Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

When the temperature starts reading in the single digits, there’s no doubt that it’s soup weather. This roasted acorn squash soup is great because it makes use of winter squash, of which we have an abundance. But winter squash is also great because it keeps forever, so we don’t feel a whole lot of time pressure to use it.

Will the Kids Eat It?

One of them will! Our youngest really loves just about any soup we make him, and we’re thankful for that. The other two are at least very creative with their soups, as our tablecloths will attest. It’s a losing battle to get them to not make a mess with the soup they’re not eating, but it’s one I still can’t help but fight. One of these days I’m going to get them to try soup, any soup, and they’re going to apologize for the years of resistance. I swear this will happen.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 large acorn squash
2 Tbsp vegan butter (or regular butter, if that’s your thing)
1 red onion, sliced
1 large apple, cored and sliced
2-3 cups vegetable stock

Preparation Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until nice and soft. Set aside to cool. Melt the vegan butter and sauté the onion until starting to turn brown. Add in the apple and cook until the outside of the slices are starting to caramelize. Add in the squash flesh and stock and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the flavors are blended. Puree. (If you have a vitamix, just stick everything in there and throw it on the soup setting.)

Packaging Directions:

We like to use Mason jars to package leftovers as much as possible. They’re the workhorses of our kitchen. We split the soup up into 16-oz pint jars and refrigerate. When packing for lunch, we put one serving of soup with one quarter cup serving of sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

These sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds are a favorite in our house. They can be sprinkled on soups and salads or just eaten as a snack. A lot of times I make them as a garnish and end up eating at least half as a snack while cooking. They’re that good. Double or even triple the recipe for extra deliciousness.

Most of the time we wind up buying pre-made snacks at the store and portioning them out ourselves. This works pretty well for the most part, and we wind up with tasty stuff like granola and dried chickpeas and crackers. But we’ve also started making a bigger push to make our own snacks. These sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds are healthy and delicious and quite unlike most of the snacks we can get at the store.

Sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tsp ras al hanout
1/4-1/2 Tsp salt, depending on how salty you like them

Preparation Directions:

Toast the seeds in a dry pan for about a minute, then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to mix and stir occasionally. Once the sugar is melted, pop seeds in a bowl lined with wax paper. Try not to eat all of them immediately.

Packaging Directions:

If you’re making these for snacks through the week, you’ll probably want to at least triple the recipe. Once they’re done, split them up into small snack cups or sandwich bags in quarter cup servings. If you’re like me, you’ll end up with fewer servings than you expect because you’ll be unable to resist snacking as you pack.

Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Eggplant Risotto

If given the choice, I would probably never voluntarily opt to eat mushrooms or eggplant. Neither has ever been a favorite of mine. Jocelyn, however, is a big fan of both, so we’ve had to learn to compromise. In practice, that compromise looks a lot like me eating a bunch of mushrooms and eggplant. When I heard that she was planning to make an eggplant risotto topped with roasted mushrooms, I adopted my bravest fake smile and nodded in what I fear was not a very convincing manner.

But guys, get this: eggplant risotto with roasted mushrooms is good. Like, super good. The mushrooms are crispy and the eggplant puree is mixed in with the risotto and it’s creamy and delicious. Some nutritional yeast gives the whole dish an umami kick. I suppose I should really rethink that aversion to mushrooms and eggplant, because this dish is one of my favorites now.

Creamy Mushroom Eggplant Risotto

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant
1 head of garlic
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
5-6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Preparation Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Lightly score the eggplant and pop in the oven along with the garlic. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until everything is nice and soft. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, toss the mushroom slices in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and a little salt and roast while you make the risotto.

Heat the stock in a small saucepan on medium high heat. Once the eggplant and garlic are cooled, peel and puree with a couple ladlefuls of stock. Heat the other Tbsp of olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the shallots until golden. Add the rice and toast for about a minute. Pour in the wine and cook until absorbed. Add the stock a little at a time and stir as the rice absorbs it. Stir in the veggie puree and once the rice is cooked through and creamy, toss in the nutritional yeast. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Packaging Directions:

This one’s pretty easy. The only trick is to pack the mushrooms separately to preserve maximum crispiness. Pack the leftover risotto into 1 cup containers and split the remaining mushrooms into the same number of containers. Take and enjoy!

Pumpkin Donut Holes

The other day made pumpkin bread, and we had some leftover batter. We decided to experiment a bit and make some pumpkin bread bites. Once we tasted them, we realized quickly that they were actually more like pumpkin donut holes. Also our very pedantic daughter told us they were donuts, and who can argue with a stubborn two year old who is busy licking chocolate off as many treats as she can get her hands on?

