Vat o’soup Monday

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I just love vat o’soup Mondays.

Such a satisfying feeling to know that I have leftovers for DAYS. And besides, it was my favorite kind of day (overcast, rainy) so obviously soup was a must. Because everyone knows that soup+cornbread+rain are like the three musketeers.

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Don’t be fooled by what looks to be a large amount of space in that pot… it is a MASSIVE pot. I can practically fit in it.

Also…

Happy Fat Tuesday! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Not that anything I’m posting about has to do with Mardi Gras… perhaps I should have made pancakes. Oops. Whatever, at least this happened this weekend (in typical Mardi Gras indulgent fashion):

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Sorry I’m not even a little bit sorry! Ha.

And this food happened to be pretty. So here you go. I’m not even going to dignify that with a recipe though, it’s stupid simple. Beans+avo+cucumber+salasa=lunch. *Someone* was apparently feeling lazy…

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But anyway. SOUP!

Butternut Squash, Pinto Bean Soup with Ginger and Nutmeg

This is one of those “let’s see what’s in the fridge that needs to be used” type of soups, which incidentally are my favorite kind. This one is primarily butternut squash, pinto bean, and carrot—it has overtones of nutmeg and ginger. Mmm. I won’t lay this out as a “recipe” per say… but it’s a waitarethosecookies original, and it’s delicious. I never measure when I’m making soup, so bear with me. As always, adjust to taste as suits your tastebuds!

It’s kind of even ridiculous for me to even try to quantify this into a recipe, but whatever. You get the gist and improvising is fun! Have at it.

Things you sorta kinda should have, but can probably fake it without them anyway:

  • 1 large +1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • some carrots
  • olive oil
  • seasonings (Salt, pepper, fresh ginger, fresh+dried sage, nutritional yeast, nutmeg)
  • chicken stock (or veggie), about 4 cups worth
  • 3 potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans of pinto beans, rinsed
  • 2-3 c greens, roughly chopped

Ooookay let’s do the soup thang!

Halve butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Place squash cut side down on a cutting board and bake for 30 minutes at 375. Take squash out, flip over and let cool until you can scoop out the puree without burning yourself.

In a large soup pot, saute an onion in a good glug of olive oil. Add a bit of salt and pepper, minced fresh sage (3 leaves), a sprinkle of dried sage, and about a tsp of diced fresh ginger. Toss in 3 or 4 good sized carrots, diced. Let all that cook until the onions are translucent, then add butternut squash puree and about 4 c of chicken stock. Puree the whole thing with an immersion blender.

Slice up a few potatoes reeeeally thinly, and add them in. Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are soft, then add two cans of pinto beans (well rinsed), 1/4 c nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, salt to taste, 1 c cooked green peas, and 2-3 c roughly chopped greens. Simmer until the greens are wilted, then serve hot. I like mine with chopped up cashews and walnuts+pepitas, because you know it’s all about texture!

Makes excellent leftovers, clearly…

Also.. cookies and a good book are always a good choice.

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Soup is just an excuse for bread, don’t try to deny it!

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Soooooop.

And bread.

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Because obviously you can’t have soup without some bready, carby side dish. We all know that soup is really an excuse for bread, let’s be real here.

But mmmmm, soup. I do love it (but I DO NOT love photographing it. Ugh). ESPECIALLY now that I have this fabby immersion blender!! Which means that I can dispense with all that silliness of attempting to blend soup in a food processor (no, I don’t own a normal blender), which is a dumb idea as a) soup is hot. Hot things expand and b) food processors aren’t watertight (rude). So instead of soup going slightly all over the counter, now I can just bust out the trusty immersion blender, stick it in the pot of soup buzz buzz buzz and low and behold!! Creamy soup, no mess required. Genius.

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Also. I bought a spiralizer. Possibly the BEST decision I have ever made. And also possibly the most fun kitchen utensil ever created.

See?

