Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Super Easy Dinner Idea

Sometimes you need a dinner idea that is quick and easy to make, but also warm and delicious.  Here's a meal perfect for when you don't have a lot of time to prepare.


1. Roll out puff pastry onto a greased baking sheet.  (I used pre-made and pre-rolled pastry, so all I had to do was pull it out of the box.)

2. Leaving a little room around the edges for a nice crust, cover the pastry with whatever toppings you want.  We added chopped sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and caramelized red onions.

3. Bake in pre-heated oven according to instructions for the pastry (usually about 15 minutes).

4. After removing from oven, add any extra toppings (we added rocket/arugula leaves and shredded mozzarella).

5. Serve hot and enjoy.  We really liked it with a spinach side salad.

In unrelated topics, I'm excited for Thanksgiving.  Pictures and recipes will--hopefully--be added soon.

Also, thank you so much to Ginger Bread House for sending me the book "Random Acts of Heroic Love."  It arrived just in time for Remembrance Day.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Happy Halloween!

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Halloween!

We had a lot of fun for Halloween, especially with our pumpkins.  Unfortunately we didn't have any pumpkins in the garden this year, but we bought them from a local farm.  We've been driving by fields full of pumpkins lately and it really added to the Halloween feeling.  I'm also reading Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" for the first time, and so feel really full of Halloween Spirit.  (The book was a gift, so thanks Anne!)
My husband, Jared, brought home some of his woodcarving tools for us to use on our pumpkins.  The two of us stayed up one night watching "Practical Magic" on TV and carving our pumpkins.  It was a fun date at home, and I'm really happy with the results.  Both of our pumpkins ended up more autumnal than Halloweeny, but I really like the look of them.  Instead of carving all the way through, we just hollowed them out and carved thinner sections so that the light still shines through a layer of pumpkin.

Jared carved the one with the owl; mine has oak leaves and acorns.
The idea of our two-year-old helping to carve a pumpkin is more than a little terrifying, so we let them color on their pumpkins instead.  They had a lot of fun picking out their pumpkins and then drawing on them.

Anya's is on the left with a cat face; Miriam's is the one on the right with "a funny face".
We were left with TONS of good pumpkin.  We put the seeds in a pan with a little olive oil, salt, chili flakes, and pepper, and roasted them.  Yum! 

We used some of the pumpkin to make pumpkin soup on Halloween.  I didn't follow an exact recipe, but here's the basic steps for our pumpkin soup.

1. In a large pan with a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter, cook the roughly chopped vegetables on medium heat.  I used: one large zip-lock bag full of pumpkin, about 4 potatoes, 1/3 of a swede, 2 cloves garlic, 2 small shallots, 1 red onion, 4 carrots, and 1/2 of a yellow pepper.  Stir regularly.

2. When the vegetables start to soften and the pan is getting dry, add vegetable stock (about 8 cups, but you can add more or less depending on how thick you want your soup to be).  Let simmer for about 1/2 hour with the lid on the pan.

3. Puree the soup.  (I use my little hand blender, but you could do it in a food processor or blender if you don't have one.) 

4. Season to taste.  I added a little sea salt, a mixture of cracked peppers, and paprika.  I also tossed in several bay leaves and some sprigs of fresh herbs from my garden, including rosemary and thyme.  ( I removed the sprigs and leaves before serving.)

5. As a final touch, I added about a cup of plain pouring yogurt.

Pumpkin cupcakes

With more of the leftover pumpkin we made pumpkin cupcakes.  They were a big hit on Halloween. 
I used this recipe, but instead of canned pumpkin we baked and pureed fresh pumpkin.  I topped with cream cheese icing (I found that their recipe was a bit too runny, so I added extra icing sugar) and homemade praline.  Delicious.

PS-I had made myself a goal to finish my new professional website by the end of the month, and I did it (barely).  You can check out my new site with information on my day job by clicking here.