Tag Archives: cooking

Vegetarian Chili with Smoky Adobos and Acorn Squash

Fall is a great time of year for tons of reasons…my favorite one being that my culinary habits get shaken up and I get to break out of the summertime ways of eating.

No more avoiding the oven for fear of the half day it takes to cool down in the heat of summer!  Big families of produce come back into play: apples, squash, pumpkins, and of course the whole potato clan are welcomed back into my kitchen.  Hearty and filling meals come back to the table, warming us up from the chilly, windy weather outside.

The biggest bag of apples ever seen.

Creativity is needed to get through all those bags of apples (I’m still trying to make it through this gigantic one that was gifted to me from a friend’s backyard apple tree!).

I love all of it.  Not to mention that I get to layer my clothes again.

And so, with all this fall love going around, it is only natural to want to make a big batch of chili to fill our tummies while we are out there enjoying it all.  This year I have cut out eating a lot of meat, so I knew that this chili would be vegetarian.  But nothing is more disappointing than a chili that loses its depth and heartiness when you take out the meat…it starts to feel more like a soup or veggie stew (which is also good, but not when you want thick chili!).  So in order to combat this problem, I decided I needed to add a veggie that could stand up to hot temps and not get mushy or disintegrate, one that would add some depth and take us out of the standard pepper/tomato combo, and of course one that would be amazing with strong Mexican flavors.  And that vegetable is the squash. Continue reading Vegetarian Chili with Smoky Adobos and Acorn Squash


Gluten Free Pumpkin Cornbread

I woke up this morning knowing that I was going to make chili.

I’ve been having this bug to make chili using adobo chipotle peppers, veggies and squash…but that’s a different post.  The point of this post is: where there’s chili, there should be some cornbread!  And as an extra plus for me, cornbread is one of those things that is pretty easily converted into a GF version.  I sign up for blog email updates just like everyone else, and as I was checking my email this morning I saw an update from Jules Gluten Free blog about all of her great recipes using pumpkin as the main ingredient.  Having just taken the whole family to our favorite pumpkin patch recently, I was in a cooking-with-pumpkin state of mind, and I checked out her email.  There were all sorts of recipes she had worked out for using pumpkin, from pumpkin muffins to pumpkin pancakes, and there at the bottom of her list was pumpkin cornbread.  I knew right away that I had found the match for my spicy, smoky chipotle chili. Continue reading Gluten Free Pumpkin Cornbread

Veggie Stuffed Tomatoes

I would love to have a really bountiful garden in a spacious backyard at some point in my life.  Vines growing up stakes, butterflies flitting around pink coneflowers, barefoot kids learning to love the land…all that stuff.  unfortunately, I live in a place that doesn’t allow me to fulfill this dream, and so I make do by enjoying the fruits of other people’s homegrown labor.  My co-worker recently unloaded a huge bag full of tomatoes on me, because it was the end of the season and, as he put it, “We’re swimmin’ in the suckers”.

Some of those tomatoes had found their way into some pretty tasty soup (click here to check it out), but I still had a few more.  I had just finished making a pot of brown rice to keep on hand for the week, and I thought Yes! Those tomatoes…some rice…what else can I put in there?  Continue reading Veggie Stuffed Tomatoes

Making your own Veggie Stock!

It’s that time of year when soups are made, rich sauces come out to play, and risotto begins to call to me.  All of these things have something in common:  they all start with good stock.  For me, that means vegetable stock!

What reason is there to spend $3.75 on one quart of decent vegetable stock at the grocery store when you can make a gallon of homemade stock from the veggies you were using anyway?  There’s no reason, I say.  If you have a large pan, a strainer, a couple of bowls and access to some water, you’re ready to go!

Here’s some easy guidelines:

1.  When you have done your shopping and your veggie drawer is bursting with all kinds of freshly purchased goodness, get yourself a container that you can use to store your veggie scraps in the fridge.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a gallon-sized baggie or a covered tupperware, just make sure it’s going to be big enough to hold a decent amount.

Don't throw those onion scraps away!

Continue reading Making your own Veggie Stock!

Autumn Apple Zucchini Muffins

I recently was given the gift of a gigantic bag of apples picked fresh from my co-workers apple tree.  And when I say gigantic, I mean a HUGE BAG of apples (when my co-worker brought them to me at work, he called ahead to ask me to open the trunk of my car – it took both of us to heft the bag in).  So I have some apple to get through!  And since I still have a decent supply of zucchini from the end of summer harvest, these wonderful little muffins seemed the perfect solution.

I have always thought of myself as more of a cook than a baker, making sauces and soups made easy sense to me in a way that the mathematics of baking and dessert making never did.   This is not a great lead-up to a muffin recipe, I realize, but I want to give some perspective so that you can understand how thrilled, delighted and amazed I was at how great these muffins really are.  They are soft and moist, neither too dense or too dry, and have a great balance of fruit to crumb texture.  They have enough good stuff in them to not feel bad about eating more than one, and yet the crunchy sugar topping makes it feel like a treat!  I love them, and best of all, my kids love them (even my husband – who is not a fan of baked-fruit desserts said he liked them).

