Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What the heck do I do with...the seeds from my winter squash???

We are right in the heart of winter squash season....butternut, buttercup, acorn, spaghetti, Kabocha, delicata, hubbard....and the list goes on....I love them all.
But I think I like the seeds the best. They are like a little, extra added bonus so please don't throw them out; most people think only pumpkin seeds are for roasting, but the winter squash seeds are great for roasting as well.

Roasting the seeds is so easy, here's how you do it...
Here are some seeds from an acorn squash. They were removed from the squash and put into a strainer to wash.
These seeds happen to be particularly clean. Sometimes seeds come out with lots of gunk from the inside of the squash on them, and you just need to try your best to get it off. It works best to rub the seeds, under the running water, between your fingers and they will come clean.

After the seeds are washed, let them dry out a bit by spreading them out on a paper towel, then transfer to a baking sheet, lined with parchment or tin foil. Now it's time to flavor up the seeds and here is where you can get creative. Go basic, and drizzle the seeds with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and crushed pepper. Go for some spice and add in some chile powder and red pepper flakes. Go for warm spices with some cinnamon and cumin. Go for earthy and add some fresh chopped rosemary. Whatever your flavors are, make sure they are well distributed over the seeds by tossing the seeds in the oil and spices.
Bake the seeds at 325 or 350 for 15-20 minutes. After about 10 minutes, give the seeds a stir. The seeds will start to let you know when they are done because they will start to pop open and you'll hear them. Test them at this time by trying one or 2 seeds. They should be nicely browned, crunchy and toasty. If they need more time, let them go another couple minutes and try again.
Pull them, let them cool and enjoy!
That's it.
The seeds, as most seeds are, are packed with nutrients. Some stats on butternut squash seeds are as follows: one cup of roasted butternut squash seeds with olive oil and salt has 216 calories, 8.5 g protein, 19.2 g fat, no cholesterol, 297 mg sodium and 6.1 g carbs, 1.3 g of which is fiber.
They are rich in calcium and zinc and one cup is reported as having nine minerals, 13 vitamins, 18 amino acids and three fats.

So when you roast your next winter squash, save those seeds and roast them up. They make a great, healthy snack.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Double Duty Red Sauce

Last week, I decided to make a red sauce and split it into 2, using one to simmer some meatballs in, and the other to add chickpeas to for a veg option. I had some carrots left from Stillman's as well as some beautiful kale and broccoli that I needed to use up.
I started the sauce off in one pot and split off a portion of the sauce when I was ready to add in the meatballs. I sauteed garlic, carrots and onion in some extra virgin olive oil, added in diced tomatoes and oregano as well as the broccoli and kale and let that simmer for a bit while I made the meatballs.
The meatballs were made from a mix of pork and beef, Parmesan cheese, grated carrot and grated onion, a bit of extra virgin olive oil and S+P. After forming the meatballs, I dropped them in one of the pots of the simmering sauce to cook.
To the other pot of simmering sauce, I simply added in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas as well as a small, round pasta called Fregola. Fregola is a traditional pasta from Sardinia made from durum semolina wheat. It's got good protein (6g in 1/3 cup uncooked) and good fiber (2g in 1/3 cup uncooked).
Out of one batch of tomato sauce I was able to generate 2 hearty versions, a veg option as well as the meat eaters version with the meatballs.
I served the sauces with beautiful micro greens, red peppers and chopped purple cabbage, and with roasted Kabocha squash, (all from Stillman's as well). The meal was so vibrant. The flavors burst as we ate and it was a simple but very delicious meal.

Vegetarian version

Non-veg version

Roasted Kabocha

Lovely salad

Monday, October 24, 2011

What the heck do I do with....All these Apples????

How 'bout them apples??? and lots of 'em!!!

