Category Archives: Home Cooking

Want me Baby

Butternut Squash Lasagna

butternut_squash_lasagna

I’m not a fan of fall weather, even more so when it comes to the season after fall, but I am a fan of many of the vegetables that pop up during these chilly months.  From the winter squashes, to the greens, to the delicious root vegetables – the fall is well stocked with delicious vegetables. Today’s treat features a number of those goodies, including some of the last of the produce from the Farmer’s Market at my office.  Butternut Squash is a familiar vegetable in our house and it really seems to go with everything.  In this case I added some swiss chard, baby kale, and some mashed pie pumpkin (thought the variety was called baby boy but that just resulted in lots of baby costumes) that was leftover from making the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Want me Baby

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of lasagna noodles (ready to use or pre-cooked)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups favorite alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup mozzarella, divided (shredded or fresh sliced)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly oil a roasting pan and place butternut squash in roasting pan cut side down. Bake for 45 minutes. Flip squash in pan cut side up and use a melon spoon, or fork, to remove flesh to a blender. Add garlic and butter and puree until slightly smooth.
  2. Turn oven down to 350
  3. Line the bottom of a 9x9 pan with a 1/3 cup of the sauce and spread around, to include the sides of the pan. Place the first layer of noodles, trimming as needed to prevent overlap. Spoon 1/3 of the butternut squash and pumpkin purees on the noodle. Then top with a third of the greens, 1/3 cup of ricotta, and 1/3 of the Mozzarella. Spoon 1/3 cup of the sauce on top and spread evenly.
  4. Add the next layer of noodles and repeat the layers, then top with the final layer - ending with noodles. Top with the last of the sauce, then the last of the mozzarella (1/3 cup) and the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, the cheese should be a light golden brown on the edge and the cheese should be bubbling.

Notes

If using cubed butternut squash, reduce roasting time to 15 minutes and flip at halfway point. For a GF variety, use brown rice lasagna noodles!

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/11/want-me-baby.html

Lasagna will never be a healthy dinner option, and it’s not always the most budget-friendly option, but it will always be something delicious and hearty and fantastic.  I figured that if I only make it a few times a year it’s not that bad…right???  I’m sending this recipe over to November’s Secret and in Season, which is being hosted by Katie of FeedingBoys and was founded by the awesome Ren.   There are so many delicious fall recipes being linked up over there, I can’t wait to give them a whirl!!!

Gotta, Gotta

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

pumpkin_choco_cookie

When I was in college it was my best friend’s “job” to make a batch, or five, of pumpkin cookies after fall.  After college I realized that if I wanted my pumpkin fix I needed to figure out the recipe or accept a life without these delicious treats.  The main trick I have found is to pre-roast the pumpkin and store the mash in the fridge or freezer until it’s time to use.  In a pinch, canned pumpkin can also work but just make to grab mashed pumpkin and not the pre-made pie filling as it tends to be too runny.  As for the chips, I’m a fan of milk chocolate but as long as chocolate is being used there is no wrong option.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie

Serves: Yields around 60 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar for 10 minutes, until slightly fluffy. Add in the egg, salt, and vanilla extract and beat for 5 minutes before adding in the mashed pumpkin.
  2. Preheat oven to 350
  3. In a small bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Slowly add to the wet ingredients and beat until just mixed.
  4. Spoon the dough onto cookie sheets in walnut sized portions. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a golden orange shade.
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/11/gotta-gotta.html

These cookies are so good – your dogs might climb up on to the table cat ninja style and eat the last dozen.  Thankfully milk chocolate is not as toxic for dogs as semi-sweet chocolate and Calli is good to go.  Lesson for the future as now we know that she can jump in to the table, regardless of chair placement.   At least we got to enjoy a few dozen before that happened!

I’m sending these over, slightly last minute, to the /r/52weeksofcooking pumpkin challenge!  I also sent a large number of these to my office, where they were totally and utterly destroyed in a short amount of time.

Dark and Deep

Soup and Stew Round Up

 Another month has ended – and with that another round up!  This time I’m focusing on soups and stews, which are starting to become a weekly feature.  I know that as winter continues to approach, more and more hearty soups are going to be appearing on our weekly menu.  So with that in mind I have a few of my favorite soup and stew recipes, some from my blog and others from blogging friends of mine!   Unless indicated all recipes are gluten free, while others are divided vegan vs. vegetarian vs swap the broth – all assuming labels are checked for hidden ingredients.    A few of these are also great transition recipes, for those days that start out just above freezing but wind up closer to mid-70s.

Vegan

Corn Bisque

 Corn Bisque with Avocado

curried_cauliflower_soup

Curry Cauliflower Soup

Five Bean Chili

Hot and Sour Soup

Farmer’s Market Soup: A Take on Ribollita

Ribollita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Sweet Potato Corn Stew

Thai Eggplant Posole

Three Bean Chili

Three Bean Chili

Vegetable Soup

Vegetarian

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Celery Root – Apple Soup

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup (easy to transition to vegan!)

Chilled Cucumber Soup (easy to transition to vegan!)

