Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thanksgiving cupcakes

In addition to Turkey Tom 2009, the wife also made some festive Thanksgiving Cupcakes.


Here’s how you do it:

  1. Bake & frost chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Sure, you can do the cupcakes by scratch; however, we opted for a good old box mix.
  2. The Wings, face, and tail-feathers are broken and shaped Salerno butter cookies
  3. The Eyes are dots of black icing
  4. The Snood is a drip of red icing

The kids love them and VERY easy to do.

Pumpkin goat cheese casserole

2pumpJoanne has been doing a delightful series of winter squash recipes. She has kept all the different things one can do with this versatile veggie on the forefront of my mind. All of her creations are delightful. The one that inspired this dish is the Butternut baked zitti. You will see that it was only an inspiration because my dish turned out totally different. But the basic nuts and bolts, you’ll see, are similar.

  • I roasted a very large pumpkin and used half of it for this. Not sure how to do amounts. I blended the roasted pumpkin meat with 6 eggs and the blender was full (6 cups of pureed pumpkin and egg combined)
  • 1 very large onion diced
  • 3 tbls of my frozen pesto (use some combo of dried or fresh basil and garlic if you don’t have pesto)
  • 1 lb soft fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 8 oz elbow quinoa pasta (any pasta you like is fine)
  • Salt to taste


I blended the pumpkin and eggs in a blender after roasting the pumpkin until nice and soft.  I then let it cool before blending.

I sauteed the large onion until very soft and stirred in all the spices and herbs. While it was hot I blended in the goat cheese until it was softened and thoroughly mixed. I put this mixture into the pumpkin and egg mixture.

I boiled the pasta just enough to get the crunch out. So it was uber al dente. It cooks the rest of the way in the oven and in this instance I wanted to be sure the casserole was not too moist.

I mixed the pasta into the egg, cheese and pumpkin mixture and put it all into a baking dish. It was quite goopy. I was not sure it would set, but it did after about an hour and a half at 350 degrees. It turned out quite nice. Total experiment.

Turkey Tom 2009

Every year the wife makes a Turkey themed dish for thanksgiving and this year it was an appetizer.

2009-11-26 16.49.26For this you’ll need

1) One small pumpkin (pie pumpkin will work)
2) Summer Sausage
3) Colby Jack Cheese
4) Red Pepper
5) Pear
6) Mushrooms
7) Wooden shish kabob skewers


So, you’ll want to cut the base of the pumpkin so it can sit flat on the surface. In our case she used the cut piece to tilt the turkey up slightly.

Cut the red pepper to look like feet and place at the base of the pumpkin.

Take half a skewer and place it into the pumpkin where you intend on having the head, then place the pear on. For the head she used two blueberries that were available, if you don’t have any just sitting around anything will do.

Cut your summer sausage and cheese into cubes, place onto skewers in an alternating fashion. Then arrange each skewer in the pumpkin as to create the tail feather pattern.  Place a mushroom at the end of each skewer to give it the final touch.

And there you go!  A nice appetizer or centerpiece.

Some of the Thanksgiving day spoils

Our quite decadent meal for two:


So this is pretty much our whole Thanksgiving meal save the dessert which was a coconut banana chocolate frozen goop.

The pumpkin soup is the recipe I shared here.

The salad is mixed greens from our CSA box, right off the farm. They are a delightful mix which includes some nice spicy and bitter greens.

The roasted potatoes are also from the CSA box and they are tossed with diced garlic, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and olive oil and then roasted until browned. (they could have cooked a bit more actually)

The dressing is spelt bread diced
in small pieces tossed with sauteed onions, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, and LOTS OF BUTTER. After the saute I put in 2 diced uncooked apples, a handful of pinenuts, a handful of walnuts and a handful of raisins. Then put them in a baking dish and covered them while baking until the last 15 minutes.

The turkey is two thigh pieces. Roasted with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary and garlic.

The cranberry sauce was about 12 oz of cranberries with 2 diced pears and about 1/3 of a can of frozen orange concentrate. No sugar added. The orange juice was plenty for me, though it was tart, no doubt. Also about 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. Boiled until nice and thick.

