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The pictures from this post and my last one really got me thinking about natural versus artificial lighting. Both pictures were taken fairly late in the day as the sunlight was waning, but the light was still strikingly better than anything that my kitchen lighting can produce.

I have toyed around with the idea of getting a light box for food pictures, but I don’t exactly want it hanging out in my kitchen. Ideally I could just make dinner before it gets dark, but it is very rare that it actually happens.

Maybe it is time to make room for a light box. Does anyone else have one?


A Duke’s House original.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into semi-circle rings
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp tamari (soy sauce would be fine if you can’t find tamari)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger root
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • After prepping squash, combine other ingredients in a sealable plastic bag or other container.
  • Add squash to sealable container and toss to coat with marinade.
  • Spray grill with olive oil, then grill squash over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender, turning halfway though.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 114, Fat ~ 1.4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 26.7 g, Protein ~ 2.6 g

Last fall I was lucky enough to get a free year subscription of Bon Apetit. I am always looking at cooking magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store, but I try not to buy them unless I see a really compelling recipe because I know that once I get them home it is quite unlikely that I will actually read them.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to read. I especially like magazines because they are low commitment. You know, unlike the two books that I have had in progress since last winter. But we have such a backlog of magazine reading to do that even these short reads seemed like a daunting task.

Finally, I broke down and decided to start whittling down the pile. On our way to the ski slopes last weekend, I decided to go through all of our cooking magazines and…

…wait for it…

 …menu plan.

Crazy concept around here. First up: Black Bean and Butternut Chili.

Adapted from Bon Apetit.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil spray
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves elephant garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2-14.5 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 lb. black beans, dry
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, diced (Optional, these are pretty spicy!)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 2.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • Sour cream and cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  • Lightly spray a heavy pot with olive oil spray, then cook onions over a medium-high heat until they begin to lightly brown.
  • Add garlic and cook for about one more minute.
  • Stir in chili powder and coriander and continue to cook for one more minute.
  • Add tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, oregano, and 10 cups of water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
  • Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about two hours or until beans have softened.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add butternut squash. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  • Serve with typical chili toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese, and cornbread (or better yet yeast-rised cornbread).

 Servings ~ 15 -1 cup servings
Calories ~ 162, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 30 g, Protein ~ 8 g

We got our first hint of snow last weekend.

Apparently snow doesn’t photograph very well at night. I’m not really surprised by that, but I am just a little bit disappointed that my super camera isn’t as super as I thought it was. Still way better than the point and shoot that I was using six months ago.

The snow didn’t hang around for long at all, it was back up into the 70’s in no time. Figures. There is this saying in Indiana about how if you don’t like the weather, you should wait a few hours. Case in point. Snow one night, wearing short sleeves the next day.

In spite of summer’s return, I decided on a warm, wintry, hearty side for dinner the other night. We had some leftovers that needed to be used up so I did my best to use what we had. The butternut squash gratin turned out awesome! We will have it again for sure.

I had about 1.5 cups of cheesy sauce leftover after toping our Corny Croque Madames with just 2 tbsp each. I also had nearly a whole thinly cut butternut squash sitting in my refrigerator thanks to my failed Korean squash pancakes. Obviously these random leftovers should be put together, no?

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of béchamel
  • 1 butternut squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Peel squash, slice in half, and remove seeds.
  • Cut squash into thin slices, I used my food processor for this.
  • Combine squash, onion, and béchamel into a large baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 247, Fat ~ 5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 47 g, Protein ~ 9 g

I am a bit behind in writing my posts, but the Squash ‘Hummus’ and Black Bean Burritos that I proposed last week were fantastic! Not all that surprising, I mean who has ever heard of a bad burrito?

Seriously though, I only made four of them and it was not even close to enough. Exercising careful restraint we were able to stretch them to last for two meals, but like their Sweet Potato and Black Bean counterparts, one is never enough.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Carefully mix the black beans into the squash hummus without smashing up the black beans too much.
  • Place about 1/2 cup of the black bean and squash mixture in each tortilla and fold up burrito style.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 209, Fat ~ 7 g, Carbohydrates ~ 37 g, Protein ~ 14 g

We are still on our grocery shopping hiatus, I did one of those “type a whole bunch of random ingredients into Google and see what recipes pop up”. That can yield amazing results…or be a complete disaster. It was risky-ish business for this meal because it was for one of our anniversary dinners. The pressure was lessened some though because we have two anniversaries. Yep, we got married twice. Not that exciting of a story. It sounds mysterious though. 

Anyway, we will get to repeat this ritual again next week. Hopefully after grocery shopping.

Fortunately the butternut squash was a winner! In fact, we both thought that it was quite possibly the best butternut squash dish that we had ever tried. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about cilantro and crystallized ginger together, but it turns out that they are fabulous together. They made for a very fresh tasting fall dish.

Adapted from Rachael Ray.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Spritz the squash with olive oil spray, then in a large bowl, toss the squash with the coriander, salt, and pepper.
  • On each of 2 large baking sheets, arrange the squash in a single layer and bake, turning occasionally, until tender and golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the squash to a serving bowl and toss with the crystallized ginger and cilantro.

Servings ~ 6

Calories ~ 186, Fat ~ 3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 44 g, Protein ~ 3 g

I used the last of my CSA zucchini and squash in this dish. On one hand, I’m bummed out that the CSA is over for the year. On the other hand, I’m relieved about being able to shop for and plan for meals more effectively.

Our CSA gave us the option of Wednesday or Saturday pickups, but it seems like neither one is a good option for us. We picked Wednesday because we didn’t want to miss Saturday pickups if we were out of town for the weekend. Wednesday didn’t really work out either because of our Saturday meal planning/grocery shopping cycle. I really would have preferred a Friday pick-up.

Last weekend my brother came to visit so we haven’t done any grocery shopping at all in over a week. (Sorry G, we should have bought food before you arrived at least!) Needless to say, we have been having some interesting meals lately. This “squash hummus” was one of the most tasty creations stemming from our grocery shopping laziness.

Look for Squash Hummus and Black Bean Burritos soon! (Well, if they’re any good anyway!)

From Branny Boils Over.

Ingredients:

  • 1 raw zucchini, peeled and chopped
  • 2 raw yellow summer squash, peeled and chopped
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves elephant garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 c raw tahini
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 roasted almonds

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth or to desired consistency.
  • Serve with veggies, crackers, or pita chips.

Servings ~ 8
Calories ~ 104, Fat ~ 8 g, Carbohydrates ~ 7 g, Protein ~ 4 g

This simple dish hit the spot on one of our last 90 degree August evenings. I liked that there was no actual cooking required and that since it is served cold I could actually stand to eat it outside.

In the last few weeks of summer, I have been trying to make a conscious effort to use our back porch more. We seem to gravitate indoors during June and July when the heat combined with the humidity can make it absolutely stifling to hang out outside. August has still been warm, but not especially humid.

The fresh flavor of this dish would work great with grilled chicken or grilled fish.

From Cate’s World Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Toss the zucchini with salt and let stand 5 minutes.
  • Drain off any liquid that accumulates in the bowl.
  • Add the lemon juice and mint, and let stand for about 20 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust lemon, mint, and salt, then top with walnuts to serve.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 70, Fat ~ 5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 5 g, Protein ~ 2 g