Archive for October, 2011

Pumpkin Patch, Squash Blossoms and Potato Strada

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

So once again we went to Peter’s Pumpkin Pacth at Springhill Farm Dairy in Petaluma.  It’s always fun, but much of the same.  Each time we bring someone new to share it and make it new.  We did it all…picking pumpkins, digging potatoes, running in the hay maze, milking cows, eating pumpkin ice cream and climbing hay mazes.  Here’s the photos from this year…

What was different was my son picking the blossoms.  He remembered a few years ago I stuffed them with goat cheese and fried them.  So we did it again this year.  Yum.  I also got creative with the potatoes (we dug 9 pounds).  Besides the usual roasted potatoes I made a strada which was delicious.  I didn’t really have a recipe.  Here’s what I did…

Using a mandoline I sliced about 6 of the larger potatoes.

Next I buttered a baking dish and added some of the potatoes.

I sprinkled cheddar cheese over the potatoes.  Then added spinach leaves.

Then layered more potatoes.

In a separate bowl I cracked 5 eggs and added about 1/2 cup milk, along with some fresh rosemary and thyme.

Once the potatoes, cheese and spinach had all been layered I poured over the egg mixture and topped with a bit more cheese.

This baked in the oven covered with foil for about 20 minutes in a 325 degree oven.  Then an additional 15 or so minutes to crisp the top and potatoes are baked thru.

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The Apple Feast

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Because of all the apples we’d harvested at the u-pick, I was inspired.  And admittedly a little over the top with my obsession with making an apple meal.  By this I mean, using apple as an ingredient in each food.  Also I also must admit, it was tasty and fun, and we now have only about a dozen apples left.

 

Note: I suggest if you have an abundance of apples – make applesauce of course.   This was great for my son who can’t enjoy raw apples easily with his new mouth hardware.  It can be swirled into yogurt, oatmeal and ice cream.  And also is a great way to create moist and nutritious baked goods.  This week I made apple banana bran muffins for my kids’ school snack.

 

Anyways… we invited our friends over for dinner, who we picked apples with.  Luckily they weren’t too burned out on apples (or just too polite) to go with my theme.  Over the course of a few days of planning and prepping we were ready for our apple feast.  Our guests were creative and brought two wonderful sides that went perfectly.  (No really.  I can’t say how much I appreciate it when someone offers and actually brings something that goes with the meal, rather than just bringing something because they think they should.  Your host doesn’t want extra food for that meal, unless you’re assigned.  O.K. so yes, that it a pet peeve of mine.).

Here was the menu…

Butternut-Apple Soup

Mini Grilled Cheese and Sliced Apple Sandwiches on Raisin Toast

Corriander Spiced Pork Chops (Sunset mag Oct. 2011) with Applesauce (very Brady Bunch)

Apple Slaw with yogurt dressing – thanks Anne

Mixed Greens with apple slices, candied peacans and blue cheese – thanks again Anne

Apple Pie with caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream

We started the evening with apple bobbing.  This was a great activity to use those little tiny apples we picked.  The kids had fun coming up with ways to get the apple (nope, the stem is cheating) and finally dunking in head first (my son had seen this in a contest at school last year).

As far as the kids were concerned they were most excited about the first course (soup and sand) and dessert course.  No surprises there.  I was quite happy with the pork chops (thanks Sunet and Lee for grilling) and ate more than my share.  I can’t remember the last time we made them at home.  But I will again. (Note: the recipe has the chops with plum chutney, which I skipped due to the applesaue)

soup and sand

pork, apple sauce and salads

mmm....pie

Here’s the soup recipe because it is so easy and perfect on a chilly autumn night.  I like to roast a halved butternut squash in the oven a day or two ahead, then scrape out flesh to make this soup even quicker.

Butternut-Apple Soup

(adapted from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

This is a simple, sweet and aromatic soup that only requires a few ingredients.  It can be enjoyed with a salad and bread for a nutritious lunch or dinner, or as a comforting autumn snack on a chilly day after playing outdoors.

Makes 7 cups; 7 servings

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil or other vegetable oil

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 pound peeled, cut cooked squash (can buy prepackaged in produce section) or 2 pounds whole butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium organic Fuji apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

1 (14-ounce) can organic low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup organic milk

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in squash, apples, broth, water, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat over high heat until boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring often until squash and apples are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (If not using precooked
squash, you’ll need to increase cooking time by 15 to 20 minutes.)

