Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin soup, risotto with pumpkin and sage. You could say we are in full Pumpkin mode over here.
The only thing more fun than carving a pumpkin is getting to blow it up.
Here are a few quick recipes for Halloween weekend.
Our day began with pumpkin pancakes and sliced Asian pears. There was no time to fry bacon or sausage, since my little skeleton's mask needed stitches, but that would be so good alongside the pancakes.
This recipe is a great way to utilize some extra pumpkin puree you may have stashed in your refrigerator.
If there are pancakes leftover, just freeze them for popping in the toaster later as an after school snack, smeared with apple butter.
Pumpkin pancakes with pears.
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, formerly known as Great Pumpkin Cookies, are possibly the very first cookies I ever made, at the age of 8 from my "Peanuts Cookbook", circa 1969. They are still on my top ten list of all-time favorite cookies, and the most requested cookie recipe I have. In fact, a doctor I worked with 15 years ago recently tracked me down to get my pumpkin cookie recipe!
This recipe has been in my files for many years. It appears to have been clipped from a vintage Martha Stewart Living magazine.
If it is just too much trouble to measure out all these spices early in the morning, simplify your life and substitute 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice instead. My breakfast shift starts at 6:00 am, so if I know I'll be making these pancakes, I measure the dry ingredients the night before.
You will need 2 mixing bowls. Melt the butter first, so it can cool while you prepare the rest of the batter.
If you must, sprinkle the pancakes with mini chocolate chips.
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Spices: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves. OR substitute 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice.
- 1 egg
- 6 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
- 2 Tbsp. melted butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
- Melt the butter on low power in the microwave and set aside to cool.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with the spices.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg, pumpkin, butter, and milk.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a pat of butter until it sizzles.
- Using a 1/4 cup scoop, drop the pancake batter onto the skillet. Sprinkle with chocolate chips if you must. Fry until toasty brown on each side.
- Serve with maple syrup, sliced apples or pears, sausage or bacon. A dusting of confectioner's sugar is always a nice touch.
Don't be tempted to make the pancakes too big; they may not cook all the way through. The two on top are just the right size.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 5 dozen cookies. The dough keeps well in the refrigerator for about one week, or in the freezer for up to three months. Baked cookies freeze well, too.
This recipe and many others, such as Red Baron Root Beer, can be found in the "Peanuts Cookbook".
- 2 1/4 cups flour (if you are below 5000 ft., reduce by 1/4 cup)
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1 scant cup granulated sugar (one cup and a little less)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup mini or regular semisweet chocolate chips
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
- Using a standing mixer, or by hand, cream the butter with the sugar.
- Add the egg and the pumpkin puree and mix well.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.
- Add the chocolate chips.
- If you have time, chill the dough for about 1 hour.
- Scoop up a teaspoon of dough, and roll it into a ball. Place on lined or greased cookie sheets. OR, if you did not have time to chill the dough, just drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-12 minutes. Watch carefully after 8 minutes. Cookies are done when they are lightly browned on the bottom, and no longer soft on top.
Chilled, rolled dough makes a better looking cookie.
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Happy Halloween!
Dear Great Pumpkin. I am looking forward to your arrival on Halloween night. I hope you will bring me lots of presents. Everyone tells me you are a fake, but I believe in you. P.S. If you are a fake, please don't tell me. I don't want to know. Love Linus Charles M. Schulz
Opening Day on Teton Pass.
The snow showed up right on time like it's supposed to in Jackson Hole; it always snows by Halloween around here. We haven't been able to ski for four months, and most of us were ready and waiting.
My plan was to cook something that would permeate the house with delicious smells, to celebrate our first big snowstorm. A hearty one-dish chicken curry with rice, served with fresh bread from La Canasta del Pan, and a green salad with roasted vegetables. That's a meal fit for the first real snow of the season.
The fresh snow was calling me, so I had to work fast to make my curried chicken and rice. First, I splurged on the best chicken I could find, and cut it into large bite-sized chunks.
Then, I chopped up 4 cloves of my favorite garlic, from Ted Wells' Alpenglow Farm over in Victor, Idaho. Two heaping tablespoons should be good. A chopped onion, a few cups of rice, chicken broth, and of course curry powder.
If you have to dust off your jar of curry powder, purchased during the Bush administration, you might want to invest in a fresh lot. Stale curry powder can ruin a dish. Pungent, fresh, complex curry powder with just the right spice blend will make your chicken curry sing.
This curry powder was foraged from a street market in New York by my friend Cindee.
