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Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

By now carrot, parsnip and other root crop supplies are winding down for the spring. But before we say goodbye, why not use them in one creative, less obvious method? These muffins make a healthy breakfast option that could adapted to include additional nutritional benefits with ingredients such as ground flax seeds and golden raisins. Or, for a special celebration, turn them into cupcakes with a maple cream cheese frosting. For those of you who must hide vegetables to get picky kids or stubborn adults to eat them, this should help too.

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins or 24+ mini

Ingredients
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 vegetable oil + more for greasing
3/4 cups maple syrup + a splash more
1/2 cup grated parsnips
3/4 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a muffin pan with vegetable oil or use muffin liners.

Place the chopped almonds and the splash of maple syrup in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until the nuts are well coated then remove to a plate to cool slightly.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture, carrots and parsnips, and fold with a spatula until all of the flour is moistened. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups.

Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the maple almonds (you’ll probably have to break them up a bit if they’ve cooled for long). Bake for 20 minutes for regular sized muffins or 8 minutes for mini, either way, checking and rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool for 10 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown

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Holidays = Local + Healthy

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Well, at least it’s easy when it comes to getting local food and incorporating that into a healthy diet.

Now it is almost winter and the once abundant local offerings of dewy lettuces, ripe berries and fragrant tomatoes at the farmers’ markets have dwindled to practically nothing after the first frost. Add to that the challenge that the holidays can bring when you are trying to eat clean, healthy and whole foods and things begin to look dim indeed.

But never fear, we have strategies. And ideas. And a recipe. Okay, we have two recipes. Because it isn’t Everyday Chef without a recipe (or two)!

Chard

Eat Your Greens

Cabbages, collards, chard, kale and mustards are just a few local greens easy to find this time of year. Incredibly healthy, these greens are frost-hardy and often get a touch sweeter as the cold sets in. Although a bit toothsome for a raw salad, kale dressed with a favorite vinaigrette and allowed to mellow out in a bowl for an hour will be delicious and tender with crunchy, toasted seeds, thinly sliced red onion and chopped apples. Throw in some fresh goat cheese, feta or cheddar and you have a satisfying and beautiful side dish that is fit for the holiday table.

Another trick to bring out the amazingness of these cold loving greens, is to cook them. Cabbage cut in wedges, lightly browned in a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then braised in liquid (stock, cider, etc), turns out a melt-in-your-mouth sweet dish that pairs beautifully with roasted meats and vegetables. Try caraway or fennel seeds for an added dimension of flavor. Collards are underappreciated, but when cooked until tender and dressed with onions, salt and pepper, they yield a buttery, tender mouthful that begs for slow cooked beans, a bit of bacon and a cold glass of cider – perfect for welcoming the New Year.

Parsnip

Get Back to Your Roots

By the time the colors on our trees are but a memory and stick season shoulders its way in before the snow, I am ready the quintessential group of winter vegetables in Vermont, root veggies. Root vegetables can be found from your local farmer throughout the winter and well into spring. They store beautifully and when all the fresh eating veggies are long gone under the drifts of snow, we can dig out beets, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips and onions. At Thanksgiving, I like to offer a warm bowl of whipped turnips with sage, a less calorie laden alternative to our favorite mashed potatoes. A regular favorite in our house during the cold months is to chop a variety of root vegetables, toss with sliced onions, olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast on a sheet pan in an oven at 375F until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and you have a delicious and healthy side dish for roasted meats or to use leftover in salad or soups.

Color Me Squash…Winter Squash That Is

With their gorgeous colors and shapes, thick skins that equate to long storage and nutrient rich flesh, winter squashes are the stars of winter eating. Butternut, pumpkin, acorn, delicata, kabocha, and hubbard to name but a few, can be turned into mashed mounds of orange deliciousness, thick and creamy bisque-like soups, roasted for side dishes or stuffed with a million different things and turned out as a centerpiece on the holiday table. The key to cooking with squashes is to have a sharp and sturdy knife to cut through the tough skin and use a light hand with cream, butter and salt so that the various and unique flavors of the different varieties can really shine through.

Strategize Ahead and Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

The holidays are meant to be a celebration and food is often central to these gatherings. You may find yourself in a situation where your choices are being made for you and rather than get too caught up in the details, allow yourself to indulge and appreciate the bigger picture of being with others in a joyful way. In the meantime, strategize ahead when you can – eat a healthy meal ahead of your gathering, drink lots of water and keep your portion sizes in check.

And in honor of the recently past Halloween and my family’s ongoing fascination with the zombie apocalypse, remember don’t eat the locals, but DO eat local!

