Saturday, October 19, 2013

Apple, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Sandwich

We've been blessed with a pretty awesome fall here in upstate New York.  Lots of sun, temperatures in the 60's and 70's with zero humidity and no bugs.  Every weekend has been met with some sort of outdoor activity, be it canoeing in the Adirondacks, biking in the Catskills or hiking in the Heldeberg mountains.
After a grueling hike or bike ride that has kicked my ass so hard I can barely walk, there is nothing more that I enjoy that tipping back a cold beer and shoving food in my face. Lately, my new favorite post outdoor workout meal of choice has been this apple, cheddar and caramelized onion sandwich.  In case you've been living under a rock, there are a gazillion delicious apple varieties at the markets right now and they love being pared with a really sharp cheddar.  I could eat this combination as a snack, but piling this on a nice crusty baguette with a handful of arugula, some caramelized onions and a smear of coarse mustard is where it's at.

Apple, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Sandwich

Sharp cheddar, thinly sliced
a nice crisp apple, thinly sliced
coarse mustard
caramelized onions*

To make caramelized onions, thinly slice 4-5 medium onions. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a wide, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and give them a stir.  After they have softened up a bit, turn the heat down to low and cook until the onions are really soft, stirring every couple minutes (this should take about 30 minutes or so).  If your onions start to stick, just add a small splash of water and give them a stir.  When your onions are super tender and golden brown in color, remove from the heat and set aside to cool. 

To assemble the sandwich, cut the baguette into your desired sandwich size, slice it open and smear each side with some grainy mustard. Next spread each side with some caramelized onions. Place a handful of arugula on the bottom half, followed by some thinly apples and the cheese. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Bread

As much as I hate how anything and everything food related takes on the flavor of pumpkin spice this time of year, I have to admit that I'm a sucker for pumpkin bread.  As the weather gets cooler I definitely want something a little hearty in the morning. I love sitting down to a plate of French toast or pancakes or a bowl of oatmeal on the weekends, but during the workweek I need something that I can eat on the go.

During the summer months, a slice of zucchini bread and an iced coffee is one of my go to breakfasts. Now that winter squash and pumpkins are popping up everywhere, I switch gears and swap out the zucchini for some pureed squash, add some warming spices and a handful of nuts and seeds and am left with a delicious quick bread that goes great with a hot cup of coffee in the morning.

Since I like to eat all healthy and whatnot, I had to find a way to make eating pumpkin spice bread for breakfast a justifiable option. Luckily, a good friend of mine has a knack for making things taste really great while still being super good for you.  Sometimes all it takes is replacing white flour with whole wheat or spelt flour, using maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of white sugar, chia seeds for eggs, and coconut oil for butter or other refined oils. The end result is a super moist, not too sweet breakfast bread packed with whole food ingredients that tastes great and makes you feel great too!

Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Bread
From Nourish The Roots
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour or whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3/4 cup  coconut sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds (or 2 eggs)
6 tablespoons water (omit if using eggs)
1 cup well-pureed roasted winter squash* (pumpkin, kabocha squash, or butternut)
3/4 cup pecans
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the top 1/3 of the oven. Rub 1 tablespoon coconut oil inside a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

Melt the 1/2 cup coconut oil in a small pot over low heat. Set aside and allow to cool but not set.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, garam masala, and sea salt into a large bowl. Set aside. In a smaller bowl whisk the sugar, maple syrup, chia seeds, water, and squash. Whisk in the still melted coconut oil. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Fold in most of the pecans, reserving 1/4 cup or so for the top of the cake.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with remaining walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds and a drizzle of maple syrup, and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the edges have browned and the center of the bread is well set.

Let cool 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

 *To make pureed winter squash: Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down in a rimmed baking pan with about a half inch of water. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until it is fork tender. Remove from the oven, let cool, and then scoop out the squash flesh from the skin. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth, adding a couple tablespoons of water if needed.