Archive for the 'pumpkin' Category


spinning round two, pumpkin soup.

Breaking news: I am ready to give spin another chance! I know; I’m just as shocked as you are, Sweaty/Spicy masses. It seemed we were wholly unmatched when I attended my first 6 a.m. class nearly three years ago, but it’s possible there was just a learning curve to dealing with the pitch black room, blasting techo and overly amped-potentially-roided-out instructors? Either that, or tastes change and that’s what I now consider motivation? In any event, I went to a class here last Friday, and I’m dying to return. The class was short (45 minutes), I sweat (buckets), and I got two entirely separate endorsements of how toned Soul Cycle-enthusiasts become (once they drop several hundies). SOLD.

This new obsession couldn’t have come at a better time, because I’m starting to lose my daily gym motivation as it’s turning to Winter far too early. It’s just not the same when you need to strip away 17 layers of clothing to change into gym clothes at lunch. And going before or after work is out of the question these days. The days are getting shorter and it’s already getting darker earlier, and that’s a notorious motivation assassin. Blerg.

I’m making more of an effort to eat healthy these days to make up for my gym aversion, though. I made this quinoa primavera courtesy of my Whole Foods app:


quinoa primavera

1 c quinoa
2 c water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ c finely chopped red onion
½ lb asparagus, ends cut off and discarded, the rest cut into spears
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 c frozen peas, thawed
1 c shredded cooked chicken
1 c thinly sliced spinach leaves
1 tsp paprika (my addition)
juice of one lemon (my addition)
salt and pepper, to taste

You start by rinsing quinoa under cold water, and then drain it. Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed.

I had no cooked chicken in the house, so I bought thin breasts and seasoned them with paprika, salt and pepper. I baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, and removed from the oven.

Meanwhile, I heated the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and then added onion and asparagus. Cook about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and peas, cook for one more minute. Stir in chicken and quinoa, add spinach and stir until it wilts, 3-5 minutes. I added lemon juice, salt and pepper, and ate.

Admittedly, this dish is kind of bland. I hate to waste food, so I added hot sauce when I ate it the next few nights. In retrospect, it would have been good if it were made to be creamy, so I think next time I’ll add Greek yogurt or something to give it some body.

That was the first Whole Foods app recipe I made, and it was kind of a fail despite looks. I learned my lesson judging the spin class too soon last time, and have deprived myself of nearly 3 years of a rock hard bod because of it. And, so, I gave it another chance.

I made a kale, mushroom and polenta sauté courtesy of the Whole Foods app.

kale, mushroom, tomato and polenta saute


Canola oil cooking spray
½ lb button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes (my addition)
red onion, sliced (my addition)
5 Roma tomatoes, slice (my addition, it called for sundried tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
1 18-oz roll pre-cooked polenta, sliced
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese

I learned my lesion before with the bland quinoa recipe, so I manipulated this one a bit. You start by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat with cooking spray. The recipe actually calls for olive oil, but I’m not one for greasy kale so I went spray instead. Add onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic and polenta, and cook for another few. Add kale and ¼ c water, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another couple of minutes until the kale wilts. Toss well, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and serve in a bowl. Top with Parmesan, and consume.

I’ve made many iterations of kale, but this has to be one of my favorites. It ties with the cannellini beans and lemon juice recipe, which is one of my old stand-bys. Delicious. Whole Foods app, you’ve redeemed yourself.

Now that it’s basically committed to Winter outside, I’ve decided it’s time to start making soups. Unfortunately, my immersion blender croaked earlier this summer while I was making salsa (sigh), and so I bought a new one earlier today. It’s Halloween weekend, so I figured it would be economically sound if I made a pumpkin soup that also happens to be a Weight Watchers recipe.

Don’t mind if I do.



3 ½ lb pumpkin
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 c vegetable broth
1 ½ tsp fresh sage, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

This guy has nothing to do with anything, but I thought he was precious so he made this blog’s guest list.

You start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut pumpkin in half, horizontally, and scoop out seeds and membranes. Set pumpkin halves cut-side down, place garlic clove under each half. Bake one hour.

I baked these earlier this afternoon as make-ahead, and then stored them in the refrigerator as I dragged myself to yoga. I will never understand why I go to yoga so begrudgingly, but I’m always so insanely proud I went. It’s one of life’s mysteries, I suppose.

Later on, I scooped the pumpkin flesh out of the shells into a large bowl. Add garlic and two cups of broth. I then pureed with the immersion blender, which not surprisingly resulted in a kitchen covered in pumpkin guts. After the mixture is smooth, pour the puree into a large saucepan. Stir in remaining one cup of broth, sage, salt, allspice and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Top with sage and serve.

I would add butter to this soup and a little heavy cream; although I’m not surprised Weight Watchers omitted those two fatties. They’ll make the guest list next time:

pumpkin soup with sage



pumpkin polenta soup/squash polenta soup.

