All-Natural Pumpkin Puree

Pie pumpkins are on sale at a local store (Woodmans) for only $0.99, so I figured why not try to make some homemade pumpkin puree?

(My recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Puree Recipe, which is made with only pumpkin and salt)

Ingredients:

1 small pie pumpkin (3-5 lbs.)

pinch of salt

1/4 C water

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

about 1 in. finger fresh ginger

Roasting Pie Pumpkin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F.  Wash pumpkin thoroughly after removing stem.  Carefully cut pumpkin in half from top to bottom.  Remove seeds and gooey fiber with a large metal spoon.  Set seeds aside for other use (you can roast washed, partially dried seeds sprinkled with salt at 325F on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking oil for about 15 minutes for a crunchy snack or topping). Sprinkle pumpkin halves with salt.  Place the halves flesh side down on a pan lined with parchment paper. Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, or until a knife can easily be placed in and removed from the pumpkin without the flesh sticking to it. Remove from oven. After the pumpkin has cooled down enough to handle (30mins-1hr), remove the flesh from the skin with a spoon. Put cooked pumpkin flesh in a blender (or food processor, if you have one) with water, maple syrup, cinnamon, and ginger. Blend until smooth. Yields about 3-4 cups. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Enjoy in smoothies, with yogurt, or in recipes as a substitute for canned pumpkin puree!

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Gourmet Tuna Salad in Under 20 Minutes

I’m busy, busy, busy, and as the weather cools down, warm meals are on the mind!  So tonight I whipped up a quick, simple, and satisfying warm tuna salad made with Annie’s Homegrown White Cheddar Mac N’ Cheese as the base.  Recipe serves two.

Ingredients:

1 package Annie’s White Cheddar Mac N’ Cheese

1/4 C milk (box calls for 3 Tbsp., but I used a little more so that it was more saucey and covered the tuna and tomatoes)*

1 Tbsp. butter (can omit if desired, but I like it a little creamier)*

1 large tomato, diced

fresh dill, chopped (as desired, I used about 1 tsp./serving at least)

5-6 stone ground whole wheat crackers, crushed into crumbs

1 small package tuna, drained

Directions:

Prepare mac n’ cheese as directed on package.*  While the pasta is cooking, dice tomato, chop dill, and crush crackers. Mix half of the dill in with the tuna, reserving the rest for topping.  After the mac n’ cheese is totally prepared, add tuna and tomatoes, and top with breadcrumbs and dill.  Enjoy!  Tastes fabulous with hot sauce 😉

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Bread

School is back in full swing, and as I juggle the many hats that I wear, cooking and baking have once again become an escape from and positive outlet for all of the stress that comes along with it.  Since I keep finding myself more and more pressed for time, and as I spied browning bananas in my kitchen, I decided to create some protein-packed banana bread for the week ahead, using the ingredients that I had in my kitchen, and this is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

• 1/3 cup raw cane sugar
• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• ¾ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 scoop (about 30g) vanilla protein powder (I used vanilla plant-based protein powder)
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3-4 medium-large bananas, mashed (I used 3, which was about 1 1/2 cups)
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• ¼ cup coconut or canola oil (I used canola because that’s what I had, but coconut oil may be a healthier option)
• ¼ cup dark chocolate peanut butter
• ¼ cup milk (I used 2%, but I’m sure anything, including milk substitutes, would hold up fine)
• 1-2 Tablespoons raw cacao nibs for topping, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease 9 x 5 in loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the peanut butter and oil with a fork. In another medium bowl, beat together the sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until smooth with a spatula or large spoon. Combine the peanut butter and oil mixture with the mashed banana, vanilla, beaten eggs, and milk, beating until smooth. Add the flour mixture, stirring again until smooth. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased pan and let it rest at room temperature, and let it rest for about 5 minutes uncovered. Sprinkle with cacao nibs, if desired.
Place in oven on center rack for 50 minutes. Cover with foil and bake for another 10 or more minutes, or until a fork or toothpick come out clean. Take out of oven and place on a rack to cool. Enjoy!

