Squash-Powered Cat

butternuttttt

So I really wasn’t planning on blogging about these pancakes. I mean, laziness and whatnot took over, and I was going to blow it off. BUT THEN. Semi-epic things happened, and I changed my mind.

As in, I have discovered that my cat is squash-powered. He prefers butternut.

There I was, casually opening the can of butternut squash, when Nosh (my Maine Coon goofball) comes sauntering over, looking decidedly interested in what I was doing. I looked down at him. He looked wide-eyed and cutely up at me. I said, “Surely you can’t be interested in eating this…”. He continued looking up at me, with a totally clear agenda. Whatever, I said. I let him sniff the can… and then went on with what I was doing. He kept watching. At which point I spasmodically dropped a spoon on the floor (the spoon covered in squash puree). I picked up the spoon and pointed out the squash on the floor to Nosh… who quickly trotted over and ATE. IT. ALL.

What?!

Since when do cats like squash?! But wait. It gets better.

Nosh is on the right. Jessie apparently wasn't interested in the squash...

Mom had gotten involved… and kept feeding him little bits of puree out of the bowl. (Which he ate. All of it) By this point, I’d finished at least a few pancakes, and since one was a total flip-fail (as in, it semi-splattered all over the pan…), we decided to feed it to him and see if he liked it (Keep in mind, my cats don’t normally get people food… excepting the odd bit of fish, they don’t eat much of what we do, which makes this SUPER WEIRD) (They did have a weird incident with refried beans, ages ago—perhaps they just like things in cans?!). Nosh proceeded to eat a pancake… and a half. Probably. I lost track, but what?! He’s obviously my cat, if he likes pancakes that much, hehehhe :]

Squash powered cat?!

Anyway, these pancakes were deeeelicious. They were originally supposed to be pumpkin, but the pumpkin we had wasn’t good anymore, so butternut happened. Much to the delight of Nosh, apparently. Who then proceeded to take a massive catnap (and by massive, I’m refering to the fact that when he sleeps, Nosh acts like one of those inflating sponges that you soak in water. Get up for two seconds, and good luck getting your spot back from the amazing expanding wonder!), and sleep off all he ate. And dream, too, with lots of chewing. I bet he was eating squash in his sleep! heeehe.

Pancake Cairn!

Butternut Squash Pancakes

Adapted from the Betty’s Diner Pumpkin Pancake recipe

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 c butternut squash puree
  • 1 c 1% milk or your fave nondairy
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine flour, spices, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, squash puree, sugar and egg yolks. Add liquid to dry all at once and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy or until your arm falls off. Fold into the batter. Do the pancake dance. Eat. Feed to your cat and watch him dream about them later :]

butternuts are rather awkward squash

Long ago, somewhere deep in the jungle…

Ridiculously cold weather calls for ridiculously tasty meals. Especially dinners, when you don’t have to go anywhere and you can just curl up and eat peacefully, whilst watching the the emperor get his groove thrown off with your roomie. The entirety of which the two of you could basically quote, between the two of you. But that’s another story entirely. So. Since I am not currently residing in some steamy Mesoamerican jungle, like SOME lucky llamas, I am currently experiencing Salem’s tribute to November, which seems to be freezing fog and coooold weather. Don’t get me wrong, I do love snappy, cold fall days. I do not love wearing  my north face in class because the room is cold… although, that’s probably preferable to going to sleep in a too-warm room… hmm. Anyway. Let’s move ahead! (“Umm.. what’s with the chimp and the bug?!”)

Like I said in the last post, Kira and I have had a run of immensely satisfying dinners. This one unfortunately didn’t yield any leftovers to daydream about… *sigh*. oh well, Kira and I might have had to fight over them (they were that good!). And simple! Not only is this recipe simple to prepare, it’s also economical. Which is excellent, as we’re on a college budget over here. It’s simple, but immensely satisfying. Oh. AND it’s healthy! Pshhh, would I make anything else?! (well. yes. I would. But this is not it!) Like crab, but waaaaay better. Salmon is incredibly good for you—omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for cholesterol (and pretty skin and hair!). Besides, canned salmon is BOMB. It’s like fresh… but cheaper! And just as nutritious. Hooray!! Served with a salad and some crusty bread, this is a meal that is light on the stomach, yet incredibly satisfying. As Kuzko would say… “BOOM BAM, BABY! Let’s get to the grub! I am one huuungry king of the world!”

