A Savory Pumpkin Recipe & Community Supported Agriculture

Have you tried out a CSA before? If you’re not familiar with it, CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. If you subscribe to a CSA it typically means that you get a box of veggies each week from a local farm for a certain number of weeks, usually one growing season at a time. We are doing a CSA with Wood Duck Farms (near Houston, Texas) and we are really pleased.

We are doing a Full Share, which amounts to quite a bit of food (I often end up having to prep/chop/freeze something during the week). You find yourself adding greens to everything just to get them all used up while they’re at peak freshness. It’s a fun way to cook, and my version of being budget-savvy too, since a generous box of produce each week is approximately $34, less than you would find at a grocery store, I believe, and certainly fresher.

I don’t think I’ve had better onions or tomatoes (note: tomatoes were earlier in the season and onions might be on their way out?) other than on vacation to places where the produce was equally local and fresh (Italy, I’m thinking of you!). The salad greens and micro greens have become a huge treat to me. I’ve learned to love the challenge of cooking with a new vegetable. 

A few weeks ago we received two pie pumpkins in our weekly share and the owner sent an email that week with a suggested recipe for a Savory Pumpkin Bake, an alternative to a pumpkin pie for those interested. It was awesome! I made a few tweaks, based on what we had available, and asked him for permission to post it here…

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Who wouldn’t want a stuffed pumpkin on their plate at dinner time? It makes a pretty presentation. I really thought the kids would love it and, admittedly, they did seem to love the idea of something being presented in a pumpkin, but they weren’t keen on the texture of it. They ate the filling though. Ever since this experience O (who loves to proudly list all of the vegetables that she does or doesn’t like on a regular basis) continues to tell me that she’s sorry, but she just doesn’t like pumpkin (“I do not like green eggs and ham!…”). I keep thinking that we’ll see if that story changes come Thanksgiving, and the delicious pumpkin pies!  

Savory Pumpkin Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 Pie Pumpkins
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 3.5tsp Minced Garlic
  • 2C Toasted Bread Cubes (toast at 350F for 10min max)
  • 1/2C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/4C shredded Mozzarella or Cheddar (we used Mozzarella b/c we had it on hand)
  • 2 Chicken-Apple Sausages
  • 4 strips of Turkey Bacon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cut tops off your pie pumpkins, as if you were getting ready to carve them. Remove seeds and membranes.
  3. Use a fork to poke some holes in the pumpkin "meat" from the inside, so that it will get really nice and tender during the baking process. You can season the inside with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook turkey bacon and sausages in a pan, according to package directions. Set aside.
  5. Saute onion and garlic in the same pan for about 5 minutes, or until onions become slightly translucent.
  6. Cube bread and spread on pan covered with parchment paper. Toast in 350F oven for up to 10min.
  7. Mix cream and nutmeg together in a bowl.
  8. Assemble: Place the bread cubes in the bottoms of the pumpkins (about 1C bread cubes per pumpkin). Top with onions and garlic, meat and cheese. Pour cream/nutmeg mixture over all of the other ingredients and top with the pumpkin stem.
  9. Bake at 350F for about 90min. Check on it often towards the end. You want the pumpkin skin to be slightly wrinkly and you want to be able to easily pierce it with a fork (but don't poke holes through the whole pumpkin, or else the cream will leak out ;-)). You may need a little more or less time, depending on your oven, the size of your pumpkins, etc.
  10. Open the pumpkin lid to let the steam come out and let cool a bit before serving.
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If you happen to have non-meat-eaters in your family, you can roast one of the pumpkins and serve with chipotle black beans and onions, with some sauteed greens and fun spices. The recipe from Wood Duck Farms certainly got me into the idea of cooking meals in pumpkins.;-)

In Houston, we have so many great options for fresh produce…Here are just a few;

1.) CSAs (Wood Duck Farms and Home Sweet Farm are two that I’ve heard about, but here is a great link to other Texas CSAs and Buying Clubs.)

2.) Rawfully Organic Co-Op (We’ve tried this several times and love it! The only thing I don’t love is that a lot of the produce isn’t local. I do believe that they strive to include local items whenever possible though. The prices still beat grocery store prices. And you can’t beat their enthusiasm for fresh, organic produce.)

3.) Farmers Markets (gaining in popularity, and popping up everywhere)…Here is a great (though probably not comprehensive) list of Houston-Area Farmers Markets.*

*Note: Here is also a link to the Urban Harvest website. Urban Harvest hosts a few area farmers markets, offers gardening classes and even free children’s gardening classes at the Saturday Eastside Farmers Market. So cool! 

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The Artful Parent + A Quick-&-Easy Veggie Snack

I have been reading this wonderful book, The Artful Parent, by Jean Van’t Hul…

Artful ParentIt has inspired me to set aside time for Art and Creativity with O&Z more often. My Aunt, who is a wonderful Artist and an Art History Professor (and a Mom) mentioned something a few months ago how, as parents, our creativity isn’t lost but it is simply redirected for a while, as we put creative energy into our kids’ lives. I really like that idea, especially when paired with the Maya Angelou quote above.

