All Kinds of Squash

Wednesday, my sister, my husband, and I went to my third pumpkin patch this season. We went again, to Bob's Corn. There wasn't much to pick from; there were probably only a few hundred pumpkins left. After I exclaimed, "this is the one!" on at least seven separate occasions, to seven separate pumpkins, I went back to my first love. It was a good size, and the gradiation from orange to green was gorgeous. Candace's pumpkin was orange covered in green veins. Mikey's was also green and orange, and huge!

We came back to Slasher, popped dinner in the oven, and started carving.

Spaghetti Squash with Pine Nuts, Sage and Tempeh
Serves 6

for the squash:
1 spaghetti squash
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup grated grana padano, or parmiggiano reggiano
3 tablespoons chopped sage
2 tablespoons melted butter
salt and pepper to taste

one package tempeh
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise, and take out all the guts and seeds (save those seeds and roast them!)

Place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil or a silicone baking mat.
Pop into the oven and let cook for 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts. Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, and toss until fragrant and lightly browned. Make sure to stir frequently so as to cook evenly and not burn any of them. Don't skip pine nuts in this recipe! They are expensive, but they taste fantastic, and they are fantastic for you.

Cut the tempeh into little thin rectangles. Bite size. Exact size is up to your preference. Mix together the garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar in a shallow dish. Toss the tempeh in, and stir well. Let marinate at room temperature until the squash is done cooking, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Gently scrape the flesh from the squash with a fork, perpendicular to the grain, to shred it into pasta like strands. Place all the spaghetti squash in a bowl and toss with the pine nuts, cheese, butter, sage, salt, and pepper. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skilled over medium high heat until rippling. Add the tempeh. Cook until warmed through, and to desired doneness. I like it crispy! 

Pile the spaghetti squash on a plate, and top with the tempeh. Serve with a big, fresh salad, and there's dinner :)

My sister and I's pumpkins. Mine is in the background and hers in the foreground.

Our finished pumpkins on our creepy front steps :) From left to right: husband's, mine, sister's

 Happy Halloween weekend!

Not just another pumpkin recipe

When I made Pumpkin Loaf, and Pumpkin Pie, I had leftover fresh pumpkin puree. When I made Zucchini Bread, I had leftover zucchini. Something clicked... and it was delicious...

Pumpkin-Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and cinnamon-sugar 2-9x5x3 loaf pans.
Mix together the eggs and sugar. Add the pumpkin, butter, applesauce, and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Gradually add to the pumpkin mixture, and mix well. 

Stir in the zucchini, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of each loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5-10 minutes, then turn onto wire cooling racks.


Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

These past two weeks my husband has been doing (most of) the meal planning and cooking. On Tuesday, around 2 pm, we made a Costco run. On our way, I asked him to remind me what was for dinner. When he told me, I realized it was a slow cooker meal. I asked him if I was remembering correctly. I was. Whooooops. So, needless to say, we had to find something quick for dinner. We grabbed a rotisserie chicken at Costco. That night, when my husband asked me if I wanted to keep the carcass for stock (of course), I realized I didn't have ANY room in the freezer to store it. I decided to throw it in the slow cooker overnight, and see what happened.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

One 4-5 lb whole chicken carcass (all the bones and skin you can get!)
3 medium carrots, broken into 4 pieces each
2 small onions, quatered
3 celery stalks, broken into 4 pieces each

Celery leaves from a whole bunch of celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons garlic
6 stalks fresh rosemary
5 stalks fresh thyme
About 8 cups water, or enough to cover and fill slow cooker

Throw everything in the slow cooker (literally, from across the room). Let cook on low heat for at least 8 hours (mine was on for at least 12 hours), straining any visible fat. Remove all solids and strain stock. Keep refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.
The result is soo fragrant of rosemary, you're going to want to drink it.
I had to work early the next day, so my husband took the stock out of the slow cooker. I asked him to keep about 4 cups out so I could make a small batch of soup for us the next day. I got home that evening, opened the fridge, and saw this:

Of course. Hahahahhahaha. :)


