Monday, November 8, 2010

Loving fall and its foods

Fall is all about apples and comfort foods. Granted the apples came in early, just like everything else this year, but they are what I think about when I think fall. (For now, I am ignoring the bit of white stuff that is littering the yard!) What says fall or comfort foods to you?

When it comes time for fall, I am compelled to make an apple salad that I discovered about seven years ago. Our choir and handbell ensemble did a silent auction to raise funds for our tour of England (best trip ever!), and each person had to donate something. I am not crafty in any way shape or form, but I can cook. So I donated a continental breakfast for four. When I was setting the menu with the winners, I came across this salad I knew it was perfect for the event. I haven't made this salad in quite awhile as the monkey and I are the only ones who like it, and he can no longer have milk. Then the first week of A Gluten Free Holiday came around. My thought and experience is that this pairs well with a roast beast meal or with a continental breakfast watching the parade. Here it is paired with dinner, but I plan to have it with my gluten free muffins and coffee tomorrow morning.

Every time I make it the flavor changes, but this is essentially my recipe. Please remember that I am a dump and pour girl.

Autumn Apple Salad

3 medium apples, cored and chopped (I like Fuji or Jazz)
1-6 ounce plain or vanilla coconut yogurt
1/4 Cup dried cranberries
1/4 Cup dried cherries
1/8 Cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large bowl mix together yogurt and whatever spices you like. Add apples, dried fruit and nuts. Good as a side for dinner or for breakfast. Makes 4 servings.

Note: For this rendition, I used homemade coconut yogurt mixed with cinnamon, ginger, apple pie spice and a bit of honey (agave would work). I used dried cranberries and almonds. In the past, my spice mixes have included cloves and cardamom as well.

That above is a bit of comfort food with apple salad. I adore shepherd's pie, and was craving some. Having never made it I went to my Facebook community to see what other's favorite recipes are, and what they would like to see. The answers were varied, as was whether or not certain things could be called shepherd's pie at all. For a bit more reading check out this article on Wikipedia. I settled on the term cottage pie. This one holds to the true meaning of the words as I used leftover taco meat for the base. The top is a mashed sweet potato, making this my first entry into this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge. :)

Taco Cottage Pie

1 pound ground turkey* (See note for vegan alternatives)
1 package Nueve Cocina chipotle taco beef seasoning
1 large can tomato sauce, more or less
1/2 bag frozen squash rounds
1/2 Cup carrot chips
2 small sweet potatoes
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
butter for mashing

Prep work:

1. Cook and drain turkey. Return to pan and prepare according to the package directions. For the pie I used about 10 ounces of leftover meat.
2. Clean sweet potatoes, and place in a 4-5 quart pan of water. Make sure water covers them. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil, adding water as necessary, until a fork stuck in the potatoes goes all the way through. They should be a bit squishier than when making candied sweet potatoes.
3. Drain pan and peel sweet potatoes. Return to pan. Add spices and butter. Use a potato masher until a smooth consistency. Add more butter as necessary.

Putting it together:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spray an 8 x 8 pan with your favorite non-stick cooking spray.
3. Put frozen squash and carrot chips into the pan. Pop into the oven for about 10 minutes. This is so you can cut the squash into smaller pieces. If you are okay with big pieces, don't worry about this step.
4. Put meat and vegetables in the prepared pan. Add a couple of big spoons of tomato sauce. Stir and level out in pan.
5. Pour mashed sweet potatoes on top and smooth out with a rubber spatula.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes. Serves 6.

*Note: I needed to use my leftover meat and this seemed the ideal way. If I hadn't I so would have used some black beans and kidney beans as my "meat" base. We can't use soy crumbles since the monkey is allergic to soy, but they would also be a great alternative if you can have soy. I would, also, treat the veggies just like the meat-just use whatever you happen to have to hand.


  1. Hi Brooke,
    Thanks for your submission to the SOS Challenge--the recipes do sound yummy!

    Unfortunately, the SOS Challenge guidelines specify that recipes have to be vegan or contain vegan alternatives (and turkey just doesn't apply. . .) ;). Would you mind adding a vegan sub for the turkey (TVP or ground "soy" could work)? I would hate for our readers to miss out on this delicious sweet-potato topped recipe! :)

  2. It is in the note at the bottom. I will bold it or something to make it more prominent. :)

  3. Thanks for linking up to Gluten-Free Holiday! I love your autumn salad, but honestly, I'm salivating at the idea of this taco cottage pie! Great idea to use squash and mashed sweet potato. I think I definitely need to try this!

  4. Tasty~I would love to hear what you use as the base, and what you think.