Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew

How is everyone enjoying the fall weather? It has been a tad rainy, but I like the cool winds. It make me really want to be a home body. Last Friday after school and a trip to Costco with my Mom, I changed into some pyjamas, opened up my laptop, put on some jazz music, and just cooked. I was in no rush and I thoroughly enjoyed the time in the kitchen

That evening I cooked two dishes from Oh She Glows. The first, I won't even mention because it was so horrendous. I am sorry OSG but I have actually found a recipe of yours that I didn't love. I will never mention it again from here on out. The second recipe was a major winner, and thank goodness because I needed something to eat for dinner. I have actually followed this recipe twice tweaking it a bit the second time. It was not quite as good. I will share the recipe for how I would make it the next time, with some notes on possible modifications.

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew from Oh She Glows

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1L vegetable broth (It is important to use good quality broth - I use Imagine organic or homemade)
1 cup red lentils (you can use green lentils but they need more time and more liquid to cook - do not get as mushy)
3 cups cooked butternut squash* (I also tried with acorn, which wasn't as silky and sweet as the butternut)
1 cup finely chopped kale (1/2 cup frozen spinach also does the trick)

1. Add olive oil to pan and put onto medium heat. Add onion and garlic.
2. Sautee for 3-5 minutes until fragrant. Add curry powder, cooking until onions are soft.
3. Add broth and (rinsed) lentils. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer.
4. After simmering for 10 minutes, add butternut squash and kale. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes to desired consistency.
5. Serve in a large bowl with some good crusty bread.

Note: I tried adding the ginger, which was in the original recipe, in the second batch and I much preferred the stew without it. But your taste might be different.

*To cook butternut squash, place on pan face down and roast at 425 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Scoop out the insides to use for the recipe.

This was such a great meal for a cold and rainy Friday evening. I love when I can find that 'comfort food' feel in something that is this healthy. This recipe will definitely be made over and over again this season as it is really quick if you have some butternut squash pre-cooked. It is also a good reason to stock the freezer with some cooked squash.

This weekend I also took advantage of a dry (but very windy) morning, to cut some herbs from the garden to dry. I picked oregano, rosemary, and lemon balm (as seen in picture). There wasn't much oregano since the lemon balm kind of took over, but there was lots of rosemary (my favourite). I will hang these to dry so that I can have garden herbs throughout the winter!

Has anyone else come across a great healthy comfort food recipe lately?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I had a really busy thanksgiving weekend, but it was great! I really geared up for Thanksgiving this year. I was very much in the mood for it and was loving the cooler weather. Although it wasn't a nice cool fall weekend, it was still beautiful. I managed to spend some time outside and catch the changing colours of all the greenery in Hamilton.

Last weekend (before thanksgiving) I purchased a can of pumpkin puree. Pumpkin puree comes in an unneccessarily large can. I have to make diligent plans as to what I am going to make with it once the can is open. Last week I made pumpkin muffins, pumpkin granola, pumpkin oats, and more pumpkin muffins. All with one can of pumpkin. By far, the pumpkin muffins were the best of the three, and were quite the hit at my family's thanksgiving dinner (especially with my Mom).

Pumpkin Muffins very slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger on the Food Network

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup oat flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup of *not packed* brown sugar
3 tbsp unsulphered molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, molasses, oil, and 1 egg until combined.
4. Whisk in the 2nd egg.
5. Whisk in pumpkin and vanilla.
6. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 2 batches, alternating with the milk. (order of addition: dry, milk, dry milk)
7. Spoon into the muffin pan. Bake for 20-23 minutes.

These muffins are devine. They have the right amount of spice, softness, and sweetness. I think next time I could even cut down the sugar to 1/2 cup. I wanted to make a note about the flour, since I deviated from the original recipe. I used oat flour instead of whole-grain pastry flour, simply because that is all I had on hand. These leads me to believe you could get away with a few different flour combinations, maybe substituting all the all purpose for whole wheat, pairing with some oat flour. I will definitely be experimenting in the future.

Now, I am not the biggest pumpkin fan in the world, but these were my favourite use for pumpkin so far this season. I am sure I will go through another can or two before the season is over, and hopefully I find another winner like this one.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chili Cornbread Casserole

It is that time of year. The temperature is dropping, the leaves are turning, and I start listening to music I deem appropriate for fall. I also get kinda giddy sometimes and enjoy doing work on the couch rather than at my desk. Fall has arrived officially in my mind. A slow wonderful process to winter! This new season also makes me want to make classic comfort food. I want root vegetables, hearty greens, dense breads, all of which are consumed warm.

I also want one pot dishes. One of my favourites is chili. My Mom decided to make chili on Sunday so I immediately knew how I wanted to modify it. Just before she added the ground beef. I scooped up some chili to make this Cheddar Chili Cornbread Pasta Bake from How Sweet It Is. It first caught my eye on edible perspective and I knew I would make it one day. That day was Sunday. It is a really simple recipe that was perfect for my first comfort food dish of the season.

1. Grease a casserole dish.
2. Add pasta.
3. Add chili.
4. Add cheddar.
5. Top with corn bread batter.
6. Bake according to cornbread directions. Some time will have to be added to the baking time.

I would definitely make this dish again. But next time I would make some changes.

1. Less pasta, a lot less pasta. I found after baking it was too pasta heavy when really I wanted more chili.
2. More chili, with more liquid. Adding to the note above, more liquid in the chili would have made a more saucy consistency.
3. Add only 1/2 of corn bread batter. I added a bit more and it was just too much.
4. Add less jalapeno to the cornbread, if at all. I found that it was just too spicy, and was too much with the spice I added to the chili. I only added 2 jalapenos even though it called for 3!

Other than those changes, it was a great dish which is perfect for this time of year. You can expect more recipes of this type in the coming weeks.

To all you Ontarians out there, I hope you voted today!