Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Recipe: Chili Spiced Squash Soup for One

I wrote this post last night, but fell asleep before I could post it. Lack of leftovers is making me frown, although leftover Cristianos y Moros made for a lovely lunch.

I had a half a roasted delicata squash left from the weekend. It’s particularly chilly today and as I keep my heat as low as I can tolerate without pain, the thought of soup was appealing. 

I’ve seen countless recipes for curried squash soup, but I was having Nadia G’s recipe for Curried Chicken Pot Pie for lunch, I didn’t want to make a curried soup.  I like curry just fine but too much of a good thing is too much no matter how good it is.

Delicata squash has a number of nicknames and one of those is sweet potato squash. This is because the squash can be used as a substitute for sweet potato in a lot of recipes.  It tastes a bit like a sweet potato, and it has a similar consistency.  Sweet potato goes well with chili. Thus was born this soup, which I prepared in the slow cooker. 

This recipe serves one. If you want to make more than one serving, double, triple, gazzilionle, the recipe. It’s an easy, easy recipe and I’m almost embarrassed calling it one, but I really want to share the yumminess.

Chili Spiced Squash Soup for One

½ delicata squash, roasted and peeled
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I used vegetarian chicken flavored broth)
½ cup coconut milk*
2 tablespoons chili powder (I used Penzeys Arizona Dreaming, but your favorite chili powder will do) divided
I do not add salt to anything, and don't think this needed black pepper. You'll have to taste test for your own salt and black pepper decision.

Combine the squash, broth, coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon of chili powder in the slow cooker, and mix really well. Turn the cooker to low, cover, and cook ½ hour. Stir in remaining chili powder and recover. Cook for an additional ¼ hour, then check that it is completely blended. You can use a whisk, an immersion blender, or (if you’re brave) pour it into a blender. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat later. You may need to add a little more broth or water when you reheat it.

*I used coconut milk because I had some leftover from the aforementioned curry dish. It lent a very sweet layer to the flavor. If you don’t care for your chili to contrast sweet and spicy, you can use dairy milk or soy or almond milk instead. 

If you wish to, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, tortilla chips, or other appropriate topping. I briefly considered throwing in some salsa, but didn’t and I think that was the right decision. It would have been a jarring texture and the flavors wouldn’t have gone well.

I am adding a note because I know two people allergic to capsicum and thus they can't use most commercially prepared chili powders. I'm all with you on the lack of Mexican style seasoning without the nightshade family included. For you I found the following 

1 c minced dried onion
2/3 c beef bouillon
1/3 c chili powder
2 tb cumin
4 ts ground peppers
4 ts oregano
2 ts garlic powder
and I suggest the ground peppers be considered ground black peppers. If that is also a problem, substitute some horseradish or just accept that you're not going to get the heat. Sorry. 

Today I have a half portion of homemade spiced cranberry sauce going (I use 6 ounces of cranberries from a 12 ounce bag, add a half cup water, a third cup sugar, and a bouquet garni with cinnamon stick, allspice berries, cardamom pods, and mace pieces, all bruised and tied up in cheesecloth. (YES they're all from Penzeys! I buy almost all my spices from there, except my curry powder because I have yet to find any curry powder as good as what I get in my favorite Indian restaurants.) I'm going to make homemade green bean casserole with fresh mushrooms (frozen green beans, though) and canned fried onions from Trader Joe's. Once all that is done, I think I'll start sewing or knitting. I have a ton of holiday presents going  but can't show or discuss them until after the recipients get them. Which is a shame because some of them are just wonderful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Newly Updated: My Little Slow Cooker (Experiment: Cristianos y Moros)

I have two slow cookers. One is a 1 1/2 quart, and the other a 3 quart. As you might imagine, I use the 1 1/2 quart more than I do the 3 quart.

In fact, I use the hell out of that 1 1/2 quart slow cooker. When my first one quit working (after eight years faithful service) I bought a new one and now I have two inserts, meaning I can use it twice as often.

Sometimes, I don't even know what I'm going to make when I first fire it up. And sometimes I end up with something I wouldn't even feed to the dog. But I'm never sorry I tried something.

At the moment, I have onion, garlic, and celery heating in a little olive oil in my slow cooker. Up until ten minutes ago, I didn't know what I was going to make. Then I decided I needed cheap protein. There is one can of black beans left in my cupboard. I have some frozen V-8 juice (more on that later.) I have some dehydrated green peppers that are taking up useful space on my spice rack. I have vinegar and rice.

