Butternut Squash and Kale Mash with Toasted Walnuts and Sage (gf, veg, v option)

Greetings, hungry blogosphere! Today’s post is sinfully tasty vegetarian feast and a retooled version of a recently republished Ree Drummond recipe. That Ree Drummond? The accidental country girl-slash-Pioneer Woman? Yep, that one, I luh her. I’ve subscribed to her blog for years (haven’t seen the show so I’m absolved if it’s terrible). She’s a very funny writer who cooks like a real person who feeds other real people in real situations and really loves real food. No “poached quail eggs in nests of freeze-dried seaweed” from The Pioneer Woman. Phew! “Thanks, Ree!” cried happy stomachs everywhere.

another reason I like Ree: she occasionally  punctuates her posts with cheeky pictures like this one

another reason I like Ree: she occasionally punctuates her posts with cheeky pictures like this one

The Pioneer Woman’s butternut squash and kale recipe is no exception to her practical/delicious formula. It’s simple, fast, healthy, hearty, and can be used in roughly one bajillion ways. Get a load ofof Ree’s fabulous suggestions for using the mixture: in quesadillas! stirred into risotto! in a grilled cheese sandwich! in a pita with chicken! puréed with broth to make soup! tossed with bowtie pasta, olive oil, and Parmesan! as an appetizer, on crackers with goat cheese! alone, on a plate!

kale 10

Basically, regardless of which of the bajillion ways you serve this dish, it will be delicious, so make a big pot. I added onion, sage, and walnuts to my version and we enjoyed it with turkey cutlets Dave made. He was the Marlboro Man to my Pioneer Woman as we cooked. Ree Drummond joke. NBD.

kale dinner

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND KALE MASH WITH TOASTED WALNUTS AND SAGE

Inspired by The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:kale 1

  • 1 12-oz bag chopped kale, or 1 head kale, roughly chopped with stalks removed
  • 1 bag cubed butternut squash or 1 butternut squash, cubed and peeled with seeds removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • a few grates of fresh nutmeg
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup raw walnuts

Directions:

In a deep saucepan or cast iron skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium. When the butter has melted and is slightly foamy, add the onion and sauté until translucent. I love this smell.

kale 2

Add the butternut squash, salt, sage, nutmeg, and chili powder and saute about 5 minutes, until all sides have had a some time with the direct heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover with a lid, steaming for 5 more minutes until the squash is soft. The steaming makes this dish a mash; if you’re looking for a more caramelized consistency, be patient and sauté until golden brown.

While the squash steams, toast the walnuts in a small nonstick skillet over medium, tossing so they don’t burn. They’re done when they’re a fragrant, toasty brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

kale 4

When the butternut squash is soft, remove the mixture to a large bowl and return the pan to the stove, turning the heat back up to medium high. Add 2 tablespoons water and bring to a simmer. Add the torn kale leaves and stir around for a few minutes, letting them wilt. If they get dry, add another tablespoon water.

When the leaves have wilted and broken down (break them! break their spirit!), stir them into the squash, tasting for seasoning and grinding in as much pepper as you’d like. Top with the toasted walnuts and serve!


Creamy Crockpot Pinto Beans (gf, v option) and Gluten-free Cornbread (gf, veg)

The Missouri November weather was spectacular last weekend. Dave and I went on an epic, 3-hour, 10+ mile hike around the Weldon Spring area to enjoy said Missouri November weather, beginning and ending at the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell. What is the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell, you ask? Well, we wondered the same thing. It’s a 45-acre mound of rocks covering layers of nuclear waste. And you can walk to the top! How’s that for a bizarre tourist attraction?

beans 15

view from the top

The Us Army Ordinance Works purchased the site and adjacent land (17,232 acres- whoa) in 1941. The Army contracted the Atlas Powder Company to manufacture trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT) at a sprawling factory complex on the site until 1945 to support World War II efforts. After the war, the Army started selling off the land but kept about 2,000 acres to house the Weldon Spring Uranium Feed Mill Plant, which was just what it sounds like- a uranium ore processing plant that operated from 1955 to 1966. Uranium ore processing plants produce well, radioactive waste, and that, kids, is what’s tucked beneath the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell.

