Meatless Monday

Hanni asked me to post the recipe for the Brownie Walnut Pie I baked for Thanksgiving Day this year, and I thought, “Why not do it on Monday and make it a Meatless Monday post?”

Why not, indeed!

000brownie walnut pie

Below, is the recipe that I used to make this pie, courtesy of my Betty Crocker Cookbook at home.  The link provided above takes you to the Betty Crocker site, where the recipe is also provided, but I noticed that the ingredients and baking times are different there from what I have in my cookbook. Weird.  Well, maybe pie testers in the BC kitchen decided to tweak the recipe a bit.  Either way, with my old recipe or their new one, I think you will be happy with the results should you choose to bake this pie for a special occasion of your own.

Betty Crocker suggests you use a chocolate sauce as a drizzle for the topping, or some raspberry sauce. I think either would be heavenly, but we ate ours plain. It was rich, custardy, and full of chocolate flavor. I used Ghirardelli chocolate morsels instead of unsweetened chocolate in my pie. The morsels were bittersweet, but they worked fine.

More than fine! Yum!!!

There are two recommendations I would make when baking this pie for your family, and I don’t know if this would enhance the finished product or not, but I would do it next time.

1.  Put a pan of water in the oven while baking the pie. The pie top turned out more dry than I like, and I think this would help moisten it a bit.

2.  Put a clean dish towel on the pie while it is resting (but not until after 30-45 minutes out of the oven). Because the top crust was dry on my pie, it stayed puffed when it cooled, making for a crunchy topping when I would have rather have had it moist, like a brownie topping.  On a brownie, you want that lil bit of flakiness/crust, but without it being too dry.

This pie did what a lot of apple pies do when you use sugar crystals on the top crust before popping it into the oven.  That maneuver makes the crust stand stiff after the pie filling sinks into the bottom crust, leaving air between the pie filling and the raised, crunchy crust (which is oh, so good, but I want it resting on the pie filling when I cut into it with a fork).  That’s just me.  If you don’t mind the air between your filling and your crust, this step can be skipped.

Note: Do  not cover pie with dish towel right out of the oven.  It will make the pie sweat and wet the top, and nobody likes a wet brownie.

Moist, yes. Wet, no!

Other than these two tricks, that I think would help to make the completed pie even more luscious, I would make no alterations to either recipe.

This pie was very chocolate-y and definitely a recipe I would make again, but not until company comes over to share it with us. Too much pie for a man and his mate alone. Enjoy!Brownie Walnut Pie

Meatless Monday-Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Walnuts

000baked-acorn-squash_1One of my favorite foods is acorn squash with brown sugar and walnuts. Squash done this way is my go-to for vegetable deliciousness during the winter months especially, but in the summer too. In the summer, I’m more likely to cook the squash in the roaster, out on the front porch, cuz who wants to fill the house with heat when it’s already hot outside?  Not this girl.

Yep, we bake this way in the hills of NEPA!

I do not grill, but I bet there is a recipe out there for acorn squash on the grill.  I’m sure there is.

This dish is so easy and so very tasty, and it can be done by almost anyone.

Here is my method for roasting the squash in the oven. I’ve never timed it in the front porch roaster, but 35-40 minutes is my usual cook time no matter how I roast it.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut acorn squash(es) in half vertically, from stem to stern (top where the stem grows out of the ground, to the pointy bottom).  Scoop out the seeds and toss them, unless you like to roast them. They are edible, but I don’t bother with roasting them.  Now, on a rimmed baking sheet, arrange squash cut side down; cover sheet tightly with aluminum foil. Roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 40 minutes.The foil tent helps to steam them, so they are done quicker.

While squash are roasting, prepare the filling you will use to sweeten them (although they don’t really need this step, they are delicious without sugar, too).  Mix together some butter, some brown sugar and some walnut meats; amounts depend on how buttery or sugary you want the end product.  I use less butter and more nuts for mine, and natural sugar instead of brown sugar.  Experiment with a couple squash innards and see how sweet you like yours.  What you add to the mix really depends on what you like.  Raisins, craisins, and dried cherries can be added, as can rice, but remember that then your squash will have added calories.  For that reason alone, I refrain most times.

Plus, hubs doesn’t like raisins or craisins, but he loves him some squash, so I like to make it the way I know he will like it.

Once the time is done for roasting the squash, flip each half over and add some part of the butter/sugar/walnut mixture to the cavity that has been previously salted and peppered.  Put the squash back in the oven for 5 minutes and you’re ready to enjoy a sweet treat that is also good for you.

Note: you probably could use Splenda on the squash to cut the sugar, but I like my acorn squash without artificial sweeteners, and I don’t eat them every day, so I splurge and add the natural sugar crystals to my mix.


