Monthly Archives: September 2012

Pumpkin Chili

Those of you who follow my blog know that I have been trying to come up with creative ways to use a humongous pumpkin, all thirty-seven pounds of it, which we bought at the farmers’ market a few weeks ago. This recipe combines that fall favorite with another, chili!

Start by dicing two medium onions and peeling a head, yes the entire head, of garlic. The garlic will go through the garlic press to get finely minced.

Next, dice up the peppers! I used what I had on hand…feel free to do the same. So, one red, one yellow, one orange, a couple purple, two poblanos, and three small hungarian peppers get a nice rough dice. Leave the long green chilis whole, they will go in as in for flavor and get pulled out at the end.

All the veg goes into a skillet heated over medium heat, with one turn of olive oil. Saute for a few minutes and then add in the minced garlic. Saute an additional minute or so to marry the flavors. Into your favorite crock pot they go!

Now, for the star of the show, the pumpkin! Cut your farm fresh pumpkin into half-inch cubes. You will need six cups worth! Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper for the first layer of flavor. Toss well, and into the crock pot it goes.

Next I added three cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes. Whatever diced tomatoes you have in your cupboard would work, I do prefer the unsalted ones though so I control how much salt goes into our food.

Three cans of rinsed, drained navy beans get added in next. I think black beans would also work well. If you are more ambitious, dried beans would work wonderfully as well. If using canned like I did, make sure you rinse and drain them so you don’t get all the added sodium.

Look at those beautiful beans! The crock pot is starting to get contentedly full at this point.

The spices….first some nutmeg and cinnamon get grated in.  In my mind, you can not enjoy pumpkin without these two. It is hard to estimate amounts when grating. Possibly a few teaspoons of each. Next a few teaspoons of ancho chili powder and chipotle morita flakes get added. These add heat, but also an amazing smoky flavor. If you do not have them, substitute chili powder and red chili flakes. Add in sea salt to taste. You want to start out gently with the spices. You can always adjust to taste later.

The last addition is three cups of unsalted vegetable broth. Feel free to substitute whatever broth you have on hand, even tomato juice would work well. Stir well to combine and put the lid on. Set the crock pot on low and forget about it for seven to eight hours.

When you return later, this is what you will see. I can not even find the words to describe how the house smells. Spicy, smoky, balanced with some sweetness? Walking into the house after a long day to these smells? Absolutely made my day!

Ladle into your favorite bowl and enjoy! I couldn’t think up the perfect side so I served this one all on its own with no complaints.

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Fresh Homemade Applesauce

Another fall favorite has arrived at the farmers’ market! Beautiful, organic, red delicious apples! Five pounds came home with us!

Another couple of pounds each of gala and honey crisps came home with us as well. What to do with ten pounds of apples? Didn’t have to ponder this for long. Since my son gets his wisdom teeth out this week, applesauce it is!

After washing all the apples, the next step is to core them all. Thank goodness for the person who invented the handy little tool to do this. If I ever questioned whether this purchase was a smart one or not, I won’t anymore.

Next?? Peel them all. No cool tool for this, just a plain old vegetable peeler. You don’t have to be meticulous with this step, a little skin won’t hurt anything.

Now they need to be quartered and into a pot they go. Larger ones may need to be cut smaller than quarters.

The juice of two lemons and their peels also go into the pot. I used the vegetable peeler to peel the lemons so the pieces are easy to fish out.

Add in one three-inch piece of cinnamon, a whole nutmeg which has been cracked in half, one cup of sugar, one cup of brown sugar, and two cups of water. Put onto the stove top over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for thirty to forty-five minutes.

The picture doesn’t quite capture it, but after the right amount of time, the apples will start to break down. Today’s batch took about forty-five minutes. Turn off the heat. At this point, fish out the lemon peel, cinnamon and nutmeg.

At this point, I chose to deviate from most of the recipes I have seen online. The majority of the recipes I read while researching called to mash the apples with a potato masher until the desired consistency. More power to the people with the wrist and arm strength to do this! I cheated, perhaps, and got out my immersion blender. Took about three minutes to reach the texture I wanted.

