Are you ready for the onslaught of pumpkin recipes??? Now that zucchini season is winding down my thoughts turn to pumpkins, squash and apples. I haven’t made it out to the orchards for apple picking just yet, so pumpkin it is!
I found some beautiful heirloom varieties at the farmer’s market, which I’ll use to make a simple dessert (perhaps a custard?) in which the pumpkin really sings. And, my grocery store ran a sale on organic canned pumpkin last week so I stocked up to use in recipes where the taste of pumpkin (and possibly tin) is more muted. Think muffins, bread, and pancakes.
I have never perfected the timeless art of roasting a chicken. I can handle a turkey (perhaps because everyone’s expectations of the bird are pretty low, let’s be honest). But roasted chicken has me stumped. I’ve tried numerous can’t-miss recipes (techniques really) and I still failed. Usually they come out undercooked, so I put them back in the oven and let it go a little longer, which turns out to be too long. Dry chicken. Boo!
I’ve roasted whole birds on a rack and on a bed of root vegetables and a rack over a bed of root vegetables. I’ve slid butter and herbs under the skin (ew!), roasted it breast side up and breast side down, and even flipped it part way through. Stuffed it. Left the cavity empty. You name it, I’ve tried it. To no avail.
With breast meat that tends to dry out and thigh meat that determines the proper cooking temperature, I feel like the deck is stacked against me. It’s like betting against the house in Vegas – I’m gonna lose, it’s just a matter of how badly.
I love a hot breakfast. During the week we rely on homemade muffins and oatcakes stashed in the freezer, and oatmeal cooked on the stovetop or in the slow cooker (the recipes for which I will eventually post). But on the weekends I like to make something that I wouldn’t have time to do during the week. Something that has us lingering around the table in our pajamas and feeling the sheer joy of a leisurely Saturday morning. Continue reading Maple-lime yogurt sauce→
I had in my mind that I didn’t like minestrone. I probably got that idea from the numerous cans of it I’ve eaten over the years, with their suspicious cubed carrots and potatoes. All the chunks have the same texture, except the beans, which are mealy. And the taste of tin pervades each bite. Restaurant soup, with few exceptions, isn’t much better. It tastes like nothing more than tomato, holds no surprises, and is still a bit tinny. So I was convinced minestrone itself was deeply flawed.
This weekend a cold took me down like a lion fells a gazelle. It snuck up from behind, bit me in the ass and laid me flat. Like that poor wounded animal I kept trying to get up and escape my fate. In my case it was to attend to my family and home, trying to carry on as usual, but I ended up splayed out and whimpering shortly after each attempt.
Before I succumbed completely, I did manage to whip up a quick broth-based soup with noodles and veggies. The broth I made last week never made it into the freezer, so it was easy to just dump in some chopped carrots, celery and kale and a handful of tiny pasta. Man, did that taste good. And it made me feel better, too.
Last week a friend swung by to pick me up for a moms’ night out and brought with her a bag of chile peppers – jalapeno and Serrano to be precise. “Someone gave these to me, and I figured you could do something with them, right?” she offered, ominously. I don’t eat anything spicier than mild Taco Bell sauce, but who am I to refuse free food, if that’s what you call this stuff. Continue reading Pickled peppers→
Quiche is one of my go-to recipes for an easy dish that works for breakfast, lunch or dinner (aka, a BLD). It’s nutritious and tasty, while being affordable and quick. Quiche is also very versatile. Eggs and milk are the foundation, and you can add to them any combination of savory ingredients you like: cheddar and onion, broccoli and prosciutto, mushrooms and goat cheese… You get the idea. For all those reasons quiche is a winner in my book. Continue reading Crustless quiche→
Recently I inherited a package of pre-cooked lentils when my sister left for a business trip. I’m not sure if she thought they’d expire while she was away (they wouldn’t have) or was just taking pity on my family while we conducted a $200/month grocery experiment (read all about it next week!). Either way, I gratefully accepted them, and then privately scoffed the frivolity of her purchase. Lentils are so easy and inexpensive to prepare. Plus, our mom’s lentil salad is one of my sister’s favorites, and I promise you that recipe does not start with pre-cooked lentils. What could she have been thinking?
I couldn’t imagine buying those little vacuum-sealed packs. However, they were delicious. They had been simmered with a variety of herbs that gave them a lovely flavor. But most importantly they were a wonderful variety (French, I think). Small, firm, black. Like vegan caviar. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. But still, they were great. A little balsamic vinegar and olive oil really made them sing. The only sour note (aside from my ugly moment of judginess) Continue reading Lentil soup→
I’m not sure whether it’s because of the busy schedules, getting dark early, or the slight nip in the air, but the beginning of fall reminds me to bust out my slow cooker. (They are actually a great way to cook in the summer, too, because they don’t heat the kitchen too much, but we tend to crave the fresher taste of quick cooking on the grill or stovetop in summer. When fall rolls around again, I want to return to the slow cooking taste of stews and other hearty dishes that have been gently cooking all day.
But this is not one of those recipes. No, this is yogurt. And it’s so simple you won’t believe it. The only tricky part is finding a day you are home long enough to attend to it periodically. It requires only a few minutes here and there (shown below in parentheses), but the timing matters. Let me break it down with an example: Continue reading Homemade yogurt: Another great use for a slow cooker→