So, no, it’s not fall. But it is summer, which means lots and lots of Mexican food. For a white family living in Connecticut my house might win the ironic “most frequent Mexican cuisine per week” award, if there is such a thing. Guacamole is more regular than pasta at this point, and no one is complaining.
Naturally, there’s room for variations with predominately meat fajitas and enchiladas. Insert butternut squash and black beans: the best smoky-sweet texture and flavor combo in my eyes right now. This recipe is simple, and requires no raw meat preparation, which always makes my day better. But cutting the squash might replace the meat prep because that was not…easy.
One of my goals when I got home from college this year was to introduce more meatless but satisfying meals to my family’s repertoire. This recipe definitely fits into the “satisfying” category, not even the biggest meat lovers sitting at the table missed it. I will admit that Mexican food is done best with chicken or steak, but that doesn’t mean that these should not be on your table this week.
4 cups 1/2-inch cubed butternut squash (16-ounces, or about 1 medium peeled, seeded squash)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup zucchini, cubed
15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro, plus more cilantro for garnish
1 cup corn, frozen or fresh
12 ounces enchilada sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
6 whole grain wheat tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place cubed butternut squash and chopped onion on a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender, the last 10 minutes adding the zucchini and corn to the mixture for an additional 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.In a medium bowl, stir together the roasted butternut mixture and add in freshly chopped cilantro, spices and beans.
Pour a thin layer of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of 13" x 9" casserole dish. Place 1/3 cup of the squash and bean mixture into each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese before rolling. Place seam-side-down in the baking dish.
Continue until the pan is full of enchiladas. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of enchiladas. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese has thoroughly melted and is beginning to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with guacamole and sour cream.
Here I am with some basic chocolate chip cookies. No lavender or exotic nuts added, just the classic cookies. But the thing about chocolate chip cookies is that there’s no ‘basic’ or ‘normal.’
Everyone has a different vision, or at least a preference for how the perfect cookie should be.
That’s why it’s always fun to give the old Google a spin and type in, ‘perfect chocolate chip cookies.’ Oh, did you guys all use the same recipe? I’d accuse the baking community of being sneaky, but none of these cookies look the same.
When it comes to variety, I’ve really tried every trick in the book to get the perfect cookie. I’ve followed the classic back-of-the-bag recipes, gone by eye with adding the dry ingredients, and even added a little cornstarch.
But for some reason I have never been able to settle. This is partly because of an optimistic idea I have that the best cookies ever have yet to come out of my oven, and they will with time.
However, I’m pretty sure I’m haunted by some not-so-good batches I’ve made in the past. Everyone knows a dry cookie that you finish and think…hm, maybe I’d rather just have raw cookie dough?
Of course, even with a good cookie this is still valid emotion. Being the official cookie dough taste-tester is God’s gift to bakers everywhere.
When I saw this recipe poking around the Internet, I wanted to give it a try. I’ve had a lot of success with chilling the dough as well as adding cornstarch. And they did turn out really well. I always strive for a chewy middle and crisper edges and these do not disappoint.
Are they perfect? Is there perfect? I don’t know, ask Google.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugars with a hand-mixer for about one minute. Then, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined.
Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix briefly, just until there are no flour clumps left. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325 degrees, making sure you have the racks in the middle of the oven.
Scoop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough at a time and roll into balls. Form the dough into an upside down traffic cone shape that still stands up. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure the cookies have plenty of space to spread.
Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating half-way through, or until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden, but the center of the cookie still looks soft and just slightly under-cooked. Let cool on the baking sheets until the cookies are firm enough to remove. Every oven is different, so I recommend starting with just one or two cookies on the tray to see what baking time works best for you!
Repeat with remaining batches, until all cookies are baked.
Confession time: I love Oreos.
I don’t always admit to myself that processed wafers stuffed with an ambiguous cream make me happy. And really, to be properly enjoyed, an Oreo must have a good slather of peanut butter. (The most sugary, unnatural kind. This is dessert you know).
Even I don’t understand how a chocolate and cream fanatic can enjoy this extremely basic treat. But here I am?
Confession number two: The other night I somehow ended up watching Oreo taste tests on YouTube.
It’s summer, okay? I’m allowed to watch strangers on the Internet enjoy caramel apple and birthday cake flavored cookies.
In this web excursion, I knew I wasn’t going to survive the week without recreating this cookie. So I did.
This is what happens when you come home from college for the summer. The freedom gets to you. Oh, you want to make Oreos right now? You can!
[Cut to a later scene of me rolling out the last of the dough, as well as my patience.]
These are pretty close representations in terms of taste and texture. The cookie recipe is pretty simple, and the cream is actually a sugar paste.
When you make your own Oreos you have the freedom to take on the cream myth. Nabisco, are you really going to argue that “double stuffed” are in fact, double stuffed? I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a mind game because those “double stuffed” cookies look single stuffed to me.
