Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Up to my ears in pumpkins!

I've been busy getting ready for the Souper Fun Sunday fundraiser at St. Francis High School this Sunday, January 31st. It never occurred to me how much space and time five gallons of soup can take up! Using my recipe for Zen Pumpkin Soup and multiplying it to make 5 gallons, I need 40 cups of roasted pumpkin - yes, 40 cups.

Needless to say, I have been up to my ears in pumpkin! There are 6 Seminole pumpkins of various sizes sitting in my dining room ready to be roasted, pureed and placed in the freezer.

For those of you intimidated by the idea of splitting and roasting a large hard winter squash of any kind, here are simple instructions with pictures. Don't worry about having a strong knife or a large roasting pan - a knife with a 6 inch blade and a cookie sheet will do!

First, insert the knife near the stem and wiggle it into the center of the pumpkin. At this point you can rotate the pumpkin while bringing the blade around the curve toward the bottom.

Flip the pumpkin over and continue back up towards the stem on the other side. Don't try to cut through the stem - just remove the knife, wedge your fingers into the cut on the bottom of the pumpkin and pull - the pumpkin will split and the stem will end up on one half.

Take a large spoon and scoop out the fibers and seeds in the center. You can save the seeds to clean and roast or just toss them into the compost pile - your choice!

Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees until your finger leaves a dent in the flesh and skin. Depending on the size of the pumpkin, this could take two hours.

Remove from oven and cool before handling. The skin will either peel off easily or the flesh can be scooped from the skin. At this point you can serve it or continue with a recipe.

Well, I'm off to make 5 gallons of soup - see you Sunday at the Souper Fun Sunday!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January Menu Ideas

Holiday eating is over - the last fruitcake cookie is gone - no more pecan pie - time for some veggies and regular eating!

I picked up a CSA bag for a friend on Saturday - lots of greens! Then I restocked my pantry and took a freezer inventory - we have a lot of bread, blueberries, pesto and seafood! (When fish is on sale I usually buy one for that night and get one double-wrapped for the freezer.)

Here are my menu ideas to make use of seasonal produce, raid my pantry and to use up the bounty in the freezer - I love shopping in my own kitchen!

BBQ Eggplant and Lentils
BBQ Tofu
Mjuddrah (lentils and rice with onions and olive oil)
Latkes with Sour Cream and Applesauce
Turnips, Sweet Potato, Apple, Pecans with Balsamic as side with Fish
Mashed Potato and Curly Kale as side with Fish
Split Pea Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Veggie Salad with Garbanzo Beans or Tuna
Spaghetti and Sweet Basil Sauce as side with Fish
Spaghetti and Pesto as side with Fish
Linguine with Clam Sauce
Linguine with Pesto and Scallops
Penne with Cabernet Marinara as side with Fish
Penne with Shiitake Mushrooms and Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

Roasted Turnips and Carrots with Meyer Lemon Marinade
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Kale with Ginger and Meyer Lemon
Turnip Greens with Sweet Smoked Paprika, Hot Peppers and Onions
Steamed Broccoli with Meyer Lemon Marinade
Green Salads
Veggie Salad with cucumber, tomato and carrot
Spinach Salad with Shiitake Mushrooms with Miso Ginger Dressing
Avocado Grapefruit Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Balsamic

Blueberry Bread Pudding
Sweet Potato Custard
Sweet Orange Compote

Take the time to inventory your pantry and freezer for your own menu ideas. Just think of all the money you'll save by shopping in your own kitchen!