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Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie

I swear, I wasn’t going to post any pumpkin recipes this “season.” Mostly because I think it’s really overrated orange mush that people like to mask the flavour of with more complimentary flavours such as cinnamon and cloves.

We’ve talked about how it’s processed and in a can, right? Well, I’ve already contradicted myself once with an impromptu pumpkin cream cheese waffle posting, and today I’ll share with you why I had pumpkin hanging out in my fridge to begin with. Around these parts you can only get pumpkin in 28oz cans. That’s a lot of orange mush to be creative with.

I promise you, the next two recipes contain no cinnamon or cloves. This is pumpkin done savoury and edible!

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 chipotle chiles, minced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce (your favourite kind, I used plain)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn

For cornbread topping:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp molasses

Directions:

Brown beef in a large pan with onion, garlic, peppers, sweet potato, and spices. Add in sauce, beans, and corn, and let simmer for 30 mins.

While beef mixture is simmering, mix together the cornbread ingredients. You can separate the dry and wet, but I’m not picky. The pumpkin and juices from the filling usually keeps it from getting too dry from over-mixing anyways.

When the beef is done simmering, pour it into a 9×13 casserole dish and pour cornbread batter overtop. Bake in a 400F oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cornbread clean.

I went for a pumpkin whole wheat cornbread to make it healthier, of course. I figured if there was ever a time to healthify cornbread, it would be when there’s ground beef involved. The hint of molasses and whole wheat not only gave it depth in taste, but colour as well! I also snuck sweet potato in there for extra vegetables, which offset the heat of the chipotle wonderfully. I’m currently not allowed to eat hard cheese, but I didn’t miss it all. Overall, a dish that is definitely worth cracking open a can of orange mush for!

Of course, using only one cup of it, I had some leftovers. I was determined to get meals out of them and not just spiced desserts.

Enter Pumpkin Focaccia. Pronounced foe-caw-chuh (for my friends from the ‘view).

I based my version off of this recipe and it was freakin fantastic. I made the following changes:

  • Left out cheese (again, not allowed, but I really want to try this recipe again with it!)
  • Added 1.5 tbsp of finely chopped fresh rosemary to the dough
  • Topped with roasted pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts

I made it into two small rectangular loaves. One of which my family pretty much inhaled straight out of the oven slathered in butter. The rest I enjoyed with my usual fried eggs and cream cheese in the morning.

I can’t be helped.

These are just some of the highlights of many great dishes from the last three chemo-free weeks. I had chemo #9 of 12 on Wednesday and am back in the chair for #10 next Wednesday. Needless to say, I’ll be dragging my heels and taking a lot more naps for the next little bit. I’ve been trying to teach Buster how to fetch things for me, but uh, he’s an easily distracted pup.

As soon as he brings it to me, he comes in for cuddles and completely forgets about the toy.

Thankfully, he’s a pro at lying around too.

If you have any interest in hearing my speak about what it’s been like living with cancer click here to listen to Part 1 of a radio interview I did. Part 2 should be posted on that website after 12pm Atlantic time today. Also, if you’re in my area, be sure to check out the CBC’s Tree of Hope fundraiser on Nov. 24 to help directly benefit cancer patients like me in Moncton.

Have a great weekend!

Layered Moussaka Casserole

Welcome to another work week! I wish I was heading off to work this morning like so many of you, but instead I will likely spend my day napping. Trust me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.

Actually, one of the most frustrating things about chemotherapy is that I have all this free time now, and absolutely no energy to do anything with it. Usually all I can muster is a very mild “work out” and hanging out with my family. Some days I try to run a few errands or clean my room. But the best days are those I find the energy to cook.

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This coming week is a chemo week – in other words, my least favourite kind of week. But the weekends preceding my chemo weeks are also my best. My body has recovered enough that I feel *almost* normal. Or the closest to normal I can get these days anyways!

So on these weekends you will likely find me in the kitchen. And boy, do I have a kitchen creation to share with you!

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This recipe is “moussaka-inspred,” meaning it bears only a small resemblance to the traditional dish to make it a little healthier and easier to cook. This is definitely not a weeknight dinner, but rather something you could make on a Sunday and have the leftovers for the rest of the week. Now you know for next weekend!