beans 14

beans 17

I’m hesitant to believe that the waste isn’t harmful to the surrounding communities or people walking all over the cell, but so far, I feel no strange after-effects. I can see better, though. Strange…. Anyway, we were starving when we got home and had breakfast-for-lunch, with the addition of these warming, slow-cooked, creamy pinto beans and leftover cornbread to dunk in them. I’d soaked the beans overnight the night before and put them in the crockpot before we headed out, so only finishing touches were left to be made when we got back. The cornbread originally accompanied some white bean chicken chili we’d made and heated up well to go with the beans. So, without further ado, creamy crockpot pinto beans and gluten-free cornbread!

beans 12

CREAMY CROCKPOT PINTO BEANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped, or 2 tbsp olive oil for vegan beans
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Rinse the dry beans after you pick them over for any rocks or clumps of dirt. Finding rocks and clumps of dirt in bags of dry beans isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, but it is every bit as gross as it sounds, so look ’em over good. Put the beans in a bowl and cover with an inch of water, soaking at least 8 hours or overnight. How retro-frugal you are, soaking beans! Good for you. The WWII-era Real Housewives of Weldon Spring would be proud.

beans 1

RHOWS

When the beans have had a good soaking, dump their soaking water, rinse them again, and put them in your crockpot. Cover with water, up to 1/2 inch above the beans. Keep in mind that when cooking in a crockpot, the water added to a recipe will stay put, so add as much as you’d like or not like. Cover and set to low for 8 hours or high for 4. Take a hike.

When you return from your hike/nap/workday/classified mission, chop the 2 pieces of bacon and cook them over medium in a small skillet until crispy. If you’re omitting bacon, heat the olive oil over medium. Remove the bacon once it’s crispy and add the onion to the bacon fat or olive oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Salt and pepper the onions, and add the onions, bacon, and 2 cups of beans to a food processor. Whir that sucker until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir the mixture back into the pot of beans.

You’re all done! The beans are even better the next day. They’re rich and creamy and make a perfect partner for a few hunks of….

OLD FASHIONED GLUTEN-FREE CORNBREAD

Adapted from Gluten Free On a Shoestring

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow cornmealbread 1
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 4 tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups room-temperature plain yogurt
  • 4 tbsp raw honey

Directions:

Grab two bowls and preheat your oven to 400. In the larger bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

bread 2

In a second, smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: egg, butter, yogurt, and honey.

bread 3

Now make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl. See where this is going? Now you know why the dry ingredients got more bowl-love than the wet ones. Pour the wet ingredients into the center well and mix until just combined.

bread 4

Grease a cast-iron skillet or 9×13″ pan and spread the cornmeal mixture in evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.

bread 6

This celiac husband-friendly side was quite tasty. It held together well but was also crumbly, and would be great with the addition of cheddar cheese or chopped green chiles. It was great with the white chili and stood up to the beans.  What will you serve with yours?


Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole (veg, gf) & Planting Herbs Like a Boss

So I’ve cautiously planted a few things this year… useful things. Herbs. This is my first shot at eating something I’ve grown and, as of this morning, the herbs were still alive (victoreeeeeeeyyyy!). Though the herbs aren’t dead, I’ve formed a bad habit of tending to but not using them- and what’s the point of that?! Sheesh. I decided to make this casserole to pick some thyme and let it do it’s thing. To give it its thyme to shine, if you will (yuk yuk yuk).

cass2

Here are the products of my attempt at green thumbing-it. Irises I didn’t plant, the suspiciously healthy herbs, succulents that survive in desert conditions, coreopsis and other native plants that were the lone survivors of a Washington University drought experiment (thanks, Julie!), and basil, which would probably grow in a highway ditch.

Stand back. I am a master gardener.