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Reeeeealllyyyy looooooong zucchini noodles! So much fun to play with. Obviously avoided if you do the smart thing and cut the zucchini in half first, but why spoil your fun? Incredibly long noodles are so much more entertaining. And delicious, especially when you top them with bison pasta sauce and other delicious things. Unfortunately, it was slightly too delicious and there went that before I managed to take a picture of anything besides the noodles. Whoops! Next time.

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Anyway. Let’s get seasonal! Hellooooo autumn, you’re my favorite. The day I made this, I ate three sources of beta carotene in one day. No eye problems for me!
This soup is very easy, comes together in a snap, and is (naturally) delicious. The muffins are awesome too, likewise easy and delicious. In fact, if you time it right, you can bake them while the squash is simmering, then blend your soup and have everything hot at the same time. Wheee!

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Ginger-Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4, with leftovers. Recipe inspired by Whole Foods, here! Gluten free, can be vegan with veggie broth.

  • a generous drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced (yield: 4 c diced)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated or diced
  • 3.5 c veggie or chicken broth
  • 1/2 c light coconut milk (out of the can)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • pepitas, for garnish!

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Toss in onion, carrot, and cucumbers, and let cook until the onion is translucent (about 5ish minutes). Add ginger, let cook a few minutes more. Finally, add stock, squash, coconut milk, sea salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook, covered, until the squash is fork-tender (about 30 minutes). Once squash is soft, use an immersion blender to puree soup to desired consistency. An upright blender is fine too, just make sure the soup is cool enough.
Garnish with pepitas just before serving!

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Pumpkin Cornmeal Muffins

My yield was 10, in my so-called ‘jumbo’ muffin tins. I never fill them all the way, but these muffins came out a totally normal size. High in vitamin A, low fat, refined sugar free, and whole grain! Recipe adapted from Running to the Kitchen, here!

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 c lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted (I use Kerrygold Irish butter)
  • 1 c pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 375, and lightly grease muffin tins (I use coconut oil).

Whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg, almond milk, yogurt, melted butter and pumpkin puree. Combine wet into dry, mixing just to combine. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 15 minutes (a tester should come out clean, and the tops should be slightly browned). Let cool for a few before turning out onto a cooling rack.
I’m sure these keep well, but ours didn’t last that long!

A lentil and squashlet autumnal party

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You can never have too many lentils.

Ever.

My nickname at work is lentil. That explains a lot.

Besides, lentils are bomb since they give you a protein source to pair with all of the autumnal squashlets (no, auto correct, squashlet IS in fact a word, so there). Wheeeee SQUASH! Not only did I use pumpkin yesterday, but I also got to bust out a (homegrown!) butternut squash! Get ready, there’s going to be an abundance of orange coming in the next few months…

I love that squash coincides with my birthday. It feels like nature’s birthday present!! Large, orangey deliciousness.

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Butternut squash always reminds me of a particularly memorable game of Cranium that took place ohhh, probably sometime in high school… my pair was supposed to be acting out butternut squash, and it was maybe one of the more hilarious things I’ve watched: First word: sounds like…*points at butt*… second bit: *mimes being a squirrel burying something*… lastly and rather violently smooshes hands together—-I had been guessing as she was miming and somehow I guessed it!! Excellent mime skills right there. But anyway… I can’t really cook a squash without thinking about that, hehe.

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Skillet Popped Balsamic Lentils

Recipe adapted from Happy Healthy Life, here! I made one cup of lentils, which, supplemented with all the veggies, fed my fambam of 3 with enough leftovers for at about one meal. My butternut squash was small, so it only made enough puree for 3. Feel free to play with the seasoning—mine was an eclectic bunch of flavors that somehow came out tasting good. Funny how that works, isn’t it?!

