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Slow Cooker Butternut Squash with Ginger & Dried Fruit Recipe ♥ Recipe

Today's Thanksgiving recipe: A plain-looking but anything-but-plain tasting butternut squash side dish, bright with ginger and slightly sweet with orange and dried fruit. It's cooked in a slow cooker, oh-so easy and oh-so good.
On Saturday, I stood in the detergent aisle at the Walmart, already confounded by too many choices only to be blasted by a perky Jingle Bell Rock from the sound system. As if the detergent decision wasn't enough, to hear, you know, Christmas music in September, I could have melted into an anything-but-red-and-green puddle right then and there.

But an early Thanksgiving? Bring it on! American Thanksgiving is early this year, which actually makes the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas almost manageable. But the Canadians are even more sensible with an October Thanksgiving, this year a week early too, on October 8. Most years, I cook a turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving, a sort of prelude to the big family gathering in November: not so this year, …

Pennsylvania Dutch Green Beans with Bacon ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: A hearty late-summer or fall side dish. (Thanksgiving? Yes that too, especially Canadian Thanksgiving which falls in mid October when it's often still quite warm.) The beans are topped with a sweet 'n' sour sauce, crispy bacon and a chopped egg.
Cookbooks are always welcome gifts but The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food by Ian Knauer was an inspired choice. For starters, these inscriptions were penned by two of my favorite cook's grandchildren. Yes, they brought tears:

Dear PopPop, I like gardening with you. Teach me how to cook from the garden. I love you, A.J.
Dear Grandpa, I like your garden! Here's a book on how to cook with it! Love, E.

Two days later, "PopPop" aka Grandpa and the kids selected recipes from the cookbook, shopped for groceries and set up to cook dinner. What a feast! A venison loin rubbed with mustard, oil and fresh herbs. Homemade biscuits, light as air! Green beans topped with a sweet-s…

Mighty Perfect Cabbage & Broccoli Coleslaw ♥ Recipe

Today's healthy coleslaw recipe, a mix of colorful fresh cabbage and broccoli, cooked a little - just a little - in the microwave before adding a low-calorie vinaigrette. It's a slaw recipe with ambition, eager to please. Pretty green broccoli slaw? Yep. Low carb slaw? You bet! Weight Watchers-friendly slaw? Of course! Plus not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".
So let's talk straight about all the things that can go wrong with a coleslaw recipe, the things that so easily and all too often do go wrong with a coleslaw recipe, turning out cole slaw like this:

Too soggy, too watery. (How many coleslaw recipes are victims of this?)
Too raw and well, cabbage-y.
Too bland and unseasoned. (Such a waste of good cabbage, these coleslaw recipes!)
Too much dressing which translates into "too many calories". (How many coleslaw recipes turn out to be complete disasters, calorie-wise?)
Like a plain-jane slaw with not enough going on, but some times, a cole slaw tha…

Summer's Best Corn Chowder ♥ Recipe

A simple corn chowder recipe, packed with our favorite fresh summer vegetables like onion, carrot, red pepper, potato and sweet potato and of course, the soup's real star, kernels of sweet corn. As bright and colorful as crates of fresh vegetables lined up at the farmstand. Perfect for CSA members because the corn chowder recipe uses so many fresh vegetables, all at once.

Fresh & Seasonal. A Summer Classic. Great for Meal Prep. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly. Easily Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free. Low Fat.

Corn & Cucumber Salad with Fresh Blueberries ♥

Today's summer salad recipe: An intriguing blend of corn (for sweetness), cucumber (for bulk) and blueberries (for tart) in a vinaigrette spiked with a little cumin, which adds just the right amount of underlying smokiness. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".
What a difference a single ingredient can make! I made this salad a few weeks back, making what I thought was a "safe substitute": inexpensive blackberries for expensive blueberries. The texture was right, the size was right, the color was right but with blackberries? The salad underwhelms.

Then, laden with more blackberries and peaches than was prudent for someone leaving on vacation in a few days, I was chatting up a woman in the pay-up line out at Wind Ridge Farm not far outside St. Louis. She'd arrived early and clutched several quarts of blueberries. Masking my blueberry-envy, I asked her plans for them. First, she said, she'd make her favorite corn and blueberry salad, then ticked off all the…

Creamy Feta Mousse with Greek Salads ♥

Some times, a salad isn't as much about the vegetables as what's served on the side, in this case a creamy-tangy "mousse" made with feta cheese. It's almost an excuse to make an extra-special salad, one that's as beautiful as it is appetizing. That said, the creamy feta spread is one of those little "something I cooked up" that's great to have in the fridge. You'll find ways to use it, I promise. And Weight Watchers? While it tastes ever-so-rich, a whole quarter cup is only 3 points.
My friend Cindy loves the feta mousse at the St. Louis restaurant Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar, but so far, Chef Lisa Slay is loathe to share a recipe with Special Request, my weekly restaurant-recipe request column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That's okay, I respect this chef's choice: some recipes, you just want to keep in the family. Well, maybe not bloggers. When we find a recipe we love, we can't wait to share it ...

So somewhere alon…

Cooler Corn:
How to Cook Corn in a Beer Cooler ♥

How to cook fresh summer sweet corn in a cooler – and more importantly, why you want to cook those gorgeous ears of corn in one, whether you're camping or not. Updated with info on how to use the same technique to cook corn in a big pot on the stove, it'll "hold" the hot corn for about two hours after cooking. Great for parties and cookouts!
Now let me confess right off, I got some grief for cooking corn in a beer cooler. "You might as well cook that corn in the dishwasher," was the less-than-excited response. But a real veggie evangelist will press on even under pressure, ever on the hunt for new and interesting – and always, useful – ways to cook vegetables.

Besides, I was pretty sure my dear Auntie Karen was onto something when she sent me the "recipe" awhile back. (Ha! Is something this easy a recipe? Yes, if it's life-changing, you bet.)

It felt like a good idea for cooking corn outside, while camping, say, or for a shore lunch when f…