Monday, November 29, 2010


I can't believe that Thanksgiving already came and went. I love gathering with family and friends, but I also love all of the fall foods together at one meal. The celebration started last week with a friendsgiving celebration at the guys house. Lots of food, people and fun. I decided to make 4 dishes: apple and sage dressing, homemade butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sage sauce, mixed greens and beet salad, and pumpkin whoopie pies.

I couldn't find a recipe I liked for the dressing, so I just made it up. The turkey was also hogging the oven, so I had to be a little creative and work with my new favorite pan- the cast iron skillet. True stovetop dressing I guess you could say.

Farmers apple and sage dressing

1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons butter
2 cup chopped apple
6 cups cubed whole-wheat bread
vegetable stock (2-3 cups)
1/2 cup fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until tender. Add apple and saute for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add sage, bread, and 2 cups of the vegetable stock. Heat on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, adding more broth if needed. Before serving, place in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes to brown the top.

I didnt get a good picture of the butternut squash ravioli, but it was tasty. It was a process making the ravioli, but worth it. I just love using my pasta maker.

Mixed Greens Salad with fresh beets, red onion, feta, toasted pecans, clementines with a balsamic vinagrette. I actually really loved this salad. Simple, healthy and delicious.

And finally for dessert: pumpkin whoopie pies. I used Martha's recipe, but changed the filling a little bit to be a tad healthier by using reduced fat cream cheese and skipping out on the butter.

This is only what I contributed to the party- but everyone made great dishes and we had a tasty turkey. Good friends, good food.

Friday, November 5, 2010


It has been a long time since my last post, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I guess I was just too busy enjoying the beautiful October weather, and all that came with it. I was able to visit two farms. The first one, Montpelier Farms in Upper Marlboro, was for a staff retreat for work. Ya, I know. My job is tough- I had to spend a Friday afternoon taking a hayride and exploring the agritourism that this farm had to offer.

My second farm venture was to Homestead Farms northwest of DC. The gang and I went for a Sunday afternoon filled with apple picking, pumpkins, farm animals and lots of fun. The day was topped of with some chili, cornbread, and apple pie back in the district. Adam did a fabulous job of making cornbread. The chili was alright, I added too much tomato sauce so it had a strong tomato flavor which wasn't ideal.

We carved pumpkins and ate pumpkin seeds later in the week, and I also introducted a few folks to spaghetti squash. What a simple fall dish. Baked spaghetti squash served with tomatoes, basil and a little butter. We also recreated a fabulous flatbread we all had a Founding Farmers. We cheated a little and used naan topped with apple and onion relish, brie, and apples. Yum.

I redeemed myself by making southwestern veggie chili and corn bread pudding last weekend (see recipe). For the corn bread pudding, I made corn bread batter according to the directions on the corn meal package. Then added 1 can of creamed corn, 1/2 cup diced onions, 1/2 cup diced peppers, and about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. These were both pretty good- and definitely ones to add to the recipe book. There is no better way to spend a cold Sunday evening in the fall than with football, chili, and cornbread. The black bean burger in the chili really made it stand out.

Southwestern Veggie Chili
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup chopped bell pepper (red, green and yellow if you have them)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon garlic
1 can chili seasoned diced tomatoes
1 can low sodium black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 cup vegetable broth
2 spicy black bean burgers (I like morningstar farms)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup corn
chili powder, salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Saute peppers, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Defrost black bean burger and cut into small pieces. Add to vegetables. Add tomatoes, beans, broth, corn and spices. Let simmer for 30 minutes- 1 hour. Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and onions if desired.

I love fall and getting out of the city a little bit to truly enjoy the beauty of this time of year. I think that it is important for people to really take the time to explore where their food is coming from and to appreciate all that goes into producing it. Buying from local farms is good for the local economy, and allows the consumer to get fresher, usually higher quality produce at a decent price. So if you didn't get the chance to check out a farm this season, you should definitely make it a must do next year. Heck, if our country spent even a fraction of the time at a farm, getting to know the food system as we do on Farmville on Facebook- we might be in a different shape. Literally- a slightly smaller one to be precise.

And to leave you with some pictures:

The southwestern chili and cornbread pudding

The pumpkin Daniel carved for us

Wishing you a healthy, delicious week.