  • 1 c green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • 3-4 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar, divided
  • a few grinds of cracked pepper
  • judicious sprinkles of salt
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • a tbsp or two of milk beverage
  • 1 tsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 massive handfuls of spinach, rinsed
  • a bit of chicken (or veggie) broth
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • seasoning to taste*

*I used fresh marjoram, basil, and oregano to sauté the onion, then added cinnamon, cardamom, nutritional yeast and coconut aminos (and more balsamic) to the veggies after I added them in to sauté.

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For the lentils:
Add 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are done (about 30 minutes). They should be soft but still have some bite to them. Rinse and drain.

Heat a skillet over medium, and add a small bit of olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, add about a cup of lentils, shaking the pan to ensure that they’re evenly spaced. They should sizzle and pop and make all kinds of fun noise. Let them sit for a few minutes, then toss in a tsp of balsamic and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. You’ll know they’re done when they get a bit toasty and crispy around the edges. Remove the first batch, add more oil, and repeat until all the lentils are used.

For the butternut puree: Peel and dice squash, discarding stringy and seedy inner bits. Using a steamer basket or your preferred method of steaming, cook squash until very fork tender. Remove from the steamer and mash with a potato masher or a fork (or a food processor, but I didn’t want to do extra dishes). Add a bit of milk beverage (I used unsweetened almond) to smooth it out, and (obviously) a bit of butter and salt.

For the veggies, I did a simple sauté with a bit of chicken stock added. Chop and dice all yo’ veggies, add olive oil to a deep skillet, and let it heat over medium. Once hot, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add cinnamon and cardamom and a bit more olive oil, then the rest of the veggies (zucchini, pepper, mushrooms, and spinach. I added a bit of broth after about 4 minutes of sautéing, then chucked in all the spinach and covered the skillet to let it reduce. Add coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, Bragg’s, or whatever other seasonings you like here, add lentils, and let it cook on low for a few. Serve warm, over butternut squash puree!

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A little cheese with your vegan risotto?

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Stop the presses!

Something savory?! What the what?

But this was amazing, so I had to share. I totally made risotto in less than an hour (And then I made cookies. All within that same hour) And the risotto was vegan. And then I put cheese on it. Don’t judge me, I love me some cheese (Life would be soooo boring without cheese, no?).  All an excellent use of my Monday, I might add.

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I’m not feeling particularly wordy today, so a short post it is. But the recipe is fantastic and was very well received… sooooo since it’s dinner time in my part of the world, this is directed at those of you over here on the west coast with me: y’all should head to the kitchen with your laptop. Right…about…now! You know you want to…

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Vegan Cashew ‘Risotto’

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Whole Foods site, which is awesome as they have some bomb stuff! Served 4, with leftovers for 2-3. This came together really quickly, and is totally nutritious and sooo delicious. It’s economical too, with most ingredients being something you’d have on hand, or that is inexpensive.

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk (soy, rice, or dairy okay too)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 1.5 frozen cubes, each cube=1 clove)
  • 3/4 c low-sodium veggie broth
  • 20 oz frozen brown rice (which equated to one package. I used frozen as it’s precooked, lessening my cook time)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • ground cracked pepper, to taste

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Soak cashews in just enough water to cover, for a few hours or overnight (I left mine overnight).

Peel, seed, and slice the squash. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then add squash and boil until fork tender (4-5 minutes). Take out about a cup of squashlet cubes for later, and let the rest boil until very soft, about another five minutes. Remove squash from water and set aside.

Drain cashews, and add them to a blender (if you have a non-crap one, or a food processor like me if your blender is worthless) with the very soft squash, cinnamon, sea salt, and milk bev. Blenderize or process until smooth.

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Heat a large saute pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and onions once hot, and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are just beginning to brown. Add in broth, frozen rice, and reserved cup of squash cubes, and cook for another few minutes, still stirring (it’s risotto, after all…). Stir in blenderized mix still sitting in your blender*, followed by the minced sage and marjoram. I added just a wee bit more salt here, as well as pepper. Cook for several more minutes, until the sauce reduces a bit and the risotto thickens slightly (6 to 8 minutes more). Remove from heat and stir in more pepper, if desired.