Pumpkin Donut Holes: A Treat Whose Time Has Come

It’s pumpkin season, as we all know. I’ve heard that being into pumpkin stuff is “basic,” but those scare quotes should tell you that I’m old enough to not fully understand what basic means. Also, I don’t care because pumpkin stuff is delicious. Please also hold off on criticizing yoga pants and scarves and whatever else you might feel other people are enjoying too much.

Where was I? Oh, right: pumpkin donut holes. If the name isn’t enough to convince you that you want these, then just look at a picture of Jocelyn putting some chocolate on them.

Pumpkin Donut Holes

These came out great. They’re soft and crumbly and delicious. If you like pumpkins or chocolate or things shaped like acorns (note: do not eat actual acorns, they’re pretty gross), then these are for you.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup coconut sugar
1 Tsp vanilla
1 Tsp pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp salt
2 1/2 cup spelt flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Place into a prepared tray (ours was a fall-themed cakelet/mini-muffin pan). Bake for 30 minutes.

Vegan Bacon Breadcrumb Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We are late comers to the roasted Brussels sprouts game, and we’ve got to make up for lost time. I never had them growing up because my mom hated them. Jocelyn’s mom had a habit of calling them “little green balls of death,” which you can guess means they weren’t a favorite.

Brussels Sprout Soda: A Bad Taste in My Mouth

One of my only Brussels sprouts experiences before recently was actually not with Brussels sprouts at all. Jones soda makes special holiday packs of sodas that aren’t meant to be drunk so much as endured. A friend brought their Thanksgiving pack into the office for a taste test. The last one on everybody’s list was Brussels sprout soda, and it was without exception the worst drink I have ever tasted. It was so awful that it warned me off of the vegetable itself for over a decade.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: The Best Taste in My Mouth

But guys, I was so wrong. Once we discovered the power of roasting, we realized we didn’t have to dislike any vegetable anymore. They’re all pretty much delicious when they’re prepared properly. And oh brother, let me tell you, these roasted Brussels sprouts are about as proper as it gets. They’re brown and crispy, and they’re topped with crunchy brown breadcrumbs and salty, smoky vegan bacon. If you’re on the fence about Brussels sprouts, get off of that fence. It’s cold outside. Fences aren’t comfortable to sit on. Rethink your sitting strategy. Also, have some food.

Breadcrumb roasted Brussels sprouts

Ingredients:

1 lb quartered Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup lemon dressing
1 Tbsp vegan butter
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup vegan bacon bits

Directions:

Toss the sprouts with the lemon dressing. Roast at 450° F until brown. I like them to be super crispy, so I usually leave them in as long as I can. Melt the vegan butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and vegan bacon bits. Broil for 2 minutes, until the breadcrumb mixture is golden brown and you just can’t help but yank them out of the oven and dig in.

Simple Lemony Vinaigrette Dressing

With all the morning sickness, any kind of strong flavors turn me off. Finding new recipes is kind of a nightmare since I never know what will set me off. We’ve been relying more on simple, easy to prepare foods and some old favorites.

This lemony dressing is easy to prepare, and a great topping for bowls or salads. This week, we tossed a couple tablespoons with some squash and roasted it for a tasty addition to grain bowls.

Roasted Squash

Ingredients:

2 Tsp mustard
Juice of one lemon
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

Blend first three ingredients with a generous amount of salt. Drizzle in oil with blender running until it’s all added and dressing is creamy. Enjoy all over the place.

Spaghetti Squash Bake

We like to use spaghetti squash as a sort of healthy alternative to pasta. Not that pasta isn’t healthy, per se, but we always have a temptation to eat so dang much of it. This spaghetti squash bake functions kind of like a pasta casserole, with its tomato sauce and vegan parmesan topping, but it’s not too heavy. Most of all, it’s super tasty.

Spaghetti Squash Bake: A Healthy Dinner that Feels Indulgent

The nice thing about this is that it’s pretty hands off and easy to make. Nothing requires careful tending, just a little bit of work on the stove and in the oven and you’re set! It also reheats beautifully for work.

Now I know as well as the next guy that spaghetti squash isn’t the same as pasta. The consistency isn’t the same, the flavor isn’t the same, etc. That’s why I almost always insist on recipes that douse it in some kind of sauce. The squash soaks up that nice flavor, and baking it in the sauce softens it even a bit more, so you lose most of the crunch that can sometimes go along with spaghetti squash and distance it from bona fide pasta.

Spaghetti Squash Bake

Ingredients:

1 medium to large spaghetti squash
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp + 1 Tsp olive oil
2 15-oz cans tomatoes, whole or diced
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours
1 cup pecans
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tsp salt

Directions:

Roast or microwave the spaghetti squash. Which one you choose depends on how much time you’ve got and how much your kids are screaming.

To make the tomato sauce, cook the onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil on medium high heat in a medium saucepan until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until thickened. Once the tomato sauce is done, blend it with the soaked cashews. Mix the tomato-cashew blend with the cooked spaghetti squash in an oven safe baking dish.