To use my homegrown, real-life, big girl thyme and combine my love of grains, casseroles, and veggies, I made this delicious fare last night. Largely based on Heidi Swanson’s wild rice casserole (I know, I know, I keep coming back to Heidi), I added more dairy and waaay more veggies to make this a hearty and filling vegetarian side. Served with greens, another veggie, or with salmon as Dave enjoyed it, it’s a main dish. It’s quite tasty and addictive- I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

cass veggies

get jazzy on it

BROCCOLI WILD RICE CASSEROLE

Inspired by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz cottage cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, diced
  • half a large yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic or 4-5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 3 leaves kale, ribbed and cut into ribbons
  • 1 small head broccoli, stems diced and florets cut into quarters

Directions:

To cook the wild rice: in a small stockpot, add the wild rice, water, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is chewy. You may need to drain this, depending on how temperamental and stubborn your rice is. Set aside!

I got some wild, wild rice

I got some wiiild, wiiild rice**

As the rice cooks, heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Add your pre-chopped veggies and sauté in this order:

  1. carrots, mushrooms, thyme, onion, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt for 3 minutes
  2. add kale and broccoli, cook another 2 minutes
  3. add celery and garlic, cook 2 minutes more
  4. your kitchen smells amazing now.

cass veggies cook

Set the veggies aside or just scoot the pan to a cold burner. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, and as much pepper as you’d like. You can whisk in the last 1/2 tsp salt here or omit it altogether.

cass eggs

Preheat your oven to 350. Using a bit more olive oil or some butter, grease a casserole dish. I used a large Corningware but a 9X9 would work well here, or even a 9×13. Fold the rice into the dairy and egg mixture and then fold in the veggies.

cass all mixed in bowl

Pour the rice and veggie mix into the greased casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes depending on the depth of your casserole dish. You want the casserole to be heated through and the top to be golden brown. All done! Let cool slightly and serve!


**


Produce Basket Weeknight Curry (v, gf)

Well, hello! It’s time for a curry. This dish is a great way to either add veggies to your diet, celebrate a meatless Monday, or use up the sad veggies withering away accusingly in your fridge. Grab the veggies! It’s not too late!

veggie curry

PRODUCE BASKET WEEKNIGHT CURRY

Ingredients:

  • brown rice, cooked according to package directions (or a microwaveable package of brown rice)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

    you saved us!

    you saved us!

  • 6-8 cups of any combination of vegetables you may have, or:
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms

              And:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp red or green curry paste, your choice (or 1+ tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp kosher salt)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • extra credit: 1 kaffir lime leaf and 1 tsp grated lemongrass
  • cilantro, for serving
  • bean sprouts, for serving 
  • sriracha or other chili paste for serving

Directions:

Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium high heat. When the oil has melted and is hot- you can test this by tossing in an onion- add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes, until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass, if using, and saute for another minute. Add the rest of your spectacular veggie combo (excluding cilantro and bean sprouts) and saute, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes more. Leave the stove on and skillet hot.

veggie saute

Remove the veggies to a large bowl and add the coconut milk to the  skillet and bring to a simmer. When the coconut milk is simmering, add the curry paste or powder, the brown sugar, and the fish sauce or salt. Stir to dissolve and combine, then add the veggies back and the kaffir lime leaf to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 3-5 more minutes.

veggies cooking

That’s it! Taste a bit of the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary. You may like it a bit more salty. Serve over brown rice and pass sriracha. How good of you to eat so many veggies at once. Yum.


