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Butternut Squash Turnovers with ginger, coconut and pumpkin seeds

I love savory recipes with sweet vegetables. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkins typically find spicy and tangy application in my kitchen.  I decided that I wanted to try something different with butternut squash, while developing a menu for a brunch party.  The theme of the brunch was spices, and I had a lot of savory dishes. So I decided to pair the squash with ginger and honey. Coconut and pumpkin seeds add a crunch and freshness to this dish

What you need

  1. 1 medium sized butternut squash, cubed
  2. 1 cup honey, or to taste
  3. 1 cup coconut flakes or shredded dry coconut
  4. 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  5. 1 Tblsp ginger powder
  6. 2 Tblsp fresh grated ginger
  7. 6 Puff pastry sheets, thawed
  8. 1 Tblsp Sesame seeds 
  9. 1 egg, for egg wash

How it’s done

  1. Cook the butternut squash with a pinch of salt in the microwave, about 5-7 minutes. Squash should be cooked through so you can mash it
  2. Mix cooked squash with ingredients 2-6. Taste for sweetness and adjust to your taste.  Intention is for the turnover to be medium sweet, not dessert like
  3. Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface till it’s evenly smoothed and about 1/8 inch.
  4. Cut into six squares
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of filling near the top right corner of the square, leaving enough room to close
  6. Take the left bottom corner of the pastry square and close it over the top right corner, using a fork to crimp all the edges.  You will have a filled triangle at this stage. Place ona lined baking sheet
  7. Take a knife and cut a small slit on top of each turnover
  8. Whisk the egg with a little water and brush on top of the turnovers, sprinkle sesame seeds
  9. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the tops are golden brown

I served these without a sauce but these could do well with ginger marmalade on the side.  The turnovers are crunchy, medium sweet, with the coconut and pumpkin seeds giving it a nutty flavor and texture.  One improvement I could make to this is to toast the coconut flakes, which will make it even more nutty. 

Ghost of Granola -2

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Ghost of granola is a name to denote the blank canvas that nuts offer to spice or flavor me up.  My second creation brings the flavors of Chivda to my nut granola. Chivda is a snack mix very popular in Maharashtra, a western Indian state.  My exposure to Chivda was when I was living in Nagpur, and this was a snack made for Diwali to serve when friends and family visit. Chivda is different from a regular snack mix in that it is made with flattened rice (poha), peanuts, coconut bits, raisins, green chillies and curry leaves, and a little bit of lemon juice.  This makes it sweet, salty, spicy and tangy – hitting most taste buds. The process of making the nut granola is exactly the same as described in my previous recipe, with the exception step 2 ingredients.  To get the flavors of Chivda, mix the following:

  1. 2 Tblsps of vegetable oil
  2. 6-10 curry leaves
  3. 2 tsps of turmeric powder
  4. 6-8 green chillies, chopped up
  5. 1/2 tsp of asafetida
  6. 1 Tblsp of flaxseeds ground and mixed with 3 Tblsp of water
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Pepper to taste

Combine all of the above and add to the nuts. Also add 1 cup of peanuts. Bake till crispy, mixing as you go along. Eat when you want to snack, for breakfast, over yogurt…or just because. It is yummy!!!

The Ghost of Granola – 1


A few months ago, I had to eliminate foods from my diet – for someone who loves food, that was quite a challenge.  The list of what I had to eliminate, pretty much made all common breakfast foods out of scope.  During the process I learned that while there are plenty of options in the market for folks wanting to eliminate gluten from their foods, not all options taste good. Gluten free bread,for example,is not tasty at all.  Even if you do not have any expectations of it tasting like bread, you are disappointed. Granola was out of bounds for me as it has oats and sugar, which were on my eliminate list.  This meant that breakfast was now, Kind bars ( which are really awesome, however, only a couple of their bars met my list).  So, I started looking for low carb nut based granola options.  I found quite a few bloggers with recipes for pales granola – most had sugars and eggs.  This one gave a pretty good basic recipe that I used the first time, with a few substitutions to make it with natural sweeteners and eggless.  And, I added the killer ingredient that gives mine it’s namešŸ˜œ.  Here’s my recipe:

What You Need

  1. 1/2 a cup – Walnuts
  2. 1/2 a cup – Cashews
  3. 1/2 a cup- Pistachios
  4. 1 cup- Sunflower seeds
  5. 3 tbls – Ground flax seeds
  6. 9 tbls- water
  7. 1 tbls- vegetable oil
  8. 1 tsp- vanilla essence
  9. 4-5 tbls- Agave
  10. A pinch or so of salt
  11. 2-3 twists of Trader Joes Smoked Ghost Chilies
  12. 1 cup- raisins
  13. 1 cup – unsweetened coconut flakes

