Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter Squash Soup with Chipotle Peppers

Winter squash is here! The Farmer's Market had tons of pie pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, etc. I picked up some carnival and butternut squash without having any clear idea of what to make with it. The carnival squash is in the acorn family, so I paired it with the butternut to make winter squash soup. On it's own it has a texture close to a chestnut, but it pureed well with the butternut for the soup, too.

1 small butternut squash
1 small acorn squash
4 tbsp olive oil
1 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp chipotle seasoning or cayenne pepper/red pepper flakes
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Chipotle peppers in adobo

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Cut butternut and acorn squash in half lengthwise. Use 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat insides of squash. Lay face down on baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
3) Remove squash from oven and let cool. The squash can be cooked and cooled overnight, or well in advance of the soup preparation.
4) Use the reamining olive oil to saute carrots, celery, and onion in a medium sized stock pot until tender. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and chipotle seasoning, then saute an additional 2-3 minutes. 
5) Scoop meat from squash and add to pot with vegetables. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. 
6) When vegetables are very tender use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup.
7) Add whipping cream or milk to the pureed soup, stir to blend and return to heat until ready to serve. Top with cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, and chipotle.

Serves 4

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pregnancy can be a b!#$(

It's been an interesting few months :) First, I waited over a month to get my camera back from the shop. I knew that they needed to order parts for the repair, so I was willing to give them a bit of time to do the things that they needed to do. These guys are amazing, and they are the only ones that I trust. They are complete camera geeks. I mean...they are the camera version of gamers. And I think that they still live in the the film era (they certainly look like it), despite their in-depth knowledge of the digital camera. 

After about two weeks, I called them to see how they were progressing with the camera. Their phone wasn't disconnected, but it also didn't really give me an explicit error. It's almost as if my call just went into some sort of phone call limbo. So, I tried again the next day and got the same results. OK, I thought to give them another week to figure out their phone issues. They always call me when the repairs are finished, so I wasn't too concerned. If it was ready, they would call once they have a working phone. If it takes too long, they will probably call me using one of their cell phones.

A week later, I still couldn't get through via phone, so I decided to drive over there. That evening, Mark told me that I received a letter in the mail from them. This is when I started to worry...their building caught on fire and my camera was on-site....they were robbed and can't locate my camera. GAH! I opened the letter, and it told me that my camera was ready for pick-up. Wha...?? Of course....why would they call to tell me? Their phone is broke, and neither of them probably own a cell phone. No one that dresses like a computer engineer from the 1980's would own a cell phone. But I'm sure that they still own Atari stations.

Finally, with camera in hand, I was ready to start blogging again. But....I was so nauseous from the pregnancy that the thought of eating anything but crackers and cereal made me want to crawl under a rock. I also didn't have the energy to stay awake past 7:30 PM.

It's almost November, and 4 months since my last post. It's taken a long time to get back into the swing of things. We're finally going to the Farmer's Market every week again, and I'm back in the kitchen making goodies most nights. Keep your eye open for some new recipes coming soon!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Have Not Camera. Will Starve.

Not really. I'll still cook, but I can't post anything.

I was trying to take a picture of the strawberries for Strawberry Cupcakes, and....what is this? CF Error? The camera refused to do anything but blink "CF Error" at me repeatedly. Normally that means that the Compact Flash card is corrupt, but in my case none of my cards worked. I have had issues with the CF slot on the camera in the past, so back to the shop it goes. Hopefully I won't be without the camera for long, but it did take about 4 weeks to fix last time I had a CF slot issue because they had to send for parts.

In the meantime, here is something to keep you entertained. If you don't like strong, offensive language, drunkenness, or watching someone chop food directly on the counter, DO NOT watch this. But I love this guy. A true inspiration :) The Drunk Cook

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sauteed Eggplant with Garlic, Cumin & Feta

A promised, more eggplant recipes! This one was made as an accompaniment to the Feta Cucumber sandwiches in my last post.

The original recipe called for the Garlic-Cumin concoction to be used as a vinaigrette, but I wanted something with cooked garlic, so I ended up throwing the vinaigrette in the pan with the eggplants at the last minute for a minute or two. Also, since I only had fingerling eggplants, I opted to sauté the eggplants instead of grilling them. 

Here is the original recipe, from Kalyn's Kitchen: Grilled Eggplant Recipe with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta, and Two Herbs

1 large fingerling eggplant, cut in uniform slices 3/4 inch thick
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, finely minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

1. Put garlic, salt, lemon juice, and shallots or red onion into food processor fitted with steel blade, Pulse until all ingredients are well combined, then let sit for 10 minutes. (This could also be done in a blender.) After ten minutes, put mixture in small bowl, stir in ground cumin and cayenne pepper, then whisk in olive oil.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and saute the eggplants for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic-cumin mixture to the pan and stir. Let it simmer with the eggplants for about a minute or two.
3. To serve, top with crumbled feta and herbs.

Hummus and Feta Sandwiches

I had a can of chickpeas sitting in the cupboard collecting dust, but I wanted to try something new (well, new to me). I love hummus, but Mark is not the kind of eater to eat finger foods unless it's at a party. We were planning on having some people over on the weekend, so I wanted to try making it before then. But that didn't solve the dilemma of having Mark try it unless it was incorporated into a meal, so that is where this recipe came in. I found some great Whole Grain Italian bread which was perfect for these sandwiches. The bread was lightweight but had a great texture to go with the hummus.  

