Chocolate & red wine cupcakes

I embarked on a cupcake experiment today.  Chocolate and red wine are one of my favorite pairings, and I thought, “Why not fuse the two together into a cupcake?”

Yesh, why not?

Behold!  It is done.

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And I made a video detailing my adventure in the kitchen today.  You can check it out below.  And if you are interested in trying the recipe yourself, you can find it here.

Winter Squash Brownies. Say what? You heard right.

Happy Solstice, everyone!  This is my favorite day of the year.  Why?  Because beginning tomorrow, the days start to get longer!  We have finally reached the shortest, darkest day of the year.  And on this longest night, it is going to be bitter cold outside so I am sitting by the wood stove while I edit my video.  We got about 8″ of snow in town yesterday and our local ski hill, Great Divide, got 18″ of snow.  We’re supposed to get several more inches in town tomorrow so we are going to take Friday to ski before the bitter, bitter cold moves in.

So…about those brownies.  I didn’t get a chance to let them cool completely before taste testing on camera, so the final verdict lies within this paragraph.  It’s pretty simple, really:  THESE BROWNIES ARE FREAKIN’ AWESOME!  The squash, which I could taste while the brownies were still hot, could not be tasted once the brownies cooled.  The wine taste wasn’t all that strong, which was a little disappointing for the cheesecake in particular.  But these went over really well at dinner Monday night, and some of the patrons are perhaps a little picky about what foods they like and don’t like, and winter squash is not high on the list of ‘likes.’  So since the picky eater(s) ate these with reckless abandon, I take that as a compliment.  If you have a hard time getting kids (also read: hubby or yourself) to eat veggies, this is a sneaky way to get more nutrients in your diet without even knowing it.  And they are much lower in fat than traditional brownies.  Bonus!

Check out the video below & the recipe is here:

Blueberry cake donuts with lemon icing– baked, not fried

I’ll post the recipe later this week, but holy cow, these are absolutely terrible!  Don’t even bother trying to make them and certainly don’t blame me if you make them and eat 4 of them just so your significant other doesn’t find them and discover how terrible they are, too…

Recipe is here.

How to dry brine a turkey

I love love love Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  And I am hosting this year, both friends and family, so we’re expecting a nice crowd of about 8.  But who knows?  If I see anyone in the neighborhood up for adoption Thursday, I might drag them along for our Thanksgiving ride, too (we play Scattergories after dinner–it’s so much fun!).

Since I love to cook, this is absolutely my holiday.  And I prep well in advance so that I don’t get too stressed out on Turkey Day.  I began my preparations on Sunday, FIVE days before Thanksgiving (one can never be too prepared).  I found my Thanksgiving menus from the past 3 years along with my list of To-Do and When, and created my Thanksgiving Timeline of Preparations.  And since I have a vegan friend joining us for the big day, nearly everything is vegan.  Here’s the menu of what I’m making:

Non-vegan:  Turkey with gravy  /  cheese log

Vegan:  gravy  /  ‘Thanksgiving’ rolls  /  pumpkin pie  /  mashed potatoes  /  corn casserole  /  curried fruit  /  sweet potato casserole  /  roasted carrots & parsnips  /  French cornbread dressing  /  chocolate hazelnut-blueberry pie  /  mulled apple cider

Stepdaughter # 2 is bringing chocolate pie, coconut cream pie, cranberry sauce (from a Harry Potter cookbook, no less), and a sweet potato & apple dish.

THAT’S A LOT OF FOOD!

And in case you’re curious, here’s my what my Thanksgiving Timeline of Preparations looks like:

Sunday:

  1. toast hazelnuts & skin.  chop.  toast pecans. chop.
  2. make vegan pumpkin pie–from scratch–& video
  3. start sourdough starter
  4. make curried fruit topping
  5. make vegan pie crust for chocolate hazelnut pie

Monday:

  1. make French cornbread
  2. make turkey rub
  3. roast garlic
  4. make sweet potato casserole topping
  5. make herb/spice mix for ‘Thanksgiving’ rolls

Tuesday:

  1. brine turkey & make video
  2. grate cheese for cheese log
  3. bake sweet potatoes in skin
  4. cut & toast French cornbread
  5. mix together dry ingredients for chocolate hazelnut pie

Wednesday:

  1. slice / steam carrots & parsnips
  2. make chocolate hazelnut pie
  3. assemble curried fruit
  4. assemble sweet potato casserole
  5. prep corn casserole
  6. prep dressing
  7. make sourdough roll dough (bread maker)

Thursday:

  1. make ‘Thanksgiving’ roll dough (bread maker)
  2. bake curried fruit
  3. roast carrots & parsnips
  4. roast turkey
  5. bake sweet potatoes  / corn casserole  / dressing
  6. bake rolls (Dutch oven & solar oven &/or in kitchen)
  7. mulled apple cider (Crock Pot)
  8. pressure cook potatoes
  9. make gravies

Wednesday night will probably be my most ‘stressful’ night in part because I will work Wednesday afternoon and I teach barre that evening.  So by the time I get home & showered, it will be quite late to begin some of the prep.  But the good news in all this is if it doesn’t get done on Wednesday night, it will just happen on Thursday.  And Thursday won’t be all that crazy, despite the long list of things I have to do.  The turkey will take up the largest chunk of time, and while it cooks I can prep other things.  Then while the turkey rests, I’ll bake the casseroles and such.  Should be a fairly relaxed day, all things considered.

