Maple Cranberry Brussels Sprout Spinach Stuffed Acorn Rings

A sweet & savory side dish perfect for the holidays!

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With the holidays coming around the corner there is always such a frenzy as to what you are going to eat, bring to a party or simply what the actual plan is. Usually, it always seems to sneak up last minute and you need something somewhat quick, simple, looks, and tastes delicious that can feed enough people too! This is why I love these acorn stuff rings; I filled them with brussels sprouts, spinach, pistachios, cranberries, and Sir Kensington's Spicy Brown Mustard with just a few other seasonings and they came out perfect! They were a combination of sweet and savory and pretty simple to make. I tend to make these a lot around the holidays because for leftovers, I eat them for breakfast with a fried egg or for whomever is staying with us that week. 

To make this recipe even simpler I used the spicy brown mustard as my main sauce instead of making my own! I love the Sir Kensington's Spicy Brown Mustard because of the ingredients; it only has mustard seeds, Vermont maple syrup, sea salt, and a little bit of cane sugar, yet only contains 1 gram of sugar per serving! So it isn't over powerfully sweet! I also love their dijon mustard and made these amazing salmon burgers with it, see the recipe here. You can find most of their products at Whole Foods, they are all NON-GMO and made with such clean ingredients. I have a few other recipes with their products on my blog too, just give it a search (a creamy cold pasta salad, or tuna tacos with a mustard vinaigrette!)

The great thing about these acorn stuffed rings is you can really fill them with anything, serve them as a side or make them a little more hearty by adding in quinoa, lentils, or even ground turkey. The only thing that I suggest doing is before baking the acorn squash rings is brushing them with a little olive oil and a touch of maple syrup with just caramelize them adding to their sweetness and of course add in the spicy brown mustard to your stuffing mix to give them an even tangy savory sweet taste! 

They make a really pretty presentation and are so good! You'll love them! 

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What you need:
Yields 6-8 acorn squash rings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes  
Total time: 50 minutes

2 medium size acorn squash
1/4 heaping cup of Sir Kensington's Spicy Brown Mustard
1/4 cup pistachios (or any nut/seed of choice)
1/4 cup cranberries
2 cups spinach
1.5 quarts brussels sprouts
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 tbsp. maple syrup (optional) 
10 sprigs of thyme

What you need to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a backing sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

2. Carefully cut the acorn squash into rings. I tried to cut them as evenly as possible, but it might be difficult and found that at the end it didn't matter, they still all cooked evenly through. 

3. Place the acorn rings on the baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil and cook for 15 minutes on one side. Flip, then continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Check, if they need more time, continue to cook until golden brown in color and soft. It will most likely be a total of 30 minutes. 

4. While the acorn rings are cooking: Prepare the stuffing. In your cast iron pan or large skillet; on medium heat; add the chopped brussels sprouts with about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook until tender and they start to brown. After about 10 minutes, add the spicy brown mustard, sea salt, pepper, and any other spices of choice. Mix and continue to cook for another 5-8 minutes. 

5. In the same pan, add the nuts/seeds, cranberries, and the spinach. Cook until the spinach becomes soft; just a few minutes. 

Now, the acorn squash rings should be done. Take them out and begin to stuff them with the mixing above. Each ring will fit about 2 heaping spoonfuls. I then placed mine back in the oven for about 5 minutes, but that isn't necessary. 

6. Drizzle with maple syrup and fresh thyme leaves. 

Serve immediately. To re-heat simply put back in the oven under broiler for a few minutes or at 400 degrees until warm (10 minutes)

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Creamy Cold Pasta Salad (dairy free!)

This creamy cold pasta salad filled with veggies and a healthy dressing is so perfect for your next summer BBQ! 

One of my favorite things to eat when I was younger was this cold pasta salad that my mom used to make. I loved taking it to the beach in the summer or having it at BBQ as a side dish with a hot dog. Hot dogs over hamburgers; always. It was so simple to make, creamy, and tasted even better the longer it would sit in the fridge and marinate in the homemade dressing. When Sir Kensingston's sent me their new Fabanaise Vegan Mayo, I knew exactly what I wanted to re-create! 

