Friday, October 30, 2009

Tip of the Day

No recipes today....just snow. Snow on Monday and Tuesday, snow today and it's cold. Yes, that weather change I was so hoping for is here and I'm sitting here with a bag of frozen peas on my back. That's right, frozen peas..... on my back. No, I don't plan to eat them anytime soon. If you ever have an owie and it needs a bit of ice, may I suggest the frozen bag of peas. Very user friendly. Just pop it in and out of the freezer as you need it. The peas are better than big chunks of ice. No ice to mess with, no water that leaks all over your clothes and it comes with its very own leak proof bag. Very effective. Cheap too because designer peas don't freeze your back, knee, elbow or whatever any better than the cheapest bag you can buy! I did Kenpo the other day from my P90x workout. Let's just say...I've needed some ice (or should I say peas) every now and then since. Next time you feel a bit of soreness, reach for a bag of peas. Maybe you'll even soak in some of the vitamins and nutrients of the peas by osmosis!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's been a week....

We'll just leave it at that. I guess I'm not a great blogger if I make promises that I don't keep. Before I post this recipe...I have one question. What is it about sauteing an onion? Maybe it's because it It smells like Thanksgiving. But my family always seems to walk in just as the onion has become fragrant and asks..."Yum. What's for dinner? It smells so good." At which point, I try to kindly reply..."An onion". Maybe there's already garlic sauteing in the pan too, so I might say...."An onion and some garlic. Hope you like it."

This recipe is a cornucopia of smells, which translates to flavor. I loved it, and my kids loved it as well.

Pureed Butter Nut Squash Soup
Modified from a recipe by Martha Stewart in Everyday Food (modified because I never seem to follow a recipe exactly)

First thing....peeling the squash. You can buy bags of squash where someone else has nearly cut their fingers off so that you don't have to risk it. I would recommend that, except I grew my own. So, I peel my own squash too.

Soon after all the mess, there was a pile of 1 inch cubes of lovely butternut on my board, and I still had all my fingers, on my hand. Took some time, but I was pleased with the outcome. The cookie dough scoop really worked well to get the seeds out as well. Peeling....well, hope you have a good vegetable peeler. I even searched to find the expert way and they all said, grab a vegetable peeler and go for it.

Ginger and Garlic....ahh! Can you smell it? Don't be scared of ginger, the funny looking root. It is full of wonderful goodness. Actually very good for digestion. So...use it liberally. The recipe called for a 2 inch piece. I wondered..'is that two inches square? 2 inches high? 2 inches round?" I don't know, but I think I used quite a bit and it was very tasty. I actually used one more piece than is in this picture. I warned you. I like ginger, and garlic, so I used 3 cloves. They were small.

Saute it all in a pot and enjoy the smell. Be prepared for the question. "What smells so good?"

I added 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water, instead of all water. Thought the flavor would be nice. But, if you'd like to keep it vegan, than leave out the broth and use all water and use all olive oil, instead of butter. The squash cooked up beautifully and soon I was ready to grab the wand. Honestly, I was seriously looking forward to this part. It may have been the entire reason I made this soup!

I love the steam on the wand in the last picture. I love the wand blender in serious action. I love the color as it blends to a beautiful puree. I really love that I didn't have to dump all that hot soup into a blender.

The pumpkin seed accompaniment to this dish is a must. Don't skip them. Do make more than you think you'll use. Even double the seed amount. I snacked on them for a week. So TASTY!!! I used more chili powder and added some cumin.

The end result...very tasty. Topped with a dollop of greek yogurt, or goats milk yogurt. The tangy flavor of the goats milk yogurt truly enhanced the flavors. Sprinkle those tasty pumpkin seeds and garnish with cilantro. This is a soup that warms the soul and truly feeds and nourishes the body!! ENJOY!!

Pureed Butternut Squash Soup
Original recipe was Martha Stewarts from Everday Food. I've included my modifications.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 piece (2 1/2 inches) peeled fresh ginger, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 3/4 pounds small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and flesh cut into 1 inch chunks.
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
Salt and Pepper
Greek Style or Goats Milk Yogurt
Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Melt butter and oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup with a wand mixer. Stir in orange juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with yogurt, pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until puffed and browned, about 10 minutes.

Next time....I share the hottest, most inedible dish I have ever made. Just for fun!

Monday, October 12, 2009


There are many large things in my life right now. I started this post thinking about my cat, who is so large, he doesn't fit on my lap. I think I'll go measure him. From nose to tail...he's 42 inches long. That means standing on his back feet stretched out, he's over 3 1/2 feet tall. He's also 15 1/2 inches tall standing on all fours, from the tip of his ear to his foot. He's heavy too....17 pounds of cat. Yes, call me crazy cat lady, because I LOVE cats. My friends tease me that I'm going to be one of those old ladies with a house full of cats. Nah...I hate cat hair, so I think I'll stick with one. However, I honestly believe, that if there are such things as previous lives, I must have been a cat. My husband...(who also has a corner market on behemoth in the tall sense) thinks it's weird that I know what my cat wants by his meows. During the cat is my best friend and reminds me to take a break now and then and lie in the sun. He follows me everywhere around the house, except when I practice my bagpipes, which causes him to promptly head for the door as soon as he sees me holding my pipes. This picture of my cat was taken by my son.

Other behemoths in my life...butternut squash and swiss chard. chard is an amazing plant!! It produces, forever!! Even cut back to a stump...after the first frost, little leaves were still coming up. must be on the list of wonder plants. We've had a garden full of chard, all summer. Litteraly, I think we managed to plant some in every box. I wouldn't recommend that, unless you really like chard!! Or you know someone else that does, or you are running a co-op and selling it at a farmers market. Beautiful chard, is so good for you too. Leafy greens! It's like a super-pill plant for the body. Full of vitamins and minerals, I imagine my body just soaking up all that goodness the minute I put it in my mouth.

I also love butternut squash soup. I grew butternut and bought a hand mixer, aka..Smart Stick, so I can make pureed soups. Julia Child would tell you to use a vegetable mill because...and I quote "Blenders and processors chop up and serve forth tough woody vegetable bits, while a vegetable mill holds them back to give you a fiber-free brew." Well...I like my fiber, but if you want an extra creamy purred soup, by all means, mill away! Martha Stewart...uses a blender. I'm going to use the Smart Stick tonight, because butternut squash soup is what is for dinner. The recipe I'm using from Everday Food by Martha Stewart calls for ginger, garlic and a bit of orange juice to add to the flavor. I will post the recipe tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Here's the thing.....

Why I blog....

Why blog?? I asked this question at the beginning, because it was the thought most completely on my mind. The internet is full of information, advice, ideas, recipes, stories, remedies, etc., etc., etc. So....why blog? There is no shortage of curiosity in my brain, and I fully admit to being an earnest seeker of information. Thus...the internet is a fanciful tool in the hands of such a person. Thing is....everyone else's information always seems so much more interesting. So, what do I have to say that might be interesting? Maybe nothing; but there is this one thing. I've discovered this is why I blog.......because I can. See, this country represents freedoms and last I checked, freedom of speech was still one of them. Certainly, sharing recipes, photography, ideas, amusements and epiphanies with the world isn't exactly marching on Capital Hill. Or is it?

If I could decorate my house anyway I wanted, it would look like fall. Minus the spiders. Really not a big fan of those creatures. Those little beady eyes and creepy looking legs. I'm not sure whether to celebrate or drop to my knees when I see my cat eat one. I'd love to ask him if those little spiders just wiggle all the way down. However, this bench in the beautiful canyon...there are no spiders. Don't even worry about looking under the table or the seats. The area has been determined to be completely clear of arachnids. I've picked us a nice spot. So grab a spot on the bench. Enjoy a warm cup of something and let's chat.....because we can.

Friday, October 2, 2009

My kids love this....

So the days are cooling off, rather quickly. Yeah! I could have handled a slower drop in temperature. 40 degree drop in two Yep, it's Fall. So, strike up the stove, heat up the oven. It's time to cook warm, comforting, good for the soul food. It can be good for you too! My kids love the Thai flavors in this recipe. I love that it cooks in one pot. Hope you enjoy it!

Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole

You’ll find Thai red curry paste (which keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator) and coconut milk in the Asian-foods aisle. For a spicier dish, stir in a bit more curry paste. Courtesy of Martha Stewart and the Everyday Food it!!

1 TBSP olive oil
4 whole chicken legs (about 3 pounds total)
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 ounces) light coconut milk
1 1/2 cups canned reduced sodium chicken broth
1 to 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
1 cup jasmine rice
8 ounces green beans (stem ends removed), cut into 1-inch lengths
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), cut into 1-inch lengths
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges for serving

1. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, cook chicken until browned, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate (chicken will cook more in step 2).

2. To pot, add coconut milk, broth, 1/2 cup water, and curry paste; bring to a boil, and stir in rice. Add chicken (with any juices) arranging pieces in a single layer. cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, without stirring, until rice is almost tender, 15 minutes.

3. Scatter bell peppers and green beans on top of chicken mixture; cover, and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

*I used skinless boneless chicken thighs and they worked very well.
*I omitted the peppers and used frozen beans that I had thawed and chopped. Because I don't like peppers.