Monthly Archives: November 2011

I Can’t Believe

Carrot Soup

Cooked out from Thanksgiving?  Recovering from Black Friday shopping?  How about something nice and simple and healthy in order to get back on track and ready for the holiday sprint. This is the first time in 9 years where I’m not working or shopping on Black Friday and it was rather strange not waking up at 330 this morning to get ready.  Instead I’m using the time to get the place clean and the dogs washed.  While not the same as racing to the DVD section of Target, washing the puppies still provide a decent workout so low impact cooking is a must.  This soup is about as easy as it gets, and provides a nice break from the turkey coma.

Carrot Soup

Serves: 4-5


1 lb carrot, cut into 3in pieces

4 cloves garlic

1 onion, quartered

2 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp Curry Powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup coconut milk

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly oil a roasting pan and place the garlic, onion, and carrots on it, adding a splash more olive oil and some pepper/salt. Roast for 25minutes, until carrots are tender.
  2. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the roasted vegetables and seasonings, cover and simmer for 15minutes.
  3. Using a blender or immersion blend puree the soup until desired thickness. Add the coconut milk, stir and heat for 5minutes. Serve!

Joe added some grated Parmesan Cheese to his while I left mine more on the naked side, just adding a dash of pepper.  While this might not cancel out the large slices of pecan pie I have been enjoying, it makes me feel slightly better.

Runaway Train

Sweet Potato Gratin

I really thought I had posted this recipe before, and with that thought that I had a picture.  Yet somehow I have managed to either delete or just forget to post what is easily my favorite Thanksgiving Recipe.  I stumbled across the original version of this recipe many moons ago in the Washington Post and in the years since have modified and adjusted until it is just right.  I’m not even sure if I have the original version written down anymore, but I remembered it involved bacon and pecans and didn’t involve brown sugar, coconut milk, or vanilla.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Serves: 10 servings


5 large sweet potatoes, cut evenly into 1in thick rings

2 cups coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup soybutter

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg


  1. In a large slow cooker layer the sweet potatoes and then pour in the coconut milk. The milk should come half way up the stack of potatoes, so add more if needed. Cook on high for 3hrs stirring once after hour or so.
  2. In a medium bowl cut the butter with the remaining ingredients to create a crumb topping. Pour over the top of the slow cooker. Cook on high for another hour, with the lid partially off.
  3. Enjoy!

To me this dish is the best of Thanksgiving, and I love sharing it with others.


Slow Cooker Vegetables

Things have been a little insane lately, with classes, certifications, and only one car.  So I have been leaning heavily on my slow cooker to insure that there is something delicious for dinner, with little effort (or time) on my part.  I have been going back to my old faithfuls but have also been testing some new combinations to add to my list.  Essentially my testing consists of just throwing a bunch of veggies or beans in the slow cooker with some type of liquid and seeing what happens.  While one recipe was a massive fail, the rest were a huge hit.  As an added bonus I tried to incorporate as many local and seasonal ingredients in order to stay on track with my goals.  In doing so I think I found a new Top Squash: Delicata Squash.  Yum!

Slow Cooker Vegetables


1 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1 medium onion, diced

1 lb delicata Squash, seeded and cubed

1/2 lb carrot, cut into 2in pieces

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 can diced tomatoes

2 medium sized heirloom tomatoes (I used some funky pink ridged ones)

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups vegetable stock

6 basil leaves

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tbsp dried oregano

pinch of smoked paprika

pinch of salt

Parmesan Cheese (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook about 7minutes, until golden, then add to slow cooker.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 3hrs. Taste and add seasonings if needed.
  3. Serve over rice, couscous, or egg noodles and enjoy!

I had some Parmesan Cheese left over from a dish earlier in the week so decided to use the last of it as a topping, which worked perfectly for us.  Greek yogurt would also be a great topping, but the vegetables could easily go naked.  I served it over garlic couscous but yellow rice, egg noodles, or simple brown rice would also work great.

