Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ecosalon's Holiday Gift Box is Back

If you're reading this blog, then you or someone you love is a foodie. You love to talk about food, gaze upon food, cook food, and, most of all, eat food.

Slate Cheese Board

If you're like me, then you also prefer eating to shopping. But with the holiday gift giving season underway, we have to shop, right? Yes, but how about shopping at your computer while munching on cranberry-pistachio biscotti and hot coffee?
Bird Salt and Pepper Shakers

Well, I've got ya covered. Here's the ideal holiday gift for the foodie in your life: "The Box." What is "The Box"? It's a holiday gift box from Ecosalon that's chock full of $500 worth of foodie-related goods from cookbooks to artisan chocolates to stylish kitchen accessories such as bamboo utensils. And the best part is it's only $99!

Twig Servers

Really. It's true, and it's all legit. In fact, my friend Anna from Ecosalon included my cookbook, Recipes Every Man Should Know, as one of the gifts in the box.

Here's the only catch: There are a limited number of holiday gift boxes, which are selling quickly. So if you'd like to purchase one, hop on over to Ecosalon and place your order. And while you're at it, have a biscotti for me.

Stainless Steel Robot Tea Infuser

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hungry for Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

For many Americans, the best part of Thanksgiving dinner happens on the Friday after the holiday, when the leftovers begin. The November celebration that began at a single table nearly 400 years ago has grown into a holiday feast eaten in nearly 90 percent of American households. According to the National Turkey Federation, Americans gobble more than 690 million pounds of the big bird every Thanksgiving....

Please click here to continue reading my article, "Looking Forward to Thanksgiving Leftovers" on, and get the Thanksgiving leftovers recipes below.

cranberry sauce and honey smoothie
Cranberry-Honey Smoothie


leftover mashed potato cakes
Mashed Potato Cakes

Turkey, Quinoa, and Persimmon Salad with Warm Cranberry-Maple Dressing
Turkey, Quinoa, and Persimmon Salad with Warm Cranberry-Maple Dressing

cheesy turkey and kale quesadillas
Cheesy Turkey and Kale Quesadillas

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Peak Cranberry Season

When I was a kid and my parents took us out for breakfast, I always ordered a glass of cranberry juice. I loved the way it sparkled like rubies in a glass. But most of all, I loved its mouth-puckering tartness that sent shivers down my jaws when I drank it. (Even typing that sentence caused the same reaction.)

Now that I'm all grown up, I no longer drink cranberry juice. Maybe my taste preferences have changed, or maybe I've just become a wimp.

Fresh cranberries, however, I adore. And since cranberry season peaks between October and December, now is the perfect time to buy them.

In the fall, cranberries are used most commonly for cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving Day, yet they have so much more potential. They balance the sweetness of baked goods such as pumpkin muffins and banana bread. They add a jolt of flavor to homemade sweet apple sauce. And they perk up fall vegetables, such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Cranberries are a powerhouse of nutrition as well. 1/4 cup of fresh cranberries contains only 12 calories and is loaded with health-promoting fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants.

So the next time you're at the market, pick up a bag of fresh cranberries, and let their mouth-tingling tartness take action.

Below are some of my favorite fresh cranberry recipes. What are yours? Please share them with us in the comment section.

cranberry smoothie

Cranberry, Banana, and Honey Smoothie

cranberry, pineapple, and walnut relish DSC_0002

Cranberry, Pineapple, and Walnut Relish

cranberry, raisin, and walnut apple sauce

Homemade Cranberry, Raisin, and Walnut Apple Sauce

Spinach and Apple Salad with Cranberry-Maple Dressin

Spinach and Apple Salad with Warm Cranberry-Maple Dressing

simple stuffed acorn squash DSC_0011

Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash

Spiced Sweet Potato, Cranberry, and Pecan Cake with Orange-Cinnamon Glaze  DSC_0337

Spiced Sweet Potato, Cranberry, and Pecan Cake with Orange-Cinnamon Glaze

banana cranberry mini muffins

Low-Fat Banana, Honey, and Cranberry Mini Muffins

Top photo of cranberries, credit FCC Muffet

The Winner of Vegan Holiday Kitchen Is....

Congratulations to Brian (BriGuy) who won the copy of Vegan Holiday Kitchen!

