Fall recipe redux

This time of year always seems like a good time to round up some seasonal recipes. Maybe it’s the combination of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and treks to the apple orchard that make us not want to miss out on the ingredients that will only be good for a few more months. Or maybe it’s the idea of curling up in your warm socks with some comforting food. Whatever the reason, I embrace it fully! Here are some of my favorites:

Pumpkin-pecan muffins

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Applesauce

Stuffed turkey tenderloins

Butternut squash bisque

Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

 and caramel apples (freakin’ yum!)

On enjoying pregnancy

I’m 25 weeks pregnant now, and I have to say I’m really enjoying this time. I was kind of worried that there would be a long period of time in which I couldn’t do my work easily or was really uncomfortable, but I still seem to be able to do pretty much everything I was doing before. I just brush into more things. 😉

I think I’ve reached the point where there’s no doubt I’m pregnant. I have a long torso for a woman, so it’s taken a while for the baby to really get high enough to stick out. I had my first stranger ask me how far along I was. And she even seemed to know I was having a girl, which was weird.


I was trying to capture the roundness of my belly, but I ended up loving this for Sadie’s expression. She has no idea what’s coming.

Our Bradley classes have been going well, and I started a prenatal yoga class. I am so grateful for the exercise that is catered to a pregnant body, and the set times I know I am going to have some relaxation. It’s also nice to be around a lot of other pregnant women. It kind of plugs me into the holistic pregnancy scene, which I was much more familiar with in Des Moines. I now know more than one person who does belly henna and several doulas. It seems like everyone in Berkeley is a doula!

So far the videos we’ve watched in class have been really dated and sort of funny. But also kind of terrifying. We all look at each other like, “oh wow, we’re actually gonna have to do this.” But it’s been interesting to learn about all the things you can do to help your baby get and stay in the right position and what to expect during labor. I was a little bit afraid that choosing holistic mentors would mean a lot of out-there advice, but so far everything has been exceedingly practical.

I can’t believe I am almost to the third trimester. Now that is crazy!

Another good thing — I have had some of the best sleep of my life in the past couple weeks. I can only guess that it’s my body preparing for what’s to come. Also, I’m working more and I don’t take naps like I did in the first trimester, so I’m more tired when I go to bed. I know I’m sleeping well because I continue to have such bizarre dreams and I remember a lot of them.

The Bradley classes have you track what you eat, and I have learned that I can (and should) have two eggs a day now. Some people hate that part, but I love an excuse to eat more eggs. I also found the most amazing yogurt that has quite a bit of protein and not too much sugar. Have you tried this?

I don’t know if you other pregnant women and mamas have experienced this, but it seems like every time I say I’m liking some part of pregnancy, people respond with something like, “enjoy it now because it’s about to get a whole lot worse.” Which may be true, but it’s like, let me have my happy time. I know it’s limited and so much about our lives will change and get harder in a few months. I like this time when I get to watch my belly get rounder and wiggle (mostly at night). I like imagining how tiny her little toes must be.

It’s interesting how your hand instinctively reaches down to touch your belly. It doesn’t take long to start feeling protective of your baby. Mike and I were talking about how we both felt ready to move from the part of our lives where we think so much about ourselves —overthink is probably a better word — and start caring for someone else. I think we all want to feel like someone else needs us that badly.

Sales have picked up again and I’m getting ready for pre-Christmas craft shows, but I’m really starting to want to make some baby stuff for myself. I’m thinking about a seed stitch blanket (pink with brown trim or maybe no trim at all), similar to this:

Or a soft striped one with some leftover yarn I have. Once I get started, though, I don’t know if I can stop myself from making little hats and little shoes, and on and on. Some patterns I’d like to try:

Jen’s newborn baby hats
This adorable striped cardigan – though I’ve never made a sweater
Yarn mobile
• Canvas baby shoes
• Felt baby shoes

This is the pattern I use for baby legwarmers and here’s the one I have used to make a chevron baby blanket. Let the nesting begin…

New car!

As much as I loved the Yaris, I had to let it go. That car sure did see a lot in its time with us.

The giant sequoias.

Driving west from Iowa to California.

The top of Mt. Evans in Colorado.

My first day with it!

But when it came down to it, I was more ready to move on to a bigger car than I realized. Maybe it’s some form of nesting, but I really wanted us to have a car that was the right size for our (new) needs. So here she is:

We found this ’07 Subaru Outback at, of all places, a Toyota dealership in Marin County. Marin is sort of notorious for being the land of the overpriced, but we got a really good deal.