All that is left is to serve it up and enjoy. The beauty of making it yourself?? You can adjust the sweetness as you wish and you know exactly what is going into it. I added the cinnamon and nutmeg in while cooking. This step could be skipped and you could just sprinkle ground cinnamon and nutmeg over the applesauce at the end. The best part? The flavor is far superior to the stuff in the jar! Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!


Honey Wheat French Toast with Blackberry Mint Jam

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This is another of my Sunday morning breakfast ideas. There have been an overabundance of juicy sweet blackberries this year. Might as well put some to good use!

Not sure what it is about this year’s produce, but it has been fabulous. Is it the heat? The rain? Both? Whatever it is, I am grateful!

For this creation, I started with one quart of blackberries fresh from the farmers’ market. They went into a large skillet over medium heat along with one-quarter cup of sugar, two tablespoons of fresh squeezed lime juice with the zest as well, and several sprigs of blue mint from the herb garden.

As the berries begin to soften, mash them well with a potato masher. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Turn down heat, and simmer ten to fifteen minutes until thickened.

Meanwhile, make the french toast. In a large mixing bowl, combine six eggs, fresh grated nutmeg and cinnamon bark, and about a cup of vanilla almond milk. Whisk well.

We had picked up a loaf of honey wheat bread at the farmers’ market the day before, so I decided to use that. Feel free to use whatever bread you have on hand. Slice the loaf of bread into eight or so pieces.

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture to coat both sides well. Into the skillet it goes. When browned nicely, flip over. Each side takes about two to three minutes to brown nicely.

When the french toast is done, serve drizzled with the blackberry mint jam. Delicious and nutritious!


Pumpkin Smoothie

It is definitely Autumn! Nevermind what the calendar says, the pumpkins are out in abundance at our local farmers’ market. Pumpkins always say Autumn to me! My husband got a little carried away with the pumpkin love, and this beauty came home with us. We couldn’t resist weighing it….thirty seven pounds! There will be many pumpkin recipes in the coming weeks!

 

Today’s breakfast was made using one of the remaining smaller pumpkins we bought at the market a couple of weeks ago. Much more manageable!

Start by grating the pumpkin. The small pumpkin shown produced about six to eight cups of grated pumpkin. What hasn’t been used went into a ziploc bag for breakfasts during the week. One cup of grated pumpkin goes into the blender for each smoothie you want to make.

Next. slice one banana. Yes, a banana. I know this is a pumpkin smoothie, but it’s a texture thing.

Now, for some seasonings. Grated cinnamon bark and nutmeg, ground ginger and allspice. Wishing I had some fresh ginger to grate in, maybe next time!

Layer the ingredients in a blender. Pumpkin, banana, spices.

Add between eight and twelve ounces of vanilla almond milk, and a handful of ice. Soy, rice, or even regular milk would work. Whatever is in your fridge.

Blend until nice, smooth and creamy. About forty-five seconds did it in our blender.

Nice, smooth and creamy. With a few bubbles?

Pour into your favorite glass, and enjoy. Not only is it absolutely divine, it is also very good for you!

One thing I try to focus on is healthy, local cooking. Support your local farmers and eat good food! Here’s the link to one of  local farmers’ markets that we have been enjoying lately: http://lehightonfarmersmarket.com/ . If you are local, check them out. If not, check out the market near you!


Congee with Pumpkin

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Autumn is just around the corner! Want to know how I know this? When the hubby and I were at the farmers’ market last week, we bought pumpkins!! No, not the big jack-o-lantern style. Small pumpkins perfect for beer? Well, that was the hubby’s plan…but he ended up with about four cups too much pumpkin.

So, now it’s my turn. What to do with four cups of fresh pumpkin? Soup, of course, since Autumn is just on the horizon. What kind of soup? I stumbled upon a vague recipe for congee with pumpkin and decided to make it my own.

First, for those of you who are uncertain what congee is, a description. Congee is an asian rice porridge or gruel. With some adaptations, the perfect use for our leftover pumpkin. Just a warning, this is not a quick recipe, it does take some patience.