To make the vegan parm topping, place the pecans, nutritional yeast, remaining olive oil, and salt in food processor. Blend until everything looks crumbly and delicious. Sprinkle the topping onto the squash in the baking dish and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Tahini Cookies

We had chocolate. We had tahini. Buckle up for some chocolate tahini cookies, y’all.

Chocolate Tahini Cookies are Very Good

We like to take the opportunity to make food with our kids, especially when it’s fun food. Watson and Vivi love to each get a bowl full of ingredients to mix. They make an ungodly mess, but it’s adorable and who cares? You don’t have to clean the floor.

Watson has been very into Halloween lately, so he wanted to use his ghost cookie cutter to make some ghostly cookies. That didn’t work very well, since these cookies are very crumbly and fall apart pretty easily. They’re really better in a lumpy mound configuration.

Let me go on a short digression about tahini, if you will: tahini is great, you guys. It makes great sauces, it’s great in these cookies, it’s great in hummus, etc. Get some. Use it. Love it.

These are not cookies for folks with an extreme sweet tooth. They’re way more on the savory side. But they’re super tasty, and since they’re pretty crumbly, they offer a lot of delicious crumb-collecting fun once you’re done with all of the bits that hold together.

Chocolate Tahini Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup tahini
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup almond meal
1 c flour of choice (we’ve used both spelt and rice flour with success, although the rice flour makes for a crumblier cookie)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Place tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough on a lined baking sheet, and press them down flat (but not too flat) with the heel of your hand. You can try rolling them out and using cookie cutters, like Watson wanted to do, but these cookies are pretty crumbly. The thinner they are, the more easily they fall apart once they’re baked. Bake each batch for 10 minutes and let cool on a wire rack.

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

I don’t like to keep coming back to the same topic, but let’s be real: tacos are the bomb. It is less well-known, but no less true, that roasted cauliflower is also the bomb. You can probably guess that I believe roasted cauliflower tacos to therefore be the bomb. You would be right. I’m probably also making it clear that my grasp of post-nineties slang is not all that and a bag of chips, as it were. Sue me.

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos – A Delicious, Healthy Treat

We got ourselves some gorgeous purple cauliflower in our Hungry Harvest box this week, and we immediately knew we were going to make tacos with it. It turns out cauliflower is perfect for tacos. The nooks and crannies of the florets soak up cooking oil and spices, and they get nice and brown and crunchy in the oven. On top of a toasted corn tortilla, alongside an appropriate set of garnishes, there’s basically nothing better.

I wish I’d known earlier in life how delicious roasted vegetables were. I wish my kids were more receptive to my trying to teach them the lessons I wish I’d learned at their age. I wish that last sentence were easier to parse (but it makes sense, I promise!).

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

Ingredients:

Cauliflower:

Two small heads of cauliflower (we used a pretty purple kind)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp smoked paprika
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tsp chili powder

Slaw:

1 kohlrabi cut into matchsticks
1 carrot cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup mayo
Juice of 1 lime

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F. Cut cauliflower up into medium florets and toss with oil and spices. Roast on a lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all of the ingredients of the slaw together in a medium bowl. Toast a few corn tortillas lightly on the stovetop. Serve the tacos with diced avocado.

Simple Peach Pie Energy Balls

We love energy balls. Seriously, we really love them. We make them as snacks all the time. They seem small and unassuming, but they’re little dense bites of deliciousness, and they help stave off the hunger that creeps up between breakfast and lunch. As filling snacks go, these peach pie energy balls fit the bill quite nicely.

It’s also the end of summer and the beginning of fall, even if the weather hasn’t quite gotten the memo. Peaches feel like a summer food, but peach pie is what you make in the fall from all the peaches you thought you were going to eat and didn’t. These energy balls are the perfect fusion of summer flavor and fall comfort.

Peach Pie Energy Balls

This recipe really couldn’t be simpler. If you’ve got some measuring cups, a food processor, and five minutes, you’ve got everything you need to make these. When you’re getting meals ready for the week and there are three kids underfoot, it’s a small blessing to have a recipe that’s so simple. And one that doesn’t involve opening a hot oven when the kids are running around and curious.

These are also the kind of thing that makes packing lunches at 5:15 am a breeze. The more we’ve got already packed, that we can just grab and go, the better.

Peach Pie Energy Balls

Ingredients:

1 cup dried peaches
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup coconut
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

Just dump all of the stuff into a food processor, blitz until it’s crumbly, and then make it into balls and refrigerate. Eat one for a quick, delicious pick-me-up when you’re feeling hungry in the midmorning. That way you won’t be tempted to run out for a coffee and a donut because Royal Farms has Krispy Kremes and they’re delicious. Not that I’ve ever done that. Of course not.