through the gingersnaps I got for Christmas and couldn’t fathom any use for more baked goods.  But of course the gingersnaps are exhausted (if I’m honest, they have been for some time) and I’m back in the kitchen.

As soon as I saw this recipe for Russian apple sharlotka on Smitten Kitchen I was…well…smitten.  It’s kind of a cake that tastes like kind of a pie that’s really kind of like just eating fruit.  Aside from lots of apples, there’s not a whole lot more to this pastry…which means you can totally count this as a healthy fruit snack and not a dessert at all.  Win!

Apple Sharlotka (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 5 large apples (I like sweet and tart – I did 3 granny smith and 2 gala)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • powder sugar, for dusting
  • butter, for the pan

Let’s get one thing straight: my sharlotka does not look nearly as good as Smitten Kitchen’s.  That’s probably because I don’t have a 9-inch springform pan, like she uses, and I didn’t butter and paper my dish like she recommends.  Instead, I used a 9-inch glass pie dish, which I thoroughly buttered.  Even though the cake wouldn’t extract itself from the dish in one nice piece, it was plenty easy to cut slices from.  So…make due.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter (and maybe paper or flour, as well) whatever 9-inch-ish pan you’re using.

Peel your apples, cut into quarters and slice the core from each piece.  Then cut your quarters in half again and chop into quarter-inch slices.  (There’s a pear in the picture because I thought this might be really good with half pears, spiced up with autumn flavors.  However, five apples proved plenty to fill my pie dish and I didn’t use the pear after all…but you could!)

Put apple slices in a bowl and toss with the juice of a half a lemon, or a little more if you like, or a little zest if that what catches your fancy.  Then put the apples directly in your buttered pan or baking dish.

Next, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well combined, then whisk in the vanilla.  Add the flour and cinnamon and stir until just combined.  The batter will be very thick!  Pour it over the dish of apples and spread with a spoon or spatula to make sure it gets between all the cracks.

You might need to lightly shuffle the top layer of apples to make sure the batter gets to the bottom pretty evenly.  I just kind of poked around with a butter knife and checked under the dish (the perk of using a glass pan!) to make sure it looked satisfactory.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it cool for ten minutes, then, if you can, flip it out onto a cooling rack.  If you can’t, keep it in the dish, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!  It’s basically health food, right?

In other news, I already crossed something off my 24 Before 25 list!  Are you ready?  Drumroll please…I watched a whole football game!  Ta da!  I know that doesn’t sound impressive, but it was on my list because it’s something I’d normally NEVER do.  But my lovely boyfriend drew out diagrams and taught me the basic rules, and we watched our Denver Broncos crush the Steelers in a wildcard game tonight (I already sound like I actually know what I’m talking about, right?  I don’t, really).  There was even overtime…so I was committed to sticking to my list.

So…do I like football now?  Heck no!  But I have a better appreciation of the skill required to play the game, and I guess I sort of understand why people like it (I, after all, love baseball – and lots of people think that’s uber-boring).  The real lesson was that I really, really shouldn’t dismiss anything outright, and in a roundabout way it reinforced my belief that understanding is the key to compassion.  Of course I don’t really feel compassion toward the sport, but now that I understand it a little I can almost sort of kind of maybe appreciate it.  A little.

So there it is.  One down, 23 to go.  Next up I think is snowshoeing, reading a book in French (I bought a copy of Balzac’s Pere Goirot) and volunteering (at The Right Step, a therapeutic horseback riding center).  Really I’m excited to do everything.  Stay tuned!

P.S. This apple sharlotka totally doesn’t count as baking pie, either.  I wouldn’t cheat like that!

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Adventures in Partygoing: Spiced Nuts and Sweet Potato Falafel

The Non-Denominational Winter Holiday Party Season is upon us!  Time to don the sparkles and velvet, kiss under the mistletoe and get blitzed (Blitzened?) on hot toddies.  And, of course, make fancy-pants appetizers to impress your friends and family.

