Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Month: November 2016

Cherry-Cranberry Crisp

A radiant cherry and cranberry filling, mixed with a classic crisp topping of oats, graham cracker crumbs, and brown sugar, makes this cherry-cranberry crisp burst with flavor and color.  If you are looking for a festive and delicious holiday dessert that is easy and doesn’t involve making a pie crust, then this is a great option!  Don’t get me wrong, I love to make pies–in fact I will be making one this evening–but…sometimes it’s nice to throw a dessert together quickly and without much fuss.  And the gorgeous colors and many health benefits of tart cherries and cranberries are an added bonus!

cherry-cranberry crispI used frozen Montmorency red tart cherries and frozen cranberries for this recipe.  I have written in a previous post about my love for this particular type of cherry (Michigan is known for them), but any tart cherry would work fine.  I made the filling for this crisp before assembling it and baking it, so I could make sure I had the level of sweetness that I wanted.  Everybody has a different threshold for tartness, and this way you can adjust the sweetness before you bake the crisp.

Also, it helps to make sure you mix the cherries and cranberries well while they are cooking in the filling, because the cherries are sweeter than the cranberries, and if someone ends up with a spoonful of mainly cranberries, they may be in for a very tart surprise! However, when mixed up, the cherries and cranberries make a delightful burst of sweet-tartness, and I am so pleased with this very bright flavor and color, and the antioxidants inside it all.

cherr-cranberry-crispThe crisp topping is very simple.  My aim with this crisp is to make it as flavorful and at the same time as easy as possible, so it can be a recipe you can turn to when you are a bit pinched for time, but still want a beautiful dessert.  It is a crisp topping I use all fall for apple crisp, and it is simply four ingredients–old fashioned rolled oats, graham crackers, brown sugar, and a bit of butter.

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow already, in addition to it being my husband’s birthday! And my daughter’s birthday is a few days after that.  Busy times, and yet I am trying to focus on what is most important, and one of those things continues to be gratitude.  In these times when there are pressures about holiday shopping, I try to remember also that time is a gift.  Spending time with loved ones is a gift, especially if you can be fully present for them.

cherry-cranberry crispFood brings people together, bridges gaps, and expresses love.  If you are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you have a great day, and if not, I hope you have a great day, and weekend as well!  I am sharing a quote that my yoga instructor shared with our class:  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie

May you have all those things this weekend, and thank you for reading this blog!cherry-cranberry crisp

Cherry-Cranberry Crisp

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 4 cups of frozen tart cherries
  • 2 cups of frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup of sugar (or a bit more, if you desire more sweetness and less tartness)
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/4 tablespoon of almond extract

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of graham crackers, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Get out a 9 x 9 inch baking dish (8 x 8 inch works too).

Place the frozen cherries and cranberries in a medium saucepan.  Add the sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract.  Gradually bring to a boil, stirring as the mixture warms up, to combine the ingredients. When the mixture starts to boil, stir it continually for about a minute, as it starts to thicken and the fruit bursts.  Turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes, tasting the filling and adding more sugar if desired.  (My family likes it with the 1 cup of sugar, so it’s sweet but with a hint of tartness.  If you are used to more sweetness, you might want to add a bit more sugar.) Let the filling cool a bit while you make the topping.

In a small bowl, combine the oats, graham cracker crumbs, and brown sugar.  Spoon the filling into the baking dish.  Make sure the cherries and cranberries are mixed up, so they can complement each other, and not be in their own corners of the baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.  Dot the butter pieces on top of the filling, distributing them evenly.  Bake in your 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired. Enjoy!

Apple Crunch Bars

Are you bored with your breakfast and snack choices? These apple crunch bars are the perfect way to change things up a bit while still delivering great nutrition and deliciousness.  A base and topping of oats, pistachios, brown sugar, and whole wheat flour surround a cozy apple-cinnamon filling for a healthy treat that tastes like a cross between an apple granola bar and a bite of apple crisp.

apple crunch barsI posted a recipe for cranberry almond bars about a year ago, and these apple crunch bars are similar to those, except for the obvious change in filling, and this time I used pistachios in the topping instead of almonds. The filling is a version of my basic homemade applesauce recipe, and the base and topping are loosely adapted from a recipe I found in Real Simple magazine in September of 2015.

apple crunch barsI love these apple crunch bars! The apple-cinnamon combination is always so cozy and comforting, especially when the apples are bubbling away in a pot on the stove.  And the crunch mixture is so tasty, so full of salty-sweet flavor from the pistachios and brown sugar, with such a crunchy, crumbly texture that mixes so well with a fruit filling.  They really are a great breakfast choice, snack, or even a guilt-free dessert, if that’s what you are looking for.

apple crunch barsIn a few days (I can’t believe it is coming up so quickly!) my family will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  It is the time of year when we consciously think about what we are thankful for, about gratitude.  I recently checked out a book from the library about the spirituality of gratitude, because it is something I want to cultivate more deeply in my life.  It is easy to be grateful when things are going well, and more challenging to feel gratitude when things don’t go our way, or when we are struggling.  I am enjoying (though it is sometimes really hard!) going further into this practice.