Now, about that turkey.  I prepared my turkey this afternoon with a rub and dry brine.  I had a near turklamity while bagging the turkey, and you can witness the look of horror on my face when I thought I was about to lose it.  If you want the rub recipe, it will be posted here.  And here’s the video:

Homemade pumpkin pie–totally from scratch!

I’ve been radio silent for a couple of weeks–other priorities have taken my time away from videos and blogging.  Such is life, I suppose.  This is the last week of the CSA and then I’ll have a bit of a break.  We had a really good season, but I am looking forward to focusing on other things for a few months.  Videos will continue throughout the winter, but may be more sporadic–who knows?

But I’ve got two, count ’em TWO, videos specifically tailored to Thanksgiving this week.  This is the first installment, which walks you through how to make a pumpkin pie, completely from scratch:  from pumpkin to pie.  And you know what?  It’s really not that hard!  Sure, it’s more time-consuming than opening a can of pumpkin puree, but this is better.   Waaaaaaaay better than pumpkin from a can!

The second video will show you how to dry brine a turkey.  Never tried it?  Well, you should!  I think this will be my go-to turkey preparation for Thanksgiving forevermore.  Look for that video tomorrow!

Winter squash & black beluga lentils make some fine Halloween veggie burgers

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I’m not going to wax poetic about these veggie burgers.  I’ll let them speak for themselves.  But I WILL say that you ought to give them a try.  I really dressed mine up with the chipotle & dried cranberry coleslaw I made to go with them, as well as some dill pickle, Swiss chard or beet greens, fresh tomato slices and some candied jalapenos (they are so good!) that my friend made this summer.  I’ll post the recipe soon!  Til then, here’s a crazy Halloween video, with plenty of outakes at the end, on how to make the burgers and slaw.

Upcoming recipe: winter squash & beluga lentil burgers + chipotle coleslaw

What’s the point of this post?  To get you excited about next week’s CSA share and help you prep your pantry & fridge for items on this coming week’s tremendously exciting menu!

It is winter squash season, so we’ll be getting a different winter squash every week.  This week we got ‘Fairy’ winter squash, which I have yet to use, but I plan to make good use of it this weekend.  Next week we’ll try another variety (maybe ‘Lower Salmon’ or ‘Kabocha’) and I’ll put it to use in this veggie burger recipe with some black beluga lentils.  So what’s on the menu?

Winter squash & beluga lentil veggie burgers with homemade hamburger buns.  Chipotle coleslaw.  Roasted baby carrots & baby beets.

I don’t know about you, but I am EXCITED about this upcoming meal.  And if all goes according to plan, we’ll get most of the ingredients with next week’s share.  Nearly all of the remaining ingredients we’ve gotten in previous shares, which means nearly 100% of this meal will be made with locally sourced ingredients.  Yay!  Wanna make these burgers?  And/or the coleslaw?  Here’s what you’ll need:

For the burgers:

Winter squash (this & next week’s share)

black beluga lentils (next week’s share) -OR- other lentils/pulses/grain of your choice

smoked Monterrey Jack cheese –OR-cheese of your choice

parsley (this week’s share)

thyme

onion (recent shares)

oatmeal

eggs

cornmeal

For the coleslaw:

cabbage (next week’s share)

celeriac, also known as celery root (next week’s share)

carrots (recent shares & next week’s share)

watermelon radish (this week’s share & next week for those who didn’t get theirs)

dried cranberries

chipotle pepper (dried or canned in adobo sauce)

I’m really hopeful we get everything we order so I can make this meal.  If we don’t, oh well, that’s how the baby beets roll this time of year in Montana.  I’m also hoping to acquire some arugula in next week’s share to serve on top of the burgers, along with some sliced tomatoes that we got in this week’s share.  And I’ll make some chipotle mayo to slather on the buns as well.  Of course, I’ll make a video to show you how to throw it all together, too!  It will be fun!  ‘Til next week, dream of warm winter squash-based meals!

 

 

 

Parsnip muffins–yes, you can

Parsnips.  In a muffin?  Seriously.  If you are one of those people who cringe when you see parsnips in your CSA share…well, listen up because I’ve got a sweet deal for you.  These muffins totally rock.  They are moist.  They are just sweet enough.  They have a hint of lemon.  And if you don’t really like parsnips, that’s the best part–you can’t taste them!  My version is a hack on a recipe I found in a Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog from way back when.  Their version is vegan–and you can certainly re-veganize this recipe by using an egg substitute of your choice.  You will love these.  Check out the recipe and see for yourself.

 

More ideas for using tomatillos!

My friend Patty sent me this recipe for tomatillo salsa tonight.  It sounds really yummy, so I may have to try this.  Note to self: add avocado to the grocery list….

I do not know where she got this recipe, but here it is.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Fresh Peeled and Washed Tomatillos

  • 1/2 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro

  • 2-3 Cloves of Peeled Garlic

  • 1 Fresh Jalapeño

  • 1 Medium Avocado

  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Peel tomatillos, clean, and quarter.

  2. Add tomatillos to blender and blend to reduce.

  3. Add cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, avocado, and lime juice to blender. Blend to preferred consistency and salt to taste.
  4. Enjoy!