Tag: fall

Spicy Pumpkin Dip

As I mentioned yesterday, our supper club theme this month was ‘Pumpkin’.  By the time I RSVP’d, we already had a menu that included a soup, salad, two main dishes, and dessert.  So I decided to go for an appetizer, and found this recipe for Libyan Spicy Pumpkin DipA little research revealed that the dip is called cershi or tershi and was made by the Jewish community in Tripoli.  If you’re interested in learning more about the culture, there’s a whole movie about The Last Jews of Libya.

There are several versions of the recipe floating around the Internet, but they all call for pumpkin, garlic, and spices.  My dip came out a little spicier than I intended, but I really liked it.  It was good for scooping up with pita, and paired very nicely with a glass of white wine.  If there’s dip leftover, it would also make a great spread for a veggie wrap.  There’s no shortage of pumpkin this year, so pick up a can and give this recipe a try!



Spicy Pumpkin Dip

1 T olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 T minced garlic
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t curry
1/8 t cayenne pepper
2 T tomato paste
2 T lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a frying pan.  Add onion and saute for 15-20 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown.  Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add pumpkin, spices, and tomato paste, and stir to combine.  Add lemon juice, and stir again.  Cook on low heat for 10 minutes, until dip is heated through.


Grilled Apple and Cheddar

Grilled cheese just might be my favorite sandwich.  I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It’s very important that the bread is crispy and the cheese is melty.  (Spellcheck doesn’t like the word “melty”, but you know what I mean!)

This fall, I’ve gotten into a kick of making grilled cheese sandwiches with Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar and fresh slices of apple on whole wheat bread.  Cheese and apples are always a great combination, and this makes for an awesome sandwich on a chilly day.



OK, so this isn’t a real recipe, but I do have some important tips.  First, cut the apples slices very thin so they’ll soften slightly as the sandwich cooks.  Second, make sure to place half of the cheese slices under the apples, and half of them on top.  This will ensure that the cheese melts onto both sides of the bread with the apple slices in between.  And finally, serve any remaining apple slices on the side of the sandwich.

I was not paid by Cabot to mention their cheese, and the cheese was not provided to me as a sample.  But I do love the fact that Cabot reduced fat cheeses have a great texture, and really melt when you make a sandwich!

Pumpkin Cornbread

My sweet tooth was satisfied with the Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal cookies, but I still had a good amount of pumpkin leftover.  I decided to make this Pumpkin Cornbread from the New York Times.  The recipe is written by Martha Rose Shulman as part of the ‘Recipes for Health’ feature.

I don’t make cornbread often, but it is such a treat to have a piece fresh from the oven.  Even though the recipe calls for a whole cup of pumpkin, the flavor is very subtle.  Unlike other pumpkin cornbread recipes, this one does not call for pumpkin-like spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice.  It’s really a traditional cornbread with just a hint of pumpkin, which is great for serving with any fall dinner.




Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

It seems like everyone is talking about the impending bacon shortage.  I can easily do without bacon, but the shortage of canned pumpkin these last few years has been distressing.  Based on a quick scan of my grocery stores shelves, it looks like there is plenty (for now.)  It just isn’t fall without some pumpkin!

I’ve had this recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Pecan Cookies from Skinnytaste bookmarked for almost a year.  I was inspired last week to do a little baking, and this seemed like the perfect choice.  I think pecans would be delicious in this recipe, but I substituted dried cranberries instead.  They added a little bit of color and a touch of sweetness to these chewy cookies.



This recipe is really easy and uses mostly pantry staples.  The cookies do not spread very much at all, so you can go ahead and place them close together on the cookie sheet.  Although these are lighter than the average cookie, I still made mine fairly small.  They are the perfect addition to your lunchbox or afternoon coffee break.  And I still had over half a can of pumpkin leftover…

Apple Chicken Bake

We had a slight change in plans for cooking club on Sunday due to the best of reasons: the arrival of a healthy baby!  So I also ended up making this Apple Chicken Bake, based off a recipe from Cooks.com. I needed to make something relatively easy which didn’t require a lot of fuss at the end.

I don’t bake chicken breasts very often because they’re….well….boring.  The bed of apples and yogurt makes this recipe slightly more interesting, and the orange slices are a nice touch, but this recipe falls short.

Next time, I would saute the chicken breasts in a pan first, and then transfer them to the dish.  I would also add some fresh herbs (sage? rosemary?) for more flavor and color.  But I would keep the apples, because they turned into a delicious compote, and I would keep the oranges because they look so pretty.  The only way you can figure out whether a recipe works is to try it!




Apple Chicken Bake

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 large Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 c. nonfat plain yogurt
5 chicken breasts (about 2-2.5 lbs.)
1 orange, unpeeled and sliced thinly

Place apples in the bottom of a 13″x9″ dish coated with cooking spray.  Spoon yogurt on top of apples and stir to combine.  Lay chicken breasts on top of apples.  Place orange slices on top of chicken breasts. Bake at 350F for about 1 hour, or until chicken breasts are done.

