Meatless Monday: Roasted Butternut Squash and Parsnips

I know it says butternut squash, but you could definitely make this with pumpkin too.  This recipe is ridiculously good.  It is simple.  And, believe it or not,

Photo by Romulo Yanes on Epicurious.com

Photo by Romulo Yanes on Epicurious.com

kid friendly.  My MIL is here for the next week and so I started off her stay with a good vegan meal.  I don’t know if Chase was trying to impress her but he ate the majority of it AND, I don’t mean to brag, but he ate two helpings of Andrea Bemis’ Roasted Beet and Fennel Wheat Berry Salad.  Note: If you don’t like or don’t have wheat berries, I used wild rice this time because I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and didn’t have any wheat berries on hand.  I will admit though that Ryan was the genius who told Chase that he would have red poop if he ate beets.  That may have been his motivation to eat it.  I don’t care though, he ATE TWO HELPINGS!  Try it out on your kids and let me know how it works!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Parsnips

Ingredients

1 1/4 pound parsnips (4 medium), peeled
1 1/4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, halved
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and cut lengthwise into slivers
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 475°F.

2. Cut parsnips lengthwise into quarters, then cut out and discard any tough core. Cut parsnips diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Cut squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut slices into wedges. Toss vegetables with salt, pepper, and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, then spread in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan. Roast, turning occasionally, until vegetables are tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil with garlic in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic just begins to sizzle. Remove from heat.

4. When vegetables are done roasting, remove garlic from oil (discard garlic) and toss vegetables with garlic oil, olives, and parsley.

Siggy-Q

Will My Sons Be Statistics?

We all worry.  We all want our kids to be healthy and happy.  We want to give our kids everything they need (and want).  We want to be good parents.

Photo from Esquire.com from the article: "The Drugging of the American Boy."

Photo from Esquire.com from the article: “The Drugging of the American Boy.”

I read an article in Esquire a couple of months ago and it has been on my mind ever since.  The title of the article is: The Drugging of the American Boy.  The following line terrified me:

If you have a son, you have a one-in-seven chance that he has been diagnosed with ADHD

The article has weighed heavily on my mind because I have two boys.  I feel like I am hyper-aware of signs of autism, ADHD, and neurological and psychological anomalies that can occur.  The fact that Dr. Howard Glasser is right here in Tuson, AZ makes me feel so much better for some reason.  I guess if signs start appearing that either Chase or Andrew need some tools to use to navigate through their day, Dr. Glasser is right here.  However, the Nurtured Heart Approach can be learned and used from wherever you are.  There are many licensed therapists and social workers across the country who use this approach.

As a kid, I remember a family at church who had a daughter (11) and a boy (8).  The boy was wheelchair-bound, could not speak or see.  I remember thinking how hard it would be to take care of the boy.  I also felt sorry for the big sister.  So much of the family life was focused on the needs of the boy.  I wonder how she felt.  Did she get time with her parents?  Was she resentful of all of the attention placed on her brother?  I don’t know what happened to that family but I think about how difficult it must be to have a child with special needs.

How do we navigate the world when our kids are in serious need of help?  What do you do when your child’s sickness or condition is disruptive to the rest of the family?  How do you balance it?  How do you attend to your spouse and the needs of your other child or children?  It is hard enough to balance everything when there aren’t major problems.  What do you do when you face difficult challenges?

Siggy-Q

Thanksgiving 2014

There are so many things for which I am thankful.  I am thankful for my family, my health, my life.  I am fortunate enough to have the ability to spout off about the mundane and the interesting.  I try to remind myself on a regular basis how lucky I am.  I try not to sit and lament any negatives in my life because really, how bad is my life?  It isn’t.  In fact, it’s pretty darn good.

I LOVE the foods of Thanksgiving.  Though I love some of the traditional foods of the holiday, I also love to explore the traditional ingredients in new ways.  This year is no exception.  Below is a my 2014 Thanksgiving plan.  It may or may not work out the way I imagine it, but nonetheless, here is a great menu:

Salad: Escarole and Brussels Sprout Salad (Food and Wine)

Bread: Parker House Rolls (Food and Wine)

Sides:

Stuffing: Smoky Chorizo Stuffing (Food and Wine)

Ripping’ Good Potatoes

Cranberry:

Simple Cranberry Relish

Ingredients:

1 bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over

1 naval orange, quartered

1/4 – 1 cup cane sugar (I like it tart, so I use as little sugar as possible)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until you reach the consistency you desire.

