Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Pesto

Sometimes I am reminded, in a slap in the face type of way, that I've gotten too comfortable with something. It's usually not parenting, but last weekend as I was shrugging off my 1-year-old's fall, and helping her back up as I do so often - she's still working on stability, my mother in law noticed that her eye was bleeding. My sweet baby had slit her eyelid open and bashed up her eye, on my watch, while I was casually and nonchalantly responding to her cries. She's normally such a tough little girl. We've had tumbles down stairs, a fall on a bike, and countless other stumbles, all of which produced only a few tears. So I tend not to fret over her bumps and bruises these days. But seeing her eye in such bad shape made me re-think my easy-going attitude. She's totally fine, by the way. I think it's me that's scarred.

I thought it would be fun to make a pumpkin pesto, not a just pumpkin seed pesto - there's a million of those recipes out there, but a pesto sauce made from actual pumpkin with a pumpkin taste. Maybe I was a little too confident. My initial attempts weren't that great. It either didn't have enough pumpkin flavor, or the spices weren't right. But actually, it was a good thing, because I really had to think and just experiment, and that's something I haven't done in a long time. So, this is me, reminding myself not to get so comfortable!

For the pesto:

2 cloves garlic
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons grated/crumbled Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons canned pumpkin (plain, no spices)
3/4 cup pepitas
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/3 fresh sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor add all ingredients minus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Blend until smooth, slowly adding in the reserved oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Excellent with squash filled raviolis or crackers with goat's cheese!   

Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fusilli with Golden Beets, Beet Greens and Toasted Walnuts

Summer orientation started this week, so life is busy, busy, busy.  I was on maternity leave last year so I missed the whole shebang.  But this year, I am making up for it.  Presentations, presentations, presentations.  It's the name of the game right now.  Last week I was talking to parents about dropping their child off at college.  Don't ask me how I am qualified to speak on this topic.  I'm not; but I did a lot of research, and I had an amazing team helping me put it all together. It's a tough time...and I am SO glad I don't have to deal with it for another 14 years!   

Believe it or not, one of the best parts of my job in summer is that we eat in the UCSB dining commons.  They are award winning.  They use as many local and sustainable ingredients as they can.  And, they have a huge variety of food at every meal.  Last week they had an amazing beet salad that I missed out on, so I was inspired to find my own beet recipe.  This one was great.  I was a little sceptical about beets and pasta, but the combo was super tasty.  And easy...noticing a theme in this blog?!  So, try this out for a quick, easy, fresh summer pasta; no orientation needed.  

Recipe slightly adapted from Epicurius,

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 large onions, quartered lengthwise through root end, sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 bunches 2-inch-diameter golden beets with fresh healthy greens; beets peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, greens cut into 1-inch-wide strips

12 ounces fusilli pasta

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and stir until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil and onions to same skillet and sauté until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to sauté until onions are tender and browned, about 30 minutes longer. Add garlic and stir 2 minutes. Scatter beet greens over onions. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over; cover and cook until beet greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook beets in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beets to medium bowl. Return water to boil. Add pasta to beet cooking liquid and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Stir onion-greens mixture and beets into pasta. Add pasta cooking liquid by tablespoons to moisten. Season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with walnuts. Serve, passing additional cheese.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kale Chips

The kale chips aren't all that pretty, hence the pic of the raw kale!
We are making progress on our front yard.  I am embarrassed to tell you, however, that we started this project when it was still 2010.  The neighbors must roll their eyes at us.  We work in fits and spurts, with long breaks in between.  I guess they should be happy we've done anything at all.  The yard was, BAD when we moved in, and it stayed that way for three years.  So, removing the juniper bushes, painted green cracked cement walkway, and the AstroTurf covered porch was a huge improvement, even if we were left with a large mud pit.  We replaced the crumbling retaining walls and the walkway is now a nice cobblestone path.  But we still have big areas of what could only be referred to as "weeds".  Between the kids, full-time jobs, and life, it is tough to get anything done.  That's why I love simple, easy, delicious recipes like this one.  We got to use some of our homegrown kale, which was great, and made us feel like we had actually accomplished something.  You can add any seasonings you like, but garlic and paprika are particularly good.  We tried making some with salt and vinegar and it came out pretty well - although we preferred the garlic and paprika. 

Recipe - word of mouth, although there are loads of recipes online

1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped
olive oil to lightly coat kale
sea salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or use garlic powder to taste)
light dusting of paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread chopped kale in a single layer on a large cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss until well coated.  Dust with the sea salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika and toss again.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Stir and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until crispy.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Balsamic, Orange, and Rosemary Chicken

There is a new friend at our house, but we are hoping he doesn't stay long.  He is not the best house guest.  Our dog seems to like him fine, but we aren't big fans of the trenches he is digging, or the holes he is creating in the yard. We have tried to reason with him, tempt him elsewhere, catch him in a humane trap with a promise of being set free in an open field, but he just won't leave. We attempted the vibrating stakes in the ground.  The website for these promised to drive him away without harm.  We were a little skeptical, but many of the reviews were positive, that is, of course, all except one reviewer who wrote: "Don't waste your money.  The only way these get rid of gophers is if you accidentally stab one in the heart while pounding them into the ground."  We had a good laugh about that.  But so far, he seems to be right.  I'm not sure the vibrating stakes have even deterred the gopher from the immediate surrounding area.   If anything, it seems we are now providing him free massage.  No wonder he isn't too anxious to leave.  Ugh, what to do?  Any suggestions are welcome.  We are running out of humane options. 