I’ve already given you a great party guest food idea here: goat cheese crostini served with fig compote or tomato bruschetta topping.  It’s fairly easy and a definite crowd pleaser.  But I’ve already made that for one of Christine’s parties, and I needed to try something new for the holidays.  Something savory and something sweet. The solution was spiced candied nuts and sweet potato “falafel”.

Actually, to be honest, the original solution was cookies and sweet potato falafel.  Except, as you may recall, Christine is gluten intolerant, so I tried to adapt a maple-spice cookie recipe to be gluten-free.  And guess what?  They were AWFUL.  I must not be adept enough at baking sans wheat, because all I could taste was the powdery, gritty, chemical-y flavors of xanthan gum and frankenflour.  I even tried overwhelming the cookies with a  ginger-and-cinnamon-laden glaze, to no reward.  Oh well.  They’re still in my freezer if anyone has a death wish and wants to eat them.

But thankfully spiced nuts are a pretty straightforward endeavor and I was able to recover my sweet-and-savory contributions.  I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen as an inspiration, but I adapted it pretty heavily.  And I really like what I came up with:

Spiced Nuts

  • 3/4 pound total of raw walnuts and pecans (half and half)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (plus an extra drizzle if you want!)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • dash of cayenne pepper

In a small bowl, blend your sugars and spices well.  See where I spilled the allspice all over my counter?  Also, secret: I didn’t have any cayenne, so I added a dash of chili powder instead.  I know it has garlic and other spices mixed in it, but it worked just fine.  Next, in a large bowl, whisk your egg white, water and maple syrup until frothy but not stiff.

Add your nuts to the egg mixture and stir until coated.  Then pour in the sugar and spice mixture and toss until well combined.

Spread on a foil-lined AND greased baking sheet (as in, grease or spray the foil) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Stir once or twice; the coating will become light and foamy, but you still don’t want any nuts glued to your pan.  Stir them again when you take them out of the oven so they don’t adhere to the foil as they cool.  And there you have it!

For the next recipe, I didn’t play with it very much because I was so unfamiliar with the flavors.  Chickpea flour?  Coriander?  I’m pretty sure I’ve never cooked with coriander before in my life.  I got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks, and it turned out to be a winner just the way it is.  It’s also pretty healthy, with protein-rich garbanzo/chickpea flour and vitamin-heavy sweet potatoes, and it’s not fried like traditional falafel.  In fact it’s not much like traditional falafel at all, it’s more like a baked croquette of sorts.  Or something.  Anyway it was delicious.  The only thing I’d recommend changing is I’d serve it with spicy chipotle ketchup…maybe I’ll make these again for Christmas and try this recipe?

Baked Sweet Potato “Falafel”

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes*
  • scant cup of chickpea flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped (it’ll be more like a cup once chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2-1 teaspoon, I’d say)
  • olive oil
  • sesame seeds
*The original recipe only calls for two potatoes, but I got over two dozen 1-inch falafel with more potatoes, plus I think the chickpea flour would be too starchy and overwhelming with only two potatoes.

Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them in half lenghtwise (or, if they’re really big like that one in back, cut them in quarters).  Place cut-side up in a glass baking dish with about a  half inch of water in it, and rub the tops with olive oil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Once cooled (I ran mine under cold water to expedite the process), chop and place in a bowl for mashing.  Turn the oven down to 375.

I kind of ran the knife through the bowl and started a rough mash before I added the rest of the ingredients.  When you feel the potato pieces are small enough to mash, add the chickpea flour, garlic, cilantro, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, lemon and a splash of olive oil and mash all the ingredients together until pretty much smooth.

