Thursday, November 20, 2014

~Butternut Squash Bread~


Butternut Squash Bread cooling!
Last Friday was the designated day for me.  Our weather has been quite brisk lately with the exception of Monday's rain.  On our garage floor were 5 Butternut Squash remaining in the carton.  They needed to be prepped for our freezer.  It's always best to take care of that before our cold temps make an appearance.  So... more bags of yummy locally grown Butternut Squash that is mashed/ ready to microwave is now in our freezer.  This week's been cold, brrrr!

2 Cups of the mashed Squash were refrigerated.  I had plans- Butternut Squash Breads!  It's a tradition with me to use Butternut Squash rather than Pumpkin for breads & pies.  It's a baking custom in my family.  Now, as long as my bowls & measuring utensils were to be used for baking, I baked 2 breads.  One is always cooled/ wrapped/ placed in the freezer for Thanksgiving weekend.

Butternut Squash works so well in this recipe.  However, if you do not have this yummy mashed vegetable readily available, use Pumpkin
  • I use Olive Oil for sauteing & baking 
  • Egg Whites rather than a Whole Egg is used.
The recipe below is for 1 Bread.  It's definitely a family fave here!  Light & moisty!

Butternut Squash Bread

Oven:  350°F      Time:  55 Minutes  

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves (optional, but delicious)
1  Cup Sugar

4 Egg Whites (= total of 2 Whole Eggs)
3/4 Cup Olive Oil for sauteing & baking
Cup Butternut Squash (cooked, mashed & cooled - defrosted if frozen)
PAM

Method:
  1. Spray 1 large bread pan with PAM. 
  2.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3.  Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl.
  4.  In smaller bowl, beat Egg Whites until frothy.
  5.  Mix in Olive Oil.
  6.  Add mashed Butternut Squash to Egg Whites/Olive Oil & stir.
  7.  Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  8.  Pour batter into bread pan.
  9.  Bake at 350°F for 55 Minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in   middle of loaf.
  10.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 Minutes.
  11.  Then remove from pan & continue cooling.
  12.  Later, place on plate & cut into slices.
We always enjoy Butternut Squash Bread during Thanksgiving weekend.  It's also a holiday treat that can be baked/ cooled/ wrapped in foil & placed in the freezer.  When needed, defrost.      

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

Buttermilk Belgian Waffles
(cooling before wrapping & freezing)
Do you have 1 and 3/4 Cups of Buttermilk in your fridge?  Do you have 1 Cup + 3/4 Cup Milk?  That small amount of Buttermilk is the beginning of a delicious breakfast!

About a month ago after opening the door to one of my kitchen cabinets, suddenly I "spied" my Belgian Waffle Maker!  It's only been "untouched" for about 6 years!  Other than taking it down when cleaning the cabinet shelves.  Remembering that I had Buttermilk in my fridge, the next step- King Arthur Flour's website.  There it was- a recipe for Buttermilk Belgian Waffles!  The photo looked so yummy & I had the Buttermilk!
  • I use King Arthur Unbleached Flour whenever I make pancakes.
  • My less cholesterol habit:  Substitute Olive Oil for sauteing & baking for Butter.
  • Another less cholesterol habit:  Rather than 2 whole Eggs, I'd use 1 whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites.
    I was on my way to make a very yummy breakfast.  By using the Olive Oil, no butter/ margarine was needed at our table either- only a topping.  What delicious waffles!  The second time I prepared these waffles for breakfast, defrosted strawberries were a great topping!
     
    No, we did not devour the entire batch!  The extra waffles were cooled & wrapped in plastic wrap/ placed in Freezer bags for even quicker breakfasts other mornings.  My method of reheating:  my microwave.

    The holidays are in our future!  If you are looking for a quick, easy & absolutely yummy breakfast to serve your overnight guests Buttermilk Belgian Waffles are great!  Take out your waffle maker!  If you don't have one, that small appliance would be a great gift to receive!  My waffle maker is at least 15 years old.  Make & try these.  They are so good!

    Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside!
    Buttermilk Belgian Waffles
                 makes 8 Waffles
                 adapted from King Arthur website

    Ingredients:
    1 + 3/4 Cup King Arthur Unbleached Flour
    4 teaspoons Sugar
    2 teaspoons Baking Powder
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1/2 teaspoon Salt

    1 Whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites
    1 + 3/4 Cups Buttermilk or 1 Cup Buttermilk + 3/4 Cup Milk
    1/2 Cup Olive Oil for sauteing & baking 
    2 teaspoons Vanilla

    PAM

    Method:
    1. In a large bowl combine Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda & Salt.
    2. In a smaller bowl beat 1 Egg + 2 Egg Whites.
    3. Add Buttermilk, Olive Oil & Vanilla.
    4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until almost smooth.
    5. Spray Belgian Waffle Maker with PAM before preheating, only when making 1st waffle in batch.
    6. When Waffle Maker is hot, use 2/3 Cup batter to make waffle.
    7. Close lid. Cook for 2- 3 minutes - until steaming stops.
    8. (With my Belgian Waffle Maker cooking time is 2 Minutes, 30 Seconds.)
    9. Carefully remove & continue.
    ***One AM I had only 1 Cup Buttermilk, so I also used 3/4 Cup Milk & the waffles were also oh, so good!

    Using the Olive Oil, no butter/ margarine is needed.  Maple syrup or Strawberries are our fave toppings!  What will yours be?

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!
       

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Freezing Butternut Squash

    Preparing for the freezer!
    It's definitely like clockwork!  In October my DH & I purchase a bushel of Butternut Squash from Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow.  One of our local grocery stores does purchase their supply there, also, but we go "farm to table" ourselves.  The carton is stored in our garage.  It's all part of the plan!    All summer we've dined on locally grown vegetables.  It is definitely a change in the taste when we buy them the remainder of the year at our grocery stores!

    A Bushel of Butternut Squash
    Butternut Squash is one of my fave vegetables!  You remember my story:  Growing up my family had 2 large vegetable gardens.  We canned & froze the year's supply of our veggies.  The gorgeous Butternuts were one of our last harvests.  Preparing these vegetables & freezing them to enjoy the remainder of the year was definitely a tradition for me.  As newlyweds my DH & I had a great garden when we rented our apartment here in Western Mass.  Our kind landlord plowed a small section of his beautiful lawn, so I could have my garden.   My DH learned about growing veggies & got hooked on the fresh food.  Our corn smelled so good that the local cows visited one day-  much to our surprise.  My DH had grown up in Queens, NY, so it was shocking to see the cows in our garden eating!  Definitely not a common sight in one of the boroughs!    

    This past Sunday the Patriots were playing the Broncos & my pots of peeled/ prepared Butternuts were on the stove simmering.  It was time to start tackling that bushel in the garage!  Our weather has gotten colder & the squash needs to be prepared for the freezer.  Even during an exciting football game the tradition lives on!  A good sous chef is an added plus, here!
                  
    Freezing Butternut Squash

    Utensils I use:  Dutch Oven or Pot, Cutting Board, Knife, Spoon, Colander, Ziploc Freezer Bags, Marker for Labeling 

    Butternut Squash  
    1.  Rinse/ clean the Butternut Squash under cold running water.
    2.  Dry.
    3.  Using a cutting board & a sharp knife, cut off & toss the stem and rounded top.
    4.  The long top portion is cut into slices. The slices are circles.
    5.  Cut the peel off & discard.
    6.  Cut each peeled circle into 2" chunks and place in large Dutch Oven/ pot. 
    7.  The lower portion containing seeds remains.  Remove the seeds with a spoon.
    8.  I save as much of the orange vegetable as possible that surrounds the seeds.  Cut off the peel.
    9. Cut into pieces & place in Dutch Oven/ pot.
    10.  Add cold water to container (so it reaches about 2" up in the pot).
    11.  Turn the heat to High.
    12. After a Boil is reached, lower the heat and simmer about 12 - 15 minutes, until pieces can be pierced with a fork.
    13.  During the cooking minutes, carefully stir the Squash pieces often in the pot, so they soften equally.
    14. Drain the squash using a colander.
    15. Return the chunks to the large pot and mash.
    ***
         16.  Cool until comfortable to pack in Ziploc Freezer Bags.
         17.  Pack about 2 Cups of mashed Squash in Ziploc Freezer Bags.
         18.  After labeling, store in freezer.