I made a mock gravy
as we didn’t have a whole bird to save juices. I boiled about 32 oz of chicken stock with 1/2 a cup of red wine down to about 10 oz. Added salt, pepper, garlic powder and sage, and then thickened it with flour. It wasn’t bad, though I prefer the real thing. No fat…that was nice.

We also have a dessert. I pureed in the blender 3 bananas, a 14 oz can of coconut milk, 1/2 cup raw chocolate powder and 1 tbls of honey. It’s in the freezer. When it’s thickened we’ll eat it. No picture.

Sausage, apple and sweet potato casserole….


That photo looks like it’s all sweet potato and it wasn’t at all.

So I had some chicken hot italian sausages. These are really good natural sausages. They do not have that weak chicken sausage flavor so many chicken sausages have. So if I didn’t know these were great sausages and you prefer pork, then I’d go with pork for this recipe.

I browned about a pound of sausage. I took off the skins and sauteed it like ground meat. Before I did the saute I boiled a 1sausmassively huge sweet potato. Two regular sized large sweet potatoes would do. These are from the CSA box we’re getting so nothing is typical which is lovely because you know it’s not been genetically modified or altered in any way for it to look “normal” for the grocery store. So I cut up the potato in pieces and boiled it.

After the sausage was cooked I put it on the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. I topped that with a layer of thinly sliced apple.

I mashed the potatoes once they were cooked and added salt. Then I put this over the apples and sausage. I baked it covered for 1/2 an hour at 400 degrees and then uncovered for 20 minutes.

2sausI had no idea how this would turn out except I had a vague memory of liking pork sausage with sweet potatoes—where I got this idea I didn’t know. My husband later reminded me I used to get an egg scramble in a restaurant we used to frequent in which there was both a hefty amount of sweet potatoes and sausage. The apple was a new addition. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I did and in fact I loved it!


Served it with also local collard greens from the CSA box for an all around southern feel. (I live in the south for those of you who do not know)

Cross-posted at BlogAsheville

Food experiment – "Indian" Tacos

I was sitting in the office today and thought to myself – I like tacos, I like Indian food, let’s give Indian Tacos a try. Sure, part of the reason the Taco concept never really caught on in Indian cuisine is that whole “sacred cow” thing but I wasn’t going to let a thing like thousands of years of spiritual belief get in the way of my hunger.

Here is what you’ll need for this dish.

  • 1 1/2 lb of 90/10 beef
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp Chili
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • Tomato (as topping)
  • Lettuce (as topping)
  • Cottage Cheese (as topping)
  • Flour Tortillas

Let’s just start off by saying this is not your typical Taco dish (obviously). Here we go…

  1. Cut your onion and garlic into very thin slices as the intent it so simply add flavor to the meat when cooking. Heat up your pan with olive oil, add your garlic and onion. Let brown ever so slighlty.
  2. Add meat, cook over a medium to low flame and mix
  3. As your meat is cooking add your spices – no specific order. While I only used 1/4 tsp of salt, I suggest you salt to your liking.

Cut your tomato and lettuce, and there you go, you are ready to eat. Now you may be wondering “What’s up with the cottage cheese?” Well, it is also a topping. Keeping with the theme of “Indian” I wanted a quick alternative to Paneer and cottage cheese is the answer. I know it will sound odd at first but it really works!

A big warning – make sure you use flour tortillas. The flavor of corn tortillas just don’t mix will with the seasoning in the meat.


I haven’t perfected the dish yet but it’s a good start. Hope you enjoy, and if you do happen to do your own version please let me know.

Lentil soup with bison sausage


I’ve been having fun with my new (old) crock pot.

For the lentil soup I threw everything in without browning. If one wants a richer soup saute or brown the meat and veggies a bit. This one came out very well without doing so. I simply cut up and threw all the below ingredients into the pot and turned it on high. I cooked it for the afternoon. If you want to do it overnight the low setting would be fine as well.

The sausages were highly flavored and spiced so the flavor of the soup was greatly influenced by them. Think about what sort of sausage you’re using and adjust the flavors accordingly.