Quickie: Peanut Butter & Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Dip (veg, gf)

Re-sharing a big hit. Yummy, healthy dip!

allez! gourmet

Pretty simple entry- this is a healthy and delicious dip for apples, bananas, and probably anything else you can slather it on. It’s a quick and easy snack you can make a large batch of and keep in the fridge for a fast and filling and high-protein accompaniment to fruit. Here it is!

does a body good does a body good

PEANUT BUTTER & CINNAMON GREEK YOGURT DIP

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups fat free Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut or almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp- 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (two large dashes)

View original post 68 more words


Healthified Caramelized Onion Dip (veg, gf)

You know what I love? I love old-school, high salt, pre-packaged, preservative-heavy onion dip. I enjoy shoveling the dip into my mouth using rippled potato chips. Not a good habit. Not good at all. The same part of my brain that thinks it likes the poisonous, gelatinous dip so much loves candy corn (partially hydrogenated corn syrup chunks), movie theater popcorn (yes, I would like that drizzled with trans fat sauce), and sour gummy worms (these are not food in any way). Also, it’s my eighth birthday. Also, sorry I’m not sorry.

dip

To trick this part of my palate, which was born 20 years ago in the candy aisle of 7-Eleven and is in it for the long haul, I make snacks like this:

HEALTHY CARAMELIZED ONION DIP
Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic or 2 garlic cloves, mincedingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh
  • splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, or crackers for dipping (especially good with Mary’s Gone Crackers)

Directions: 

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt and brown, stirring continuously, for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 more minutes. The onions will turn a lovely dark brown and smell heavenly.

onions caramelized

Stir in the garlic and thyme, raise heat to medium, and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add a splash of Worcestershire and allow it to mostly cook off. Stir the onions into the Greek yogurt and allow it to chill for a bit. Serve with veggies and bask in the healthy glow of your matured decision-making skills!


Food for Thought: The Environmental Impact of Eating Meat

We’ve all heard the myriad health benefits of reducing our meat consumption, but what about the benefits to our planet? Mother Earth News published a great article succinctly summarizing the environmental impact of our monstrous American meat consumption, and I wanted to share it. It goes without saying that raising, preparing, and eating meat is deeply ingrained in our culinary identity as Americans, but aren’t American innovation and ingenuity a greater source of pride? What would be so revolutionary about an American shift to a fiscally responsible, sustainable, self-preserving plant-based diet? Wouldn’t that shift put us ahead of the curve? Food for thought.

veggie cow

Here are the facts that jumped off the page at me from the Mother Earth article:

  • Nearly all supermarket beef, chicken and pork — the three most consumed types of animal protein in this country — are produced on enormous industrial-scale farms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines these huge farms as “agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. [Such operations] congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing in pastures, fields or on rangeland.”
  • On these factory farms, animals eat commodity crops — primarily corn and soybeans — that are subsidized by taxpayers via the Farm Bill. Half of all North American cropland — about 149 million acres — produces animal feed from genetically modified (GM) crops designed to resist weedkillers such as Roundup. These crops have spawned an epidemic of herbicide-resistant “superweeds.” In 2012, superweeds infested 61 million acres of farmland growing GM crops. The result: An increase in herbicide use rather than a reduction, as well as “stacking” of genetically modified traits in seeds to allow cocktails of potent herbicides to be used on crops.
  • Beef cattle are given anabolic steroids as well as estrogen, androgen and progestin — commonly called “growth hormones” — to make them put on weight more quickly. Although the European Union banned the use of these hormones in 1988, they’re still commonplace in the United States. “Measurable levels of…growth-promoting hormones are found at slaughter in the muscle, fat, liver, kidneys and other organ meats,” says the Organic Consumers Association in a position paper. “Every beef-eating American for over 50 years has been exposed to these hormones on a regular basis.” Pigs, too, are fed growth hormones. The use of growth hormones in poultry, however, has been illegal in the United States since the 1950s.
  • Animal feed includes low-level (sometimes called “sub-therapeutic”) doses of antibiotics to promote growth and offset unsanitary, overcrowded conditions. About 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are administered to livestock, a figure acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. These drugs pass through manure and leach into the soil and groundwater, ultimately polluting neighboring rivers and streams.

My decisions as a consumer are weighing more heavily on me as I become aware of their rippling consequences (I think this is called “maturing” in some cultures. hmm). I love the occasional taste of meat and am by no means scolding…. but this is shocking stuff. If you’re considering reducing how much meat your family eats but you’re not sure how to approach the change (most of us are programmed to cook with meat), try introducing meatless Mondays or Mark Bittman’ wonderful flexitarian approach: VB6. Vegan before 6pm!