Many thanks to all of you who commented and tweeted. There will be many more give-aways to come!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

My 20 Best Thanksgiving Recipes

Backlit Turkey

Exactly one week from today, 90% of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving by gobbling nearly 700 million pounds of turkey. With the overwhelming number of turkey hotlines and tutorials already available, I'm here to share something more important -- Thanksgiving sides and desserts. I've culled my archives and freelance pieces and have chosen my favorite Thanksgiving recipes to share. I hope some of them become favorites in your house as well.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes? Please share! 

Appetizers, Sauces, Soups, and Salads:

sweet, spicy, nutty Thanksgiving popcorn!

Thanksgiving Popcorn! (above)

Spicy Rosemary Nuts

Spiced Persimmon and Pecan Muffins (published in Cooking Light)

Savory Butternut Squash Muffins with Apples, Caramelized Onions, and Cheddar Cheese

Homemade Cranberry, Raisin, and Walnut Apple Sauce

Cranberry, Pineapple, and Walnut Relish (published on Food52)

velvety butternut squash and chestnut soup

Velvety Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup (above)

Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad

Dandelion, Persimmon, and Medjool Date Salad (below)

dandelion, persimmon, and Medjool date salad


Southern-Style Greens: Collards with Ham Hock (published on NPR's Kitchen Window)

Roasted Kabocha Squash with an Orange-Honey Glaze

Roasted Root Vegetables with Pomegranate Molasses and Rosemary (below)

roasted root vegetables with pomegranate molasses and rosemary

Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots (published in Cooking Light)

Minted Apple and Almond Stuffed Carnival Squash

String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon (below)

Green beans with prosciutto, pinenuts, and Meyer lemon


Best Ever Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Fresh Fig, Walnut, and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries, Raisins, and Pecans

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple and Pecans

Pumpkin Pie Pudding (published in Cooking Light, courtesy photo below)

Turkey photo credit, FCC, ingridtaylar.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cookbook Review: Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas

Making Thanksgiving dinner is hard enough for most people. For those who have guests with food allergies, it can be grueling. Mom can't eat the creamy mashed potatoes because she's lactose-intolerant. Aunt Amy skips the bread stuffing because she's gluten-intolerant. Uncle Henry is allergic to nuts, so he can't eat  half the dishes on the table. Just order him a pizza.

As for dessert, well, it's practically a death trap. Classic Thanksgiving pies typically contain gluten, butter, milk, sugar, and nuts. Plus 1 in 2 Americans is pie-challenged. I know, I'm one of them.

Here's the answer to your Thanksgiving dessert dilemma: Make Nava Atlas's Apple-Pumpkin Delight from her latest cookbook, Vegan Holiday Kitchen (Sterling, November 2011). It's gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free, so everyone will be able to enjoy it. And you won't have to make a pie crust.

A veteran vegetarian and cookbook author, Atlas has created more than 200 festive, tasty, vegan holiday recipes organized into six chapters: Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Holiday Season, Jewish Holidays, Easter, Independence Day and Summer Entertaining, and Brunches, Appetizers, and Potluck Dishes.

In her introduction, Atlas says, "Holidays can be particularly trying for vegan who aren't part of a wider circle of like-minded eaters This book is dedicated to them-- and to vegans of all stripes." Of course, be prepared for the carnivores at your table to gobble up many of these meat-free dishes.

Who could pass up autumn-inspired Coconut Butternut Squash Soup or Sweet Potato Biscuits? If you think gluten-free stuffing can't be delicious, consider Atlas's herb-laced Polenta, "Sausage," and Mushroom Stuffing or her softly spiced Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cranberries.

You'll find traditional holiday recipes such as Cranberry-Apple Sauce, Pumpkin Mini Loaves, and Ginger Cookies sharing space with modern dishes such as Red-Wine Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Baked Thanksgiving Risotto, and Mixed Greens with Green Apples, Beets, and Pistachios.

The book's design is clean and inviting, and Susan Voison's photos are attractive. While some recipes have longer ingredient lists, most are short, and recipe instructions are clearly written and uncomplicated. As for make-ahead recipes, Atlas notes that "most recipes just don't taste as good when they're made too far ahead of when they'll be used... Honestly, most of the recipes in this book are not so lengthy or complicated that they benefit from advance prep." Sprinkled throughout the book are useful cooking tips, entertaining suggestions, and notes about ingredients.

So whether you're looking for vegan holiday inspiration or just some new, healthy recipes, you should get yourself a copy of Nava Atlas's Vegan Holiday Kitchen.

Give-Away Time!

In the comment section below, tell me why you'd like to win a copy of Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Tweet about it and mention @foodblogga, and I'll count that as another entry. I'll announce the winner on Monday, November 21st. 