Stuffed Pumpkin

Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Many Good Things

Serves approximately 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Can double the recipe for a larger crowd!

Ingredients:

1 small pumpkin, about 3lbs

Salt and ground black pepper

1 ½ cups bulghur or brown rice, cooked

1 ½ cups chopped apples

¼ cup sharp cheddar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp each dried rosemary and parsley (or 1 T each of fresh, chopped)

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

4 T shredded parmesan, divided into two parts

⅓ cup of vegetable stock or milk

Directions:

Center the rack in an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish large enough to hold the pumpkin(s) with parchment paper. Keep in mind that you may need a bit more room to maneuver a spatula in case you want to serve the pumpkin on a different dish.

With a sharp and sturdy knife, carefully cut the top ¼ or ⅓ off from your pumpkin, like you are making a jack-o-lantern. Set aside the top. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, leaving a cavity that can be filled. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss together the next 8 ingredients, setting aside 2 T of parmesan. Pour half of the measured liquid on the mixture and toss to coat. Add more liquid as needed so that the stuffing is moist, but not swimming.

Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin until filled to the top. Any leftover stuffing can be baked separately in a dish. Set the pumpkin in the parchment lined dish and sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top of the stuffing. Put the pumpkin top on and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 2 hours. About 20 to 30 minutes before it is done, remove the pumpkin top so the stuffing can brown.

You can serve the pumpkin straight from the baking dish or for a more elegant presentation, using a steady hand and a sturdy spatula, transfer the whole pumpkin to a serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve!

Notes: Pumpkin seeds can be cleaned and roasted with a little olive oil. All the vegetable bits, including the pumpkin pulp, can be added to a pot with water, brought to a simmer for several minutes and strained for a delicious vegetable stock.

Cooking Variations:

  • Almost any winter squash can be used in place of the pumpkin, with roasting times varying. Smaller or elongated squashes (like delicata or butternut), can be sliced in half and the cavities filled.
  • Think of this recipe as a guideline and try variations. For example, in place of the bulghur or rice, try pieces of whole grain stale bread. Or dried cranberries or apricots for the apples. Try pairing sage with chevre or mix in feta, mozzarella and swiss. This stuffing also pairs well with cooked sausage or bacon if you would like to add meat and nuts are delicious for additional protein and healthy fats.

 

Whipped Turnips with Leeks and Sage
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

4 large turnips, peeled and cubed

2 medium red potatoes, cubed with skin on

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly, soaked to remove sand/grit and then chopped finely

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp of dried sage

¾ cup milk

kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with the turnips and potatoes. Fill with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender and soft. About 20 to 25 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil and butter and melt over medium low heat. Once melted, add the leeks and sage, salt and pepper and saute until the leeks are tender and the sage is fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat, infusing the milk with sage flavor.

Drain the turnips and potatoes, reserving about ½ cup of the liquid. Set that aside. Put the vegetables back into the pot they were cooked in, add the hot milk and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. If needed, add small amounts of the cooking liquid to the vegetables until the puree is silky, but still thick. If you prefer a chunky texture, mash roughly until mixed. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot or cold.

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL’s Everyday Chef

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Lisa Donohue’s CSA Standby Soup

Last Friday our friend Lisa Donohue, of the Thrive Center in Wallingford, joined us at the Friday Summer Series in downtown Rutland to share one of her favorite summer recipes: her CSA standby soup. While at its base, this is a leek and potato soup, Lisa has enhanced the Smokey House Center’s recipe with a whole variety of seasonal, local vegetables – you know, those you might acquire from your CSA and don’t know how to possibly use them all.

If you sampled her tasty soup on Friday, you would have enjoyed fresh produce from Evening Song Farm and Tangled Roots Farm, stock made from Yoder Farm chicken, and Cobb Smoked Bacon from the Wallingford Locker.

Lisa Donahue’s CSA Standby Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4 + Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/4 lbs potatoes
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or veg stock (water could also be used if no stock is available)
  • 1/2 cup cream (optional)
  • any of the following for garnishing: sauteed bacon, corn, sour cream, chopped shiitake mushrooms, fresh chives or herbs

Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot and add the leek and celery. Cook, covered, over moderate heat for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  2. 2. Add the potato, parsnip, carrots and stock to the pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Tilt lid so the pot is partially covered and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. 3. Optional: Puree either with an immersion blender or cool slightly and transfer to a stand blender or food processor, blending in batches until smooth.
  4. 4. To serve hot, return the soup to the pot to reheat and stir in the cream, if using. To serve cold, chill after blending and add cream just before serving, if desired. Top with chives, bacon, corn, sour cream, or fresh herbs.
  5. Feel free to customize this soup with your favorite veggies!
  6. Adapted from the Smokey House Center in Danby, VT
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Beef, Turkey & Mushroom Meatloaf with Cider Mustard Gravy

I grew up eating meatloaf on a regular basis. It was a popular item in my mom’s dinner rotation, usually served with baked potatoes – because they could bake at the same time – and a green vegetable, like broccoli. Although I’ve knocked my mom’s cooking on occasion (sorry, mom) I actually liked her meatloaf quite a bit. And the leftovers made for a good sandwich on toasted bread with cheese and ketchup.

