Monthly Archives: December 2011

Honey-Sweetened Pumpkin Pie

I am a big fan of pumpkin. It is a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals – plus it tastes great in cookies, breads and pie. My FIL created this pie, which starts with a basic recipe and switches the refined sugar with honey, does not use molasses (also made from cane sugar), and unsweetened evaporated milk (as opposed to condensed milk which has a lot of added sugar). This pie is tasty with a light a fluffy filling. Pair it with a glass of milk for a most satisfying dessert.

1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can unsweetened evaporated milk

–Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
–Combine honey, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and honey-spice mixtures. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
–Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

I am sharing this recipe with Sweet as Sugar Cookies.


Golden Raisin and Apple Stuffing

If you are making your holiday menu, and checking it twice, be sure to add this delicious recipe for stuffing (or dressing as it is properly named – thanks, Kristi) that can be adapted to be yeast and sugar free! So deck the halls and enjoy your family, friends and food during this festive season!

Yeast-Free, Sugar-Free Golden Raisin and Apple Stuffing
–Bread (about 4 slices) cut into 1/2″ pieces (such as these hamburger buns for a yeast and sugar free option)
–12 sesame crackers, crumbled (Sesmark brand does not have yeast or sugar)
–1/3 cup golden raisins
–1 apple (such as Ida Red) cut into chunks
–2 cups homemade broth or water
–1/2 tsp Bell’s Poultry Seasoning
–pinch of garlic powder
–salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together, and pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage and Food Trip Friday.

Roasting a Turkey with Pan Gravy: A Novice’s View

This turkey marked a very special day because it was the first time that SensitiveHusband and I roasted together as we hosted our family for Thanksgiving. Everyone says that roasting a turkey is easy but we had a number of questions about the cooking method that we first had to research. Should the turkey have an aluminum foil tent or not? Is the slow-roast method better than beginning with high heat followed by a lower temperature? Should we purchase a fresh or frozen turkey? And then there is the age old question – to stuff or not to stuff? SensitiveHusband and I researched by asking experienced turkey roasters, consulting the Internet, and reading Cooks Illustrated. And then it was time for us to “wing it.”

I wish I could have taken a picture of us preparing the turkey, but I couldn’t since both of us were handling the 16-pound bird. I am sure we looked like a comedy team! It was a bit awkward rinsing the turkey that had just been thawed and removing the giblets. I won’t give too many details about this step in the process, although if you look hard enough you will find a bag of giblets and they should be removed before putting the turkey in the oven. Also, please note that when selecting a turkey, check the ingredients. Many companies add a brine solution that has sugar or salt in it, among other things. So check the label and make sure that the turkey you select is safe for your family to eat.

We placed our rinsed turkey on a roasting rack which was inside a beautiful roasting pan, given to us by our friends as a wedding present. We chopped a few carrots and celery stalks and placed them both inside the bird as well as in the roasting pan. Two cups of water also was placed in the bottom of the pan. Even though we did not add stuffing, we did add the carrots and celery along with some fresh herbs (parsley and theme), about two tablespoons of melted butter, and some orange and lemon wedges to add moisture and fragrance inside the hollow cavity of the turkey.

We smoothed a bit more of the melted butter (about 2 tablespoons) all over the oustide of the turkey along with salt, pepper and parsley. Then we tented the turkey with aluminum foil and baked at 350 degrees for approximately 3 1/2 hours, or until the thermometer reached the appropriate temperature. (A rule of thumb about roasting an unstuffed turkey is at 350 degrees it will take about 15-20 minutes per pound.) About one hour before we anticipated the turkey being done, we removed the aluminum foil tent so that the turkey could brown. We also basted the turkey with the pan juices at that time.

After the turkey came out of the oven, we let it rest for approximately 1/2 hour before carving so that the juices could redistribute.
And at that time we worked on the gravy. We used about one cup of the turkey dripping/water mixture from the bottom of the roasting pan, and poured it into a separate saucepan. On medium heat we scooped in a few tablespoons of flour and stirred constantly to keep the liquid from getting lumpy. We also seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley and thyme. After a few minutes the liquid was not thickening very much, so we added a teaspoon of cornstarch and that helped.

It was a great first foray into the world of turkey roasting! What we learned from the experience is that there is nothing exact about roasting a turkey. Measurements are approximations, as is the cooking time. And when you ask people how they prepare the meal, you will get a variety of answers. That’s one of the reasons that roasting a turkey is so special, because the result is a little different every time and for every person. We also learned that it takes a lot longer to prepare the turkey for roasting than we had anticipated – allow an hour so you won’t feel rushed. The day of roasting a turkey is one where you can enjoy being home, smell delightful aromas, and enjoy the company of your guests.

Pumpkin Raisin Nut Bread with Honey and Maple Syrup

Another great addition to your holiday meal, or any meal for that matter, is pumpkin bread. I prepared a loaf for our thanksgiving meal (click here for other menu ideas) and it turned out to be a great alternative to a yeast-filled bread. Plus it has a moist texture and the addition of raisins and nuts is a real treat! I found this recipe about a year ago in the Joy of Cooking book, and made a few revisions: I used whole wheat flour instead of the all-purpose variety, substituted shortening with canola oil, substituted the white cane sugar with honey, and substituted the brown cane sugar with maple syrup. You would never know that there is no sugar or butter in this delicious bread! I will warn you that this recipe uses three different bowls, but do not let that discourage you; it still is relatively easy to prepare. And now for the instructions…

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together:
  1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  1 teaspoon salt
  1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1 teaspoon ground ginger
  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine in a small bowl:
  1/3 cup water or milk
  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat in a large bowl:
  1/3 cup canola oil
  2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup maple syrup
Beat in one at a time:
  2 large eggs
Add and beat on low speed just until blended:
  1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin puree
Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in:
  1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  1/3 cup raisins or chopped dates
Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Joy of Desserts, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Sweet as Sugar Cookies and Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine.