Fry the onions and garlic in canola oil. Add the curry powder. Sear the chicken pieces and set aside. Fry the rice. Dump it all into a large pot and simmer in chicken broth for about an hour.
The only problem was that I needed to go skiing. The sun was starting to peak through the storm, and if it came out in full force it would ruin the snow. The powder would get heavy, and the spell would be broken. I needed to get out there, curry or no curry.
The recipe clearly states that the rice, broth, chicken and onion mixture should be gently simmered for about 1 hour, while stirring it now and then. Not wanting to pause my cooking project, I made the executive decision to dump it all into the Crock Pot, set it to low, and go skiing.
Onions, garlic and curry powder.
Chicken pieces searing in the curry.
Jasmine rice getting toasty and brown.
Expectations were low as we drove to the top of Teton Pass. After all, it is only October, the time when foolish skiers desperate for powder ruin skis and blow out knees on an insufficient base of snow.
How was the skiing? Let's just say my skis never touched a rock or a log. The powder was light and effortless, "ego snow" as they say. The day was cold but balmy. On my third lap skiing down an unbelievably untracked bowl of powder, the chicken curry did cross my mind. Will the Crock Pot make the rice all gummy, or dry it out? Had I stayed out too long?
Believe it or not, I am worrying about my curry.
Number 1 Ski Buddy Chris, measuring the snow pack.
We brought Mountain Man along to break trail for us.
I did come home to the beautiful smell of onions, garlic, and curry. It smelled amazing, but as I had feared, the Crock Pot had turned my curry into a goopy mess. That didn't stop us from scarfing it down for lunch, and then dinner, but I know I can do better. When I get the curried chicken and rice dish perfected, I'll be sure to post it for you all.
Curried chicken with rice; not as fluffy as I'd intended.
Happy winter, everyone.
In the meantime, I will share the recipe for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake I made to redeem myself from the curry debacle. This cake always turns out well, and it is definitely a crowd pleaser. It is especially loved by children, and anyone with a soft spot for chocolate chip cookies. And because it is a Bundt cake, it is a lot of fun. Enjoy.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
This makes two cakes if you use 9 by 5 inch loaf pans, or one Bundt cake. If you have a Bundt pan, I would highly recommend using it.
I believe this recipe came from one of those pamphlets sold by the Nestle company, to help you find more uses for Nestle chocolate chips (as if you need help with that!) I have adapted if for high altitude baking. If you live below 5000 feet, reduce the flour by 1/4 cup.
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 cups mini chocolate chips (Nestle makes these) or regular semisweet chips (sorry Nestle but Guittard is my favorite).
- Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.
- Generously grease and flour the pan.
- In one bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
- In another bowl, or a standing mixer, beat the butter with the granulated sugar until well mixed. Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk until everything is blended.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 65-75 minutes. The cake is done when the top is golden brown, and a wooden skewer comes out dry.
- Cool completely, then invert onto a plate. Dust with confectioner's sugar.
I was making Peanut Butter Banana Bread last week when this moose and her young calf camped out in front of my kitchen window.
Making themselves at home a few feet from our front door.
This young moose is putting a big dent in our shrubs.
It is always a treat to see moose up close and personal, although I prefer not to bump into them while out mountain biking or hiking, or when I am taking out the garbage. They can be very aggressive, and have been known to charge and gore if if they feel threatened.
These moose were content to lounge in our front yard, standing every few hours to scrape the bark off the aspen trees, and denude the shrubs of their tender leaves.
They'd walk over to my garden and start foraging on the carrot tops, but my Solar Molars must have scared them away (vibrating devices that spike into the garden soil to deter voles from feasting on what's growing).
Then they'd plop down in the backyard, next to the soccer goal, rendering it impossible to go outside and play.
Meanwhile, I was doing something fairly radical to banana bread: adding peanut butter to the batter, and frosting it with a peanut butter glaze.
My kids were excited about the prospect of frosted banana bread. They have heard tales of the brownies my mother made when I was little, which she always smeared with chocolate frosting to equal the depth of the brownies. I do not frost my brownies, or much else for that matter, except for birthday cakes, and then not liberally.
It is getting a bit nippy in the mornings, as you can see by the moose's frosty backs.
Even though I don't like bananas, I love to snack on moist, sweet, and perfectly baked banana bread. My collection of banana bread recipes includes a chocolate chip and crystallized ginger rendition, and another variation with a cinnamon sugar topping (http://www.orangette.blogspot.com/
); Molly Wizenberg has a thing for banana bread too. My everyday banana bread with oats comes from Jackson Hole Cooks!
by Rebecca Woods.
