Butternut Spice Loaf

Use butternut squash instead of store-bought pumpkin puree for an upgrade on a seasonal favorite!

The batter in it’s loaf pan and (almost) ready for the oven.
Don’t forget to top with nuts!

Butternut Spice Loaf

  • Servings: 8 thick slices
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups soft wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut flesh
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3/4cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup walnuts chopped and toasted, plus 3 tablespoon walnuts, chopped and untoasted

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 pan with oil.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices together.
  3. Blend the squash, apple sauce, oil, and maple syrup together.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.
  5. Add the toasted walnuts and raisins to the batter and fold until everything is evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with 3 tablespoons of the untoasted walnuts.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

Drying Herbs

Drying herbs is a simple way to preserve your favorite fresh herbs all winter long. I recently dried copious amounts of rosemary, sage, mint, oregano, and thyme. Once completely dry, these herbs will last for a few years. I mostly use these herbs for cooking, but mint can be use to make your own tea too. Drying your own herbs is an easy way to preserve your herbs at the end of the season, and aid in your cooking all winter (year) long. 

The oldest technique to drying herbs is taking a small bunch, tying it with a string, and hanging it upside down for 1-3 weeks until the herbs have lost all moisture. I hung mine under the stairs/on a shelf and they were all dry about 2 weeks later. 

How to dry your own herbs:

  1. Pick herbs.
  2. Once you are home, wash the herbs and dry them throughly with towels.
  3. Take twine, and a nickel sized bunch of the herb and tie them together at the top.
  4. Leave extra string so you can then tie the herb bundle on a shelf or any spot where it can hang freely.
  5. Allow the herbs to dry for 1-3 weeks until fully dry.
  6. Remove the herbs from the stems and store whole or crushed in a jar with a lid or a bag.
Rosemary after drying for 2.5 weeks.
Rosemary removed from the stem and ready to be stored in a jar.

Castle Valley Mill Sweet Potato Skillet Cornbread

My favorite flours and cornmeals are sourced from Castle Valley Mill. This mill is based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and began milling grain on the land in 1730. I order their flour in bulk so I can use it for all my cooking needs. My favorite of their flours is the bolted hard whole wheat.

During the colder seasons, I crave my favorite cornbread recipe to bake and share with family and friends. This cornbread has sweet potato in it to add moisture, along with other simple ingredients you are sure to already have on hand. I usually use leftover sweet potato or squash from a prior meal for this recipe. My cornbread is best when I use Castle Vally Mill cornmeal and flour! Hopefully you find as much joy and cosiness making this cornbread as I do.

I usually pre-measure the dry ingredients so I always have them on hand.

Before the oven.
After the oven.

Sweet Potato Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients 

  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 3/4- 2 cups milk (non-dairy or dairy)
  • 1 heaping cup of sweet potato flesh
  • 3-4 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar together.  Set aside.
  3. Blend the apple cider vinegar, milk, maple syrup, sweet potato, and oil together.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the wet mixture.  Mix until just combined. If the dough looks too dry, add a tablespoon more milk at a time until all the flour has combined and the dough looks moist.
  5. Pour the batter into either a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet or a 9×9 square baking pan.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the cornbread comes out clean.

This recipe is extremely forgiving to those who bake it. Enjoy!

One Thing, Three Way: Sweet Potatoes

The three products I will show you how to make, which cumulatively utilizes the whole sweet potato are:

  1. Sweet Potato Casserole
  2. Sweet Potato Brownies
  3. Sweet Potato Skin Chips

My favorite technique for cooking sweet potatoes is slow roasting. My recipe for this you can find here. Once you cook the sweet potatoes, you can utilize the following recipes to make sure you get something delicious from the skin and the flesh! (unless you just want to eat the sweet potato whole, which is delicious too)

Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

  • flesh of 8 sweet potatos
  • 1 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 3/4 cups pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Add the sweet potato flesh, spices, and milk to a blender and blend until very creamy
  2. Spread the creamy sweet potatoes in a casserole dish.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a medium sized pan, over medium heat, add the olive oil, maples syrup and pecans. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes until the maple crystalizes around pecans. Stir frequently. The maple will become sticky right before it crystalizes around the pecans.
  5. Spread the pecans over the creamy sweet potatoes and bake the casserole for 30 minutes until warmed through.

