autumn wonderful

though we live in the tropics (technically we are sub-tropical, whatever) i was raised in the midwest and i have fond food memories of autumn. to me this season means squash, apples, pumpkins, and gravies, and a host of other cozy things that don’t really seem quite right in the heat of the summer. over the past weeks the weather here has shifted: the mornings are cooler, the ocean smells like october, and i am thinking of things to bake (all the while reminiscing of maple trees, cider mills, and pumpkin patches of my youth).  these are some hearty, cool weather dinners (and some muffins too) that are sure to keep you cozy.

oh yes, and i am feeling better and have pushed aside the eating lightly thing in favor of some serious food!

squash lasagna, two ways

squash lasagna roll made with creamy hemp-basil sauce: homegrown & dried basil!

i really wanted to make squash lasagna roll-ups, but my box of lasagna noodles yielded only two whole noodles.  really, just two?!? so this recipe could be used in a few different ways- once you determine the integrity of your cooked noodles, you can decide on rolls or a layered lasagna.  i made a few little rolls, and then made a traditional layer lasagna with all the broken noodles.  if you are making the layered version it makes a 8×8 pan, enough for four people or lots of leftovers!

1 package of lasagna noodles (my box contained only 10 noodles?!?)
2 cups chopped kabocha pumpkin
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups chopped lacinato kale
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and ground
a big pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper, and dried basil (add more to taste)
one small jar of pasta sauce (i like rising moon organics), homemade or purchased

i like to bake kabocha, but you can also steam it.  cut your pumpkin in half, then into cubes.  chop off the skin at some point in the chopping process (the skin is edible, but will make the filling less smooth).  bake the squash at 350 for half hour, or until fork-tender; you can toast the pecans at the same time.  wash and chop the onions, garlic and kale.  saute the onions and garlic until just browned in a castiron pan; turn off the heat, toss in the kale, and let it wilt.  when the kabocha is cooked, mix in a large bowl with the onions, garlic, kale and spices & herbs.  mix well.

to make lasagna rolls: lay one noodle flat, add about 3 tbsp kabocha mix to the roll, and roll until sealed.  line in a baking dish, cover with sauce (tomato or basil creme) and bake for about 10-15 minutes to set the flavors.  let cool before eating.

to make a layer lasagna: pour some tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking pan, then add a layer of noodles, a layer of kabocha mix, then cover with more noodles and sauce, until you use up the kabocha mix.  top with more sauce and grated cheese or ‘cheez.’

creamy hemp-basil sauce

this simple and yummy sauce makes enough for two to four small lasagna rolls, so adjust accordingly if you have more.  you can also use unsweetened/original soymilk.

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp hemp milk
2 cloves garlic
2-4 tsp earth balance
2 tsp arrowroot (or cornstarch)
pinch nutmeg, thyme, and oregano
salt & pepper to taste
as much dried basil as you want

measure out the 1/2 cup hempmilk and add the herbs; in a separate small bowl mix the 2 tbsp hempmilk and arrowroot together.  saute the garlic in a small saucepan with the earth balance until lightly browned.  lower heat and add 1/2 cup hemp milk and the basil; stir gently until heated.   add the arrowroot/hempmilk mixture and stir quicky because it will thicken almost immediately.  stir well, adding more hempmilk if you want to thin it out.  remove from heat until ready to serve; reheat gently before serving.

smokey, creamy, mushroomy good

smokey baked tofu with mushroom gravy

this recipe has cozy dinner written all over it!   it needs a lot of prep time (about 1 1/2 hours- for marinating, roasting, and then baking) but it is very worth the time.  but it’s pretty easy: most of that time is just cooking-in-the-oven time, so you can read, shower, drink tea or prep the other veggies whist your tofu is cooking.  for the first dinner we ate the mushroom tofu alongside steamed kale, creamy polenta, and slices of sweet kabocha squash.  it was so good i made it again and served with wild rice and leftover-veggie stir-fry with steamed broccoli. if you serve this with wild rice, save some of the for the autumn muffins tomorrow morning!  yields about three-four servings.

3 cups mixed mushrooms (portobello, shitake, cremini, etc.)
1/2 cup sliced onion
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
1 tsp each caraway seeds, thyme, and basil
3/4 cup hemp milk (or other non-dairy)
2 tsp arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 tsp shoyu
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp smoked salt (optional)
1 block of super-firm tofu, sliced into 1 cm thick squares or similar shape

to make the tofu marinade you will also need:

smokey marinated tofu, baked to perfection

1-2 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp liquid smoke

add these three liquid ingredients to an 8 x 8 glass baking pan.  dredge the tofu in the mixture so that both sides are covered.  cover and let marinate for 1/2 hour.  after it’s soaked, flip the tofusquares and bake at 350 degrees for half hour, flipping the tofu again at the 15 minute mark (i baked squash at the same time to save energy and time!).  remove from oven and set aside until other ingredients are ready.

chop the mushrooms, onions, garlic, leeks and set aside.  prep the creme mixture by mixing the hemp milk, arrowroot, shoyu, nutmeg, agave and smoked salt together in a bowl; set aside.  cook the onions in a cast-iron pan on the stovetop until just starting to brown, then add garlic, leeks, and herbs (caraway, thyme, and basil) and cook until garlic and leeks are just softened.  add all the chopped mushrooms and cook on medium heat until mushrooms are just wilted.  pour the onion/mushroom mixture on top of the baked tofu then pour the creme sauce over the whole thing.  do not stir.  bake at 400 for 15 minutes until bubbly; let cool for 10 minutes before eating.

whole grain autumn muffins (pumpkin-cranberry)

not entirely photogenic, but totally yummy :)

(makes 10 big vegan muffins)

1 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp seasalt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp spices (make your mix: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, ginger, cloves, etc)
2 tbsp flaxseeds mixed with 4 tbsp soymilk
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp apple butter
1/2 cup sucanat (or raw sugar)
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup pumpkin (i used organic canned)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup well-cooked wild rice
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

preheat your oven to 350, and grease or line 10 muffin cups.  mix the flours, oats, salt/soda/powder and spices in a big bowl, then set aside.  using a whisk or fork, whip up the flaxseeds and water and let it sit for a few minutes.  add in the coconut oil, apple butter, sucanat, milk, and pumpkin and mix until well combined.  add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix gently, then toss in the wild rice, cranberries, and nuts.  mix until all the dry flour patches disappear, but don’t overmix.  measure about 1/2 cup batter into your muffin pans; it should fill only 10 spots, but fill the 2 extra holes with water so the pan heats evenly.  bake for 20-22 minutes and let cool.  then enjoy the warm muffins with apple butter alongside spicy coffee and the farmer you love. (um, maybe that’s just me!)

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