Monday, November 21, 2011

Roasted Squash Seeds

When my younger cousin was in grade school, her mom always prepared the Thanksgiving turkey. After the holiday, she would exchange stories about the elaborate meal with her classmates. For some reason, the turkey that her friends described always seemed much bigger than the one her family ate. When she questioned her mom about the discrepancy, she reassured her.

"I always make a turkey."

The year my cousin learned to read she walked into the kitchen when her mom was prepping the big bird. Skeptical, she cross-examined her mom about the pinkish poultry. Her mom insisted that it was a turkey. Unconvinced, my cousin dragged a chair to their kitchen counter.

Gazing down, she read the label out loud: "C-H-I-C-K-E-N!"

When I heard about my aunt's mischief, I felt redeemed. I love to host guests for Thanksgiving, but don't enjoy roasting the turkey. Luckily, for the last several years other family members have taken on that task. So I can devote my attention to preparing sides and dessert.

After visiting the farmer's market, I often carry acorn squash decorated in orange and green. They are lovely roasted with a thin layer of olive oil. However, it's the roasted seeds, which taste like freshly made popcorn, that draw everyone to the table for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner snack again and again.


Rinse the seeds and layer them on a paper towel to air dry.

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Sprinkle the seeds with olive oil and season them with salt.

Cook until the seeds turn light brown.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cranberry Spice Muffins

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)


Makes 12 muffins


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)
Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)


Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with baking cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and granulated sugar. Scatter the brown sugar over flour mixture with your fingers, and then whisk to incorporate.

Mix in the pecans and cranberries with a spoon.

In a small bowl, gently beat the egg with a fork. Stir in the milk and butter.
Add Image
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. (Note, it's a thick batter).

Fill the muffin tin.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Blackened Catfish

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

There are many misconceptions that keep people from stepping into the kitchen. One is that it takes a lot of time and effort to get a tasty meal on the table. Admittedly, there are some dishes that require a real time commitment (like a souffle). But there are hundreds of other mouthwatering dishes that can be prepared before the delivery makes it to the front door. Blackened catfish is one of them.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)
It's simple, really. Just pull together a rub with a few herbs and spices, coat some fish, and pan-fry it. I love this recipe from Gourmet. The last time I made it, I was out of thyme and too lazy to run to the store. It was still full of flavor.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

If you're really short on time, buy a pre-made Cajun spice rub. I recommend picking one up from a gourmet grocery store like Whole Foods or a spice shop, if possible. Beware of rubs that are packed with salt or full of flavorless fillers like corn starch.

Susan Pachikara (COPYRIGHT 2011)

Steam a side of peas. Set the table. I promise, you'll enjoy dinner.
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