I made them using a gluten free flour blend and xanthan gum, but you could certainly use regular all purpose flour in the same amount.  I also made a large batch of them, it seems like a time effective way to bake, and it is easy to freeze the extras to enjoy later.

I hope you love them as much as I do!  Your house is going to smell amazing.

Apple Zucchini Muffins with Raisins
Makes approximately 30 muffins

For the muffins:
1/2 cup butter, room temp
2 1/2 cup sugar (equal parts white and brown sugars)
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Blend)
1 tsp xanthan gum (only needed if using GF flour)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tb cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3 Tb milled flax seed
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk, but any kind is fine)
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 medium zucchini, grated
2 medium apples or 3 small apples, cored and grated
1/2 cup raisins

For the sugar topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 Tb flour
2 Tb butter, cut into chunks
3 Tb oats

How to:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get out your muffin pans and muffin liners.
  2. After grating the zucchini, you’re going to want to get the extra liquid out of it before they go into the muffins.  To do this, take the grated zucchini and put it in a strainer.  Sprinkle liberally with salt (don’t worry, we’re going to wash it off!) and let it drain while you are working on the rest of the recipe – about 15 minutes.
  3. In a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar with a whisk attachment.  Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.  Add the vanilla and be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl so that everything is well blended.
  4. In another large bowl combine all the dry ingredients (salt through flax) and stir well using a dry whisk.  With the stand mixer on low, add the dry to the wet slowly, until mostly incorporated – it does not have to be smooth.  Try not to over beat!
  5. With the mixer on low, add applesauce, yogurt and milk.  Go to your strainer, and rinse the salt off your zucchini and then squeeze all of the liquid you can out of it and toss it into the batter.  Add the apples and raisins.  Blend until just combined, then turn off the mixer and give the batter a couple of stirs with a spoon, being sure to get to the bottom of the bowl.
  6. For the topping, combine all ingredients into a small bowl and mash together with a fork.  This is a very flexible topping, so if you like more oats or more cinnamon, add what you like!
  7. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full and top with a pinch of the topping (press on slightly).  Bake for approximately 25 minutes, and rotate your pans halfway through the baking to ensure equal doneness.
  8. Once they are done, take them out and let them cool for 10 minutes and then dig in.

Gourmet Group 9/24/11 – Lemons!


Once a month our group gathers together (you can read more about that here) to make as much wonderful food as we can…and this month our theme was Lemons.  So that meant that all of our courses, from appetizer to dessert, had to make that delightful and tart citrus fruit the star of the show.   If you like, you can read about last month’s Gourmet Group theme here.

The theme of lemons was chosen by one of our hostesses, as a way to hang on to the last few moments of summer, and I have to say it really was one of our great dinners!


The Appetizer...Lemon thyme bruscetta with ricotta cheese and honey drizzle


What's Gourmet Group without libations? Parkside Fizz and Lemoncello with sparkling wine


Lemoncello shots for everyone!
One of our hostesses, adding the final touches of fresh rosemary


The Main Course...Chicken al Mattone (Chicken with a Brick)


Side Dish...Arugula and Mescaline salad with corn, tomato, blue cheese and lemon vinaigrette
Side Dish...Lemon Garlic Roasted Potatoes with fresh dill and chives
Yum! Our fantastic dinner.
Dessert! Lemon cake with basil infused syrup and fresh cream

Everything was so delicious that night…I really liked it all.  The appetizer was creamy and tart and crunchy, so great.  One of our group members makes her own Lemoncello, and it’ll knock you off your feet!  Between those shots and the Parkside Fizz mixed drinks, we were all ready to cheer for the lemon.  I’ve never been a great drink maker, so I’m always pretty grateful that we have a couple of members who really know how to put a good drink together.

The vinaigrette for the salad was beyond belief (and no oil!), I managed to use it on just about every course on my plate except dessert.  The potatoes turned out really nicely, they were my course, and soon I can post the recipe.  I never thought about combining lemon and potato, but man, once the fresh dill and chives hit the warm potatoes, I knew I would be making it again soon.

The chicken was so moist, and it was great to see it cooked under a brick!  A regular brick was wrapped in foil and laid on top of a butterflied chicken in a very hot oven.  It created such a wonderful moist roast, if you haven’t tried it I recommend doing some research and finding yourself a brick and some poultry!

And the dessert…it was so good.  Really.  No wheat was used in the cake batter, and the result was a light, almost angel food cake texture.  The basil infused sauce really made the whole thing, and it rounded out the light cake and cream so well.

Another great Gourmet Group, gang!  Next month I’m hosting…now I just need to think of a really great theme.

Anyone have any good ideas?