And just like that… it’s winter! In a weird way, I enjoyed scraping the ice off my car this morning before work. I like winter. There is something magical about the temperatures dropping and bundling up that brings fond memories of sitting by the fire, gathering with family, and celebrating the many blessings we have.
Speaking of family, you might recall that last year, my sister and I decided to go on a no white sugar, no white flour kick during the month of November until Thanksgiving to be a bit more healthy. Welp, we’re at it again. Whole grains. Natural sugar. Low processed food. It’s going well so far, but the day after Halloween was rough with all the candy around! The whole thing has opened my eyes to how much I crave something sweet in the evening and how I am so quick to grab something unhealthy rather than planning ahead and making smarter choices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to snarf on Thanksgiving, but I hope to keep this up for a while so it becomes more of a lifestyle change (with occasional splurges). I believe that treats can be well deserved and enjoyed in moderation. Do you do any sort of detox before the feasting between Thanksgiving and Christmas begins?
This is a great pasta for when I’m craving cold weather comfort food, but trying to make smarter culinary choices. I made it in the midst of a busy week when I needed something quick and healthy. It turned out to be way better than I imagined. Instead of using heavy cream, the avocado provides rich texture and is full of flavor. The amount of heat in this recipe is up to you, but I like to add more spice than the average bear, especially in the winter. If you’re like me, go ahead and add the red pepper flakes and pepper jack cheese. I like the frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe’s, but I’m sure any frozen corn would work just fine. Hopefully you’ll feel a little less guilty grabbing a bowl of this creamy, flavorful pasta.
Prep Time: 15 min. Cook Time: 12 min
For the Avocado Sauce:
2 avocados, pitted
2 limes, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped
1 tablespoon hot water
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
For the Pasta:
1 lb. whole wheat rotini pasta
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 cups frozen roasted corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded (optional)
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced (optional)
1 cup black beans (optional)
In a food processor, combine all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the jalapeño, red bell pepper, and frozen corn. Turn heat the medium low and cover, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Cook the pasta according to directions on package, drain, and return to pot. Stir in the avocado sauce, vegetable mixture, and tomatoes until well combined.
Serve warm and top each bowl with pepper jack cheese.
Halloween has come, gone, and left us with a mountain of leftover candy. It was a rainy, chilly evening here in St. Louis for trick or treating. Although some faithful trick or treaters braved the elements in search of full sized candy bars, the numbers were limited. The rain finally stopped around 8pm, but by then, most of the little ones were tucked in bed. Whether you were stuck with candy to give, or your neighbors were super generous to your children who brought home piles of sugar, baking these cookies is a delicious way to use up some of that leftover candy.
This recipe is super nostalgic to me. When I was young, my favorite part of sitting in a suite to watch the mighty St. Louis Blues was the food. The game was great, the seats were awesome, but really… for this six year old it was all about the food- especially the dessert cart. When I heard that brisk knock on the door during the game, I would leap up and run to the door to welcome the dessert cart man to our suite. Of all the delicious treats, the one I remember most was the snickerdoodle cookie with a candy center on a stick. I’ve been wanting to make these for a while now (20 something years), and with all of this leftover Halloween candy, it seemed like an opportune time.
Sweet cinnamon sugar coats these chewy cookies with a melty sweet center. I think a variety of Halloween candies will work for the center. I used Snickers, but you can try Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth, Rolos and more. The jumbo size popsicle sticks are found at your local craft store and hold the cookies well. I wrapped these cookies with plastic candy bags over the cookies and tied them with a ribbon. We recently took them to a tailgate and they were a hit (pardon the ubiquitous Solo cups in the picture). They won’t last long at any birthday party, baby shower, luncheon, or bake sale!
Snickerdoodle Cookie Pops
Prep Time: 40 min. Cook Time: 14 min.
Adapted From: Smitten Kitchen
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 fun-size chocolate coated candies (or 24 bite-size 1 x 1″ candies)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each candy piece in half into a 1 x 1″ square. Insert a baking stick in the candy pieces about 3/4 of the way through and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, 1 cup of white sugar, and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs and continue to mix. Then, add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the 1/4 cup white sugar and cinnamon together.
Using your hands, wrap a heaping tablespoon of dough around the candy so that none of the candy is showing.
Next, use a spoon to generously roll the dough in the cinnamon sugar until coated.
Bake on a silicone mat for 12-14 minutes.
Cool on the pan until they are easy to remove, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Makes 24 cookie pops
If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that we’re crazy for the Cardinals. There has been a lot of media lately about Cardinal fans and our antics. We’re loyal. We’re emotional. And most importantly, we believe in our boys. I’m writing this post as the Cards are battling the Red Sox in the World Series. Go birds! I love this season because not only because we get to dance on baseball cloud nine, but also cheer on our favorite college football team, the Mizzou tigers. Sadly, we witnessed their homecoming loss this weekend. Oh also, Neil recently went to his very first NHL game (Let’s Go Blues!) and is hooked. St. Louis is truly a great sports town. Wait a sec…this is a food blog. I’m just writing about sports. Not food. Is that bad?
Let’s get back to food. Here’s what I think: seasonal food tastes good. When we’re looking for ideas on what to cook, often times we’ll just go to the grocery store and see what looks good. Honeycrisp apples are my favorite. I’ve always found granny smith a little tart for my liking, and although most people cook with them, I wanted to see what would happen if I used honeycrisp instead. The results were delicious. This cinnamon spiced bundt cake is reminiscent of a sticky sweet caramel apple. Served warm à la mode, this cake might settle any competitive tiffs amongst your friends. But really… Go Cards!
Caramel Apple Bundt Cake
Prep Time: 30 min. Cook Time: 90 min.
5 honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and diced
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup caramel sauce
1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 10-cup bundt pan well and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the eggs and sugar together until fluffy. Add cooled melted butter and vanilla together and continue to mix.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add 1/2 of the dry mixture to wet and combine until just incorporated. Do the same with the other half of the dry mixture. Using a spatula, fold in apples.
Evenly distribute the batter in the bundt pan and place pan on a baking sheet.
Bake for 50-60 min. When it’s done, a sharp knife will come out clean. Cool in the bundt pan placed on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Loosen cake with a knife, flip on a serving plate and tap hard on the pan to loosen. Hopefully yours will slide right out of the pan!
Top with your favorite caramel sauce and chopped nuts.