Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkingingerbreadI’m not a big pumpkin spice anything girl, but I am a big fan of pumpkin pie and just about any bread or muffin that has pumpkin in it.  I am not, however, a big fan of the amount of fat that usually accompanies those recipes and look for any way I can to trim that aspect down so I can enjoy more of those seasonal treats.

On this first day of October, it may have been 90° and muggy in the shade where I live, but I’m kicking off my fall baking (well after dark) with this recipe for pumpkin gingerbread with no added fat.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup applesauce or banana puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3+1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-15oz can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, applesauce or banana puree, and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool loaves completely on wire racks.  Store wrapped in refrigerator.

#ThisGirlLovesToEat

Easy Vegan Pumpkin Spice Granola

maple-leaves-mixed-fall-colors-background-david-gn

Fall officially started two days ago.  Temperatures in most of the United States (not here in Southern California, of course) have begun dropping and falling leaves are all over the ground with colors ranging from light green to yellow, orange, red and brown.  But to a very large, very loyal, bordering on fanatical. portion of society, MOST importantly it’s #PumpkinSpice everything season.

In keeping with the season, and my requirement that as many of the recipes I share be quick, easy & don’t require ingredients I can’t find at my local grocery stores, enjoy this granola recipe, found on Blissful Basil, that also fulfills a category I don’t usually include: it’s vegan!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Granola ClustersSuper-Clustery-Pumpkin-Spice-Granola-1691

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats*
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup raw shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup creamy unsalted almond butter
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 275F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Add the rolled oats, coconut flakes, pepitas, and pecans to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the maple syrup, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and sea salt over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and glossy. Pour over the oat mixture and stir very thoroughly to combine (you want every last bit of the dry mixture to be evenly coated).
  4. Turn the mixture out onto the lined baking tray and use a fork to gently nudge it across the pan, spreading it into an even layer that’s just shy of 1/2 inch thick. It’s okay if there are gaps or holes between clumps of granola.
  5. Bake for 38 to 48 minutes, or until the top is light golden-brown, the granola near the edges of the pan is just beginning to turn deep golden-brown, and the granola feels dry and firm but not yet crisp to the touch. (Note: I recommend keeping a watchful eye on it and checking it a few times as it bakes. Granola doesn’t become crisp and crunchy until it’s had a chance to cool, so rely on look and scent more than touch or you’ll end up with burnt granola.)
  6. Once the granola is ready, remove the pan from the oven and place it on an oven-safe cooling rack to allow air to circulate beneath and around the pan to efficiently cool and crisp the granola.
  7. Allow the granola to cool completely on the pan until it’s not even the slightest bit warm to the touch. If you start moving it around or try to break it into clusters while it’s still warm, it will crumble. I recommend a minimum 45 minutes of cool time at room temperature, but try to hold out for 1 hour if you can.
  8. Once the granola is completely cool, break it into pieces of desired size and store in large airtight glass jars to maintain its crunch.

This granola can be enjoyed many ways:

  • Crumble over plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Drop chunks over ice cream (my guilty pleasure)
  • Pile in a bowl, top with berries and/or some bananas and milk for breakfast; or
  • Eat the clusters straight from the jar

You can’t go wrong, no matter how you enjoy these.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Indoor Grilled Swordfish

swordfish

One of the things I hear people complain about when summer ends is that cook-out season is over.  I’ve always thought that was odd.  My family grilled year round.  I remember my dad and grandpa out on the deck of our mountain cabin, even in the snow, grilling steaks on the BBQ.  For some people though, the harshness of the winters where they live just doesn’t make that an option.  Solution: their oven’s broiler and a good broiler pan!

broilerdrawerI’d never consider it if I had to use the hard to clean, slide out broiler pan drawer that was part of my mom’s 1970’s oven.  Thankfully technology has improved enough to encourage me to give indoor broiling a try.  When I upgraded my slide in range there was a parts order form included. The only thing that caught my eye was an easy to clean broiler pan with a roasting rack.  Once I had the part number it was easy to find, and get it faster, on Amazon.  As soon as I got it, I started experimenting with fast & easy indoor grilling recipes for the winter.kitchenaidwhirlpoolbroilerpan

Indoor Grilled Swordfish

  • 2 – 4 to 6 oz swordfish filets
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups arugula
  • sliced cucumber
  • sliced tomato
  • bottled red wine vinagrette
  • olive oil spray

Swordfish:

Remove the slotted top of the broiler rack and set aside.  Line the inside of the broiler pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup).  Spray the roasting rack lightly with olive oil spray and place onto the foil lined broiler pan.