For a shaky growing season with hail, Irene and tons of rain, the apples here in MA are superb! It's truly a delicious season. We went apple picking last weekend and brought home tons of apples (that's on top of the apples that I already had from my CSAs)....
I made an apple pie last week and then over this weekend, I made a big pot of apple sauce.
I used a vegan store bought crust for the apple pie. The filling consisted of a blend of Cortlands, Ida Reds, Empires and Macouns (my favorite)....peeled, cored and sliced thin, I mixed them with a bit of unrefined cane sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, whole wheat pastry flour to bind the juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, pinch sea salt and dotted it with Earth Balance vegan buttery spread. I brushed the top crust with a mix of almond juice and maple syrup and did a very light sanding w.unrefined cane sugar. Yum, a success!

But what I really wanted to talk about today is apple sauce and how easy it is to make at home, as well as how much more delicious home made apple sauce is than any store bought version.
I used about 1/2 peck, which is about 15 apples give or take a couple. Again, peel, core and this time cut into dice. I used the same mix of apples as the pie and used almost the same ingredients as the apple pie filling. Here are rough estimates:
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup (Grade B)
pinch sea salt
2 TBS vanilla powder (if you don't have vanilla powder, use vanilla extract)
2 TBS cinnamon (or more if you'd like :) )
1 cup water
Combine all of the ingredients on the stove over medium heat, cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Stir occasionally. After about 10-15 minutes, remove cover and allow to simmer w.cover off. It will begin to thicken up as the apples break down. After about 30 minutes, use a potato masher to mash the apples up to the consistency that you like.
That's it.
So easy.
Other than some putchkie work to peel, core and cut the apples, it's hands free, and the rewards are great.

So please consider going to get some local apples and make some homemade apple sauce...you will be very glad you did.

Friday, October 7, 2011

CSA Round up

I have to say that this season has been one of my favorite CSA seasons. The combo of the small share from Stillman's and the every other week share from Newton Community Farm has worked out wonderfully; I managed the amount of produce very well, and I'm proud to say that I wasted very little.
Both farms have had their hard times with the weather this season, but both have produced amazing produce none the less....the past few weeks have given me crazy good broccoli, eggplant, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers (hot and sweet), greens (kale), celery, carrots, onions, apples, pears, plums, Concord grapes, and mixed herbs....gone are the pounds of tomatoes and ears of corn, but they were great while they lasted :)...enter in the beautiful winter squashes and I know fall is here.
It's a sad time of year for me because I know that soon, my weekly stock ups of local produce will come to a stop, and I'll have to shuffle back to (corporate) Whole Foods and surrender most of my (hard) earned dollars...sigh......oh well, but I digress....

What have I been making?

Sauce! With all the loverly tomatoes, I decided to make some sauce. I bolstered the protein by adding in some tofu as well. It created a creamy sauce, that was flavored with 2 things, garlic and basil.

I made some pasta and dressed with with the sauce, some hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and some green chard....mmmm...that's late summer in a bowl right there.....

With some of the sweet and hot peppers, onions and garlic, I did a quick plantain and Vaquero bean stew in my pressure cooker.
I've posted about Vaquero beans before, from Rancho Gordo, an amazing store out of Napa that is dedicated to saving heirloom bean as well as other cool ingredients like chile peppers and ancient grains from South America.
A big handful of cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice finished off the dish.

From our own garden, we've harvested a bunch of butternut squash, kabocha and pumpkin. I used a couple of the butternuts to make a hearty Lentil, Butternut and Kale soup; I also included a sweet potato in the mix....it was filling and delicious...

About once a week, I've been making 2 big sheet pans of roasted veggies. The possibilities are endless with roasted veggies...I've been using eggplants, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, red peppers, onions, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco....you get the idea.....for added protein, I like to add in chickpeas as well. All you do is chop the veggies into similar size dice, mix with some olive oil, S+P and fresh (or dried) herb of choice...roast at 425 degrees until caramelized....That's it...I eat the roasted veggies straight up, or as a topping for a grain or pasta. Here's some Brussels sprouts (yes, they grow on a stalk) that I used along with cauliflower, romanesco, chickpeas and shallots to roast...And have you heard of romanesco? It's a cross between broccoli and cauliflower and visually it's a beautiful veggie, looking like a mathematical fractile.