*the original recipe called for 2.5 c of squash cubes. I definitely had waaaay more than that since I went ahead and used the whole (rather large) squash, so when I added the cashew mixture to the risotto, I didn’t use it all (probably about 3/4 of it). Any more and the risotto would have been too soupy—use your judgement based on how large your squash is, and how much liquid your rice absorbs. I love the sauce anyway, as it makes great dip for veggies or over a salad, so I was happy to have 1+ cups left over!

Garnish. Serve. Eat. Love!

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Squashlets, Kale, and Chèvre

I’m slightly behind in bloggingness. AGAIN.

But that’s okay, because I have some pretty freaking amazing stuff to share! Like…

SUPER SQUASH STRIKES AGAIN! Remember all that silly business with the epic mega tons of squash I ate last winter? Welllll, yeah. It’s back. Complete with kale, it’s trusty sidekick. Oh. And goat cheese. Because… REALLY?! You expect me to give you a savory dish without goat cheese??

Psshhh.

Let’s be real. Cheese is where it’s at.

I could probably eat goat cheese all day until the cows came home, and then I would look at the cows and say: “COWS! Why are you here?! I need GOATS for goat cheese, obviously” and then go back to eating my goat cheese. Forever.

This dish is easy and comes together quickly—the only longish part is all the prep work of wrestling the squash and chopping the kale (both of which can be done ahead of time to save on dinner prep when you’re starving). Squash and chèvre complement each other beautifully, and are perfect with kale. Besides all that, you get antioxidants galore from the squash and kale, as well as a ton of other health benefits. AND goat cheese is good for your soul, obviously.

Butternut Squash and Kale Skillet with Goat Cheese

Serves 3, with enough leftovers for 2 dinners and one small lunch. Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine.

Do yourself a favor and be liberal with the goat cheese, you’ll thank me later!

  • one enormous butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4.5 c kale, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice (From the lemon you just zested… you see what I did there?)
  • 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 c dried apples, chopped and soaked in water for a few minutes to soften
  • chicken sausage, casing removed (optional: mine was smoked apple chardonnay)
  • small log of goat cheese, crumbled

In a LARGE (no, really. LARGE) skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add squash, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until squash is lightly browned and tender: about 7 minutes. Add kale, lemon zest and juice,  and salt/pepper to taste. If using sausage, add now. Cook until kale is wilted and squash is fork tender, about 5-7 minutes more. Add in chicken broth and and apples, and simmer for a few minutes before serving, so everything is heated through. Serve immediately, and top with goat cheese! (liberally, of course)

awkward shadow…

Squash-Powered Cat

butternuttttt

So I really wasn’t planning on blogging about these pancakes. I mean, laziness and whatnot took over, and I was going to blow it off. BUT THEN. Semi-epic things happened, and I changed my mind.

As in, I have discovered that my cat is squash-powered. He prefers butternut.

There I was, casually opening the can of butternut squash, when Nosh (my Maine Coon goofball) comes sauntering over, looking decidedly interested in what I was doing. I looked down at him. He looked wide-eyed and cutely up at me. I said, “Surely you can’t be interested in eating this…”. He continued looking up at me, with a totally clear agenda. Whatever, I said. I let him sniff the can… and then went on with what I was doing. He kept watching. At which point I spasmodically dropped a spoon on the floor (the spoon covered in squash puree). I picked up the spoon and pointed out the squash on the floor to Nosh… who quickly trotted over and ATE. IT. ALL.

What?!

Since when do cats like squash?! But wait. It gets better.

Nosh is on the right. Jessie apparently wasn't interested in the squash...

