Tuesday, September 24, 2013

10 Sustainable Snack Ideas for Fall

It's officially fall, you guys.

And I hate it. I hate it because I didn't spend anywhere near as much time outside as I wanted to this summer. I hate it because of how the radiator dries out my apartment without seeming to actually warm it. I hate it because, with that first yellow leaf comes last year's back-stock of plastic jack-o-lanterns in the center aisle of CVS, and after that, well, it's a slippery slope to that every-expanding, all-encompassing "Holiday Season" that everyone seems to like, or at least understand, better than I do.

What with all those first world problems in the way it's easy to forget that fall is actually my very favorite season. It's just the prettiest. And there's something about that half playful, half sinister crispness to the air that reminds you that anything is possible. Fall reminds you to be grateful for the things you have because there are no guarantees that they'll stay. In the summer a too-hot day is an excuse to stay inside watching Netflix, a rainy day is viewed as some kind of theft, and a perfect temperature day is simply taken for granted. But once the pumpkin beers and pumpkin lattes roll out, at least here in New England, every day you don't have to wear your thickest down parka is a cause for a celebration.

In the spirit of that celebration, I give 10 marvelous autumn-themed recipes/bits of food paraphernalia to serve at your Halloween party, or just for fun. And remember: one perk to the cold weather is being able to use your oven without wearing a suit of ice armor.

It just doesn't get cuter than these guys. Use your favorite gingerbread recipe, or make them as sugar cookies.

I concocted this recipe for the blog last fall and just remembered I had it. I kind of want to pair it with a new find:

Don't opt for the anise, though. Anise, is gross.

Add some chocolate chips to these to really take them to the next level. Also, they're vegan!

6. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

This one doesn't even need a link. You can buy them pretty much anywhere this time of year, or you can make yourself a healthy snack with the guts you scoop out of your jack-o-lantern. Throw a pile of seeds onto a cookie sheet, add a little salt, and stick in the oven for a few minutes. Eat them as is, put them in salad, get creative.

Keep a dozen of these in the freezer and thaw them out before bed for a quickly grab-able breakfast.

Swap the 2 teaspoons baking powder for 1/2 baking soda and 1 1/2 cream of tartar for a corn-free variant.

Tastes Like Thanksgiving Casserole Recipe 

This seems like it would be especially useful for using up Thanksgiving leftovers, but really you could tailor it to sue any poultry and root vegetable you had lying around, right?

2. Pumpkin Waffles

Waffles beg to be slathered in maple syrup, my favorite cold-weather sweetener. Put these two leaf-changing flavors together and curl up under a blanket on a chilly morning.

1. Apple Snickerdoodle Muffins

It's hard to beat the simple, classic flavor of a snickerdoodle. Put that in muffin form and add apple? I can't wait to try that.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5 Unexpected Flavor Pairings

This post originally appeared at FoodRiot.com

There are certain foods that just go together: turkey and cranberries, tomatoes, and basil, peas and carrots...These are combinations you see on a menu and know right away that you'll like. But there are plenty of underappreciated flavor combinations out there just waiting to be discovered by those of us with a curious palette or a pantry full of back stock we're looking to get rid of. Here are some of my favorites:

Maple and Mustard

Trust me here. I was skeptical at first, too, but this is a great mix if you like the combination of sweet and savory. It's also something that certainly isn't overused, so every bite feels refreshing and multi-layered, especially if you're using spicy mustard.

Recipe: Mustard Maple Tofu

Coconut and Cinnamon

This one has a little bit of yin and yang going for it. Coconut says "beach." Cinnamon says "ski lodge." Put these two flavors together to create a playful dichotomy that blends surprisingly well.

Recipe: Summer French Toast

Vanilla and Kale

I'm usually not one to mix items from the baking aisle with those from the produce section. They even live in different rooms of my house (if you count the pantry as a room.) Baking and cooking are two very different things for me. Baking is what you do when you need to relax with a Law & Order rerun. Cooking is what you do when you come home from work and it's dinner time. Vanilla and kale are not meant to exist in the same universe. I guess for me the combination of these things is about eating outside my comfort zone.

Recipe: Vanilla Kale Smoothie

Avocado and Pomegranate

I know everybody loves avocados, but I'm still getting to know them. Very slowly. They don't really taste like anything, and, frankly, I'm squeamish about that soapy texture. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to just eat an avocado plain, but I really do love what it can do to enhance a dish that already has a bold flavor of its own. Enter the pomegranate seed: a perfect, tiny, sweet-tart burst of flavor in your mouth that lacks that robust feeling of actually making you full. The pomegranate's acid and the avocado's meatiness are a marriage made in heaven.

Recipe: Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Rum and Coffee

This one might not be too unexpected, as you'll find it in the relatively popular tiramisu, but I thought it was worth a mention because amid all the layering going on in that dessert, it's easy to forget that the real kicks of flavor you get are from these two bold, acquired tastes that many people find too abrasive to drink straight up.

Recipe: Tiramisu

What unsung food pairings have you discovered? What other recipes would work well with the ones mentioned here?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls

After looming menacingly in the too-near future for the last couple of months, Labor Day is finally here. There are some truly awful things about Labor Day, but the days getting cold enough that it's not physical torture to have the oven on is not one of them. Fall flavors combined with a subtle nip in the air are enough to bring what I like to refer to as "baking season" into full swing. My latest project was cinnamon rolls. I love baking your average chocolate chip cookie, but there's something way more fun about a baking project that you have to shape.



2 free-range eggs
3/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pecan flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup grass-fed butter


1/4 cup grass-fed butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon white sugar


1/2 cup maple sugar (any sugar will do, but I find that maple crystallizes nicely)
1 tablespoon potato or tapioca starch
2-3 teaspoons grass-fed milk


1. Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Add warm water and yeast and stir until everything is dissolved. Refrigerate for ten minutes.

2. In a larger bowl, mix flours, white sugar, and butter, blending until you get coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture. Knead the resulting dough on a floured surface for about two minutes. Roll dough into a ball, adding a little oil if it doesn't hold together, and place in a lightly greased bowl. Chill for at least two hours.

3. When you're ready to bake your cinnamon rolls, preheat your over to 350 and take the dough out of the fridge. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

4. In a medium bowl, mix the filling ingredients. Brush the dough with butter and sprinkle the sugar mixture over it. Then roll up your dough tightly, and cut the roll into 1-inch slices with a serrated knife.

5. Place rolls about two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 22 minutes.

6. While your cinnamon rolls are baking, mix the sugar and starch together and slowly add milk a teaspoon at a time until it is the consistency of icing. Wait until your rolls have cooled to drizzle icing over the tops.