Thanksgiving Side Dishes and Appetizers

November 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re still looking for some last-minute easy recipes that aren’t loaded with calories but sure do have tons of flavor, try these! I’ve been so busy with life (and testing my pumpkin-oat-cranberry scone recipe) that it took me until today to realize I’m running behind on posting Thanksgiving recipes.  Such is life sometimes!  So I will cut myself some slack and go get started prepping my pearl onions for my FAVORITE creamed onions of course.  Wishing everyone a truly happy Thanksgiving. Gratitude is everything! Enjoy…

Spinach & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

1 package large “stuffing mushrooms”, rubbed clean and stems removed (about 10-12 mushrooms)
1 Tb. olive oil
1 large package fresh spinach, washed and dried
1 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tsp. dried sage or herbs de provence
salt & pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the mushrooms with a bit of olive oil and then place them bottom-side up in a 9×9 glass baking dish.
In a pan, heat the olive oil and add all the spinach and garlic or garlic powder.  Cook this until spinach is soft.
Add the bread crumbs and herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir together. Turn the heat off and add the goat cheese.  Blend all together until goat cheese, breadcrumbs and spinach are evenly distributed.
Spoon or fork the spinach mixture into the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a salt and pepper before baking. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until browned on top. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Simple, Savory Butternut Squash

1 Butternut squash, peeled and cut in small chunks
1 small white onion, peeled and sliced into small pieces
2-3 Tb. Olive oil
1-2 Tb. Orange juice
Fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper

Fill a medium-sized pot with about 1/2 inch of water and bring to a boil.  Add the butternut squash and cook covered for 7 minutes.  While squash is cooking, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the onion.  Sautee the onion on medium-low heat just until soft and translucent.  Chop about 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary and add to the onion.  Stir around and let simmer just a couple minutes. Add 1/4 tsp. salt.
Place cooked squash in a serving bowl, making sure to drain off any remaining liquid. Pour onion & rosemary mixture on top and toss evenly. Pour  on the orange juice and a bit of olive oil if desired. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper and toss to coat squash evenly. Garnish with a few sprigs of rosemary. Serve and enjoy!

Caribbean Sweet Potatoes

(A recipe from my husband’s grandmother, cuz every Thanksgiving table needs at least one recipe from a grandmother!)

(serves 4-6)

2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1 tsp. orange rind
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2  cup brown sugar
2 Tb. butter
1 Tb. lime juice
3 Tb. dark rum

Cook sweet potatoes about 1/2 hour at 400 degrees (or microwave until soft but still firm.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel & slice potatoes. Combine the spices
Arrange potatoes in 2 layers in a shallow casserole — sprinkle each layer with spices.
Heat butter, sugar, lime juice & rum in small saucepan over low heat. Pour over potatoes.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, spooning glaze/sauce over potatoes every 15 minutes.  Let stand 10 mins. before serving.

How to Cook Pumpkin Seeds

October 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rub a little canola oil on your hands and then rub 1 cup pumpkin seeds in your hands to coat lightly. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Season with salt and curry powder to taste. Toss & bake another 5 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Basil Soup Seduction

October 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

How many of you keep canned pumpkin on hand? I do, and apparently some of my friends think that’s funny.  I’ll tell you a little story of how pumpkin became a staple in my pantry…

Canned pumpkin is great for making “Seductive Soup”! What, you ask?!  Everyone knows it’s great for pumpkin muffins, scones, pancakes and pie of course.  I even put canned pumpkin in homemade mac&cheese and other tasty pasta dishes.  But back to the seduction … When I was in college, my mom made this fabulous Pumpkin Basil Soup that she served the first time I brought a boy home for the weekend.  He (“the boy”) loved the soup and started to fall in love with me, so my mom and I joked about it being the soup. Well, that relationship didn’t last, but the pumpkin soup was put to the test again with a couple more boyfriends over the next few years, including the one who became my husband.  So, as funny or strange as it may seem, keeping pumpkin on hand can come in handy when you’re trying to impress a prospective love interest. Haha!  Love and seduction aside, this soup is great as a Halloween or Thanksgiving dinner starter, or simply enjoy any time in fall and winter.  A final note — if you kept the pumpkin seeds after jack-o-lantern making, toast them (see how to below) and use to top the soup before serving. Deeee-lish!!!

Pumpkin Basil Soup

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

1 large onion, peeled & chopped finely
1/4 cup butter
1/2 lb. fresh tomatoes (or canned whole), seeded and coarsely chopped
3-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegetarian version)
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
salt & pepper
pinch sugar
3 Tb. heavy cream (optional)
Grated Swiss cheese or salted/toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish


In a large soup pot, saute onion in butter about 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer gently about 5 more minutes.
In another saucepan, simmer the carrots in 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth until soft.  Pour soft carrots & broth into a blender or food processor. Add the canned pumpkin and 1/4 tsp salt and blend until smooth.  Add the remaining chicken broth as necessary.
Add the pumpkin mixture to the tomatoes & onions. Season with pepper, pinch of sugar and a little salt if needed. Stir in the chopped basil. Fold in heavy cream (if desired) and heat but do not boil the soup. Pour into a soup tureen or individual bowls and top with cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rub a little canola oil on your hands and then rub 1 cup pumpkin seeds in your hands to coat lightly. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Season with salt and curry powder to taste. Toss & bake another 5 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Enjoy!

