Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

quinoa and sweet potatoes

It’s snowing here and I’m ready for summer. Not gonna happen soon enough for me! Snow just makes you tired! Here’s proof…my fiance got off work, ate dinner and immediately fell asleep. This does-not-happen-ever when the weather is warm. Snow is the devil! 🙂

Travis and Randolph

At least quinoa can be amazing when everything else is dreary. Really, quinoa can be better than dessert. Well…ok…now you have lost faith and don’t believe me. Anyone there???

Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

Sweet Potato, Walnut and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock (or water, veg stock etc)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1-2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  • Add water or chicken broth, quinoa and diced sweet potato to a small pot and bring to boil. Lower temp and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, checking periodically, until all water/broth is absorbed and quinoa has cooked.
  • Add cooked quinoa to a serving bowl and stir to fluff. Add walnuts and dressing and stir to combine. Top with goat cheese and a fresh ground pepper.
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Homemade Cashew Milk and a smoothie

My first time making my own milk. And I didn’t even have to go out to a ccccccc-cold barn to do it!

cashew milk

First I soaked raw cashews in water overnight. After draining and rinsing them, you just blend them up with some good stuff like vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup and you have fresh nut milk!

Cashew milk

Frothy cashew milk bubbles!

cashew milk

I made this yesterday afternoon and this morning it was good and cold and waiting to be turned into my morning smoothie. For 2 of us I mixed up 2 cups cashew milk, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 large frozen banana and a tablespoon or so of chia seeds.

cashew milk, chia seeds, banana and blueberries

Purple Cashew Monster Smoothie! I mean…

Cashew milk, blueberry smoothie

Homemade Cashew Milk

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 4 cups water (divided)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey or agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • dash sea salt
  • pinch cinnamon (optional)
Instructions
  • Soak the cashews in water at least 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator (I soaked min overnight through to the next afternoon and it worked great). Drain the cashews and rinse until the water runs clear. Add the cashews and two cups water to a blender. Start on a low setting and increase the speed until the cashews are totally pulverized. This could take 2 minutes in a high-powered blender or longer in a regular blender.
  • Blend in 2 cups more water, your sweetener of choice, vanilla extract, sea salt and cinnamon (optional). If your blender can’t totally break down the cashews, strain the milk through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth (I used my Vitamix and did not have to strain it). Store the milk in a covered container in the refrigerator. It should keep for 3 to 4 days.
Notes:
    • Yields about 5 cups cashew milk.
    • The ratio of water to cashews (4 to 1) in this recipe yields milk that is somewhere between 2% and whole milk in terms of creaminess. Use less water for even creamier results.
    • I used cold filtered water instead of straight tap water.
    • Recipe from Cookie and Kate

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Here’s something for your Thanksgiving brunch! A not too sweet, crumbly, yumbly, coffee cake…and something to do with the other half of the can of pumpkin that you used in a recipe and don’t know what to do with!

Use only pure maple syrup in the glaze, otherwise it’s cheating (and won’t taste as good).

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Pecans, brown sugar, maple-y yummmm!

maple glazed pumpkin coffee cake

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Coffee Cake

For the cake:

  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter (at room temp)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl mix first 6 ingredients together (pumpkin-vanilla). Sift in flour, baking powder, salt and spice. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 baking dish.
  • Combine pecans, flour, brown sugar and butter (I used my fingers) and sprinkle everywhere (ok…evenly) over batter.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • In a small cup stir together powdered sugar and maple syrup. Add more syrup as needed until it’s a little runny. Drizzle over cake just after it comes out of the oven.

Maple Dijon Chicken with Cauliflower Potato Mash

This was my stove-top last night. To the left the chicken was simmering away in a sauce that’s sort of a spin on honey mustard and oh-so good. I had just added the cooked potatoes to the cauliflower and they were waiting to get pureed. In the back green beans were steaming.

a busy stovetop

These fresh herbs came out of my garden and transformed dinner for sure. The cauliflower potato mash wouldn’t have been the same without the slight-oniony flavor of the chives. The parsley added a nice freshness to the tangy chicken and the rosemary went into the maple dijon sauce the chicken cooked in.

rosemary, parsley and chives

I always forget to take pictures of the finished product (part of the reason I haven’t posted for awhile) but I did snap one pic before digging in!

maple dijon chicken

Maple Dijon Chicken

  • about 1.5 pounds boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/3 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley for serving

Method

  • Heat a large skillet over med-high heat with a little EVOO. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs and cook on one side until a good sear develops.
  • In the meantime mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Flip the chicken over and add the sauce. Turn the heat down to med/med-low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, basting with the sauce from time to time.

slightly adapted from Table For Two Blog

And now for the mash!

Cauliflower Potato Mash

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 5 small russet potatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup half-n-half
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (or so) chopped fresh chives, for serving

Method

  • Peel and dice the potatoes and place them in a pot with just enough water to cover them. Cook until fork tender, drain.
  • Meanwhile add the cauliflower florets into a large skillet with the chicken stock. Cover and bring to boil and simmer until soft.
  • When the cauliflower and potatoes are done add the potatoes into the skillet with the cauliflower. Add the half-n-half, salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, blend until chunky. If mixture is too dry add a slash of chicken stock. Top with chives when serving. No butter needed but it can be added if you wish!

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola

Apparently there was a pumpkin theft in my neighborhood yesterday which I was unaware of until I woke up this morning to an amusing string of emails from people in the neighborhood:

Jason (condo owner across the street from the town houses): A girl got out of a black car and took two pumpkins from the corner town house front stoop yesterday. What is this neighborhood coming to?

Erica (sent to a couple of the town house owners who could possibly have missing pumpkins): Did one of you have two pumpkins stolen? Just checking. I’m hoping that a lady was supposed to pick them up or something and did not just take them.

Terri (a town house owner): They were stolen from my front steps!

Laura (another town house owner): I wasn’t home last night. I’m not sure if mine are still there.  Elissa had a couple of pumpkins on her steps too.

Elissa (that’s me…also a town house owner): Laura your pumpkins and our pumpkins are thankfully safe and sound!

Funny!!? Well…I thought it was! My bedroom is on the 3rd floor and the first thing I did this morning after reading this email was to walk down to the first floor to check on the pumpkins and send my email reply.

This whole pumpkin situation was also great inspiration for this granola. I plan to enjoy this for myself and share it my sister Angela (who is going to have a baby ANY DAY NOW).

I did some granola research today and then adapted my own unique recipe. It smelled deliciously of spice and coconut while it was baking. It’s crispy and slightly sweet and really good! I can’t wait to try it with some frozen yogurt 🙂

Pumpkin Seed Granola

  • 6 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 big pinches kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white raisins

Method

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the largest mixing bowl you have add oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds and all the spices. Mix together well. In a separate small bowl mix together the coconut oil, honey and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the oats mixture and using a rubber spatula fold it around and around the bowl until combined. (It think it’s better to fold the mixture instead of stirring it so that the almonds won’t break up too much)
  • Spread out mixture on a large baking sheet. Stir every 20 minutes so that it bakes evenly. Bake for about an hour.
  • Add the mixture back into a large mixing bowl and fold in dried cranberries and raisins. Divide into airtight containers for storage.