Stuff It To Impress…Peppers and Acorn Squash That Is.

SNACKS

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cake Cookies
– Despite the flat and unappealing appearance of this batch, they were yummy.  “Why are they flat?” You may be wondering.  Or, maybe you are like me and could care less as long as they are good. For those who do care, there are lots of reasons cookies end up flat.  In my case, a warm baking stone was the culprit. I set the baking stone on the oven while preheating … oops.

Chocolate Orange Avocado Pudding – What feels good on a strep ridden sore throat? Pudding!  No, not store bought pudding laden with sugar, chemicals, and who knows what else??? A creamy homemade chocolate pudding with an orange juice kick.  The avocado is undetectable from a taste standpoint; however, the creaminess is heavenly.

DINNERS

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers with Chipotle Roasted Carrots – This is such a cook and crowd pleaser meal.  It’s easy to make, beautifully colorful, and delicious.  The carrots accompany this meal perfectly too.  Gotta give credit to my little one for the carrot seasonings.  Her inspiration source: many o’ episodes of America’s Worst Cook during a recent snowpocalypse in our area 🙂

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Organic Greens – Here’s another impressive option for entertaining – guests eat from individual squash bowls.  The organic greens make a perfect side. The original recipe calls for ground turkey. This time, I made it with bacon. Outcome: great success!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Yep, you’ve seen these recipes here before.  This is an easy go to meal that tastes like someone slaved in the kitchen when it’s quite the opposite.  And the sandwiches…oh my! The roasted tomatoes, stolen from the soup recipe, take these to a whole new level.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Dark Chcoloate Pumpkin Cake Cookies

Adapted from Feel Great in 8

Wet Ingredients
¾ c. organic pumpkin puree
½ c. unrefined coconut oil, softened but not melted
6 organic eggs (3 whole eggs, 3 egg whites)
2 t. organic vanilla extract
¼ c. pure maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 c. organic coconut palm sugar

Dry Ingredients
1 c. whole white wheat flour
2-3 t. pumpkin pie spice
½ t. baking powder
¼ t. sea salt
3/4 c. chocolate chunks (I like Liberty Chocolate – dark or extra dark)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (pumpkin puree, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar). In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Gently stir in the chocolate chunks.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the bottoms have browned slightly.  Note: the cookies will still be soft and cake-like.


Chocolate Orange Avocado Pudding

Ingredients
1 avocado
1 ripe banana
½ c. orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (alternative: cacao powder)
4 T. pure maple syrup (alternative: honey)

Directions: Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Tips: This is a very flexible recipe.  Modification options are nearly endless.  Like darker chocolate? Increase the cocoa powder.  Like vanilla? Add a teaspoon of organic vanilla. Don’t like orange? Omit and substitute with organic milk- maybe even throw in a 1/2 t. mint extract for chocolate mint pudding.


Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers with Chipotle Roasted Carrots 

Adapted from Broke and Bougie

Timing tip: Prepare the carrots first.  While they are roasting, prepare the stuffed peppers. Since the oven is at a slightly lower temperature than typical for roasting veggies, the carrots require more oven time.

Chipotle Roasted Carrots
Ingredients
1 bag organic carrots, washed and peeled
½ T. olive oil
Sea salt/pepper, freshly cracked
¼ t. paprika
1/8 t. chipotle powder

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Slice the carrots lengthwise.  Then, slice each half lengthwise again to create four quarters.  If too long, cut them in half to create “french fry size” guys.

In a mixing bowl, toss the carrots in the olive oil, salt/pepper, and dry seasonings. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet, making sure they are not touching each other.  Roast

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients
4 organic bell peppers
1 lb. organic ground turkey
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 t. sea salt
1 t. black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
½ c. feta cheese, crumbled
1-14 oz can organic fire roasted tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. cooked quinoa, optional
Guacamole, optional topping (see recipe below)

Directions: If making the roasted carrots, the oven is already hot.  If not, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the bell peppers in half from top to bottom (cutting down through the stems).  Remove the seeds and inner ‘guts.’

In a large, deep skillet, add 1 T. olive oil. Add the turkey, onion, and dry seasonings (cumin, chili powder, salt/pepper). Break the turkey into little bits with a wooden spoon and cook until no longer pink. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute). Add the diced tomatoes and cook another minute. Remove from the heat, and stir in the feta cheese. If using cooked quinoa, stir it in now.