Needle Felted Pumpkin

I've taken up a new addiction: needle felting. It's fantastic, easy, and you have complete artistic control. It's essentially sculpting with wool. I'm in love. I've made a few things thus far: cat toys, gnomes, a raven for my sister, and a pumpkin! The pumpkin was the biggest project, but still really only took about 45 minutes of felting. I plan on making a little patch, and attaching them with some vines... :)

Unfortunately, I didn't take process photos, but I began with some core roving, made a general shape of a pumpkin, added layers and layers of oranges, yellows, reds, and greens to get a natural look. I made it slightly lopsided, because those are my favorite kinds of pumpkins, and then I continued to felt in some lines to get the shape. I made a stem, felted that on, and called it good! I could definitely do more, but I like it simple, and not over thought.


Root Vegetable Chowder and Pumpkin Pie

Sunday, we had a dinner date with some friends. I got to do the coordinating, planning, menu choosing, and job delegating, of course, which was lots of fun. I chose a seasonal Root Vegetable Chowder, alongside salad and bread. Wine and sparkling water to drink, with my Pumpkin Pie and my Pumpkin Zucchini Loaf (recipe coming soon) for dessert rounded the meal off nicely.

Root Vegetable Chowder
with adaptations for slow cooker

2-4 chopped slices of bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium leeks, trimmed, white and green thinly sliced
1 lb (about 2) parsnips, peeled, 1/3 inch dice
3 medium carrots, peeled, 1/3 inch dice
4 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 lb (about 2 large) russet potatoes, 1/2 inch dice (peeled or not)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

For stovetop:
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups milk
3 cups broth (or more, depending)

For slow cooker:
4 cups broth (or enough to cover)
1 cup half and half or light cream

Stove top directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon. Take out of the pan and reserve. Add olive oil to the pan and heat until rippling. Add the leeks and saute until tender, but not browned--about seven minutes.

Add the parsnips, carrots, garlic, and thyme. Saute for 5 minutes and then add the potatoes and flour. Stir to coat all--about one minute.

Gradually add in the milk and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occassionally for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the soup is thickened.

Optional: Take about 2 cups of vegetables out of pot, mash, and return to pot, mixing until combined.

Add the bacon back into the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve; sprinkle with parsley.

Slow cooker directions:
In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon. Take out of the pan and reserve. Add olive oil to the pan and heat until rippling. Add the leeks and saute until crisp tender--about 4 minutes.

Pile the leeks and bacon mixture into the slow cooker along with the parsnips, carrots, garlic, thyme, potatoes, and broth. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are very tender.
Optional: Take about 2 cups of vegetables out of pot, mash, and return to pot, mixing until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in half and half, test temperature, and either serve with parsley, or heat through on high setting to warm sufficiently.


Pumpkin Pie
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3 cups pumpkin puree (from scratch this is the yield from an 8 inch pumpkin)
18 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 tablespoon superfine sugar

Put the flour in a bowl with the salt and butter. Cut in the butter. I prefer to rub with my fingertips until the mixture resembles bread crumbs (easiest way is to use the food processor).

Stir in the sugar and then add about 2-3 tablespoons of water and mix to a soft dough. Then knead the dough lightly on a floured surface. Flatten it out into a round, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

Roll out the pastry thinly and line a 9-inch deep pie pan. Trim the excess dough from the sides and reserve. Prick the base of the pastry shell with a fork. Cut as many leaf shapes as you can from remaining pastry and make vein markings (I use the back of a knife). Brush the edge of the pie pastry with water, and stick the leaves all around the edge. Overlap slightly. Chill while you prep the rest. If you have enough remaining pastry, cut out some large leaves (I like three) or if you have extra leaves left over, set those aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a baking sheet inside.
Mix all of the filling together well in a stand mixer. Pour the filling into the pie pan and smooth the top. The filling will be quite runny, but don't worry :)

Place on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes then arrange remaining pastry leaves on the top in a decorative manner. Bake for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set (a tester comes out clean from the middle), and the pastry is golden.

Serve with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.4

Top Five Favorite Things to Bake

1. Lemon Cake
The recipe is slightly tedious, and there are lots of dishes to be dirtied, but if I've had a stressful week and I really want to unwind in the kitchen for half a day, this is the recipe I reach for. It's a huge plus because it's amazingly delicious, and everyone loves it, so it's naturally my go-to for dinner parties in the Spring and Summer. It's worth every single bit of work.

