Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Winter squash

We've been loving the winter squash the past couple of weeks. Last week we had acorn squash and this week, butternut. I prepared both the same way - sliced in half, put into a 350 degree oven on an old jellyroll cookie sheet with about 1" water for 40-50 min (about 30 min face down, then 10-20 face up, and that's when you add any toppings) until a fork goes in easily, brushed with a little butter and maple syrup. Good good good.

I've served the squash with curried christmas limas, israeli couscous, and/or simple green salad. A lovely fall meal, and though time-consuming, not much work as long as you can wrangle the toddler into a high chair long enough to open the hot oven! For the lima bean curry, I roughly followed this recipe, but needed only 1 tsp olive oil and used extra vegetable broth instead of oil where it says to add more oil if necessary to prevent the garlic and onions from burning.

As an aside, I haven't seen the need to use more than 1 tsp of olive oil for any of my sauteeing - and usually I don't even need that - just a quick spray in the non-stick pan seems more than adequate to add flavor and prevent sticking.

Bruschetta on polenta

While in Sonoma County, I also picked up some heirloom purple tomatoes at a farm stand. I had a tube of polenta in the fridge and some basil from my garden and voila, dinner is served. (This was a light dinner because we stopped at Foster's Freeze in Sebastopol on the way home from apple picking.) Here's the "recipe":

- Cut polenta into 1/2" thick slices
- Prep non-stick skillet with a light spray of olive oil
- Cook polenta patties 10 min per side, until they have a toasted exterior and soft, warm center
- Meanwhile, lazily chop tomatoes (I had about 4 large ones) and put in a bowl with about 1/2 cup torn basil leaves, 1 clove minced garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Set out the tomato bowl and platter of polenta toasts and have people serve themselves.

Serves two.
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Apple picking

Inspired by my cousin Jessica, who was going apple picking on the East Coast, we decided to do some apple picking of our own. We had a great time at Gabriel Farms in lovely Sebastopol, where those seeking an organic pastoral experience normally need an appointment to do u-pick, but we got lucky and on the day we decided to go because they were participating in the Sonoma County Farm Trails event. Before picking apples, we had lunch at one of my favorite casual vegetarian restaurants, Slice of Life.

So far we're just munching on our apple harvest, but in a couple of days, I might make applesauce with whatever's left, which is what I did with the suddenly un-sexy store-bought apples sitting in the fruit bowl when we returned from apple picking. My applesauce turned out delicious even though I didn't have any lemon juice on hand - I just peeled and lazily chopped the apples, simmered them for 40 mins in a small amount of water, mashed it up with a potato masher, and added cinnamon to taste. Yum!
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Party Favors

Tomorrow's my little guy's 2nd Birthday. We celebrated today. Here are the party favors, prepared Friday night - mini pumpkins with each child's name on them and a few homemade 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies - the perfect recipe for tired after-work parents to make for the next morning. We also served mini pumpkin muffins at the party - a slightly more decadent recipe than the toddler power kind I've posted about before.

The birthday party was a lot of fun. We've had a very intense several months, and it was terrific to see my little guy having a blast at the Habitot water play area and to chat with some dear friends and their tots. Happy Birthday, my sweet little angel.
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Portobello burgers

This is just barely a recipe, but my husband made portobello burgers the other day for lunch, and they were just great. I hadn't had one in awhile, and had forgotten how good they are. (And low in calories, too - woohoo!) We made ours in the oven, using a recipe from Nava Atlas's Vegetarian Five-Ingredient Gourmet - brush with a little wine, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Broil 5 min per side in the oven. Sprinkle with oregano and serve.
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Harvest Time!

Here's how my garden grew! We are using these home-grown veggies to make our own pesto, raw as a garnish/side dish with portobello burgers, and in slow-cooker ratatouille (if you follow this link, go to page 171). This was an experiment - I'd never grown herbs or vegetables before. Now I'm hooked. I love going out to the "garden" (okay, three pots on the deck) to cut something for dinner.

Cilantro Noodle Bowl from 101 Cookbooks

"Yum!" is all I can say about this recipe. Mine is a little different, with broccoli instead of romanesco and fresh udon, not dried soba. I substituted what I found at Andronico's the day I shopped. I could imagine this being lovely with a variety of different vegetables or noodles - the highlight is the cilantro sauce.

Soup, Salad, and Bread II

This is that pumpkin soup I've blogged about before, along with the 80-minute oat bread from the last soup, salad, and bread post.

The salad is an apple-walnut salad. Super easy, and somehow always like a special treat. Toss together some salad greens, a chopped apple (with a little lemon on it to prevent browning), and some walnuts with a hint of olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Cherry Pie Oatmeal

Okay, it doesn't really taste like cherry pie, but it was possibly the best oatmeal I've ever had, super easy, and actually in keeping with the vegetarian meal plan I'm trying at Sparkpeople. I was inspired by this recipe at Locavore on Core, but I am pressed for time and lazy in the mornings and I don't have a pressure cooker anyway. So here's the lazy girl microwave adaptation:

- Dump 1 cup regular rolled oats in a medium glass bowl
- Add 13/4 to 2 cups water and a dash of salt
- Stir
- Microwave on high 3 mins
- Add about 1/2 small bag frozen cherries, 2 tsp brown sugar, and cinnamon to taste
- Stir
- Microwave on high 1 min
- Stir, serve, and eat

Serves 2 adults and 1 toddler (The Picky Toddler ate several bites of this and he never eats oatmeal!) I had mine with a glass of soy milk and wasn't hungry until lunchtime. This dish will definitely be making regular appearances at our breakfast table and frozen cherries will now be a grocery store staple for us.