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KALE AND HOT WATER CORNBREAD!

A few months back, our son called to ask if I’d ever made hot water cornbread; I had not. He ate some at a friend’s house and loved it. He said it was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Then a few weeks later, I saw this article in the Penzeys catalog. The cornbread was paired with a curry-flavored kale dish.  I immediately tore out the recipes to try as soon as the spring CSA kale was plentiful again. I’m always eager to try new flavors with kale, and I can now say I have made hot water cornbread!

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Curry adds a twist to the usual steamed kale.

WHAT YOU NEED for the kale:

1 T vegetable oil or bacon grease

1 bunch kale (about 1 lb)

1/2 medium onion, minced (I used red)

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c water

WHAT YOU DO with the kale:

Wash and de-stem the kale. Stack the leaves, roll and slice into shreds. My kale bunch weighed in at half a pound, so I halved the ingredients.

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Stack, roll, and slice!

Heat the oil or grease over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.

Add the onion and cook until it begins to brown.

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Add the kale, curry powder, salt, and water.

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Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes, while the cornbread is in the oven. I did have to add more water while this was cooking and still didn’t have much pan juice.

Serve hot, letting the juices moisten the cornbread while you’re eating.

WHAT YOU NEED for the cornbread:

2 Cups yellow stone-ground cornmeal

1 egg

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar, optional

1/4 tsp. PENZEYS ROASTED GARLIC, optional

black pepper  to taste

2-3 Cups water, boiling

3-4 Cups vegetable oil for frying 1-2 TB. bacon grease, optional

WHAT YOU DO for the cornbread:

In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, egg, salt and sugar (if using), ROASTED GARLIC (if using) and pepper. I got this FREE jar of roasted garlic with a Penzeys order, so I used it. You could omit or use garlic powder.

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Stir in enough boiling water that the cornmeal mixture looks like a thick batter—holding together enough to spoon out but not runny. Mine looked like mashed potatoes. I used about 3 cups of hot water.

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Heat the oil and bacon grease (if using) in a large cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. The oil should be 1/3 of the way up the side of the skillet.

As soon as the oil is hot, spoon the hot cornmeal mixture into your hands and form into a small patty, saucer-like in shape. Because of the hot water, the mixture is HOT, so be careful.

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Shape cornmeal mixture into flat patties.

Place the patties gently (and carefully!)  in the oil. Don’t crowd the pan; usually 3 at a time or so would be good.

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Turn each patty once and cook until crisp and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes total for small patties.

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Frying!

Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

I served the kale and cornbread patties with left-over pulled pork and beans.

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WELCOME, SPRING!

SPRING is on its way, and our first CSA box reaffirms that!

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I eagerly dug through the box, oohing and ahhhhing over the bags of crisp lettuce, dark, leafy kale and tender spinach. And a leek! I decided to focus on this mild root vegetable for the first CSA recipe.

Leeks look quite similar to onions but their flavor is much milder – mellow and not overpowering. Even if you don’t like onions, you should give the leek a chance!

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Unlike onions, leeks don’t form much of a bulb on the end of the root. Instead, they remain cylindrical, with perhaps a slight bulge at the end. The part that is underground  remains tender and white, while the part exposed to the sunlight becomes tough and fibrous and not very good for eating. To maximize the edible part of the plant, farmers mound the dirt up around the sprouting plant; this keeps more of it underground and white, but also means that dirt often gets between the layers, so leeks need careful cleaning before cooking.

First, cut a quarter inch or so off the bottom of the leek, removing the roots completely.

Next, cut off the upper, dark green part of the leaves where they start to unfurl from the leek. These are too fibrous to eat, but they can be used to flavor soups and stocks.

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The light green and white portion that remains is the edible part of the leek. Cut this in half lengthwise.

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Rinse each half under cool, running water. Use your fingers to flex the leek and rinse between the layers while still keeping the layers relatively intact. This leek was very clean! I didn’t find any dirt to rinse out.

Once you’ve washed away all the grit, you can continue chopping the leek as directed in the recipe.

Leeks can be used like onions to season any number of dishes. One of the most popular uses is the famous leek potato soup.The dark green portion is usually discarded because it has a tough texture, but it can be sautéed or added to stock.