And no, this dish does not involve essence of llama in any form, thank goodness. My shoulder angels would be against that, I’m sure.

Salmon Cakes

Adapted from Self magazine (I think that’s where I got it!) Serves two. We were hungry.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet (or two, if you’re hungry and want to get this show on the road). While the oil is heating, combine:

  • 1 can of salmon (Alaskan wild, pleeeease!), drained, de-boned, de-gunked, and flaked
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 piece of whole wheat bread, torn into smallish breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Stir to combine all of this together, and then form into patties. We got about 6, probably about 1/4 cup salmon each. Plop into the hot skillet, and saute for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked though. Serve hot, with a side salad and some insanely good Moroccan olive crusty bread. Our salad tonight consisted of spinach, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, dried cranberries, and some chopped goat’s milk gouda (aka BEST CHEESE EVER). Props to Kira for always making super tasty salads! [Salatenmeisterinen?!] Mmmmmm. There’s a recipe to warm up with. See? I told you it was super simple. Eat. Gloat because you’re getting omgea-3s for cheap! Quote movie. Be happy :]

” A LLAMA?! He’s supposed to be DEAD!”… “Yeah… weird.”

I am the Queen of Orange!

it's hiding... can you tell what it is?!

Yet another orange dish.

Who’s surprised?

Yeah. Didn’t think so. That’s okay though, you’ll thank me later,  just wait.

Besides, it’s fall! What do you expect?! I’m trying to be more of a seasonal eater. And by this I mean I want my insides to resemble the fall color which has exploded all over trees in Salem, and caused them all to look like they’re on fire… Then I really would be a seasonal eater, so there! Instead of having technicolored insides on account of sprinkles, I can have autumn-inspired innards! Teehee. I am the Queen of ORANGE!

Actually, when I say Queen of Orange, I’m rather reminded of William of Orange, and England’s Glorious Revolution in 1688. And no, I did not look any of those facts up… I am in fact a history nerd to the max, and those fab factoids were actually pulled out of AP European history brain from waaaay back when in sophomore year of high school. Yeeeahh. That’s right. I could also list you quite a bit of British royal genealogy… but I’ll save you the boredom ;) You’ll just have to trust me. Anywayyy. Back to the food, which is why you’re here, right?!

This is how much I love squash:

Like, A LOT. Fat, roundy orange squash. Or alternatively, butternut and acorn are good too… Which are not exactly roundy and fat, more like tan and elongated, or green and oddly lumpy, respectively. Whatever, to each his or her own squashiness, right?!

Because Kira and I realllyyyy love squash, we decided to make a new dish tonight… risotto! BUT. Because I’m a health nut, we made a healthy one. Hooraayyy!! But SO delicious, don’t get me wrong. Mmmmm. This risotto is actually made with barley, not rice. (Would that make it  barley-otto? Or barlotto?) Which is quite a bit more nutrient dense than rice, for the win! In fact, barley is realllyyy good for you: lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is handy for a number of things (including lowering blood cholesterol!), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also has eight amino acids and has is low on the Glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar. Wheeee, whole grains!

Barley seems to be another of those foods that I apparently imprinted on as a small child (hmm… tofu and barley. can you say hippie-granola?! Jeez, no wonder I wear Birkenstocks all the time). Barley cereal was my FAVORITE when I was pretty little— I distinctly remember my mom going to a specific store, where she knew an employee who would get me my special barley cereal. Apparently we could only get it there… I do remember him being awfully nice, hehe. And my mutti was wonderful to go get the cereal for me!  I guess I never really grew out of the barley phase, as I LOVED this dish.

Like I said, you’ll thank me for the orangeness later :)

Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto (or Barlotto)

Serves… a lot? We made half and still have lots of leftovers. I’ll provide the measures we used. Adapted from here!