To start, heat a four quart pot over medium heat. While it is heating, dice one large onion. Then peel a two-inch piece of fresh ginger root and four cloves of garlic.

Once the pot is heated, pour in one turn of extra virgin olive oil. Add the diced onion into the pot, salt well and sweat until translucent. This will take about ten minutes. Now, grate the ginger root and garlic cloves into the pot. Stir well to marry the flavors.

While the onion was sweating, the remaining four cups or so of pumpkin got cut into quarter-inch cubes. Add into the pot with the onion, ginger root and garlic. Also add in eight cups of stock and/or water. I used half chicken broth, half water. If you want to go vegan, use vegetable broth or all water.

Season with one teaspoon of Maldon (sea salt flakes) and a teaspoon or so of five spice.  Simmer over low heat. This is where the patience comes in. It will take about two hours to get nice and thick and creamy. This is well worth the wait.

Once it has reached the desired consistency, adjust the seasoning as needed. The consistency you are looking for is rich and creamy. Allow to simmer another ten minutes or so for the flavors to combine.

Serve in your favorite bowl with some chopped chives. I also served it with some pita chips to add crunch.


Fresh Tomato Sauce…or Gravy, whichever you prefer!

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I think most of you have gotten the impression that I love tomatoes! You are absolutely correct. I really feel that fresh summer tomatoes are one of the sweetest, juiciest, most flavorful foods on the planet. Best thing about tomatoes? They are in an overabundance this time of year.

While shopping the farmers’ market this past weekend, my hubby and I stumbled upon a great deal on a half-bushel of summer’s best. Didn’t take to much thought to decide to take them home with us.

What to do with that many tomatoes? Make fresh sauce….or is it gravy? Whatever you prefer to call it, the taste of this fresh recipe will make you never want to eat it from a store-bought bottle again! For the sake of easy reading, I will call it sauce throughout this post.

I will not deceive you, this takes a lot of work! In the end, it absolutely is worth it. You will have enough for dinner, and to freeze for six or so more dinners!

Place a large stock pot of water on the stovetop over high heat to bring to a boil. Salt the water well. I used my large pasta pot with the colander insert. This makes straining the tomatoes easier.

Next, peel a head of garlic. Yes, an entire head. Not a clove. Cut one onion, one medium carrot and one celery stalk into quarters. All of this goes into the food processor. Pulse until minced.

Place a large stock pot on the stovetop over medium heat. In two turns of good extra virgin olive oil, saute the veggies until softened and fragrant.

Meanwhile, clean all the tomatoes. I know a half-bushel seems like a ridiculous amount of tomatoes, but it really isn’t once you cook them down. This seems like a good place to mention that these tomatoes do not need to be perfect. This is a good use for all those mangled tomatoes you aren’t sure what else to do with.

Once clean, cut an “X” into the bottom of all the tomatoes. This will help with peeling them. When the water comes to a boil, carefully place the tomatoes into the water and boil for one minute. I had to do this in batches.

Immediately get the tomatoes into an ice bath. I used my stainless steel kitchen sink for this. Most of the tomatoes fit all at once.

Next, get to peeling. This is where that “X” comes in handy. Starting there, the skin will peel right off.

Once peeled, cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze to remove the seeds. Reserve the juice, if your sauce begins to get to thick you can add it in. Alternately,if you don’t need it in the sauce, it makes for tasty drinking.

Once seeded, the tomatoes join the other veggies in the stock pot. Simmer forty-five to sixty minutes to develop flavor and allow the tomatoes to release their juices.

At this point, you can do one of two things. Either, get out your immersion blender and puree until you reach the desired consistency or smash with a potato masher. I prefer the immersion blender, but do what works for you. I know some people are cringing at the thought of taking an immersion blender to the tomatoes. Skip this step if you prefer.

Season to taste. I use sea salt, fresh ground mixed peppercorns, basil, oregano, and a little but of red pepper flakes. Switch up the seasonings however you like.

All that’s left is to enjoy in your favorite dishes. The first night, we had it over gnocchi. Then we froze the rest.

There really is no pre-made sauce out there that can compare to the fresh tomato taste you get in this recipe! Plus, you get to personalize it however you want!


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