As I was unloading my CSA box, the In-Laws called. When I mentioned the leek, my MIL said she loves to sauté and scramble into eggs. I decided to use my leek in that simple but very tasty recipe for a quick lunch dish.

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 leek, washed and finely diced

4 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk

2 Tbl. butter or olive oil

Salt/pepper

grated cheese (I used Gouda)

WHAT YOU DO:

Finely dice the washed leek.

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one finely chopped leek

Sauté the diced leek in butter, preferably in a non-stick skillet.

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Sauté diced leek in butter in non-stick skillet.

When leeks are tender and golden, add the beaten eggs and cook until set.

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Sprinkle with grated cheese and allow to melt.

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Shaved Gouda on hot eggs!

This was a quick, cheap, filling and flavorful lunch. It wouldn’t be a stretch to add other veggies like sautéed spinach and mushrooms to it. Throw in a green salad made with your CSA lettuces and some hot fresh bread, and you’ve got a very satisfying meal.

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KALE CUBES FOR SMOOTHIES!

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Nutrient rich kale!

Our grandchildren love smoothies! Their mama (our girl!) often starts off their day with a green smoothie. With so much beautiful kale in our CSA box, I recently asked her to show me how she makes them. There’s not much to the process, but the end result is a freezer stocked with frozen kale cubes ready to toss in a blender for a quick morning smoothie.

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Ready for smoothies!

WHAT YOU NEED:

kale, washed and de-stemmed

a can of coconut milk

a food processor or Vitamix

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two simple ingredients

WHAT YOU DO:

I am the proud and excited new owner of a Vitamix blender, but a food processor will suffice; the mixture will not be as smooth, however. If using a food processor, you might want to help the kale break down by steaming it first for about 3-5 minutes, until limp but still bright green. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process, drain, and proceed with recipe.

Push the kale down into the blender/processor and add the coconut milk.

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Rich, thick coconut milk.

Daughter says coconut milk and coconut oil have gotten a bad rap for years. A quick Google search revealed these facts: “Coconut milk contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids, and capric acid which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.” You can read about other health benefits here. All I know is that it is thick and rich and made some silky kale cubes!

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That Vitamix is amazing! In just seconds, the kale and coconut milk were transformed into creamy goodness. I poured the mixture into muffin tins, creating the perfect portions for smoothies.

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Once the cubes were frozen, I let the muffin tin sit on the counter for a minute and then ran a knife around the edge of each kale cube. They popped out easily.

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Pop ’em out!

I bagged each cube in an inexpensive fold-over sandwich baggie to keep them from sticking to each other (and to be less messy when reaching into the bag on busy mornings!) I then put all the baggies in a larger freezer bag, dated and labeled, and placed in freezer until ready to use.

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Bag ’em!

I will now be enjoying kale for quite some time – even though our weekly CSA delivery is over until the spring. Morning smoothie making is quick and easy: into the blender go two to four kale cubes and your choice of fruit and sweetener. Here is a recipe to consider.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these recipes and found some tasty ways to enjoy your produce from Rose Creek Farms. Stay warm this winter! Hopefully your freezer is stocked with yummy kale soup like this and this.

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Bitter Greens!

Who else has been stumped with what to do with the BITTER GREENS in our CSA box? I admit, I had “to google it” and read this: “Bitter Greens: mixed green leaves of a variety of salad vegetables with a bitter taste, such as kale, mustard, collard, endive, chicory, or spinach.”

I was happy to get a HEADS UP email from Farmer Ray with a recipe recommendation from a fellow CSA customer.  Amy said it is a delicious dish, so I had to check it out for myelf.

 WHAT YOU NEED:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 medium onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rings

1 teaspoon sugar

4 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade) or water

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound fettuccine

1 bunch bitter greens

 WHAT YOU DO:

Prep bitter greens: I washed, removed any brown, wilted leaves, and drained while I was cooking the onions.

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Two bags of greens washed and ready!

Prep onions: peel and thinly slice four onions (I used yellow.) You can slice with knife; I used my Pampered Chef Easy Slicer. I love the handle that protects my fingers!

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slicing onions

Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sugar and cook, stirring once or twice, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Turn heat to low; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes.

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caramelized onions!

While onions are caramelizing, cook pasta in boiling salted water until a little underdone, and drain. I wanted to use up some pasta in my pantry, so I boiled a combination of rotini and bowtie.