What are your thoughts on the effects of excessive meat consumption across our country?

You can read the entire article, Try a Flexitarian Diet for Better Health and a Better Food Budget, here.

Earthrise

Earthrise. I LOVE ya and I want to take care OF ya!


Baguettes! (v)

At the top of the rustic, earthy, lovely food to eat and make list- baguettes!

bags crispy

On the yeasty, satisfying, work with your hands list- baguettes!

bag and butter

Put on your berets and Breton striped shirts– let’s make baguettes!

THREE BEAUTIFUL BAGUETTES

Adapated from Food52

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flourbag ingreds
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 /2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • You will also need parchment paper, two kitchen towels, a rimmed baking sheet, a pair of scissors, and a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet

Directions:

This recipe is very simple. If you can knead dough (you can, the ability is buried in your genetic code) or have a stand mixer to knead dough for you, you can make these beautiful baguettes. There’s a lot of waiting involved as the dough rises; hands-on time is minimal. Baking these lovely parcels of dough is a rewarding, foolproof venture. Let’s get to it.

Faisons baguettes!

Faisons baguettes!

In a large bowl or your stand mixer’s bowl, whisk the hot water into the yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes, until foamy.

bag yeast water

When ten minutes has passed, mix the flour into the yeast and water with a fork, until a shaggy dough forms. I did this in four pour of flour for even mixing. Let this sit for 20  to allow the flour to hydrate. You’re getting the hang of this waiting stuff by now, aren’t you? Good. There’s more to come.

bag dough shaggy

After 20 minutes, add the kosher salt. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and knead with the hook attachment for 4-5 minutes on speed 2, until the dough has climbed up the hook and is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the old-fashioned way: turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes with the heels of your hands. “A good knead is better than an hour of psychotherapy, and it’s free.” There’s your motivation. Exorcise the demons.

bag dough salted

When your dough is smooth and shiny and elastic, oil a large glass bowl with the half tablespoon of canola. Pat the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in an oven or microwave until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

smooooth.

smooooth.

Once doubled, remove the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a 6×8 inch rectangle, then fold the long sides into the middle, followed by the short sides. Basically, double fold it into a little bundle. Pop the bundle back into the oiled bowl and let double again, another 45 minutes or so. I hope you have a good book to read, what with all of this sitting around, sheesh. Consider this AbeBooks list of food memoirs if you don’t. Just looking at the covers makes me hunger for a memoir marathon… I’ll need a rainy Sunday, a cozy blanket, and a LOT of supplemental food.

bag dough folded

Now we get to play with the dough! Turn the lovely bundle onto a very lightly floured surface and pinch off into three equally sized sections of dough. Roll and pinch the rounds into 14-inch logs; these will be the base shapes for your loaves.

bag dough three

Grab your rimmed baking sheet and flip it over. Arrange a piece of parchment paper 3 inches wider than the sheet and fold two pleats into it. Lightly flour the pleated parchment paper.

bag pleated parchment

Put the loaves in the spaces you’ve created on the parchment paper and pull them close together- we’re using the pleated paper to allow the loaves to rise up, not out. Roll the two kitchen towels up and place them on either side of the three loaves. Let the loaves rise until doubled. LAST TIME, I promise.

bag dough towels final

Place the cast iron skillet on the very bottom rack of your oven. Arrange a rack right above that and preheat the oven to a blazing hot 475. To make the baguettes look like baguettes, cut slices into the tops of the dough at 30 degree angles with your scissors (add that to your baking bag of tricks!). Very pretty. Flatten out the parchment paper and pop the baking sheet, still inverted, into the oven. Immediately add the 1/2 cup of ice cubes to the cast iron skillet and close the oven door. The ice cubes will sizzle away and release steam, producing a crisp crust. Bake for 20 minutes, until a deep brown. Let cool and serve! They will be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Slather with butter and kick back. Bon appétit.

bags complete cooling