I Can’t Believe It’s Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

On our way home from a wedding over this past weekend, we stopped at a roadside farm stand and picked up a HUGE zucchini (for only $2!!!), and as it’s gotten a little chilly over the past few days, I figured that baking zucchini bread was the natural thing to do with it.  As I browsed the ingredients that I needed to buy in the baking aisle, I thought, “Why not try whole wheat?”  So I looked up a recipe that sounded good, and modified it to how it suited my taste…and it turned out even better than I thought it would!  I had actually never baked with whole wheat flour before, but after this success, I’ll definitely try making other things with it (and other alternate flours) in the future, and even tweaking this recipe!  (Note: I preferred the bread in the muffin format over the loaf!)

zucchini

You can make adjustments where you see fit, as well, which I have mad suggestions for below! (Substitute whole wheat flour for white, or some wheat flour for white, chocolate chips for cacao nibs, white sugar for raw cane sugar, etc.)
Ingredients:
3 C whole wheat flour
1 ½ Tbsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 eggs
¾ C coconut oil (vegetable or canola oil will do as well), slightly melted for easy stirring
¼ C raw acacia honey (but any variety of honey will do!), slightly melted (make a simple syrup and add about 1 Tbsp. or less very hot water and stir, which will break down the sugar and turn the honey into a liquid)
¼ C raw cane sugar (in place of white sugar, which you could use instead if preferred or if that’s what you have available to you) **
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla
3 C grated zucchini (try to remove any large seeds)
¼ C cacao nibs (or about ½ – ¾ C dark or semisweetened chocolate if you don’t have any cacao nibs or want something a little bit sweeter), optional (I tried all three ways, and the semisweet is definitely the sweetest, but the other two are delicious as well!)

**You can also add more sugar if you would like, as I have kept the sugar content pretty low in this recipe, which is surely not suited for all palates.
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In the meanwhile, grease your loaf and/or muffin pans. (When I made this particular batch, I made 1 loaf and 10 muffins). Next, add all of the dry ingredients except the chocolate together and stir. In the center of the bowl with the dry ingredients, make a well and pour in all of the wet ingredients except for the zucchini. Stir just until mixed, making sure not to overmix. Fold in the grated zucchini and chocolate chips or cacao nibs (reserving half of the chocolate for topping). Pour batter into greased loaf pan(s) or muffin holders and top with remaining chocolate pieces. Bake about 15-20 minutes for muffins and 30-60 minutes for loaf pans, or until a tooth pick or fork come out clean.

Enjoy!

Top with butter or coconut oil for an extra tasty treat!!!

Recipe adapted from Lisa Leake of the 100 Days of Real Food blog’s Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/06/25/recipe-zucchini-bread/

Roasted Baby Tomato Red Sauce

Our baby tomato plants (yellow and red) have been extremely fruitful, so I decided that it was about time to make some homemade red sauce with them.

Ingredients:

30-40 baby tomatoes (yellow & red, or whatever you have)

1Tbsp. Olive oil for roasting

1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil for the sauce

1/2 tsp. salt, or salt to taste

2 Tbsp. water

1-2 tsp. Chili Garlic sauce

Two dashes of turmeric

2 Tbsp. Finely chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic, finely shredded or diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Wash tomatoes thoroughly and dry on a towel or in a strainer. Place tomatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with half of the salt. Place in preheated oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to burst and look slightly brown on the tops. Take out of oven and pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl. Heat a small pot or saucepan over medium heat, adding the remaining olive oil. Once the oil has warmed, add the onions, garlic, and remaining salt. Heat for about 4-6 minutes, or just enough so that the onions and garlic begin to cook through, stirring ocassionally so that the onions and garlic do not stick to the pan. Add the water and chili garlic paste, stirring thoroughly.  Next, add the reserved cooked tomatoes and juices and two dashes of turmeric, stirring well once again. Heat until sauce is to desired temperature. Serve warm over pasta or vegetables. Enjoy!

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

Sorry that I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for awhile, but I’ve been busy between enjoying my summer, working, and getting ready for the semester to begin!  When I don’t have time to blog my recipes, I usually share pictures of what I’m creating in the kitchen on my Instagram feed (@radiantlyliving), but I hope to start finding a little bit more time to share my recipes, regardless of the fact that I am about to become much more busy.  I won the in-house manual coffee brewing competition that I competed in, and will be advancing to the next round of the competition with the help of a sponsorship by the company that I work for–Stone Creek Coffee–which is hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association of America/Barista Guild of America, so I will be practicing for that, as well as beginning school again in just a few short weeks, but don’t plan on losing any of my passion for cooking, so figure I may as well take the time when I have it to share 🙂

On another health-related note, I recently started doing Tone It Up workouts and have fallen in love!  Last night, I purchased the Beach Babe 3 workouts and began following Karena and Katrina’s weekly workout schedule that they post to their website as of this morning.  And Mike and I also purchased our first kettle bell (15 lbs.) today!!!! Woot woot!  Can’t wait to see my progress and continue to get stronger while my man does too!