2. Breads: Zucchini, Banana
When I think back on cooking and baking with my mom, banana bread is the one thing I remember vividly. My mom made the best banana bread, and she taught me how to do it, too. When I was a little older she started making zucchini bread as well. I've seen taken the basic recipe and ran with it, and it's such a comfort food to me. My new favorite is Brand's mom's zucchini bread recipe, adapted of course.

3. Pumpkin: Loaf, Cookies, Muffins
There aren't very many things I love more than pumpkin flavored anything. It makes such a difference to puree the pumpkin yourself, and since I started a little over a year ago, I can't stop. The dense layers of flavor, filled with warm, comforting spices remind me of nights cuddled in front of a fire with a delicious book.

4. Seasonal Pies
I've never really had a huge love for pies, but for some reason, I really enjoy making them. Maybe it's because pie is so simple and straight forward, but can provide complex and fresh flavors. In the fall, I (of course) love a good pumpkin or apple pie. In the summer, though, I absolutely swoon over strawberry-rhubarb pie... **Teaser: Baking pumpkin pie tonight--look for recipe soon!**

5. Cookies
The first thing I really started experimenting with on my own as a kid in the kitchen was cookies. I haven't made cookies forever, but the process is so integrated into my mind, that it's a very soothing thing to make. I could probably make Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies with my eyes shut. Sometimes my mom would have peanut butter cookies waiting for us, hot out of the oven, when we came running inside from taking the bus home. Every time I burn my mouth with a hot, crumbling cookie, fresh out of the oven, I'm reminded of that.

Collaborative Zucchini Bread

Pages from our recipe book from our wedding shower :)

I promised that I'd post my latest favorite zucchini bread recipe so here it is!

At our wedding shower, my sister had everyone bring a recipe, put it on a page that they decorated, and then assembled a recipe book for me with my friends and families' favorite recipes. It's hilarious, filled with gnome stickers, drawings, collages, beauty, and tons of love. I love making something out of it, because each page is so drastically different and reminiscent of the person whose recipe I'm about to make.

On the very last page, below the words "EASY SWEETS", in a beautiful envelope, is a copy of a cracked and barely legible recipe card. "Zucchini Bread...From the kitchen of: Erna & Brand" (& Brand is scrawled in by my sister, of course). The recipe was given to Brand's mother, Hazel, by a friend, when she was pregnant with Brand. Side note: The bottom says "Good luck and happy eating, Hazel! Your baby girl will soon be here!!!" Candace has added "= BRAND" above baby girl :) Hahaha.

It was adapted by Hazel, then Candace and Brand, and now me. It's now my go-to recipe for late summer, when Candace goes down to Portland to visit Brand, and comes back with several two foot long zucchinis from Hazel's garden...

Collaborative Zucchini Bread

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2-1 cup add ins: raisins or chocolate chips--I love mini chocolate chips **optional**

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and cinnamon sugar two large loaf pans.

Beat together the oil, applesauce, eggs, and sugar. Add in the zucchini and vanilla.
Combine the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and stir until combined.

Divide into loaf pans evenly and bake for one hour and ten minutes.
Remove onto cooling rack.

Enjoy :)
Wrap in aluminum foil and store at room temperature.


Pie pumpkin

Pumpkin Puree
(Better than canned!)

Start off with a pie pumpkin, or any type of baking pumpkin. Don't use a jack-o-lantern type pumpkin; the meat inside is pretty dry, and does not really have a good flavor. Pie pumpkins are about the size of a cantaloupe, although mine was a tad bigger. For recipe purposes, a 15 ounce can of pumpkin is about 1 3/4 cup densely packed pulp.

Wash the pumpkin off, and trim to stem as short as you can get it. Take your largest (and sharpest!) knife, and cut the pumpkin in half. I like to start close to the stem, go down one side, and back up the other side, just to be safe. The stem will be the hardest to cut through so take your time and be careful.

