2016

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Thanksgiving recipes

Butternut Squash with Lemony Quinoa

Talk about a marvelous new dish to lighten up the traditionally heavy Thanksgiving meal!

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces butternut squash (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel and 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives (optional)


Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds and strings. Peel and cut into ½-inch cubes and toss with the 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Place them on a non-stick baking sheet, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Heat a deep, non-stick pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until shallots soften slightly.
  • Add the quinoa and toast it until it begins to exude a toasty aroma.
  • Add the squash along with the thyme and vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring once or twice, until all broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon peel and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more lemon juice if needed.
  • Serve with toasted pine nuts and chives sprinkled on top.

This dish is very intriguing to the palette; the lemon flavor in the vegetable broth is heavenly, the crunch of the quinoa is unsurpassed in its texture, and the roasted Bnut squash provides a solidity to the dish that balances the lightness of the lemony flavor... give it a try! We made this recipe at the last Eat To Your Heart's Content cooking class, co-taught by me and Wendy Van Wagner of In the Kitchen. This is Wendy's recipe and has endless possibilities for variations--have fun with it!

Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce–a heavenly dessert!

Pears poached in red wine

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cold water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (with stems intact)
  • 1 bottle light red wine
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 strip orange rind
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, cut in half
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Fresh-whipped heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, or crème fraiche for serving

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, combine the water and lemon juice. Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Cut a small slice from the base of each pear so the fruit will sit without toppling. Drop each one into the water; set aside. This will keep the pears from browning.
  • In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pears, combine the wine, sugar, orange rind, anise, vanilla, clove, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  • Take the pears from the water and place them lovingly into the simmering sauce. To keep the pears submerged in the poaching liquid, cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the saucepan and set it on the surface of the liquid. (only in case they float to the top, which will affect their becoming cooked. I haven’t found this to be an issue…)
  • Simmer the pears for 25 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer. They may need 5 to 10 minutes longer if they were not ripe.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the pears to cool for 15 or so minutes in the poaching liquid. (Once cooled, you can transfer the pears and their liquid to a large container, where they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).
  • Strain about one-third of the poaching liquid into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Let the mixture bubble steadily until it reduces to a syrupy glaze, with a consistency like thin honey.
  • To serve, place a pear in a shallow bowl and drizzle with the syrup. Add a dollop of the creamy topping.

Note: With their elegant contoured shape, pears are an attractive dessert. Make a poaching liquid from red wine, which lends the flesh of the fruit its deep ruby color, and add orange rind, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, a whole clove, and a star anise for more aroma. After poaching, leave the pears in the liquid overnight (or for a few days), and the fruit will keep getting darker and fuller flavored. Simmer the syrup into a glaze, garnish with whipped cream or mascarpone, and you have an ideal ending to a hearty holiday meal.

Thanks to Wendy Van Wagner of In the Kitchen for this amazing dessert recipe! It's what I am making for my family at Thanksgiving. Yum!

Butternut Squash: A simple, delicious side dish

My new I'm-hooked-on veggie of the week is butternut squash! I've made a fabulous soup for Thanksgiving the past several years, but recently, I've begun to bake Bnut squash and I am lovin' the taste and texture of it with this simpler preparation.


Ingredients:                                                      

Butternut Squash

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Preparation: Either

  • peel the skin off of the squash with a potato peeler; cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds; chop it into bite sized cubes, OR
  • leave the skin on; cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds; cut each half into 1/2 inch slices (so they look like smiles!);
  • rub the cubes or the slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lay out the pieces on a cookie sheet.
  • bake at 375 for 20-ish minutes; turning them over at 10 minutes.

The cubes can be then added to a casserole with legumes or grains, or tossed into a salad. The slices look gorgeous as a side dish, and are divine when taken out of the fridge the next day and snacked on like you'd eat an slice of an orange!

Butternut squash provides an abundance of trace minerals and vitamins and has a delightful flavor. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower

Delicious and nutritious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • a larger pinch of black pepper

Preparation:

  • pre-heat the oven to 400.
  • cut the head of cauli into 1/2 inch thick slices. Small pieces will break off of the slices, no worries--they'll taste just as fabulous!
  • place the slices on a cookie sheet or flat pan.
  • drizzle with olive oil, spreading the oil around on both sides.
  • sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • bake for 5 - 8 minutes, turn the pieces over, and repeat.
  • Enjoy the rich, buttery taste and crunchy texture! Let the kids pick up the slices with their hands to bite off delicious mouthfuls!