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Pasta!

When onions are caramelized and fully cooked, remove half the onions and set aside. Add broth or water to the pan and bring to a boil. I used chicken broth.

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onions boiling in broth

Cook over high heat, scraping bottom of pan, for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cooked pasta to broth; simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add greens; cook, covered, until wilted, about 1 minute.

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wilting the greens

I used two packages of bitter greens, and they cooked down to almost nothing, so don’t be afraid to push them down into the pasta and broth.

The recipe calls for an additional tablespoon of butter, if desired. Amy suggested cream, so that’s what I did.

Divide among 4 shallow bowls, garnish with reserved onions.

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Bitter Greens with pasta and caramelized onions

This is a surprisingly tasty dish! The sweetness of the caramelized onions balances out the “bitterness” of the greens, and the cream adds a nice richness to the broth.

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Any recipe using kale always catches my eye! I adapted this magazine recipe to use this week’s kale. I’m glad I did; it provided a yummy lunch for us.

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 cups uncooked pasta

8 oz. uncooked sausage

4 cups uncooked kale, roughly chopped

1 cup chicken broth

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. slat

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

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The stars!

WHAT YOU DO:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain. I used whole grain rotini. The original recipe calls for rigatoni.

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Whole grain rotini adds extra nutrients and fiber!

Cook sausage:  The original recipe calls for sweet Italian turkey sausage; I used a pound of Rose Creek Farms pork sausage which made this dish quite meaty (and filling!) IMG_3324

Remove sausage from casing and cook in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up sausage as it cooks, about 3 minutes. Once it’s cooked, I elevate the skillet and use a paper towel to absorb the fat.

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Elevate to drain off fat.

Prep kale: wash, de-stem and roughly chop.

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chopped kale

Add kale to sausage, stirring frequently, until limp, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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Kale joins sausage!

Add chicken broth to skillet and scrape up browned bits on bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon; season with salt and pepper. I used homemade broth from a chicken I had cooked in the crock pot. I refrigerated the broth which solidifies the fat on top. It is easy to remove and discard, leaving the flavorful broth!

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Homemade chicken broth!

Cover skillet and reduce heat to low; cook until kale is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in rigatoni; heat through.

Sprinkle each serving with about 2 tablespoons of cheese before serving. (I actually stirred the 1/2 cup of cheese into the hot just-drained pasta, tossing to coat as the cheese melts. I learned this trick from Rachel Ray!)

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Pasta, sausage, kale, and cheese!

Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

I had some leftover salad in the refrigerator, so I used it as a base for this dish. It was delicious!

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Salad and pasta!

The magazine recipe includes these suggestions: Make this dish vegetarian by swapping cannellini beans for the sausage and vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Try broccoli rabe when kale is not available.

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Have you ever seen a more beautiful example of bok choy  than the ones we had in our boxes on Saturday? They were huge!

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Beautiful bok choy!

I did some research on this veggie also known as leafy Chinese cabbage or pak choi. It is one of the popular mainland crops in China, Philippines, Vietnam and other oriental regions, but has captured popularity even in the western world for its sweet, succulent nutritious leaves and stalks. Fresh bok choy supplies all sorts of important vitamins and antioxidants.

Store whole bok-choy in the vegetable compartment inside the refrigerator set at high relative humidity. If stored appropriately, it stays fresh for up to 3-4 days without the loss of much of nutrients. However, bok choy is more nutritious, sweeter, and flavorful when used fresh.

Crispy, sweet bok choy stalks can be eaten raw, added to salads, sandwiches, and burgers.

  • Its stalks can be used with cabbage in coleslaw.
  • Baby bok choy can be a very attractive addition to salads and stir-fries.
  • In China and other East Asian regions, it is used much like cabbage in stew fries with added onion, garlic, bell pepper, and green chillies mixed with steamed rice and soy/chilli/tomato sauce to prepare chow mein.

I usually just chop and sauté this leafy veggie with onion and garlic and serve as a side, similar to greens. This time, I wanted to serve it raw, so I “googled” and came up with a Martha Stewart recipe. You can’t go wrong with ol’ Martha!

WHAT YOU NEED:       

4 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon sugar

5 cups sliced, raw bok choy (any type; about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons chopped cashews

WHAT YOU DO:

 Prepare dressing: whisk together rice vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and sugar in a bowl.