So, inspired to have more creativity in our daily lives, we got out these materials the other day…

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…washable paints on paper plates and bubble wrap taped to toilet paper rolls from the recycling bin. O loves when she gets to paint with bubble wrap at her Preschool, so this seemed like a quick and easy project to throw together. One thing I’ve gleaned from the book is to try not to get caught up in planning a perfect project, but to make art projects with the kids simple and frequent. 

Untitled-4Untitled-3 Painting with Bubble Wrap was a new concept to Z at the time, so I enjoyed watching him explore…IMG_7526-Z with paint Before long they started painting their hands to make handprints…and a mess…but it was good fun…

Untitled-6Untitled-7The whole activity lasted 20 minutes tops…just right for a quick afternoon art project.

And, if you’re interested, here’s a super-quick afternoon snack we’ve been enjoying lately (I’m always happy when I can get my kids to eat anything green!)… 

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Quick Zucchini Bites

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Zucchini, cut into slices.
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Panko
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  1. This is a less-sophisticated version of the Food Network's "Zucchini Parmesan Crisps". We slice the zucchini, spread out on a cookie sheet lined with foil. We spray each zucchini round with a spritz of cooking spray and sprinkle with panko and parmesan cheese. We bake in a 450F oven for 20-25min.

Notes

Adapted from Food Network Recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/zucchini-parmesan-crisps-recipe.html).

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{My serious little artist, enjoying her afternoon snack.}

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Turning Two…

Wow. This little guy is turning TWO this week. I guess it’s not so hard to believe, but at the same time, well, yes, it is…
Z and the dollhouse2 …Time is such a funny thing as a parent. All of a sudden SLEEP is such a precious commodity. And watching your toddler entertain himself for 10 or 15 minutes, happily and creatively, can feel like time suspended…

Z and the dollhouseZ usually wakes up before his sister. My husband usually lets me sleep, never complaining. Such a champ! But on this morning, for whatever reason, I got up early with Z and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee while watching him play, with time standing still, until, of course, alarms went off and the craziness of the morning rush began. 

Happy Birthday to my silly, wild, happy-go-lucky, curious, brave little guy. (It may sound corny, but being your Mom is a real honor!)

And because Birthdays make me sentimental, here are a few pics from his first few days…

Newborn Z - BlogZ first few days Love!

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DebbieNovember 7, 2014 - 4:17 pm

Happy Birthday, Zeke!! We love and miss you! Jane, fantastic photos and stories as always! Love you!

Busy Hands…Happy Kids

Most of our days are filled with these kinds of shenanigans…

Sibling Make-Believe(Pics from iPhone…check out that stray piece of macaroni on the kitchen floor, haha!)… The kids love to run around and yell “Poof!” with their magic wands (or paper towel rolls), often getting pretty wild in the process. It’s so fun. My heart is so happy watching them play together, and pretend-play together, more and more each day. But, as you would imagine, we have our share of melt-downs and my-turns around here too. So, I’ve really been enjoying crafts that involve keeping their little hands busy…

Fine Motor Skills1This was a basic playdough recipe with no food coloring added. I let the kids mix in glitter with their hands, which was great because they had to work hard to get it all nice and mixed in. Then we put out some rocks, dry spaghetti noodles and cheerios as “mix-ins” for them to experiment with. The kids did this on their own and I thought it was pretty cool (and admittedly what I was hoping for when putting out pasta and cheerios ;-))…

Fine Motor Skills4 And I had a few truly happy minutes to just step back and watch them exploring something new together…

Fine Motor Skills2 I hope they’ll always be such good friends.:-)Fine Motor Skills3 I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful, safe Halloween! XX

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DebbieNovember 7, 2014 - 4:18 pm

So fun!

Painting and Pottery | Crafting with Kids

This Edible Sidewalk Paint was awesome. It was a sure hit with Mr. Z. It was easy to whip up (a plus for me!) and a hoot for him to experiment with. We will be making this again!

Sidewalk Paint

homemade sidewalk paint - 1

And, seeing as how it was non-toxic, I didn’t feel so bad when he decided to dip his head in it…homemade sidewalk paint - 2

I don’t have anything to add to the original recipe – This was so straight-forward, easy to make, & easy to clean-up. Win Win!

Later the same day, one of O’s Best Buds (I think it’s so cute seeing them play together!) and her family came over for a pottery-painting play-date. Here are the two of them looking so intent on their masterpieces…potters-web-WMpotters2-web-WMPainting-webNote: In these photos we were painting pottery that we’d created a few weeks prior. O made some tiny coiled bowls. We rolled out the clay into coils with her and made the base and walls from one long coil. She seemed to enjoy this and I think she’ll be able to do it with less assistance next time. She flattened out a piece of clay for a lid, which I love!Pottery Painting Party 2

What Pottery-Painting Party is complete with out Tacos and Mexican Beer?…

Pottery Painting Party

O (age 3.5) and Z (age 1.5) also love “hand-building” pictures. I’m not sure if that’s the right phrase for it, but they do things like this…They are too wonky to fire in the kiln, but they are really fun to make and I like to think that this kind of project builds dexterity and fine motor skills too… 

Handbuilding Painting and Pottery…so fun with kids, and friends!

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