BFFs — Me & my Beets?!

October 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Beets — love ’em or hate ’em? I grew up loathing this “earthy” vegetable.  I thought they tasted horrific, and that juice!! YUCK!  My mother used to routinely open a can of them and pour them onto salads.  I found it inconsiderate that she never remembered they “ruined” any salad they touched.  As the mother of eight, how could she have possibly kept a mental note of each child’s preferences and actually honored them?  Fast forward a few years, and in my house I simply cook for myself!  Hmmm, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?!  (For the record, I have one out of three boys who has actually chewed and swallowed at least one bite of each recipe that follows…)  Well, I am sure my dear mama is rolling over in her grave to hear me actually declare my new-found love of both beets and beet greens.  It’s true.  And I have since forgiven her for adulterating my salads with the nasty canned version of what I dare call a really tasty food!  Colorful too!  I had fun coming up with something other than salad as a partner for my new BFF of the veggie world. It was my goal to “get to know them” — all parts of them.  I started first with the greens, believe it or not. They are simply way too beautiful to discard. It turns out they are even more nutrient-rich than the root, which is what we commonly eat.  Beet greens are a great source of calcium as well as magnesium, potassium, iron and quite a few B vitamins.  The roots are rich in potassium, and all together beets are really potent cancer & heart disease-preventive.

So I hope you trust me on the these recipes. They are a bit shocking color-wise (particularly my Beet-Loaf) but that’s part of the fun.  My favorite thing to do with beets is make my “Can’t Beet This Pasta”, but if you make it with just the greens and want to use the rest in something different than a delicious salad with goat cheese, roasted beets and pecans (always a crowd-pleasing combo) … go for my meatloaf with a twist. (Mom made a lot of meatloaf when I was growing up, and I have to admit — I still love it!)  This version may be a good Halloween meal once you see the outcome! Here’s to my mama, who loved all food.  Enjoy!

Can’t Beet This Pasta!

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

3-4 whole beets with greens

10 ounces penne or bowties (Barilla plus or whole grain pasta)

4 Tb. Olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled.

salt to taste

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Put water in a large pot and heat over med-high heat.
  2. Cut the stems & leaves off the beets. Rinse and chop stems into 1-inch chunks. Cut leaves.
  3. Peel the beets and cut into large chunks.  Add just the stems and leaves to water, lightly salt and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the beets and simmer about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Bring to a boil again, and add the penne or bowties. Boil for 8 minutes. Drain all in a colander.
  6. Transfer hot beets, greens & pasta to a large serving bowl. Crush the garlic over them. Add 1-2 Tb. Olive oil, stir and salt to taste.
  7. Toss with Parmesan cheese and remaining 2 Tb. olive oil if desired. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Beet/Meatloaf

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

Don’t be frightened by the color on this. It’s actually quite delicious, particularly if served with homemade mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and a big arugula salad.

1/2 – 2 lbs. Grass-fed ground beef
1 large beet, peeled and chopped into very small chunks
2 eggs
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl combine all beef, eggs, ginger, garlic powder, salt & pepper until all evenly mixed.  Place in a glass loaf pan. Sprinkle top with Worcestershire sauce.   Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 20-30 minutes as desired. (Check to make sure it’s cooked in center.)  Remove from oven, let stand a few minutes before serving.
Other options include adding some chopped fresh parsley and onion.

Awesome Autumn Salad

September 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Summer is fading, but the shades of autumn certainly aren’t! Vibrant fall foliage and wonderful, colorful, flavorful garden goodies are still to be enjoyed.  At the same time, fall seems to trigger my craving for roasted nuts, which can be roasted indoors or out.  For this salad, I used hazelnuts, but almonds, pecans or walnuts would never do you wrong.  In addition, I used raw beets, but why not go wild and roast the corn, beets and carrots too?!  Happy Autumn!

Awesome Autumn Salad (serves 4)  by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

2 heads leaf lettuce (red and green), washed and torn into small pieces

1 large fresh beet, peeled and cut in small pieces

1 carrot, peeled & grated

1 avocado, peeled & cut in small chunks

1/3 cup frozen corn, rinsed to thaw and drained

1/2 cup jicama cut in small pieces (optional)

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped finely

1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts

Place the hazelnuts on a foil-lined baking tray. Roast in oven at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes, or until browned and skins begin to peel off. Remove and place in a kitchen towel to rub off the skins.  Roast extra ones to use in other salads or for fish and pasta dishes.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss well with Lime Dijon Dill Dressing.

Lime Dijon Dill Dressing:

In a blender combine 1/3 cup olive oil, juice of 2 limes, 1-2 garlic cloves, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, pinch sugar, 2-3 Tb fresh chopped dill, dash of salt & pepper.

Blend for 20 seconds, until slightly creamy. Drizzle over salad, toss well and enjoy!