Once you have halved your pumpkin, scoop out the stringy "guts" (save the seeds!) Since pie pumpkins are denser, their "guts" are a little different than jack-o-lantern pumpkins. It can be harder to separate the seeds. They are kind of like little pods of fibrous guts surrounding pockets of seeds. I like to be near the sink (with a strainer in place), and the trash can or compost bin. Then I pull out handfuls of guts, squeeze the seeds into the strainer, and toss the remains in the trash or compost. Once you've done this, use a spoon and a paring knife if needed to clean up the inside of the pumpkin.

Melt some butter (a tablespoon or two) and brush butter along the cut side of pumpkin halves, and inside. Put cut side down onto a baking sheet that has been prepped with either foil, parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat (I prefer silicone--less waste).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, depending on the size of your pumpkin. Basically until your pumpkin is completely soft. Not baked potato soft, think baked apple soft. Let cool, then peel the skin off and pop off the stem. 

Once you have the pumpkin flesh separated, either food process, blend, or use your stand up mixer to puree it. You can also add the pan drippings to get to the desired consistency. You just made pumpkin puree! You can refrigerate for a few days (I wouldn't go more than 3-5), can it, freeze it, or use it right now to make pumpkin loaf!

Pumpkin Loaf

1 3/4 cups densely packed pumpkin puree, or a 15oz can
1/2 cup coconut oil, or whatever you prefer
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups unrefined cane sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Up to 1 cup additions: walnut pieces, dark chocolate chips, raisins, etc

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil up the pans*, then instead of flouring them, cinnamon-sugar them. 

Blend together pumpkin, oil, apple sauce, eggs and sugar until creamy and smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients and spices. Add all at once to wet mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in walnut pieces.

Divide into pans evenly. For 3-7x3 pans, bake for about 50 minutes (or until tester comes out clean). I bake a 9x5 for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Be sure to start checking at 45 minutes for loaves, regardless. Remove from pan and onto a cooling rack. 

Store at room temperature wrapped in foil. Also freezes well; let cool, wrap in foil, and put in a dated freezer bag.

*Recipe works in 3-7x3s, or 2-9x5s. You can also use muffins tins, but I'm not sure on quantity and baking time.


Pumpkin Seeds

One bowling ball sized pumpkin's seeds
2 T melted butter
1 T garlic salt
1 t onion salt
1/4-1/2 t paprika (to taste)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

After separating your seeds from the pulp, rinse under warm water. Pick out any remaining pulp. Shake off excess water, place on a towel, and roll up. Let dry for a couple hours, in a warm location. You can also spread out and let dry overnight.

In a bowl mix together pumpkin seeds with a couple tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle on the salt and spice. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring part way through, until golden and crisp. Let cool and store in an airtight container (but they taste amazing warm, too).


Chocolate Peanut Granola

the granola gave us enough energy to do this! ^^

So, I've been following this awesome blog for a while, and want to make every single one of her recipes. The other day I decided to make her Chocolate Peanut Granola to take with us on a 9-day beach cabin vacation.

Oh. My. Gosh. It's the best granola I've ever had. Along with everyone who has tried it.
The great thing is that it's not too sweet to enjoy in the morning. It's a perfect balance of salty and sweet, and satisfyingly crunchy. I absolutely love it for breakfast, a snack, and dessert, in a bit of whole milk. You could enjoy it in yogurt, on ice cream, with fruit, or just plain, though. It's fantastic. It's also made with coconut oil, plenty of seeds, nuts, and maple syrup, so you know you're not ingesting crap :)

And, for once, I made the recipe exactly as directed, and have absolutely no reasons to change it. (Weird!)

Here's the recipe, if you're too lazy to click over to her blog; you should seriously look, though, she's got some awesome recipes.

Chocolate Peanut Granola
(from Deliciously Organic, adapted from Food Network)

1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup white sesame seeds
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup sucanat, you may substitute organic whole cane sugar

2 cups raw peanuts
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 300°F and adjust rack to middle position. Mix everything together very well in a large mixing bowl.

Spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper (I used my silicone baking mats) and bake for 45 minutes, turning over half-way through baking. Cool completely before serving. Crumble and store in an airtight container. (Your house is going to smell AMAZING.)