I was raking leaves yesterday afternoon, and our dog kept sitting right in the middle of the tarp I was using to drag the leaves to the back of our property.  Then when I finally got him off of the tarp, he would run alongside me as I was dragging it and either step on it or grab it with his mouth and start tugging.  He didn’t want me to get anything accomplished!  He wanted those leaves to fly and scatter with the wind.  I love that about our dog.  I hope you all have a great weekend! Antonia @ Zoale and Petra @ Food Eat Love are co-hosting Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week, and I look forward to sharing this recipe over there.apple crunch barsapples and peelsthree apples

Apple Crunch Bars

  • Servings: 12 bars
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Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 3 medium sized apples, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of water

For the base and topping:

  • 1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of pistachios, shelled (raw almonds or walnuts may be substituted, if desired)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 8 tablespoons (or 1/2 cup or 1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar, packed

Directions:

For the filling:

Wash, peel, and dice the apples.  Place them in a small or medium pot, along with the vanilla, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of water.  Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until the apples are tender.  Let the filling cool slightly, then mash it with a potato masher so it becomes somewhat smooth.  Let it cool while a bit more and the filling will thicken a bit as it cools.

For the base and topping:

While the apples are simmering, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line an 8 inch square baking dish with two crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper, leaving an overhang of paper on all sides, pressing the paper down inside the dish.

In a blender or food processor, pulse or puree the oats, whole wheat flour, pistachios, baking powder, and salt until finely ground. Transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir in the brown sugar.  Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter and continue to work it in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs about the size of a pea, and everything is well combined.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the crunch mixture for the topping.  Press the remaining crunch mixture into the baking dish, using a straight-sided glass or measuring cup to pack it down evenly.

Spread the apple filling over the bottom crust, distributing it evenly.  Scatter the reserved 1/2 cup crunch mixture evenly over the top.  Bake until golden, and set in the middle about 35 to 45 minutes.

When it is done, let it cool completely (the cooler it is, the better the bars will hold their shape–I can’t always wait till it’s totally cooled!).  Then, holding the overhanging parchment paper, lift the crunch out and transfer it to a cutting board and cut with a sharp knife into twelve bars. Enjoy!

Pomegranate-Pistachio Quinoa

This nutrient-rich dish is full of flavor and color.  The mild taste of quinoa is dressed up with the beautiful, sweet-tartness of pomegranate seeds, the savory crunch of pistachios, the bright flavor of fresh parsley, and a homemade dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.

pomegranate quinoaAt a time when many of us might reach for comfort in the form of snacking on processed foods, this recipe comes to the rescue and helps balance that out.  Quinoa, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and parsley are whole foods full of vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants, and naturally delicious flavors!  Our bodies need this kind of nutrition to function optimally, and functioning optimally, though not always possible, is definitely a worthy and meaningful goal.

pomegranate quinoaPomegranates are on sale at my regular grocery store these days, and we have been enjoying them very much.  There is something so festive about the beautiful seeds.  They are like little sparkling gemstones, or little glowing holiday lights.  Each little seed bursts with flavor.  Spooning them out can take a bit of time, but it can be fun.  We had a friend of my son’s over a couple of weeks ago, and my son, his friend, and my daughter were completely entertained for a good while, standing at the counter scooping the seeds out of the pomegranate halves….I’m telling you, in this age of electronics, bitter politics, and rushed schedules, it is satisfying to see kids get excited about a fruit, getting their hands and faces all juicy, and laughing together in the kitchen.

pistachios and pomegranateI get a bit emotional about that kind of stuff, and perhaps it is because I’m a bit raw as I write this post.  I purposely stay away from politics on this blog most of the time.  It is primarily a food blog, along with bits and pieces about my own life thrown in, and how the beauty of food, nature and the seasons can influence our lives.  But a couple of days ago, the people in my country elected someone to be our next president, someone who has no political experience, and who has said some very disrespectful things.  The people in my country are deeply, and sometimes bitterly, divided.  I am not a very political person, and I will not say much about this here, but I will say that I hope love, dignity, respect, and peace can prevail in ways we cannot always understand or yet fathom.

The harsh words of this election cycle have left me cherishing the simple moments of joy, like watching kids standing together around a pomegranate, laughing and popping the seeds into their mouths. My yoga instructor said something earlier in the week that has stuck with me.  She said that the earth meets us right where we are.  On one hand, that sounds so obvious that it is almost humorous.  On the other hand, it is exactly what I needed to hear.  Wherever we are in our imperfect journey, the earth is there to meet us and support us.  Eating food that comes from the earth is nourishing us right where we are as well, helping us to go out and live our truths and open our hearts.  We need to come together around a table and nourish and support each other.