This peanut butter take on basic banana bread comes from the talented people at Cooking Light. It may be my favorite, and it doesn't even involve chocolate.
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Adapted from the October 2010 issue of Cooking Light, I have tweaked this recipe so that it works at altitude. High altitude bakers can usually turn out a successful banana bread with very little adjustments, but adding a bit more flour will keep the middle from coming out gummy.
I have made this with and without flaxseed with equally good results. Flaxseed, if you have some on hand, will give the bread a tasty crunch and lots of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids. But don't make a special trip to town to get some, your Peanut Butter Banana Bread will be just as nice without it.
If you have some almond meal, you may add substitute 1/2 cup for the same amount of flour. Almonds are so good for you that I like to add them whenever I can. It will give the banana bread a marzipan-like sweetness.
This recipe makes 2 large or 4 small loaves. The way I figure, if you're going to make banana bread, make enough to freeze some for later.
For the Bread:
For the Glaze:
- 3 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5)
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- scant 1 cup of sugar (meaning 1 cup and a little less)
- scant 1 cup packed brown sugar (ditto)
- 3 1/4 cups flour (use 3 cups if you are below 5000 ft.)
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed, also called flaxseed meal (or not, see above)
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- cooking spray or butter to grease the pans
- Optional: substitute 1/2 cup almond meal for 1/2 cup of the flour.
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
Perfectly baked loaves will be golden brown on top, and no longer wet in the middle when tested with a skewer.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease the pans with butter, or spray them with cooking oil.
- With a mixer or by hand, combine the mashed bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, melted and cooled butter, and the eggs.
- Add the sugars and mix well.
- Carefully measure the flour by first scooping it into dry measuring cups and then leveling off with a knife.
- Add flaxseed meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice to the flour and mix well.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients, and stir until just blended.
- Pour batter into 2 greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, or 4 greased 5 x 2 1/2 in loaf pans.
- Bake at 350 for 1 hr 5 minutes for large pans, 45-55 minutes for small pans. Keep checking for doneness 10 minutes before these times with a small wooden skewer. Baking times can vary depending on how hot your oven runs. (An oven thermometer is especially handy for accurate baking).
- Make the glaze: use a whisk to combine the powdered sugar, milk and peanut butter. Drizzle over the banana bread once it has cooled.
- To freeze, wrap each banana bread in plastic wrap, then foil. For best result, glaze after defrosting.
Who gouged the nice crusty brown top off my fresh loaf???
No, I did not give the moose some Peanut Butter Banana Bread. This is the real West, not the childhood storybook If You Give a Moose a Muffin. But I was tempted to throw a loaf at them to get them to move on, especially after they charged my son on his way home from school.
It was great fun having the moose visit, until I needed to get out of the garage...
making me late to meet the school bus.
and when Jack was charged while walking home from school, we were happy to see their backsides.
I am feeling pretty smug today. My son turned 10 this week, and as per our family tradition, he requested the birthday dinner of his dreams.
He knew exactly what he wanted: Pasta alla Carbonara. With Kale. Kale. I love kale, could eat if every day, and have been trying to convert my mostly vegetable-averse children to my kale ways for years.
I see this as a triumph of sorts, and I know that I have my friend Silvia to thank.
Silvia with a platter of sopes at Frontera Grill, Chicago.
For a long time, my kale dishes were all wrong. I cooked it too long; I added a sauce; the kale was just not good in my hands.
Then, while staying with Silvia in Chicago, she whipped up a quick saute of kale in olive oil with salt that was fresh, flavorful and just perfect.
When I added the sauteed kale to my favorite Carbonara recipe, the crispy kale nicely complemented the creamy pasta and the salty prosciutto.
Nick really wanted this sled dog puppy for his birthday.
Nick wanted this puppy too.
But we already have our hands full with Rosie, who thinks she's a bear.......
And Gunner, always looking for a soft spot to lounge.
This is not the healthiest dish around, for sure, but I do believe that the benefits of kale more than make up for the decadent amount of cream. I'd rather have my kids eat Pasta alla Carbonara with Prosciutto and Kale than mac and cheese from a box. (Not that there's anything wrong with that; we eat it more than I'd care to admit).
I have tried many times to cut back on the amount of saturated fat in this recipe, only to be met with two thumbs down by the Taste Testers. Cutting back on the number of eggs, replacing the heavy cream with half-and-half or whole milk, and reducing the Parmesan cheese are all tactics I have tried.