Turkey:

I plan on following a traditional recipe and using les herbs de Provence, EVOO and garlic.

Though there will only be 5 of us this year, we bought a 15lb bird.  I’ll be posting a post that will include recipes for left over turkey.  I have found a couple that look promising.

Gravy (Food and Wine)

Desserts:

Pecan Pie Bars (Food and Wine)

Cocktails:

Red Wine: La Crema, Sonoma, Pinot Noir

White Wine: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (I’ll be the lone white wine drinker)

Meatless Monday: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

Pumpkin-Ginger Cupcakes with Mascarpone with Salty Caramel A130730 Food & Wine + Alternative Baking + Sang Yoon's Thanksgiving Cons NOV 2013

Photo from Food and Wine.com

I have been experimenting with lots of Gluten-Free recipes.  Some are spectacular.  Some are not so spectacular.  With all of the gluten that we are going to be eating on Thanksgiving Day, I thought I might as well look at some gluten-free options for desserts.  I’m also working on a gluten free post so stay tuned for that!  What do you know, Food and Wine.com send an email with several yummy looking gluten free Thanksgiving dessert ideas.  I decided to try these out and they are quite good.  I’ll be sending these with Ryan to work but I don’t think they’ll mind.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

Ingredients:

FROSTING

6 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
CUPCAKES

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree
CARAMEL
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1/4 cup chopped or sliced crystallized ginger, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. MAKE THE FROSTING In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate the frosting until it is firm enough to spread, about 1 hour.
2. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE CUPCAKES Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk the rice flour with the tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the granulated sugar, vegetable oil and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth; whisk in the pumpkin puree.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed. Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let cool completely.
3. MAKE THE CARAMEL In a medium saucepan, spread the sugar evenly and cook over moderately low heat, shaking the pan to keep the sugar in an even layer. Cook, swirling the saucepan occasionally, until the sugar is melted and a deep-amber caramel forms. Slowly add the cream (be careful, the caramel will boil vigorously) and cook, whisking, until smooth. Transfer the caramel to a heatproof bowl and stir in the salt. Let cool to room temperature.
Frost the cupcakes and drizzle with the caramel sauce. Garnish with the crystallized ginger and serve.

NOTE: MAKE AHEAD The unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature. The caramel can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; rewarm before using.

Siggy-Q

The World is Made for Families of Four

DISCLAIMER: I feel everyone should have the number of kids they feel they can handle and afford.

With that said, I don’t want anymore kids and I wish people would stop looking at my two boys and asking: “Don’t you want to try for a girl?”

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Children aren’t boats, or shoes, or paintings.  They take care, maintenance, money, time, and emotional support.  I can barely handle the two that I have.  Why on earth would I want to add to that?  Why would I want to start over…AGAIN?

“Oh, once you get past two, its not that big of a deal.”  This is a human being we’re talking about right?  So, if I were to add to the mayhem, I would be again telling Chase that we can’t go to place A because “the baby” has to take a nap at 9 am.  And I would have to tell Andrew that he needs to be quiet because “the baby” is napping.

Besides, the world is made for families of four.  My brother wisely said that when I was pregnant with Chase.  He’s right.  If we had another one, here’s the list of things we’d have to add to our lives:

Larger house, with another bedroom

I'm not sure what Andrew is trying to do here.

I’m not sure what Andrew is trying to do here.

Larger car, with room for another child

Another carseat

Another college fund

The list goes on and on.

The fifth wheel would be left out on:

roller coasters

doubles tennis

high speed quad chair lifts

readily available 4 top tables at restaurants

The fifth wheel would have to sleep on a roll-away if there were no other rooms available at hotel.  That’s no life!

I also feel like we’ve been so lucky so far with healthy happy kiddos that I wouldn’t want to take a chance with something going wrong.  My advanced maternal age puts me into the high risk category.  I think our family is doing fine.  I’m ready to move out of the baby stages and ride roller coasters, take surfing lessons, go to movies at the theatre and not worry so much about schedules, nap times and diapers.

I come from a large blended family.  I love the chaos and mayhem that ensue when we all get together.  But, I also love our little family unit.  I like the fact that Ryan and I can each take a child and divide and conquer to get things done.  I have thoroughly enjoyed each stage so far and I look forward to seeing how these lads develop.

