Monthly Archives: October 2010

Butternut Squash Dog Treats

Whenever we get butternut squash in our local box I like to roast and purée it on the weekend, in preparation for the week ahead.  The entire process takes less than an hour, and I can use the ready-made squash purée in recipes like  Macaroni and Cheese and Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup on busy weeknights.  If there’s any leftover purée, I like to make these fast and easy treats for my dog Barclay.  That way none of my local produce goes to waste, and Barclay gets to enjoy the squash, too!

Tip: the process for roasting pumpkin, butternut, or delicata squash is the same.  These hard squash are interchangeable in most recipes, and you can even substitute sweet potatoes in a pinch. A great demonstration of how to cut, roast and purée a butternut squash is found here.

Butternut Squash Dog Treats
3/4 cup squash purée
2 eggs
2 Tbs. peanut butter
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, squash and peanut butter in a large bowl.  Incorporate flour until you have a stiff, dry dough. Knead with your hands if necessary.  (This dough is much drier than cookie dough for humans, about the consistency of pie crust.) Roll the dough out with a rolling-pin on a floured surface until it is 1/2 inch thick.  Cut with the cookie cutter of your choice, or just use a knife to cut the dough into 1/2 inch squares.  I found this one by one-half inch bone-shaped cookie cutter at Zinger hardware for 50 cents.

Bake the treats on greased cookie sheets until hard, about 25 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.

These treats make great Kong puzzlers and are much cheaper than commercially-packaged dog biscuits.  Barclay likes to give packages of these treats to his friends for birthdays and holidays.

Of course, you should check with your vet if you have any questions about your dog’s diet.  These treats are vet-approved for Barclay!


Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is silky and creamy, although you don’t use any cream. The sublime texture comes from a russet potato thrown into the mix. I wouldn’t substitute red or new potatoes here; their texture is a bit too waxy and you won’t get the same creaminess.

A tip for peeling the butternut squash: partially cook it in the microwave first, then peel. It makes it much easier. Just poke holes in it and zap it for 2 minutes, then let cool. Also, if you don’t have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a blender. It’s vegan if you use vegetable broth or water.

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup (from the New York Times)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 1 small squash)

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 large potato)

1 medium-size Yukon gold or russet potato, peeled and diced

6 cups water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir together until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash, sweet potatoes, regular potato, and water or stock, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are thoroughly tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or you can put it through the fine blade of a food mill or use a regular blender, working in batches and placing a kitchen towel over the top to avoid splashing). Return to the pot and stir with a whisk to even out the texture. Heat through, adjust salt and add pepper to taste.

Local Box Meal Plan: Oct. 4-8

This week, we’re getting:

Basil – Yard Garden
Assorted hot peppers
Okra – Bradshaw
Eggplant – Animal Farm
Bibb lettuce
Cucumbers – Acadian
Red delicious apples – Apple Country
Limes – G&S Groves
Red potatoes – Naegelin
Yellow onions – Naegelin
Butternut squash – Massey

So, I will be making:

Curried okra-eggplant stew with basil and coconut milk – So, this recipe isn’t written in the usual recipe form, but holy crap it looks good, so just read the blog post to get all the ingredients in. This uses several Local Box ingredients and looks like it’ll come together quickly.

Cucumber-lime spritzers

Roasted red potatoes and butternut squash – Use your yellow onion instead of the red onion called for here. Throw a couple of seasoned chicken breasts in the same roasting pan as the veggies, and you’ve got dinner.

Crab salad with lime dressing – Add jumbo lump crabmeat to chopped Bibb lettuce, cucumbers, and any other veggies you like. Whisk together the juice of a couple of limes, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and drizzle over the salad.

As for the red delicious apples, I find them to be really mushy when cooked, so we usually just eat them out-of-hand. However, if you want to make something with them, this apple crisp recipe looks quick and easy, and the soft texture of the apples will be balanced out by the other ingredients.

Roasted Eggplant Soup

Like most everyone in Austin, my allergies are terrible this time of year.  This comforting soup always makes me feel better when I’m sniffly, plus the recipe is easy to adapt according to the vegetables I have on hand.  I’ve experimented by adding some combination of potatoes, apples, leeks, carrots, or mushrooms to this basic recipe with good results. Whatever variety of produce I use, the basic ratio of ingredients remains about 1 cup of liquid for each 1 cup of roasted veggies.

The fall allergy season is going to last at least another month, and we’ll need some more comforting recipes to get through it. What’s your favorite soup when you’re feeling under the weather?

Roasted Eggplant Soup
2 small eggplants, quartered
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 bulb garlic (about 9 cloves), top cut off
1/2 white onion, halved
Olive Oil
1/2  cup hard apple cider or white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (skip it if you’re vegan– the soup’s great without it)

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Place eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and garlic flesh side up on the cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Allow vegetables to cool until they are safe to handle.  Scoop eggplant flesh from skin into a medium heavy saucepan. Discard skin. Squeeze garlic cloves from skin into saucepan. Add tomatoes and onion to saucepan, plus parsley, cider, lemon juice and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth.  Return soup to saucepan and add cream, if desired. Heat through.  Garnish with fresh parsley and cracked pepper.  Serve with a hearty grain like these whole wheat rosemary rolls.

Chicken and Pepper Stir-Fry with Mint

This is a good weeknight stir-fry, and some chopped mint and toasted almonds add a nice twist. The original recipe calls for pork, which is good (I’ve made this with pork before), but I had some ground chicken so I used that instead, and it turned out great. You can skip the step where you toast the almonds if you need to save time, but they really do taste better that way.

Chicken and Pepper Stir-Fry with Mint

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Stir Fry:
1 lb ground chicken
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon hot chile paste (like Sriracha)
5 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
6 small bell peppers, cut into strips
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

In a large ziploc bag, mix together rice wine vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Add chicken, cover, and marinate for at least 1/2 hour and up to 8 hours.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toast almonds in hot, dry skillet until golden brown and fragrant, about five minutes. Stir often and keep your eye on them because they burn easily. Remove almonds to a plate.

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in marinated chicken, ginger, and chile paste. Mix in teriyaki sauce, and increase heat to high. Cook, stirring constantly, until chicken is white. Stir in peppers, and continue to stir fry until most of the liquid has evaporated and chicken is cooked. Top with toasted almond slivers and fresh mint. Serve over cooked brown rice or quinoa.