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Gazpacho with Cornbread Croutons

Moonstruck Minestrone

Tortellini and Cannelini Minestrone with Spinach

 Swap the Broth

Black Bean Soup

Busia’s Cheese Soup

Cream of Celery Soup

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Sweet Potato & Chickpea Soup

I had a fun time pulling this together – visiting old blog posts and checking out some new-to-me recipes from my blogging friends!  I’m not a winter person, but I can certainly get on board with the food.

Walk it

Sweet Potato Biscuits

sweet_potato_biscuits

I’ve posted before about how much I love the Farmer’s Market at my office, the market which will be ending for the season in two weeks – eek!  I’ve tried out so many different varieties of tomatoes, apples, and random greens that withdrawal is rather likely at this point.   A few weeks ago, Mark at Chocolates and Tomatoes (yep, still obsessed with the awesomeness of the name) tossed me the LARGEST sweet potato ever.  Not even joking, this beast was the size of my arm from wrist to elbow – total insanity.  He also challenged me to do something different with it, which really got me thinking.  It also had me asking around the office for ideas as I’ve already done a lot with sweet potatoes.  In the end, it was a suggestion from a coworker to do a sweet potato bread that had me thinking about drop biscuits.  Some quick googling gave me great information about all the different types of biscuits and with I decided to go with a quick rise drop biscuit – mostly because rolling dough is just never a good idea for me.

Walk it

Serves: Yields around 12 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb sweet potato, quartered and peeled
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil along with the quartered sweet potato. Cook until potato is soft, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Preheat oven to 425
  3. In a medium bowl sift together the flour and baking powder, cut in the sweet potato using two knives. The dough should form pea sized balls.
  4. Form a well in the middle, and pour the milk in to the well quickly mixing in the dry ingredients until just wet.
  5. Drop a walnut sized amount of dough on to cookie sheet and repeat to form 12 biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool on pan for a few minutes before removing to a rack. Serve and enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/10/walk-it.html

The sweet potato I was gifted actually produced three times what I needed for this recipe, so the rest of the puree was frozen and used to make sweet potato gnocci.   As for the milk in the recipe, if using dairy based be sure to use whole or 2% – while for non-dairy a full fat coconut or almond milk marked “plain” will work the best.  I hesitate to suggest soy milk due the lack of fat, which is the same reason I would avoid a 1% or skim milk.

Reality

DC VegFest

VegFest Nachos

It’s not often that I go to an event regarding food and come away disappointed, but that seems to be the trend lately.  I’ve been a HUGE fan of the DC VegFest since I stumbled upon it a few years ago on a DC adventure involving the Eastern Market and the Capitol Book Faire – and I was hooked.  There were demos showing how to work with nutritional yeast and Vegg when it come to vegan baking as well as info booths about all the uses for tofu and why the type matters.  I was able to try vegan cookies and cupcakes as well as smoothies thickened with tofu and the new (at the time) Daiya meltable line.  I came away with information on why being a vegetarian matters as well as how to be a GOOD vegetarian.  For many people, including myself in my early veg years, living vegetarian is synonymous with living the anti-Adkins diet of all carbs all the time.  VegFest was a nice post-college reminder that there is more to life than pasta and rice.  It was at VegFest that I saw my first Tofu Press and while I’ve never invested in an official one, I press my tofu each and every time and the difference in taste/texture is amazing.  To me this is what a vegetarian food festival should be – teaching people how to live a healthier life even if it’s as simple as #MeatlessMonday.

Instead more and more food festivals seem to be about preaching to people why what they are doing isn’t enough, or isn’t “right”.   From National Food Expos to VegFest to the Emporiyum, more and more of the focus seems to be on organizations preaching to people about why their specific type of living (natural oils, fruitarianism, freegans, etc) is the RIGHT one- Revival style if you will.  It’s almost the reverse of the classic teach a man to “fish” story – instead of being taught how to do the skill they are being told they aren’t good enough since they aren’t “fishing” but not being told HOW to do it.  I have heard speaker after speaker preach about the importance of green leafy vegetables,  but not one of them gave a recipe for HOW to use green leafy vegetables.  I heard speakers going on about the importance of limiting soy intake, but not one of them talked about HOW to make your own nut milk/cheese.  I get that talking about the problem is easier than fixing the problem, but from my experience it seems as if many of these organizations were doing a better job in their early years which makes me wonder why the change.   I saw more clothing, soup, and products booths at the event this year then anything else.

In the end I’m sure it comes down to money – bringing in produce to cook is not cheap and shockingly (to me) I’ve never seen a local farm participate in one these food events, only restaurants selling the final product.  So why the disconnect?  Why the move from showing people HOW to borderline discouraging them by saying what they are doing isn’t enough?  Is this the new direction for Food Festivals – making them more like user group seminars where the attendees are expected to already know how to make their own almond milk or cashew cheese?  I’m not sure, and with that I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to stop going to these events – but I know that I’m not going to be as eager to bring friends to the events.  I want to go to a VegFest that is a celebration of all things veg*n – which to me means including the fruits and vegetables and legumes that are so fundamental to this way of living.

Note: Nachos pictured above are from Bread and Brew and were fantastic!  However in fitting with my other issues, a recipe for that fantastic vegan queso would have been a fantastic addition :-) Tho Belle did appreciate the frisbee the bamboo plate was resting in!