It took me a while, considering I don’t have a real potato masher so I was just using a fork, but eventually I got it to look something like this.  It’s okay if there are a few little chunks of potato left, just make sure you get the big pieces and all the ingredients are well incorporated.  Add a little more olive oil if the mixture seems dry.  Here is where 101 Cookbooks says to refrigerate the mixture to allow it to firm up, but I didn’t have to do that at all, so I started making the falafel right away (my mix was a little thicker than the consistency of mashed potatoes and not watery at all.  This might vary depending on the water content of your sweet potatoes, but this is why I think using less potatoes would make the chickpea flour overwhelming.)

Use two spoons to form the mixture into balls about one inch across, quenelle-style (or close to it – nothing’s perfect).  Place them on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until the tops look toasty and golden (my tops didn’t get too toasty but the falafel set and the bottoms were beginning to brown – still delicious).

Then…serve!  Everyone at the party loved them as is, but like I said, I think they’d be amazing with some homemade spicy chipotle ketchup.  I’ll post that recipe if I try it.  Fun fact: did you know chipotles are just smoked jalapenos?  I’ve gone almost my whole life thinking chipotles were a unique type of pepper.  You learn something new every day.

Keep learning, keep playing!

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Beer Bread

I have a confession to make as a baker: I am too impatient for yeasted doughs.  I can barely let cakes cool before I start digging in.  I want the first cookie out of the oven.  You think I’m going to wait an hour for dough to rise and THEN wait another hour while it bakes?  Not gonna happen.

That’s why I was super excited when I found a recipe for beer bread.  Not only does it combine two of my favorite things – beer and baked goods – but it’s a quick bread that feels and tastes like a traditional yeast bread.  And did I mention there’s beer?  Yeah.

This loaf bakes up like a rustic bread, really crunchy on top and soft in the middle.  You can just taste the beer in it, and since I suspect it could get bitter easily I recommend using a robust malty beer, like a porter or stout.  I used a Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout…mostly because that’s what was in my fridge.  It was delicious.

Beer Bread (adapted from Food.com)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 12 ounces room-temperature beer

Preheat the oven to 375.  Blend your dry ingredients well, then slowly add the beer and stir until just combined.  It’ll behave just like regular bread dough, it won’t look like a batter.

Spread in a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Voila!  Easy as pie…er…bread.  Actually easier than both those things!

On another note, it’s Christmas cookie time already (if you’re wondering what recipe I use you can find it here).  Yes, this early – they freeze so well, and they take so long, I have to bake them whenever I can find the time.  But yesterday was a PERFECT winter day in Denver, with big, fluffy, cinematic snowflakes falling all morning.

You can’t see it in the photo, but it was a perfect day to stay in and bake.  And bake I did…a triple batch that yielded like 80 cookies.  It was a lot – this isn’t even the half of it.  But I’m a nerd and I love it!  Till next time…happy holiday season!

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A Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Stuffed Squash and Mushroom Dressing

I know it’s a cliche, but seriously…what are you thankful for?  Whenever I’m feeling particularly sad or angry I always remember that my life is so good compared to so many people in the world, and no problems of mine are ever going to rival hunger, poverty, illness or oppression.  So, yes, it’s a cliche, but gratitude – and perspective – are indispensable to a happy life.

My Thanksgiving holiday was awesome, and my two vegetarian contributions to my non-veg family were really delicious, if I do say so myself.  What did I make?  Farro-stuffed acorn squash and herb-mushroom stuffing.  Sweet and spicy on the one hand, rich and savory on the other.  And the best part is they were both my original creations.  Who needs turkey??

Farro-Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 1 small-medium acorn squash
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 apple (on the sweeter side, such as a gala)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 2 1/2 ounces baby spinach (about half a 5 oz. container)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • maple syrup
  • 1- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  Carefully cut your acorn squash in half lengthwise, and scrape the inside with a spoon.  Save the seeds for later use and rub the inside flesh with olive oil and maple syrup (many people let the syrup pool in the center, but this is too sweet for me – I just use my fingers to make sure it’s coated.)

