Posts Tagged ‘ fall ’

Acorn Squash Risotto

ย  I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that are both vegetarian and healthy – as those two are not always synonymous. A friend of mine gave me this recipe and it quickly became one of my favorites. I tweaked the recipe to be both healthy and vegetarian. It’s perfect for this time of year when squash are abundant and as it’s a heavier dish that warms you through and through during these increasingly cooler days.

Below is the original recipe, plus my changes in parentheses. I like to serve it with fresh salmon and grilled asparagus.

Acorn Squash Farro Risotto

1 cup farro (I use risotto)

4 cups water, divided

2 medium acorn squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp discarded (I add an extra squash if making it for company)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream (I use non-fat milk)

2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (I love the tang this sharp cheese adds so I use the full amount, but obviously it can be decreased if desired)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, finely chopped (shallots add such a great flavor I normally use 2 or 3 depending on their size)

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded (dry works fine too)

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I use veggie stock)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the farro and 2 cups of water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well and reserve. (I never do this…)

2. Preheat the oven to 400ยบ. Place the squash halves cut sides up on two foil-lined sheet pans. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake until squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before scooping out the insides into a medium bowl, taking care to leave a 1-inch boarder of flesh all around the edges. (I only leave an edge on the squash I serve the risotto in, scooping out the entirety of the other halves.) Add the heavy cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the flesh in the bowl; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter and 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Sire in the reserved farro and thyme leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the farro is toasted and fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed. Combine the chicken stock with the remaining 2 cups of water. Add 1/2 cup of the mixture to the farro, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue adding the mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cook through, about 1 hour. (I add the mixture all at once and turn up the heat and it cuts the time in half.) Stir in the reserved acorn squash mixture and season with salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the finished risotto into the reserved acorn squash halves, top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.
Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

Freshly Pressed Fall YA Novels

It’s always fun to find new YA authors or to grab a new release from an old favorite. This fall there are plenty of both, some out for a few months, some more recently released. While most of the ones listed below I still have yet to read, I’m excited for all the fresh voices and stories I can lose myself in during these (increasingly) chilly fall days.

  Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – This YA novel is on the fast track to success with its debut on the New York Times Bestsellers list and the recent movie rights acquisition by DreamWorks. The story centers around an orphaned solider girl through a fantastical Russia as she does battle with dark forces in order to save a kingdom.

 

 

 

  Butter by Erin Jade Lange – Tired of being bullied for his obesity, a boy called Butter decides to end it all – live on the Internet. But when he begins to grow in popularity, he wonders if he will be able to go through with his pronounced death deadline.

 

 

 

 

  Origin by Jessica Khoury – Created deep in the Amazon jungle as the first of a new immortal race, Pia knows no other world. But when she happens upon a hole in the electric fence between her and the world beyond, she is faced with the stark reality of who she really is and where she came from.

 

 

 

 

  The Diviners by Libba Bray – I’m a huge fan of all Libba Bray books and was thrilled to grab an ARC of this exciting new novel at BEA this past spring. Set in New York city in the 1920s, her novel follows a group of teens endowed with special abilities that none of them quite understand. And when strange occult murders begin happening around the city, it’s up to them to put an end them and keep an even greater darkness from completely enveloping their city.

 

 

 

  Every Day by David Levithan – “A” wakes up in a new body every morning. A has always been this way, but doesn’t know how or why. And every day brings a different perspective because of the new body A inhabits. Levithan produces such an interesting concept with his latest book and takes the idea of empathy for other humans to a whole new level.

 

 

 

  The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I’ve only read the first couple of chapters in this series debut and I’m already hooked. Blue is from a family of psychics who speak in vague certainties that always seem to come true. Blue has been told since she was little that she will cause her true love to die, but hasn’t put much merit in it since she’s never been in love. But when her crazy aunt comes to visit and tells her this is the year she will fall in love, Blue begins to worry.