We did have to get one thing repaired on the car, and while we were waiting we hung out at this fancypants shopping center that was actually a really nice place to spend a fall day.

They even had a giant pumpkin! It reminded me of the Iowa State Fair.

I resisted buying any pumpkins there, but I did get some more flat ones at Trader Joe’s.

I had to do something to perk up the porch area. Last year my plants were flourishing at this time, but this year everything is pretty much dead.

Last year:

And this year:

The only thing that seems to be thriving is the orange tree.

We moved it out of full sun into a spot that gets partial shade and it seems to like that way better. After almost completely dying, it’s sprouted a whole bunch of new leaves and buds.

I did manage to successfully grow this epic thistle on the side of the house.

This guy was hanging out around there.

Our neighbors have a cute little garden on the other side of our fence. Their tomatoes are so tall they’re peeking over.

This year has just been dry as a bone. But guess what — last night it rained! For the first time since May. We even got a few claps of thunder.

In the annoying news department, there was some kind of refinery issue in southern California and now our gas prices are insanely high. Just in time for us to have bought a bigger car, of course.

We start our 12-week Bradley class tonight, so I’m curious how that’s going to go. As we near the 23-week mark, I’m definitely getting rounder.

I’ve surrendered to the elastic waistband.

I can tell the baby is getting bigger because her kicks have moved up higher in my belly and they’re stronger. The other night I was enjoying baby TV, which consisted of me staring at my belly as it jiggled with kicks. I am still loving those.

In the kitchen I have decided I need to start sorting my recipes by those that can be made in a short period of time. (This butternut squash mac ‘n cheese is not one of them, but I tried it the other day and it was really good.)

I love my recipes, but many of them take a lot of prep time that I don’t think I will have in the next few months. I’ve been making a list of ideas, like this one for make-ahead breakfast sandwiches.

You package them individually and freeze them until you need them.

Any other ideas for me?

Butternut squash bisque

I’ve written about this recipe before, as my version is inspired by the one in the Clean book. But I’ve never given a full recipe, and I thought that since it’s feeling all lovely and fall-ish, now would be the perfect time.

This soup could not be healthier, but it’s sweet and satisfying as well. So few recipes really have all those qualities, but this is one of them. If you want a little crunch, sprinkle some chopped toasted nuts on top.

Butternut squash bisque
If nothing else, remember the 1-2-3 measurements of the first three ingredients and add water!

1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tart apples, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 cups water

Start by roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash, carrots, and apples with a little olive oil and the teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily press a fork into the squash.

In a big pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium and saute the onions until they are just starting to brown. Add in the turmeric and toss to coat. The smell is heavenly.

Pour in the water and vinegar and then add the roasted vegetables. (I guess technically there is a fruit in there, too.) Put the lid on and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, just to let all the flavors meld and make sure the carrots get nice and soft.

Turn off the heat. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Or you could do it in batches in a regular blender.

If you don’t want to eat all the soup now, freeze some of it to enjoy later!

Butternut squash bisque
The perfect healthy soup for fall.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  2. 2 tart apples, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  3. 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  4. 1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for roasting
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  8. 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  9. 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Start by roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash, carrots, and apples with a little olive oil and the teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily press a fork into the squash.
  2. In a big pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium and saute the onions until they are just starting to brown. Add in the turmeric and toss to coat.
  3. Pour in the water and vinegar and then add the roasted vegetables. Put the lid on and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, just to let all the flavors meld and make sure the carrots get nice and soft.
  4. Turn off the heat. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Or you could do it in batches in a regular blender.
Notes
  1. If nothing else, remember the 1-2-3 measurements of the first three ingredients and add water! -
  2. Soup can be frozen and reheated later.
Adapted from Clean Program book
Adapted from Clean Program book
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

Mini apple crisp

Last night Mike and I were craving a little fall-ish dessert, but I didn’t want to make a huge pan of apple crisp and then feel bad about eating it all week. So I just made a little one.

I adapted my full-sized recipe for apple crisp, which actually comes from my recipe for strawberry-rhubarb crisp. But really you could use any fruit you like. This one just makes it mini. (Though I tried apricots once, and it was just meh.)


A photo from a full-sized apple crisp. Very dangerous.