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for the dressing!

 

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Whisk briskly to dissolve sugar!

Prepare bok choy: cut off root end and separate stalks. Rinse well to remove sandy soil. Chop into bite-size pieces. The recipe calls for 5 cups of chopped bok choy. I measured and got 7 cups, so I prepared the dressing recipe using one and a half times the ingredients.

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Slice and chop washed bok choy for a raw salad.

Toss the raw bok choy with the dressing.

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Asian flavored dressing!

Top with 2 tablespoons chopped cashews. As you can tell from the photo, I used quite a bit more cashews than that! I love a crunch to my salad, and those cashews added a wonderful saltiness and crunch indeed!

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Salty cashews add crunch!

I’ve started taking these CSA blog recipes to our Sunday Life Group meals and get great feedback from those willing taste-testers. This recipe got high marks, even though not one of them had ever eaten raw bok choy! I enjoyed this new way of preparing bok choy!

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I look forward to Wednesday’s edition of our local paper for its FOOD section. Last week featured sweet potatoes, so I was happy to find sweet potatoes in this week’s CSA box! Their “fingerling” size inspired me to try the roasted wedges with dipping sauce.

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Recipes using sweet potatoes!

WHAT YOU NEED:

3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds), cut lengthwise into ¼-inch wedges

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. ground ginger

Salt and freshly ground black peppers

Dipping Sauce:

1/3 cup mayonnaise

½ cup Greek yogurt

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2-3 tbsp. honey

2 tsp. curry powder

WHAT YOU DO:

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the potato wedges:  I gave them a good scrubbing and didn’t bother to peel since the skins are so thin and tender. I cut out any dark spots and sliced the larger ones down the middle.

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No need to peel these tender babies!

Arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.

I combined the cumin, paprika, ginger, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mixed well. I was concerned that the spices would over-power these tender sweet potatoes, so I only used half of the amounts. After eating the roasted wedges, I believe next time I’ll do as the recipe instructs and use the full amounts of spices.

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Spices!

Cook, turning once, until crisp and browned on all sides, about 20-25 minutes.

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Roasted and flavorful!

Make the dipping sauce: Whisk mayo, yogurt, lime juice, honey, curry, salt and pepper in a bowl.

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For the dipping sauce!

Serve potato wedges with the dipping sauce!

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Roasted wedges and dipping sauce!

I served these for lunch to our daughters and grandchildren. Everyone loved the tender, savory sweet potatoes, and “most” of the adults enjoyed the sauce (Hubby is not a curry fan!). I halved the sauce recipe, but it still made more than we could eat.

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This recipe is one of three featured in a magazine article entitled “3 Ways with Eggplant.” I clipped out the article quite a while back and recently came across it again in my recipe box. When I saw the fairytale eggplant in our first fall CSA box, I decided it was time to try out the Turkish Dip recipe.

I “googled” Turkish Dip and read that this roasted eggplant dip is served everywhere in Turkey. At its most basic it is just eggplant, lemon, olive oil and salt but you can jazz it up with spices or garlic.  It’s traditionally eaten as a cold starter, or ‘meze’ or can be served as a dip or spread at parties.

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WHAT YOU NEED:

1 lb. eggplant

1 clove garlic

½ cup parsley (I used parsley I’d chopped and frozen)

1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbl chopped onion (I used red)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin (I reduced to 1 tsp.)

¼ tsp. pepper

WHAT YOU DO:

If using a one pound purple globe eggplant, pierce a few times and roast in baking pan at 350*  for 1 hour, until soft.  Halve, cool, and scrape out pulp.

I had just over 1 pound of fairy tale eggplant, so I cubed them using my chopper. The skin is so thin and soft that there’s no sense in peeling.

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Cubing eggplant for roasting

I tossed the cubed eggplant with a few tsp. of olive oil and roasted for 30 minutes at 350*.

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Roasted eggplant!

Put eggplant pulp in a food processor with all the other ingredients and pulse until chopped.I do believe I over-processed mine! But it was nice and creamy and very spread-able!

Chill in the fridge for a while.

Serve with toasted bread, preferably pita bread.