Mom had gotten involved… and kept feeding him little bits of puree out of the bowl. (Which he ate. All of it) By this point, I’d finished at least a few pancakes, and since one was a total flip-fail (as in, it semi-splattered all over the pan…), we decided to feed it to him and see if he liked it (Keep in mind, my cats don’t normally get people food… excepting the odd bit of fish, they don’t eat much of what we do, which makes this SUPER WEIRD) (They did have a weird incident with refried beans, ages ago—perhaps they just like things in cans?!). Nosh proceeded to eat a pancake… and a half. Probably. I lost track, but what?! He’s obviously my cat, if he likes pancakes that much, hehehhe :]

Squash powered cat?!

Anyway, these pancakes were deeeelicious. They were originally supposed to be pumpkin, but the pumpkin we had wasn’t good anymore, so butternut happened. Much to the delight of Nosh, apparently. Who then proceeded to take a massive catnap (and by massive, I’m refering to the fact that when he sleeps, Nosh acts like one of those inflating sponges that you soak in water. Get up for two seconds, and good luck getting your spot back from the amazing expanding wonder!), and sleep off all he ate. And dream, too, with lots of chewing. I bet he was eating squash in his sleep! heeehe.

Pancake Cairn!

Butternut Squash Pancakes

Adapted from the Betty’s Diner Pumpkin Pancake recipe

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 c butternut squash puree
  • 1 c 1% milk or your fave nondairy
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine flour, spices, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, squash puree, sugar and egg yolks. Add liquid to dry all at once and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy or until your arm falls off. Fold into the batter. Do the pancake dance. Eat. Feed to your cat and watch him dream about them later :]

butternuts are rather awkward squash

Super Squash Strikes Again!

No, that is NOT ranch dressing. Just in case you were wondering.

That’s right.

You can’t escape my obsession with squash for long.

I’m not orangey yet, believe it or not. I’m sure we’re getting there, between the amount of pumpkin, squash and pumpkin derivatives I’ve been consuming (not to mention carrots and bell peppers. oops.) Whatever, I like my beta carotene and Vitamin A.

Lucky for you, (and me), squash is SUPER SQUASH. As in, SUPER good for you! It basically deserves a cape and some spandex for full-on superfood status. Full of phytonutrients AND antioxidants AND vitamins, it is probably one of the best winter foods out there. Besides, it’s versatile and delicious, so why WOULDN’T you eat it?! Especially when I’ve discovered tasty recipes for you. I sort of like to imagine a butternut squash chunk with a cape on flying around antioxidizing the crap out of free radicals, providing anti-inflammatory support, and blocking the formation of cholesterol in cells, all while providing thorough gastronomical enjoyment to the being consuming it (Ideally me). Talk about a super squash.

Incidentally, I read that b-nut super squash contains THREE HUNDRED and FORTY FIVE percent of your daily Vitamin A requirements, per cup. Yup, you read that right. No wonder I have fighter-pilot vision, it must be all that Vitamin A and retinol.

Whoaaaa. I just reread the last two paragraphs. Yeeesh. I am SUCH a nerd. But I am totally ok with that, it’s part of my charm, right? Hehe.

So, onto the recipe! This is something a bit different—Kira and I both agreed that it was very unlike anything either of us had ever made (in terms of its flavor profile). It was also delicious (because I would never share with you something that wasn’t, of course!). It also steams the squash, which, fun fact, helps it retain its nutrient density (so that you get all 345% of that Vitamin A).

Middle Eastern Egg Noodles with Squash, Yogurt, and Cashews

Adapted from Delicious Living, which I picked up from Whole Foods at some point and clipped the recipe.

Supposedly this serves 6, but we made half the recipe and had waaay more than what would feed 3 people. I’ll list our measurements :)

Food type items:

  • 3/8 c plain, low-fat yogurt
  • 1 clove of garlic (or frozen chunk, if you like the Trader Joe’s version, like me)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint (or mint tea, if you can’t find regular mint…)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • a good shake of cinnamon
  • a few grindings of pepper
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed into 1″ pieces (ish) (I am so NOT that exact)
  • 1/2 c water
  • egg noodles, to feed your crowd
  • 1/3 c coarsely chopped cashews (or more, if you’re me and you’re nuts for nuts, haaaa) (or just NUTS)

Firstly: Combine yogurt, garlic, and salt in a bowl. Crush mint between your fingers and add to yogurt. Whisk until smooth, then cover and let it chillax in the fridge.