Here's what I'm doing so far:

Heat up onions, garlic, and celery in slow cooker on high until it's all very fragrant. Add a cube of frozen V-8 juice (approx 3 tablespoons) and the dehydrated peppers (about 1/4 tablespoon.) Leave that to rehydrate and combine well. That should take about 7 or 8 minutes.

Turn it down to low. Add the can of black beans after rinsing really well. Then add 1/2 or so cup of broth or stock or (okay, I have powdered broth. I confess. Not good for me but convenient and the one I have isn't too, too salty.) Add a dash or so of unseasoned rice or white vinegar.

In about an hour, add cumin, oregano, a bay leaf, maybe a little chili powder. Five minutes or so after that, add 3 cups of water or broth, and a cup and a half of rice (I'm mixing brown and white.) Leave for at least an hour and a half, or put it on high and after a half hour turn it to low for a half hour. I'd rather have the time.

Now, traditionally, you'd make the rice separately and just mix in the beans after it's all done for more authentic Moros y Cristianos. But I'm lazy and don't want to have to hand wash my rice cooker. And I've found lots of recipe writers seem to feel the same way. So what if the rice takes on a slightly colorful hue? It's all good.

I'll let you know how it turns out.
(Important note: This is NOT a picture of my experiment. I'll post a picture when it's done, though.)


This isn't the best picture but it turned out excellent. It's tasty, the texture is perfect, and it's filling without being grossly so. I'm going to take some Greek yogurt and add some frozen fruit for dessert and act like I'm eating healthy today. (Forget the giant cinnamon raisin roll from Tulip Pastry I had for breakfast.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gypsy and the Very Healthy Cookies

I wanted cookies today. I looked around for ingredients and made a sad, sad, discovery. I had only one egg left. And it's raining. Not the usual always misty and occasional shower raining. This is downpour from hell raining. There was no way I was going to leave the house. Even Faraday doesn't want to go outside, and he loves to go outside to bark at the neighbors' cats and anyone he might hear passing by.

While looking through my pantry cupboard I found a small container of strained carrots. I think I bought that to make a carrot cake because I was too lazy to shred carrots, and then ended up making something entirely different.

I poked around a bit trying to find a carrot cookies recipe that didn't use eggs. The best I could find was vegan cookie recipes that use commercial egg replacers. And I haven't got any of those on hand, either.

What I do have, and in abundance, is flax meal (ground flax seed.) Flax meal is said to be a good substitute for egg. I took a chance and started throwing ingredients into a bowl until the consistency looked right.

The result is yummy. Once you read the recipe you'll realize how healthy this is. But do try these. They're very tender and won't ship well but they're worth having on hand.

Good For You Carrot Cookies
Makes 1 dozen

1 Tb flax meal
1/3 to 1/2 C water
3 TB neutral flavor oil
small (I'm thinking this was 2 oz) container strained carrot baby food
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C each unbleached white and whole wheat flour
1/4 C wheat or oat bran
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C raisins

Combine flax meal and water and allow to stand a few minutes. Add the oil, the carrots, the sugar, and the vanilla extract and mix well. Sift together the flours and the baking powder. (Okay, you caught me. I don't do that. But it's what you're supposed to say in recipes) and add to the wet ingredients. Stir in all the dry ingredients except raisins. Adjust water or flour as needed to get a soft but stiff dough. Fold in raisins.

Drop by tablespoonful on greased baking sheet, or on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until baked through. They won't brown much due to low fat and sugar content. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before tasting.

The following was calculated at, where I substituted cooked carrot slices for the baby food because, for some reason, this site doesn't consider baby food an ingredient.

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe

12 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 84.2
Total Fat 3.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 78.8 mg
Potassium 87.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 10.0 g
Protein 0.6 g

Vitamin A 22.4 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 2.2 %
Vitamin C 1.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 4.2 %
Calcium 4.8 %
Copper 1.9 %
Folate 0.6 %
Iron 3.4 %
Magnesium 2.8 %
Manganese 13.5 %
Niacin 1.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.4 %
Phosphorus 3.4 %
Riboflavin 1.1 %
Selenium 1.5 %
Thiamin 1.5 %
Zinc 0.9 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

If you try the recipe, please let me know how you liked it.

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