Apple-Pumpkin Delight
Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free
Makes 8 servings
Printable recipe.

1 1/2 pounds sugar pumpkin, cushaw or any orange winter squash
2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 or 4 large apples)
1/2 cup natural granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1. To make the pumpkin easier to peel and cut, partially pre-bake it according to the directions on page 22. When cool enough to handle, peel the pumpkin and slice it into thin pieces about 1 X 2 inches (about 1/8 -inch thick; the size matters less than the thickness). Peel the apples and slice a little thicker than the pumpkin.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Oil a 2-quart casserole dish. Arrange half the pumpkin slices in the dish, and sprinkle with about 1/4 of the sugar mixture; arrange half the apple slices over the pumpkin and sprinkle with another 1/4 of the sugar mixture. Repeat the layers.

4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until a knife inserted in the center goes through easily. Serve warm or at room temperature in individual dessert cups.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Take The Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge and Get a Healthy Holiday Recipe

carnival squash

It's here. The holiday season. That joyous time of year when you suddenly experience murderous feelings in the mall parking lot, when you send Christmas cards to people you're not even sure you know, and when you're constantly struggling between whether to have that second piece of peppermint fudge or to stay on your diet. Fun times.

Here's some help. Skip the parking lot and shop online. Forget the cards; that's so pre-2011. Use Facebook instead. As for the fudge? Stop after one piece; that way you can have a piece of shortbread at the next party.

And if you really want to feel good take The Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge spearheaded by Cathy of What Would Cathy Eat? At the age of 44, Cathy underwent major heart surgery for a blocked artery. Two stents later, she recovered but realized she had to start eating more healthfully. While she no longer noshes on decadent desserts and bbq every night, she believes (and I agree) that healthy eating is NOT an excuse for bland food. Healthy food can and should be delicious food.

If you too believe healthy holiday eating can be fabulous, then consider taking the challenge and sharing your recipe with Cathy. I'm sharing a recipe for Minted Apple and Almond Stuffed Carnival Squash that I make all the time. Why? Because it's easy, attractive, healthy, and delicious. So, enjoy it guilt-free.

minted apple and almond stuffed carnival squash

Minted Apple and Almond Stuffed Carnival Squash
Makes 4 halves or 8 if you cut them into quarters
Printable recipe.

2 small carnival squash (about 1/2-3/4 pounds each, cut in half, seeds removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 small, crisp, mildly tart apples, such as Pink Lady, Gravenstein, or Pippin
The juice of 1/2 small lemon
A couple of pinches of salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped, lightly toasted almonds, plus extra for garnish
1-2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped mint, plus extra for garnish
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Slice acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Brush flesh with a bit of olive oil and place flesh side down on prepared baking sheet. Cook 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

2. In a medium skillet, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add shallot and saute 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add apples, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, or until apples are just tender. Remove from heat. Taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in the almonds and mint.

3. Divide filling equally among the four squash halves and heat in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Before serving, garnish with chopped almonds and chopped fresh mint, and drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Here are more healthy squash recipes you might enjoy:
White Bean and Kale Stuffed Delicata Squash recipe from Eat Local
Roasted Kabocha Squash with Orange Honey Glaze recipe from Food Blogga
Agave and Balsamic Glazed Roasted Buttercup Squash recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen
Roasted Acorn Squash with Honey-Lime Glazed Pepitas recipe from Food Blogga
Roasted Winter Squash with Cranberries, Pepitas, and Honey-Lime Vinaigrette from The Perfect Pantry

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy National Sandwich Day, 2011!

Sloppy Joe from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo. (Yup, that's me.) Image courtesy of Matt Armendariz.

Have you eaten a sandwich today? Odds are you have. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe do every single day. And today that number will rise. Why? Because, sandwich lovers, it’s National Sandwich Day. That’s right. An entire day designated to celebrating the humble sandwich, a simple combination of bread and filling that is satisfying, fast, comforting, and portable.

Everyone loves sandwiches, but Americans are besotted. We love to make them, talk about them, and gaze upon them. Entire books (mine included), televisions shows, and websites have been devoted to them. Why are we so passionate? Because sandwiches typically have deep cultural, ethnic, and geographies roots. Think of the Vietnamese Bahn Mi, the Mexican Torta, and the American ham sandwich. Some sandwiches have become icons of the city from which they emanated. Can you imagine Philadelphia without its cheese steak or New Orleans without its Po ‘Boy?

Click here to continue reading and to get the Sloppy Joe recipe!