Secondly: Heat oil in a skillet (or straight sided saute pan) on medium. Add onion, and cook until onion browns, about 6 minutes or however long it takes your particular onion. Stir in coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper. Add tomatoes, squash, and water. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 15 minutes (according to the recipe—ours was probably closer to 20 or 22 minutes), until the squash is tender.

In the meantime, cook yo’ noodles. Usually my egg noodles are done after about 7 minutes. Drain. Toss pasta with squash sauce, and then plate. Drizzle with yogurt sauce and liberally sprinkle (or douse) with cashews.

*Alternatively: the recipe orinigally calls for a can of no-sodium added crushed tomatoes, but we didn’t have this. Besides, we decided we’d rather use fresh ingredients if possible! So in went a small carton of cherry tomatoes, hooray! Also, the original specified walnuts, which we also didn’t have. Whatever, I prefer cashews. Either way, whatever you have!

Incidentally, if you’re interested, the recipe includes nutrition facts! I just thought I’d share (though don’t expect this on a regular basis, because a) I’m too lazy, and b) I don’t calorie count!)

Per serving: 358 cals, 11 g fat (3 g monounsaturated, 6 g polyunsaturated, 1 g saturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 12 g proteinm 51 g carbs, 7 g fiber, and 86 mg sodium.

Super squash strikes a blow against free radicals everywhere!

I am the Queen of Orange!

it's hiding... can you tell what it is?!

Yet another orange dish.

Who’s surprised?

Yeah. Didn’t think so. That’s okay though, you’ll thank me later,  just wait.

Besides, it’s fall! What do you expect?! I’m trying to be more of a seasonal eater. And by this I mean I want my insides to resemble the fall color which has exploded all over trees in Salem, and caused them all to look like they’re on fire… Then I really would be a seasonal eater, so there! Instead of having technicolored insides on account of sprinkles, I can have autumn-inspired innards! Teehee. I am the Queen of ORANGE!

Actually, when I say Queen of Orange, I’m rather reminded of William of Orange, and England’s Glorious Revolution in 1688. And no, I did not look any of those facts up… I am in fact a history nerd to the max, and those fab factoids were actually pulled out of AP European history brain from waaaay back when in sophomore year of high school. Yeeeahh. That’s right. I could also list you quite a bit of British royal genealogy… but I’ll save you the boredom ;) You’ll just have to trust me. Anywayyy. Back to the food, which is why you’re here, right?!

This is how much I love squash:

Like, A LOT. Fat, roundy orange squash. Or alternatively, butternut and acorn are good too… Which are not exactly roundy and fat, more like tan and elongated, or green and oddly lumpy, respectively. Whatever, to each his or her own squashiness, right?!

Because Kira and I realllyyyy love squash, we decided to make a new dish tonight… risotto! BUT. Because I’m a health nut, we made a healthy one. Hooraayyy!! But SO delicious, don’t get me wrong. Mmmmm. This risotto is actually made with barley, not rice. (Would that make it  barley-otto? Or barlotto?) Which is quite a bit more nutrient dense than rice, for the win! In fact, barley is realllyyy good for you: lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is handy for a number of things (including lowering blood cholesterol!), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also has eight amino acids and has is low on the Glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar. Wheeee, whole grains!

Barley seems to be another of those foods that I apparently imprinted on as a small child (hmm… tofu and barley. can you say hippie-granola?! Jeez, no wonder I wear Birkenstocks all the time). Barley cereal was my FAVORITE when I was pretty little— I distinctly remember my mom going to a specific store, where she knew an employee who would get me my special barley cereal. Apparently we could only get it there… I do remember him being awfully nice, hehe. And my mutti was wonderful to go get the cereal for me!  I guess I never really grew out of the barley phase, as I LOVED this dish.