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Turkish Dip with pita wedges

Note that I reduced cumin to 1 tsp. I’m very glad I did, for it was very spicy and fragrant. Hubby does not like that flavor, so he wasn’t a fan of the dip, but Oldest Daughter and I enjoyed it with our lunch. She and I agreed that this would be tasty spread on a sandwich with some cheese and turkey.

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If there’s a butternut squash in our CSA box, can autumn be far behind?

This winter squash is known in Australia and New Zealand as butternut pumpkin. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin, with yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. This hardy squash can be kept for up to three months in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate.

When I saw that butternut squash, I instantly thought of a recipe I got several years ago at a Weight Watchers meeting. I’ve made it many, many times since then. The tender squash, sweet apples and crunchy nuts all come together in a delightful way! I think you’ll like it, too.

Since I only had one squash in the box, I halved the recipe.

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The cast!

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 medium sized butternut squash

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed

¼ cup butter, melted

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup pecans, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350*.

Prep the squash: Wash and cut in half lengthways; be careful with that sharp knife and a wobbly butternut squash! Remove seeds.

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Halve and de-seed.

Place squash halves face down in a glass dish, add a few tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes.

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Just minutes in a microwave!

This smallish squash was tender in 6 minutes. Allow to cool before removing peel and chopping into chunks.

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Chunks of tender butternut squash!

You could also prep in the same manner but cook uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, using about ¾ inch of water in the bottom of the pan.

Core, peel and chop apple. I used a Gala apple since that’s what I had on hand. I placed the apple pieces in a bowl of lemon water to prevent browning while I prepped the other ingredients.

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Core, peel, and chop apple.

I chopped the pecans rather finely since there aren’t very many of them and I wanted them to be evenly divided within the squash mixture. I also toasted them in the microwave on high at 30 second bursts. I did this twice, allowing them to cool between sessions.

Combine apple pieces, toasted pecans, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl. I poured the melted butter over the apples first so the other ingredients would stick to the apples.

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Here’s the flavor!

Add to the dish of chopped squash and toss lightly to coat squash pieces. Spread evenly in dish.

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Apple nut mixture joins the squash!

Bake for 30 minutes or until casserole is warm and bubbly.

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Oh my!

VARIATIONS: use coconut oil rather than butter; honey rather than brown sugar; add ½ tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg. I chose to add the cinnamon which I’ve never done before. I’m pretty sure I’ll love this addition! I’m also thinking this dish will make an appearance on my Thanksgiving table this year!

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This Cajun dish is a good fall-back for me when I’ve exhausted all of my eggplant recipes. It freezes well and is enjoyed by everyone in the family. It makes a filling meal when paired with some peas (purple hull, crowder, or limas) and some fresh fruit.

WHAT YOU NEED: DSC00109

1/2 stick margarine

2 large purple eggplants (peeled and cubed)

1 lb. good ground chuck

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup water

1 tsp. each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme

2 cups cooked hot white rice (I used brown; recipe below)

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 by 11 inch pyrex dish with a non stick spray.

Prep eggplant. I used Fairy Tale Eggplant from the CSA box.

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Chopped Fairy Tale eggplant

Saute’ onion and bell pepper in melted margarine. I used about half of the amount called for; you could also use olive oil.

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When onion and bell pepper are softened, add garlic and stir to prevent burning.

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Garlic joins the mix!

Add meat and brown slightly; then, add seasonings, eggplant, and water.

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Cover and simmer for 20 minutes on medium low heat.

Add rice* and pour into the pyrex dish.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup bread crumbs and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

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Eggplant dressing with beef!

* The original recipe calls for white rice, but it works just as well with brown rice. Since the oven is hot already, I like to bake up two recipes of Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice. After reading reviews, I cut back on the rice to 1 cup and use chicken broth rather than water for deeper flavor. I omit the salt because of the chicken broth.

BAKED BROWN RICE: 1 cup brown rice mixed with 2 1/2 cups boiling chicken broth mixed in small baking dish. (I spray dish with non-stick spray.) Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375* for one hour. Fluff with fork and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Boiling chicken broth gets brown rice to cooking!

I used one pan in the recipe; the other pan got divided into 1/2 cup portions, bagged, and frozen for future meals. It’s a snap to zap a bag in the microwave for a quick addition to supper!

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Double the recipe and freeze one for later!

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