Sweet Potato Brownies

  • Servings: 9 brownies
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup salted peanut butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato
  • 3-4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • flake sea salt for topping brownies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Like a 9×5 inch pan with oil, and parchment paper.
  2. Blend apple sauce, 2/3 cup peanut butter, sweet potato flesh, and maple syrup.
  3. In a large pot, add the blended apple sauce mixture and dark chocolate. Heat until the chocolate is melted.
  4. To the pot, add the cocoa powder, almond flour, and baking soda. Mix until fully blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (batter will be thick). Top with the remaining peanut butter and flake sea salt.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until set.

Sweet Potato Skins

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet potatoes skins from slow roasted potatoes
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Remove the flesh from the sweet potatoes leaving a little flesh on the skins. Reserve the flesh for other recipes such as the sweet potato brownies or casserole.
  3. Coat the sweet potato skins in the oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes until crispy and golden.

One Thing, Three Ways: Ginger

The three products I will show you how to make, which cumulatively utilizes ginger are:

  1. Pickled Ginger

2. Ginger Tea (by-product of making pickled ginger)

3. Chai Concentrate

The spiciness and warmness ginger provides is perfect in these colder months. I love sipping on a chai latte or ginger tea. Pickled ginger lasts for up to a year in the fridge, so you can make a large batch to eat with rice, sushi, or anything else you want. I use it in my homemade peanut sauce as a secret ingredient.

You can save your ginger peel scraps from making pickled ginger to make ginger tea or for chai concentrate recipe below.

Pickled Ginger

  • Servings: 3-4 cups ginger
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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces ginger (about 2 large heads)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Peel the ginger with the back of the spoon.
  2. Cut the ginger extremely thin with a sharp knife or a mandolin
  3. Place the ginger in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Let sit for 10 minutes
  4. Bring a pot of water for a boil and add the ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Strain the ginger, reserving the cooking liquid to drink(it is ginger tea!)
  6. In a large jar or container, add the. vinegars, water, and sugar. Mix until sugar is dissolved, and add the ginger.
  7. Allow the mixture to sit for 2 hours before eating. The pickled ginger will last for up to a year in the fridge.
  8. Note: you can adjust the vinegar and sugar ratio to your liking. I prefer mine less sweet.

Chai Concentrate

  • Servings: 1 quart
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Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • peel from one orange (optional)
  • 5 inch chunk ginger, grated, unpeeled
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed or 3 star anise pods, crushed
  • 10 whole cloves, crushed
  • 25 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a large pot, add water, ginger, cinnamon sticks, anise seed, cloves, cardamom pods, nutmeg, and black peppercorns. Allow simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add the black tea bags and remove from heat to let steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the spices and tea bags from the liquid.
  4. Add the maple syrup and vanilla.
  5. Store the chai concentrate in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  6. Use the chai concentrate in a 1:1 ratio with milk of choice to make a chai latte.

Vegetable Scrap Broth

Save those scraps! Even if you are composting, finding a second use for your vegetable scraps is a great way to get the most out of all the food you buy.

Any vegetable scraps can be used for this broth except for large amounts of cruciferous vegetables scraps because they may impart a bitter flavors. I tend to use a majority of onion, carrot, celery, leeks, and kale scraps in my broths. Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage are great additions as well. Now that I have so much stock from my vegetables scraps, I have been making amazing soups during these colder months.

When I buy a chicken, I try to fabricate the bird and save the carcass in the freezer until I have enough vegetables for a big pot of stock as well. Then, I will add all the scraps and carcass to the pot and make a chicken scrap broth!

This scrap broth is not an exact recipe, but one that can be easily bent to your preference and ingredients on hand. I fill a pot with about 4-6 quarts of water when I can fill a gallon size bag with vegetable scraps.

Bring the broth to a simmer, then reduce to the lowest setting and cook overnight on low, or for about 5-8 hours.

Strain out the scraps and store the broth in the fridge or freezer for future use in soups, sauces, or anywhere you would usually add water to give your dishes a new depth of flavor.

Vegetable Scrap Broth

  • Servings: 4 quarts
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Ingredients

  • 4-6 quarts of water
  • gallon size bag of vegetable scraps
  • chicken carcass (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 5-8 hours.
  3. Strain the scraps from the broth.
  4. Store in the fridge or freezer.