Like I said, you’ll thank me for the orangeness later :)

Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto (or Barlotto)

Serves… a lot? We made half and still have lots of leftovers. I’ll provide the measures we used. Adapted from here!

Acquire this business:

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 thingy of garlic (I prefer the handy frozen squares from Trader Joe’s! It eliminates silly mincing and squishing)
  • 3/4 cups whole grain barley (I bought mine in bulk from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/8 cups grated Parmesan
  • awkward baggie of frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • a judicious sprinkle of nutmeg

How to procure tastiness and gastronomical delight:

Firstly.

Roastify your b-nut squash! Preheat your oven to 450. Peel the squashling, and deseed it with a spoooon. Cubify it. Toss the cublets with a good glug of olive oil, salt, and peppahhh. Roastify the cublets for about 30 minutes, stirring onceish. When removing them from the oven, try not to get blasted with a huge puff of ridiculously hot steam. Seriously oven, I do NOT need that extreme of a facial. Set aside until needed.

Secondly.

In a smallish pan of some sort, bring the broth and water to a simmer, then lower heat just enough to keep it toasty. In a saute pan, saute the onion in olive oil. Cover and cook on medium until onion is softening, about 8-10 minutes. Add in garlic. Add barley, and let it toast for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir in wine, and continue stirring until it has been absorbed.

Now prepare to stir for the rest of your life.

At least you’ll have tasty risotto!

Add about a third of the broth/water, and half of your squashlets. Stir/simmer until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Continue to add liquid, stir, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. This probably took Kira and I about a half hour, to have all the broth be absorbed and the barley to be cooked through.

Off the heat, stir in the remaining squash (assuming you left some out, not a big deal if you don’t want to), peas (another babyhood fave… what can I say, I was a gastronomically advanced child), parmesan, sage, and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil (of course).

Enjoy the gastronomically delightful orangeness!

Just disregard the slightly orange-ish tinge I seem to be acquiring…

It’s pumpkin-hoarding season.

And yes. I DO hoard canned pumpkin. And maybe pumpkin butter. Just ask Kira. Mostly because when you want it, it’s nowhere to be found! Yeeesh. So I become a temporary hoarder of specific foodstuffs.  Also because  I am apparently obsessed with all forms of orange food. Like really, ALL of them. Today, I single-handedly ate my way through four different kinds of orange veggies. It’s kind of embarrassing… except not really. HA. Because I looooove my beta-carotene! And so do my eyes, thanks to Vitamin A. That’s probably why I have 20/15 vision, which is what you’re required to have to be a fighter pilot! Shazaam. Maybe I should rethink a career change?!

But yeah.

Today.

Carrots at lunch. Pumpkin cornbread (FAB, by the way). Sweet potato muffins. Pumpkin-Butternut Squash pastaaaaa (Also SO FAB) (Like, mind-boggling amazing).

See? I warned you. At least I ate all my orange bell pepper at the end of last week, otherwise this would really be ridiculous.

Whatever. At least my Vitamin A levels are covered for the next four millennium. Not a big deal.

I feel like I’m setting myself up to start channeling my inner oompa-loompa what with all this orangeness… Perhaps I should start composing an original song or something…? Or wearing white overalls? I do, however, draw the line at dyeing my hair green. None of that.

Apparently you really can turn yourself slightly orangeish if you eat enough orangey pigment… I’ll have to watch myself for this semi-alarming state of affairs, just in case I suddenly need to apply for a job monitoring a chocolate waterfall.

Right.

Moving on.

These recipes are aaaaaamazing. Mega props to pumpkin cornbread—who would have thought? But hey, I love pumpkin, and I love cornbread, so why not together? This cornbread is moist and sweet, but not tooo sweet. It’s corny and delicious, and excellent with a little butter and honey. Yum yum yum.

cooooornbread!

Pumpkin Cornbread!