Tonight I’d like to share a tasty recipe for Spicy Black Bean Hummus that I whipped up to squeeze some extra protein into our meal and pair with some homemade baked yellow potato fries and steamed purple cauliflower and multicolor baby carrots.

Ingredients:

1 16oz. can drained, rinsed black beans

juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt, or salt to taste

1 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. turmeric

2 Tbsp. water

3 Tbsp. tahini

2 tsp.-1 Tbsp. hot sauce of your choice (I used Valentina because that’s what we had in the fridge), optional

cilantro to garnish, optional

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, mix all ingredients until smooth. Use a spatula to make sure that all of the hummus is removed from the blending vessel.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to enjoy!  Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Cold Brew Smoothie

Sorry that I haven’t been posting lately, ya’ll! Although I do always try to take snaps of my creations and post them to Instagram (follow me @radiantlyliving ), I just haven’t been finding the time to post on here as well. After I compete in the in-house brewer’s cup that the coffee company that I work for is hosting this Thursday (practicing for it has been taking up a lot of my free time, as well as doing outdoor activities with Mike when we’re not working in an attempt to enjoy the summer before its ever quickly approaching end), I’ll have more to post though!

In the meantime, I wanted to share a simple recipe for a tasty treat that I created this morning using only 2 ingredients :0!!!  Cold brew coffee and bananas! What’s not to love about that on a warm, humid summer Monday morning?

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas, cut into coins

1 fresh banana, cut into coins

3/4 cup cold brew coffee (I use Stone Creek Coffee’s cold brew)

Directions:

In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.  Enjoy!

Gluten-free, Vegan Pasta Puttanesca

I created my own gluten-free, vegan puttanesca recipe tonight (based on Emeril Lagasse’s recipe found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/puttanesca-sauce-recipe.html), and it turned out absolutely delicious! I will definitely be making this again soon!  (I made Mike his with regular pasta 😉 and he loved it too!)

Ingredients:

*try to use organic when possible*

6 cloves garlic, chopped or minced

1 28oz. can diced tomatoes, cut in half or separated by hand so that the chunks aren’t too large

3 Tbsp. tomato paste (the store I stopped at didn’t have organic, so I got all-natural, which isn’t the same, but at least there are no added sugars)

2 Tbsp. drained capers

1 4.25 oz. jar of kalamata olives, drained and with olives cut in half

zest from 1/2 lemon

juice for 1/2 lemon

1/2 C olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, diced

1 small shallot, diced

1 tsp. red chili pepper paste

salt to taste

1 8oz package gluten free multigrain spaghetti with quinoa (or use regular wheat pasta if you like)

4 dried basil leaves, crushed

6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In the meanwhile, prepare fresh ingredients.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat, adding about 1-2 Tbsp. of water.  Add onions and salt and cook for about 6 minutes.  Add chopped garlic.  Cook for about 4 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients. Add more salt to taste if necessary. Lower heat to low. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until tomatoes are reduced.  Serve over cooked, drained, rinsed pasta.  Enjoy!

Cherry Chard Smoothie

Ingredients:

2 bananas, cut into coins, frozen

1/2-3/4 C cherries, pitted, frozen

2-4 stalks (including stems) rainbow chard

2-4 stalks (including stems) Swiss chard

4-5 pitted dates

1/2 C unsweetened vanilla coconut milk

about 1/2 C water for blending

Directions:

For a layered smoothie:

Put the bananas, dates, and coconut milk (and water, if necessary) into a blender and blend until smooth.  Empty about 1/3 of the contents into a glass.  Add the cherries to the blender and blend again until smooth.  Empty about half of the mixture on top of the first layer.  Add the chard to the blender and blend until smooth.  Top off glass.  Enjoy!