Despite this process being a bit tedious, it’s quite pleasing to see your efforts come together in a neat cookie (or a million, which is how many I made).
(And you should eat this many, because think of all the chemicals you’re not ingesting that normally inhabit Oreos! #cleaneating #notreallythough #fitfam?)
I hope you all had a lovely long weekend! Enjoy this amazing weather!
Also…sidenote. I used whole wheat flour (all I had) which contributed to the texture of the cookies. Gotta love the specks, right?
It has been a little too long since “chocolate chip cookies” aired on Sweet Spree. It has also been a busy semester with limited kitchen use!
But I’m back, with sweet potato fries!
In light of previous (kind of wimpy floppy) sweet potato fries, I did my research this time. Crispness is crucial or else you’re serving up uncomfortable sticks of a Thanksgiving side dish.
Just kidding sweet potatoes, you’re my favorite.
The lessons I learned from the web:
Coat fries with cornstarch first in order to develop a crisper coating/exterior.
Canola, not olive (high temps, ya know).
All the Spices.
While making these it occurred to me that I could technically make sweet potato chips and cover them in chocolate (perfection). So, keep your eyes peeled this summer for that experiment. (Yes, a potato pun, big lol).
Meanwhile I’ll be mostly living in my kitchen after our long time apart, and I guess doing a liiiitle life elsewhere as well. Enjoy the tater’ fries!
Some flavor combos to try: cumin and garlic, paprika and chili, & cinnamon and nutmeg.
If you’ve spent anytime on a few food blogs, you know that they are all different. Tone, photography, style are as varied as the URLs.
Some food bloggers portray their life as pretty picture perfect. They effortlessly throw together elegant dinner parties while still finding time to whip up cupcakes for their children’s classrooms. Of course, we all know photographs and quick write-ups are only one facet of an entire life, but it’s easy to forget that.
I recently stumbled across a few blogs that caught my attention because of their brutal honesty. They discuss personal issues, but they never appear to be whining or complaining. In fact, I had trouble clicking away because the posts were so interesting.
What may seem like a problem or struggle when writing a post made me, as a reader, see them as unique. The personal anecdotes and stories didn’t take away from the beauty of their sites, but added to it. And while there’s no requirement for how much you share, I also don’t think we should be afraid to embrace the realities of life on blogging platforms.
I feel inspired by Local Milk Blog‘s beautifully honest writing about mental illness. In light of a recent memoir, I commend Can you Stay For Dinner‘s for posting a personal account of a body peace journey. On a lighter note, How Sweet Blogs‘s recipe disasters of the year always cheerfully reminds me of the many of cookies I’ve burnt. In all of these posts, there’s reality. And if you ask me, tales of
reality add a refreshing depth that doesn’t always surface on this platform. But why shouldn’t it?
By no means is it easy to divulge personal details online, but for those do go there, it alters the landscape of blogging in a beautiful way. It fosters a friendly community rather than a pursuit of perfection. After realizing how impacted I am by other blogs, I am much more open to sharing my own experiences online
Local Milk Blog is the inspiration of the week. One thing I made this week (from way back) was her Honey Whole Wheat Bread. It proved to be both delicious and beautiful, so I thought the recipe was worth sharing. Now that I may be considered of adult age, I would like to form and lead a bread lovers club. I would love to rise to the occasion and be
President, but you butter have my back! Okay, I’m done.
3 1/2 to 3 2/3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbs salt
In the bowl of a standing mixer whisk to blend 1/2 cup of the water with the yeast and honey. Allow the mixture to rest until the yeast is creamy, about 5 minutes.
Combine 3 1/2 cups of bread flour and all of the whole wheat flour in a bowl, set aside.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cup water, oil, barley malt, and about half of the flour to the yeast, and mix on low speed, add the rest of the flour mix, and increase the speed to medium mixing until the dough comes together, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed. If it doesn’t come together add up to 2 Tbsp more white flour. Add the salt and continue to beat at medium speed for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough will still be sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Place it in a large lightly oiled bowl. Rotate the dough to coat lightly in oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rest at rom temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Oil or butter two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans.
Deflate the dough by lightly punching it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 9? by 12? rectangle, with the short side facing you. Fold the top of the dough 2/3?s of the way down then fold again so that the top meets the bottom edge. Seal the seam by pinching. It takes me a bit of vigorous pinching to seal it. Turn each roll so that the seam is centered, facing up. Tuck the ends of the roll in just so that the loaf will fit in the pan. Pinch to seal these seams.
Turn the rolls over, plump and shape with your hands, and place seam side down in the loaf pans. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in size again, about 1 hour. While they rise center a rack in the oven and heat to 375° F.
When risen (a finger should leave an impression when the dough is poked) bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf reads 200° F. Remove from pans and let cool on racks.
Once cooled the bread can be wrapped and stored at room temperature or tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to a month. To thaw let sit, still wrapped, at room temperature.