Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

I have to admit, whenever I see a menu item or recipe that includes sweet potatoes, I get super excited. They are one of my absolute favorite comfort foods. I love making sweet potato fries, baked sweet potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato hash, and of course Thanksgiving's beloved sweet potato casserole. I mean who doesn't love things smothered in toasty marshmallows??? But really the sweet potatoes in this dish are so masked by sugar and butter that you can hardly taste them! I wanted to make a casserole that would enhance the beauty of the sweet potato, not annihilate it completely. This casserole is a wonderful marriage of sweet potato loveliness and bacon-pecan topping. This recipe is delicious. Hands down. If you were planning on making sweet potato marshmallow-covered casserole this Thanksgiving, forget it. 

Go back to the store. 

Get these ingredients. 

Make this casserole.

Everyone will be thankful you did. 

Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

4 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
10 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (use gluten free if needed)
1 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped (save several whole pecans to place on top)
1/3 cup salted butter, melted
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, slice them in half and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Next, add the brown sugar, flour, pecans, butter, cayenne, sage and rosemary (if using) to a bowl and mix to combine. Break the fried bacon into pieces and stir into sugar/flour mixture.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  5. Peel the skins away from the flesh of the sweet potato and add the sweet potato to a large mixing bowl. Mash well. Mix in the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, milk, butter, eggs and bourbon until fully combined.
  6. Pour the sweet potatoes into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the pecan topping over top of the sweet potatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pecans are golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beer Braised Chicken Tacos with Apple-Pomegranate Salsa

TACOS. Little did I know that when I moved to Austin, that my world would be so rocked by tacos. Growing up in Seattle, tacos aren't really a thing. Looking back, it almost makes me laugh that we used to eat tacos on a crunchy shell. They were simple, and ALWAYS the same. Crunchy corn tortilla shell, taco flavored ground beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato. Now, these tacos are great, don't get me wrong, but I just had no idea that tacos could be more than that! Thanks to the culture of tacos here in Austin, I have been educated on this glorious staple. Breakfast tacos are now a regular part of my week. Thanks to Torchy's Tacos, Taco Deli, and the numerous taco food trucks in Austin, I now know that it's ok to load up my tacos with ingredients like fried avocados, kimchi, peaches, peanut butter, and a million crazy hot sauces. This recipe may sound strange to you considering the combination of ingredients, but I promise you, it was super tasty. Your taste buds will thank you.

Beer Braised Chicken Tacos with Apple-Pomegranate Salsa
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more or less to taste
salt and peper
1 (12 ounce) beer (I used a seasonal blue moon)
1/2 -3/4 cup enchilada sauce (homemade or store-bought)
8 warmed flour or corn tortillas, for serving
sharp cheddar cheese + cotija cheese, for serving
guacamole or avocado, for serving
Apple-Pomegranate Salsa
2 honeycrisp apples, finely chopped
arils from one small pomegranate 
1 jalapeño, seeded (if desired) + chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice from 1 lime
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)

  1. Add the chicken to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the garlic, minced chipotle chilies in adobo, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, brown sugar and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Toss well to combine, making sure all the chicken gets coated in seasonings.
  2. Heat a large brasier or dutch oven over medium high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and sear on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side. Reduce the heat slightly and pour in the beer. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, make the salsa. Add the chopped apple, pomegranate arils, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and maple syrup sauce to a bowl. Toss well to combine, taste and adjust if needed. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
  4. Once the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and shred with two forks. Meanwhile reduce the sauce that is left in the pot down to about 3/4 of a cup. Add the shredded chicken back to the sauce in the pot and toss. Now add the enchilada sauce and continue to cook about 2 minutes or until warmed through. 
  5. To serve, add the shredded chicken to a warmed taco shell. Top with cheddar, avocado and then the apple salsa. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and chopped cilantro. Happy taco eating!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus

I've recently had an obsession with hummus and have literally been eating it daily for the past two weeks. Combine that obsession with my already prevalent obsession with pumpkin, and you get pumpkin hummus! This recipe is definitely for the more adventurous type. The pumpkin, chickpeas and chipotle chilies combine to make for a delightfully smooth and smokey hummus. 

Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus

One (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Half of one (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
2 chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped
clove garlic, grated
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp of sweet / smokey paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), for serving
Chips, naan, apple slices or other foods for dipping

  • Combine the chickpeas, pumpkin and olive oil in a food processor and puree Until smooth.
  • Mix the chilies with the garlic, honey, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, oregano, chili powder, paprika and salt and pepper. Stir half into the mix chipotle hummus, and add the remaining to the top of the hummus. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepitas seeds before serving.
  • Serve with chips, crackers, or other foods naan for dipping.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkin Apple Pie

I bet you saw the title of this post and thought "SAY WHAAAAA?!? Pumpkin and apple pie?!?"

It's true.

Two of THE BEST pies ever. Become one.

Soooooooooo, now I have saved you from never having to make the hard decision of choosing between pumpkin or apple pie at those holiday gatherings. OR, look like a fatty (my choice) and take a slice of both pies. This recipe is genius and will most definitely be rocking my world for a long, long time! Watch out holiday parties, here I come, armed with a pie that is going to blow your mind.

Pumpkin Apple Pie
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup warm water
2 Tbsp butter
3 large apples, sliced

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

Pie crust:
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
2-3 Tbsp cold water

In a saucepan over low heat, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in warm water until smooth. Add butter; bring to a boil, stirring every 30 seconds. Add apples. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your pie crust by combining the flour and salt in a large bowl with a whisk. Slowly cut in the cubes of cold butter. Once the butter is integrated completely, add in water until your crust has reached a pliable, but not gooey, consistency. Flour a large, clean surface, and roll out your pie crust into a 10-inch circle with a rolling pin. Place pastry in a buttered, 9-inch pie plate. 

Place apple mixture into your prepared pie crust. In a bowl, whisk pumpkin, milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and egg until smooth. Pour over apple layer. Flute the edges of your pie crust.

Bake at 375 F for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking time to prevent overbrowning. Cool completely. Garnish with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired. (I personally enjoyed the Caramel Apple Gelato from Talenti, YUMMMMMM). 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a lightened up version of one of my favorite Indian dishes. Something about the creamy and spicy sauce makes this a perfect comfort food. Especially when served over a bed of steaming quinoa or brown rice, this dish is a great one to break out on a chilly fall day. The weather has FINALLY changed a little bit down here in Austin, TX and it's starting to feel more like fall. I broke out my sweater and scarf for the first time yesterday! Even though I do miss the changing leaves of Seattle, it sure is nice to have that sunshine beaming down on you even when it's cold.

Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala
Recipe adapted from The Scrumptious Pumpkin
  • 4 tablespoons sesame, sunflower, or canola oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, fat trimmed and cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 small carrots, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
  • 12 ounces frozen chopped cauliflower florets, thawed
  • 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • Garam Masala (see recipe below)
  • 15-ounce container chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Garam Masala (if you don't have the spice blend already):
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  1. To a bowl, add all the spices listed above for the Garam Masala. Stir until well combined, and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté the chicken until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl, cover with foil, and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the pan along with the onion and garlic and cook until veggies are softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add the carrots and jalapeño and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back in, along with the thawed cauliflower, tomato paste, and the Garam Masala. Stir until spices are well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, simmer, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Turn off the heat and add coconut milk. Stir until well combined.
  6. Serve over quinoa or brown rice.