Siggy-Q

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

IMG_0406.JPG

2013 – Chase is quite excited about dessert at Thanksgivakuh.

Pumpkin pie is a staple starting in October. I could eat it every day. One Thanksgiving we hosted and some of our guests were vegan. I wasn’t sure how I would handle turkey Fest that year but it turned out to be quite simple to convert all but two recipes to vegan friendly recipes: turkey and gravy. I was most daunted by the pumpkin pie. Amazingly, I found a recipe and I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s better than traditional pumpkin pie. I’ve been making it every year, ever since!

There are several options on the crust: traditional, ginger snap (use 10-15 ginger snaps crushed and mixed with 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil then press into pie dishing bake for 10-15 minutes at 400), pumpkin roll out cookie dough. I’ve used the first two and this year I’m going to try the pumpkin roll out cookie dough from a previous post.  As you can see from the picture of Chase, I did mini pumpkin pies in a muffin tin.  In addition to the pumpkin pies, I made a pecan pie and my MIL made her delicious cranberry pie, which is quite tasty with bleu cheese sprinkled on top.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups pumpkin purée
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup vegan cream cheese
1 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine vegan cream cheese, cashews, cinnamon, 1tsp salt, and maple syrup. Purée until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup and set aside. Leave the remaining mixture in the food processor.
2. Add pumpkin, vanilla, remaining spices, remaining salt and sugar. Purée until creamy.
3. Fill prepared pie dish with filling and smooth with a spoon. Swirl reserved cashew/cream cheese mixture into pie dish.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and the lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake additional 20-30 minutes. Bake longer to achieve a more cheese cake-like consistency and less for a more custard-like consistency. Chill in the refrigerator after cooling completely. Enjoy!

Siggy-Q

My House Smells Like Morning Breath

We all have colds.  We have had colds for the last month.  I wake up in the morning with a head full of phlegm.  I wake up because I

Chase has always been a mouth breather.  We think it is because he was born in PA.

Chase has always been a mouth breather. We think it is because he was born in PA.

can hear my mouth breathing 4 year old down the hallway.  I go through the motions of waking up, taking my pill, pouring my coffee and turning on Morning Joe before making breakfast and lunches for Chase, every day and Andrew on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  When I get back from dropping them off at school, I walk in the door to get a few things done before my Barre 3 class and the smell hits me: morning breath.  As a person affected greatly by smells, the stench almost knocks me over.  How could it be?

My house is relatively clean. I vacuum every other day.  I dust when I see it, sometimes.  The kitchen is always getting a wipe down and the bathrooms get cleaned once a week.  I quickly open both the front and back doors and get a crosswind going.  Now that it has finally cooled down in Tucson, it is quite pleasant.  I change the sheets on the beds and and mop so that any remaining morning breath particles are eliminated.
The truth is, we are all mouth breathing snot boxes with colds. After 8 hours of open mouth respiration and recirculated air, we’re living in a house that almost smells worse than the bathroom in an airport.

My question is, why did the smell last so long?

Siggy-Q

Meatless Monday: Mark Bittman’s Autumn Millet Bake

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

For one reason or another, this didn’t post on Monday.  My apologies.  Enjoy!

Had enough candy?  I’ll say yes for the moment.  My in-laws were in town and we had a very successful Halloween party.  They took Chase trick or treating while I waited and waited for the trick or treaters who never made it to my house.  I had a cauldron full of candy. A cauldron!  I also had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc so the night wasn’t a total loss.

We also went out to dinner at Kingfisher and Fleming’s on Saturday and Sunday nights respectively.  So, needless to say, I am ready for a vegan feast.  And a vegan feast I shall have tonight.  I’ve made this recipe and it is cooking as I type.  I’ll pair it with steamed broccolini and salad.

Enjoy!

Mark Bittman’s Autumn MIllet Bake

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
3/4 cup millet
1 medium butternut or other winter squash or 1 small pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes (hs note: don’t overdo it). Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all (hs note: I did about 1/2 cup stock & 1/2 cup cream based on one of his variations). Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 1 hour.

Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (hs note: This is key! The millet should be close to being cooked through at this point, if not you need to add liquid and keep it moist and cooking – I used another 1/4 cup+ of stock here). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned (hs note: and the millet is cooked through), another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature (hs note: drizzled with the remaining olive oil if you like).

Serves 4 to 6.