 

 

 

I hope you’re finding some great novels to read this fall too! Happy reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

Delicious Pumpkin Bread

ย  I found this wonderful recipe in a Runner’s World magazine that touted it as a great post-run snack. I love everything pumpkin (See also: Pumpkin Beer, Pumpkin Chili, and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies) and can’t resist this tasty treat!

(Note: This recipe makes two loaves, but feel free to cut back on the sugar by 1/2 or 3/4 cup if so desired.)

 

Pumpkin Bread

Dry Ingredients
3ยฝ cups flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1ยฝ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1ยฝ cups of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned, plain pumpkin

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350ยฐ F.

Combine all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, slightly beat the eggs with a fork or wire whisk. Add the remaining wet ingredients to the eggs and stir well. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir just until evenly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips (if desired, I normally add 1/4 cup to one of the loaves).

Coat 2 bread pans evenly with cooking spray. Pour half of the mixture into each pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Autumn Seasonal Beers – Oktoberfest Gone Wild

Part 2 of my autumnal beer series focuses more on great fall beers that aren’t pumpkin. I have to admit though, most of these I’ve heard great reviews about but haven’t yet tried. They are on my list to run out and buy before they disappear!

New Belgium Brewery Red Hoptober – This garnet colored beer presents a piney flavor with malted overtones. Its roasted tones pair with subtle citrus notes. Perfect to enjoy around a campfire with friends.

Troeg’s Dead Reckoning Porter – Pairs well with barbeque and blackened fish, this is a full-bodied porter. Dark color with a foamy head, it blends hints of chocolate and roasted malts.

Left Hand Brewing Company Oktoberfest – Dark golden hues present biscuity, malty goodness with the hops lending a spicy, dry finish. Cheer on your favorite football with this tasty brew in hand.

Saison du Buff collaboration – Okay, this isn’t technically a fall beer, but my brother recently tried it and text me to say I had to get some for myself. This made me think of all the other beers that are being released now which prompted me to write the two part beer post. This unique beer is brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme as a collaboration between Dogfish Head, Stone Brewing Co, and Victory Brewing. Each brewery used the same recipe, but brewed them at their respective facilities with separate release dates. I just hope I’m not too late to find some for me!

The Bruery Autumn Maple – These last two I’m very excited about as everywhere I turn another great review of these beers pops up. In a twist on the traditional pumpkin beer, Autumn Maple is brewed with 17 lbs of yams per barrel, wow! It also adds cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup to yield a high quality fall beer.

Founders Breakfast Stout – I had to copy the blurb from the Founders website for this one as I thought it perfectly summed up what this beer was all about – “The coffee loverโ€™s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.” How amazing does that sound?! Yum!

Enjoy and remember to drink responsibly! ๐Ÿ™‚

Autumn Seasonal Beers – Pumped about Pumpkin

I’m a huge fan of good beer, but am especially fond of fall beers. While I normally write a post each season, this season I found so many great pumpkin beers that I’m splitting my post into a part 1 – pumpkin beers and part 2 – all other tasty fall beers. My idea of a perfect Sunday in the fall is a long run in the morning with a ice cold beer and football in the afternoon/evening. Here are just a few of the many pumpkin beer offerings this fall:

Brooklyn Post Road – By far my favorite pumpkin beer thus far. I’ve tried many, but keep going back to this Brooklyn Brewery favorite. You’ll find that each pumpkin beer has its own unique blend of spices and pumpkin, and Post Road blends these perfectly.

 

 

 

 

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale – With an 8% ABV and rich flavor, this is a perfect beer to relax with after dinner. Spices and pumpkin join perfectly with a smooth caramel finish.

 

 

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – Two things set this beer apart from its pumpkin brethren – its distinct brown sugar flavors and that you can go on the website and see exactly where Dogfish Head just shipped it. You don’t have to wander from store to store hoping that your favorite beer might be there, you can go online and track their deliveries. Great idea!