Acquire this business:

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 thingy of garlic (I prefer the handy frozen squares from Trader Joe’s! It eliminates silly mincing and squishing)
  • 3/4 cups whole grain barley (I bought mine in bulk from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/8 cups grated Parmesan
  • awkward baggie of frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • a judicious sprinkle of nutmeg

How to procure tastiness and gastronomical delight:

Firstly.

Roastify your b-nut squash! Preheat your oven to 450. Peel the squashling, and deseed it with a spoooon. Cubify it. Toss the cublets with a good glug of olive oil, salt, and peppahhh. Roastify the cublets for about 30 minutes, stirring onceish. When removing them from the oven, try not to get blasted with a huge puff of ridiculously hot steam. Seriously oven, I do NOT need that extreme of a facial. Set aside until needed.

Secondly.

In a smallish pan of some sort, bring the broth and water to a simmer, then lower heat just enough to keep it toasty. In a saute pan, saute the onion in olive oil. Cover and cook on medium until onion is softening, about 8-10 minutes. Add in garlic. Add barley, and let it toast for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir in wine, and continue stirring until it has been absorbed.

Now prepare to stir for the rest of your life.

At least you’ll have tasty risotto!

Add about a third of the broth/water, and half of your squashlets. Stir/simmer until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Continue to add liquid, stir, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. This probably took Kira and I about a half hour, to have all the broth be absorbed and the barley to be cooked through.

Off the heat, stir in the remaining squash (assuming you left some out, not a big deal if you don’t want to), peas (another babyhood fave… what can I say, I was a gastronomically advanced child), parmesan, sage, and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil (of course).

Enjoy the gastronomically delightful orangeness!

Omgea-3s, for the Win!

artistically arranged foil, NOT.

Hoooooray for (Alaskan, wild caught) salmon! Effectively exploding with essential omega-3 fatty acids (which not only make your skin gorgeous, but also contribute to vital body processes like your clotting time) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (which are good for you, period). I LOVE salmon! Not just because it’s good for me, but because it’s super tasty!

I was admittedly a bit freaked out about cooking fish for the first time… I mean, not exactly the first time, but the first time ALONE. This is a BIG DEAL. Because there are no helpful parental types lurking around who you can pester to see if your fish has achieved the correct doneness. No. Instead you must rely on the power of your own fork-wielding hands and superb optical powers of visionary greatness (ok, 20/15 fighter pilot vision, you have to be good for something!) to determine if your fish is done. Happily, I apparently passed this test, as I’m a) sitting here typing this, and b) my fish passed the flake-test, and was super fab. Hooray!

Which was good. Because after spending 3.5 HOURS on the phone with various types of tech support, attempting to ascertain the problems arising from my computer/internet, I was about ready to either get really violent and start throwing things, or start climbing the walls. Or possibly both.

Which means it was a good thing that my dinner cooperated as planned, or we might have had a full-scale meltdown/wall-climbing/throwing-thing fit. Which is never good. Happily, all tech-type things are hopefully resolved (or at least they seem to be, thank goodness), and I didn’t have to throw anything. And my salmon was good.

I got the idea for this recipe from the bestie Julia, but I didn’t follow her recipe exactly. Instead I looked up one specifically for salmon, and used that. I think I’d make a few modifications if I did it again—I’ll try to note them below.

innards.

Salmon en Papillote (serves 1) Adapted from here

  • enough salmon to feed you!
  • assorted veggies (I used a smallish red bell pepper and 3 large mushrooms)
  • lemon slices
  • fresh herbs, to taste
  • salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Rinse your defrosted salmon with water and pat dry. Place each salmon fillet in the center of a largeish piece of parchment paper (or foil is fine. I used foil, I have no parchment paper at the moment!) and season with salt and pepper. Lay a few slices of lemon over the top of the salmon (I think I used 3).

Arrange sliced bell pepper and button mushrooms around the fish. Top it all with olive oil and 2 tbsp white wine if you have it (if not, water works just as well). The recipe calls for fresh thyme–If you like it, use it, but I’m not a huge fan, so I used fresh basil, which was also good.

Roll and crimp the edges of the foil or parchment to make a sealed packet, and place on a cookie sheet in the heated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, until your fishy flakes apart or you deem it done. Careful when opening the packets, since the steam is really hot.