Then place the squash cut-side up in a glass baking dish with about a half inch of water in the bottom to prevent the skins from scorching.  Bake for about 45-55 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork.

For the seeds, put them in a bowl of cold water and remove all the stringy fleshy bits, then dry thoroughly.  Toss the seeds with about a teaspoon of butter, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of maple syrup, then spread on foil on a baking sheet – DO NOT forget the foil!  Bake until golden-brown, about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

In the meantime, bring your two cups of vegetable broth to a boil in a pot.  Once the broth is boiling, add the 3/4 cup of farro and simmer, covered, on low heat for 25-35 minutes, or until the broth is absorbed and the farro is chewy but not hard.

While the farro is cooking (multitasking is a Thanksgiving necessity, right?), chop your half onion and apple and finely mince the clove of garlic.  Sautee the onion with olive oil, and when it begins to soften add the garlic and apple.  When the onions become translucent, add the spinach and cranberries and fold the ingredients to wilt the spinach.  When the spinach is just wilted, remove the pan from heat.

Ideally your farro and acorn squash would also be done at this time, but it’s not really a perfect world we live in.  When the farro is done, stir in the veggies along with the liquid collected in the acorn squash and a tiny drizzle more of maple syrup, if you’d like.  Mix with the curry, chili powder, pinch of cinnamon, and generous dash of salt and pepper.

Let the flavors marry for a bit, then stuff the squash with the farro mixture and garnish with the roasted seeds.  If you’re not serving these immediately or if they need to travel, simply wrap them in tin foil and warm in the oven before serving!

So that takes care of the sweet/spicy main course, chock full of veggies and protein.  But for me, nothing quite says Thanksgiving like the savory, rich, earthy taste of mushrooms – a vegetarian’s best friend in place of meat!

Herb Mushroom Stuffing

  • 6 ounces (about a half a small round loaf) rustic wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 pound each white and crimini mushrooms*
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • heaping 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage (about a dozen whole leaves), chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil
*I must confess I didn’t actually pay attention to the weight of the mushrooms when I bought them, but each type filled a 4-cup pyrex bowl when whole.

Your oven might already be on from previous baking, but if not, turn it to 400 degrees.  Chop your bread in 1-inch cubes, then toss with the melted butter and spread on a baking sheet.  Toast for about 15 minutes, stirring once, until the bread is golden brown.


While the bread is toasting, you can toast your walnuts in either the oven or toaster oven.  Either way, keep a VERY close eye on them – walnuts are high in oil and will burn quickly.  It should only take a few minutes for them to turn goldenbrown on top, then remove them from the heat and set aside.  Next start sauteeing the onion and celery with olive oil.  Add the garlic and chopped mushrooms when the onion and celery begin to soften, and cook until all ingredients are soft and the mushrooms begin to release their juices.  To stop them from burning, I added a splash of vegetable broth to the pan as well.  When almost done, stir in the sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.

When the veggies are done, remove them from the heat and toss well with the toasted bread and walnuts (I did this in the pan so I wouldn’t dirty another dish). Transfer the mixture into a greased/oiled 9×9 glass baking dish.  Whisk together the vegetable broth and egg, and pour over the stuffing mixture.

I actually made the stuffing before the stuffed squash, so I covered the mixture in foil and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour while I roasted my squash and seeds.  When I was done with my needs at 400 degrees, I turned the oven down to 350 and baked the mushroom stuffing for 25 minutes (covered for about 20 minutes, uncovered for about 5).  When the egg mixture was set and the top was golden, remove it from the oven and let rest, covered, until time to serve.

And there you have it: two amazing vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes.  Or whenever recipes – they’ll be good all winter, I promise!  My meat-eating family didn’t get to try the squash, but they really loved the stuffing – you could probably add some veggie sausage too and no one would be the wiser.  And for the record, this was my Thanksgiving plate before…

And after…

(Not pictured: pumpkin pie.  Mmmm…)  Happy holidays!

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