October 23, 2008

Liquid Pie

Last month I took a day trip down to the Valley and while I was there I picked up a pie pumpkin (also called a sugar pumpkin).  The thought process behind this purchase was something like this, "I've never bought a cooking pumpkin before...what does one do with one of these?  Hum, maybe I should get one to make homemade pie.   Yes, I like pie, this is a good idea."  Hence, I came home with a pie pumpkin.  

As I've already mentioned, I didn't even make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year.  Nope, I went crazy and made Butternut Squash Pie.  So, I came home from work today, and realized that my poor pumpkin was STILL sitting on my table.  Everything else from that trip had been long eaten, and well, it just looked lonely and neglected.  Time to finally do something.

What did I do?  I roasted it.  After peeling the darn thing, which may have involved several curse words, and a trip to the store for a new veggie peeler because the one in my kitchen was so dull that it wouldn't take of the peel!  Oh, but the time it was peeled I was ready to throw it out the window and watch it smash to the ground 6 stories below.  I didn't.  I persevered.  Next step, cutting it in half.  This was easy, things are looking up!  Next, removing the seeds and guts.  Not so easy.  More curse words, dropped spoons, and scared cats.  I'm not a quiet complainer, and the older one seems to think he's in trouble if I so much as raise my voice at ANYTHING.  Well, I eventually even succeeded at that.  So, I chopped up my pumpkin and roasted it at 450 F for about 40 min.

Now, what does one lady do with all that pumpkin?  I still haven't' figured out what one does with pumpkin besides make pie.  And I sure as heck wasn't sitting down to make a pie after all that drama.  So finally, I had a thought - shocker, me of all people, having a thought...hehe - and I whipped out my blender.  The rest, as they say, is history.  

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 cup roasted pumpkin
1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
1 Tbsp organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Pour into 2 glasses and serve.

As always adjust spices and sweetness to your own personal liking.

October 19, 2008


I always feel sad at the passing off Summer.  And while I know that it officially ended almost a month ago now, Nova Scotia is known for it's lovely warm Fall.  Heck, they are normally better than the actual Summer was!  As a result, up until very recently I was still pretending that we were in the full throws of Summer.

However, today when I headed out, I not only grabbed my vest - which I sometimes need DURING the Summer months, but also a pair of gloves.  I suppose this means that even out here we are truly and well into the Autumnal months.  

So, while the trees turn many vibrant colors, and my cats stop wanting to play on the deck, in my apartment I'm going to continue to pretend it's Summer.  How?  By dreaming of hot days at town fairs, and sipping cool, fresh Lemonade!

Fresh Town Fair Style Lemonade

1 glass (~12 oz.) water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp organic cane sugar *
ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker.  Shake until well combined and chilled.  Pour into glass, sip, and imagine those lovely Summer days.

* this makes a sweet lemonade.  If you are partial to a tart lemonade, decrease sugar to 1 Tbsp.  You could also try switching this with various sweeteners.  Find a taste that you like best.

October 18, 2008

Cheese + Butternut Squash = Deliciousness

Up until very recently I had considered all squash as a savory food.  In my mind, pumpkin and squash are two very different things!  Squash is such a great fall food.  It's abundant, inexpensive, and pretty darn good.  Don't tell my Mom I just said that!  Growing up I used to abhor squash.  I'd avoid it, I wouldn't eat it, I'd complain.  I suspect Mom still thinks that squash and I are the best of enemies.  That being said, I'm reformed!

See, a few weeks ago, I was poking around on various food sites, looking for a delicious sounding, yet fairly simple pumpkin pie recipe, when somehow I stumbled upon this recipe for Butternut Squash Pie.  It was just different enough, and simple enough that I simply HAD to try it.  I made two changes, one intentional, the other, not so intentional.  We'll talk about the one that leads to the actual reason behind this post!  

For some reason I thought that I needed to use the whole cooked squash.  And thought I was cheating when I gave up after scooping out around 4-5 cups.  Everything else was the same amount as in the recipe, but that doubling of squash, resulted in a bunch of left over filling.  And it was such a good filling, I needed to find a use for it.  Hence the cheese.

Butternut Squash Cheesecake

For the crust: 

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, made into a paste * I used my little coffee grinder for this
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup pecan meal
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients and press into a spring form pan.

For the Filling:

275 g Marscapone cheese
275 g Ricotta cheese, press out water
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 eggs
2 cups butternut squash mixture (use the one from Canadian Living, or make the mistake I did, and get both a pie and cheesecake from the deal!)
1/4 cup almond meal

Cream together both cheese and sugar.  When fluffy, beat in eggs, one at a time.

Fold in butternut squash mixture and almond meal.  Taste to see if needs any more spices and add as necessary.

Gently pour over top of pecan crust and smooth.  Bake in middle of oven preheated to 350 F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Allow this cheesecake to cool fully before eating.  As tempting as it is to dig in right away, the texture improves as it cools.  