Layered Moussaka Casserole

Prep time: 1 hour
Bake time: 1 hour
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb beef
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute (or your favourite all-purpose seasoning)
  • 1 tsp allspice (or something similar to a pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like lots)
  • 1 700ml jar of your favourite tomato sauce (I used President’s Choice organic roasted garlic)
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3 small zucchini
  • mashed potatoes – 8-10 small potatoes worth (I’m not going to tell you how to make mashed potatoes! I went the garlic potatoes route made with a little milk + butter and lots of salt + pepper)

Directions

Peel and cube the potatoes and add to a pot of boiling water.

Brown the beef in a large pan with onion, green pepper, garlic, and celery. Add spices and seasoning along with the jar of tomato sauce. Simmer for around 30 minutes.

While beef is simmering, make mashed potatoes. Slice the eggplant and zucchini lengthwise. Traditional recipes would have you sauté them first, but I usually don’t bother and leave them raw. I never notice how bitter the eggplant is.

Cover eggplant slices on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of the beef mixture on top. Cover with zucchini slices and add remaining beef on top of zucchini. Spread mashed potatoes over top of beef.

Bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour.

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After hours of chopping, stirring, and cleaning my mess in the kitchen, I sat down to eat my hot meal only to suddenly feel too sick to eat it! Ahhh the joys of chemo.

Thankfully, I’ve since been able to eat the leftovers after a quick 2 minutes in the microwave. It is FANTASTIC and worth every minute in the kitchen. If you ask me, making hearty, healthy food is one of the best ways to use what little energy I have. Now if you don’t mind, I think it’s time for another nap.

Butter Bread

It was a loaf that started with such good intentions.

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Rather than spend my money on store-bought bread this week, I decided to make my own Irish Brown Bread following this recipe.

I searched the city of Toronto for buttermilk and could not find any. So I substituted with plain yogurt.

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What is up with no buttermilk Toronto?? I went to all of three stores and could not find any. My mom says you can make it by adding vinegar to regular milk. But that’s, um, gross.

For some reason, the recipe’s instructions of 2oz butter registered in my brain as 1/2 cup butter.

That’s a lot of butter. And it showed.

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I had to bake it for nearly twice as long so the inside would cook resulting in a rock hard crust. It also didn’t rise.

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My soda bread turned into a butter bread. This is what I classify as a #bakingfail.

I’m not the kind of person to just throw out a loaf of bread though. In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m cheap. Plus, the point of this bread was to save money!

Looking past the difficult texture, the taste  of the bread didn’t turn out so bad. I mean, it is 50% butter after all. I tried to redeem it in the form of french toast.

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Three small slices soaked in egg whites and cinnamon. Eaten with sugar-free syrup.

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Not bad. But still crunchy. This bread can do better.

I took the remaining half loaf and broke it into pieces in a bowl. I then added 1 cup soy milk and let it soak until the bread absorbed all the liquid (about an hour).

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Once the bread was good and mushy, I tossed in 150g cubed ham and placed the mix into a greased square baking pan.

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Poured 2 cups eggs whites over top and sprinkled with 30g old cheddar cheese.

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After almost two hours of baking in a 350F oven, my Butter Bread Breakfast Casserole was complete.

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My baking fail turned into a baking #win!

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Now I’m left with four servings of a grab n’ go breakfast for the rest of the week. Not just that, but the taste and texture is now divine! I highly suggest you try your hand at making an eggy bread breakfast casserole. I do not however recommend doubling the butter in any recipe, no matter how good that may sound :\

 

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In other news, I’m part of a pin-up calendar!!

This is a project that has been in the works since last winter when Deb’s father passed away. Her dad, Marty, was a fan of her food and fitness blogging friends and always joked about how we’d make for good subjects in a calendar. Well, when he fell seriously ill with lymphoma, the joke turned into a reality. You can read Deb’s post here to learn all about it.

We are selling a small number of the calendars with all proceeds going to help cancer research. Please see Deb’s post for more details, or drop her an email at LASmoothieGirl @ gmail.com. I got my copy of the calendar today and am really pleased with how it turned out. It’s such a fun way for this blogging community to come together and show support.

Here’s the full listing of girls featured:

Remember this photo? Well here is your explanation. I got January because it’s my birthday month. I picked the 80s as my retro theme as it’s the decade I was born in! Plus, Jane Fonda is one of my idols ;)

 

Question of the Day: Any recent kitchen failures to share? I can’t be the only one!

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