Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Farro, Apples, Chestnuts and Nutmeg

I'll admit it.

I enjoy watching reality cooking TV. Maybe a little bit too much. There's something totally entertaining about watching people cook, though Michael Pollan's new book "Cooked" is making me think more about the time we spend watching others cook compared to the time we spend actually cooking. More on that to come.

That said, recently I've felt like a contestant on Chopped.

McCormick is sponsoring a series of Go 4 Gourmet contests. They sent out boxes of ingredients around different themes, and they challenged us to create a recipe featuring those four ingredients.

Who could resist?

This week's challenge was called Artisanal Autumn, and bloggers were called to combine apples, grains, nuts and nutmeg to make one stunning dish.

Here's my contribution: roasted acorn squash stuffed with farro, apples, chestnuts and nutmeg. The apples are lightly sauteed with butter and just a hint of nutmeg.  The farro is cooked risotto style, so it's a bit creamy and helps hold everything together.

It's perfectly complex, with just the right balance of sweet and savory, soft and crunchy within every bite.

What dish would you create with those four ingredients? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

A student told me today he had four brothers and another one on the way. I looked at him and said, "That's half a year of entries in your writing notebook!" 

That line, tweeted from an elementary school teacher, lingered with me last night. For that little boy, growing up as one of six brothers will provide him with endless inspiration for writing. Even a simple car ride gains significance, showing him the value of compromise when he makes a deal with Brother #3, trading his place in the front seat of the car for a pack of baseball cards. 

Writers return to their favorite writing territories again and again, lingering with them, revisiting them in entirely new ways and ways that feel utterly familiar. These territories draw us back to our favorite authors, knowing we'll find a bit of something familiar in each new book they publish.

Right now, peanut butter is my territory. It's where I'm lingering. It focuses my recipe searches and my grocery store purchases. Recently, I've been experimenting with chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies, trying out countless variations to find one worthy of sharing with all of you. 

This is definitely it. They're almost too large, but you won't hear anyone complaining. They're soft and chewy,  loaded with extra oatmeal. They're a little light on the sugar which really lets the peanut butter shine through.

Make a batch to share, and freeze a few to have when the urge hits in the future. This is one territory you'll certainly want to return to again and again.