Here's a tray with sweet potato, broccoli, summer squash, eggplant, red onion and thyme.

From the fruit portion of my CSA from the Newton Community Farm, I've been getting the sweetest Concord grapes which I have been juicing...check out how purple the juice is...bursting with anthocyanins!!
From Stillman's farm, I bought a chunk of some wild Hen of the Woods mushroom, and sauteed it with shallots and thyme.

Lastly, I'll leave you with this image....it was a great CSA season and I'm sad to see it end...

Friday, September 9, 2011

CSA Report for the past few weeks!! :)

OMG, I apologize for not blogging sooner! I went away for a week, had the kids finish up camp and have nothing to do, had a hurricane and then went away for a short 5 day mini-vacay......between that and having to be a mom (an activity that never ends :)), I have been unable until now to wrap up what I've been making for about a month!!
So here we go.....much of the produce I used is still in season, so what you see here, you can still try out if you should choose to.....

First off, I need to say that I've been basking in steamed corn, roasted beets and eggplant and fresh sliced tomatoes (not to mention the outstanding peaches, plums, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries).... I can't get enough of them, really. Here's a round up of the produce that I've been getting from both Stillman's and the Newton Community Farm: corn, eggplant, lettuce, cucumbers, heirloom/cherry/field tomatoes, berries (straw, blue, rasp), arugula, beets, zucchini, summer squash, fresh herbs, broccoli, mixed hot peppers, bell peppers, potatoes, peaches, plums, melon, nectarines and mixed dark, leafy greens.

I've been dehydrating a good portion of the tomatoes that I've been getting, since each time I go to pick up my CSA, I'm taking home POUNDs of tomatoes at once, think 10 lbs at a time. I slice the tomatoes into 1/4-1/2 inch slices and place on dehydrator sheet, then dehydrate at 108 degrees for about 24hrs. The result is a super sweet, heavily concentrated "sun-dried" tomato that tastes out of this world.
With the eggplant, I've been roasting it, grilling it, and also making Baba Ghanoush with it...delish. I did a guest blog spot on The Food Yenta and wrote about my Miso Glazed Eggplant.....in case you missed it, I also posted it here: Miso Glazed Eggplant.
I made an awesome vegan "gratin" with thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. I layered them in a baking dish, sprinkled them with lemon juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast and basil. I baked it, covered, for about 45 minutes, then took the cover off for another 10 minutes or so. For a non-vegan version, Parmesan cheese works nicely here instead of the nutritional yeast.

I've been doing lots of grain and pasta salads with grilled, sauteed and/or roasted veggies. Here's Quinoa Pasta topped with sauteed broccoli and peppers, onions and roasted eggplant and squash. The veggies were so fresh that I didn't even need a "sauce", simply enjoying the flavor of each veggie against the pasta.

For a quick lunch, I sauteed some black beans with garlic and the cherry bomb peppers from Stillman's - holy heat batman!!! I added some cumin and lime juice, finishing them with cilantro and chard just to wilt it. Yeowee, those cherry bombs pack a punch!! Check out the pepper in the pic below. I served them homemade guac and brown rice.
Some of the amazing blueberries and strawberries made it into one of my "Smoothies of the Day"...the Cherry Berry, with cherries, blueberries, strawberries, almond milk and Udo's 3-6-9 Omega Oil blend....yum!
The potatoes were made into a couple batches of mashed potatoes - again, so delicious and simple.
The beet greens and cukes, along with carrots, apples, pears and lemon were made into green juice. Do you juice??? If not, you should...it's a super source of nutrients and energizes your body incredibly.
During Hurricane Irene, I made an Italian Chicago style braised beef with chuck steak from Stillman's, The Turkey Farm. I browned the beef, sauteed onions, shallots, garlic and carrots, deglazed with red wine (a red called Apothic Red, one of my current favorites), added a bit of broth, then simmered on low heat for a couple hours. OMG. YUM. Not to mention how the house smelled as it was cooking....downright delicious....
Ok, that's it for now...have more to report from this week....and will try to blog on that soon...
Till then, eat well!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Miso Glazed Eggplant

This was my guest blog that posted on the Food Yenta on August 22 :) Enjoy!

