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Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

Winter Squash Week 10 018 Edited Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

Six days in to the new year, and one measly blog post to show for it. I did not made any resolutions, and I did not intend to (although given my two week absence from this space, recommitting to a frequent blog schedule seems like a good one). I rang in the new year with friends, had a great couple of days, then promptly fell ill.

But I don’t have time to be sick! The laundry needs washed. The floor needs mopped. The trash is in desperate need of making its way to the dumpster. And I am sure there is some sort of rule that says the Christmas tree can not be up for more than two days past the new year!

“Good luck with that,” I picture my body saying to my mind, “I’m out.” Hence, I have spent the majority of this new year feeling not so good. And you know what? The laundry remains safe and sound in its pile. The mop is still ready to be used when I get to it. The trash has not yet started moving on its own, so I’m pretty sure all is well on that front. And it’s actually been nice to enjoy the tree lighting up my space for a few more days.

Winter Squash Week 10 020 Edited Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

The point I wish remind myself of in the event I look back at this post is that things are going to happen, and like it or not, the world will keep right on moving. Good things will happen and bad things will happen and a bunch of mundane things thrown in between those highs and lows will happen.

I want to have the sense to know when it is okay to float along with the current instead of rapidly swimming upstream all the time. The sense to take comfort in a little rest now and then.

When I fill up on rest, I may just turn to comfort food like this pumpkin breakfast quinoa. As it thickens in the slow cooker, the quinoa takes on the consistency of a porridge rather than fluffy grains when it boils. It is hearty, flavorful, and filling. I feel better already. Enjoy!

Winter Squash Week 10 021 Edited Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa & Hello New Year

Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup maple or agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • For Garnish
  • dried cranberries or other dried fruit of your choice
  • toasted walnuts or other nut of your choice
Instructions
  1. Oil or spray the slow cooker insert with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the dried fruit and nuts reserved for garnish in the slow cooker.
  3. Stir well, cover and cook on low until the quinoa is soft and thickened, four to six hours.
  4. Dish into bowls and garnish with dried fruit and nuts. Enjoy while still warm.
Notes
The original recipe called for a cook time of six to seven hours, however my quinoa was well done after four hours.

Butternut Butter

Butternut butter 013 Edited Butternut Butter

This week’s winter squash feature, butternut butter, is the least labor intensive food item I have ever made. All I did was place the ingredients in a slow cooker, gave it a stir or two, and then processed the mixture until smooth. And voilà, a perfectly spiced spread. Consider this a gateway dish back into the kitchen after all the holiday baking.

I am not typically one for spreads. Plain butter will do just fine, thank you very much. Butternut butter has not changed my mind on this, but I do like its flavor that resembles apple butter. I can see myself substituting this for the piece of cinnamon and sugar toast I typically turn to when I want something sweet at night.

Butternut butter 024 Edited Butternut Butter

Other recommended uses straight from the cookbook include spreading butternut butter on bagels, pancakes or waffles. I think it would pair pretty well on a fluffy buttermilk biscuit too. Any other ideas out there? If you have one, I’d love to hear it.

If not, that’s okay too. Butternut butter is not for everyone. The good news is alternative squash recipes can be found in the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash links below. Enjoy!

Butternut butter 016 Edited Butternut Butter

Butternut Butter
 
Author:
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 6 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease the inside of a slow cooker.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and stir well to mix.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If possible, stir halfway through the cooking time. The squash should be very soft and the mixture should not look watery after stirring.
  4. If the mixture is watery after the allotted time, turn the slow cooker to high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed. This might take 30-45 minutes.
  5. Turn off the slow cooker and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  6. When cool, use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender to process until smooth.
  7. Store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to six weeks.
Notes
I left my mixture to cook on low heat for six hours. The squash was soft but it was very watery after that time. I left it on high heat for another 45 minutes to absorb the liquid.

 

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

December 1 010 Edited Chocolate Chunk Cookies

They may not look like much, but don’t let that fool you. This chocolate chip cookie adaptation may be one of the most well-received cookies I have ever baked. They have a salty, sweet, chewy, chocolately thing going on that works quite nicely.

I have long such thought that anyone who receives a free cookie is conditioned to tell the baker it is a good cookie. If they really like you, they may also tell you it is a delicious cookie. I bake a lot, so I give away a lot of baked goods. I am used to the compliments.

December 1 018 Edited Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These, however, received so much love that I was almost embarrassed. It’s just a chocolate chip cookie with a few unexpected bits worked in. I’m telling you, anyone can bake them.

If you are doing some last minute holiday baking this weekend, these are sure to go over well. If you are really savvy, maybe you can sweet talk someone in to baking these for you. It doesn’t matter how you get there, I suppose, just as long as do. Enjoy!

December 1 015 Edited Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chunk Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: approx. 24
Ingredients
  • ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chocolate chunks
Instructions
  1. Toast the pecans in a skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently until the nuts are browned and fragrant. Transfer to a plate or bowl to cool (they may burn if you leave them in the hot pan, so do not ignore this step).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, shredded coconut, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The cookies will have golden brown edges and look slightly undercooked in the centers when they are done. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
Notes
For a variation, use 1 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or ½ teaspoon orange oil + ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in place of the 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.