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Thanksgiving week has finally arrived!  While there are many favorite side dishes, no Thanksgiving feast would be complete without stuffing.  I know many of you have a tried and true recipe–maybe it’s a traditional bread stuffing or a cornbread and sausage version, but I’ve collected some really interesting and tasty stuffing recipes that include fruit and/or veggies.  In fact, a few of these are different enough you might even consider making them in addition to your usual version.  Take a look:


Cranberry Apple Stuffing:  Ever need oven space for all the dishes you have to prepare on Thanksgiving?  Then you’ll love this recipe since it uses your slow cooker (crock pot) to do the cooking.  This recipe has a bread base, but also uses dried cranberries and chopped apple along with the usual chopped celery and herbs.  The end results is a sweet/savory blend.

Photo courtesy of House of Yumm


Quinoa Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pistachios:  Full of fiber, gluten free and ready in 45 minutes–I’d say this is a winner!  In addition to the quinoa, squash, cranberries and pistachios, this recipe also calls for diced red onion, chopped fresh spinach, garlic and orange zest.  It’s really packed with flavor.

Photo courtesy of Gimme Some Oven



Apple-Thyme Wild Rice Stuffing: Wild rice is another popular filling and this recipe uses it along with cubed whole wheat baguettes.  Leeks, apples, onions, thyme and toasted pecans round out this flavorful stuffing.

wild rice stuffing
Photo courtesy of Spoon Fork Bacon


Rosemary Whole Wheat Stuffing with Figs and Hazelnuts: All the flavors of fall is how I’d describe this stuffing recipe.  In addition to the figs and hazelnuts, you’ll add onion, dried cranberries, garlic and a bit of tawny port for extra flavor.

Rosemary Whole Wheat Stuffing
Photo courtesy of Vegetarian Times


Artichoke Fennel Leek Stuffing: If you really want to try something a bit different this is a recipe for you.  Artichoke hearts, diced leeks and diced fennel bulbs are combined with onion, celery, garlic, parsley, thyme and other seasoning, as well as a bread cube base.  The distinctive flavors of the fennel and artichokes with give this stuffing a unique flavor.

artichoke fennel and leek stuffing
Photo courtesy of Ocean Mist


I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the holiday with your family and friends and I’ll return next week with a look at pomegranates–their nutrition and some delicious recipes.


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November is National Pepper Month and while there are both sweet and hot pepper varieties, I’ve decided to focus on the most popular hot peppers for this blog entry.  You might be surprised to learn that there are more than 130 different varieties of hot peppers!  Many I hadn’t even heard of until I started doing my research and many I’m sure I wouldn’t even venture to try, given the intense heat they are reported to have.


Hot peppers are rated by the Scoville Scale, which is a measurement of pungency or spicy heat of peppers and other spicy foods and was developed by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville.  Peppers with the highest rating exceed one million units on the Scoville scale.  In addition to their obvious spicy flavor, hot peppers (like sweet peppers) carry valuable nutrients.  They are excellent sources of Vitamin C, a good source of Vitamin A and folate.  A few of the more common and popular hot pepper varieties include:


  • Habanero Pepper – 150,000-325,000 Scoville units
  • Thai Chile Pepper – 50,000-100,000 Scoville units
  • Serrano Pepper – 10,000-25,000 Scoville units
  • Jalapeno Pepper – 2,500-10,000 Scoville units
  • Cherry Bomb Pepper – 2,500-5,000 units


Though you may think of hot peppers as a condiment when adding them to your sandwiches or as a topping to nachos or other appetizers, there are other creative ways to use them as well.  Healthy Habanero Stuffed Poblano Peppers takes a sweeter Poblano variety and adds a spicy filling.  Brown rice, onion, kidney beans, seasonings and habanero hot sauce are combined for a satisfying meal.  Top it with a bit of cheese and cilantro.

habanero stuffed poblanos
Photo courtesy of Baker by Nature


Super Easy Hot Pepper Jelly is made by combining both jalapeno peppers and a variety of yellow, green and red, sweet bell peppers.  Remove the seeds from the jalapenos if you want a milder jelly.  You can serve this with cheese and crackers or a baguette.

hot pepper jelly
Photo courtesy of The View from Great Island


Green Chile-Zucchini Quesadillas can be served as an appetizer or main dish.  Roasted green chiles, shaved zucchini, and chopped onion are combined with shredded Monterey Jack cheese in flour tortillas.  Top with your favorite salsa and/or sour cream.