The fully loaded version is better, by far, so I would recommend that if you are going to make Pasta Carbonara, make a true Pasta alla Carbonara as the Romans intended. It is a special occasion dish in our house. Happy Birthday Nick!
Meet Nick's birthday present, Cabbie the Tortoise. She likes kale too!
Welcome to Jackson Hole, Cabbie. Watch out for Gunner and Rosie!
If you don't have any kale, don't let that stop you from making Pasta alla Carbonara with Prosciutto and Peas. Just add a 1/4 cup of frozen peas to the hot pasta before tossing with the sauce. The sweet peas complement the sauce nicely.
Nick, Henry and Will working up an appetite. Photo by Susan Lykes.
Pasta alla Carbonara with Prosciutto and Kale
Jamie Oliver is a British chef who creates simple, amazing Italian dishes. This recipe was inspired by his Sausage and Zucchini Carbonara. If you have an iPhone, you will want to check out his app: Jamie Oliver 20 Minute Meals. I use it just about every day.
Lacinato Kale was the best looking kale at the market this week. It also goes by the names Tuscan kale, cavolo nero, and Dinosaur kale.
You will need a large pot to boil the pasta, a frying pan for the proscuitto and kale, and another bowl for the sauce. This will feed 4 very hungry people, or 6 who are not so ravenous.
Remove the woody stalk before thinly slicing the leaves.
- 4 oz prosciutto, sliced thin and cut into strips (or bacon, but proscuitto is a tad leaner)
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. spaghetti or fettucine (I like De Cecco dried pastas)
- 4 large eggs, the freshest you can find
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 bunch kale, stem removed and thinly sliced, then dried with a kitchen towel, or 1/4 cup frozen peas
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add 1 Tbsp coarse salt and cover. Add pasta once it's at a rolling boil, stir and watch closely. Cook until al dente.
- In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil, then add strips of proscuitto. Saute until prosciutto is starting to get crispy. Set aside.
- Using the same frying pan, add another 2 Tbsp. olive oil and heat on a medium setting. Add kale, saute for about 5 minutes, or until it is just starting to get crispy. Add a heavy pinch of sea salt, and set aside with the prosciutto.
- Take your eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. You will only need the yolks for this dish. Place them in a large bowl.
- Use a whisk or a fork to beat in the heavy cream. Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
- When your pasta is just al dente, scoop out a cupful of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta in a colander.
- Add the hot pasta to the egg/cream/cheese sauce. Toss well. If you are using frozen peas, add them now.
- If the pasta is too dry, add a bit of the pasta water and toss again.
- Toss the pasta with the reserved kale and prosciutto. Grind on some pepper and serve immediately, with Parmesan cheese on the side.
If you have any kale leftover, add it to scrambled eggs with a drizzle of olive oil and a sliced tomato for a great breakfast.
Pasta alla Carbonara with Prosciutto and Kale.
It was sad to see the Westside Store and Deli close this month. After 30 years, it was an institution in my neighborhood.
Top Ten Things We'll Miss About the Westside Store and Deli:
- Riding bikes with the kids to get a 10 cent soft-serve ice cream cone.
- Finding treasures in the frozen food case; once I found a gallon of locally foraged huckleberries for $12.
- Patrick, Steve, Rolando and all the other checkers. They always carried my groceries out to the car when I was having neck and back problems.
- Overly ripe bananas for sale, for impromptu banana bread baking.
- Homemade guacamole that reminded me of the Yucatan.
- Jeff the Butcher, who would let me come in the back and show him how I wanted my tenderloin cut up.
- Homemade Chili, which was served many nights when I was too tired to cook.
- Splurging on the latest Oxo gadget.
- Amaretti cookies always in stock.
I may have mentioned that my friends are very talented home cooks. So when I needed a hearty lunch to fill up a few bird hunters coming over to stalk pheasants, I asked Chris to bring some soup. She was game, literally. She'd bring some elk stew.
When I told her we were expecting, um, 26 or so friends, she didn't even flinch. Now that's a good buddy.
Chris sporting neon pink, a nice alternative to blaze orange. Photos by Susan Lykes.
Chris' Elk Stew is a classic fall dish, earthy with sauteed mushrooms, and rich with red wine. Her husband's elk was hunted and harvested with care, and the meat was delicious. It pays to be married to a Mountain Man, who can keep the family supplied with lean game meat.
