Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad

This beautiful salad features one of fall's best super foods, the pumpkin.  I was inspired by the cute little pie pumpkins  I have been seeing at all the supermarkets and stands.    My original plan was to include roasted and salted pepitas in the salad, but when I cut open the pumpkin I changed my mind.  I decided to roast the seeds from the pumpkin I was cutting and put them in the salad instead.  In hindsight I think the store bought pepitas are a better choice only because the have a better crunch.  However I will still roast the seeds for snacking the next time I make this, since I ate almost half of them anyway while I was preparing the salad.

Start with one small pie or sugar pumpkin.

Cut out the stem and cut the pumpkin in half.
Scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff.
Set the seeds aside for roasting.

Cut off the peel from the pumpkin.

Cube the pumpkin.
Toss the pumpkin with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sea salt,
1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika and 1/4 tsp cayenne.
Roast in the oven at 400 for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Separate the seeds and rinse well.
Dry them with paper towels.

Toss the seeds with 1 tsp melted butter, 1/4 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper
Put them in the oven with the pumpkin for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

While the pumpkin and seeds are roasting, place 1/2 cup red quinoa
and 1 cup water in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
Set aside and allow to cool.

Snack on the toasted pumpkin seeds. 

When pumpkin is done roasting, set it aside and let it cool.
It can be added to the salad warm, not hot, or at room temperature.

Start with 6 cups of chopped organic spinach.

Add the cooked quinoa.

Add the roasted pumpkin.

Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

Add 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese, optional.

Here I added the roasted pumpkin seeds but I recommend using
1/2 cup of roasted and salted store bought pepitas instead.  Your call.
For dressing mix 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp dijon, 1 tsp honey
and 1/4 tsp sea salt in a jar and shake well.  Add to salad and toss well.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

This smoothie is a great post-workout recovery drink or back-to-school breakfast.  I like to use frozen bananas because it gives the smoothie a milkshake-like consistency.  I am a little picky when it comes to bananas.  I don't like them too green or too brown.  When my bananas are at their ideal ripeness for my taste, I cut them up and toss them into a freezer bag or container.  That way I always have ripe bananas on hand for smoothies.   If you don't have bananas in your freezer you can use the ones on your counter, just throw in a handful of ice.
In a blender place 1 cup of your favorite plain yogurt; whole milk, non-fat,
goats milk, greek, soy, whatever your preference.
Add 2 frozen banans, 3 Tablespoons of all natural peanut butter,
1-2 teaspoons of honey and 1/2 cup of almond, soy or cows milk.
For extra nutrients you can add wheat germ or ground flax.
Blend well and serve.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Yesterday was our first day of crisp fall weather.  As much as I live for summer here in Minnesota, I really do love fall.  I enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves, honeycrisp apples and hot cider, sweaters and boots, and of course warm soup.  One of my favorites to make this time of year is Roasted Butternut Squash.  This recipe is easy to make and is packed with nutrients.  Butternut squash is high in carotenoids which protect our cells from free radicals.  It is also a great source of Vitamin A and supports our immune systems.  Something we need as we enter cold and flu season!

Take one large butternut squash and cut it in half lengthwise.

Using a large spoon, scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff.

Place cut side up on a baking sheet.
Lightly coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast at 425 for 80-90 minutes until tender.

Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool.

Heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add two yellow onions chopped and saute for 5 minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 Tablespoon cumin.
Saute for another 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Scrape out the soft flesh from the cooled squash.

Add the squash and a 24 ounce can of crushed tomatoes to the onions.
Cook for 10 minutes.

Add 1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock and cook for 10 more minutes.

Remove the soup from heat and puree with a hand blender
or puree in batches in a regular blender.
Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grilled Cuban Corn

About 2 years ago I met my sister in New York city for a few days.  She is a Senior women's apparel designer for a sportswear company out west, and she often has to go on shopping trips to check out trends and get inspired.  I was fortunate to tag along with her on this one.  Rough, I know.  Before we left she told me that since I am the foodie I could pick out the restaurants.  She had only one request.  That we eat lunch at least once at Cafe Habana so she could get this fabulous grilled cuban corn.  I of course complied and we went to this great little restaurant in Nolita.  It turned out to be one of the best things I ever ate and I dream of it often.  I have since tried to recreate this simple but delicious dish.  I lightened it up a bit with a little less slather and cotija.  But it is still fabulous. 

Shuck 8 ears of sweet corn and add to boiling salted water.
Cook for about 5 minutes and remove.

While to corn is boiling, mix 1/4 cup sour cream with
1/4 cup good quality or homemade mayonnaise and set aside.

Crumble 3 oz. of cotija cheese and set aside.

Place boiled corn on a medium high grill
and cook for about 10 minutes turning corn to evenly brown.

Slather each ear of corn with the sour cream mixture and sprinkle with cojita.
shake on some cayenne pepper and serve with a fresh lime wedge.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Campfire Burritos

Cooking burritos over a campfire is a fun way to enjoy a meal together.  Your family and guests get to be involved in preparing the food.  Start by building a campfire and then let it burn down for about an hour so you get a nice coal base.  While the fire is burning you can prepare your favorite burrito fillings and set them up buffet-style.  Set out corn, flour, whole-wheat, or sprouted tortillas and sheets of foil.  Everyone can pick and choose their favorites and build their own custom burrito.  When the fire is ready, set a cooking grate over the coals and place foil-wrapped burritos on the grate.  You can use anything for fillings, steak, chicken, seafood, vegetables etc.  Here are a few ideas:

Take a couple of ripe avocados, add some fresh garlic, salt, lime juice
and mash it up to make a simple guacamole.
Add some onions, cilantro, tomatoes and jalapenos if you wish.

Saute some onions, jalapenos, garlic and cumin in a little olive oil.

Add a can of black beans and warm.

Chop up some tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro.
Add a little olive oil, lemon juice and salt to make a fresh salsa.

Saute some onions and peppers.

Grill a few chicken breasts and shred.

The burrito buffet.
Brown rice, black beans, chicken breast, grilled peppers and onions, fresh salsa,
guacamole, a variety of cheeses, sour cream,
green salsa, lettuce, whole wheat tortillas.

Fill tortilla with desired fillings.

Fold the top and bottom towards the center.

Roll up and wrap in foil.
You can use a sharpie to write names on the burritos.

Place on a cooking grate over a hot fire.
Cooking time will vary depending on how hot your fire is
and how close the burritos are to the heat.
Just open the foil and check on them.