This week from my CSA I got a nice haul of eggplants....I actually got eggplants from both of my CSAs :) From the Newton farm, I got a variety known as Oriental type. They are smallish in size ~3 inches long, with a light purple and white skin.
Now when I think eggplant, I think umami. Umami is one of the five tastes with the others being salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. It can be thought of as the savory taste. Chemically, umami actually is the "taste" of the amino acid glutamate in it's salt form, and it's often referred to as earthy or meaty tasting.
Some common foods with umami are mushrooms, spinach, red wine, oysters and aged foods like Parmesan cheese and Thai fish sauce.
Eggplant itself doesn't have umami, but it pairs well to foods that do have it, such as miso.....miso is a fermented paste made most typically from soybeans as well as barley, chickpeas and other beans such as azuki. It is high in protein, vitamins and minerals and has a sweet, salty and earthy flavor. I love to use miso in dressings for salad, stir fries and soups.
Here, I use miso in a glaze for the grilled eggplant.
After cutting the eggplant in half, I put them on the grill, at a medium-high temperature and grilled them, turning once after about 3-4 minutes.
After the first flip, I started coating the eggplant in the miso glaze. I let the other side cook and flipped them again, coating the eggplant again in the glaze. I repeated this for a few more flips, for a few more minutes, until the eggplant was tender and the glistening with the miso glaze.
I gave the eggplant a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a bit of chopped tarragon to finish. They were succulent and full of earthy, salty flavor from the miso.
The best part about this recipe is that it's so easy....here it is :)
Miso Glazed Eggplant
6 small eggplants or 2 medium to large eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise if small, or into rounds if bigger
Miso Glaze
2-3 TBS miso...I used a white miso, which is sweeter, but really any miso would work well
1 TBS tamari, soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1-2 tsp honey or other sweetener of choice
Juice of 1 lemon, divided in half
2 tsp sesame seeds
1-2 tsp chopped parsley or other herb (I used tarragon because that is what I had in the house)

1. Prepare your grill to a medium-high temperature.
2. Prepare your miso glaze by adding the miso, tamari, honey and half of the lemon juice to a small bowl and whisking until combined.
3. Give your eggplant a light coating of olive oil and then place on the grill, grilling on one side for 3-4 minutes.
4. Flip your eggplant and brush with the miso glaze. Allow the eggplant to cook on the second side for another 2-3 minutes.
5. Flip again and brush with the glaze, and cook for another minute or 2. Repeat the flip and glaze a couple more times until the eggplant is cooked through and the glaze is caramelized.
6. Remove eggplant from the grill and sprinkle them with the remaining lemon juice, sesame seeds and chopped herbs.

This dish would be great with a sparkling wine such as a nice, cooled Prosecco.
So, try it out and get your glaze on :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CSA Report - Pickups 5/6,7

I'm not sure if I have my pick-ups correct for this blog....at this point of the CSA season all the pickups roll into one large produce fest...I become inundated w.produce and I freakout (if only momentarily)....I have to say I've been keeping up pretty well w.all the goods....there have been a few sacrificial cucumbers that didn't make it and some lettuce that has gone bad, but otherwise it's all good....now here's what we've (or I've) been eating for the past couple weeks. (Apologies up front about low quality photos....I'm using the iphone b/c my camera is out of commission)...