Winter squashes terrify me, but in an exciting way. I like to circle them slowly, taking it all in, and then I start the no holds barred grab-assing, if you will. Last weekend involved me, the farmer’s market, like 19 varieties of squash, and that scenario I just recounted. I chose three different kinds and stepped up to the cashier forcing a familiar, almost bored expression. The farmer would have believed I knew my shit if I hadn’t tried to buy the decorative autumn corn to eat:just for show

That destroyed my credibility pretty fast. I took my squashes home with very little clue how I’d enjoy them. I started my gourd discovery in a small way, by using the leftover pumpkin from the prior week. I decided to make a soup I may or may not be stealing from Rachel Ray. I’m pretty sure I added my own touch where the spices are concerned, though, so I feel comfortable taking credit.

I started by cutting the pumpkin into chunks and throwing them in the food processor with two peeled and chopped carrots. I then added a third of a tube of cooked polenta, which is the ultimate poor man’s food. I added some spices in the way of nutmeg, cinnamon and chili powder, and I added about 3/4 cup of water to the processor. I pulsed them all together until they got nice and pasty.

Meanwhile, I cut a shallot, some spinach, a little cumin, and a can of black beans, and I heated them all in a skillet with some extra virgin olive oil. The goal of that was wilty spinach and soft shallots, and I think I accomplished it.

I heated about 4 cups of vegetable stock with about a a tablespoon of butter in a giant pot, and then I dropped the whole pasty pumpkin-polenta-carrot mix inside. Once I stirred for 5-10 minutes, everything was incorporated. I served the soup with the bean and spinach mix on top, and it was so filling and delicious. See below for Rachel’s and my love child:

pumpkin polenta soup with black beans and spinach on top

The soup lasted three nights of so, and for round two I tried it with this fancy looking squash:fancy winter squash







I prepared it pretty similarly, with two chopped carrots, a third tube of polenta, and plenty of seasonings. I’m not sure if this squash is, like, a non-ripened pumpkin in drag, but it didn’t have much flavor on its own. I was forced to pick up the slack by adding brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in larger amounts. I also pulsed it all with water, and then I added the whole mix to the heated veggie stock and butter.

I took a page from the Giada school by adding a little triple cream brie to the top ($1.99, thanks cheese shop), so the end result was much more dessert-y and sweet than the previous soup. If I had foresight of any kind, I would have swapped the pumpkin with the draggy squash in the two different recipes. It was pretty great anyways, though:

squash polenta soup topped with triple cream brie


black bean and pumpkin burger and cumin fries.

I’m getting into a phase in which I’m, like, herb-obsessed. For a while I strayed away from all things stemmy, mostly because I was born sans-green thumb and they make me feel morally inferior. I know “morally” is a stretch, because I can’t recall the last time I saw basil give back to the community, and I don’t think that’s even expected of the greater herb population. In any event, it took me years to discover salt and pepper, and so naturally basil, thyme and rosemary took longer to pique my interest.

Though I can get away with the casual purchase of fresh basil or cilantro, I scare too easily to step out of that comfort zone. In the name of penny pinching and unspoiled herbs, I’ve decided to start small with the dried herbs at my disposal.

I bought these adorable mini pumpkins at TJ’s to break the seal:

baby pumpkins

baby pumpkins

Cue the six month obsession. For my first pumpkin-fueled recipe of the season, I decided to make black bean and pumpkin burgers with oven baked fries. Though I looked up a few recipes for inspiration, the end result was original(ish).

It started easy, with a can of black beans which I rinsed and drained and tossed in a food processor. DONE. Then came the pumpkin cutting, which, though I was armed with a super sharp knife (I have battle scars), was pretty damn unpleasant. Pumpkins, like, don’t want you inside. Luckily I’m stubborn, so I stuck with it until I separated all the innards (minus the seedy parts) from both mini-pumpkins. After that 20 minute ordeal, I added the pumpkins to the processor as well. I diced a red pepper for the mix, and then added about a teaspoon of chili powder, maybe 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, salt, pepper, one egg and a couple cups of bread crumbs. I blended until they were sculpt-worthy, and got to pan frying.

I heated a few tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat and formed my mix into patties. Each patty took about 4-5 minutes on each side until they got black-ish, so on the side I started on my fries.

I had a few fingerlings left from my reduction, so I cut them into fry-like spears and tossed them in olive oil. I added some salt, pepper, and some cumin, which rarely gets any action from me. I haven’t been able to figure out why, though, because it’s no stranger to Indian and Mexican cuisines, and I enjoy both very much. I tossed them all in the toaster oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. If I had foresight, I would have made them during my pumpkin gutting. Foresight is not my forte.

I toasted a kaiser roll and served one patty on it, not realizing how the monstrous roll would dwarf my hard work and make it look insignificant. I added some amazing deli mustard to the top along with a handful of arugula, and served it all alongside my fries. It was SO good, and for once I have proof. My roommate had one and backed up my claim! And it was pretty, too. See below:

black bean and veggie burger, cumin spiced fries

black bean and veggie burger, cumin spiced fries

July 2020