 

 

 

Southern Tier Pumking – This beer is king both in size, sold in 22 oz bottles, and combination of ingredients. It’s a complex beer that combines malts, vanilla, clove, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and…..pie crust! Definitely one to try this season.

 

 

 

 

New Holland Brewing Ichabod Pumpkin Ale – A simpler pumpkin ale, this is a crisp beer with a pleasant blend of pumpkin and nutmeg.

 

 

 

 

Shipyard Brewery Pumpkinhead Ale – Low 4.7% ABV and a nice blend of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg makes this a great beer to enjoy during with a BLT and some seasonal root veggies.

 

 

 

 

Saranac Pumpkin Ale – For a lower ABV beer, Saranac packs a lot of flavors into its pumpkin beer. Pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger and vanilla meld together in this flavorful beer.

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Pumpkin Ale – Touted as the original pumpkin beer that paved the way for the now huge pumpkin beer boom, Buffalo Bill’s is a simple blend of light pumpkin and spices.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy and remember to drink responsibly! ๐Ÿ™‚

Pumpkin Fun

Found this on Creations By Kara. With fall on my brain, I might have to make this one for my house! ๐Ÿ™‚

Fav Fall Races

  Although I enjoy running in all seasons, fall is by far my favorite. Everything smells great, the air is cooler (but not yet freezing), and I just feel invigorated by all the colors that come with the changing season. And with each fall comes a whole slew of great races one can participate in.

While I’m sure there are many races near you, you can’t throw a stone and not hit a 5k these days, these are some of the more notable ones I’ve found.

Runner’s World Half & Festival, October 19-21 – This the first, hopefully annual since I can’t participate in this one this year, running weekend and festival hosted by Runner’s World. Located in Bethlehem, PA, it’s seems destined to be a huge success. Running favs and authors such as Dean Karnazes, Kristin Armstrong, Matt Long, Bart Yasso and Marc Parent will be in attendance. Not only can runners enjoy a 5k, 10k, half-marathon or all three for the hat trick, but there will be movies shown, seminars, speakers and the quintessential pasta dinner. All perfect ingredients for what I’m sure will be a fabulous running weekend.

Baltimore Running Festival, October 13 – Another East Coast running extravaganza, this running festival is very popular. Every entrant gets a sweet Under Armour race shirt, plus entry to the celebration following the race which features live music, activities, food and drink. Enter the 5k, half, or full or register for the Maryland Double, runners who participate in a half or full in both the Baltimore and Frederick Running Festivals. Finishers of the Double receive a really cool looking medal that, for a nominal fee, can be engraved with your name and times at the finish. Cool!

Seattle 5k Beer Running Tour, September 9 – With an onslaught of what I deem kitschy races – zombies, paint throwing, warrior, mud, nude, costumed – I have to say that this would be one I would participate in. More laid back with stops at quirky sights around Seattle, this running tour (they don’t call it a race), begins and ends at the Fremont Brewery where free brews will be distributed upon finishing. And since having a cold beer at the end of my long weekend runs is definitely one of my running incentives, I’d happily participate in this brew happy event.

Run Rabbit Run, September 14 & 15 – For those of you who are very ambitious I haven’t forgotten you! This trail run through Steamboat Springs, CO, features a 50-mile run Sept. 14 and a 100-mile run Sept. 15. Otherwise known as ultrarunning, for those of you who, like me, are content to run somewhat shorter distances, these races are often a combination of trail and road running with aid stations along the route. To top it all off, this is the caveat that is featured on the website: A word of warning: These are not beginnerโ€™s runs.  You might find the uphills and downhills fairly steep. You may find thereโ€™s a lot of them.  You will spend a lot of time at an altitude of nearly two miles. There may be snow. There may be rain. It may sleet, or be wet, or windy, or then again, it may be hot. There may be wild animals out there, some of them a lot bigger and scarier than a rabbit. Yikes! Think I’ll be a cheerleader for any runs like that!

