Archive for November, 2010

pumpkin chocolate chip bars

Thanksgiving is over and I apologize if you came here looking for a light, post-holiday recipe. This is not it. This is, however, a recipe for any bits of leftover pumpkin you have lying around. By “lying around” I really mean properly refrigerated leftover pumpkin. By “bits” I mean at least 1 cup of pureed pumpkin – canned is fine.

I love Thanksgiving. No holiday better encompasses what enjoying food means than Thanksgiving: gathering together with friends and loved ones, eating lovingly prepared/purchased food together, and giving thanks for it all. I love it.

My immediate family gets together with my dad’s side of the family either in Iowa or Indiana. We spend at least two full days together, eating too much, laughing a lot, and listening to my dad and his brother (my uncle) be alternately grumpy/crass/hilarious/nostalgic. The food is tasty, the company is nice, and it is generally just a fun, relaxing time.

Unless you have the flu. Which I had. This year. I won’t go into details (and I’m doing much better), but nothing ruins a holiday built around food and friends/family than wanting to do nothing but sleep.

So that was my holiday – hopefully yours was better. And, again, if you have any leftover pureed pumpkin and didn’t get enough dessert last week, mix up these delicious, slightly spicy, sweet and chocolate-y bars. I first had them when my cousin (hi Emily!) made them for her house-warming party a few weeks ago. I then made them for a party I had a couple of weeks ago and they will fill your kitchen and abode with the best smell. If you make them, you will be happy you did.

pumpkin-chocolate-chip-squares from Martha Stewart

makes about 24 bars

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice

1 1/2 t. cinnamon

3/4 t. ginger

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/2 t. allspice

1/2 t. cloves (you could substitute the above spices for 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, which I do not have)

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

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cranberry walnut bread

My birthday was last week and I indulged in a little too much delicious cake. A coworker also celebrated her birthday last week and I brought in this sweet breakfast bread for her, and also as an antidote to all of the sweet baked goods I had been consuming.

This cranberry and walnut-laced bread would also make an excellent breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. The cranberries are festive and seasonal and would provide a light start to the food-fest of the day.

The bread comes together quickly and is full of healthful, tasty things. If you can’t find flax seed or don’t have it lying around (I didn’t), I’ve heard you can just leave it out.

I hope you and your family have a tasty and happy Thanksgiving.

“Cranberry Nut Loaf” from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. flour

1/3 c. flax seed meal (or grind whole flax seeds in spice grinder or in a food processor)

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1 egg

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. orange juice

1/4 c. oil

2 T. grated orange  zest

1 t. vanilla

1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (do this in a food processor, the cranberries will be hard to chop with just a knife and a cutting board)

1/2 c. chopped walnuts, toasted if you like

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Mix the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, flour, flax seed meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) together in a large bowl – whisking to keep the mixture light.

Whisk the wet ingredients (egg, sugar, orange juice, oil, orange zest, and vanilla) in a separate bowl.

Add to dry ingredients and mix until everything is moistened. Do not over-mix!

Fold in cranberries and the nuts.

Spread evenly into a greased 9 X 5-inch loaf pan.

Bake until the top is golden, about 55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn loaf onto rack to cool completely before slicing.


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split pea soup

I had the foresight to make this soup a couple days before going out of town for a week. I hate going out of town for a week, eating out frequently, then coming back home to a bare refrigerator, causing me go out to eat even more. So I made this soup before leaving, and froze half to enjoy when I returned. It was perfect. It froze well and reheated well and was certainly better than going out for yet another lunch.

This soup would also make an easy, light dinner to have in the midst of Thanksgiving prep and calorie-palooza. The relatively short, inexpensive list of ingredients results in a surprisingly complex, rich-tasting  soup that makes a perfect lunch. I imagine you could leave the ham hocks out for a completely vegetarian meal – just increase the amount of the other seasonings.

And no, the photo above is not the completed soup – it is the soup pre-water and split peas… I failed to take pictures of the final product. Apparently I have only so much foresight – io instead magine a thick, smooth, golden soup.

“Easy Split Pea Soup” from Epicurous

2 T. butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery – about 3 stalks

1 cup chopped peeled carrots – about 3 carrots (a little more or less won’t hurt)

1 1/2 lbs. smoked pork hocks, probably 2 hocks total

2 t. dried oregano

1 1/2 dried split peas, rinsed and drained

8 c. water

salt and pepper

Melt butter in large pot  over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add ham hocks and oregano. Stir for 1 minute. Add peas, then water, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover pot; simmer soup until meat and veggies are tender peas are falling apart, stirring often, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Transfer hocks to bowl. Puree 5 cups soup in batches in blender or food processor. Return to pot. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. I ended up adding more pepper than salt because the ham hocks add quite a bit of salt.

You can also cut some of the meat from the hocks. I skipped this step because I find it pretty difficult to do.

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italian vegetable stew

I apologize for leaving you hanging, dear readers. I got sick, then was out of town for work, then had some party-planning to do. But I am back… for this week at least. Next week is Thanksgiving and I’ll be going out of town again. This time  I’ll be headed west to Iowa.

In case you need a satisfying, light dish to consume in between pre-holiday/ Thanksgiving treats, this is a good, seasonal soup to try. The kale and squash are cheap and easy to find this time of year – and the soup is healthy, yet hearty and flavorful. There is a lot of chopping involved – so be prepared.

“Italian Vegetable Stew,” from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

Serves 6

3. chopped onions

1 1/2 t. salt

2 T. olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 t. ground coriander

1/2 t. dried thyme

1/4 t. black pepper

2 c. water

2 c. peeled and seeded butternut squash, diced

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 c. diced carrots

5 c. chopped kale

1 T. chopped fresh basil

2 t. red wine vinegar

In a soup pot, cook the onions and salt over medium-high heat until they are very soft and begin to caramelize, 12-15 minutes.

Add the garlic, coriander, thyme, and pepper. Stir for a minute, then add water, squash, chickpeas, tomatoes and carrots. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the kale.

Cover the pot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the kale is tender, but still bright green. Stir in basil and vinegar.

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chipotle pinto beans

First, have you voted yet dear reader? If not, go. Now. Do your civic duty.

Now back to food.

This is not a very attractive dish, as evidenced by the photo above, but it is a warming and satisfying one.

I was all set to make this on the Sunday I returned from eastern Kentucky (you can read about my trip here). I was so determined to make it, I even had my cooking-averse boyfriend soak the beans the night before. Instead of cool fall day in early October, the chipotle pinto bean Sunday turned into a hot day. I made the beans anyway, and they were great.

After a little chopping, you just throw everything into a large soup pot and let it bubble away for over an hour. This mean is also super cheap and makes at leas 6 servings. I turned leftover beans into delicious cheese and bean quesadillas later on in the week.

These can also be vegetarian if you want. The original recipe does call for a ham hock, which adds a ton of smokey, salty flavor. You could leave it out though.

Chipotle Pinto Beans, from Simply in Season, by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert

1 lb. dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed

2 c. tomatoes, chopped

1 c. chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 t. ground cumin

1 t. chili powder

1 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

1 ham hock

The night before, cover the beans with water and let soak overnight. Drain. Add fresh water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add everything else and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the beans are tender.

When you lower the heat, this would be the time to remove the chipotle pepper for a milder dish. I left it in, resulting in a spicy, smokey stew.

It could take over an hour for the beans to become tender. After about 30 minutes, begin testing the beans every 10 minutes or so.

When tender, discard the ham hock, salt to taste and serve in bowls with corn bread or tortillas.

Keeps well for several days and makes great quesadillas or nachos for leftovers.

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