SORGHUM ROASTED ACORN SQUASH

Roasted acorn squash, drizzled with sorghum enhances the flavor of this sweet vegetable. Top it off with a quick sorghum yogurt that turns tangy plain yogurt into a candy-like cream. This versatile dish goes well as a side, desert, snack or breakfast.

While sorghum is widely available in the southern United States, other readers may not have access. Honey or molasses are good substitutes, but sorghum has a luscious sweetness that is crave worthy. When enjoying this dish, go ahead and eat the skin of the squash. Roasting the squash will leave you with a tender green exterior that is edible and nutritious.

Roasted Acorn Squash Ingredients:
2 small acorn squash, quartered and seeded
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sorghum

Sorghum Yogurt Ingredients:
1 (17.6 ounce) container plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons sorghum

Toppings:
Toasted Pecans
Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place squash wedges, skin side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Cut butter into 8 small pieces and place one in the center of each squash wedge. Drizzle equally with sorghum. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine yogurt and sorghum in a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Chill until ready to serve.
  4. Remove squash from oven and serve with a dollop of sorghum yogurt, toasted pecans and a dash of cinnamon.

Servings: 8

Sweet Piquante Pepper Cheese Spread

This spread is a unique take on pimento and cheese made with piquante peppers, which give it a sweet heat kick. These cherry tomato shaped peppers are often labeled under the brand name Peppadew® and are commonly found in the olive bar section of grocery stores. A friend introduced me to the combination of cheese and sweet piquante peppers a few years ago, and I have been in love with this pairing since my first bite. Whole sweet piquante peppers make a lovely addition to cheese boards and compliment a wide variety of cheeses.

If you’re watching the big game this weekend, this is a great appetizer to serve along with your favorite beer.

Ingredients:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¾ cup mild whole sweet piquante peppers, chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise with olive oil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Celery sticks or crackers for serving

Directions:

  1. Place the yogurt in a food processor. Add cheese, peppers, mayonnaise and garlic powder, and pulse until the cheese spread is well combined.
  2. Chill for at least an hour or overnight. Serve with celery sticks or crackers.

Beet Bites with Goat Cheese and Pecans

Beets, with their ruby-red-jewel tone, make a colorful plate presentation during the grey winter season. You can cut back on the recipe time by roasting the beets the night before and assembling right before you are ready to enjoy. Leftovers are delicious served for lunch over leafy greens with balsamic vinaigrette.

Ingredients:
1 bunch beets, trimmed and scrubbed
1 cup water
4 to 5 ounces goat cheese
½ cup pecan halves, toasted
2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 60 minutes. Remove from oven and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Unwrap and remove the skin from the beets with a small knife. You may want to wear gloves for this step as the beets will stain your hands pink. If not, the beet juice will wash off with soap and water. Slice the beets and arrange on a serving platter.
  3. Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave or run hot tap water. With a clean knife, thinly slice goat cheese. Dip knife in water as needed between slicing to create smooth cuts. Place cheese on beet slices and top with pecans.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and honey. Serve immediately.

CABBAGE BOWL WITH THAI PEANUT SAUCE

Tender cabbage coated in mildly spiced peanut sauce replaces noodles in this delicious Thai bowl. Carrots and bean sprouts add color and crunch to this veggie packed dish paired with your favorite protein. It is really quick to make and you can even turn this into a 10-minute meal if you grill your protein and make your sauce in advance. Leftovers are delicious the next day if you are lucky enough to have leftovers.

Ingredients:
½ cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
½ lime, juiced
3 to 4 dashes of Sriracha hot chili sauce
2 large or 3 medium carrots
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium head of cabbage, cored and finely shredded
2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 ounces bean sprouts
Grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu
Optional: chopped peanuts

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, curry paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, juice from lime and Sriracha hot chili sauce. Process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Trim and peel carrots. Cut carrots into noodles using a spiralizer and set aside.
  3. In a wok or large skillet, heat sesame and canola oil over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and cook stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.
  4. Pour ⅓ cup sauce over cabbage and cook for an additional minute. Serve cabbage in bowls topped with carrots, green onions, bean sprouts and grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and drizzle a little extra peanut sauce if desired.

Servings: 4

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toast

If you know a local mushroom farmer or grow your own mushrooms, you are so lucky and I am a little jealous. I created this recipe when I had access to weekly fresh mushrooms at a Farmers’ Market when we lived in Wisconsin. Most Saturdays I would make this recipe as soon as I got home from the market and serve it with a fried egg for breakfast or side salad for lunch. I couldn’t wait to eat these mushrooms and this simple and quick dish made it possible to get them on my plate in about 15 minutes. The recipe quantities below make this a great appetizer for a small group, but just trim the amount back if you want to enjoy this as a meal for one or two.

Ingredients:
14 inch baguette
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Turn oven broil setting to low heat. Slice bread into about 16 pieces and place on a baking sheet. Set aside while preparing mushrooms.
  2. Remove stems from the mushrooms and gently wash the tops before thinly slicing. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for about four minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and continue cooking for another 4 to 6 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Add thyme, salt and pepper to the mushrooms and stir to evenly coat.
  3. Broil baguette slides on each side for 1 to 2 minutes. Top with equal amounts of mushrooms and goat cheese and continue broiling for another 2 minutes until cheese is warm. Serve immediately.