As for the recipe, my very thoughtful and kind husband made this for me awhile back.  Wasn't that nice of him?  I hope you will remember his kindness if my fear becomes reality, and we have to resort to a rather unfortunate method of getting rid of the gopher...

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
150ml fresh orange juice
150ml pint chicken stock
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
orange segments and fresh rosemary sprigs to garnish

1. Put the chicken between pieces of plastic wrap and flatten slightly by bashing with a meat tenderizer. Unwrap and sprinkle on both sides with pepper. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, then brown the chicken for 5 minutes, turning halfway through.

2. Pour 2 tbsp vinegar over the chicken, add the orange juice and stock and sprinkle with the rosemary and salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and bubble gently for 5-8 minutes until tender, spooning with the sauce frequently and turning chicken halfway through.

3. Stir in the sugar, butter and rest of the vinegar, then sizzle for a few minutes until reduced and glossy.

4. Put the chicken in a serving dish, spoon the sauce over and garnish with orange and rosemary. Serve with rice and a crisp green salad.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Homegrown strawberries anyone?

Yep, I'm impressed.  I'm bursting with pride.  Andrew does most of the gardening and planting of our fruits and vegetables, and for good reason - he has a much greener thumb than I.  But, I planted these!  And they grew!  And we got a lot of them!  And they are good! 

P.S. I'm not sharing; don't even ask...     

Monday, April 4, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

These days, I catch about 10 minutes of t.v. as I drift off to sleep at night.  I saw this recipe on the Food Network the other night and kept myself awake long enough to make a mental note of the ingredients.  Impressed that I could still remember them four days later, I decided to give it a shot.  They were great!  A little bit cakey but also very rich and chocolaty, and super moist without being greasy.  They also had a really smooth texture to them which we all loved.  And, seeing as they are, shall we say, full of beans, we just called them "healthy" too...

 Recipe from Melissa d'Arabian, as seen on The Food Network:

1 Cup canned black beans, drained
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
1/2 Cup melted chocolate (can use melted chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 Cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup mini chocolate chips

Blend beans and oil in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Add eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, instant coffee, melted chocolate, and vanilla and blend for another minute or so until well mixed.  In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, flour, and salt.  Pulse in flour mixture just until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into lightly greased 9x9 glass baking dish.  Bake for 23-27 minutes at 350 degrees.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guinness Rarebit with Vegetables and Poached Egg

My first St. Patrick's Day in Ireland was a tad surprising.  It's always been one of my favorite holidays and I was excited to experience it in a country where it actually had true significance.  That morning, I pinched Andrew for not wearing green.  I was met with an astounded, "Why did you just do that?" Me: "'Cause you're not wearing green."  Andrew: "Why should I be wearing green?"  Me: "It's St. Patrick's Day!"  Andrew: "So?"  Me: "So, I pinched you because you weren't wearing green on St. Patrick's Day."  Andrew: "You are supposed to wear green on St. Patrick's Day?  I've lived in Dublin for five years and I've never heard of that before."  Me: (equally astounded) "What do you mean you've never heard of that?"  Andrew: "Must be an American thing babe."  Me: speechless, but here's what I was thinking: ("He's just not that observant.  He's from England so he probably just doesn't know.")  But, he was right.  They don't wear green, they don't drink green beer, they don't say "top 'o the mornin' to 'ya," there's no pinching, they don't eat corned beef and cabbage, there's no such thing as the Guinness toast, there are no leprechauns, and they refer to the holiday as "Paddy's Day".  That's with two "d"s not two "t"s.  People go to church, there's a parade, and the day centers around drinking and music - with nary a shamrock in sight. 

They don't eat rarebit on Paddy's Day either, but it felt like a very Irish meal to make - at least to an American...

Adapted from

1/3 of a stick of butter
1 tbsp flour
50ml milk
50ml Guinness
8 oz. mature cheddar
1 tsp English mustard
Worcestershire sauce
4 large slices bread , toasted
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, cut into small strips
4 eggs, poached

Melt the butter in a small pan,stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually mix in the milk, then slowly add the Guinness until you have a thick sauce. Bubble for a couple of minutes then add in the cheese and stir until melted. Mix in the mustard with a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce and season. Spread the mix over the bread then broil until golden and bubbling.

Meanwhile, saute the cabbage and carrots in a little butter until tender.  Poach the eggs to desired hardness.  Top the rarebit with the vegetables and an egg.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails