(Low sugar) Pumpkin Pie

The American Thanksgiving is one of the most wonderful holidays. You gather around a dinner table full of delicious food with your family or friends. You chat, you drink, you eat, you are having a wonderful time. You think about all the positive that happened over the last year and be grateful. Plus thanksgiving sort of is the kick starter for the Christmas season. Hence the Sunday after Thanksgiving is usually the day, when we get our Christmas tree.

One of the classic, essential Thanksgiving side dishes – at least for me – is pumpkin pie. And while they are usually pretty delicious, I prefer them a little less sweet and am not really a fan of ginger, so I came up with my own recipe, which I want to share with you guys today.

Ingredients img_20171125_161930_3481852619295.jpg

  • Ready-made short crust pastry
  • 30 ounces (850 grams) of pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of vanilla sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground garlic

You read that right – ready-made crust. I am usually too lazy to also make a crust from scratch, as I believe that a short crust pastry from the store is as tasty as a homemade one. Plus, the filling is the star anyways. The prep work for this one is fairly easy. You just mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl, till everything is blended together nicely. Then you spread out the crust pie in a buttered 12-inch form. Fill it with our pumpkin mix and cook it in the oven at 165 degrees Celsius (330 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 hour. Let it cool down for 30 to 45 minutes and serve it with whipped cream and a smile. Enjoy!

P.S. if you feel like making the crust from scratch, you would need 75 gr of sugar, 150 gr of cold butter, 225 gr flour, 1 egg, a pinch of salt. Mix all the ingredients untill you have a smooth dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge for approx. 20 minutes. Roll out the dough using a bit of flour to make sure it does not stick to the surface. Place and spread out the dough in a 12-inch form.

Fettuccini Alfredo – Spoil your taste buds

Another dish you can’t really get in Germany: Fettuccini Alfredo. Alfredo sauce strikes me as one of these quintessentially Italian-American dishes. Though granted, it is actually Italian and known there as fettuccini al burro, which means “with butter”, as I learnt yesterday. I hadn’t even heard of it until a visit to the United States in 2012 with my partner, where I was able to try it.

As with everything that is largely only in one country, but not the one where you live, you face two choices: import it or make your own. The latter is my personal preference, as you can tweak it until it perfectly matches your taste preferences. No store-bought product can compete with that. So today, I will share with you my take on Fettuccini Alfredo. The recipe serves two hungry people and should only take approximately 15 minutes to prepare. For a “skinnylicious” version, skip to the last paragraph.

Ingredientsimg_20171119_204352_442-1663470401.jpg

  • 7 ounces (200 grams) of fettuccini noodles
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2/3 cup of grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup of veggie or chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • A few fresh basil leaves
  • A bit of thyme and oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: meat, such as some roasted or grilled chicken

Heat the butter in a saucepan at medium heat. Then add chopped garlic and immediately afterwards the heavy cream. Wisk the ingredients until smoothly blended. Mix in the parmesan, the broth (I prefer veggie broth, but if you do the dish with chicken, you might as well use chicken broth to enhance the taste) and the lemon juice. Let everything simmer for 4-5 minutes. Boil the noodles in parallel and add then them to your sauce. Cook everything for another 1-2 minutes. Then add the spices. For your protein fix, add meat (roast chicken works pretty well).

Now, I know most Alfredo sauce recipes use parsley. I generally don’t, because I don’t like parsley. I therefore substitute it with fresh basil, a bit of thyme and oregano, but use whichever floats your boat. Last but not least: enjoy your meal.

How to make it skinny: Granted, Alfredo sauce and skinny do not really seem like they would fit. However, if you want to make this dish a little healthier, you can replace the butter with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the heavy cream with ½ cup of low-fat milk.

Homemade Pesto is the best(o)

Ok. I admit it. This rhyme is not exactly sophisticated or smooth. I promise however that my pesto will be. So let’s get started. This is an easy and quick recipe. So a perfect solution if you were to spontaneously decide you need to have spagettis with Pesto alla Genovese (which happened to me, just a few minutes ago). So rather than hoping to the store, I resorted to my pesto recipe and thus probably benefitted from a significantly healthier option than those that you can buy. So I thought I share my pesto recipe with you. I hope you enjoy it. This makes for 2 generous portions that go nicely with pasta.

