Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries

I can not get enough of sweet, roasted chunks of butternut squash in the fall. I like to keep a whole cooked squash in the fridge to use in salads where the bright orange squash chunks take the place of tomatoes, or for use in warm, hearty grain salads made with onions, peppers, kale, and farro. Recently, I picked up a few butternut squashes and Brussels sprouts at a farmstand and roasted them with olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper.  When they came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with dried cranberries and a drizzle of sorghum syrup. The result was as colorful as it was yummy.
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Prepping butternut squash can be a challenge. The shell is hard to peel, and it feels like you are risking life and limb when you try to cut into one. I make a shudder/squirm movement everytime I make that first cut as I try to shake off the image of me lopping off one of my fingers. Here is a cooking tip, so none of us will ever have to face that scenario, microwave the squash for a few minutes to soften the shell and then peel and slice it. To do this, cut the tips off of each end of the squash, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, pierce the squash up and down its length with a fork, and microwave for three to five minutes depending on whether the squash is cold or at room temperature.
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The Recipe
Yield: makes 8-9 cups

Ingredients:
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2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stem trimmed and quartered
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon McCormick’s Garlic Pepper
⅔ cup dried cranberries
2 heaping tablespoons sorghum syrup or honey

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400º

Prep Brussels sprouts: wash, dry, trim the stem, and quarter lengthwise.
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Prep butternut squash. Microwave to soften shell and then peel, slice into discs, and dice into bite-sized pieces.
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Toss butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper in a bowl. Spread into two parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheets.
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Roast for 20 minutes and then rotate pans on oven racks. Cook until done, about 20 minutes more. Remove pans from oven and immediately add about a third of a cup of cranberries and a heaping tablespoon of sorghum (or honey) to each pan. Stir together in a bowl and serve.
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Here it is served with Brooks’s recipe for Pork Tenderloin and Perfect Rice Every Time!

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Favorite Fall Desserts
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Streusel Topping
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola

When I first started making my own granola, the family couldn’t get enough of it. Yes, it was nutritionally dense, packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, but it was also sweet and salty, which is what made it so addictive and high in calories.

Granola

I recently read Michael Moss’s bestseller, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. He wrote, “To make a new soda guaranteed to create a craving requires the high math of regression analysis and intricate charts to plot what industry insiders call the “bliss point,” or the precise amount of sugar or fat or salt that will send consumers over the moon.” With the concept of the bliss point in mind, I began tailoring my recipe to reign in the salt and sugar content and decrease the calories. I had to make quite a few batches to get to a healthier and tolerable bliss point.

Here is a list of the dry ingredients and their corresponding nutritional attributes (starting with the bowl of coconut at the top of the photo):

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Coconut: fiber, iron, zinc
Pecans: antioxidants, vitamin E, protein
Craisins: antioxidants, fiber
Ground Flax Seed: omega 3’s, fiber, protein & lignans
Raw Pumpkin Seeds: magnesium, zinc, omega 3’s
Brown Sugar: calcium, iron
Wheat Germ: vitamin E & folic acid
Raw Sunflower Seeds: vitamin E & magnesium
Almonds: protein, fiber, vitamin E, minerals
Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats: lowers LDL cholesterol, fiber
Chia seeds: high in fiber and protein

Ingredients:
granola
8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups wheat germ
1 cup ground flax seed
1 cup raw, unsalted, sunflower seeds
1 cup raw, unsalted, pumpkin seeds
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅔ cup sorghum syrup (or honey)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
2 cups dried cranberries

Yield: 4.5 pounds

Preheat oven to 275º

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, wheat germ, flax, brown sugar, seeds, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.

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Into a 4-cup liquid measure, pour ⅔ cup olive oil, add sorghum until it reaches the 1⅓ cup line, and add hot water until it reaches the 2⅓ cup line. Stir in vanilla and whisk until well mixed.

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Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and immediately mix until all of the ingredients are uniformly coated.

Pour mixture into two  13″ by 18″ baking pans.

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Bake for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Once out of the oven, add the cranberries and mix. The granola will become crunchy as it cools. Store in an airtight container when thoroughly cooled. Freezes well.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds add a nice crunch and they are high in fiber and protein. “Chia” comes from the Mayan word for “strength, ” and apparently athletes swear by them for improving endurance. The chia seeds are on the right. The flax seeds are on the left.

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You may be wondering where you have heard the word “chia” before:

chia granola

A tasty and nutritious breakfast:

I enjoy having a half cup of granola with plain kefir for breakfast. Kefir is a slightly sour probiotic drink that has the consistency of liquid yogurt. It can be found in the health foods section of the grocery store. If you add berries to the top, it’s like eating a healthy sundae for breakfast!

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Related Breakfast Posts
Fruit and Nut Bread
The Biscuit King
The Navel Mary Way: How to Peel an Orange

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Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Oats, Sorghum, Ginger and Cranberry Cookies

My son is leaving town after a nice visit home and I have a need to send him off with his favorite cookies. Will this ever change? He said they are so hearty he eats them for breakfast. I like the way he is thinking; hearty sounds like a meal instead of a dessert. I would have seconds in that scenario.

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One of the key ingredients in this recipe is ginger, a spice that imparts heat and sweet at the same time. Usually, I use ground ginger, but since I had fresh ginger root in the fridge, I decided to grate it and see how it affected the taste.  The change was mind-blowing. Between the ginger and the sorghum, this is one very flavorful cookie.

Yield: 3 dozen large cookies

Ingredients:   
sorghum oat cookies     
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons ground ginger or 1½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sorghum (could substitute honey or molasses)
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups raisins, Craisins, or dried cherries
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (use sunflower seeds if allergic to nuts)

Topping mixture: you’ll need a small bowl of water, and a little sugar and salt

Prepare oven and baking pans:
Preheat oven to 350º.
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease pans with canola oil.