Wild game is tasty and healthy, and many Wyoming men (and women) spend the Fall season stalking elk, deer, or moose. My Mountain Man harvested a Big Horn Sheep last month, but more on that later.
Being married to a Mountain Man does have its perks.
Ted and his 'soon-to-be-famous' dog Pukka.
Baby Elizabeth's first hunting trip.
Casey tracking the elusive pheasant.
Chris, Casey and Carrie, looking like serious hunters.
There go the Mountain Men, stalking pheasants.
Having lunch already made freed me up to prepare a feast for later. Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Chanterelles and Fried Sage. Cider-Maple Glazed Pork Roast. Potato-Fennel Gratin. Greens with pears, caramelized pecans and a Maple-Soy Vinaigrette. Apple Crostata. But more on that later.
The Elk Stew could be make with venison, moose, sheep or bison. If you don't have access to a Mountain Man, you could use beef chuck roast.
Chris says the secret to tender game is to sear it first in a frying pan, then stew it in the Crock Pot all day. She makes a "kid-friendly" version by leaving out the mushrooms. Served with buttered noodles, the Elk Stew was rich and hearty, perfect for a crisp Fall day of bird hunting.
Elk Stew with Mushrooms and Wine
Serves 6, and is easily doubled and tripled for larger crowds
Chris made a triple batch for our hunting party; the recipe below serves about 6.
- 4 oz. thick cut bacon, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 3 lb. elk meat, or other game, or beef chuck, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 3/4 lb. fresh Cremini mushrooms, halved if large
- 1/2 lb. baby carrots, or carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 lb. frozen pearl onions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
- In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. (You'll add the bacon to the stew at the end).
- Pour off all the bacon drippings into a cup, and return 1 tsp. to the frying pan.
- Place the elk meat in a large baggie with the flour, salt and pepper.
- Shake the meat until it is nicely coated with with the seasoned flour.
- Heat the frying pan with the bacon grease over a medium-high flame. When the grease is starting to sputter, add half the meat cubes. Let the meat sear with out turning it until it is nicely browned. Brown the other side, then transfer to the Crock Pot.
- Sear the rest of the meat as above, adding more bacon drippings if needed.
- Throw in the mushrooms, carrots, garlic and onions into the Crock Pot with the meat.
- Now deglaze the frying pan, so that you can add all those flavorful juices to your stew. Heat the pan over a medium-high flame. Add the wine, beef broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, and deglaze the pan by scraping up all the browned bits with a spoon. (If you're frying pan is nonstick, please use a plastic spoon for this!).
- Pour the wine/broth mixture into the Crock Pot.
- Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8-9 hours.
- Once the meat is very tender, add the reserved bacon bits, and the rosemary. Cook on high with the lid off to thicken the sauce.
- Taste for salt. You may want to add more; it really brings out the flavor of the meat.
- Serve with buttered noodles to a crowd of ravenous hunters, and they will love you for it.
The best sauce in the world is hunger. Cervantes
Indian summer in the mountains. Everywhere I go, people are grinning ear to ear as they ride their bikes, walk their dogs, and gaze at the spectacular fall colors.
The town of Jackson, as seen from Snow King on a balmy fall evening.
Locals are spending every spare minute outdoors, soaking up the weak sunshine, and enjoying a break from the crowds of summer. Seasoned Jackson Hole residents know what comes next here in the Tetons: rain/sleet/hail/snow all in the course of an afternoon. Wind that will knock you off your bike. Mud that gets tracked into your house for weeks. Dirty dogs. The weeks that seem like months spent waiting for snow, real snow.
The view from Phillips Pass.
It may still be 70 degrees and sunny, but my fall appetite still wants soup. Butternut Squash Soup. I love Butternut Squash Soup, but my kids "hate" it. So I make them this Mexican take on Butternut Squash Soup, and tell them that it's pumpkin, which they love, not squash (yuck). Works like a charm. Shhhhhh.
Ellen mountain bikes down the Putt-Putt trail.
Chipotle peppers in adobo give this soup a surprising spice and depth of flavor. This is a soup to serve as a main meal, perhaps with some cheese quesadillas, or a grilled cheese sandwich. It is creamy and filling, but contains no cream. It will make you feel virtuously healthy and deceptively sneaky as your kids tuck in to their "pumpkin soup".