    Do you freeze Butternut Squash?  It's a very tasty veggie at dinner during the colder months. 

    The Butternut Squash is defrosted in the microwave easily.  First, remove Butternut Squash from bag & place in a covered microwave safe baking dish- leaving an air vent.  No sugar nor butter/ margarine needed, here!  I also use it very often when cooking rather than using pumpkin.  :)

    Enjoy!
    Yummy!
     

      Monday, October 27, 2014

      Halloween Sherbet Punch

      BOO!!!
      Halloween!!!  It's the time of year when imaginations rule.  Spooky!  Scary!  Squirmy!  Decorations are appearing along with the pumpkins! 

      If your family's  Halloween Party is this week, a beverage for "children of all ages" is Orange Halloween Sherbet Punch!  It's an orange frothy beverage that contains only 2 ingredients.  Orange Sherbet & 7- Up.  (Diet 7- Up works just fine).  What could be easier?  This brew is very tasty & very colorful.  Put those 2 ingredients on your grocery list!  Remember disposable cups, too!  Now find your punch bowl & ladle!
         

      Halloween Sherbet Punch

      Ingredients:
       For each 1 Quart of Orange Sherbet
       Use 2 Bottles 7Up - 2 Liter size bottles (refrigerated)

       Method:
      1. In a large punch bowl place 1 Quart Orange Sherbet.
      2.  Pour 2 bottles 7-Up Soda in punch bowl, pouring some over Sherbet.
      3.  Stir a little to mix.  Results in frothy, softened Sherbet on top.
      4.  Ladle into cups adding some of the Sherbet.
      5. Replenish the 7UP + Orange Sherbet, as needed.
      My family has enjoyed this brew for over 20 years.  Yes, raspberry & lime sherbet also make a very tasty punch in the hot summer months!

      Enjoy!
      Yummy!

       
      Happy Halloween!!!


                

      Monday, October 20, 2014

      Craisin/ Raisin Apple Crisp

      Needs a small scoop of vanilla ice cream!
      Autumn!  Apples!  October!  Cooler nights!  Wait, wait...I need to go back to apples!  This is the season when biting into a fresh juicy apple is such a treat!  Sure, I like the summer fruits like strawberries, blueberries & cantaloupe that are easily available, but an apple...oh, yum!  Not only are there many varieties, but they can be enjoyed fresh or baked in a goodie.
      One goodie that my fam always enjoys is Craisin/ Raisin Apple Crisp!  This baked dessert made with fresh apples has a few Craisins & Raisins sprinkled in & and tastes so good with the oat topping.  That topping has Nutmeg & Cinnamon, too!  In the produce area of my local grocery store I see a commercially packaged dry mix to make the oat topping.  The thought passes through my mind:  "How hard is it to make an oat topping?"  Not difficult at all!  Below is my very easy recipe!  Try it, you'll see!    

      If you've never tasted this yummy dessert- bake one & the aroma from your kitchen will get you hooked!  Yum!

      Craisin/ Raisin Apple Crisp

      Oven Temperature: 375°F
      Time: 45 - 50 Minutes

      Ingredients:
       6 - 7 peeled sliced large apples - I use McIntosh, Cortland
             &/or Empire apples
      3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
      1/2 Cup Flour
      1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
      3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
      3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
      1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon softened Butter or Margarine
      1/4 Cup Craisins
      1/4 Cup Raisins

      Method:
      1.   Preheat oven to 375°F.
      2.   Spray PAM in 8" x 8" glass baking pan.
      3.   Rinse apples under cold running water & dry.
      4.  Peel & slice apples. 
      5.  Place peeled sliced apples in pan. 
      6.  Add Craisins & Raisins and mix in. 
      7.  Thoroughly mix remaining ingredients together in small bowl.
      8.  Sprinkle over apples. 
      9.  Bake 45- 50 Minutes or until apples are tender. 
      10.  Serve warm or chilled with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
      11.  When cool, cover & refrigerate any leftovers.
      This weekend I baked this Apple Crisp using a combo of McIntosh & Cortland apples & it was a great treat!  We always enjoy this dessert with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!  So good!

