Yellow curry dinner and pumpkin soup

I’d never attempted a curry before, but this surprisingly didn’t turn out too badly. I was scatterbrained and needed to eat before work without a lot of time to cook. And since I haven’t had Indian food in over a year and I’m trying to branch out a little in my cooking before making any repeats, I thought I’d just wing it. I read several recipes on the interwebz before deciding there wasn’t much use in following one exactly. This curry was just a pleasant hodgepodge of what I had on hand and what I had time to make.

I started with a package of chicken breast tenders cooking in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and flipped them halfway through cooking. I added about 6oz chicken bone broth (packaged), 16oz coconut milk, garlic powder, salt, white pepper, 1/8 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice and lemon juice, and two spoonfuls of yellow curry powder (tumeric and cinnamon, mostly). I heated it all over medium-high heat, simmering, until the chicken was definitely done and the sauce thickened and reduced a little. The sauce was pleasantly and surprisingly sweet, and I topped the whole thing with cilantro. I wasn’t expecting it to be very good at all, and it wasn’t like anything I’d ever eaten at a Thai or Indian place, but hell, it was good. And it was good enough to reheat twice for additional leftovers.

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Pumpkin soup is what I make when I really don’t want to be an adult anymore and just want to eat dessert for dinner. See, it looks fancy, and tastes amazing, but at its heart is mostly pie filling. If you wanted, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to top it with whipped cream instead of (or in addition to) walnuts. This stuff keeps very well, reheats like a champ, and is the sneakiest way ever to have dessert for dinner.

For pumpkin soup, heat all of these ingredients over medium-low heat until warm enough to serve. If immediately refridgerating, no need to heat and simply reheat later in the microwave or on the stove.

  • 1 can (15oz) pureed pumpkin
  • fill that empty pumpkin can halfway with your choice of milk (I use unflavored almond milk for cooking in my house, but certainly heavy cream, cow’s milk, oat milk, hemp milk, etc would all be fine — make this vegan if you wish!)
  • add 1/3 can or about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut milk — the higher quality, the better
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup white sugar or agave
  • pinch of salt
  • nutmeg and cinnamon to taste: add slowly, stir well, probably half as much nutmeg as cinnamon
  • top with candied walnuts, available in the salad section of the grocery

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Pumpkin alfredo, caprese, peanut butter cookies

After a terrifying brush with death in a blizzard yesterday, I was understandably interested in some comfort food. I was on my way back from my road trip, and I knew some snow was coming. Being a hearty, life-long Midwesterner, I brushed the meteorological reports off as getting some snow and unnecessary panic. Those of us who have lived through many cold, snowy winters shrug at the snow reports. Winter. That’s just winter. Anyway, I slid past a 20-car pile-up without hitting anything, barely, and continued on my way — to the grocery store. Again. I have a feeling I’ll have to find a second home at the grocery store this year, as real food spoils fast.

I’ve made this recipe for pumpkin fettuccine alfredo before, and remembered just how simple and quickly the comfort food hit my table. What I should have done was follow the recipe, but instead, I forgot the parmesan and the sage at the store and wandered around there like a blind moron during a “snowpocalypse” grocery store run. I miss autumn.

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Sometimes, the mistakes are a part of the learning process, right? Well, I was hell-bent on making the pumpkin alfredo after I’d dumped my heavy cream and pumpkin into the saucepan, so I went ahead with it. When I realized I’d forgotten the parmesan cheese, I dumped the leftover ricotta in the sauce, thereby giving it what little cheese flavor that ricotta does have. This is definitely a dish that needs an earthy, salty, hard, punch-y cheese. I figured I’d add some protein and use the ground turkey I’d made on the first before I had to throw it out, and tossed that in the sauce. I didn’t toss in the garlic, or follow the recipe much at all. I was living outside the box! Making it up! And feeling awfully cocky after some cooking success in the previous days.

I dumped in salt, too much thyme because it came out of the jar too fast, not enough oregano, black pepper, and ground sage to save the earthy flavor a little. Ground sage, pals, is nothing like the real thing. In a separate pan, I sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, and garlic in butter. I added those to top it off.

Honestly? Follow that recipe link above. It’s great, it’s fast, and it’s so easy. I had much better luck with it before. If it were me, I’d even grate the parmesan fresh off the block instead of buying packaged shaved pieces, like I’m always tempted to do instead of cleaning a cheese grater by hand. To really go for the gold on this one, use organic pureed pumpkin if you can find it (better flavor), or cook and puree your own and add a little more pumpkin than cream — maybe a cup and a third instead of just one cup.

On the side, I made a favorite: caprese salad. Caprese is only about as hard as chopping the things you need: fresh mozzarella slices, a big tomato, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar salad dressing. When I’m feeling frisky, I even add pickled red onions, which I could eat all day straight from the jar I pickle them in.

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After screwing up and eating my mistake (which wasn’t that bad, it just lacked in the amount of flavor I expected and loved from it before), I had to shovel the driveway. I hate shoveling. I really, really fucking hate shoveling. I have two herniated discs in my back, and wonky hip ligaments that like to throw me for a loop once in awhile. After coming inside, I thought I’d make some cookies for the kids next door, since they helped and did a great job. I casually flipped through a Better Homes and Gardens special Gluten-Free magazine issue that my mother gave to me, and out of nowhere appeared this recipe:

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I mean, how much easier could a cookie recipe be? It didn’t even include any fancy flours I don’t have, and I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. I chose to roll mine in sugar at the end, as the recipe suggests, but instead of using parchment paper (who has parchment paper laying around?) I just slid a tiny bit of olive oil around a nonstick cookie sheet. A few notes for the cooking challenged like me, though: by “set in the center” they actually mean, “bake for 11-12 minutes and take the fragile things out of the oven, duh.” I carefully tried not to break them as I transferred them to a cool plate (who has wire racks?), and let them harden. They were great while they were still warm, and worth reheating in the microwave the next morning for a lazy snack in bed.

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