I feel like there are always two types of people when it comes to mayo- you either love it or you hate it. Personally, I am somewhere in the middle. I hate when dishes, such as pasta salads or lobster rolls are drowning in mayo but really don't mind a thin spread of it with some avocado, turkey, and tomato on a sandwich! The thing that I love about this mayo is that it is egg-less and made with ingredients that we can actually pronounce!  Sir Kensingston's made their mayo from drained chickpeas, added things like lemon, spices, and vinegar and sunflower oil and boom- a new mayo was born. It tastes just like the real deal- but better- and healthier- so that is a plus! I used their regular vegan mayo for this dressing but they also have a chipotle flavor that tastes just as amazing! Which I am thinking would be really good with some tacos....

For this recipe I also used my favorite pasta, Banza, which is also made from chickpeas. So if you are totally chickpea'd out from the mayo, feel free to use your favorite macaroni pasta! I love using shells or elbow pasta for these types of dishes and prefer to cook the pasta a little al dente. I find that if I over cook the pasta it tends to fall apart after it has been marinating in the dressing in the fridge after a few days. I chose to add some greens in the pasta salad such as spinach, green beans, and zucchini, but you can really dress it up to your preference or leave them out all together! I just think it gives the dish a nice balance- little pasta and a little bit of greens- makes it into a meal if you wanted it! 

The dressing is very simple as well. I used the mayo and added in a few simple ingredients such as sea salt, pepper, mustard, lemon etc. and it created a sweet and tangy flavor. It was actually light, refreshing, and didn't take away from the pasta or the veggies! The whole dish can be ready in less than 15 minutes and even be made ahead of time before you head off to a summer get together or is perfect for Sunday night meal prep! 

Hope you enjoy!

Main Meals/Side Dishes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Total time: less than 15 minutes! 

Ingredients:

1 box of pasta (I used Banza chickpea pasta, 3 cups)
*Shells, elbow, or bow-tie work best
1/4 cup spinach
1 medium sized zucchini, quartered
2 long carrots, diced
1/2 cup string beans, halved

Dressing:

1/2 cup Fabanaise vegan mayo
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
juice of half of a lemon
1 tbsp. sweet & tangy mustard seeds *
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
sea salt + pepper to taste

*You can also use regular mustard and if you do I would add a pinch of coconut sugar or maple syrup to the dressing

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta according to directions. Do not over cook the pasta or it will break apart once you add the dressing. You want it to be a little al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking, bring 3 cups of water to a rapid boil in a small pot over high heat. Add the the string beans and diced zucchini to the pot and cook for roughly 4-5 minutes. I prefer mine to be a little on the crunchy side; you want to essentially blanch the green beans and lightly steam the zucchini. Drain & set aside.

3. While the pasta + vegetables are cooking, prepare the dressing. Whisk all over the dressing ingredients together. Taste test & adjust according to your preference. It will be on the creamier side.

4. Drain the pasta and allow to cool for a few minutes.

5. In a large bowl, add the pasta, the spinach, raw carrots, zucchini, string beans and the dressing. Mix well until incorporated. Add more seasoning if needed.

The pasta salad will keep in the fridge for up to a week! Serve cold.

 

Crispy Hazelnut Parsnip Fritters

These parsnip fritters were not planned and the idea of making them into fritters wasn’t even on the radar. I first attempted to make a parsnip noodle dish and had this grand plan in my head- the photo- the ingredients- the list of spices I wanted to use- the sauce- all planned out, but the minute I placed the parsnip on the sprializer it just would NOT budge.  Before you judge me, I can guarantee you that I know how to use one, but have you ever really noticed how oddly shaped parsnips are? At least the ones that I have always bought tend to be a little thicker on the top and then extremely thin towards the bottom. This made it super awkward on my spiral machine. I probably should have stuck it out because I gave up after the first one, but I was hungry! I will re-visit the parsnip noodle dish I had in mind at some point soon, but in the mean time I had to figure out what I was going to do with about 2 dozen parsnips.

My zucchini fritters that I posted a few months back were such a hit amongst you all, including myself, that I figured I could use the same spices that I originally had in mind, and make fritters! At first, I wasn’t sure how the taste would be, the ratio of eggs to flour, if the parsnips would need to release any water, but I thought I would just wing and give it a shot! I tend to do that a lot with cooking-  just wing it. I find that you have more of a leeway with you are cooking with throwing things together and getting things right the first or second time versus baking. Baking is such a science.

