Friday, November 21, 2014

Tasty Pumpkin Treats

Spiced roasted pumpkin sandwiched between layers of oatmeal coconut pecan bar cookie.

When you're in the midst of a big project that requires some hands on but not constant attention, it's easy for you mind to wander. It's easy for your mind to wander to sweets.  With a recent cold snap I decided to get busy roasting all the pumpkin and pumpkin-like squash that had been hanging out on my porch.
Why aren't these squash in the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve? I'm glad you asked. It makes me think you've been paying attention each time I mention the SWSR, and I'm glad of it. I left these squash outside because they came from my garden and the varmints had nibbled them before I harvested. I wasn't sure if they would decay quickly because of the blemishes, so I kept them on the porch. They did fine.
Since I had so many large-ish squash I could only fit one pan in the oven at a time, and this was an all-day affair. Chop the squash in half, scoop out the guts to the compost bucket, place face down on a rimmed baking sheet, add a cup of water, bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour, poke to see if it's tender, take it out if it is/leave in for another 20 minutes if it's not, cool, scoop out the flesh, add the skin to the compost bucket, and repeat. Let the dog out every 30 minutes so he won't pee in the house, and empty the compost bucket while you're out there. Or just refer to this Processing a Pile of Pumpkins post from my first month blogging.

While craving something sweet and scooping endless cups of pumpkin flesh (I ended up with about 12-13 cups) I got a wild hair to replace the jam in my friend Lasar's Tasty Raspberry Treats with a sweetened pumpkin filling. While the last squash was baking I assembled the dough, and as soon as the pumpkin was tender I changed the oven temperature and popped the treats in to bake.  We sampled the first batch but I was already thinking of ways to change them. My second batch, for work, incorporated those changes and I liked them even more.

This recipe uses ¾ cup pumpkin puree and makes a 9 inch square baking pan. I like that size because it makes enough, but not too much, dessert for our family so we're not eating the same thing for days. If you're not blessed with a bunch of pumpkins from your garden or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share, canned plain pumpkin will jump right in as a good substitute.  If you're serving folks who aren't crazy about pumpkin pie--try this on them for size. It's more like a spiced bar cookie, with subtle pumpkin flavor, than an in-your-face pie.
I debated sharing this so close to Thanksgiving, so close to pumpkin overload, but decided I'd rather share a sweet than more turnip recipes.
Oh, and the other Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza I'd promised? It seems I'd forgotten to jot down the specifics of how I made the stuffing-flavored pizza dough. So I'll be making that again next week, for our Thanksgiving Leftover Remake Pizza, and I'll blog about it next year.

Have a cookie instead.

For more recipes using pumpkin, please see my Pumpkin Recipes Collection.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Turkey and Kale Divan

Has Kale Gone Mainstream?

If I'm combining kale and a can of cream of chicken soup in a casserole kale has surely gone mainstream.

This combination was not my idea--I credit my spouse for it. You see, his favorite casserole is Rice Casserole, or as it's known outside our family, JEN's Divine Turkey Divan. Our kids now make it, following the instructions on this blog, as one of their stock entrees.
When you first learned to read, re-reading beloved books helped you to develop reading fluency. In a similar way, making the same familiar recipe again and again can help beginning cooks to be comfortable in the kitchen.

With this thought in mind (that the kids could make dinner) I picked up all that was needed for Turkey Divan. I intended for the kids to make this while I was out of town, but instead I returned with a giant bag of kale from my Dad's garden only to find all the ingredients untouched and plenty of take out containers in the fridge. Harrumph. When I offered my spouse a choice between Fast CSA Greens and Pasta--to use up some kale--or Turkey Divan, he ask if it would work to substitute kale for the broccoli. He's a smart man.

There are 356 recipes posted on this blog. This is the 3rd one to use a can of cream of chicken soup but the 13th one using kale. Everything in moderation. For more recipes featuring kale, please see my Kale Recipe Collection.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Six Ingredient Spicy Mustard Greens Soup (in the Slow Cooker)

Spicy sausage, mustard greens and potato in a hearty slow cooker soup.

When the community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share give you a gallon-sized bag of mustard greens, you've got to get right on them. If you don't, you'll turn around one day to find 3 gallons of mustard greens jockeying for space with the cabbages, lettuces, spinach, and . . . . the next thing you know, you have Greens Paralysis. It's a common phenomenon.

When I was suffering from Greens Paralysis, as I posted on my FB page, it was primarily due to an excess of mustard greens and too few family dinners. At a recent Local Food Summit in my town I had the pleasure of listening to my farmer, George Mertz, talk about the benefits of joining a CSA. One that I wasn't expecting to hear, but absolutely agree with, is that joining a CSA will increase the number of times you'll sit down to a home-cooked meal. This easy home-cooked meal broke my Greens Paralysis. With just six ingredients it assembles quickly in the slow cooker.

Now, when I say 'only six ingredients' I'm not talking about ingredients like a cake mix and a can of pie filling. It's true, two of my six ingredients are chock full of other ingredients. Those would be the chorizo and V8 juice. [Actually, so is my chicken stock, now that I think on it. But I can pronounce all of these ingredients.] The sum of the parts of this soup, thanks to those multi-faceted ingredients, is superb. Like nearly all soups, it is better as a leftover on the second day. And anything that breaks my Greens Paralysis, that enables me to get my groove back with respect to my farm share, is very appreciated.

For other recipes using mustard greens, please see my Mustard Greens Recipe Collection which I will now run off and make.