Note: I've been bringing home orange cauliflower whenever I find it at Briarpatch, my local natural foods co-op. It's got a fuller flavor than it's white cousin and offers an intriguing viewing variation.

This delightful side dish was introduced to me by my colleague and friend, Wendy Van Wagner of In the Kitchen.

Fruit Cobbler

Not too sweet, not too tart...that's how a fruit cobbler should be! This time of year is so rich in the bounty that is available at the natural foods cooperative market where I shop: fruit, fruit, and more fruit. I make smoothies. I chop up berries to mix with cereal. I keep a huge fruit salad cut up and in the fridge, ready to savor at any moment--alone, with yogurt, or even on top of vanilla ice cream. Grapes and cherries, papaya, mango, pineapple, apples, pears, peaches, plums, berries, bananas--you name it and I'll include it in my fruit salad.

I am a real advocate of preparing foods ahead as much as possible to increase access to healthful small meals throughout the day. I have found a delicious twist to this that is a healthful treat, and especially useful if the fruit salad has been in the fridge a day too long! Healthful Treat. Now when's the last time you saw those two words together?

Ingredients:

  • as above, any fruit you have lying around, chopped into bite size pieces
  • sugar, to taste
  • granulated tapioca
  • optional: a pinch of cinnamon and/or fresh ground nutmeg
  • flour
  • sugar
  • coconut oil (in its solid form, not liquid)

To prepare:

  1. The amount of sugar you mix into the fruit will depend on how much fruit salad you will be using, as well as your personal taste preference. I suggest: Go Tart!
  2. Mix in granulated tapioca. (try 3 T for every 4 cups of fruit)
  3. Consider cinnamon or nutmeg here, but just a small pinch.
  4. Put the fruity mix into a glass baking dish.
    *** Here's where the fun begins: assembling the cobbler topping ***
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and coconut oil until you have a crumbly mess that is not too sweet but pleasing to the palate. (see note below)
  6. Pour the crumble over the fruit, spreading evenly to the edges of the dish.
  7. Bake uncovered, in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45-ish minutes, keeping an eye on the topping. Once it starts to become golden brown, I turn the oven off, but let the dish sit happily inside for another 10 minutes or so.
  8. Let it cool, then enjoy this delicious and healthy treat.
  9. Top with yogurt or creme fraiche, and you've got a small meal of good quality fat, carbs, fiber, and amazing flavor.

NOTES:

  • I'm not a measuring spoon type of gal; I love the free flow of creativity in the kitchen. It works out most of the time, that I am rewarded with a delish dish or meal that may never taste the same way twice, but that elicits joy and satisfaction in the process.
  • My personal choice is organic food; from produce to flour, sugar, grains, spices, coconut oil, dairy, etc. See how that concepts fits into your own personal choices.
  • For this recipe, I use unprocessed cane sugar and light brown sugar. I suggest that you try to shift towards less sugar when baking--the tartness in fruit is quite exciting once your mouth has a chance to savor the flavors beyond sweet.
  • I love coconut oil. Yes, it is a saturated fat, but one that has the health benefits of plant foods, and woweezowee, once you get a taste of it in this topping, you'll never go back!

Grilled Veggies Extraordinaire!

It is nearly unimaginable to me that I have gone through my entire adult life--until last week--before becoming familiar with this divine, easy, and healthy method of cooking up a bunch of vegetables all at once--and having them come out as a side dish to any meal that a 5-star chef would be proud of! Where have I been hiding? Well, it's never too late and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I now do!

Ingredients:

  • any and all veggies that you round up: zucchini, peppers (red and yellow), cauliflower, mushrooms, eggplant, broccoli, purple onion, green beans -- don't hold back!
  • olive oil
  • good quality balsamic vinaigrette (I use fig vinaigrette--it's sweet flavor adds a surprise zip to the marinade)
  • a small pinch of salt and a hearty pinch of black pepper

To prepare:
1.  cut veggies into bite size pieces, and place into large bowl
2. add enough olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette to please your palate, and to coat the veggies uniformly
3. add the salt and pepper; mix it all up well
4. place the veggies into one of those grill pans intended for small pieces of food (see photo)
5. cook for 15 minutes on medium flame on the BBQ, stirring every 5 minutes
6. Enjoy the most delish, crunchy, healthy, aromatic, and simply marvelous veggies you have ever eaten!

“Robin brings dedication, focus, passion, and intellect to whatever endeavor she is pursuing. She does not just talk about good health, she practices it thoroughly every day of her life. When she talks to clients about healthy lifestyle choices, they are able to see the effects of healthy choices by observing the woman in front of them!”
Arthur S., Client

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