The first time I made the sandwiches they seemed sort of dry, so I brushed some extra virgin olive oil on the bread before spreading the hummus. That really did the trick! Also, I only had crumbled Feta on hand but I used the biggest pieces, so it seemed to work without falling apart to much. If you slice from a block of feta, I would recommend using thinner slices if you don't want to overpower the hummus. Personally, I liked the thicker slices but Mark preferred the crumbles because he wanted to taste more of the hummus rather than the feta. Next time, I'll just slice the feta thinner for him :) 

A nice companion dish to the sandwiches is eggplant with garlic and cumin.

Adapted from

1 14- to 15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño chile

Using on/off turns, finely chop garbanzo beans and garlic in processor. Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and remaining ingredients; process to coarse puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if desired.

 Can be made 1 week ahead. Transfer to airtight container and chill.

4 slices whole grain bread
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
8 fresh mint leaves
4 fresh cilantro sprigs
4 ounces feta cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil then spread 2 tablespoons hummus. Top 2 bread slices with sliced cucumber, mint, and cilantro, dividing equally. Arrange slices of feta atop cilantro. Top each with second bread slice and press gently to compact slightly.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Seared Baby Eggplant with Mozzarella and Basil Oil

Local summer vegetables are so easy to come by right now, and I always look forward to going to the Green Market to get my weekly supply. One vegetable that is at its peak now is eggplant, and I was getting my weekly supply from the farmers each Saturday. Lately, however, Natalie has been providing us with beautiful Japanese and baby eggplants from her parents' garden. We're on an eggplant-eating kick now, so be prepared to see alot of eggplant recipes!

I found this one in a Vegetarian Times magazine, but I didn't have enough fresh basil to make the oil myself so I bought some Basil Olive Oil that I found at the Fresh Market. Also, none of the farmers had any leeks today, so I used scallions instead. Use the link above to use the original recipe: I am posting the modifications that I needed to make.

1 large baby eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 tbsp basil oil, divided
1/4 cup tightly packed basil leaves
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
fresh mozzarella, sliced into thick rounds
1 tbsp capers

1. Generously salt the eggplant slices and place in a colander to release the liquid for 45 minutes. Rinse, and pat dry.
2. Heat the basil oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant slices and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Flip the eggplant and add the white wine vinegar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the white wine vinegar has evaporated and the second side of the eggplant is lightly browned.
3. Meanwhile, finely chop the basil. 
4. To serve, place a small dollops of basil oil on the plate, and sprinkle each dollop with basil. top with mozzarella. Add a sprinkle of basil and a slice of eggplant to each piece of mozzarella and repeat this layering until you have run out of eggplant slices. Top each stack with basil, chopped scallions, and capers.

Serves 2

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Trifle

If you have noticed a pattern in the recipes in this blog, it's that the ingredients are rarely over-processed. This recipe does not fall into that pattern, so if this is not your thing, don't look! This is 99% over-processed goods that barely pass for food, but I don't care. This trifle is so easy to make and is a repeat crowd-pleaser. You could certainly put the homemade twist on this recipe by making your own cake and whipping your own cream. I'm sure it would taste heavenly, but I love the "throw it together" nature of the original recipe. 

Normally, the only berries in this trifle are blueberries but today is the 4th of July. I had to make it red-white-and-blue, so I topped it off with raspberries for the occasion. Also, the original recipe from Pampered Chef uses two packages of lemon pudding. I found that it was too much lemon, so substituting one of those packages with the cheesecake flavor helped to balance out the flavor better. I also doubled the amount of white chocolate because chocolate is not something that should you should be stingy about!

1 large frozen pound cake
2 lemons
1 & 1/2 cups milk
1 (12oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed
1 small package lemon instant pudding & pie filling
1 small package cheesecake flavored instant pudding & pie filling
2 to 3 clam shell packs blueberries (approx 1 pint)
4 squares (1 oz. each) white baking chocolate

1. Cut pound cake into 1-inch cubes; place in large colander bowl. Using a lemon Zester, make several lengthwise scores in one lemon, top to bottom; slice into 6 slices. Cut each slice in half and set aside for garnish. Zest remaining lemon using short strokes; set aside. Juice lemon. Sprinkle lemon juice over pound cake; toss . 
2. In a bowl, combine milk, sour cream, half of the whipped topping and reserved lemon zest; whisk until smooth. Add pudding mix; whisk until mixture begins to thicken. 
3. Set aside 12 blueberries for garnish. To assemble trifle, place 1/3 of the cake cubes into bottom of chilled bowl. Top with 1/3 of the blueberries. Grate 1/4 of the chocolate over blueberries. Top with of the pudding mixture, pressing lightly. Repeat layers 2 more times, reserving the remaining grated chocolate for garnish. Spread remaining pudding over entire top of trifle, creating a smooth surface. 
4. Attach open star tip to a decorator; fill with remaining whipped topping. Decorate by piping 12 rosettes around edge of bowl. Place one lemon slice between rosettes and one reserved blueberry on each rosette. Grate remaining chocolate in center. 

Serves 10