Banana Squash

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I am a little late posting this…and sorry for the fuzzy picture, but definitely a vegetable to be familiar with.  We discovered this banana squash at a local farm stand in October.  I had to know what it was and what do you do with it.  I can’t remember but it was 3 for $5 or 3 for $10.  Seeing the size of one either price is a good deal!!!  Yes we did buy three of these monsters.

Come to find out you can use this squash the same as pumpkin or butternut squash.  In fact, research told me that a lot of pumpkin pies are actually banana squash.  If you make a lot of pies around thanksgiving this is a great deal for you.  We did use it for a pie with excellent results.  I have also used it for just squash sauté and in soups.  Our freezer now has a lot of cubed squash and pureed ready to go for any squash type recipe.

Do you want some more information on this wonderful find?  Check out this blog post from Firesign Farm along with a pie recipe.

FYI:  In the same shopping trip we picked up some Canary Melon to try as it was cheaper than the honeydew and cantaloupe.  It is bright yellow and has a sweet flavor.  We were pleasantly surprised.  If you like melon then this is one to try if you see it at your farmer market.

 

Smoked Paprika and Brown Sugar Corn on the Cob

If I am hosting a dinner party or making a large meal I want to prep some dishes ahead of time.  Corn on the Cob is one of those you can prep ahead of time with foil and your seasoned butter. This rub gives you a sweet, smoky flavor that is addicting.  DSC_0617.JPG

In a bowl combine the following ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

DSC_0616.JPGRub butter mixture on your shucked corn and wrap each piece in foil.  Place in 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes turning once.  Alternatively, you can place foil wrapped corn on the grill- turning until tender (med- high heat about 10 minutes)

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Great Beginnings

Every region has their own version how to start off a great dish.  The simple combinations are usually staples in any kitchen waiting to add a boost of flavor to your dish.

While I totally agree fresh is best, sometimes we are busy or have an over abundance of vegetables.  You can pre-dice your vegetables and place in the freezer to enjoy you garden treasures through the winter or to have ready at a moments notice.  Just the other day, I was deciding what to cook and while looking through the freezers found some pre-diced vegetables just waiting to be used.

mirepoix

The first cooking staple is French inspired- “Mirepoix“.  Mirepoix is a simple base of onions, carrots and celery, typically in a 2-1-1 (cups) ratio.  This mix is used in a number of dishes from soups and stew to sauces and roasts.

Down South where Cajun/ Creole cooking in popular you will hear about the “Holy Trinity“.  Similar to Mirepoix except green peppers are substituted for the carrots. Holy Trinity is the base to most Creole dishes.  The ratio is similar to that of Mirepoix or approximately 2 onions-2 stalks of  celery and 1 bell pepper.

Italian dishes will typically use a Mirepoix base but with the addition of fennel, garlic, Italian parsley, pancetta or prosciutto.  As one can imagine each family holds their “secret” recipe close to their heart.  Just try to get that family recipe out of Nonna!!

Lastly, onto Spain and “Sofrito“.  Spanish dishes frequently have the base called sofrito, which is onions, garlic and tomato.  As with any of the foundations people have made their own version but if you know these basics you are well on your way to a flavorful savory dish.

As you can see a lot of these foundations start with humble beginnings- the onion. I usually place the diced vegetables in snack size ziplock baggies by the cup full and then place several of those snack size baggies into a gallon freezer bag.  Obviously, date your bags.  You can do the vegetables individual or have some pre-mixed.  This is also a great idea if you frequent a warehouse club such as Costco, Sam’s Club or BJs and like to buy in bulk.  I hate to waste food so this is just one way we try to save $ and be prepared when we can’t get to the store.

 

 

 

Overnight Blueberry Coffee Cake

blueberries-690072_1280.jpgAre you looking for something you can prepare before you go to bed and then just pop in the oven for a delicious morning treat?  Look no further.  This is so easy and one to keep in your arsenal for surprise overnight guests or when you know you will want something ready to cook while you are getting ready.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. In a mixing bowl beat eggs and 1/2 cup sugar.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon)
  3. Alternate dry ingredients and milk to egg/sugar mixture
  4. Add the extract
  5. Stir in the butter and then fold in blueberries
  6. Pour into a greased 8 inch square baking pan
  7. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar on top
  8. Cover and chill overnight in fridge
  9. Next Morning….take out of fridge for 30 minutes while preheating oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

overnight coffee cake

**Adapted from the Best of the Best from Alaska Cookbook

 

Banana Blueberry Flax Muffins

Having some left over blueberries and 2 ripe bananas in the kitchen- Muffins for breakfast were calling my name. Baking you just can’t wing it so I started perusing the internet for some ideas.  I found this perfect recipe…we even had some flax and coconut oil in the pantry!  http://thelemonbowl.com/2013/08/blueberry-banana-flax-muffins-with-coconut-oil.html

The only variations from the original:  I used 2 bananas, all purpose flour and I didn’t have any large containers of yogurt  so I used 2 individual Greek yogurts with the fruit on the bottom (cherry and peach).

The outcome was a moist flavorful muffin.  I felt connected to my Aunt Judy with this recipe as she would love it and the ingredients used. DSC_0604.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup flax
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)- used dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 greek yogurts (5.3 ounce container)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour through salt)
  3. In a separate bowl mix the yogurt, bananas, coconut oil, and vanilla
  4. Stir in the wet mixture into the dry ingredients a little at a time until well moistened  Fold in the blueberries
  5. Pour into 12 greased muffin tins and bake 20-22 minutes
  6. Let cool a few minutes before removing from tins

Enjoy with your morning coffee.  KID APPROVED!!!

 

Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs

Whenever I visit my family in Alaska there is always a list of food that we know will be made during our visit.  Sweet and Sour Ribs is one of those. It seems to be a popular dish amongst the native/ Filipino community.  In fact, my ANS cookbook (Alaska Native Sisterhood) has 6 recipes for various sweet and sour dishes!

I have had this dish on every trip to Alaska, yet never made it at my own home.  I have helped my Non on several occasions Soooo ….taking what she taught me, reading those 6 recipes from ANS and my own ideas this recipe was developed.

I used boneless country style ribs but you can use bone-in also.

Ingredients:

  • Boneless country style pork ribs  (feel free to use bone in)
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 1-1/4 C water
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 C tomato sauce
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 can (20 0z) pineapple chucks (including liquid)
  • 1 green pepper, cut same size as pineapple chunks
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut same size as above
  • Rice
  1. Cut the pork into chunks and cook in pan with olive oil, onions, and garlic until pork is browned and about half way cooked.   **Note:  I would use a dutch oven next time.boneless ribs.JPG
  2. Mix together in a bowl the brown sugar, sugar, salt and corn starch.  You may need more cornstarch to get thickness you want in the sauce.
  3. At this time if you are not using a Dutch oven you will why.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pork,  including your brown sugar mixture. sweet and sour ribs.JPG
  5. Cook / simmer until pork is cooked through.  If needed you can thicken sauce with more cornstarch. Do not add cornstarch directly your dish.  Put some of the liquid into  a separate dish, add the cornstarch and mix- then add back to your dish.  If you are using a dutch oven you would place in the oven to cook.
  6. Serve over rice. DSC_0561