Serve, preferably with some fresh whipped cream, or even a maple syrup reduction.

October 13, 2008

Happy Turkey Day - Canadian that is

This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  The day we all come to a dead stop and fill ourselves with as much food as possible.  Every day of this long weekend, I've been able to smell Turkey's roasting.  They smell so damn good, and I'm not even a fan of Turkey.  While every other family was putting a giant Turkey on the family table, my family was putting a, tiny in comparison, roast chicken on ours.  Instead of mashed potatoes, we ate potato dumplings.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, turnips, all those traditional veggies we replaced with pickled red cabbage and canned peas.   To me, that is a proper Thanksgiving dinner.

Well, to be honest, I never liked the red cabbage.  And I prefer frozen peas to canned peas.  I do love  sweet potatoes, carrots and green beans.  But Turkey?  No, I'm with my family on that one.  And potato dumplings.  That is the most important part of the meal.  So important, that when my Mother informed me that they were having mashed potatoes in stead, I was in shock.  For my supper, I had potato dumplings.  But, this post isn't really about Thanksgiving dinner.  Mine looked ugly, Roast Chicken, while delicious is nothing special to make.  Potato dumplings have ALWAYS come from a box - and amazingly enough, to my profound excitement, a box that didn't contain gluten.  The stuffing I tried making was just gross, and the veggies, were just cauliflower and asparagus.  No, this post is about the left overs.

I made a full dinner...for just me.  Now, I'm a big eater, and did eat almost the whole box of potato dumplings, but even I can't eat EVERYTHING.  So, what is a girl to do with all those leftovers?  After a quick glance in my pantry I decided to make, Saucy Chicken and Pea Rice.  Kind of weird name, fantastic taste :)

Saucy Chicken and Pea Rice

Left over chicken and gravy from one roast chicken
One bowl of frozen peas, defrosted
1 unit of rice cooked in rice cooker *I used arborio rice

Combine all components, and leave on in rice cooker, on warm setting until chicken is warmed through.  Serve, and enjoy.  

Warm weather in a jar

In the last year and a bit, I have discovered the joy of making preserves.  As a result I have more jam than I can even dream of eating.  Christmas presents, here we come!  

Last year when I first started canning my own stuff, everything I made was from inside Certo packages.  Strawberry jam, Strawberry Rhubarb jam, Blueberry Jam, Plum Jam, Salsa - wait, that one came from Bernardin, same idea.  They're all delicious, but since anyone can get the recipes, I wont bore you with them.  However, my Golden Plum Jam, Raspberry-Cherry Jam, Blackcurrant-Blueberry Jam, and Oma's Apple Sauce, those you can only get from me.  And lucky for you, it's not too late for Apple Sauce!

Photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com
Oma's Apple Sauce

This is a rough recipe, as I didn't measure anything, and I had very basic directions to go on.  Between my Mom and Dad's memories of Oma's Apple Sauce I managed to make this.

Peel, slice and core apples.  I used enough to fill my large cooking pot.  Place about 1 inch water in pot with apple slices.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until slices are tender and can be mashed with a fork.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle in a bit of cinnamon - to taste - and mash with a potato masher.  Enjoy right away, cool and store in Fridge, or preserve in hot, sterilized canning jars (use a boiling canner for 20 minutes).

Blackcurrent-Blueberry Jam

2 cups blackcurrants
2 cups wild blueberries
1 cup splenda
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 pouch liquid pectin *I used Certo brand

Crush blackcurrants and blueberries.
In large sauce pan bring a boil along with lime juice.
Add splenda and sugar
Boil rapidly for one minute.
Remove from heat and stir in pectin.
Stir for 5 minutes, removing foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot canning jars.  Seal, and place in boiling water for 15 minutes.  

This jam has a tart undertone.  If you do not like tart foods, increase the splenda or sugar.  This will most likely affect the texture of the jam, but with a good stirring it should still be quite enjoyable.

Gingered Plum Jam

Approx 35 Golden Plums
2 Tbsp ginger paste
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup splenda
1 package light pectin *I used Certo Light

Pit plums and puree in food processor.
In large sauce pot combine plum puree ginger, and lemon juice.
Combine pectin with 1/4 cup sugar, and add to plum mixture.
Bring mixture to a boil and add remaining sugar and splenda.
Boil hard for one minute.
Remove from heat, stir for five minutes while removing foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot canning jars.  Seal, and place in boiling water for 15 minutes. 

This makes a more saucy jam, and is fantastic on pancakes.

Raspberry-Cherry Jam

1 3/4 cup pureed raspberries
3 1/2 cups pureed cherries
3 1/4 cup sugar
1 package light pectin *again I used Certo Light

Combine raspberries, cherries and 1/4 cup sugar mixed with pectin in a large sauce pan.
Bring mixture to a boil and add remaining sugar and splenda.
Boil hard for one minute.
Remove from heat, stir for five minutes while removing foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot canning jars.  Seal, and place in boiling water for 15 minutes.