Ingredients20170707_215605

  • 4 cups (100 grams) of fresh basil leaves, this usually equals on pot of basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) of grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) of grated pecorino romano cheese
  • ½ cup (110 ml) of olive oil
  • ¼ cup (35 grams) of pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro

Roast the pine nuts in a pan fo 2-3 minutes and put them aside. Then press the garlic with a garlic crusher. Add the salt and grind it till it is a smooth paste. Mix in basil leaves (without stems), the roasted pine nuts and all the other ingredients and blend it for 1-2 minutes. Now you might want to ask: why is there cilantro in the pesto. Well, did once add it just for the fun of it, and realized it is really adding something to it. Which proofs once more that part of the beauty of cooking and baking is experimenting.

Zucchini waffles with sundried tomato ricotta dip

The sign for a great weekday dinner recipe is that is quick & easy yet tasty. This meal incorporates all of those feature, making it a perfect option after a day at work or full of activities, when the last thing you feel like doing would be standing in the kitchen for longer than absolutely necessary. This recipe serves 2 hungry people. You will manage to get around 10 waffles out of it.

Ingredients for the wafflesIMG_20170511_191718_752

  • 1 medium-sized zucchini
  • 1 small onion
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ cup of of grated cheddar
  • Salt, pepper, basil, oregano, chili pepper

Ingredients for the dip:

  • 1 cup of ricotta
  • 5 tablespoons of diced up sundried tomatoes
  • 1 diced up fresh garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • ½ teaspoon of thyme
  • A pinch of tumeric/kurkuma (if you don’t have any tumeric at home, you can just as easy use substitute with chili powder)
  • Salt and pepper

Ideally you prepare the dip first so it can sit in the fridge for a while and the flavors can really infuse the ricotta. So this dip ain’t exactly rocket science, and yet the preparation time can be handled at light speed. This makes it a good last minute choice if you need something tasty to go with your food. In this case our homemade zucchini waffles.

As for the zucchini waffles themselves, the first step is grating the zucchini. Place the zucchini bits in a bowl and salt them. This is a very important step for making sure all the excess water of the vegetable evaporates out.  After 10-15 minutes – give or take – you can squeeze the remaining water out of the zucchini. Meanwhile, dice the onion and fry it in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil. Mix the flour, eggs, baking powder and spices. Then add the cheddar. After everything is well blended, add the zucchini. Now we are ready for the grand finale: whether you use a waffle -maker or pan really comes down to personal preference. If you use a waffle maker, your end result might be a bit more compact yet also more even. The pan on the other hand will certainly make them a bit more “fluffy”, yet also a bit less symmetrical. In any case, make sure you use vegetable oil to prepare them in whatever device you end up choosing.

Enjoy!

 

Mareike’s Mac & Cheese

While this is certainly not the most challenging dish in the world, it is one of those that screams “HOME” like only very few others can. And it is definitely a meal that everyone makes a tiny bit different and thus everyone sort of has their own personal recipe for it. This is mine. It is for six generous servings, since no one should leave the table hungry after having had Mac & Cheese.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of elbow noodles
  • 3 cups of shredded cheddar
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1,5 tablespoons of mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon of chili powder
  • ½ cup of fried onions

There are seemingly two philosophies when it comes to the noodles – to pre-cook or not to pre-cook. I’m a pre-cooking kinda gal. That being said, I strongly recommend leaving the noodles in the water for 2 minutes shorter than you normally would. Thereby, you ensure that they are not all soggy right off the bat (which is important, since we are trying to prepare a casserole and not a Mac & Cheese soup). Once the noodles are done (or underdone in our case), pour them into a large casserole dish and put them aside. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the noodles are cooking, it is getting cheesy. Melt the butter in a pot on medium heat, add the milk and stir it. Make sure you do not cook this sauce at a high temperature, as it thickens up quite a bit and then you get a nasty surprise when half your sauce is baked onto the floor of your pot. Anyways. Slowly drizzle the flour into the milk while continuing to stir rapidly. You really want to make sure you do this at a high pace, otherwise you will end up with chunks of flour in your sauce, which is not very desirable. Once your mix is nicely blended, add the nutmeg and pepper. (Up until this point, this is exactly the way I prepare the béchamel sauce I use in my homemade lasagna. I might post that recipe on this blog as well). Then add the chili, garlic and mustard, while continuing to stir. You will probably wonder why I resort to using garlic powder instead of a garlic clove. The simple reason for this is that it blends more nicely into the sauce, where we aim for a consistent texture. Now add 2 cups of the grated cheese to the mix and continue to stir until everything is melted. Once that has been achieved, pour the sauce over the noodles in the casserole dish and drizzle the remaining cup of cheese evenly over that. Put it in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Let the finished product sit for 10 minutes before eating and add fried onions on top if you wish.

Note, I don’t use any salt in this recipe, because the cheese is salty enough to provide you with enough of it and whenever you can, it is strongly advisable to keep your sodium intake as low as possible.