Lay the bell peppers open faced on a baking sheet. If the peppers don’t lay evenly, slice a thin strip from the bottom to create a level surface. Pack the turkey mixture into the peppers. Bake for 25-30 minutes. When they’re done, top with guacamole!

Guacamole
1 avocado
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. black pepper, freshly ground
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Directions: Mash and stir together all ingredients.  Season with sea salt/pepper to taste.


Stuffed Acorn Squash with Organic Greens

Adapted from Developing a Pattern

Ingredients
2 to 3 acorn squash, halved by cutting lengthwise through the stem, seeded and stringy fleshy stuff removed  

(Tip: microwave for 1 minute prior to slicing)

1 T. olive oil, separated into 1/4 teaspoons
Several pinches of sea salt/freshly ground black pepper
1 c. uncooked quinoa (alternative: farro, barley, cous cous, etc.)
4 slices preservative free bacon, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 large organic carrot, finely diced
1 organic bell pepper, finely diced (red, yellow, or orange peppers = a sweeter flavor)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk organic celery, finely diced
1/4 t. each sea salt
1/4 t. black pepper, freshly ground
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme (1/4 t. if using dried)
1/4 c. feta cheese
1/2 c. mild organic white cheese (ideas: Gouda, Fontina, Mozzarella)

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Add olive to each squash half.  Rub around to coat the flesh.  Generously season the flesh with sea salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven on a baking sheet, open side up, until softened and slightly brown (about 35-45 minutes).

In the meantime, cook the quinoa according to package directions.  I like to substitute water with chicken or veggie stock, but that’s up to you.

Now that the quinoa is doing it’s thing, heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add the olive oil to coat the pan.  Add the bacon and cook until it begins to render some fat (about five minutes).  Reduce the heat to near medium.  Add the carrots, bell pepper, onion, celery, and 1/4 teaspoon each sea salt/pepper.  Saute until the veggies have softened (about 5 minutes).  Add the garlic and thyme and cook until the garlic is fragrant (about a minute).  Remove from the heat and stir in the feta and cooked quinoa.

Remove the stuff the squash from the oven. Set the oven to broil  Stuff the quash with the quinoa mixture (really pack it in good).  Sprinkle the cheese atop.  Broil for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese and brown it ever so slightly.

Organic Greens
Salad Ingredients
Organic greens of your choice
¼ c. chopped walnuts
1/2 red onion, sliced
¼ c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Dressing Ingredients
3 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Add dressing ingredients to a glass jar and shake vigorously.


Roasted Tomato Soup with Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:
1 lb. vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered, & deseeded
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil (divided = 1 T, 2 T.)
Sea salt
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced, optional (but oh so flavorful)
1 (28-ounce) can organic crushed tomatoes (preferably, San Marzano)
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 loaf 100% whole grain sourdough bread, broken into bite sized pieces
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional topping)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 T. of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss the tomatoes with your hands to evenly cover with oil and salt. Roast in the oven (approximately 20 minutes) or until the edges are browning slightly.

In the meantime, heat a stock pot to medium heat. Add the remaining 2 T. of olive oil, fresh basil, and garlic. Sauté one minute, stirring constantly. Immediately add the canned tomatoes and water (refill the tomato can with water to get all of the tomato bits and juices). With a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the bread. Add the roasted tomatoes when done roasting (don’t forget to reserve a few for the grilled cheese sandwiches). Scrape the baking sheet to get all of the roasted bits and remaining oil. Allow the soup to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. (I like to use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup just a bit).

Serve with a drizzle of the olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Tips:

  • Reserve a few roasted tomatoes for the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • The original recipe calls for “day old” bread. This is not essential. You can use bread straight from the bread bag. It won’t impact the recipe in the least.

Oven Baked Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Ingredients
100% whole grain sourdough bread
Organic mozzarella cheese slices or shredded
organic tomatoes, very thinly sliced (alternative: several roasted tomatoes from the soup recipe)
fresh basil leaves

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Assemble the sandwiches as if you were making them for the traditional skillet version.

Sandwich order: bread, cheese, basil leaves, tomatoes, a bit more cheese, and bread. Place buttered side down on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Check on the sandwiches a few minutes early to ensure the bread is not getting too dark.

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