Category Archives: Recipes

Fall Fiesta: Butternut Squash Gnocchi

It took me a long time to come around to winter squash this year. I just wasn’t ready. A combination of eating too much squash last year, and not being ready to accept the change in seasons, I suppose. How can it be October already, really?

But the tide has finally turned. A few weeks ago, the butternut squash gnocchi my friends and I made last year came up in conversation, and I was sold. I even suggested making a pumpkin bread with fresh whipped cream on the side for dessert. Double squash. Fall Fiesta was born.

Last week, we showed up early at my friend Sophie’s house. My friend Jen had roasted a b’nut squash from her aptly-titled CSA, Eating with the Seasons, the one I used to belong to and sometimes wish I still did. I mashed the squash with my hands and a fork, while Jen prepared the pumpkin batter. Sophie ran down to the store to get bread, which we ate with some of our favorite cheeses as an appetizer. We rounded things out with a bottle of Viognier from my wine club, and some kale chips. I can’t have a plate without greens! It was fantastic. Winter squash, I’m sorry I doubted you. Eating with the seasons never tasted so good.


Not biscotti! The gnocchi dough, before rolling into ropes

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brown Butter, adapted from Sunset

Gnocchi:
1  butternut squash
About 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4  teaspoon  ground pepper
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground nutmeg
3  to 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for shaping (likely much less than this, but have this on hand)

Toppings:
3 tablespoons butter (or more!)
Freshly grated Parmesan

Roast butternut squash (can be done a day in advance). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half, and place halves flesh-side up on a baking sheet. Remove seeds and pulp. Make sure you have a good knife, and be careful! Roast for 25-30 minutes or until soft. You can also roast the squash whole if you prefer not to cut it in half first – it will just take longer, up to an hour.

Note: the original recipe calls for microwaving the squash. I prefer the roasted flavor, but if you are pressed for time, you can stab the squash with a fork or knife, as you would a baking potato, and microwave for 10 minutes or until tender. Let cool, then cut in half.

Once cooled, scoop out 2 cups of the cooked squash into a bowl. Save the rest for later, or make a double batch if you’ve got lots of squash. We had a medium-sized b’nut, and easily got 4 cups out of it. Mash it with a combination of a fork and your hands (it’s fun!). Once the squash is completely mashed, add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in flour until a dough forms. Note: we used quite a bit less flour than the recipe called for. We simply added until the texture seemed right to roll out – not too sticky, not too dry. You’ll know it when you’re there.

Knead the dough about 10 times on a floured surface. On the same floured surface, divide the dough into pieces and roll into thick ropes, about 3/4 an inch or so. Cut ropes into 1/2 inch long pieces. Place pieces on a floured baking sheet.

Boil a big pot of salted water. Add gnocchi in batches, until they float to the surface, about 4 minutes. Lift out of water with a slotted spoon and drain.

Meanwhile, make your brown butter. Heat a skillet on medium, and add your butter. Stir as it melts. It will become foamy, and then the foam will subside. Heat until it becomes light brown and smells nutty. Be careful to catch it before burning.

Toss your gnocchi with the brown butter, and top with lots of grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

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Breaking the Fast: Apple Coffee Cake

I am, admittedly, not the most serious Jew you’ll ever meet. I love celebrating the holidays, the culture and the food, but I am certainly not deeply religious. Every year on Yom Kippur, I fast, but not necessarily to atone for my sins. To be honest, I do it more to see if I can go a whole day without eating. Have you ever gone a day without eating, on purpose? It’s funny how your mind starts to play tricks on you, and you notice how food is everywhere! You kind of get past being hungry, but if you’re like me and love food, you start counting down to the bagels and lox pretty early in the day.

It’s almost 3 pm now and it’s going ok. However, I’ve got an apple coffee cake just coming out of the oven that’s about to start testing my willpower, hardcore.

My aunt asked me to bring something baked to break the fast (breakfast – break the fast, get it?), and I happily agreed. Since we’re getting into the heart of apple season, I decided an apple coffee cake would be the perfect way to welcome a sweet new year. A few years ago, I made one that was a big hit, so I pulled the recipe back up. Now, I’m not a big fan of Emeril, but I am a big fan of brown sugar and crumbly topping and apples so I decided to go with the tried and true. I skipped the brown sugar glaze he calls for, since the cake is plenty sweet on it’s own and I remember it getting lost last time. The recipe is incredibly easy – perfect for when you’re fasting and don’t have the energy for a complicated recipe, or want to throw together a quick but impressive brunch treat.

