Sweet Potato Casserole with Pistachio Crust

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Preheat oven to 350°F

Ingredients:
For the sweet potatoes:

  • 2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cayenne

For the pistachio crust:

  • 1/2 cup chopped, crushed pistachios (I used roasted, salted)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

  1. Peel, chop and boil sweet potatoes over high heat, salting water well. When they are tender, drain and add butter. Mash and set to side.
  2. Whisk eggs, syrup, buttermilk, milk, vanilla, salt, allspice and cayenne together.
  3. Slowly add potatoes to mix in spoonfuls (temper) – place mixed mixture in a 2 ½ quart casserole dish allowing space for crust.
  4. Combine pistachio crust ingredients, mixing well, and top casserole carefully. When evenly distributed, gently press crust down.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until browned on top. Optional: brown under boiler for one minute. Let rest before serving.

Honey Corn Bread

When I need to make cornbread from scratch, this is a sweet recipe.

Preheat oven: 400°F

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cups allpurpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter, vanilla and honey until well blended.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until just blended.

Corn Bread: Pour batter into 8×8 greased pan. Bake 20-25 minutes.
Corn Muffins: Pour batter in greased or lined muffin tins. Bake for 13-17 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

yukonPotatoesThe only mashed potato recipe you need.  I like Yukon Gold potatoes, but Russets are good too.  Getting to use the slow cooker for the last 3 hours of cook time leaves your stove open for other sides like Maple-Glazed Carrots.

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
  • 3 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the potatoes, garlic, and bouillon until potatoes are tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving water. In a bowl, mash potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, adding reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.
  2. Transfer the potato mixture to a slow cooker, cover, and cook on Low for 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Banana Banana Muffins

This banana isn't ripe enough for great muffinsThis banana isn’t ripe enough for great muffins.[/caption]I love seeing bananas overripen on my counter, because in less than an hour I can make these amazing banana banana muffins. Original recipe from allrecipes.com, my compliments to the chef. I switched butter for olive oil and timed them for muffins.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas

Directions:

  1. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil and brown sugar. Then stir in the eggs and banana mash.
  4. Add the wet to the dry and fold until just moistened.
  5. Bake for 19 minutes, or until your toothpick comes out clean.

Simply Awesome Beef Chili

Cook’s Illustrated does it again.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces bacon (about 8 strips), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans favorite beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
  • Table salt

Directions:

  1. Fry bacon in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat, leaving bacon in pot.
  2. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  5. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened.

Slow Cooker Option: At the end of step 3, transfer the cooked beef mixture to a slow cooker; add the rest of the ingredients as directed in step 4. Cook the chili on the high setting for four hours.

Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired. Good choices for condiments include diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese.

If you are a fan of spicy food, consider using a little more of the red pepper flakes or cayenne–or both. The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or up to five days in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Ingredients: Serves 6
* 1 cup dried black beans
* 4 cups water
* 6 diced slices of bacon
* 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
* 1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
* 2 baby carrots, grated
* 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
* 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
* 3/4 cup long-grain white rice
* 2 cups chicken broth or water
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
* 1 bay leaf
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
# Rinse the beans and add them to a covered container. Pour in the water, cover, and let the beans soak overnight. Drain.
# Fry the bacon until it begins to render its fat in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
# Add the green bell pepper, celery, and carrots; sauté for 2 minutes.
# Add the onion; sauté for 3 minutes or until the onions are soft.
# Stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
# Stir in the rice and stir-fry until the rice begins to brown.
# Add the drained beans, 2 cups of broth or water, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and bay leaf.
# Lock the lid into place and bring to low pressure; maintain pressure for 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow pressure to release naturally. Stir, taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Apple Pie Muffins

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups diced peeled apples

Topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (we use oats)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter

Topping; in bowl, stir together brown sugar, nuts/oats, flour and cinnamon. Drizzle with butter, tossing with fork. Set aside

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk together egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla; pour over dry ingredients. Sprinkle with apples. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon into large greased (we did minis) or paper lined cups. Sprinkle with topping. Bake in 375 for about 25 min (minis take less closer to 15 or
20) or until tops are firm to touch.

Rosemary Cashews from Char’s Kitchen

The cashews are best served warm, but you can prepare the rosemary misture in advance.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:
* 1 pound roasted unsalted cashews
* 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne peper
* 2 teaspoons brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions:
# Spread the cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes.
# In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt, and butter. Throughly toss the warm cashews with the spiced butter and serve warm.

Salmon Pasta

Ingredients:
* 4 oz smoked salmon
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/2 cup chopped onions
* 2 cloves chopped garlic
* 1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned)
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 1 tablespoon pesto
* 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
* 3/4 pound linguine

Directions:
# Heat oil and lightly brown onions and garlic for 5 minutes.
# Add tomatoes, wine and pesto and cook for 10 minutes.
# Add parsley
# Cut salmon into one inch pieces and add to tomato mixture, stop cooking.
# Gently add to cooked pasta and salt appropriately.

Baked Zucchini and Sausage Risotto

Baked risotto is super easy to makeAnother recipe from the Australian cookbook that gave me Spicy Beef. Although not called for, garlic is always a nice addition to this dish. The first time Sara and I had this for dinner, I then had leftovers for lunch the next day. I gave what little was left to Jack for dinner…I should have left a lot more because he loved it. Next time I’m doubling the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.

Ingredients:
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 3 chopped cloves of garlic, more if you’re italian
* 1 teaspoon sea salt
* 1 cup arborio rice
* 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
* 14 oz can chopped plum tomatoes
* 2 or 3 chopped cooked sausages
* 2 zucchini, finely sliced
* 3 oz grated parmesan
* freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
# Heat a medium capacity ovenproof dish (with a lid) over a medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and sea salt and stir for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
# Add the rice to the dish and stir for another minutes.
# Add the stock and the chopped tomatoes and bring to simmering point.
# Stir in the zucchini and sausage, and sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper.
# Cover the dish and bake the risotto for 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
# Top risotto with parsley and Parmesan.

Serves 4.