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.
I love food.
My life is full of food, but food is not my life.
Therefore, I don’t want Sweet Spree to be just for food. I want to document all things I love. Photos I take, links I love and tidbits of life. A collection, I’ll call it.
So here we go, the first post.
Flowers in the yard
Beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts. Don’t tell me this doesn’t look good.
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.