I chased mine with some crazy chocolate cake (made with all applesauce, see recipe here!), which of course made the indignity of the last 3.5 hours seem a bit less offensive. And Voyager, which of course makes everything better.

“Dismissed. *pause* That’s a Starfleet expression that means GET OUT.” -Captain Kathryn Janeway to a very buggy Nelix

It’s not easy being green…

that's right. GREEN PANCAKES.

Ok.

I just have to say, in my defense… I don’t normally make green food.

I mean… I EAT green food. You know, like that color produced by chlorophyll. Like plants. Mmmmm, plants. I do love them. Especially the green ones! Like broccoli, bok choy, celery, lettuces. Um. I could go on, but in the interest of holding your attention.. *ahem* Let’s move ahead!

So.

Since I’m currently roomie-less (but NOT FOR LONG, YAYYYY!!!), I’m purchasing and consuming for one stomach (and its resident gremlins). I’m discovering this to be an exceptionally fun challenge, not only to eat all the stuff in the fridge before it goes traveling southward, but also to eat a varied, balanced, and nutritionally sound diet. BUT. This diet also has to be interesting. Why would I EVER eat boring food? Boring food is, well…BORING. Life is too short and my stomach is too small (sadly I’m not a cow with five stomachs, why weren’t humans invented like that, I ask you?!) to eat lame food.

Right. Sorry, that was rather tangential. ANYway. As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself about boring food… In my travels through the recesses of my fridge, I happened upon some spinach. I knew it was in there, of course, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to use it. I also have three lonely mushrooms, just in case anyone cares. And NO, they are NOT going into pancakes, ewwy ew ew.

As I was staring down the spinach, I had  a BRILLIANT PLAN! (Because anything involving your adorable and tiny *PURPLE* food processor is a brilliant idea) I decided to make spinach puree and… wait… ADD IT TO PANCAKES! Can you say nutritional value, all in one tidy little yummy package? Because I can. And there’s more, ooohhhh yes. They were DELICIOUS! Spinach is so totally going into my pancakes from now on (except with a certain Pancake Friday buddy–you know who you are!)

So. Without any further babble, here is the recipe! You’ve seen it before in other forms, although the base for this is the most basic.

down at pancake level

Spinach-Oat-Buttermilk Pancakes (Serves one with a cow stomach, or one normal human plus leftover breakfast!)

Hugely adapted from Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book

Do the pancake shtick! Mix dry:

  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • very scant 1/2 tsp salt

*Tasty add-in: I chucked in about 1/4-1/3 c rolled oats. I highly recommend this! It gives them a bit more body and lovely chewiness.

Mix wet in a separate bowl:

  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • some melted something (I used Earth Balance… the original recipe calls for 3 tbsp, I usually put in a spoonful or so… or not. Sometimes I leave it out. Butter or olive oil are fine too)

*To the wet ingredient bowl: ADD YOUR SPINACH! I’m not sure how much I actually used, probably about 2 c? I had about 2/3 or so of a bag left, and I used mostly all of it. It’s not very exact, but however much you want is probably fine.

You see? Healthy and delicious.
BABY PURPLE FOOD PROCESSOR!!

Mix wet into dry! I threw in a finely chopped banana, as per usual, which I also highly recommend. I may have even added a few frozen huckleberries and choc chippies to one or two but shhhhh don’t tell!

Pour. Cook. Drool. Photograph. Discover, whilst on the phone with a bestie, that you have GREEN SPRINKLES that match your pancakes. Freak out just a little bit and pour them on a wee bit over enthusiastically… then find out that the sprinkles have soaked into the pancakes while photographing, and that you now have sprinkles on your dinner. Secretly do a happy dance for sprinkles.

Watch Voyager. Eat and LOVE your green food. And NO, it did NOT come out of a replicator (though I wish it had!).

“At ease, Ensign Kim, before you sprain something” -Kathryn Janeway.

Do it.

oh. and ps: I just wanted to share this too!! I tested out my personal cake pans (size 6.5″) by making a half batch of Crazy Chocolate cake! It was EXCELLENT. I just made a few changes to the posted recipe, namely brown sugar instead of white or turbinado. Yummy! And sooo cute.

Perfect thirds!