Liberally salt and pepper one side of the swordfish steaks and place, seasoned side down, onto the prepared rack. Salt and pepper the top side of the swordfish steaks, then squeeze your lemon over each steak until you’ve gotten about 2 tsp of juice on each steak.  Brush each steak with the melted butter. Put them under the broiler, about 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. Broil the steaks for about 4 minutes.

Turn the swordfish steaks, squeeze your lemon over each steak, brush each with melted butter and broil for 5 minutes longerDO NOT OVERCOOK or your swordfish will get rubbery.  When your steaks have finished cooking, remove the broiling pan from the oven, set on the stove, and tent loosely with foil while you prepare your salad.

Salad:

Divide the arugula between 2 plates.  Divide your tomatoes between the plates, with then just to the side of the arugula.  Stack & quarter your cucumber slices then divide them between the plates, scattering them atop the arugula.  If it’s avocado season, and you like them, slice one up and add it to the top of your salad.  Lightly dress your salad with 2 TBLS red wine vinagrette.  You don’t want to overpower the lightness of your fish.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lemon Pepper Shrimp

shrimplemonpepperlinguine

Once school starts, week night sit down dinners together for most families become a memory.  This recipe requires few ingredients, can be made in under 30 minutes (while Mama is sipping her glass of wine), can be made ahead and reheated, and makes week night dinners together something that doesn’t have to stop as soon as summer is over!  This serves 4 but can easily be doubled to serve a larger family or guarantee leftovers. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lemon Pepper Shrimp with Linguine

  • 1 – 8 ounce package linguine pasta
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic minced (I use the pre-chopped jars which would equal 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 TBLS chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 TBLS chopped fresh basil
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Whole basil leaves for garnish

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil
  2. Add linguine and return to a boil
  3. Cook according to package directions for al dente pasta (usually 11 to 13 minutes)
  4. Drain the pasta and put into a large bowl
  5. Toss with 1 to 2 TBLS olive oil and set aside
  6. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and saute garlic about 1 minute
  7. Mix in chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, & pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is reduced by about 1/2
  8. Mix shrimp, butter, parsley, and basil into the saucepan
  9. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp is opaque
  10. Stir in the cooked linguine, and continue cooking 2 minutes, until well coatedWesterlySauvBlanc14

To serve, place a mound of pasta in the center of dish and divide the shrimp and sauce evenly between the plates. If desired sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese atop and garnish with leaves of basil.  This dish pairs nicely with chilled Sauvignon Blanc. #GirlsGoneWine

Lazy Sunday Skewers

salmonskewers

You work all week looking forward to the two long lazy days off, but how often do you just get to relax and do absolutely nothing on Saturday and Sunday?  If you’re like most people, there’s errands to run, kids to shuttle to one sporting or social event or another, family gatherings, and maybe even date night on one or both nights so that by Sunday you’re exhausted.

The last thing you want to do on your one day off is spend it in the kitchen.  Skewers are the perfect solution to that cooking dilemma.  Skewers are also great for grilling at picnics, parties, & tailgates.

No matter which recipe you are making there are some simple kebab tips:

  1. Cut the ingredients into similar-size pieces and prepare as the recipe directs.
  2. If marinating, refrigerate 1 hour for fish and up to overnight for meat and poultry.
  3. Preheat a grill to high.
  4. If using wood skewers, soak skewers in water for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Thread the ingredients onto skewers.
  6. Use 2 skewers per kebab, side-by-side, to keep the food from spinning and make flipping on the grill easier.
  7. Grill the kebabs, turning, until the ingredients are charred and cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 15 minutes.

Rosemary Lamb: rosemarylambskewers

  • Marinate 1 pound cubed lamb leg in 1/2 cup olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, 4-6 stems fresh rosemary (leaves stripped), 3 smashed garlic cloves, and salt & pepper.
  • Skewer with 1 to 1+1/2  inch chunks of zucchini & grill.