Happy running! ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Want a good book to read? Stop by and see what’s new in the world of literature!

The weekend was quite Fall-y so I spent a lot of time outside enjoying the weather (in between rain showers) and snuggling up with a good book at night. We also were able to go to a Cider Mill in Chester, NJ, to pick pumpkins – for future Halloweenie fun – and nosh on fresh, warm pumpkin cider doughnuts. Delicious! ๐Ÿ™‚ A perfect autumn weekend.

Didn’t get a lot of writing done on my novel this week, but did get to read a lot of graphic novels. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

ย  My Boyfriend is a Monster by Paul D. Storrie – A great little graphic novel with fun illustrations about a girl and her Frankenstein-ish boyfriend. There are three others in this series so far – My Boyfriend is a: Vampire, Faerie, and Zombie. This is the first one I’ve read and I’m definitely enjoying it for it’s witty writing and fun storyline.

 

 

 

ย  Revolver by Matt Kindt – This was a great graphic novel with an intriguing plot. Sam is a loser living an average life with no aspirations or drive. But then when he goes to sleep one night he wakes to find the world in mass chaos with bombs and diseases ravaging the world. He is forced to change overnight and fight to make sense of this turn of events. But then the next day he’s back in the original world. His days continue alternating until Sam finally has to decide which world he wants to live in permanently. I really loved this graphic novel. It was thought provoking and I’ve been ruminating about it every since I turned the final page.

 
ย  Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not) by Jason Shiga – I especially loved the unique, quirky illustrations colored in either blue or red. When two friends are separated by a new job and a journey from CA to NYC, Jimmy decides to leave his bubble of sci-fi and life with mom and take a bus to visit Sara. He is wowed by all the new wonders that the city presents, but isn’t sure NYC is for him. A fun take on relationships and what constitutes as risk taking.

 

 

 

I love reading graphic novels because they are so interesting, quick reads, and vastly different from one another. I need to bone up on my comic knowledge to prepare for my trip to NYC Comic Con next week. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Reading!

Whoopie! Pies

ย  Fall is here (according to me) and that can only mean one thing – pumpkin recipes! ๐Ÿ˜€

I love anything pumpkin and I while I love making my favorites from years past, I also enjoy discovering new ways to add pumpkin to my recipe repertoire. I was working at the library when I stumbled upon a new book all about making whoopie pies. While I wasn’t a big fan of the chocolate, white-cream filled ones of my youth, the pictures gracing the cover looked so appealing I just had to check it out.

The book was dedicated to whoopie pies of all kinds including a tasty looking pumpkin cream cheese filled whoopie. Yay!!! My girlfriend and I were invited to a friend’s house for Sunday football and I decided to make the pumpkin whoopies then take them over for some taste testing. They were a huge success! I’ve been asked for a repeat soon as well as orders for several other flavors after posting my success story on facebook. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the recipe, but I recommend getting the book too as it is chock-filled with other tasty whoopie treats. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Pumpkin Whoopies

ย  (My notations in italics)

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened

1 c light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 extra large egg

2 1/3 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

pinch of salt

1 c canned or fresh pumpkin puree

2 tbsp buttermilk (I used regular)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray like olive oil – worked great and didn’t change the taste).

2. Put the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in an electric mixer bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and salt into the bowl and stir together. Add the pumpkin and milk and stir until combined.

4. Drop by the heaping tablespoon 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. (These should be about the same size so you can match equal halves together later and look like the back of a turtle shell – smooth and round.)

5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes (make sure to check because less is more). Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

6. When the whoopies are cold, match equal whoopie halves and spread cream cheese filling in between (I used a palette knife like you would ice a cake with and it was very easy). Press together and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 c regular cream cheese

5 tbsp butter, softened

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar (I just added this until it was the taste/consistency I liked – not nearly the amount called for…)

1. Put the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.

2. Sift in the confectioner’s sugar and beat together until well combined. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.

Whoopies! by Susanna Tee