This dish is really easy to put together, and makes a delicious, beautiful, and healthy side dish. If you are looking for a simple and festive salad to take to Thanksgiving dinner or any other dinner, give this a try! I am going to share this over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday and see what the others there have brought to the table. pomegranate quinoapomegranate seeds

Pomegranate-Pistachio Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-8
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Ingredients:

For the salad

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds (also known as arils)
  • 1/3 cup of pistachios, shelled
  • 1/3 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

For the simple dressing:

  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions.  (Or, rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed colander under running water.  Add 2 cups of water and the cup of rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat and to a simmer, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and let the quinoa cool.

While the quinoa is cooking, scoop the seeds from the pomegranate and shell the pistachios.  Wash and chop the parsley.  Mix up the dressing and whisk it together in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust the seasonings and ingredients to your liking.

Transfer the quinoa into a serving bowl and fluff it with a fork.  Add the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and parsley.  Pour the dressing onto the ingredients.  Stir till everything is well combined.  Serve at room temperature or put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready for it and serve it cold. Enjoy!

 

 

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fill roasted acorn squash “bowls” with sautéed mushrooms, chopped walnuts, couscous, and fresh thyme, and you have a festive and nourishing meal.  A bit of melted butter and Parmesan cheese make it even better.  The tender squash goes beautifully with the savory flavors of the filling, and the protein-rich mushrooms and walnuts are satisfying without making you feel over-full.

stuffed acorn squashRoasted acorn squash halves make beautiful and tasty bowls for both sweet and savory fillings.  I love apple-filled roasted squash, but I was recently looking for a way to use my acorn squash more as a main dish.  Then I read a post titled Loaded Tofu, Basmati Rice & Apple Roasted Pumpkin on Amanda’s lovely blog, What’s Cooking.  The title meal itself sounds delicious, and in this post, Amanda goes on to write about the versatility of the fillings as well as the squashes that can be used for stuffing, and she mentions brown rice, mushrooms, and walnuts as a possible filling.  A little lightbulb went off in my head when I read this, because I had mushrooms, walnuts, and couscous on hand, and a pretty acorn squash sitting on my kitchen counter.

A suggestion turned into a delicious meal.  Thank you, Amanda!  The tender squash is a delicious, edible bowl for the savory mushrooms, couscous, walnuts, and thyme.  You can really mix and match your filling ingredients, and prepare them while the squash is roasting.  I happened to have leftover garlic-seasoned couscous in the refrigerator, but rice or quinoa would be good too.  And if you wanted to add more protein, you could add some cooked shredded chicken or other ingredients.  The possibilities are endless, so this recipe is merely one option, though a very delicious one!  The recipe below is for one squash, which feeds about two people, but it can easily be doubled or more, if you are feeding a few people, and the amounts are estimates, because some of it depends on the size of the squash you are filling.

stuffed acorn squashUsing a roasted squash for a bowl is fun and seasonal.  And if you are like me, sometimes you may need a little urging to use that squash.  I end up with them sitting on my counter with the best of intentions, and though they look decorative on the counter, they need to be used!  This is a relatively easy, lovely, healthy, and tasty way to use it.  Rustic elegance on your table in a little over an hour, and much of that is oven time.

The fall color here continues to amaze me with its beauty.  Everywhere I look there are beautiful trees.  I am really hoping to get out into the woods this weekend.  The natural luxury and bounty of this season is always inspiring to me.  Nature is so generous with its display of sumptuous colors and textures, and looking around, I can see every shade of yellow, brown, red, and green.  I hope you all have a beautiful weekend! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen.stuffed acorn squash on whitered maple tree 2stuffed acorn squash

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients:

  • One small to medium sized acorn squash
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked couscous (rice or quinoa can also be used)
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, sautéed
  • 1/4 cup of raw walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, removed from the stems
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to base.  Spoon out the seeds.  Place the halves cut-sides down in a buttered baking dish.  Roast in your 375 degree oven for 35 to 50 minutes, or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork or knife.  (The roasting time will depend on the size of the squash).

While the squash is roasting, prepare your filling.  Cook the couscous and sauté the mushrooms.  Chop the walnuts and remove the thyme leaves from the stems.  Mix the filling together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper and anything else you like.

When the squash is tender, pull it out of the oven and flip it over.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and rub with a couple tablespoons or so of butter.  Spoon the filling into the squash “bowls”, packing the filling as high as you want it.  Put the filled squash back into the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the filling is warmed all the way through. In the last five minutes or so, top with Parmesan cheese.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!