But not everyone has happy memories of meatloaf and there’s that association with bad cafeteria food. Just the sound of it is perceived as a bit unappetizing. A loaf of meat? Surely someone could have thought of a better name. Though isn’t it strange how no one reacts that way to meatballs, especially when a meatloaf and a meatball are so similar? Hmm.

Traditional meatloaf “mix” is packaged with beef and pork. But as I browsed around the Rutland Co-op last week, turkey caught my eye over pork.  I guess my turkey craving couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving. Mushrooms called to me as well and add an extra savory depth to the loaf. And that’s what I love about foods like meatloaf, meatballs and burgers – you can always play with the flavors.

Chopped onion, garlic, sage and thyme flavor the meat as well, while egg and breadcrumbs bind it all together. It’s really pretty simple to put together, that must have been why my mom relied on it so often. Once the meat is mixed it bakes unattended for nearly an hour.

meatloaf ingredients

The best tool for mixing meat is your hands. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.

You don’t need a loaf pan for a meatloaf. It bakes up fine just shaped on a baking sheet. See the large flecks of onion? Yum. But if you’re not an onion fan, chop those up a bit more than I did here.

cider gravy
A little homemade gravy cannot be overlooked when serving meatloaf.  Just save some of the onion from the loaf, cook it with tomato paste, mustard and flour, reduce with apple cider and it’s good to go well before the meatloaf comes out of the oven. Or if you’re on top of your game and have the gravy made before the meatloaf is in the oven, spoon some over top before baking.

meatloaf

Beef, Turkey & Mushroom Meatloaf with Cider Mustard Gravy

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bread crumbs (or 1 large slice of bread, chopped)
  • 2 cups broth (beef, turkey or vegetable)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 leaves sage, chopped
  • 8 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • A small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a small bowl, pour one cup of the broth over the breadcrumbs and let sit for a minute as you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Combine the beef, turkey, mushrooms, half of the chopped onion, garlic, herbs and egg in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands and fold in the breadcrumbs. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Form the meat mixture into one large loaf or two smaller loaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your loaf.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small pot cook the onion, tomato paste and mustard in a tablespoon of the oil. When onions have softened, about 5 minutes, sprinkle over the flour. Cook another minute, then add the remaining cup of broth and the cider. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, then add in the parsley.
  7. Slice the meatloaf and serve with the gravy.

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
2 lbs of root vegetables: beets, rutabagas, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil (or canola)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
2. Scrub veggies—you don’t need to peel them, just trim off any rough ends.
3. Cut veggies into thin strips of uniform size.
4. In a bowl combine oil and garlic (or other seasoning, see ideas below).
5. Lay the veggie strips out in a single layer on baking sheets. Arrange vegetables roughly in groups, since their cooking times may vary slightly and you may want to remove some before others
6. Pour the oil mixture over the veggie strips and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
7. Bake for ~45 minutes or until tender and crispy. Toss at least once with a spatula to ensure even roasting.

Further seasoning ideas:
-Minced garlic and finely chopped rosemary
-Minced garlic and oregano
-Coconut oil (instead of olive), chopped pumpkin seeds, garlic and sea salt
-Fresh rosemary and thyme with salt and pepper

parsnips

Rosemary Spiced Parsnip Fries

Rosemary Spiced Parsnip Fries

courtesy of Bon Appetit

2 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cut into about 3 x 1/2″ strips
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 5 sprigs rosemary
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix parsnips, chopped rosemary, garlic, and oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer. Scatter rosemary sprigs over.

Roast for 10 minutes; turn parsnips and roast until parsnips are tender and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Crumble leaves from rosemary sprigs over; discard stems, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more cumin, if desired.

 

 

parsnips

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries

 

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
2 lbs of root vegetables: beets, rutabagas, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil (or canola)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
2. Scrub veggies—you don’t need to peel them, just trim off any rough ends.
3. Cut veggies into thin strips of uniform size.
4. In a bowl combine oil and garlic (or other seasoning, see ideas below).
5. Lay the veggie strips out in a single layer on baking sheets. Arrange vegetables roughly in groups, since their cooking times may vary slightly and you may want to remove some before others
6. Pour the oil mixture over the veggie strips and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
7. Bake for ~45 minutes or until tender and crispy. Toss at least once with a spatula to ensure even roasting.