Apple Thyme Cheddar Scones

Our cooking club theme this month was “Apples”.  I decided to make these Apple Thyme Cheddar Scones from the website of a Western dairy company named Challenge.  We can’t buy Challenge butter around here, but I still liked this recipe for savory scones.  It’s the fall version of my late summer classic Zucchini Cheddar Biscuits.

The ingredients came together very easily, and I was able to resist that strong urge to add more flour at the end.  I pressed the dough into more of a rectangle than a circle, so instead of triangles, I made small squares.  Note that my oven does run a little hot, but these scones were quite browned in 20 minutes, so watch them carefully.

The scones were a nice complement to our apple-themed meal, although I might use fresh herbs instead of dried for more intensity next time.  If you go apple picking and come home with a big tote of apples, save one for this recipe.



Grilled Butternut Squash

While I was in Rhode Island this weekend, I went to a local farm to pick up some vegetables to go with dinner.  They had the usual corn, zucchini, and tomatoes which you’d expect at the end of summer.  But I also spotted a wagon full of butternut squash and it hit me like a ton of bricks that fall is truly right around the corner.



Luckily, this recipe for Garlic-Balsamic Grilled Butternut Squash helped to ease the transition between seasons.  The butternut squash is peeled and sliced, and then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and thyme.  The slices are thrown on the grill just like any other vegetable, although they do take a bit more time to get tender.



Although butternut squash is a symbol of fall, the grill marks make this a summer time recipe, or at least one you can enjoy while you sit outside and try to forget that the days are getting shorter.



Crockpot Pumpkin Spinach Ziti Casserole

It’s finals week(s) and I’ve been living on popcorn, clementines, peanut butter, and coffee.  But on Sunday, I decided to let my crockpot make my dinner for me.  I’ve been toying with the idea of making a lasagna in the crockpot, and that’s how I stumbled across this recipe for Pumpkin White Bean Lasagna.  But since you need to break the lasagna noodles anyway to fit them in the slow cooker, I decided to modify the recipe to use whole wheat ziti.  And of course, I snuck in one more vegetable and some Parmesan cheese while I was at it!  As you can see from the list of ingredients, this is pretty much a pantry meal with no special purchases required.  It took all of 20 minutes to assemble in the crockpot, and then I went on with my day.

When I came home, I was pleasantly surprised that the pasta had cooked fairly well.  This meal is soft, warm, and comforting.  It lacked a little bit of flavor though, so next time I would add more seasoning to the ricotta mixture.  In the meantime, I added a bit more sauce and some Parmesan cheese and it was a great dinner, with plenty leftover for lunches for the week.  Now, I have no excuses left and must go study!




Crockpot Pumpkin Spinach Ziti Casserole

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 (16 oz.) container fat free ricotta
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 (28 oz) can + 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen spinach
4 heaping cups whole wheat ziti (buy a 12 oz. box)
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained

In a small bowl, mix pumpkin, ricotta, and Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper.  In a larger bowl, mix tomato sauce and frozen spinach.

Coat the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray.  Place a heaping 1/2 c. of sauce on the bottom of the pot.  Add a heaping cup of dry pasta.  Add 1/3 of the cheese mixture, followed by 1/3 of the beans, and 1/4 of the remaining sauce.  Repeat layers of pasta, cheese, beans, and sauce 2 more times.  Add a final layer of pasta, and spread the remaining sauce on top.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

-Adapted from GeekyPoet


Southwestern Turkey Soup

Like many other families, we had turkey leftover after Thanksgiving.  And really, you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches.  I’ve made soup using leftover turkey before, but this one is just a little different.  It was inspired by this Creamy Mexican Turkey Soup from RecipeGirl which uses both milk and cheddar cheese for a creamy texture.

My first piece of advice is to start with a big pot.  My second piece of advice is to find someone else to chop all the vegetables and keep an eye on the pot.  (Thanks, Dad!)  We just kept throwing things in, and then suddenly the pot was almost full.  But that’s OK, there was plenty of soup for everyone to have a bowl or two, and then I took the rest home.  Soup is a lot more appealing than a dry turkey sandwich for lunch any day!



Southwestern Turkey Soup

2 T olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
6-7 c. broth
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1/4 t black pepper
1-2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 (16 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
4 c. chopped turkey
4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oil in a large stockpot.  Saute carrots, celery, shallot, and onion for 10 minutes.  Add 6-7 c. broth, cover pot,  and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  In the meantime, mix flour, milk, and spices in a small bowl and whisk well.  Stir mixture into soup, and cook for 5-10 minutes until thickened.  Reduce heat to low, and add spinach, corn, turkey, and cheese.  Cook until cheese is melted and soup is heated through.

-Adapted from RecipeGirl

Fig and Cranberry Compote

My sister brought two additions to the Thanksgiving table this year, my new nephew and this Fig and Cranberry Compote from Real Simple.





I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the compote before dinner because it was too hectic, and this is all that was left after dinner.  I was really surprised that this recipe only got 2 stars on the Real Simple website, because we all loved it.  The fresh cranberries are sweetened with both figs and honey, but the final product is still quite tart.  Perhaps other people prefer a sweeter cranberry sauce, but we thought this was the perfect complement to turkey.  Both additions will be back at the Thanksgiving table next year!