For the Holidays: Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

An easy vegetable dish for your next holiday menu is this one for roasted brussels sprouts with grapes and walnuts. You can prepare the dish ahead of time and then roast while your turkey or other entree is out of the oven and being carved. I saw this recipe in the November 2011 issue of Whole Living magazine and tweaked it a bit. I removed the vinegar so it would be free from yeast and added the walnuts into the mixture from the beginning so they would toast at the same time as the other ingredients. The next time I make them, I will prepare a bigger batch because there were hardly any leftovers. The sprouts are in the pink bowl on the far side of the table. We will get to the other delicious dishes on the table in future posts.

24 oz brussels sprouts, halved
24 oz red seedless grapes
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a 9×13 glass baking dish, toss brussels sprouts and grapes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss walnuts on top. Roast until tender and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage and Food Trip Friday.

Holiday Menu Ideas and Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes Recipe

This past Thanksgiving was a very special one for me because it was the first holiday that SensitiveHusband and I hosted, and the menu was free from yeasts and refined sugars. My family members were so kind by making sure that the foods they brought did not contain those sensitive foods, which resulted in one of the most delicious dinners! Plus the love and camaraderie around the table made for a very enjoyable holiday. The picture shows all of the wonderful dishes at our meal, and below lists the menu. Over the next few blog posts, I will share the recipes with you in case you would like to incorporate one or all of the foods at your next holiday celebration meal.

Holiday Dinner Menu:
Roasted Turkey with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes with Cauliflower
Golden Raisin and Apple Stuffing
Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Walnuts
Green Beans with Almonds
Spinach Au Gratin
Pumpkin Raisin Bread

And for Dessert…
FIL’s Deep Dish Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie

Is reading the menu making you hungry? I know that I could use a snack right now!

Let’s get started with the recipe for mashed potatoes and cauliflower. They are seen in the picture above, on the far side of the table, in a big bowl with a blue rim. What is great about them is that they tasted just like mashed potatoes, although with the moisture in the cauliflower you don’t have to add lots of cream. The result is a hearty mash with lots of vitamins and less fat. Even people who don’t really care for cauliflower (I loosely fall into this category) will enjoy this dish. My MIL made them for thanksgiving last year and we requested them again! Here is the recipe:

Potato/Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
5 lbs. red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large cauliflower, stems removed and chopped
1 stick butter
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
milk to desired consistency (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
sprinkle of garlic powder
salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until very tender. Add the cauliflower to the potatoes when there is about 10 minutes left so they can also cook. Drain well. Add cauliflower, butter, sour cream, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Start to mash, then add about 1/2 cup milk and mash until desired consistency. You may want to add another 1/2 cup milk, depending on how much moisture is in the cauliflower. The 1 cup milk total will create a consistency that is a little chunky; add another 1/2 cup milk (1 1/2 cups total) for a smoother consistency. If you wish, sprinkle a bit of paprika on top for a festive finish.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Cybele Pascal Allergen Free Cuisine.

Awesome Agave Chocolate Milk

Although I, SensitiveHusband, don’t have any food sensitivities, I’ve come to embrace the use of natural, low glycemic index sweeteners.  I haven’t cut all refined sugar from my diet, but I have greatly reduced it since SensitiveEconomist discovered her food sensitivities.  I didn’t realize how much refined cane sugar was affecting me–a sugar high with higher heart rate and shallower breathing, followed by a sugar low tiredness–until I cut back and shifted my intake to predominantly low glycemic sweeteners.

As a cyclist and runner, I find it important to have a drink that combines something sweet and some protein after a workout.  Research emerging from Indiana University and the University of Connecticut over the last few years indicates that chocolate milk has the optimal ratio of carbohydrates and protein to act as an excellent post-workout recovery drink.  In fact, chocolate milk is as good or better than many of the name brand sport drinks with which you may be familiar.  As a result of reading this research and my pleasant experience with low glycemic sweeteners, I decided to create a chocolate milk recipe that is free of cane sugar.  I started with a recipe for homemade chocolate milk, and I adapted it to replace the cane sugar with agave nectar.  Honey can be used in a pinch, but agave nectar really works best in this recipe for dissolving in the milk and yielding an almost marshmallowy flavor.  While I occasionally have peanut butter and a “no sugar added” fruit juice instead, this Agave Chocolate Milk has become my go-to post-workout drink.

1 ounce water
1 level teaspoon cocoa powder
3 teaspoons agave nectar
9-10 ounces milk

Combine the first three ingredients in your glass and microwave for 30 seconds. 

When it comes out of the microwave, swirl the glass rapidly in your hand to insure the ingredients are fully mixed. 

At this point, you have a homemade chocolate syrup that can be used for other purposes in addition to chocolate milk (ice cream topping, dessert topping, etc.). 

Top off the syrup with milk, stir briskly, and enjoy a very tasty, low glycemic chocolate milk! 

The next time your children ask for chocolate milk, surprise them with this homemade recipe, and they might not be bouncing off the walls after drinking it!

For those who avoid cow’s milk, I would be curious to know if this recipe works well with goat’s milk, coconut, almond, rice, or soy milk.

This recipe is being shared with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.