Further seasoning ideas:
-Minced garlic and finely chopped rosemary
-Minced garlic and oregano
-Coconut oil (instead of olive), chopped pumpkin seeds, garlic and sea salt
-Fresh rosemary and thyme with salt and pepper

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Braised Parsnips

I feel bad for the parsnip; it just seems so neglected. Ask someone to describe a parsnip and they’ll probably tell you it looks and tastes just like a carrot. Or, in recipes and you’ll find them lumped together as root or winter vegetables to be used interchangeably with rutabagas or turnips.

Parsnips are indeed a root vegetable that looks much like a carrot but with a lighter, cream color and sweeter taste. They’re full of fiber and folic acid – a B vitamin necessary for healthy cell production. You can find them throughout the fall and into the spring. The longer they remain in the ground the sweeter they will be. Some growers even keep them in ground through winter. Because of their innate sweetness, I pass on glazing in maple or brown sugar, as many recipes suggest. There’s no need – unless you’re looking for candy. Now that I think about it, I bet they could be incorporated into a dessert of some sort.

Peel 5 medium parsnips then slice into circles.

cut pars

After browning 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the sliced parsnips to the pan and cook a couple of minutes to get some color.

Next, you want to cover the parsnips in liquid. I just used water here, but you could try broth if you wanted.

pars in liquid

Bring to a boil then lower the heat and cover. Let simmer for 10 minutes, undisturbed, before checking for doneness.

When cooked, drain any excess water from the pan and top with some freshly grated nutmeg

nutmeg

and a handful of chopped, fresh parsley. Enjoy.

parsley

Vegan Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup

Photo Courtesy of www.podgardening.co.nz

Photo Courtesy of www.podgardening.co.nz

Vegan Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup
courtesy of In Pursuit of More

1 large sweet onion, chopped
3-4 large whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
2-3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound parsnips, about 6 small parsnips, washed and chopped
4 cups chopped red potatoes, about 3 large potatoes
4 cups veggie stock
1/2 cup cashews
2 cups water
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Fresh pepper, parsley, and minced red pepper to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash and chop the parsnips, and combine with the onion and the whole unpeeled garlic cloves in a mixing bowl. Toss the veggies with the olive oil, cumin, and salt, and place in a large rimmed baking pan. Toss the pan in the oven and roast the veggies until fragrant and browning, about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roast in the oven, combine the vegetable stock and chopped potatoes in a soup pot. Heat to a gentle boil and cook gently until the potatoes are nice and soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off once the potatoes are soft and leave the pot until the rest of the ingredients are ready. Once the roasted veggies are done, remove them from the oven and carefully free the garlic cloves from the skins. When cool enough to handle, combine the roasted veggies and potato stock mixture in batches and blend each batch until smooth. Combine the blended batches into another large pot as you go. Keep going until all of the soup is pureed to a smooth consistency.

Root Salad

After doing quite a bit of research, I came  across a website that is extremely helpful for farm to school programs and healthy food tasting.  I recommend visiting Washington State’s Farm to School website and checking out their “Washington Grown Food Kit,” where you will find a number of links to vegetable and fruit nutrition and education facts, as well as recipes that are often split into appropriateness for schools, seniors, and child care.  This is where I found this mouth-watering root salad recipe that is perfect for preparing in the classroom or in your home kitchen. This recipe is adapted for a classroom size of 25! Each student would be able to try a 1/4 cup.

Ingredients: 1 pound Parsnips 1/2 pound Carrots 6 oz Beets 1 tbs Grated ginger 3 tbs Honey 3 tbs Fresh lemon juice 3 tbs Fresh orange juice 6 tbs Olive oil

Begin by cleaning and grating all vegetables and set aside.  Then, mix in the ginger, honey, fresh juices, and olive oil.  Combine the veggies into the homemade dressing and mix well.  Let stand for about one hour so that the vegetables can marinate.  Then serve and enjoy!

Pretty easy, huh?  – And a perfect recipe to do with students of all ages – knives aren’t necessary except to initially cut through the fruit (which an adult can surly handle before the salad preparation begins).  Also, using peelers to create ribbons of vegetables instead of graters can be a fun and safe way to get kids involved in the cooking. Adding raisins, cilantro, parsley, and/or scallions are other interesting and delicious variations to this recipe.

Happy Wednesday and remember to eat lots of vegetables !

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