Here's what the take home was from the 2 farms...From Stillman's....arugula, rainbow chard, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, zukes, cukes, potatoes, cayenne peppers, poblano peppers, tomatoes, apricots, corn, green beans, basil
From Newton Community Farm.....carrots, basil, chard, parsley, onion, tomatoes, eggplant, cukes, corn

Well, right off the bat, I made another batch of pesto with the basil that I received from both farms. It's been great to have the pesto around all season...makes for an easy lunch with the pesto, tomatoes, greens and a grain or pasta...viola, instant lunch....
The blueberries, peaches, raspberries and apricots either got eaten or frozen down. Do you know how to freeze fruit? Simply give the fruit a rinse, cut if necessary and put on a baking sheet w.parchment or foil, then place in the freezer. Allow the fruit to freeze, then place into a freezer safe container or bag. You'll be psyched in the middle of the winter, I guarantee :)
With the carrots from Newton, we had a nice carrot and hummus session....delish.
The potatoes from Stillman's were used to make mashed potatoes w.my son Max, age 9, who is currently into exploring the kitchen.
With all the eggplant, I made a double batch of eggplant parm....the first batch was made using mozzarella cheese and my husband ate it up....the second and smaller batch was made using Daiya vegan mozzarella style shreds, a vegan cheese substitute product. It was my first time using it, and I was surprised at how creamy and flavorful it was.....
I ended up freezing half of that batch because I couldn't get through all of it.

5 ears of corn were turned into a nice vegan corn chowder, made also w.some of the potatoes and fennel from a prior pick-up.....I used So Delicious coconut creamer as the "cream" to make it luscious and it was really velvety with great corn flavor.
The rest of the corn was eaten straight up or grilled and made into my favorite dish of this post, a roasted poblano pepper and corn salad. I simply grilled both the corn and the poblanos. I let the poblanos rest for a bit, then peeled the skin off. I took the corn off the cob and mixed it w.the chopped poblanos, gave the mix a squeeze of lime juice, a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some S+P. It was DELICIOUS. I put it in a burrito that I filled with homemade refried beans and rice, and topped it with homemade guacamole (which I used some of the tomatoes to make).
Refrieds are easy to make....no lard used here...saute some minced garlic and onion in some oil of choice, add in bean of choice (in this case, pinto), some ground cumin and S+P, then get some elbow grease going w.your potato masher... To thin out the beans as you go, you can add a stock of choice or even just some water as needed....You can add other spices as you see fit. I was hoping I could fool the kids into thinking these beans came from our local Mexican joint that we go to, but no go :( I liked them :)
The zucchini were made into Chocolate Zucchini bread. I made 1 full size loaf and 3 mini "cakes" to give to a client as well as to the farmer that grew the zukes ;)...the recipe can be found on FB on my Thyme To Cook page (see banner above)......
I've been going through a little sandwich stint over the past couple of weeks, so the cayenne peppers, and some lettuce and kale from the last pick up were made into some sammies, along w.the sunflower sprouts that I grew.
First off I need to say that the cayenne peppers were HOT, smoking HOT, but with great flavor. They were almost addictive. I wanted, no I needed more, even though my lips were tingling w.heat....so good. They were what made each sandwich really a notch more delicious.
First off a Tofurkey sandwich on toasted Ezekiel bread w.lettuce, sunflower sprouts, cayenne peppers and some veganaise. You could obviously use a meat of your choice.....
Next up, w.no picture unfortunately...the TLT.....a Tempeh, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich with "tempeh bacon", lettuce, sunflower sprouts, cayenne peppers and tomatoes on Ezekiel bread, also with veganaise.
Lastly, a hummus wrap on lavash with a kale, hemp seeds, cayenne peppers and sunflower sprouts.
The green beans, parsley, tomatoes and some chives from my yard made it into a neat little side dish to accompany some grilled sausage and hamburgers, along w.some quinoa. I dressed the salad in a simple red wine vinegar vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, a touch of honey, S+P.
And last but certainly not least, I made an Asian cucumber salad to use up some of the cukes and hot peppers. The dish accompanied some grilled lamb and beef.....all the meats came from Stillman's, The Turkey Farm....
I hope you're inundated with as much awesome, local and seasonal produce as I am!