Parsnips have quickly become one of my favorite vegetables to eat and I feel they are definitely underused! Simply roasting them in the oven with olive oil, little sea salt, and ground pepper until crispy is one my favorite ways! Parsnips have a slightly sweet flavor so I wanted to use contrasting spices to balance it out.  For this, I was going for more of a nutty & savory flavor versus something on the sweet side. Honestly, you can really use any spice you would like. Once you have the amount of parsnips (i.e total cups you are using), eggs, flour & baking powder, the rest is at your command! That is the one thing I love about making fritters. Each time you make them you can use different spice element or even add in a few other veggies (corn, sweet potatoes, or a chopped apple).

For this recipe I used about 7 -9 parsnips. I purchased the ones in the bag from Whole Foods and after grating is was about 3 cups.  Mine varied in size greatly.  Once you start mixing everything together in your large mixing bowl you will be able to tell if you need to add more liquid to help bind everything together.  I do have to admit that I LOVE the parsnip fritters 100 times more than the zucchini ones! For a few reasons: One, there is hardly any water to drain from the parsnips so you don’t have to wait to make them! Therefore, they aren’t soggy at all! They are more dense in their size and hold together better! They also seemed to last longer – I almost preferred eating them cold the next day with my lunches!

After grated the parsnips, which can be a workout itself, mixing the ingredients together, I decided to fry the parsnips in a little bit of coconut oil on each side for about 2-3 minutes and then placed them in the oven to finish baking. I am such a texture freak and love a little crunch so I had to fry them! You obviously do not have to do this and you can bake them or you can solely fry them for a little longer on each side without baking them in the oven! It’s your call.  Frying the parsnip fritters gave them crispy edges and coating and finishing them off in the oven allowed them to firm up a bit and become a little dense. (Which I prefer!)

 

I love pairing the fritters along side with a salad, as an appetizer, or with a lightly fried egg on top for breakfast! 

 

 

 

 

Appetizer/Main Meal/Side
Yields: 12
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

7-9 parsnips grated (3 or so cups)*
¾ cups almond flour or hazelnut flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
3 cloves garlic, minced & finely chopped
3 tsp. pink Himalayan salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. sesame seeds
3 tbsp. chopped hazelnuts
1 tsp. fennel
2 eggs, lightly beaten
coconut oil or olive oil for frying

*For the spices & nuts: fennel, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, thyme, cumin, coriander, ground pepper; I tend to not measure. I often taste test before I add the eggs and see if I need to add anymore of either of the spices. Therefore start off with a less amount and add as you go! I added more hazelnuts (close to 1/4 cup) because I wanted more of a crunch to the mixture and a strong flavor, but do as you please!

Directions:

1.     Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.     Wash, dry, and peel the skin off of the parsnips

3.     Grate the parsnips and set aside

4.     In a large mixing bowl add the almond flour or the hazelnut flour, baking powder, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and all remaining spices. Lightly mix.

5.     Add the minced garlic, the lightly beaten egg, and the grated parsnips. Mix until well combined.

*If you find that your mixture seems dry you can add liquid at this point. As in it doesn’t seem to be binding together, mix it again, and if that isn’t working (it should) you could add 1 tbsp. of olive oil or coconut oil to the mix. I would first test it out with frying 1 fritter.  Mine was fine, so I did not test this part out.

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 6.     In a non-stick skillet heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil or coconut oil over medium high heat.

 7.     Scoop a spoonful of the mixture out (roughly ¼ cup) and form it into patties. I did not completely flatten them here, but left them on the thicker side.

8.   Place the mixture on the skillet and flatten here, slightly with the back of the spatula.

9. Cook the fritters over medium –high heat roughly 2-3 minutes on each side.  The edges will become golden and crispy. You may need to add more olive oil in between batches. Be careful they do not burn

10. Place the finished fritters on the baking sheet that was covered with parchment paper. Once all the fritters have been fried and moved to the baking sheet, put pan in the oven. 

11. The amount you continue to bake them in the oven depends on how crispy you like them.  I left the fritters in the oven for 15 minutes.

12. Serve warm.

To re-heat you can place them back in the oven under the broiler on high for a few minutes!

 

  

 

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini fritters, pancakes, latkes, whatever you want to call them- you need to swap your zoodle spiralizer and whip out the grater for a weeknight dinner, snack, or appetizer upgrade!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had more time than usual to think of new recipes to experiment with for the week. I always make my “go-to” dinners, but I need to change things up in the kitchen. Anyone else tend to eat the same thing day after day? My motivation post a long day at work, working out, and then commuting home is pretty much non-existing. If something isn’t already prepared or requires minimal brainpower, I will either spoon enough nut butter with yogurt to call it a day or mash avocado on toast.

