Monday, November 19, 2012

Contemporary Thanksgiving!

This year, we're celebrating Thanksgiving several times.  On the actual day, we'll head south to Ironton, OH to see Sean's family and we'll feast upon tradition.  You know, the traditional Thanksgiving where the turkey cooks all day long, the house is full of people and rambunctious kids, there are as many pies as people and everyone takes a loooong nap after eating.  I can't wait!

But this year, we've decided to celebrate another way as well.  We're in a new city and home, so we figured it's only fitting to do things differently.  My brother flew in from college over the weekend, so we celebrated yesterday with a "Contemporary Thanksgiving."  We cooked all day and took the traditional meal to a whole new level.  This is my idea of a Thanksgiving for friends and here is what we ate:

Apricot BBQ Meatballs
Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup
with chipotle honey glaze, crema & almonds
Roasted Turkey Breast
with lemon, parsley & thyme
Spinach Dressing
Green Bean Casserole
with onion & ham
Bacon and Cranberry Brussel Sprouts
Praline Sweet Potatoes
French Silk Pie
with Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting

Thanksgiving just isn't right without a few hiccups, and ours was no exception.  Although our meal was delicious, we misjudged the amount of time it would take to prepare everything, we ran out of eggs halfway through, the dressing burned to a crisp and our turkey took twice as long to cook as we expected.  Needless to say, we created some great memories last night that will go down in Thanksgiving history!  

But isn't that truly was days like this are for?  To give thanks for the great people in your life (near and far away), laugh over new and old stories and to relax in each others' good company.  I can't think of anything better.  

So, Happy Thanksgiving to my family (who seems quite far away today) and my friends across the globe.  I hope you all have an impressive and delicious Thanksgiving dinner!  

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is a welcome introduction to your Thanksgiving or fall meal.  It is velvety and smooth with subtle hints of spice and crunch.  It is garnished with a chipotle honey drizzle, a swirl of cream and toasted slivered almonds. 

1 container of sweet potato soup (about 24 oz.)
1 C. pureed pumpkin (from a can)
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. salt
¼ t. pepper

¼ C. heavy cream
½ C. toasted slivered almonds

In a large pot, combine all ingredients save the cream, whisking until smooth.  Heat the soup over medium low until it warms. 

Chipotle Honey Drizzle

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 T. extra adobo sauce
2 T. honey
1 T. water
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a small food processor, combine all ingredients and process until you have a smooth liquid.  There will still be chipotle seeds and that’s fine.  Season to taste.  If it’s too spicy, just add some more honey and water.  

To garnish, ladle some of the soup into a bowl.  Drizzle some of the chipotle honey over the top in a circle.  Next, drizzle some of the heavy cream.  Sprinkle a few toasted almonds right in the middle.  

Try these recipes too!

Grape Jelly Meatballs - I substituted apricot preserves for the grape jelly
Spinach Balls - I made this into a loaf instead of balls
French Silk Pie - Perfect just the way it is!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy 1st Anniversary!

Well, we’ve done it!  Natural Sugar has been alive online for 1 whole year, fulfilling its promise of providing approachable, impressive & delicious food!  A big THANK YOU to all of our readers and supporters – you know who you are!  We couldn’t have done it without your help, inspiration and undeniable tasting abilities!  We hope that you’ve liked our recipes so far and that you will continue to use Natural Sugar as a resource for all things food.  Here is a look at some of our accomplishments this year and what we plan to do over the next year!  Thank you again to everyone who has participated!

This is a photo of a traditional tiramisu I made several months ago.  Can't wait to try a variation!

  • 1 solid year of posting Approachable, Impressive & Delicious recipes!
  • Recipe featured on
  • Photoshoot for Wing Hing restaurant in Peoria, AZ
  • 20 Amazing Foodie Followers – thank you!  Your support means the world to me!
  • Viewers from 11 countries around the globe  - Merci, kiitos, teşekkürler, danke, gratzie [and many, many more]! 

