Whole Pumpkin Baked with Custard ♥ A Fun Recipe for Fall

Today's pumpkin recipe: Stuff a whole pumpkin with custard, bake it, and what do you get? A fun fall dessert!
Finally, pumpkins! For a year now, I've been waiting-waiting for pumpkin season. You see, two recipes had tucked themselves into the back of my brain and refused to let go. One cooked meat and vegetables into a stew, right in a whole pumpkin settled into the coals of a campfire -- sorry, I can't recommend that one yet, perhaps ever. The other cooked custard right inside a whole pumpkin. Yes, custard cooked inside a whole pumpkin, that one I happily recommend!

The stuffed pumpkin and custard recipe comes from "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American" by Jeff Smith, an uneven but often fascinating look at 'American ethnic cooking'. The recipe's headnotes say that custard baked in a pumpkin was a favorite of George Washington. It's kind of a cozy fall dessert, definitely dramatic in appearance and meant to be shared.

2010 UPDATE Turns out, the fasc…

Supper Casserole with Pumpkin & Green Chile Cornbread Topping ♥
A Welcome-to-Fall Recipe

A one-dish casserole supper, meat cooked with on-hand vegetables and flavored with green chile salsa. The cornbread topping repeats the green chile flavor and adds pumpkin for color, moisture and nourishment.
Who else has noticed? When winter turns to spring, we long for the first bites of spring, waiting with much anticipation for the first asparagus, the first artichokes, the first strawberries.

But fall? Not so much. As soon as fall 'happens' -- it hit here in St. Louis on Monday -- we can immediately start cooking our fall favorites. You see, they've been around for a few weeks, we've just been ignoring them to get our last fill of tomatoes and peppers and okra and and and.

For me, cornbread is one of the siren calls of autumn and the cold-weather months, baked first, baked last, baked often in between. It was a welcome welcome to autumn. I pulled this Supper Casserole out of the pantry, you can too by using what meat (Note to Vegetarians) and vegetables you have o…

Rosemary Potatoes ♥ Recipe & Roasting Tips

Just in time for roasting fall vegetables, four tricks for roasting starchy vegetables like potatoes and winter squash using less oil without compromising on texture or flavor.
Here in St. Louis, we're caught in that lovely 'bridge' between summer and fall. There's no deciding whether to slice up a quick Insalata Caprese to get the final fill of summer tomatoes or to tip over into autumn's vegetables. The solution? Salad for lunch, potatoes for supper! These Rosemary Potatoes, talk about comfort food when paired with Meatloaf. Turns out, however, that the technique used here for the potatoes can be applied to roasting other vegetables as well.

Roasting vegetables, it's the number one way to draw out flavor and sweetness. But over the years, I've watched various recipes call for so much oil. Where A Veggie Venture allows for 1 tablespoon of fat per pound of vegetables (for most although not all recipes), other recipes call for four to eight times that. No won…

Perfect Stovetop Brown Rice ♥ New Recipe for Cooking Brown Rice

Today's recipe: A new technique for cooking brown rice, yielding moist and flavorful grains of rice. No more gummy brown rice!
Who's noticed? If you follow the directions on a bag or box of brown rice, it turns out tough and gummy and unappetizing. It's no wonder that people turn to rice cookers for help -- or worse, douse brown rice with butter; or worse still, stick with the far less healthful white rice whose nutrients have been stripped away.

For winter, there's the oh-so-popular Oven-Baked Brown Rice that's just oh-so-perfect, yielding almost-nutty bites of moist, flavorful rice. Frankly, it's my favorite way to cook brown rice. But here it is, summer, and turning on the oven for an hour while the air conditioning runs seems to defeat the purpose. So I was intrigued to see Saveuer's new technique for cooking rice on the stovetop. It's dead simple and takes only an hour to get to the table, 15 minutes faster than the Oven-Baked Brown Rice.

Another goo…

Cool-as-a-Cucumber Avocado Soup ♥ A Low(er)-Calorie Recipe

Today's vegetable recipe: a quick blender soup recipe, just four ingredients and served cold. Low carb. Vegan. Lower calorie than a typical avocado soup.
Sigh. Do your eyes go dreamy too at the thought of avocados? There's simply no matching their silkiness, their smoothness. Pillow makers? How about avocado, not the color, but the cool slipperiness.

Blending cool cucumber with smooth avocado, it was a recent inspiration. The cucumber adds liquid but flavor too, unlike plain water (as most avocado soup recipes specify) or broth (which strikes me as too heavy for summer). Better still, the cucumber adds volume but few calories, keeping the avocado soup in reasonable territory, diet-wise but still tasting like an indulgence.

This soup is served cold, its own cool pillow against summer's heat. I like to serve it in small bowls with small spoons, all to encourage savoring every single silky spoonful. So much for that idea -- when I made this last, my favorite taste tester, who …

Tomato Platter with Olives & Feta ♥ An Easy, Impressive Summer Recipe

Today's vegetable 'recipe' - wait no, let's call it vegetable 'serving inspiration': A platter of perfect summer tomatoes, topped with olives and crumbled feta. Perfect for one or two or a crowd.
My friend Mary brought a big plate of tomatoes to supper on Friday. I loved her tomato serving idea so much, I re-created it on Saturday! So this isn't so much a 'recipe' as a serving suggestion, for it really did work beautifully and flew together in minutes.

Mary made a homemade vinaigrette (carrying it in a handy-dandy salad dressing mixer) to drizzle over the tomatoes just before serving but I went a step simpler still by purchasing an olive-feta mix from the olive bar at the grocery store (where it's quick to pick up just a few olives for a salad or whatever), already moistened with a little olive oil and it was quite delicious already.

Since ours was a small group on Friday, Mary also built 'stacks' of cucumber and thick beefsteak tomato, e…

Grilled Pepper & Tomato Salad ♥ A Reader Recipe

Today's vegetable recipe comes from a reader: Familiar tomatoes and familiar peppers combined in a salad that somehow manages to turn out entirely different. Low carb. Weight Watchers 2 points.
Sold! It took about 10 seconds to buy into this recipe, sent by a reader just last week. Here's what Laurie B. wrote about her salad recipe that combines roasted peppers (bell peppers and hot chilis both) and roasted tomatoes:

"It hits all my flavor sensors - heat, salt and garlic, well, tomatoes, peppers and onions. Oh wait, that's the recipe, isn't it?!"

She went on. "It's easy to throw together and is so much more than its parts. I got the recipe from a neighbor (she said it was her mother's recipe) when it was served at their son's graduation party. I've never had anything like it and I'll bet I've made it a dozen times since then. We were taking a big bowl of it to a party and I asked my husband to taste a bit; he ate almost half of it a…