1 lb bison sausage (any sausage of your choice is fine)

2 cups dry lentils

water to fill the pot after all ingredients added

whole bunch of celery sliced

1 large onion diced

3 carrots sliced

5 cloves garlic diced

1 cup red wine

3 bay leaves

1 tbls celery seed

2 tbls balsamic vinegar

2 tbls molasses

Salt and pepper to taste (I used red chili flakes)

Apples and cranberries cooked in brandy

I’m into natural desserts which are generally fruity in nature, though I’m experimenting with raw unsweetened chocolate lately. Perhaps I’ll have a recipe of such soon.

This dessert came about by accident. I actually bought the cranberries to go in a squash and apple roast inspired by Joanne, but then I needed a less intensive thing to do and I really wanted dessert, so this is what happened to the cranberries instead. Well some of them, I still have some left, so perhaps the roasted squash will still come to be.

I cut 3 apples up in bite size pieces, leaving the skin on. I like skin, if you don’t go ahead and peel them.

Then I threw in a few handfuls of cranberries. I didn’t measure. Think about how tart you want your dessert, or alternately how much sugar you want to add or not. I didn’t want to add much sugar and I like things tart so I put what I figured would work out given my desire for sweetness.

I had a juicing orange hanging around from the last batch of pumpkin soup I made so I peeled and cut that up also in bite size pieces.

I tossed this all up in a pot and poured 1/2 a cup of brandy over the top, followed by 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg.


Brought it to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer, covered it and let it cook until all the fruit was soft.

I drizzled just a small bit of honey on mine (about a teaspoon) and ate it with chopped walnuts on top. My husband didn’t add sugar but ate his with ice cream. The following day I topped in with plain yogurt after drizzling a bit of honey on it.

It had a delightfully strong brandy flavor even though it was all cooked out.


Potatoes au gratin

gratinWe’ve been getting CSA boxes so some of the stuff we get I don’t normally buy. Potatoes oddly enough is one of those items. I do make roasted potatoes for my husband from time to time–I love them too, but don’t eat much of them as they do not agree with my hypoglycemia. In any case, I do like them and when I saw Tina’s gratin I decided to do one with the potatoes we got.

I pretty much did my own thing as far as the recipe goes. Essentially I just made a very cheesy bechamel sauce that I poured over layers of potatoes and onions.

I actually cooked it another 20 minutes after I took this photo and it came out much more brown and lovely in the end.


  • 4 different sized and shaped potatoes sliced in thin rounds (uniformity is not common in CSA boxes)
  • 1 very large red onion cut in thin half circles
  • 1/4 cup flour of your choice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbls butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of your liking (I used some sort of inexpensive organic cheddar but gruyere or something a little more interesting would be great!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder

I oiled the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking pan and then put a layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of onions and repeated with a final layer of potatoes on top.

To make the bechamel I pretty much cheated. A proper bechamel starts with a roux and then you slowly add milk and then slowly heat that until it boils and thickens. I can’t stand very long so I heated the milk and the cheese until close to boiling on a relatively high flame and then I added a 1/4 cup of flour that had part of the total milk volume added into it to make a cold flour and milk mixture which I drizzled into the hot milk and cheese. Instant bechamel! The cheaters way. I’m learning to do a lot of things cutting corners and in general I’m not too disappointed. There is much I will gladly go back to doing the long way when I can, but frankly this cheaters bechamel was fine with me.

I poured the cheesy bechamel over the top and put it into a 350 degree oven. I’m not sure how long I cooked it. When I took the above photo it actually was not done and I ended up cooking it until it was a much more brown.

It was good. I’ve never made anything like this and I’m not sure if it compares to anything that is truly a gratin. What say you?

White cannellini bean hummus with cilantro

Looks like guacamole, but it’s not!


  • 2 cups white beans (cooked in the crock pot over night on low after soaking for about 4 hours — in the morning I turned it on high for about 1 1/2 as the beans weren’t cooked! that surprised me)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more if needed)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 5 cloves of garlic (more or less to taste)
  • Salt to taste

I pureed the olive oil and cilantro in a food processor with the garlic first then added the rest of the ingredients. Blended until smooth.

I served this on grilled eggplant slices the day I made it. After that I ate it on rice cakes, and also used it in place of salad dressing. It can be a sandwich spread, or a veggie dip. I imagine it can be frozen as well, though I’ve not tried it yet.