Heidi Swanson on a Meatless Monday

I love pesto!

I salivate just looking at most of the recipes in my Heidi Swanson cookbook, Super Natural Every Day. This cookbook is packed full of vegetarian dishes that are colorful, flavorful, and nutritious.

I adore Heidi’s recipes.

One of my favorites from Heidi’s cookbook is the white bean and cabbage dish she makes with parmesan sprinkles. Sooo good!

000white bean and cabbage

Today, I wanted to shard Heidi’s recipe for Orzo Brocolli Salad. 000orzo brocolli

The bad thing about the orzo salad is that the pine nuts are crazy expensive.  I bought a small bag of pine nuts over the weekend for $10 and change.  Yikes!  They are good, though, and I love pesto, so I had to have them.  I have a recipe for whole wheat baking powder biscuits that also call for pine nuts.  I will use these several times, and we will be glad for them, $10 price tag or not.

If you haven’t tried some of Heidi’s recipes, you should.  This gal knows how to cook and in a way that is oh. so. delicious.


Meatless Monday-Vegetable Paella

A few years back I became a Flexitarian–a gal who eats meat, but makes sure the bulk of her diet is about veggies.  I love the crunch, the color, the sweetness and the variety our gardens provide.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my grains, too, and I eat fruit, but because I aim to be the incredible shrinking woman, I eat lots and lots of veggies.

Some of my favorite recipes include roasted root vegetables.  Roasted veggies find their way to my dinner table over and over again during the winter months.  I love roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, roasted turnips, roasted parsnips, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower (a favorite of favorites), and roasted brussels sprouts.  Really, I love almost anything roasted, and that certainly includes squash of all varieties and sweet corn, on the cob.  Everything’s better when its caramelized.  🙂

Loving roasted veggies as I do, I also like veggies done in other ways, like the simmering method that goes into a good veggie paella.  Not only does paella look fantastic when it’s assembled, but it smells out of this world while cooking and it contains the grains I love in combination with the veggies. A win / win for this gal.

Veggie Paella:  doesn't that look incredible?

On this Meatless Monday, I’m going to suggest you hop on over to Forks Over Knives and download their recently published recipe for Vegetable Paella.

You can use just about any veggies you have in the frig to make your own paella dish, but whatever you do, be creative and eat the rainbow.  Lots of color is the key to a beautiful paella in my opinion, and if you make it big you can eat on it all week.  Yum!

For those of you who love your protein, add a lil pre-cooked sausage to your dish at the end of its cooking time, or you could grate some fresh cheddar or gruyere and add it to the paella once its done.  Fantastico!!!  With or without meat or cheese, this dish is delish!!!  Enjoy!

How many veggies do you eat each day?  How can you increase that number?  What is your favorite way to “eat the rainbow”?

Meatless Monday–NOT

My recipe for today isn’t really an officially formatted recipe, and it’s not meatless, though it could be. Its a throw together meal that I would be willing to make and eat a million times over, shared here in a very informal manner.  000chick pea soupChick Pea Soup

Here’s how I do it…I put together in a pot:

1 can of Swanson Chicken stock

1 can of stewed tomatoes, pureed in the blender

1 sweet potato, cubed into small pieces, already cooked

1 cans of Chick Peas, drained

2-3 sausage links, cooked and coined

Salt, pepper, oregano, basil to taste.

2 cups fresh spinach, added a few minutes before serving.

I put the broth and tomatoes in the pot first, then add the spices.  I let that simmer for a little bit, enough to bring the flavors together.  I cook the sweet potato separately, ahead of time, because I want to eliminate some of the starch in the recipe.  You could do the same, or if you want the soup to be thicker, add the potato in the stock you’ve made and simmer until done–about 15 minutes.  Next I add the sausage coins and the chick peas.  The spinach is the last item I add to the pot.  I bet you could use kale too, but I haven’t–yet!

If you like onions, you can dice one and add at the beginning, letting them cook while the broth melds with the spices.

While this soup is cooking on the range top, I throw some corn bread in the oven. My favorite go-to recipe is found in the Happy Everyday Herbivore cookbook that you can check out here.  It’s made of white flour and whole wheat flour and it’s really dense and moist (probably because of the pumpkin–I sometimes use creamed corn in a pinch).  The cornbread only takes 25 minutes to bake, and the soup is done about that same time.

This recipe is quick, easy, and so, so, sooo delicious and filling.  It has tons of vitamins and nutrients in it, and the corn bread and chick peas provide a lot of fiber and texture.  Its simple to make and I usually have all the ingredients on hand–the win/win I’m looking for on those nights when I have meetings after work.

Try this soup and let me know what you think. I love it!

What is your favorite soup?  Do you have a tried and true recipe for those hectic nights? 




