Monday, November 28, 2011

Baked Spaghetti Squash

OK, so if you're eating gluten-free, you've probably figured out right now that traditional spaghetti is off the menu. Sure, you can buy GF pasta, like the brown rice noodles, and they're not bad, but if you're trying to watch your weight or ramp up on your vegetable consumption, the Spaghetti squash presents a really awesome alternative. The first time I served this, my kids didn't really know they were eating a vegetable. The whole point of the Spaghetti squash is that when baked, the strands inside separate like noodles - and you can use it just like pasta.

 Baked Spaghetti Squash
 
This is a Spaghetti squash. A healthy one is plump, pale yellow, and about the size of a large football. If you buy two, you can prepare one to eat, and throw the other one at your children to watch hilarity ensue.

You'll also need half a stick of butter, some garlic, oregano, and Parmesan cheese. Don't use that powdery shit in a can - I don't know what it is, but it's horrible. Get the good stuff.


Cut the squash in half and scrape out the goop and seeds. You can either pitch these, or toss them in your compost bin like I do.

Place your two halves, open side up, in a baking dish.
Slice the butter, and plop it into the middle of your squash halves.
Sprinkle as much oregano as you can stand onto the squash, along with garlic. Lots of garlic. Yummy chopped garlic.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 for about an hour.
When you take it out of the oven, grate up your Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it on top. Again, go ahead and get the good stuff. It's worth it, and although you may pay a little more for a brick of good Parm, it's a zillion times better than the powdery cheese-flavored Anthrax-like mutation that they sell in those green cans.
Using a fork, scrap the insides out of the squash, pulling it away from the skin. You'll notice that it comes apart in long, pasta-like strands - hence the name, Spaghetti squash. You can serve it like this, with the butter and garlic and oregano and cheese, or toss some of your favorite spaghetti sauce on top of it. Either way, it's pretty much awesomeness.

Delicata Squash with Kale & Beans

Many of you have heard me rave about the awesomeness of Delicata squash, which is a light and tasty fall veggie. The nice thing about the Delicata is that the skin is very thin, and when baked, it's tender -- you don't even have to peel it. Just give it a good washing before you start chopping, and you're good to go.

This is a salad that I like to make ahead of time and let sit overnight - although you can serve it warm, it seems like the flavors blend really well if you let it park in the fridge for a few hours. It's super easy to make, but it looks really pretty so when your friends admire it, you can say, "Oh, well, first I lovingly harvested the Delicata squash and the kale..." when really you probably just bought them at Kroger, which is okay too.

Delicata Squash with Kale & Beans

This is what the Delicata squash looks like in its natural habitat, my backyard. You'll need one of these. You'll also need a can of cannellini beans, a handful of kale, some garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper.

It's also a good idea to use parchment paper if you have it.
Wash your Delicata squash, cut it in half, and scrape the seeds out of the middle. If you toss them in your compost bin, you'll get rogue Delicatas next year, which is how I ended up with this one.
Slice the halves into pieces about a half inch thick. You can go thinner if you like, but then you'll need to watch them in the oven to make sure they don't burn. If you're someone who typically uses your smoke alarm as an oven timer, go with the thicker cut.
Let's talk about garlic, baby. This is what it should look like. It should not look like little white mouse poops floating in a sea of olive oil. Get yourself some nice big fat garlic cloves, as many as you like, and chunk them up. Use the flat side of your knife to mash them, and then mince.
Toss the squash slices, the garlic, about 1/4 Cup balsamic and about 1/4 C olive oil together in a bowl. Make sure all your squash is coated with the balsamic and oil - otherwise, you get dry squash.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, and spread the squash out into a single layer. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Hey! That's a tongue twister! Say it with me: "place a piece of parchment paper" five times, really fast. G'head, I'll wait.
 Rinse and drain your cannellini beans.
Tear up your kale into little pieces, and mix them in with your beans.
As soon as you take the squash out of the oven, dump it in the bowl. The heat from the squash will wilt the kale. Toss everything together. A little more oil and balsamic if you like, as well as a splash of lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gluten Free Cream-Cheese Filled Pumpkin Muffins

Muffins + cream cheese = nom nom nom.
So it's Thanksgiving, and since I've never been allowed to cook a turkey - other family members always insist on doing it - my job is to prepare the side dishes. My instructions this year were simple - bring a green vegetable. Well, I could have made a salad or something, but instead I decided to live it up a little bit - after all, food should be a celebration - and put together two veggies and a dessert. Why the dessert?

Because as much as I love my in-laws, I know there will be four or five different desserts on the table, none of which I can eat. Thanks, gluten intolerance!

So I decided I was going to make some kind of GF Thanksgivingy treat - and do so using only crap in my pantry, because I didn't want to set foot within a two mile radius of my grocery store on the day before Thanksgiving, when hordes of frustrated moms were fighting over the last two cans of cranberry flavored goop and confused dads on their way home from work would be asking me what kind of corn they were supposed to get. Just not in the mood to handle that much drama.