Mise en Place:
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To melt butter: Place butter in a tempered-glass liquid measuring cup. Melt butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. If little flecks of butter remain after melting, that is okay; better to let them melt on their own than risk overheating and causing the butter to separate into fat, water, and milk solids.
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To prepare chopped nuts:  I won’t dirty the food processor for just one cup of nuts. Instead, place the measured amount of nuts in a baggie and use a meat mallet to crush them into small pieces.

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To grate fresh ginger: As a general rule, when substituting fresh spice for a dried amount, use triple the amount of fresh. This recipe calls for 1½ teaspoons of ground ginger; I grated 1½ tablespoons instead. Know that 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon. Also, you can store unpeeled ginger root in the freezer.

First, peel the ginger root and then grate. I used a fine-holed Microplane grater. The ground ginger will be very moist.
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To prepare eggs: Always break eggs in a separate bowl before adding to batter and then inspect for tiny broken shells or a foul-smelling yolk.

Measuring the flour: For a refresher course on how to properly measure dry ingredients, check out my post, Home Ec 101. As an FYI, I spooned the flour into the measuring cup and then leveled it off with a knife (or my finger!). If you scoop the measuring cup directly into the flour sack, it packs the flour into the cup. If you do that four times, for the required four cups of flour, you could add as much as one full cup of flour to this recipe.

Finally, make the cookies!
Into a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients: the flours, baking soda, salt, sugar, ginger, and oats. Mix on slow speed for about 30 seconds.
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Add the liquids: sorghum, melted butter, water, and eggs, and mix on low-medium speed for about one minute.
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Turn the machine off and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the Craisins and nuts and mix on slow speed for another 15 seconds. Over-mixing the flour could result in tough cookies.

Use a tablespoon or a cookie scoop to make golf ball-sized portions of dough.
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Place 12 balls of dough on each cookie sheet. Lightly press the balls with a fork placed on the dough in two different directions to create a criss-cross pattern.
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Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each cookie lightly with water followed by a sprinkle of sugar and a touch of salt.
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Bake cookies for 8 minutes and then rotate cookie sheets on oven racks. Set a timer. Cook for about 7 more minutes, or until just lightly browned. Best to err on the side of “I think they’re ready,” than “Ugh, too hard” when determining doneness. Place cookies on wire racks to cool. Cookies will harden as they cool.
sorghum cookies – Version 2

Other cookie recipes:
3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies!!!
Mary’s Award-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies
My Favorite Rollout Butter Cookies
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies

Here are a few other recipes that use sorghum:
Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola
The Biscuit King
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Raising Sorghum Cane

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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

The Biscuit King

A few weeks ago our Mennonite friends in Kentucky invited us to watch them make sweet sorghum syrup. Sorghum is similar to molasses but has a much earthier taste with a touch of sourness. It can be used cup for cup in any recipe calling for molasses, honey, or corn syrup. Having said all that, in the South, if you give a friend some sorghum, they’re going to want a biscuit, a light, crunchy biscuit.

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I anointed my husband, the Southerner, the “biscuit maker”; he had watched his mother make biscuits since he was a little fella. Sadly, they were not as easy to make as he had remembered. The first batch was fraught with problems: they were dry and hard like hockey pucks. From the rolling hills and gorgeous lakes of KY, I went on Facebook and begged our friends to tell us what went wrong with the biscuits. Their suggestions poured in. Futzing around in the kitchen, with the goal of making a good biscuit, became our vacation vocation.

Ingredients:

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2 cups self-rising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup all-vegetable shortening, lard, or butter, chilled
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 500º
2) Lightly flour a large baking sheet. You can use the self-rising flour for this.
3) Mix together flour, salt, and shortening with a pastry cutter, whisk, or two knives.

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4) Add buttermilk and mix with a fork until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Do not overwork the dough. The airiness in a biscuit is created by the holes left when shortening flecks melt and create pockets of steam. If you overmix the dough, you’ll lose those air pockets. The dough will be sticky.

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5) Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface or a sheet of parchment paper.

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6) Using floured hands, gently shape the dough into a disc. The way this delicately soft mound of dough feels in your hands is heavenly.

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7) Flour the rolling pin and gently roll out the dough until it is ¾ inch thick. Alternatively, you could press the dough out with your fingertips.

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8) Dust the edges of either a 2-inch or 3-inch biscuit cutter with flour. Cut the biscuits and place on a floured baking sheet. A 2-inch cutter will yield 16 biscuits. A 3-inch cutter will yield 12.

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9) If you want the biscuits to have soft sides, arrange them so their sides are touching. If you want crunchy sides, arrange them one inch apart from one another. At this point, you could put the pan of uncooked biscuits in the freezer and once frozen, put the biscuits in a bag to store.

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10) Bake at 500º for 5 minutes and then turn oven off. Leave biscuits in the oven to bake for another 3-5 minutes. Biscuits are done when they have a  light golden brown color.

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A Southern Treat:

Mix together a pat of butter and a heaping tablespoon of sorghum syrup. Spread mixture over warm biscuits.

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The Biscuit King:

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P.S. Special thanks to those who offered baking tips: Lou Ann, Robin, Anne, Libba, Stephanie, Terry, Susan, Holly M, Holly W, Mary Sue, Barbara, and Mrs. Harriman.

Toppings that go well on a biscuit:
Raising Sorghum Cane to Make Sorghum Syrup
Oven-Roasted Strawberry and Rosemary Jam
Crab Apple Jelly
Homemade Grape Jelly
Roasted Fig Preserves with Lemon and Thyme

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Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.