Fall colors in my neighborhood.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Mexican Butternut Squash Soup
This recipe is adapted from an old Martha Stewart Living issue, as part of the Fit To Eat column. I have been making this soup for over 10 years, and have not been able to mess it up, unless I use too many chipotles. Chipotle peppers in adobo can be very spicy, so it may be prudent to use just one pepper at first. Save the other pepper and add it later after you've tasted the soup, or serve it on the side.
- 1 medium sized butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
- 6 cups chicken broth, homemade if you have it
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
- 3 cups chopped leeks (or substitute 1 chopped yellow onion)
- 1 tsp. kosher or coarse salt
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds and ribs removed, minced
- 6 sprigs of cilantro for the base, plus more chopped cilantro to garnish
- Sour cream, or creme fraiche, to garnish
- Peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler. Cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Slice into 1 inch thick slices, then dice into 1 inch cubes.
It's not elegant when I start attacking a squash.
You can probably guess that I'm a surgeon by trade.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth it, I promise!
2. Place the squash cubes in a large saucepan and cover with broth. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
3. In another large sauce pan, saute the leeks and1/2 tsp of the salt in the butter over medium low heat. Cook for 30 minutes or so, until soft but not overly browned.
4. Add garlic, cumin and chili powder to the leeks. Saute for 1 minute.
5. Add the squash and its broth to the leeks. Add tomatoes, cilantro sprigs, another 1/2 tsp. salt, and the chipotles. Bring to a boil.
6. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
7. Cool slightly, then puree with an immersion blender, or pour the soup into a food processor or a blender to puree.
8. Return soup to the saucepan and heat through. Add more broth to thin if needed. Garnish with a few dollops of sour cream or creme fraiche and a few tsp. of chopped cilantro.
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I bet some fried corn tortillas strips would make a nice garnish too.
I hope everyone is savoring this gorgeous Fall!
Only a fool argues with a skunk, a mule or a cook. Cowboy Saying
There's something nostalgic about a simple apple cake, with a cinnamony streusel topping, cut into a generous square and eaten warm on a crisp fall morning. Who doesn't love an old-fashioned coffee cake?
Simple apple cake doesn't last long around here.
I made this cake for a quick weeknight dessert. We ate half for dessert and the other half for breakfast. My youngest son was on a sleepover, and he missed the whole cake. So I had to make it again the next day.
This cake wears many hats. It looks elegant beside a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It is the perfect snack with a glass of cold milk after school. Right out of the oven, it is a special breakfast treat, served with a dollop of Greek honey yogurt.
When I say Simple Apple Cake, I mean that you can throw this cake together in 15 MINUTES. I know a lot of recipes are purported to be QUICK, but this one really is. And I'm a pretty slow cook, constantly distracted by kids' homework, my iPhone, and the bull moose in the backyard charging at my dogs.
Moose are "in the rut", as we say here in Wyoming. Which means that when you see a big, testosterone-charged bull moose in your yard, you put the kids and the dogs inside and leave him alone. Even if he is trampling your garden, chomping off the tops of your Fava bean plants and your Sugar Snap Peas, and scarfing down your small fortune invested in shrubs and trees. You just leave that old moose alone. And pray that he doesn't get his antlers tangled up in the soccer goal.
A mountain lion eyes our canoe intently, as we floated the Smith River in Montana last weekend.
I wasn't quick enough to get a picture of that old, cranky bull moose, but I did spy a mountain lion last weekend. Even though we know the lion thrives all over the West, it is rare indeed to get to see one up close and personal. He was so close that he could have jumped into our canoe. Yikes.
Simple Apple Cake
This cake is adapted from the Cooking Light Quick Baking
special issue from this month. I've tweaked it so that it will work at high altitude by cutting back on the sugar and adding more flour. If you are closer to sea level, use 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 cup of sugar.
- 1 3/4 cups flour (or about 7 oz.)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 cup low-fat, whole or buttermilk (I have used all with good results, but favor buttermilk)
- 2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup diced and peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 apple)
For the Streusel topping:
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk well.
- Whisk the milk, vanilla, egg and cooled melted butter together.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add the wet ingredients. Stir just until moist. Fold in the apple.
- Pour batter into an 8 inch square pan that has been coated with baking spray.
- Prepare the streusel by combining the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the cold butter using a fork or a pastry blender. Sprinkle streusel over the batter.
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Test several minutes prior with a wooden skewer; when it comes out clean, the cake is done.
- Cool in the pan, and cut into squares. Serve plain, or with ice cream or yogurt. Take it to a friend's house for dinner. Pack it in a lunch box. Eat it over the sink. Yum.
Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food. Craig Claiborne