All the Colors

Pasta with Fall Squash

I have a horrible confession to make: up until this summer I have never really done seasonal cooking.  Sure I’ll do more soups in the winter but I never focused on what produce is at it’s height for those soups.  Lately however I’m trying to be more attentive, and luckily my grocery store makes it easy with large “Grown Local” signs, so all I have to pay attention.  This dish is the result on that, and I’m happy to report that I have realized how versatile squash really is.  Once I was of the variety that purchased zucchini only, then I added butternut squash, but with the latest purchase I think I have now experimented with close to a half-dozen squash/gourd varieties so far this season.  I’m sure this is nothing compared to some (most?) people but I’m proud of how far I’ve come in being more aware of where the food I eat comes from.  This post is an example of one of my squash adventures.  As I mentioned earlier my grocery store does a great job of signing locally grown seasonal produce, and this time of year they have the squash bin row.  This row goes a good 20ft and features a good dozen types of squash/gourds ranging from the small pattypans to some huge blue hubbards.  It’s been interesting to watch them cycle thru as the pattypans are reduced to a smaller and smaller section while the butternut, acorn, and buttercup types are taking over.  For this recipe I used some late season pattypans but if done during the summer either long neck or bent-neck yellow squash would work.

All the Colors


1 tbsp EVOO

1/2 vidalia onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 pattypans (about 1 lb), sliced about 1/4 in thick

5 basil leaves, chopped

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

pinch of salt

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

1 lb favorite pasta


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to become transparent. Add the squash slices and seasonings. Cook about 7minutes, or until squash is tender.
  2. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to instructions on box, making sure to reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water when the pasta is drained. Return the pasta to the pot.
  3. Pour the reserved pasta water over the squash along with the grated cheese in order to create a quick sauce. Combine with the noodles and serve hot!

I also enjoy that this recipe is one of those quick and easy ones where dinner is on the table within about 30minutes of starting.  I’m looking forward to seeing what other varieties of winter produce start showing up at the market and what all I can do with them!

Now Hush Hush

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

Secret Recipe Club

Greetings one and all! Another month has flown by and it’s time for a brand new Secret Recipe Club recipe 🙂 I have to admit that one of the highlights of my blog month is getting the new blog assignment from my fearless host Amanda and checking out all the cool new recipes I can pick from.  This month I was assigned the Pictures of all my Princesses blog run by Jules.   I was immediately drawn in by the cute header and set out to find the perfect new recipe to try.  I wasn’t sure what recipe I wanted to try or even what type of recipe I was in the mood for so I started at the beginning and worked by way up.  I noted a few recipes that sounded interested before spotting the PERFECT recipe for my household: Eggplant Sauce!!!  Not only did the recipe give instructions for serving this sauce three different ways, one of them included a way to adapt it for pizza.  I was sold and quickly started collecting all the ingredients I needed.  I did cheat and use my bread machine to prep my crust, but I have found that my blood pressure tends to do best when I’m not trying to kneed dough.  I did make some slight modifications to make it vegetarian friendly and also left out the cream since I felt that much dairy might be a little much.   Please check out the original recipe if you don’t have the restriction and if you want to see the other ways you can use this incredibly versatile sauce.

Now Hush Hush


1 egg plant, quartered lengthwise

2 roma tomatoes, quartered

2 cloves garlic

1 small onion, quartered

olive oil


1 1/2 c. vegetable broth

4 basil leaves

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

pinch of smoked paprika

pepper to taste

3/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese


  1. Brush vegetables with oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplant skin down and roast at 425 for 30 minutes.
  2. In a pot combine and simmer the vegetable broth, basil, red pepper flakes, and paprika for 10minutes.
  3. Once the vegetables have finished roasting, scrape eggplant's flesh from purple skin. Then add the eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and garlic to broth.
  4. Cover and simmer 20 minutes until vegetables are really tender, taste and add additional seasonings if needed. Remove half to a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. Pour mixture over a prepared pizza crust and top with the cheeses. Place the pizza in a cool oven, turn to 425 and bake for 30minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbling. Enjoy!


This dish was a HUGE hit in my house, and as an added bonus it gave off an amazing aroma.  To enhance the flavors I used an oregano pizza crust recipe and it worked perfectly.  The little bit of sauce left over was also the perfect dip for the pizza crust ensuring that not a single drop was wasted!