Pumpkin Power!

Pumpkin Power!

Enjoy Great Food and Fun Times with Pumpkins this time of year!

In celebration of Halloween (all Hallows Eve) about 99% of pumpkins sold domestically are used as jack-o-lanterns. Hundreds of years ago, before Pumpkins were used, Turnips were carved and lit with hot embers and used as ‘lanterns’ as well as to ward off evil spirits.

But, Pumpkins have more power than warding off evil spirits.

They are Delicious AND Nutrituous!

Pumpkins are of the Cucurbita family and are actually winter squash and range in size from less than 1 pound to over 1,000 pounds. They are typically 90% water.

Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A which is a great antioxidant and in potassium which is important for blood-pressure regulation. They are also high in fiber which is great for cleaning your intestines and helping things move along.

Their seeds, due to their high Zinc content, may help with prostate challenges and could help avoid prostate cancer in men. Pumpkin seeds will also help you keep your skin supple and your hair strong and shiny.

Roasted Pumpkin is easy and delicious as a side dish or main dish. I also like to add cubed pumpkin to any vegetable dish and casserole.

Serve it cold with salad greens (especially good with arugula), goat cheese and dried cranberries.

Here is a recipe for a delicious, low-calorie and super nutritious Pumpkin Smoothie! (from Katarina of Dublin, Ireland)

1 banana, frozen
1 cup almond milk
1 cup pumpkin, grated
a handful of pre-soaked almonds (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
nectar, stevia or raw honey to taste.

What are some of your favorite ways to use Pumpkin in addition to traditional Pumpkin Pie?

Enjoy your Pumpkins all season!

And today – However you use your Pumpkin, have a Happy Halloween!

Roasted Rosemary ‘Taters

Just a quiet weekend at home with no fancy foods but delicious simple fare. Still enjoying those garlicky roasted tomatoes…so satisfying (and the house smells wonderful, like a quaint Italian restaurant);  and so many ways to enjoy them: a base for a flatbread pizza,  an omelette filling with mushrooms and spinach, a topping for a grilled portabella mushroom…ummmm yummy stuff!

This weekend I paired them with roasted rosemary seasoned potatoes –as simple as the tomatoes to prepare: toss potato slices (or chunks – I quartered small red potatoes, skins on) with extra virgin olive oil (it only takes a drizzle) and chopped fresh rosemary (fresh is key), a sprinkle of sea salt and a grind of fresh pepper; spread in a single layer, skin side down, on a baking sheet and roast at 400’ for about 40 minutes. Test with a fork for doneness.

Prepare as little or as much as you want. They are delicious alone or as another great flatbread topping or omelette filling – they’re even good cold! I added chunks of zucchini prepared the same way after 30 minutes into roasting.

The options are endless. How do you like to use them?

Mozzarella and Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad – Blog – food52

Mozzarella and Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad – Blog – food52.

Doesn’t this just look scrumptious? This is an interesting ‘tweak’ to the traditional (and one of my favorites ) Caprese Salad.

Read some of the comments following the recipe for other intriguing variations such as using mozzarella ‘balls’ or adding a drop of balsamic or sherry vinegar.

Anyway you choose, it is sure to be delicious!

Quick and Easy-Delicious and Nutritious-This is so yummy!

This veggie ‘Pizza’ is so quick and easy and sooo delicious!  A vegetable medley crowns a crisp lavash spread with hummus, kalamata olives and fresh spinach.

Inspired by Iron Chef Cat Cora’s Fast Veggie Pizza recipe, I adapted, using ingredients I had on hand.First, I lightly sautéed sliced crimini mushrooms (1 cup), thinly sliced assorted yellow, orange & red baby bell peppers (1/3 cup); and small diced zucchini (1- 1 1/2 cups), until just barely soft (crisp-tender) and seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano and fresh ground pepper and salt to taste.