I, of course, used mostly organic and local ingredients. I love apple season! I got a variety – Gravensteins, and a few nameless ones with a surprising, gorgeous pink flesh (sorry, that’s a disgusting word. I certainly won’t talk about how moist this cake is. Oh, wait).


Apple Coffee Cake, from this recipe

Cake:
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with butter (this is a great time to use those leftover butter wrappers!)

Cream together your stick of butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating them in. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the butter-brown sugar mixture, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the buttered dish, spreading the batter to reach the edges of the dish.

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Make your crumble topping by pulsing your brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and butter in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the cake and bake until the cake is set and the topping is golden brown, around 40 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and break the fast!

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A “Grate” Idea (In Theory)

On my to-do list the other night: baking a batch of my favorite chocolate “crinkle” cookies to take in to work. I had all the ingredients in stock, or so I thought. I had almost exactly enough sugar, but unfortunately a bunch of it had hardened into large chunks (chunk is like my least favorite word. Why did I use it? Twice, now. Anyway). Instead of running to the store to buy a new box, I Googled and came across a suggestion to grate it. I seriously said out loud, “that’s a great idea” and then cracked up. Get it…”grate” idea? Yeah, I’m a geek for puns, I guess. 😉

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Spy the vanilla bought in bulk in the background?

Anyway, my “grate” idea didn’t turn out to be so terrific in the end, but it was worth a shot. Instead of wasting the leftover sugar chunks (ack! I need a better word! Clump does not, in any way, sound better), I decided to save them and cut them into cubes to use for coffee and tea. Just a little reminder to myself (and to you, hopefully!) that there’s no reason to waste something when you can find a way to use it. I must admit, though, I am using regular cane sugar, not organic, and feel guilty about it. I’ve tried baking with organic sugar before, and it honestly wasn’t the same – cookies came out flat, and things tasted a bit “off.” The kind I used last time was bought in bulk and was a slightly yellow color, so I definitely need to do some research for a better organic sugar that behaves in a similar manner to the cane sugar I’m used to using. Any suggestions?

Oh, and if you’re interested, here’s the cookie recipe. These cookies are awesome – always a huge hit at parties and with my coworkers. Halfway between a brownie and a cookie, they are slightly chewy and perfectly chocolatey. I particularly like using Lake Champlain organic, fair trade cocoa powder. I don’t see it listed separately on their site, but I buy it at my favorite co-op. Incidentally, I hope to visit Lake Champlain and it’s chocolate factory on my potential trip to New England next month!

Chocolate Brownie Cookies, adapted from All Recipes

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cups white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, sugar, and oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and place in freezer for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat pad. Roll dough into one inch balls and roll each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool and then place on wire racks or plates. Enjoy!

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Cookie Time

Gather round you friends of mine,
I’m Pretty Green Girl and it’s Cookie Time!

Sorry, had to throw a little Troop Beverly Hills in there. One of my favorite movies of all time! Who remembers it? I’m actually trying to figure out a way to play it for all my friends when we go glamping next month, but I can’t figure out how to do it without any electricity (15 girls gathered around a laptop might be too much). Any ideas? We’re not going to be close enough to the car to run power from it…

Anyway, as promised, here’s that cookie recipe I alluded to the other day! They’re kind of like halfway between a cookie and a muffin, with a bit of the taste of a thumbprint cookie (must be the whole stick of butter…mmm).

Strawberry-Blueberry Muffin Cookies

I started with this recipe for blueberry oatmeal cookies, but kind of just threw together what I had.

Preheat oven to 350

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Few splashes agave nectar
1 cups oat bran
1 cup white whole wheat flour
Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Handful blueberries
Handful sliced strawberries

I totally forgot to cream the butter with the sugar – you’d think I’d never baked before! So here’s what I did, though it might not be the best method. 🙂

Mix sugar, flour and oat bran in a mixing bowl
Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the fruit and agave.
Add a little agave nectar, tasting the batter to make sure it’s sweet enough, but not too sweet. Be careful not to overstir so the batter doesn’t get dry or tough.
Add the fruit and stir to combine.
Bake at 350 on parchment or a Silipat (more eco-friendly!) or a sheet greased with butter!

They took about 14 minutes, but I set the timer for 10 and then just kept checking them. I’d guess it made about 22 cookies or so.

And they were delicious, if I do say so myself. Not exactly healthy (though whole wheat), but real butter is what makes them good! I think I’d experiment with cutting some of the butter and sugar in the future, but I was really pleased with how they turned out, and they were perfect for my family camping trip!