Spoon one-third of squash mixture into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Be careful: Mixture is hot and steam can burn when processing. Pour puree into bowl and continue processing remainder of squash mixture. Soup can be made
ahead at this point.

When ready to eat, return puree to saucepan and stir in milk. Heat through over medium heat until hot.

(Babes and Soup. Just remember many children do not like foods too
warm, so serve at room temperature for the youngest. Because this recipe has
cow’s milk, it should not be served to those under one year.)

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Smooth and Soothing – The PB&B Shake

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Not, my son

My son started orthodontic treatment last week.  Boy we were all in for a shock.  Not only was his mouth sore, but the poor guy is really having a tough time eating.  Besides feeling like he’s going to choke on everything there’s the list of no’s from the doctor – nothing sticky, chewy, hard.  He asked “what’s left?”  Well, I’ll tell you – creamy, smooth and watery.  At least at first it’s been soups, smoothies, and shakes.  Even pasta was a chore.  He’s getting better at eating.  I’m getting better at packing a thermos for lunches, steaming and cutting things in small pieces and trying to keep him nourished and interested when sometimes it’s just too tiring and frustrating to eat.  Here’s a new shake we’ve created which makes him smile…

 

The PB&B

Peanut butter and banana is always a classic combo.  Whether it’s a sandwich (my childhood favorite), a muffin or this cool shake.  Feel free to substitute any type of milk.  The almond milk gave some added nutrients, vitamins and good (monounsaturated) fats here.

1/4 cup plain organic yogurt

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1 frozen organic banana

1 heaping tablespoon organic creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon honey

 

Cut frozen banana in same size chunks.  Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth and combined.

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How D’ya Like Them Apples? With Apple Crisps recipe

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Tis the season to go apple picking.  Luckily we were only thinking pumpkins, but our friends reminded and invited us up to Gabriel Farm in Sebastopol.  We all had lots of fun.  I was expecting ladders and pickers to reach the trees, however we could all stand (even my 5 year old) to pick our own.  My husband was looking at them curiously and figured they must cut them in a certain way so they do not grow tall but out.  They also grow asian pears for sale, but not u-pick.  So all in all we bought 20 lbs of apples, plus another 5 of asian pears!  I know I was surprised too.  It’s just so fun and easy and of course each child wanted their own basket.  They do add up.

our apple haul

Luckily I had lots of ideas and recipes in mind….

First we made Apple Crisps…

 

apple crisps

Apple Crisps

(from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

An alternative to boring potato chips, this simple treat satisfies a child’s need for crunch. Using a mandoline provides convenience and accurate cuts for even baking. However a careful, steady knife works as well. The apples crisp in the low heat, which dries out the moisture. Once in the oven these need no attention (just remember to turn off the oven overnight), until it’s time to pack them (or eat them) in the morning.

Makes about 48 apple crisps; 4 (12-chip) servings

2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 large organic apples such as Fuji or Braeburn

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Stir together evaporated cane juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Using a mandoline or a steady hand and a knife, cut the apple vertically in to 1/8-inch-thick rounds. You do not need to core or peel the apple. The seeds will fall out or can easily be removed from apple slices after cutting.

Place apple slices on prepared baking sheets in a single layer and sprinkle with cinnamon mixture. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1½ hours. Rotate pans and cook for 1 hour more. Turn off heat and leave in the oven overnight if apples are not dry and crisp. Loosen chips with a spatula to remove from parchment paper.

Kids Korner

Shake it Up! The easiest way to lightly and evenly sprinkle sugars and spices is to transfer to a spice shaker. Having a specially marked shaker for cinnamon and sugar saves time when making other snacks such as cinnamon toast or spicing up plain yogurt. This is also a “neat” way to get children to help with decorating and flavoring tasks.

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Taking Steps on Food Chemicals

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

We’re always hearing tips about eliminating food chemicals such as bisphenol A, artificial food dyes and pesticides out of our food.  But why isn’t the FDA banning these substances to make it safer, healthier and easier for consumers to shop?  This is Marion Nestle’s answer posed in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday.  Read the article , learn the trouble with FDA studies and find out what you can do to be part of the solution, and keep yourself and family safe.

 

 

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