With the veggies set aside, I baked a 9″x12″ sheet of Lavash until crisp (about 6 minutes at 350ºF). Fresh out of the oven and still hot, I evenly spread 1/3 cup of a store-bought Jalapeno Hummus (gives it a bit of kick!) over the Lavash, and distributed about 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped kalamata olives over the hummus, then covered that with a nice layer (about 1 1/2 cups) coarsely chopped spinach -which helps to mellow Jalapeno bite!– before topping it all off with the vegetable medley and popped it back into the hot oven for 6 more minutes to heat it all back up, re-crisp the lavash and wilt the spinach.

I set the lavash directly on the oven rack and slid it off onto a cutting board for easy of serving. My husband and I devoured the entire pizza in one sitting! (It was only one sheet of lavash!)

Make it yourself this weekend and ENJOY!

Summertime is Rhubarb Time!

Seeing fresh rhubarb in Sprouts the other day, I immediately (in a pavlovian response) started craving it.  I also started noticing recipes in magazines, references to rhubarb uses, and even other’s posts and comments about real-time cooking of rhubarb. (Is it just because I am craving it,  or is rhubarb getting it’s 15-minutes of fame?)

To my surprise (and delight), my sister was already planning on making a rhubarb dessert during my recent visit!  We had fun looking at various new recipes and reminiscing about old family recipes. To my further delight, another sister arrived with fresh rhubarb from her garden for both of us! I have just cooked (and devoured) mine – a simple ‘stewed’ rhubarb, with a little sweetener; nothing fancy and no other flavorings. I love it just plain. IF I had more, I might have made a pie….there IS something special about the combination of all the flavors (with or without strawberries, apples etc) baked in a crust that makes for a satisfying and tasty treat.

So…I’m thinking it would be fun during this ‘Rhubarb Season’ to share some of our favorite recipes. What is yours??

Following is one of mine — an ‘oldie but goodie’. It comes from a dear friend, Lorraine, who baked pies for our restaurant way back when. It is a little on the sweet side for my tastes now but it is delicious covered with a crumb topping and almost fail-safe using strawberry jello.  Watch for other recipes on the Recipe Page!

LORRAINE’S RHUBARB PIE

1 unbaked deep dish pie shell

Filling:

4 Cups Rhubarb cut into small pieces

1 Pkg (small size) Strawberry Jello

1 Cup Sugar

Combine dry jello and sugar, then stir into cut rhubarb and put mixture into a raw crust.

Crust:

1 cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons Flour

1/4 Cup Butter, melted

Dash of Salt

Blend sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour together. Add butter and mix with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie.

PIE ALWAYS RUNS OVER! So place on a baking sheet.

Bake 425º-450ºF for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF and continue baking 20-25 minutes until bubbly and topping is lightly browned.

Let cool, then refrigerate until solid. Once set, pie can be served at room temperature


Omelettes in a Bag

These were quite the surprise! I was skeptical when told what the program was: stirred eggs in a sandwich-size Ziplock bag with individual choices of omelette ‘fillings’, then dropped into boiling water for about 15 minutes. I personally do not care for over-cooked eggs that are rubbery and ‘bounce’ on the floor when dropped, so I was indeed skeptical of a 15 minute cooked ‘omelette’ in boiling water.  Now–I am IMPRESSED!

It is as fun as fondue and a great way to serve omelettes to a crowd. A variety of popular omelette fillings such as cheese, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, fresh spinach, and  various meats (sausage, bacon, ham, even chicken) are set out in individual bowls. Eggs are stirred in a mixer with simple seasonings (salt, pepper, and a few herbs), then measured into individual bags according to personal preferences. The chosen filling ingredients are added, and the bag is zipped closed, then gently placed into a large pot of boiling water. To identify each person’s omelette, their names are written on the bags prior to filling. The bags are checked after 10 minutes for ‘doneness’.  When determined cooked, the bag is opened and out slips a lovely ‘folded’ omelette! Top with cheese and maybe a grind or two of fresh pepper and VOILA! – a delicious tender omelette!

We enjoyed accompaniments of fresh berries, streusel coffee cake, and a variety of grilled seasoned sausages.