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Speaking of camping, how cute is my little brother? He’s 7 – big age difference, huh? He’s a half-brother. 🙂 Our campsite was just down the road from this great apple farm. Unfortunately apples aren’t in season yet – and I really wanted some because I LOVE apples – but they did have amazing organic apple juice and other apple products. And the old man working there was so adorable! You leave your money in a little cash box and take the change – honor system. I love that!

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After our last day of camping, my sister and I met my mom, who lives nearby, at a winery for a picnic. My Mom is an amazing cook and hostess and this picnic was fabulous, of course! We met at Toulouse Vineyards which had amazing wine. We actually went wine tasting the day before, and while I really liked those places a lot, Toulouse blew me away! I loved everything I tried – a Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and two Pinot Noirs. I thought I didn’t like Pinot Noir, but I am slowly changing my mind, thanks to the Anderson Valley.

Anyway, here’s the Farmers Market-filled spread my Mom brought for us – organic baby carrots, farm-fresh deviled eggs, asparagus, LOCAL sea salt (amazing), sliced radishes (divine when sprinkled with said sea salt), wraps filled with hummus, havarti, roasted red pepper and roasted garlic (both of which she roasted), organic sparkling pear juice, and her first homemade cherry pie. YUM!

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Thanks, Mom!

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Check out that view!

So, what did you do this weekend?

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I Gave Peas a Chance…

And they exploded all over the microwave. Keep reading for the details. 😉

Seriously, though, I got a bunch of fresh peas from my CSA last week, and have made some absolutely delicious meals with them. Despite what some of my friends say (ahem, Jaime C. and Bethany), fresh peas are so delicious, especially with asparagus in a “cream” sauce, or in a walnut “peasto.”

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Image source

Pea and Asparagus Cream Sauce
This was so good, I made it two nights in a row. The second night, I sauteed red and orange bell peppers in with the asparagus. Also a winner. YUM!

You need:
Shallots
Leeks (you could use either/or but I like both)
Asparagus
Peas
Olive oil
Cream cheese
Butter
Milk
Parmesan (optional)

Wash asparagus and trim woody ends. Cut each spear into two or three pieces. Sautee in olive oil until they begin to soften, then add shelled fresh peas, until they begin to soften as well. Do not overcook, as you will be letting them simmer in the sauce later, but make sure they aren’t too raw either.

In another pan, sautee sliced leeks and shallots (to taste – I like a LOT) in a dab of butter until they begin to become translucent. Add a large spoonful or two of cream cheese, stirring or whisking until melted, then add approx. 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%). Whisk until sauce is smooth, then add asparagus & peas and let simmer. Add parmesan if desired. If the sauce starts to thicken while you are waiting for the rest of your meal to be ready, add a little more milk, heat and whisk.

Serve over a chicken breast. I like to sear it for a minute or two on each side, and then stick the whole pan in the oven at 400 degrees, for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breast. I’m sure it would be delicious over pasta as well. Seriously, the combo of asparagus + cream (or milk, as the case may be) + peas cannot be beat!

Walnut Cream “Peasto”
My friend Jen once watched an episode of Rachael Ray where she made a pea pesto and could not stop saying “peasto.” “It’s like a pesto… with peas! Peasto! Get it?” We get it, Rachael. Anyway, I looked up the recipe and didn’t have any of the basic ingredients on hand, so I just kind of winged it. I wanted to use pecans, but am all out – must have been that last batch of pecan butter. So walnuts it was! I also decided to make this a creamy pesto at the last minute.

You need:
Handful walnuts (could prob sub in pecans or another nut. Pine nuts would be great, too)
Shelled peas (about 1/4 cup)
Olive oil
Leeks/shallots
Cream cheese
Milk

To cook the peas, after shelling, I put them in a little water, and microwaved for a minute. This is where the explosion came in! They were popping like popcorn after only about thirty seconds. So, beware: cover the dish or cook for a shorter period of time!

In food processor, blend until combined but still slightly chunky:
Peas, cooked
Handful walnuts
Glug of olive oil

In a pan, sautee leeks and shallots in olive oil, add a spoonful of cream cheese until melted, then add milk (this is similar to the cream sauce above, but I used oil instead of butter, and smaller portions).

Combine “peasto” and cream sauce.

I enjoyed this over organic garlic-gorgonzola ravioli, but bet it would be delicious over chicken or fresh fish.

As you can see, my recipes are not exact. I like to taste and add – the only problem is when you find that perfect combination, you might not remember exactly what was in it!

