Dill Pickled Squash

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Yet again, taking advantage of Dad’s garden. Check out this easy recipe for refrigerator dill pickles. The best part? You don’t need to stick to cucumbers — pickle some squash from the farmer’s market. They are beyond delicious.

I’ll be back soon enough, with plenty of photos and stories of camping with the parents and my two younger, goofier-by-the-day brothers. Actually, by the time this post goes up, I’ll probably be driving back from the mountains, and on my way to a flight back home.

Hope your week is off to a great start! Xo.

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Dill Pickled Squash

1-2 jar-sized zucchini or squash
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 dried red Thai chili
1 green or black Thai chili
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 cloves garlic
A few slivers of sweet onion

Slice your squash into quarters or eighths, lengthwise, and stuff them into a large mason jar. Throw in the mustard seeds, peppercorns, onions, garlic, and chilis.

Then, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Bring the solution to a boil. Once the salt and sugar are entirely dissolved, pour the solution into your jar of squash. You don’t want ANY air in this jar, so fill it right up to the top. Seal the jar, and refrigerate. They should be ready to eat after a day or so, and they’ll keep in the fridge for about two months.

As usual, though — nose goes.

Roasted butternut squash, penne, and pistachio pesto

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Last weekend, I took a fairly impromptu trip to Miami.

It’s a place I had been meaning to visit, and there’s just something about February that makes me want a break. I love the winter, but a nice warm weekend is a treat a girl needs.

So I left work a little early on a Friday, trained up to Baltimore, and hopped on a quick little flight to the F-L-L. Dave, a friend I’ve known since our debate club days at different high schools, picked me up from the airport, and brought me straight to Little Havana.

*Swoon*

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It wasn’t long before I found myself booking flights back to Miami. In fact, it wasn’t more than a few hours after I landed in Florida.

We went to a great little hostel on Miami Beach named the Broken Shaker — an old hotel with a laid back, twinkle light-entranced pool and outdoor hangout area. The cocktails were perfect. The bartender even gave us one for free, which didn’t happen very often to the two guys that were showing me around town. Anyway, around 3 AM, I found myself just basking in the cool seventy degree Miami breeze. There was a little bit of salsa dancing on a street corner, and just being able to wear my neon yellow shorts put me in a mood that I almost didn’t recognize on myself.

And right about then, I decided. Yes, Dave, I’ll be back here for your birthday. Four weeks away? No problem.

I pulled up the Kayak app on my iPhone and booked the flights right then and there.

It wasn’t entirely an “Oh my god I drunkenly booked a vacation” moment the next morning, because I was only a gin-and-ginger or three in, and I remembered making the decision very clearly. But I did wake up laughing, and checked my email to find that the timestamp actually read 3:48 AM.

I really don’t have a problem with going back to Miami. I actually can’t wait. I even left my heels there, knowing that I could just retrieve them in a month.

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Roasted butternut squash, penne, and pistachio pesto, adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients:
One large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tsp. olive oil or melted coconut oil
Paprika to taste
Salt
Grated nutmeg
8 oz. penne pasta
(About) 3 cups chopped spinach

Pistachio pesto:
1-2 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of one lime
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
1 serrano chile, with seeds according to how spicy you like them
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup basil and spinach (I used a mix of both)
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and boil water in a large saucepan. Season the water with salt.

On a large rimmed baking sheet (maybe two), drizzle olive oil over the butternut squash, and toss with paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Using a pastry brush, coat each piece to make sure everything gets a little bit of seasoning. Bake for about 30 minutes until the edges are brown (or black – I like them a little charred).

Cook your pasta. Al dente is good.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice, pulsing a few times. Then, add the serrano, pistachios, herbs, and cheese. Drizzle olive oil through the oil dropper as the processor is chopping, and grind in salt and pepper as necessary.

In your large saucepan, combine your pesto, some of the pasta water, and spinach. When entirely mixed, add in your pasta.

Serve with fresh parmesan cheese. Hold on to winter, but just enough to enjoy this seasonal dish, because spring will be here before we know it.

Roasted Crusted Squash

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This happens every year in DC. The winter isn’t really a winter until the week after Christmas — when it gets frigid. And then the weather stands up, inching past 60 degrees at the end of January.

Once, I even broke out the flip flops.

Man, that was a mistake.

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This recipe dates back to November. Thanksgiving, which I hosted with some friends at home in DC, was quite the affair.

The food, of course, was to-die-for. The wine flowed like water. And the everyday accents were masked by faux NPR and BBC news accents reporting on Anderson Cooper’s whereabouts on the Gaza Strip. Saving children, curing cancer… you know, the usual. One of my best friends and co-hosts is a gay international politigeek, so naturally, we steered the conversation from making fun of beauty magazines to Anderson Cooper’s black t-shirt.

It’s quite different from my blood-related family dinner conversation. No more or less filled with love, though. That’s for sure.

This squash recipe is teaspoon-for-teaspoon from Sprouted Kitchen, one of my self-proclaimed all-time favorite blogs. Her name is Sara, too, so naturally, she and I are kindred spirits. I’ll let the missing “h” slide, though.

Anyway, I thought I’d post this before my beloved winter cold is swept away in a metaphysical January heat wave. In fact, I might make this next week.

One butternut squash goes a long way.

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Roasted, Crusted Butternut Squash, via Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients

1 Butternut Squash (about 2 lbs.)
2 tsp. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Nutmeg
1/3 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs / Panko
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Minced Garlic Clove
1 Tbsp. Finely Chopped Parsley
1/4 Cup Fresh Thyme Leaves
Salt and Pepper

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler — and be careful, because that squash can be slippery. Then, slice the gourd in half lengthwise, and chop off the ends. Cut into quarter-inch slices.

Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper or foil, and line up your squash slices. Make sure you don’t overcrowd them! Using a pastry brush, give each piece a light coat of olive oil.

In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Generously cover the squash with your crumb topping, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are browned, the cheese is melted, and the squash is fully cooked.