Sweet Potato Love

I love sweet potatoes roasted in the oven. I also adore cheese.  I’m a big fan of dairy, having grown up in NEPA, where the buffalo may not roam, but the Holsteins surely do.
Today, for Meatless Monday, I thought I would share a recipe that mingles and mixes both dairy and my love–the sweet potato.  I do not bake dishes like this in my iron skillet, though you may want to.  A skillet certainly adds the rustic feel, but I hate cleaning out cheese from an iron baking pan, so I’ll be using my glass pan to bake this yummy recipe.  If you try it, let me know what you think.
I think you can’t go wrong with sweet potato and cheese.
Sweet Potato Parmesan Gratin
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
A simple gratin featuring sweet potatoes, thyme, low-fat milk and parmesan cheese. Healthier than your average gratin yet just as satisfying.
Author: Minimalist Baker
Serves: 5-6
  • 2 organic sweet potatoes, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 small red or yellow potato
  • ~ 1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme, roughly chopped (fresh or dried)
  • 3/4-1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 cups low-fat milk (I used 2%)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter or lightly oil a baking dish or cast iron skillet.
  3. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the thyme and half of the cheese and toss together.
  4. Transfer to the dish and pour on the milk. It should just cover the potatoes.
  5. Bake 30 minutes, remove from oven and carefully drain off a bit of the liquid (about 1/3 cup). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and return to the oven.
  6. Bake another 45-50 minutes, until the milk is absorbed, the potatoes are soft and the top and edges are golden and around the edges. (Optional: drain off a bit more of the liquid as using low-fat milk instead cream can result in a bit of wateriness.)
  7. Let rest at least 20 minutes before serving so the juices can redistribute.
  8. Can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave or oven for serving.
* You can use cream or half and half instead of low-fat milk, but it will add a lot more fat and calories overall.
* You can substitute other cheeses besides parmesan, such as gouda or asiago.

Meltdownchaostastrophy Over

As I was coming down from my meltdownchaostastrophy last Thursday, I heard a lil whisper telling me to check out some of my old blog posts for help with this current plateau I’m facing. So, I did!  Here is one you might enjoy reading.  I heard God speak through that post.

I love it when He speaks to me in that still, small voice.

I always know something good is headed my way when I hear that whisper.

Sooo, I read a few more of my past blog posts.

I found some good help.

I copied and pasted that help into another document I then printed. I will read it many times over the next few weeks, and I know it will help.

Repetition is the only form of permanence I can achieve. 

It’s important for me to remember to do the same right things over and over again. When it comes to food, I forget, ALOT!  It’s time to go back, re-read, begin again, and take my own advice.

I’m back to journaling and calorie counting.

It’s also time I re-read some past posts from other bloggers, things that have helped me before.  I’m doing that today.

Because its Monday, I wanted to share one of my Meatless Monday favorites: KIND bars.  I sometimes eat KIND bars for breakfast, when I take a break from the oatmeal with raisins and walnuts.  I love the almond and coconut variety.

Almond and Coconut bar, 190 calories

Almond and Coconut bar, 190 calories

Speaking of oatmeal, I haven’t made baked oatmeal in a while.  Instead, I’ve been cooking my oats on top of the stove, but it’s not the same.  I need to make me some baked oatmeal.  It’s a stick-to-your-ribs kinda breakfast that I love.  Here’s one of my favorite recipes for baked oatmeal.  It’s taken from the Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Super Natural Every Day.

Heidi Swanson's cookbook. One of my favorites.

Heidi Swanson’s cookbook. One of my favorites.

Heidi’s Baked Oatmeal

YIELD: Serves 6 generously, or 12 as part of a larger brunch.
• 2 cups/7 oz/200 g rolled oats
• 1/2 cup/2 oz/60 g walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
• 1/3 cup/2 oz/60 g natural cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
• 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
• 2 cups/475 ml milk
• 1 large egg
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch/1 cm pieces
• 1 1/2 cups/6.5 oz/185 g huckleberries, blueberries, or mixed berries

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch/20cm square baking dish.  In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the milk, egg, half of the butter, and the vanilla.

Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the counter top to make sure the milk moves through the oats. Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter on the top and serve. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar or drizzle with maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter.

Note:  I eliminate several ingredients from this recipe when I make it.  The bananas I leave out, just because they are really mushy when baked at the bottom of the pan, and that turns me off. I also don’t use the maple syrup.  I sometimes use nuts and seeds, instead or berries, but I often use raisins and lots of cinnamon.  I like this recipe because of the milk already in it when it bakes. The oatmeal stays moist, while others get hard a day or two into the week. I eat from this pan all weeks long, which makes getting ready for work a whole lot easier.  Enjoy!