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Passover-Inspired Quinoa Porridge

I’m celebrating Passover this week, and it’s been rough! I’m actually not very religious – I consider myself a “cultural Jew,” meaning I enjoy the traditions and celebrating holidays with my family, but I didn’t grow up going to temple or anything. But I always like a challenge, so Passover is perfect! I haven’t been too strict – basically just no bread, wheat (besides whole wheat matzoh) or oatmeal. That one was tough – seeing all the delicious bowls of oatmeal on all the food blogs has nearly killed me! But I’m almost done, so a big bowl of oat bran with almond butter, or peanut butter, or lemon curd, or butter and a poached egg (my favorite) has my name on it tomorrow!

I just really wanted a big bowl of something warm with a lot of flavors today, so I decided on quinoa porridge – since quinoa is a seed, it is technically allowed. Yay!

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I’ve made quinoa porridge before from this recipe out of Clean Eating, but I decided to mix things up and make it even more Passover-esque: charoset-inspired quinoa porridge! I’ve been craving charoset since Red Head, Yellow Dog posted about it, and thought it would be awesome to incorporate into this breakfast.

If you haven’t heard of it, charoset represents the mortar used by enslaved Jews in Egypt. It is traditionally made of chopped apples, cinnamon, walnuts and sweet red wine (hello, Manischewitz). Sometimes it contains honey, sometimes lemon, sometimes dried fruit. I decided to incorporate all these things, except the red wine because 1. I don’t have any open and 2. I had to go to work after eating breakfast. 🙂

Here’s what I did. The recipe takes about 30 or so minutes, so it’s great to double it. I usually make this with berries as well, but I don’t have any right now. Can’t wait until the Farmers Market!

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
Milk or yogurt
Chopped apple
Chopped nuts – I usually used pecans but went with walnuts today
Agave nectar or honey (optional)
Toppings of your choice!

Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Be careful to turn the temperature low enough so that it doesn’t burn – mine did, a little bit, but it worked out ok.

Uncover and add a good splash of yogurt. I usually use milk, but I’m out so I used Wallaby Vanilla Bean. I also added a splash more water, and let it simmer 10 min uncovered.

Turn off heat and add chopped apple (I used a small one from my CSA), chopped walnuts (bought in bulk!) and cover for 10 min. Or less if you’re impatient! Add toppings and enjoy!

I mixed in a little bit of honey, and topped my bowl with golden raisins (I like them better on top so they’re still chewy!) and a dollop of lemon curd. Since charoset occasionally calls for lemon, what better use for my delicious, locally-made lemon curd?

With the honey, yogurt, lemon curd and raisins, I must admit this was a very sweet bowl. I think it would have been better if I’d just used milk. Adjust to taste!

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That’s Hot (Fudge)

A few weekends ago, it was my turn to host book club. Usually whenever I have parties, everyone brings an appetizer, and I am left with a ton of food. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I thought this time if would be fun to make ice cream sundaes! I’d been wanting to make this hot fudge sauce from Smitten Kitchen for awhile, and it was the perfect opportunity! I actually have an ice cream maker, and was going to make my own, but the top broke awhile back and I haven’t gotten around to replacing it (I am on the search for a used one from Craigslist or a thrift shop). So I picked up Double Rainbow, a great locally made ice cream.

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I pretty much followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe exactly, except that I used vanilla extract instead of rum.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used Ghirardelli!)
3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon rum vanilla extract

From Smitten Kitchen Melt the chocolate and butter very slowly in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring frequently until combined. Meanwhile, heat the water to boiling in the small, heavy saucepan. When the butter and chocolate have melted, stir the mixture into the boiling water. Add the sugar, corn syrup and salt and mix until smooth. Turn the heat up and stir until mixture starts to boil; adjust heat so that sauce is just maintained at the boiling point, stirring occasionally. Allow sauce to boil for nine minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the rum and serve warm over ice cream.

I actually made it a little too early and had to reheat it when my friends got there, but it was absolutely fantastic. For some reason as it cooled, the butter would separate out, but when I reheated and whisked, all was back to normal. This was also fantastic cold, almost like a really, really, really fudgy brownie.

I also made homemade whipped cream, which is super easy if you have a mixer. I just put it in my Kitchen Aid and mixed it up until it was light and fluffy, then added vanilla and powdered sugar to taste. YUM!

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Also, I wrote down our book club discussion questions on the inside of a cereal box! Why waste it – just turn it inside out and voila! Instant scratch paper!

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