Mini apple crisp

2 tart apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans

To make this a little healthier, reduce the sugar in the apples to 1/4 cup, and use whole wheat pastry flour and raw sugar instead.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, toss the apples with the sugar and vanilla and cook them until they are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the cornstarch/water and stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until you get a mixture with some clumps. Press half the mixture into a small casserole. Add the apples on top of that, and then the rest of the topping. Bake for 30 minutes.


We also got a little pint of Haagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream. Perfection!

Some other desserts that can be made as minis:

Rustic apple tarts

Zucchini bread (just make it in mini loaf pans)

Muffin tin pies

Mini puddin’ pies

KC – DM – SF

Finally I am getting back to normal after an epic vacation to the Midwest, followed by an epic tour of San Francisco with my good friend Rachel, who was visiting from New York.


Of course I had to visit my sweet Charlotte.

I planned a trip home to Kansas for my Nana’s funeral. But I ended up adding on a cleanout of my other grandmother’s house — where we had an estate sale — a baby shower, and a trip to Des Moines to see my good friends. I do not know where I found the energy, but I managed to feel great the entire trip (as long as I got to sleep well at night).

I got to see most of my entire extended family and all my Des Moines friends, which made the trip so worth it. They even gave me a Fiat 500 to drive at the rental car place!

I also got to admire Erin’s Subaru Outback, which I think is the car we will be getting soon. As you know, I am in love with my Yaris, but it’s simply not big enough for two adults, a baby (and all that gear), plus two big dogs.

In Des Moines I even took a Nia class, which I needed more than I realized. I soaked up all the Midwestern things you don’t get so much out here, including a few rainy nights (I so love that sound of it hitting the grass), hospitality, good service at restaurants, trust of strangers, and last but not least, giant water glasses.

It’s probably silly to complain about a water glass, but they are seriously so tiny in restaurants here. And now that I’m extra thirsty all the time, I appreciate a big glass even more.

Oh yeah, I had to have some potato oles while I could get them. 🙂

The baby shower was a real treat. My sister pulled out all the stops to make food that a pregnant lady would love, including pickle bites, deviled eggs, and red velvet cupcakes.

My mom found some adorable vintage items to use as decorations.

And I loved our host Rae Ann’s idea to decorate with baby clothes that were also gifts.

I wish I had photos of our diapering-a-baby game because it was hilarious. At least I won my round!


I adore this photo. My mom, sister, and I with my grandma.

The next day I drove to Des Moines, where Brianne had gathered some of our friends at her adorable house for apple picking.

I got to hold my friend Arin’s new baby, Jonah, who is just the tiniest sweetest little guy.

I also got to meet my friend Karen’s new puppy Charlie (I’m in love with him!) and my friend Amy’s little girl, Linden (darn me for not taking pictures of them). I so wish I could have stayed longer. I miss those ladies so much, especially now that we are all going through such major life transitions.


Charlie!

It was nice to get back to California, though. Business has been busier than ever, so I can’t be away too long.


P.S. How cool is it that the electric car chargers at the Oakland airport are actually getting used?

Rachel came to visit the day after I got back, and we took her on a quick but totally packed tour of the bay area. She got Bette’s breakfast, Tony’s pizza, and fig bars at the Berkeley Bowl. Then we went into the city all day Saturday. We were foiled by a foggy Golden Gate bridge, but I think we did pretty much everything else.

We started out at the Ferry Building, where we got Vietnamese lunch from the Slanted Door’s takeout place.

Then we saw the sea lions at Pier 39 and took a streetcar back to our car. We stopped in the Mission for some shopping on Valencia, including Paxton Gate, which is the craziest store ever. It’s like part taxidermy, part science experiment, part secret garden.

Then we attempted to get some Bi-Rite ice cream, but were foiled again by a street festival and long lines. Fortunately, I remembered that you can buy it by the pint at the Bi-Rite market, so we did that and ate our ice cream in the grass at Delores Park.

After we rested our feet for a while, we grabbed some desserts at Tartine and then ate at a Mexican restaurant that I can’t remember the name of. We slept good that night!

Luckily, Rachel got a good bridge view the next day. Our doggies sure did miss her when she left, but hopefully it won’t be so long before we see her again.

It is so crazy to think that next time I do all these things I’ll have a baby with me. (By the way, you’ve got to read this.)

I was also thinking that I wonder if I will ever go to those small Kansas towns where my grandmothers lived again, now that they don’t live there anymore. So much is changing. Some chapters are closing and new ones are opening. I’m just trying to take it all in.