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Say Cheese! Cauliflower-Cheddar-Chowder

We all know this feeling: you come home after a long day at work and just want to relax and unwind and the last thing you feel like would be to spend ages in the kitchen preparing dinner. This chowder recipe might be exactly what you’re looking for, as this dish almost cooks itself. So it is almost no hassle, low-carb, light in terms of calories and yet extremely tasty. This recipe is for 4 servings.

IngredientsIMG_20170330_185823_629

  • ½ cauliflower head
  • 1 cup of grated celery
  • 1 cup of veggie broth
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup of half-half milk
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of curry
  • ½ cup of grated sharp cheddar

Start by cutting the cauliflower, onion and garlic into smaller chunks. Place in a pot, add the grated celery and cook on medium to high temperature with 1.5 cups of water and the cup of veggie broth till everything is soft and tender. This will take approximately 15 minutes.

Blend the ingredients with a hand blender. Afterwards, when the mixture is smooth and no chunks are left, add the milk and spices of your choice. There is no need to salt the chowder, as the veggie broth should have done that job for you. Then add the grated cheddar and stir until the cheese is fully melted and mixed in.

The beauty of this chowder is its light spiciness, yet it is not overkill. So just about the right thing for a workday evening. That being said, it does have upgrade potential. So if you prefer, you can add a bit of chili to kick your soup up a notch. I like adding fresh cilantro as well, mainly because I just looove cilantro.

Tender Buffalo Chicken Bites

This is such a crowd pleaser and so much more than just a game day snack. I love buffalo chicken, but I am not a wings girl, I prefer filet bites. And while you can get chicken tenders and even wings in Germany, it is usually only served with BBQ sauce and basically never Buffalo-style. So since it is so tasty, I now make them at home.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts20170225_192014
  • 1,5 cups of buttermilk
  • ½ cup of flour
  • Buffalo wing sauce
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • ¼ cup of sour cream
  • ½ cup of buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder

My preparation of this dish already starts the day before. Cut the chicken filet into smaller pieces. Then place them in a bowl. Cover the entire chicken bits with buttermilk and leave it in the fridge overnight. Thereby you ensure that the meat will be super juicy and extra tender.

The next day, preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit and then remove the buttermilk from the bowl and pour the flour over the chicken. Make sure to cover all the bites with it. Lay the filet on a baking tray and place it in the oven. After 8 minutes turn the chicken and bake it for another 7 minutes. Pour the chicken in a bowl and mix it with buffalo sauce. Then put the chicken back in the oven for 5 minutes.

For the blue cheese dressing wisk the mayonnaise with the cream, the buttermilk, the vinegar, the mustard and the garlic. When everything is blended well, add the blue cheese. Stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Spice with salt and pepper.

All colors of the rainbow quiche

I love this dish, because it basically gives you a choice. You can either make this quiche with a crust or opt for the no-carb option without a crust. It turns out super delicious either way. This colorful quiche basically gives you a taste of summer on a cold winters day. It certainly brightens up my mood every time i have it.

Ingredientsimg_20160818_184016

  • Ready-made quiche dough
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow and red pepper
  • 2 large carotts
  • 1 cup of cocktail tomato
  • 2 cups of broccoli
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach
  • 3 stalks of spring onions
  • 2 diced garlic cloves
  • ½ tea spoon of oregano
  • ¼ tea spoon of thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup of ricotta
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • Nutmeg
  • Chilli powder
  • Rosemary

Cut the zucchini, the peppers and the carotts in small dices. Cut the cocktail tomatos in half and then cut the broccoli, the spring onions and the spinach into smaller chunks. Mix all in a large bowl and season it. Fry the diced garlic cloves in a pan for 1-2 minutes and add it to the bowl.

Prepare your quiche form with the dough. I admit i am very lazy here, but I like to follow the principle „Don’t fix what’s not broken“. And since there are so many tasty ready-made crust options out there, I spare myself the effort of making it myself. If you choose the crust and not the no-carb version, make sure to butter the form before adding the dough. For the egg mixture, beat the eggs with the ricotta, milk and cheese. Season it with nutmeg, chili and rosemary. Fill the seasoned veggies in the form and top it up with the egg-mixture. If I have any excess dough, I like to lay a little dough pattern on top. But this is obviously not a must-have.

Bake it in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius/ 390 degrees Fahrenheit for approximaltely 40-45 minutes – give or take. The quiche is done when the filling is set and no longer jiggles. After you take it out of the oven, you want to let it sit for 5-10 minutes before digging in. Enjoy!