How It’s Done

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
  2. Mix ingredients 5 through 11 in a bowl with a fork and let site for a couple of minutes while you crush the nuts
  3. Mix ingredients 1 through 4 in a gallon ziplock bag, and crush with a rolling pin.  (I prefer this method to using the blender as I don’t want the nuts to be too finely chopped, and I like texture)
  4. Now add the wet ingredients of step 2 to the bag of crushed nuts, add the rasiins and coconut flakes, seal the bag and mix.
  5. Taste to see it mets with your level of sweet/savory/spicy. The ghost chilies ar very spicy and your only need a few twists of the grinder (if you like it spciy). You can substitute with the milder cayenne or eliminate the heat completely,if you so choose.  But believe me, the chile really kicks up this recipe 5 notches šŸ˜‹
  6. Now, spread the mixture on a baking tray (use parchment paper or silpat for easy cleanup) and bake for about 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on it, and stir periodically so that the nuts brown evenly, and don’t burn
  7. When done, let cool a bit before you start snacking on it.  It will be a go to breakfast or snack in your pantry.

The sweetness from the raisins and agave balance out the heat from the chilies.  Top this on a cup of Greek yogurt, as a topping for your favorite fruit crumble….the potential is unending.

Spicy Butternut Squash Cranberry Soup

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We had a quiet Thanksgiving this year. For the past two years Thanksgiving was spent at friends’ homes, two dinners one year…..a lot of food which of course I lovešŸ™‚. This year it was just the two of us at home so it was great to have a simple meal that captured some of the seasonal elements. I decided to make a butternut squash soup and a kale scallion jalapeƱo cornbread. As you may have noticed from my previous few posts, I like the sweetness of the squash balanced with spices and tang. So, this is what I created:

What You Need
– 1 pound ( about 3-4 cups cubed) butternut squash
– 1 medium onion, diced
– 1 cup fresh cranberries
– 2 tsp berbere (an African spice mix, you can buy here)
– 6 cups of water or vegetable stock
– 1/2 Tbsp oil
– 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
– 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– salt and pepper to taste

How It’s Done
– Heat oil in a Dutch oven and sweat the onions, add minced ginger and garlic and let cook for a coupe of minutes
– Add the cranberries to the onion mix and cook down till the berries open up and release their juices
– While the onion mix is cooking, put the cubed butternut squash in a microwave safe bowl, add salt, cover and microwave for about 5-7 minutes
– add the squash to the Dutch oven, add water or stock if using, berbere, salt and pepper and let the whole mixture come to a boil
– PurĆ©e the mixture and serve hot with a dollop of yogurt

The sweet squash is balanced beautifully by the tart cranberry and the warm spices, a perfect meal for the cold winter evenings. Try it and let me know….

Ginger Cumin Pumpkin Soup

IMG_3041Most pumpkin soups I’ve had tend to be very sweet. While i like sweet things, I don’t like my soup to be just sweet, even if the vegetable (or fruit in this case) being used for it is. I think a sweet vegetables or fruits can be balanced with spices and other ingredients when making a savory dish such as a soup. Here’s my Ginger Cumin Pumpkin Soup..

What You Need

  • 2 Cups of cubed pumpkin or squash
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 Jalapeno
  • 4 small tomatillos
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 a sprig of dill, for garnish
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • a few drops of Pumpkin seed oil, for garnish

How Its Made

  1. Dice the onion and cube the tomatillos; mince the ginger and garlic; finely chop the jalapeƱo
  2. Heat olive oil in a soup pot and add cumin seeds. Fry till fragrant, a minute or so
  3. Add the onion and saute on medium heat, till transluscent.
  4. Add the minced ginger and garlic, and the jalapeƱo and cook for a couple more minutes
  5. While the onion is being sauted, microwave the cubed pumpkin or squash and tomatillos with some salt, till cooked, 3-5 minutes
  6. Add the cooked pumpkin and tomatillos to the pot and mix all the vegetables. Add water and bring to boil
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste
  8. Now blend the whole soup till smooth
  9. Serve hot, garnishing with dill and a few drops of pumpkin seed oil

The soup is hearty, with the ginger and tomatillo balancing out the sweetness of the pumpkin and the heat from the jalapeƱo adding another dimension to it. Try it…

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