All posts by Abby Hughes

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

The frost is almost upon us!  That means it’s time to harvest the herbs!

I work at The Celtic Cup Coffee House in the small town of Tullahoma, Tennessee.  I don’t have my own herb garden, but The Celtic Cup does.  I love getting to use the fresh herbs when I bake quiches, casseroles, and savory scones.

Today I harvested all the basil for the winter months.  If you’ve never processed herbs before, you probably think it’s really complicated.  At least, that’s what I used to think.  I know there are a couple different ways to do it.  Drying herbs actually does take a while, so I prefer freezing them.  I think it preserves the flavors better, too.  It’s really a lot easier and faster than I imagined.  All you have to do is snip the entire plant, wash, pluck the leaves, and freeze  on a towel-lined sheet pan.  After about half an hour, the leaves should be stiff enough to store in a plastic freezer bag for the winter.  It’s that simple!


While we’re on the subject of basil, last week I made some delicious parmesan baked tomatoes.  I love how all the local markets are just bursting with fresh fruits and veggies from the garden this time of year.  I bought some beautiful plump red tomatoes and thought I would get creative.  All they needed was some leftover basil pesto and a hearty sprinkle of cheese.  Voila! Parmesan baked tomatoes! So fast and simple, but delicious and comforting.  They taste like pizza!  You can make them as a side dish or just a healthy snack.

I’m not religiously gluten free or anything, but I think I feel better when I stay away from bread.  So, to accompany the tomatoes, I baked some chicken and made fresh broccoli salad.  This broccoli salad was at my friend’s wedding last weekend.  It was so good I had to make it for myself.

Together it was the perfect guilt free/gluten free dinner!  It only takes about 30 minutes to make, so I hope this meal will find it’s way into your week as a tasty and stress free option!

Abby Hughes

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes
 
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A quick and tasty side dish or snack.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 12 slices
Ingredients
  • 3 ripe medium tomatoes
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
  2. Thick slice the tomatoes and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan
  3. Spread about a tablespoon (more or less to taste) of basil pesto on each slice.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and broil on high until the cheese is lightly browned (about 4 minutes).
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

Broccoli Salad
 
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A light brunch or dinner side.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ c. Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • ½ c. roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
Dressing
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. white distilled vinegar
  • ½ c. mayo
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
Instructions
  1. Chop broccoli and cauliflower into small bite-sized pieces.
  2. Small dice red onion.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, mayo, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add chopped broccoli, cauliflower, onion, craisins, and sunflower seeds.
  5. Toss to coat all ingredients.
  6. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Muffins and the Pumpkin Patch

Who doesn't love fall?  If you don't, you can just leaf!  Okay, that pun was not my best.  But let's be honest, fall is arguably the best time of year.  It's finally cool enough to wear those cute sweaters, drink pumpkin lattes, and light cinnamon bun candles in every room! My nephew, Destin, just had his first birthday a few weeks ago, so my mom and I drove all the way to Oklahoma for his party.  Let me tell you, 12 hours is a LONG time to be in a car!  Unfortunately, my nephew probably won't remember that I was there,  so I made sure to get in the video.   Every little bit counts when you're competing for "favorite Aunt" status.My sister threw a perfectly sweet party at Parkhurst Pumpkin Patch.  We roasted smores, climbed hay bales, pet goats, and even got lost in a corn maze!  The adults had a great time, but honestly I think Destin's favorite thing was his new bouncy balls.  He's such an adorable little chunk!  Look at that face.  Yes, his cheeks are just as squishy as you are imagining them to be.We had a great week visiting with my sister, Anna.  I have to brag on her a little because she made some magazine-worthy meals while we were there.  I really enjoyed the delicious spaghetti squash pumpkin soup! Ever since that visit I've caught the disease. The fall fever.  The sweater spirit.  The pumpkin pox.  When it comes fall and winter, all I want to do is bake.  The only problem is that if I make it at my house, I'll eat everything!  So, at the coffee shop where I work, I made some acorn shaped pumpkin spice muffins with a maple glaze.  That would appease me.  I almost took some home to my family, but at the end of the day, I forgot.  The next morning I went to the gym like I normally do, and when I came home, the house smelled AMAZING!  To my surprise, when I walked in the kitchen, my dearest mother had made pumpkin muffins! She has made these muffins so many times for my brother and me.  They are my absolute favorite!  They are the perfect texture.  So moist, and delicious.  Sometimes she makes them with banana or applesauce instead of pumpkin.  I don't know which kind I like best... no wait, I do know. It's the ones with the chocolate chips! Those are my favorite. These muffins just make me feel warm inside.  Like snuggling up on the couch with a plaid blanket.  There's just something magical about them.  So, here's her recipe for pumpkin spice muffins.  I know first hand that these will make your family look forward to fall every year.  Enjoy!   Also,  you can follow my lovely mother on her blog at praiseyouinmystorm.wordpress.com Abby Hughes
Pumpkin Muffins
 
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This versatile muffin is always a hit!
Author:
Serves: 24 medium muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups pumpkin, bananas, or applesauce
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients.
  4. Stir flour mixture into liquid mixture just until combined.
  5. Scoop into greased muffin tins.
  6. Bake 15 minutes for mini muffins and 20 minutes for medium muffins.
Notes
Batter will keep in fridge for 4 days.