Garlic-Dijon Salmon:

  • Marinate 1 to 1+1/2 pounds de-boned, skinned, chunks wild-caught salmon in 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 TBLS chopped fresh parsley, freshly ground sea salt and pepper.
  • Skewer with slices of lemon between the salmon. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Serve on top of grilled asparagus spears.

caesarskewer

Chicken Caesar:

  • Mix 1 pound ground chicken2 tablespoons Caesar dressing1/2 cup Parmesan1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
  • Form into mini burgers, skewer and grill.
  • Serve on whole romaine leaves with grilled crusty garlic bread and more dressing.

bucaneerporkskewerBuccaneer Pork:

Boil 1 cup water, 3 TBLS each salt and brown sugar, 2 tsp pickling spices & 4 garlic cloves. Add 1 cup rum, then cool. Add 1 pound cubed pork tenderloin and marinate. Skewer with pineapple chunks. Grill, basting with bottled jerk sauce.  Serve over steamed white rice#ThisGirlLovesToEat

Start Your Meal Off Right

Cheese-Moons-450x300

When you’re relaxing before you’re ready to have dinner, but don’t want to sip on your wine without a little something to take the edge off of your hunger, these decidedly Southern, half moon shaped cheese biscuits are just the thing!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Southern Cheese Moons (Wine4Food)

  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cream together softened butter and finely shredded cheese, using the paddle on a stand mixer or a hand mixer.

Combine flour, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic, mustard, and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk together well.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture and cheddar butter. Don’t over mix, just combine.

Transfer dough to parchment paper. Gently press into one ½-inch oval shape.

Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, press cutter in dough. Then, slice in half.

For any remaining dough, shape into ½-inch ovals.

Place the cut half moons onto a parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet. The cheese biscuits should be a minimum of 2 inches apart.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy these biscuits with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah, Petite Syrah or Sangiovese. #GirlsGoneWine

Aguachile de Camarón

AGUACHILE-DE-CAMARÓN-18072016
Photo By Chelsea Kyle

It seems like every appetizer served at parties, large or small, is forbidden to those who follow the low carb lifestyles touted by the Keto, Paleo and Atkins diets, but who has the time, or patience, to spend making some of the recipes for snacks that are allowed?

I went to a couple of my favorite “regular recipe” resources, Epicurious.com and Emeril’s on Planet Green, to see if there were any easy snack recipes that were low carb friendly and was pleasantly surprised! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Aguachile de Camarón

  • 2 Quarts Water
  • 2 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • 1 Pound Fresh Jumbo Shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 English Cucumber, peeled
  • 1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 to 3 Fresh Serrano Chiles, sliced
  • 1 TBLS Chopped Fresh Parsley
  1. Combine 2 quarts water and 2 TBLS cup salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
  2. Butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tail intact.
  3. Add shrimp and immediately turn off the heat.
  4. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place shrimp in colander, run under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.
  6. In a blender, combine the lime juice, olive oil, chiles, and 1/4 cup of cold water. Process until smooth then season to taste with salt.
  7. In a non-reactive bowl combine the shrimp with the dressing.  Cover and put into the refrigerator for 1 hour. (Can be made up to 4 hours before serving)
  8. Cut the cucumber into thin rectangular slices, about 3 inches long, and divide among 4 small plates.
  9. Arrange the shrimp on top of the cucumber slices, season as needed, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

**Non-Reactive Bowl:  Stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking with acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan.  Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor

Salami Crisps (Epicurious)Salami-Crisps

  • 1/4 Pound (very thinly sliced) Genoa Salami, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Pancetta, Jamón Ibérico, Finocchiona, Coppa, or other charcuterie type dry cured meat
  • Cracked Black Pepper (if using an unspiced meat)
  • Parmesan Cheese (if desired)
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Arrange salami slices in 1 layer on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. If using Parmesan Cheese, sprinkle slices lightly.
  4. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are crisp and beginning to curl, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Transfer slices to a rack to cool. (They will crisp as they cool.)

Serving Suggestion:  Small slices of cheese, olive oil marinated feta, or some herbs mixed into cream cheese are all Keto-friendly and would be good served with these crisps.