Siggy-Q

Halloween 2014

I love Halloween!  How fun is it to dress up like someone else and have no

Photo by John Kemick from Food and Wine.com

Photo by John Kemick from Food and Wine.com

reason to NOT eat Candy Corn?  The boys are really starting to get into it, which makes it really fun.  My in-laws are going to be in town so why not plan a little get together that is more for the adults than the kiddos?  Good excuse right?

My In-laws are arriving in town for a week and though I don’t know if we will have any trick or treaters in our neighborhood, I’m prepared with 3 giant bags of candy. My front stoop is decorated with welcoming decor and I’ll be dressed up either as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz or as Princess Leia.  I really should get a witch costume.

We will have a themed dinner here at home complete with a chosen cocktail and a spooky dessert.

We carved pumpkins on Sunday and I found this great little link on you

Photo by David Malosh on Food and Wine.com

Photo by David Malosh on Food and Wine.com

guessed it: Food and Wine.com on what to do with pumpkin seeds.  It has some great ideas.

You can also check out all of my Halloween ideas and recipes on Pinterest.

This is the menu I have going for this year.

Monster Slime Dip with Crudite

Grilled Skeleton Beef Ribs with Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

Fusili with Asparagus, Zucchini and Mint Pesto

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com

Worms in Dirt – Seaweed Salad

Red Velvet Eyeballs

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com

Photo by John Kemick on Food and Wine.com

Cocktail:

Almond Joy Martini

So, It is called an Almond Joy Martini but Frangelico is actually hazelnut liqueur.  Whatever, I’m sure this will taste lovely. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Chocolate Vodka
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • 1 oz coconut rum

Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake until combined then strain into a cocktail glass.

Pumpkin Spice Halloween Punch

 

Halloween Punch Recipe

Photo by Liz Gray HGTV.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan still hasn’t figured out what he’s going to be.  Chase is going to be Boba Fett from Star Wars and Andrew will be Yoda.  I think the night will be a success, with or without the trick or treaters.  We’ll have great food, great costumes, and enough candy to cause diabetes.

Siggy-Q

Savory Bacon Breakfast “Cupcakes”

I love Pinterest.  It is like a fantasy land of my dream house, dream wardrobe,

Fresh from the oven, let them cool before digging in!

Fresh from the oven, let them cool before digging in!

perfect makeup, and includes all of the really fun crafty activities I would do with the kids and for myself if I were that kind of person.  Most of my pins languish in the Pinterest fantasy land never to be realized because let’s be honest, I’m just trying to keep up with laundry, dog hair, and toilets.  I pin in binges, usually once a week.  Yesterday, I was looking at a recipe that I had pinned and thought to myself: “I’m going to make that!!!” And I did make them.

I always have this fear that the things posted on Pinterest (recipes for food) are fake, or don’t work.  I’m not sure why, but I guess I’m a bit skeptical.  I decided to make this one.

They turned out to be delicious.  The flavor is delicious, the consistency is perfect and the boys loved them.

Here’s another savory muffin idea to try.  I’m not sure it will freeze well but they look delicious.

Here are my notes on the recipe:

  1. I used paper liners that I sprayed with EVOO, there was still some sticking but not too much.
  2. When you pull the pan from the oven after cooking the hash browns, pour egg mixture over each section and then add bacon and cheese on top.
  3. I cooked the bacon in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet at 400 degrees for 17 minutes (12 minutes if you have a convection setting) then drained it on a rack.
  4. Though the there are two steps, I feel like the results are worth it.
  5. After enjoying these with the boys.  I let the remaining cupcakes cool and froze several and refrigerated several.  They reheat well and I recommend pulling a couple from the freezer the night before you want to eat them.  Trying to just “nuke” them isn’t a tasty way to reheat them.

 

Bacon Breakfast Cupcakes

Makes 12

  • 1 bag (20 ounces) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3/4 cup crumbled crisply cooked bacon
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
  • Sriracha sauce

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 400°F. Place foil liner in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups. Generously spray with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, mix potatoes, oil, salt and pepper. Divide evenly among cups; press lightly.
3. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown.
4. In medium bowl, beat eggs and milk. Firmly press potatoes in muffin cups with bottom of 1/4-cup dry measuring cup. Top each with slightly less than 1/4 cup egg mixture.  Divide bacon and cheese among each section of the muffin pan.
5. Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until knife inserted in center of egg comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with sauce.

 

Siggy-Q

 

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