Vegan Dark Chocolate

This is my initiation post, so I thought it would be fitting to share a couple of things about myself.  First of all, I really like eating healthy.  I love working out and running and eating well because it makes me feel good.  Second, I REALLY love chocolate.  Especially DARK chocolate.  Almost anything with chocolate in it is irresistible to me.  I think most of my teeth are sweet teeth.


You may think these two loves are contradictory.  For a long time, I did too.  But do they have to be???  I’ve recently been learning a lot about nutrition from my boyfriend, Tim.  He’s a personal trainer who is way more committed to eating healthy than any sane person should be. But, he showed me that one of the keys to a healthy diet is making sure you get enough of the “good” fats. WHAAAAAAT??? There are good fats!?!?  Good fats are like a fun little diet cheat code.  There are even some diets that require you to eat a tablespoon of oil twice a day… it’s pretty gross, don’t try it. Anyway, healthy fat is found in things like avocados, coconut oil, olives, and nuts.   I think fat gets a bad rap because of it’s unfortunate name. But, contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat!  When used in moderation, it can actually aid in weight loss! Maybe we should rename it “phat” so people will think it’s cool again.  Really the only two things you need to be cautious about is making sure it’s the right kind of fat (not the grease dripping off your pizza, unfortunately), and to regulate the amount (because it is calorie dense, but still crucial to a healthy diet).

So, one day I remembered this recipe from my good friend, Mr. Fleisher. Back when I was in college, he would make me this heavenly freezer chocolate.  The only ingredients are coconut oil, cocoa powder (antioxidants), and a little bit of honey! It occurred to me… that fits my macros!  It’s a great way to get healthy fat in my diet AND curb my abundant chocolate cravings!

It’s a super simple recipe with just 4 ingredients that you probably already have. Plus, it’s easy to adjust amounts because it works off ratios!  People are always saying “try this recipe, it’s THE BEST.”  But they just say that.  THIS ONE REALLY IS THE BEST!  If you like chocolate, you have to try it.  That is all.  If you don’t try it, it really doesn’t affect me.  But I just always have this in my freezer and I think it could easily be a staple for your family too.  🙂

Between my brother and me, chocolate doesn’t last long at our house.

Before I give you the map to paradise (aka, the recipe), just a few things.  You can easily change the sweetness by adjusting the honey.  It won’t effect the chocolate setting up.  If you like it dark, add less honey.  If you don’t like bitter chocolate, add more! — it’s that simple.

I usually make a 1-1-0.25 ratio of coconut oil, cocoa powder, and honey.  That is sweet enough for most dark chocolate lovers.  However, I believe the original recipe was a 1-1-1 ratio (very sweet).  If you aren’t sure where you fall, I would recommend making a smallish amount the first time for a taste test.

The second thing is that you can get creative with the flavorings!  It’s fun to add sliced almonds or chopped pecans, and you don’t have to use boring old vanilla.  If you want to get really crazy, there are a plethora of flavors to choose from!  Orange, Baileys, Jack, caramel… just use your imagination.

Finally, I would LOVE to see someone try this recipe in a cute little mold! Someday I’m going to grow up, get fancy, and invest in some nice molds, but for now I’ll eat chocolate no matter what shape it’s in.  However, if you are one of those “Pinterest Perfect” people that I envy,  PLEASE send a picture or leave a comment of the mold you use!  I know you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I have!

 Abby Hughes

Vegan Dark Chocolate
 
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A delightful not-too-sweet treat to always keep on hand.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Serves: 15 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 TB vanilla
Instructions
  1. Line two sheet pans with wax paper or parchment.
  2. Melt the coconut oil over low heat just until almost melted.
  3. Whisk the honey into the coconut oil for about a minute until the honey is warm and all the coconut oil is melted and well mixed. Take off heat [if it gets too hot it will get grainy (seize)].
  4. Whisk in the cocoa powder and vanilla.
  5. Pour chocolate onto the prepared sheet to evenly distribute into a thin sheet.
  6. Freeze on a level shelf until the chocolate is set. Break into pieces and store in a sealed container in the freezer.
  7. Enjoy!
Notes
Also works well in cute little molds, but I really like the texture and melt-in-your-mouth effect of the thin chips.

 

 

 

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