Since zucchini is the main vegetable that I constantly buy, love, and have an abundance of, I knew this would be the easiest veggie to change up since it doesn’t require any change in my usual run to the market.

While searching different websites for ideas, I kept coming across different types of fritters – carrots, sweet potatoes, chickpeas etc – I knew I wanted to try making zucchini ones.

My mom and I headed straight to the kitchen and decided to get to work.  We experimented with two small zucchini and a simple batter of egg, flour, onions, salt and pepper.  I mixed up the flour and herbs while she chopped up the onions, which we later realized that we added too many onions. We were basically eating an onion fritter! We also forgot to add the egg, which we took out of the fridge, but had no IDEA where it went rolling off.  Hopefully, it’s not something we will find months later…

Anyways, after realizing the mistakes we made with the first batch, I knew exactly what needed to change. We didn't allow the zucchini to release enough of the water, which resulted in a somewhat soggy middle section of the fritter. Zucchini has so much water. I am surprised every single time I cook zucchini as to how much water is released. Also, we should have flatted the zucchini fritter with the back of the spatula after dropping the mixture in the skillet. They needed less chopped onion and a more even balance of spices and herbs. 

Once I was back in my own kitchen, I made the changes and they came out perfect! I decided to use almond flour and added a scant amount of curry powder- it made such a difference! The curry powder definitely balanced out the other flavors and gave the fritters a little kick! Allowing the grated zucchini to release the excess moisture will make a difference in the crispy mushy ratio, but if you are short on time and want these ready in less than 30 minutes- they will still come out tasty! I would suggest keeping the fritters on the skillet for a few extra minutes.

If you are opposed to lightly frying the fritters you can certainly bake them in the oven until they have become golden brown.

They make such a great snack, appetizer, or addition to your usual scrambled eggs in the morning!

Appetizer/Main Meal/Side
Yields: 12
Prep time: 1 hour [depending]
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

6 small organic zucchini
3 cloves of garlic, minced & chopped
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. curry
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
¾ cup almond flour or coconut flour (or any flour your prefer)
1 tsp. baking powder
Olive oil or coconut oil for frying

Optional add ins:
Chopped parsley or cilantro
Scallions
Lemon zest
 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Slice off the ends of the of the zucchini and grate them on the large holes of a grater.

Place the grated zucchini in a large strainer. {I placed the strainer over a large bowl and placed it in the sink} Add 2 tsp. of salt and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  The longer you let the zucchini sit the more moisture will drain out. This will ensure a crispy fitter versus one that is very soggy.  After 30 minutes or an hour wring out the zucchini or pat the zucchini dry with a paper towel. 

**While the zucchini is releasing the moisture in the strainer you can continue on with the recipe.

Over medium high heat add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil to a sauce- pan.  Once the oil becomes warm, add the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic for 4-5 minutes. 

In the same pan, add the chopped onions and continue to sauté for another 8-10 minutes or until the onions have become to caramelize or brown. Set aside.

In a large bowl add the almond four, salt, pepper, curry powder, baking powder & mix. Next, add the onions, garlic, and the strained zucchini.  Mix together.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the bowl and mix until well combined.

In a non-stick skillet heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat.

Scoop a spoonful (1/4th size ish) and drop the mixture onto the skillet. I used a small skillet here and was able to fit 3.  You don’t want to overcrowd the skillet, as it will be difficult to flip the fritter.  

Flatten the zucchini mixture slightly with the back of the spatula.

Cook the fritters over medium –high heat roughly 4 minutes on each side.  The edges will become golden and crispy. After 4 minutes, flip the fitters and wait until the edges have become browned (4 minutes). You can repeat this process once more if you would like.  You may need to add more olive oil in between batches.

Place the finished fritters on the baking sheet that was covered with parchment paper. Once all the fritters have been fried and moved to the baking sheet, put pan in the oven. 

The amount you continue to bake them in the oven depends on how crispy you like them.  I left the fritters in the oven for 15 minutes. This step is also optional but I think that allowing the zucchini fritters to bake in the oven allows the them to finish setting, develop crisper edges, and release any extra moisture.

Serve warm. To reheat the zucchini fritters you can simply place them on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes.

Topping ideas:
Poached or runny egg
Yogurt or a sour cream
Sliced avocado