Anyway, I had a box of King Arthur Flour's basic muffin mix, a zillion cans of pumpkin, and some cream cheese. This sounds like dessert to me. If you haven't tried the KAF muffin mix, pick up a box. It's for making a very plain muffin, but it forms a great foundation to throw some extra stuff in. And I'm all about throwing extra stuff in, so you know I was all over this.

Also, I want to apologize in advance for the poor quality of some of the photos in this post - MY camera apparently went to Coshocton this morning in my husband's hunting pack so I had to use my 11-year-old's camera, which seems to lend things an odd yellowish cast, as though I was preparing food using my Jaundiced Liver Disease Glasses. However, I can't complain too much about him taking the camera, because on the off chance he manages to shoot me some dinner while sitting in a tree this morning, I'll then have the luxury of posting Before and After photos of my venison recipes - you know, if "before" means "Bambi's mom frolicking in a forest eating nuts and berries."

OK, so here we go.

Gluten Free Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins:

Here's what you'll need:

1 box King Arthur Flour GF Muffin Mix
1 can pumpkin (you'll only use half)
Half a stick butter, melted
3 eggs

1/2 Cup milk
Cinnamon
Sugar
1 8-oz pack cream cheese, softened
1 Cup powdered sugar



The night before, you'll want to go ahead and make the delicious cream cheese filling. Yes, the photo is bad, but trust me, it's tasty. Blend the cream cheese and the powdered sugar together, and then shape it into a log. Wrap it in plastic and toss it in the fridge overnight.

And yes, I'm well aware that this looks like something from the Food Network Sex Toy Collection. Stop judging me.

OK, so now your Cream Cheese Log is firmed up in the fridge. Go ahead and mix together your eggs, your melted butter, and your half can of pumpkin.











Add the muffin mix and blend it till all the dry stuff is mixed in, and then gradually pour in the milk. Blendity blendity blend. At this point, it should be a lovely orangey pumpkiny color.







Grease up some muffin tins. This recipe will give you a good 16 large muffins. You know, if you can try not to eat the batter, in which case, you might get five muffins instead. Use a scooper to fill each tin about halfway. The batter is thick, so make sure you smear it around and cover the bottom of the muffin cup.


Go get your Food Network Sex Toy Cream Cheese Log out of the fridge. Cut it into 16 equal chunks. Drop a chunk onto the center of each muffin cup, right in the middle of the batter.
Use the rest of the batter to fill the rest of the muffins up. Make sure you cover up all the cream cheese, or Very Bad Things can happen in your oven. Bad things of Vesuvian proportions.

Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and sugar over the top of your muffins, and bake at 350 for 22 - 25 minutes or so.




Let your muffins cool for about ten minutes before you try to eat them. Seriously - do you KNOW what happens to cream cheese when you bake it into a muffin at 350 degrees? It reaches temperatures only rivaled by volcanic lava, Allentown steel mill production lines, and the sun.

DO NOT BITE.

Trust us, my precious. Trust us.
Once your muffins have cooled enough not to burn the hell out of your lips, tongue, and esophagus, dig in. They're super tasty, and your non-gluten-free eater friends will be asking you for the recipe. Send 'em on ovah.

Getting Thrifty

Yep, someone on my list is getting a jelly mold shaped like a lobster for Christmas. Is it you? Read my latest post over at An Army of Ermas:

Getting Thrifty

I’m not a very good shopper. My friends tell me I shop like a guy – I know what I want, I walk in, I buy it, and I leave. Shopping is a “Wham-bam-thank-you-Kohl’s” experience for me – other than cute shoes and pretty lingerie, there aren’t many things I really dig shopping for.
And yet, I love the thrift store. My thrift store – and by “my,” I mean, the one I go to because it’s convenient and huge and full of good stuff that nobody wants anymore – is housed in a former K-Mart, so it’s basically several acres of stuff. It’s in no particular order, although the women’s stuff is one side, the men’s on the other, and allegedly it’s all arranged by size. There are no fitting rooms, so everything is a crap shoot, unless I plan ahead and wear a ... Read Full Post

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Get Your Bad Austen On, Baby

Bad Austen is finally out, and features not one, but TWO ridiculously silly stories by me - Foolishness and Folly, as well as The Perilous Plot at Pemberley, in which Georgianna Darcy gets the Scooby Doo treatment. I only wish I was kidding.

As if that wasn't fabulous enough, there's also a disco-delicious tale, Willoughby's Boogie Nights, by the awesomesauce Stacey Isbell Graham.
 
Bad Austen: The Worst Stories Jane Never Wrote
Edited by Peter Archer and Jennifer Lawler
ISBN 978-1-4405-1185-1


Barnes & Noble: Bad Austen - the Worst Stories Jane Never Wrote





What? You want MORE Austen action? No worries - you can still download my Austen-inspired short story, The Scandalous Miss Lydia Bennet, for just 99¢.

The Scandalous Miss Lydia Bennet
a Short Story by Patti Wigington
ISBN 978-1-4657-4018-2

Smashwords: The Scandalous Miss Lydia Bennet 

or

Barnes & Noble: The Scandalous Miss Lydia Bennet (nookbook)








And just because I'm feeling Jane-alicious today, you should totally go watch the Jane Austen Fight Club video.

We are, after all, no longer "good society."