      Enjoy!
      Yummy!

      Friday, October 10, 2014

      ~Summit House on Mt. Holyoke~


      Admiring the CT River that flows through the Pioneer Valley
      from the Summit House porch
      Autumn!  The season when leaves change color from green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange & red!  Before they make their way to the ground it's such a treat to stop to admire them.   It's a beautiful time of year!  This is also the time for me to save seeds from my annuals & divide/ transplant bulbs.  There are many outside tasks, but enjoying the beauty that Mother Nature is sharing with us is an added plus.

      Yesterday, my DH & I drove north to Hadley, MA.  Our destination was the Summit House on top of Mt. Holyoke.  On the winding road up the mountain we drove past some hikers.  The view from the parking lot at the summit was a tease of what awaited us.  Climbing up the ramp/ then stairs, gorgeous views were in all directions!  Walking around the "wrap around" porch of the newly renovated Summit House was definitely a treat!  We live in a beautiful area of Western MA!  Looking north my hometown of Amherst & also VT was visible.  Looking south in the distance we viewed the Springfield, MA/ Hartford, CT area!

      Zooming in Looking North
      The Summit House has a long history.  During the second half of the 1800's it was a hotel located on the top of Mt. Holyoke.  To learn about its fascinating history, click here.

      For us, yesterday was the perfect opportunity to visit!  This is Columbus Day weekend!  Our New England scenery is beautiful.  Anyone interested in visiting this wonderful location, click on the "Plan Your Visit" info here.  Before leaving home, we did call the listed phone number for updated detailed info.     

      Terrain near the Summit House
      with my shadow


      What a great opportunity to view our CT River Valley & learn a little history!

      We did Enjoy!
              

      Tuesday, October 7, 2014

      Harvesting Zinnia Seeds

      The bright redyellow, pink & orange Zinnias blossomed all summer!  So many vibrant colors!  Each seed planted grew into a very bushy plant with so many bright blossoms & buds.  Combined with the Marigolds that were planted in front of them, our side garden has been enjoyed by our neighbors, too!  Especially our next door neighbors! 

      Now that Autumn is here, it's time to save the Zinnia seeds from this year's crop!  What might seem like quite a chore, really is not at all.  When the colorful Zinnia blossoms have a dried out look, snip off the flowers from the stems of the plant. 

      ***I harvest the seeds before we get a good hard frost here in my area of Western Mass!  That frost will end my Zinnia crop.  Our weather will change & it will get colder. 
       
      With a gentle breeze blowing!
      A tissue box that has been cut down is the perfect container for the flowers, so they can continue the drying process.  Place those dried out looking flowers in the tissue box.  My container is sitting on the sunny window sill in our Family Room.  Those seeds that were harvested are the source for some of next year's colorful gardens! 

      After the blossoms are dried, pull off the outer flower petals.  Discard the remaining parts.  Each dried petal is attached to a "tear shaped" seed.  After planting that seed next year, it will grow into a Zinnia plant.  There is next year's crop!  Sweet! 

      "Tear Shaped" Zinnia Seeds attached to dried petals.
      (File Photo)
      I remove the dried petals from the seeds - as much as I can.  Those dried seeds will be stored in sealed labelled paper envelopes.  Next spring, after the rows in our gardens have been created for the seeds, I'll place the Zinnia seeds in the ground & cover with a light coating of soil.  Then, pat the soil gently.  Every day they will need to be watered.  Before you know it there will be sprouts!  Those little green plants will need to be thinned out.  When any plants are 5"- 6" tall, they can be transplanted to other parts of the yard.  The process will start again!     

      Harvesting & saving Zinnia Seeds is a yearly tradition with me.  In any given year if I find that the flowers are much smaller than the previous crop, I take the clue.  The following year I'll purchase newly commercially packaged seeds for that year's colorful gorgeous Zinnias in our yard.

      Do you harvest & save seeds for the next year's crop? 
      I Enjoy it!