Pumpkin Parfait with Salted Maple Granola: Big news!

PumpkinParfait.TheCubanReuben.comAvid readers of The Cuban Reuben may have noticed that it’s been a bit since I’ve last posted. Since embarking on this blogging journey nearly two (yikes!) years ago, I’ve prided myself in maintaining a pretty regular posting schedule. This level of commitment has certainly presented challenges along the way, whether they be from a harried work schedule or a lack of inspiration, but no challenge has been greater than the one that presented itself a few short months ago. And since this is a space where I share my thoughts freely, I thought it was only fair that I reveal what’s been keeping me away so long. I’ve got big news!

BigAnnouncement.TheCubanReuben.com

The official announcement we shared with our family and friends.

Yes, yours truly will be joining the ranks of matriarchs come May, and I could not be happier. Of course, that’s because I’ve finally emerged from the cloud of morning sickness that was plaguing me for quite some time. Forgive me, dear readers, for not wanting to step foot in my kitchen. Whomever labeled it “morning sickness” was totally off. “All-day sickness” is more accurate. While I still suffer through some serious aversions to food I normally love (read: Kale), I’m happy to report that the worst of it is behind me, and I am feeling pretty great. This means that I have slowly but surely ventured back in the kitchen in an effort to provide nourishment for my little pumpkin beyond the string cheese and saltines that carried me through my first trimester.

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The pepitas are my favorite part of this granola.

My re-entry to the kitchen has been gradual at best, and my first attempt at something nutritious yielded great validation that “pregnancy brain” is a real thing.  While creating a delightfully seasonal granola flavor, I unintentionally added double the amount of salt I normally use. Of course, I didn’t realize my blunder until after I finished baking a giant batch. Not one to easily be defeated in the kitchen, I opted to rescue my recipe by not only pairing it with a sweet treat, but using the leftovers as a crunchy protein-rich topping for salads.

As a nod to my future little pumpkin, today’s recipe pairs the distinct flavors of spiced pumpkin pie with thick and tangy Greek yogurt. Together, they act as a natural vehicle for my salted maple granola, and are a not-too-sweet, super-fast way to start your day. If you’re looking for something sweeter and more indulgent, feel free to substitute whipped cream for the yogurt. I must admit that I’ve been quite averse to most sweet foods lately, so maybe this salty mix-up was no accident, after all! (wink, wink)

Pumpkin Pie Parfait with Salted Maple Granola
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 2
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Start your day off right with this healthy alternative that hits all the right cravings.
Ingredients
For the Granola
  • 2 Tbs and 2 tsp of organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
For the parfait
  • ½ cup of pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup (or more, if desired)
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 5.3oz container vanilla Greek yogurt
  • granola to taste
Instructions
For the granola
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan over low flame, heat the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt, and pumpkin pie spice, stirring constantly until salt and maple syrup have dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a very large bowl, combine the oats and nuts. Drizzle the oil/syrup mixture over the oats and nuts, and stir until completely coated.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly over 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpats, and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the sheets from the oven. Use a spatula to mix the oats, and re-spread them out evenly. Return the sheets to the oven, and alternate the sheet from the top and bottom racks. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  6. Repeat the previous step every 10 minutes, until oats have reached desired level of browning (about 20-30 minutes).
  7. Remove sheets from the oven, and cool. Store in an airtight container.
For the parfait
  1. In a bowl, combine pumpkin, syrup, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine.
  2. In a small glass, bowl, or other serving dish, layer pumpkin, yogurt, and granola. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator for later.
Notes
*The granola recipe makes quite a bit of granola. It also tastes great on a nice scoop of ice cream, or even as a crunchy salad topper.
*If salted granola is not your thing, feel free to reduce the amount of salt by half.
*For a sweeter, more indulgent treat, substitute whipped cream for the yogurt.

 

Dinner Party Delight: Irene’s Famous Salad Dressing

IrenesFamousSaladDressing.TheCubanReuben.comA few weeks ago, Kenny and I were invited to our friends’ house for Shabbat dinner. This is a big deal, because often times our friends get nervous about inviting me, the in-house foodie, to eat their home-cooked food. The truth is, as much as I love cooking for others, I also appreciate when others cook (or order in) for me! It’s really a treat, and this particular dinner was no exception. Leading up to the occasion, we were teased with promises of an old family recipe for Russian short ribs, which Irene paired with creamy, stick-to-your-ribs polenta. Yes, the short ribs most certainly lived up to the hype, as there may or may not have been a moment where all four of us bonded over sucking on the bones after the meat literally slid off. Even when there was no meat left, we tore pieces of my challah to mop up any remaining sauce. That’s how good it was. And yes, home-style polenta was certainly the perfect choice to accompany such a decadent and special dish. But those tasty eats aside, I must admit that the true dark-horse dish of the evening was a simple salad Irene prepared, that was topped with a homemade dressing.

Pre-dressing, my salad included spring mix lettuce, sliced hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and chunks of fresh avocado.

Pre-dressing, my salad included spring mix lettuce, sliced hearts of palm, baby heirloom tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and chunks of fresh avocado.

I know it seems hard to believe that when compared to short ribs and polenta, the star of the evening would be dinner salad, but trust me on this one, as it was all in the dressing. I will always favor a homemade dressing to the jarred stuff you can get at the store, particularly because they are so easy to make. Irene combined a handful of both savory and sweet ingredients, like real maple syrup and dijon mustard, that so perfectly heightened her choice of salad mix-ins, and for several days after our dinner, I was still thinking about it. This is why, when I planned the next dinner party Kenny and I hosted, I knew exactly which salad dressing to feature.

Rachel, sporting her mighty peach upside-down cake.

Rachel, sporting her mighty peach upside-down cake.

As my guests arrived with their pot-luck offerings in tow, I quickly shook up the ingredients of the dressing in a small mason jar, and placed the jar alongside the salad on the dinner table. It was really that easy. After a quick photo for good measure, we chowed down on dinner, and before we knew it, there wasn’t a morsel of lettuce left of the salad to speak of.

Dinnerpartyguests.TheCubanReuben.com

Dinner guests, anxiously awaiting the photo, so that they can start eating!

It looks like I’m not the only fan of Irene’s famous dressing! Next time you’re in the mood for whipping up some homemade dressing, give this one a whirl. Or a shake, for that matter. It may be the je ne sais qoui to kick up your favorite salad just a notch.

Irene's Famous Salad Dressing
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Total time:
 
Kick up your salads a notch with this easy, homemade dressing recipe.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 heaping Tbs. coarse ground dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 three-finger pinch each of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar, seal tightly, and shake vigorously until oil has emulsified and everything is well-incorporated.
  2. Chill until right before serving.
Notes
Irene also suggests trying flavored balsamics, like peach or fig, for this recipe.