Adapted from here.

This recipe makes an 8 by 8 pan, but being only two, I made half! In my cute little 6.5″ round pans :) Love love love. I’ll give the full size recipe here—making half is very easy.

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup brown sugar (I might reduce this ever so slightly next time?)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. (Also convenient for roasting your butternut squash for dinner, just sayin’)

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg,  brown sugar, and cornmeal in a medium-type bowl. In a smallerish type bowl, whisk the eggs, and then add pumpkin puree and olive oil. Mix wet into dry. The original recipe called for a tablespoon of molasses, but being college-y, we don’t currently have any. Soooo, I adapted and left it out. I’m sure it would be delicious, but it was WAAAYYY tasty without, so I don’t feel cheated in the slightest.

Pour/scoop (this batter is really thick) into a lightly greased 8 by 8 or 6.5″ pan, depending on the amount you made. Smooth out the top for aesthetic reasons, or just use it as an excuse to play with your food. For an 8″ pan, bake for 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. For a 6.5″, I baked it for 15 minutes. It could probably have gone a bit longer, the center was a teensy bit underdone,  but not in a bad way. Maybe like 2 minutes more?

It is deeeelicious any way you slice it… I think this may have been the main component of my lunch today!

So guess what?! Today you get TWO recipes, for the price of one! Get excited.

ALSO. This is BIG NEWS, I mean like BFD status.

Wait for it…

This is my first ORIGINAL RECIPE! I made it alllll up, on my ownesie! I had help in tasting and making by Kira, of course—much more fun that way. BUT! I am SO EXCITED to post my first recipe! And it was amazing. Not bragging. But it was! So it was a win all around. Behold:

Pumpkin Pasta with Butternut Squash and Chèvre

Serves… a lot. We have LOTS of leftovers, hooray!

Adapted from… no one! This is an original Wait are those Cookies recipe.

Procure:

  • 1.25-1.5 c pumpkin puree (NOT canned pumpkin pie filling, ewwwy ew ew)
  • 1/2 c (ish) coconut milk beverage, or milk
  • 1 medium or large butternut squash, roasted (see below)
  • 1 large onion
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp (or to taste) salt
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • whole wheat spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • grated parmesan, crumbled chèvre, and fresh basil for serving

First off, roast your butternut squash! Preheat your oven to 400. I cut both ends off of my squash, and then cut it in half and scooped out the seeds. Lay it down, cut side down, and then peel it with your trusty veggie peeler! Cut it into relatively similarly-sized chunks, and toss with olive oil, pepper, a bit of salt, and honey. Spread the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir it once or twice while roasting.

Gettin' intense with my squash

When you’re ready for din din, start your pasta water and do all that jazz (I’m assuming you’re quite familiar with making pasta). We used whole wheat spaghetti, which turned out to be fantastic.

While the pasta is cooking, dice up your onion, and saute it in olive oil. When the onion is translucent (ish), stir in the pumpkin and milk-beverage. The thickness can be adjusted depending on your preference—ours ended up being super thick, and on the chunky textural side, which was awesome. And tasty. Anyway—add pumpkin, milk, and roasted butternut squash. Add nutmeg, pepper, and salt (these quantities are estimated—feel free to adjust according to taste preferences). Simmer until the sauce is warmed through and tastes like you want it :)

Toss with spaghetti! (Plus this way you can leave the copious leftovers in the fridge in their original pot, hooray for less dishes!). Serve with freshly grated parmesan and crumbled goat cheese (aka chèvre—I like the way this sounds, it makes me sound even more like the gastro-snob that I am), and garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.

We ate ours with warmed fresh crusty bread and butter. YUM YUM YUM. Today was quite an epic gastronomical adventure. I’m very proud of my first recipe… as if you couldn’t tell with the excess of exclamation points and capital letters, haha. Whatever, it was worth it, and delicious! It got rave reviews from Kira AND her mom :)

Eat. Drool. Love!