Goals for next year: 
  • Better pictures
  • Wittier posts
  • Wider recognition & collaboration
  • YouTube demonstration videos

To celebrate this milestone, I will be attempting a new idea:  
Mimosa Tiramisu!  
Come back a bit later to see if it turned out!  I'm thinking:

Champagne-soaked lady fingers
Orange zest whipped cream
White chocolate curls


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012 :: Apex Pizza

Well, the day is finally here!  Another auspicious moment for the history of the United States.  Without getting too “politicky,” I’ll just say that I hope you have done solid research, thought long and hard about your own well-being and that of each person you see throughout the course of your day, and that you will confidently cast your vote.  It’s the smallest and most powerful contribution you can make this year, and it endows you with an opinion, good or bad, throughout the next 4 years.  Don’t forget, procrastinate, dawdle or defer – go vote now, and then eat well!

Tonight, I’ll be enjoying a smorgasbord of pizza in front of the live election broadcast, wine in one hand and crayons in the other hand.  The wine is to deal with the inevitable bloodshot states and the crayons are to color my map of the USA blue or red (but hopefully blue) as the votes come in.  My friend Melanie introduced me to this Election Day activity and I’m ever grateful. 

As for the pizza, today we’re straying from the regular pepperoni and red sauce. This pizza is truly the apex of pizzas, with a complex combination of flavors that come together harmoniously.  From the artichoke pesto sauce to the bold and colorful toppings, you will LOVE it!  Inspired by a pizza that used to be served at the Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff, this pizza will rock and comfort your world. 

Here’s to America’s bright future!  I'll see you on the other side...

Apex Pizza


For the artichoke pesto:
1 C. Artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 C. Parsley
½ C. Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Red pepper
Yellow pepper
Feta cheese
Mozzarella & Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. 

In a small food processor, combine the artichoke hearts, parsley and Parmesan.  Drizzle in olive oil slowly until you have a slightly wet paste.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Spread a heaping tablespoon of the artichoke pesto on the Naan and top with the other ingredients.  Cook until the cheese has melted and the naan is golden brown, about 7 minutes.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finnish Pulla Bread (Nisva)

Break some bread with Natural Sugar!  Bake some bread, that is.  Now don’t be afraid – if I can make bread from scratch, so can you.  It has scared me for a long time, but I was craving some home baked bread, so I garnered my courage, dug out my dear friend Kelly’s recipe and instructions and just did it.  Kelly is a great teacher, so if you follow her directions, you’re bound to come up with something delicious! 

I met Kelly in Flagstaff, Arizona, when I tutored her daughter in French.  After our lessons concluded, we became good friends and I was sort of adopted into their family.  Kelly and I would cook and bake together and when her daughter would join us, we would all practice French.  They are some of the best memories I have and I’m incredibly lucky to have learned my baking techniques from such an inspirational woman. 

This is one of Kelly's recipes from her time in Finland.  This warm, comforting bread reminds me of a cold afternoon in Helsinki or Jyväskylä.  It goes perfectly with coffee or even chili, if you can believe it! 

2 ¼ t. yeast (+ ½ t. sugar, depending on the yeast you use)
1 Stick of butter
¾ C. milk
2 Eggs
4-6 C. All purpose flour
½ C. Sugar
½ t. Salt
1 Scant T. Cardamom
Sugar & Slivered almonds for the top

Melt the butter and allow to cool.  Mix the yeast with 4 T. hot water (temperature around 115).  Set aside to “proof.”  It will puff up and be foamy.  (This will take 5-10 minutes).  Mix 2 cups of the flour with the sugar, salt and cardamom.  Scald the milk and after it has cooled slightly, add it to the flour mixture.  Mix well, using a stand or hand mixer.  Add the eggs and beat well.  Add the yeast and combine until incorporated.  Add the butter and mix well. 

Slowly add the additional 2-2 ½ C. of flour, beating until the dough starts to pull away from the edge of the bowl and isn’t sticky.  Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, adding a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky.  When the dough “talks back to you,” put it in a warm place to rise.  A good place is your oven with the oven light on. 

After approximately 2 hours, when the dough has risen, punch it down.  Divide the dough in half.  Form each half into a loaf as follows:

§ Divide into 3 pieces
§ Form each piece into a snake
§ Squeeze the tops of the 3 snakes together
§ Braid the snakes and pinch the bottom together

Put the loaves on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and allow to rise again for 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 325.  Brush the loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar and slivered almonds.  Bake for 20-25 minutes turning half way through until they are ever so lightly browned on top.