Servings: 8 (2 slices as appetizer)

 

Curried Tofu Salad

Curry is one of my favorite ingredients to add to creamy salads like this one, and the first curried tofu salad I tasted was at the Good Foods Co-Op in Lexington, KY. After daydreaming about it so much, I had to create my take on the dish, accompanied by plump golden raisins, crunchy almonds and Greek yogurt. Enjoy my Curried Tofu Salad as a wrap with spring lettuce or as a sandwich with whole wheat bread. Offering both bread and lettuce options and a few types of sandwich spreads is an easy way to entertain and delight your guests with a build-your-own option. For the meat eaters in your life, you could substitute chicken for the tofu in this recipe.

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) block firm tofu
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder, divided
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the block of tofu between a few layers of paper towels and place a heavy plate on top. Set aside for 10 minutes to press and absorb the water from the tofu.
  2. Meanwhile, place raisins in a small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover and set aside.
  3. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon curry powder, toss to coat and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through the cooking time. Remove tofu from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining curry powder, salt and pepper. Drain water from raisins and add to the yogurt mixture along with the carrots, almonds and tofu. Stir to evenly coat and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Servings: 4

Black Bean Hummus Vegetable Wrap

Beans and butternut squash are two of my favorite combinations, and they are bundled up in a whole wheat tortilla along with caramelized onions in my ultimate, comfort-food wrap. Enjoy for a hearty lunch or dinner. Creamy black bean hummus adds lean protein to this vegetarian wrap and also helps hold it all together. My Black Bean Hummus recipe, which you can whip up in less than five minutes, is perfect for this dish. If you want to give new life to your leftovers for a different meal the next day, serve the squash and onions on top of a salad and enjoy the hummus as a side dish with tortilla or pita chips.

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squashed, peeled, seeded and cubed
1½ tablespoon olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
4 whole wheat tortillas
Black Bean Hummus
2 cups tightly packed spinach leaves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a half baking sheet, place butternut squash and drizzle with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat. Arrange squash in a single layer and roast for 30 to 35 minutes until tender and lightly brown, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add onion slices and sprinkle with sugar. Stirring occasionally, let the onions cook about 20 to 25 minutes, until caramelized and golden brown.
Spread a fourth of the black bean hummus on each tortilla and top with a fourth of the butternut squash and caramelized onions. Add ½ cup spinach to each tortilla, wrap tightly to secure vegetables and serve.

Servings: 4

Black Bean Hummus

Looking for a healthy appetizer you can quickly throw together? Whip up a batch of my Black Bean Hummus in less than five minutes. Keep canned beans in your pantry and garlic and lemon in the fridge to make this a go-to dish when you want a delicious homemade snack. It is so easy to make and tastes much better than the store-bought variety. Serve it with carrot sticks, tortilla chips or whatever you like to dip. Make it a meal by spreading hummus in a wrap or on a slice of bread topped with your favorite roasted vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 (15 ounce) can no salt added black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain beans.
  2. Fit a food processor with the steel blade. Add all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Servings: 4

Slow and Spicy Pinto Beans

Top these Slow and Spicy Pinto Beans with a little shredded mozzarella and you have the perfect side dish for your fish tacos or chicken enchiladas. They also make a great vegetarian protein for your main course. Try them in veggie tacos or simply add them to a cheese quesadilla or on top of a salad.

Dried beans are extremely simple to prepare and the slow cooker does most of the work in this dish. If you have leftovers they freeze well for a ready-to-eat protein on a busy night, just defrost and reheat.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry pinto beans
7½ cups of water, divided
2 garlic whole cloves
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Wash and sort beans, removing any small stones, dirt or damaged beans. Place beans in a large stock pot and cover with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Allow beans to soak for up to 4 hours.
  2. Drain beans and place in a slow cooker set to high heat. Add garlic, chipotle chile pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and cayenne pepper to the beans and cover with 2½ cups of water.
  3. Cook for 4 hours, until beans are soft and tender. Discard garlic cloves and serve.

Servings: 6

Cauliflower and Mushroom Tacos

Make it a Meatless Monday with these hardy vegetarian tacos, stuffed with mildly spiced cauliflower and mushrooms and topped with sweet bell pepper sauce. This mostly hands-free meal is perfect for a busy week night, because you get 20 extra minutes to relax while dinner is roasting. Round out this meal with a side of pinto or black beans and Mexican hot chocolate for dessert. This is also a great make-ahead meal, especially if you are entertaining. Reheat the vegetables, make a pitcher of margaritas and you are ready to host book club.

Taco Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 soft white corn tortillas

Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce:
2 bell peppers (yellow, orange or red), seeded and cut in half
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt

Optional Taco Toppings:
grated smoked cheddar cheese
avocado slices
chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower and mushrooms on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add garlic to the tray. Season with cumin, chipotle chili pepper, salt and pepper, and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes.
  2. Place bell peppers on a baking tray, cut side down and roast for 20 minutes, until lightly charred. Place peppers in the bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade attached. Add cayenne pepper and salt, and pulse to chop until slightly smooth with fine chunks of pepper.
  3. Serve cauliflower and mushroom filling in tortillas and top with roasted sweet pepper sauce and optional taco toppings if desired.

Servings: 4