Slow Cooker Indian Spiced Butternut Squash

Here I am with my 307th post (or so it feels) featuring butternut squash. This is adapted from one of my favorite new cookbooks, Anupy Singla’s The Indian Slow Cooker. The flavors are so authentic, it’s deceptively easy and keeps well, too. It only takes about four hours in the slow cooker and honestly the worst part about this is chopping up the squash, a task which once sent me to the emergency room for stitches!

Despite their ease and convenience, slow cooker meals aren’t always the tastiest. (Surprise! You can’t just dump a bunch of stuff into a pot, turn it on and expect greatness.) This recipe is an absolute exception: It’s restaurant-quality delicious, like everything else I’ve made from this book thus far.

I had a hard time finding the methi (fenugreek seeds) and after ordering an absurd amount from Amazon.com I found it at my local organic market. (In case you were feeling duped by this ingredient, check there or just omit it altogether.)

Enjoy the aromas as this cooks and get ready for some serious cold-weather comfort food!

P.S. Is it spring yet? Yeesh!

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Salmon over Walnut Lentil Salad with Tarragon

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Wow! It’s been a month since I last posted. I had a lot of life happen in rapid succession — my new FODMAP diet, another momentarily-worrisome-but-probably-nothing health scare (phew!) and really digging in to my dissertation. (That is, after all, half of this blog’s title.)

No matter. I am back with one of my all-time favorite recipes to share. Not only is it bomb dot com delicious, but it’s also a real crowd pleaser. The lentil salad makes a fantastic potluck dish that is sure to delight vegetarians/vegans and carnivores alike. And this is one of my favorite ways to cook salmon. I did a little combination of two trustworthy chef’s recipes, Carla Hall of Top Chef fame and Mark Bittman, to create something that doesn’t take a ton of time but tastes like it does.

Tarragon gets top billing in these recipes, making them perfect to serve side-by-side. Not to mention the nuttiness of the lentils compliment salmon perfectly. I suggest downing the lentils with the salmon all in one bite!

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Sour Cream Cheesecake

My husband’s birthday is the day before Christmas, which means that Christmastime is basically a celebration of him in our household as neither of us are religious. We put up a tree and give gifts and celebrate the season — that is, the tilt of the Earth’s axis and the solstice. My husband’s favorite dessert is cheesecake. He loves it so much that we almost had it at our wedding. He grew up eating Snicker’s pie on his birthday made lovingly by his mother, and while it’s delicious I find that I can’t stomach much more than about a half a slice simply because it’s so rich. I was also eager to start creating our own Christmas/birthday traditions. I had never made a cheesecake before, so I went to Alton Brown for his recipe as they are fool-proof although sometimes complicated.

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Baked Eggs with Kale

My friend Amanda over at Rooster & Wheat posted her own version of baked eggs & kale a while back, inspiring me to do something with my greens other than blend it into a fruit smoothie. I tried her recipe the very day she posted it. (I LOVE eggs.) It was delicious, but I did something wrong. I mustn’t have the deft hand that she did, or perhaps my cheap gas oven (ah, the joys of renting) was creating a wonky result. Either way, I couldn’t get my egg whites to cook properly and my kale, on the other hand, was much too undercooked.

Then came my September 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. In it: Perfect Baked Eggs Florentine. Taking a page out of Cook’s Illustrated, and using kale instead of spinach, emerged my own version, so delicious that it’s a weekend go-to although it requires a bit of patience, something I’m often lacking after “accidentally” sleeping in.

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Creamy Tomato & Cheese Tortellini Soup

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Not gonna lie, this recipe resembles something you’d find on that drunk, blonde woman’s show “Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.” It’s a combination of lots of store-bought products that come together to make something super delicious. I’m also not going to pretend that it’s super healthy or nutritious. But, it IS good. Like, make-again good.

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Moroccan Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew

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My obsession with pumpkin necessarily extends to butternut squash as well. I mentioned in a previous post that they continue to be $1.50 at Trader Joe’s, so I always buy the biggest one they have. They freeze very well, so in just a few minutes you can have the centerpiece to a meal prepped and ready to go.

Ever since visiting Morocco in 2007 I have become completely enamored with the flavors of North African cooking–cumin, cinnamon, lots of turmeric, and a bit of sweet & spicy. This recipe combines all of my great food loves, is easy and incredibly flavorful. It can easily be made vegan, too, if you use water instead of chicken broth like the original recipe (from The Perfect Pantry, my absolute favorite site for all Middle Eastern/North African recipes).

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Neapolitan-Style Pizza with Mozzarella and Arugula

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Homemade pizza is so cheap, easy and infinitely customizable that you will wonder why you ever spent $15 on mediocre pizza delivery. Not to mention that the owners of both Papa John’s and Domino’s really need to keep their mouths shut about politics. (Why do business owners opine about hot-button subjects? I see no advantage to this.)

What’s even better than saving money? Maybe nothing, but watching pizza dough rise is pretty darn cool, and watching the dough come together all of a sudden in your food processer, it’s like magic. I am definitely a meat-eater, but when it comes to pizza I prefer high-quality cheese and veggies. I’m also running high on a new-found obsession with arugula, so I’ve started putting it anywhere I can. This pizza also makes me feel like I’m being kind of healthy since it’s piled high with the color green.

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Blueberry Kale Smoothie

IMAG0013Ever since we got our Vitamix (have I referenced my Vitamix in every post so far on this blog? Maybe.) we (read: me) have had a green smoothie of some sort nearly every day. Not only are they delicious but they’re filling and absolutely nutritious. I have only made one green smoothie I didn’t like and I blame it on the strawberries. I’m still looking for a strawberry kale smoothie recipe that isn’t weird, if anyone has a suggestion! My friend Paul over at Kalesmoothierecipes.com has lots of delicious combinations if you’re hoping to amplify or simply incorporate a kale smoothie routine into your day.

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Kale Mashed Potatoes & Homemade Salad Dressing

We got our first box from Washington’s Green Grocer,  a very cool no-contract local food delivery service that is sort of like a CSA but much more customizable. You can pick to have a box some weeks and not others, and also exclude items from your boxes that you know you won’t eat. You can also buy pre-made foods and other items available that week, a la carte style. Hubby and I got a hefty amount of organic apples, bananas, grapefruits, clementines (we LOVE citrus season!), avocados, red leaf lettuce, spinach, kale and potatoes. Am I missing anything? Oh yes, some organic brown basmati rice. We dug right in, making a delicious salad with fresh lettuce and an emulsified dressing otherwise close to impossible without a blender. (I’m finding new uses for my Vitamix every day. I know it might sound silly to post a recipe for salad dressing, as for the most part you can just throw anything along with an oil and a vinegar in to make it delicious. Irregardless…) To accompany the salad we had big bowls of kale mashed potatoes with garlic and buttermilk. What an excellent way to get your greens, especially if you’re put off or intimidated by them. (We aren’t, but what’s nice about this recipe is that you can put as much or as little kale as you’d like.) These are a great accompaniment to a protein-heavy dish or to a lighter side fare, as we did.

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Butternut Squash Soup with Curry

Butternut squash was $1.50 each (EACH!) at Trader Joe’s recently so, naturally, I got the biggest one. Normally at my neighborhood grocery store they’re about $1.50/lb., so I couldn’t resist. When I impulsively went back for more the next week I realized I had perhaps a bit too much, so I chopped one up and froze it for later. (New obsession: freezing anything and everything so that I’ve always got key ingredients on hand.) Butternut/pumpkin and curry are two of my favorite flavor combinations, and this is its incarnation:

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