Photo courtesy of Full and Content


I hope these recipes help you incorporate hot peppers into more of your dishes.  I’ll be back next week with five flavorful stuffing ideas for Thanksgiving.


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I’m a week late in celebrating, but last week was Split Pea Week.  Split peas are considered to be in the same family as beans and lentils.  When peas are fully mature, the peapod is dried and the skins are removed.  As this is done the peas split naturally.  Split peas are very nutritious. Check out where they fall in our Key Nutrients In Fruits & Vegetables.


Photo courtesy of Gourmet Sleuth


The most common way to enjoy split peas is split pea soup and the fall season is a perfect time to cook up a pot of this hearty dish.  There are a few different versions, some include more veggies than others and some include ham, but I’ve got a recipe that uses just a bit of bacon to flavor it and adds carrots and potatoes along with the split peas for a heartier soup.  Serve it with some crusty bread and you’ll have a filling supper for a chilly evening.


Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Bacon
Courtesy of The Lemon Bowl


split pea soup
Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl



2 slices bacon – sliced into thin strips
1 onion – diced
2 celery stalks – diced
2 carrots – diced
1 cup split peas (uncooked)
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth – low sodium
3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste



  1. Cook the bacon in a pan over medium-high heat until crispy and brown; set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
  2. In a slow cooker, add all remaining ingredients including cooked bacon.
  3. Heat on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh parsley before serving.


Serves 6


Enjoy and I’ll return next week with some spicy recipes for pepper month.


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Turn to any food magazine these days or even open a professional cookware catalog, and you’ll find that braising is a hot form of cooking right now.  If it’s new to you, braising involves sautéing food (meat, fish or vegetables) lightly in a bit of oil or butter and then simmering it slowly in a little bit of liquid in a closed container.  The idea is to first sear in the flavor of the food at high heat and then use a lower temperature and longer cooking times to make meats tender and create flavorful gravies.  The method is also ideal for root vegetables, which take longer to cook.


Braising is similar to using your crockpot, but doesn’t require the same length of cooking time (your crockpot typically requires 6-8 hours depending on the recipe).  Meat recipes will require longer cooking times (in your oven) than chicken, fish or vegetable recipes.  For example, if you’re cooking a braised short-rib dish, plan on a cooking time of roughly 2-3 hours.  This will allow for the ribs to become tender.  Chicken, fish and vegetable dishes don’t require such long cooking times–in fact, you would find both chicken and fish would dry out and your veggies would end up mushy.


The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have a heavy pot with a lid for braising.  A dutch oven works really well, as seen below.  Basically something you can use to sear your food on the stove and then transfer to the oven.  I’ve pulled a few recipes that will get you started on braising foods.

dutch oven

Photo courtesy of Crock-Pot


Braised Chicken with Olives and Capers is a basic braising entrée.  This recipe uses white wine for its braising liquid, which results in a rich flavor.  Kalamata olives, fennel seeds, capers, garlic and lemon zest further enhance it.  You’ll leave the chicken pieces in the oven about 90 minutes to finish cooking.  Serve with a veggie side and maybe some crusty bread for soaking up the braising liquid.

braised chicken with olives and capers
Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma


As I mentioned, vegetables are also good candidates for braising, in particular root veggies.  Braised Root Vegetables with Fall Fruit is a terrific recipe as it’s simple and you can individualize it depending upon your own taste by adding which root veggies you prefer.  The “fruit” reference are apples and pears.  Again, add both, one or the other, depending upon personal preference.

braised root vegetables
Photo courtesy of Food & Wine


You might not think about braising greens, but World’s Best Braised Cabbage is not a recipe that should be overlooked.  In addition to the cabbage, you’ll use carrots and onion in this dish.  As a side note, I would omit the bacon grease and simply use butter as the required fat.  The balsamic vinegar adds a great flavor.

braised cabbage
Photo courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo


Enjoy these braising recipes and I’ll return next week with a great recipe for National Split Pea Soup Week!


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