Crazed Chef Craves Squash (really!)

Things have been a little hectic here in the Meadballs kitchen. Big news is that I am finally certified. This seemed liked the hugest hurdle back in the spring. But when the day finally came on Friday, Aug. 4, it really was just he beginning. Because of three things:

  • Most of my pots and pans didn’t work with induction. So I had to buy new ones.
  • I have to wash dishes now. (Dishwasher not in the budget).
  • The ventilation project wasn’t totally finished.

The last is probably the biggest issue because it is August. And while it has been pretty chill so far, it isn’t all that cool in my basement digs with three fridges, two freezers, two ovens, and three induction cooktops going. Sometimes all at once. So the electrician returned to install a big fan, some vents in the ductwork and a cooler for the wine room. As a result, my shiny new kitchen is a mess of dust, dirt, power saws, and electrical things. It is loud and dirty. So I haven’t been in the kitchen much since I picked up my lovely certificate.

But, never fear, it should all be done by tomorrow morning and I’ll be cooking away. If you have signed up for my newsletter – there is a sign-up on this website – you will find the specials for next week. They will also be posted on the Meadballs Meals facebook page. Order by e-mailing marnie@meadballs.com, messaging me on Facebook, or by texting 814.470.8688. Orders need to be received by Sunday at noon for Monday delivery.

In the meantime, I’ve been in my home kitchen working with what to do with a truckload of yellow squash. I love this bread with blueberries. Don’t skip the glaze, it makes the cake and helps keep it fresh.

Print Recipe
Lemonade Blueberry Squash Bread
Course breakfast, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Course breakfast, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 2 regular loaf pans.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. In another large or medium bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Whisk in eggs.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add squash and stir just to blend. Toss blueberries with the remaining flour. Add to mixture.
  6. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes.
  7. Allow the pan to cool; remove the bread and place top down on a serving plate.
  8. In the meantime, make the glaze by combining all the ingredients and mixing until smooth. Pour over top of bread.
  9. Serve.
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Sunday Suppers: Find Peace (and Pot Pie)

The dog and I ice skated our way through the morning walk. When you have an active 90-pound dog, you can’t make excuses not to walk. He just won’t stand for it.

It took me awhile to adjust to this schedule of his. In the beginning, I tried to make him my running partner. But he was terrible around cars, even with a leash.  He’s got a tendency to want to walk into the path of a car when he sees it coming instead of walking away. We adopted him from the A.N.N.A. Shelter three years ago, and I wonder every day how he survived on the streets.

When he wasn’t trying to head into oncoming traffic, he wanted to stop and sniff ever 50 feet. I wasn’t getting much running done. Plus, it was December when we first adopted him, and he didn’t like going outside much when the temperature was below 25 degrees. He is a short-haired dog, missing a fair amount from this hind quarters due to abuse. He would cough and sneeze, and scamper back inside as soon as he finished his business.

Today, he is unfazed by weather. If it’s 11 degrees outside, with a windchill in the negatives, he’s still game for a 1 mile-trek around the block. If he had his way, we’d be out for at least an hour (unless it is a cold rain).

So I’ve adapted to him. We walk, sometime trot, twice a day logging a total minimum of 2 miles. I use the time to reflect, meditate, release … generally find some peace. Turns out my senior dog taught me some new tricks.

One of his favorite walks – mine too – is along the beach where my parents live in Fairview Township next to Walnut Creek. He watches all the fishermen as we make our way along the creek. Sometimes we meet a couple making their way down the bank to fish, or coming out of the woods after a bio break. These are among the highlight’s of the dog’s walk. For now he is adored. He will rush up to them – all 90 pounds of American Bulldog and Boxer, with the dopey nature of a Golden Retriever for good measure. Unless they are dog owners, and they can see the delight in his face at encountering someone to pet him, strangers are unsure whether to stand still as a statue or run. I reassure most, unless they are scared, that a simple pat will make his day. For the doggy dysfunctional, I command him back to my side.

The second half of the walk actually involves the beach, unless it is a strong NW wind clipping above 12 mph. We walk the beach in the heat of summer and in the dead cold of winter. Late fall is among my favorite times because it is quiet and the sky is so clear. Spring walks bring a lot of driftwood, and a lot of dead fish, but also the promise of summer. And summer is just glorious.

I try to find the beauty in our winter walks, although I admit we often have to retreat to Asbury Woods or Pleasant Ridge Park if the wind is wicked. Right now, the lake is kind of soupy, with a lentil kind of color to it. The sky is gray. And the ice dunes are just forming, so the color is snow mixed with a lot of sand. Despite the wind, Bobo would be content to walk until there was no more beach. His short hair and musculature keep him warm. Me, I’m freezing in layers, with wind protection, a neck turtle, warmers in my mittens, and Thinsulate in my boots. My eyes are watering, my nose is running, and I’m cursing a distant Irish relative who failed to find a train south.

These are the Sundays when it is warming to know I’ve got a dinner plan that is hearty and easy.

I typically buy a family pack of chicken breasts each week. Lately I’ve been roasting three right away so I have chicken for salads during the week. Today, I chopped up two of the large breasts and made pot pies. I had an extra pie crust in the refrigerator, but you can use a purchased prepared crust or a sheet of puff pastry, which would make this meal wonderfully extravagant with little effort.

I buy the frozen pea and carrot mix  – no point in chopping carrots. It all comes together in about 15 minutes. It goes into the oven for about 30 minutes. Then bingo – you have dinner. Add a salad if you so incline, or get a tray and sit down to watch Christmas movies tonight.

In this hectic holiday time, try to find some time for yourself. Release old grudges. Meditate. Visualize new goals. Find beauty.

XOXOXO

Marnie

Marnie@MarnieMeadMedia.com

Print Recipe
Chicken Pot Pies
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat with olive oil. Add the leeks, onion, and shallot (if you are using dried shallot, cut it back to 1 to 1 teaspoons and don't add until you put in the broth). Saute until soft. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, each. Add sherry and allow to reduce for about 1 minute. Then add chicken, broth, cream, thyme and tarragon. Simmer until all the flavors come together, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste, add more salt and pepper if needed.
  2. Mix soft butter and flour together until it is smooth. Stir into the simmering chicken mixture and allow to cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in frozen peas and carrots, and parsely. Set aside.
  3. In the meantime, roll out your pie crust so that you can cut the lids for the 4, 2-cup pot pie dishes (make sure your crockery is oven proof). Trace and add about 1 inch around the lip of each bowl. Then cut the pastry out.
  4. Divide the filling between the 4 bowls, which you have put onto a rimmed baking sheet (for easy entry and removal from the oven). Brush edges of each bowl with egg wash (will glue the pastry down). This step is optional. Top each container with the pastry, allowing the extra to hang over the top. Brush pastry with egg wash, piece top to vent steam, and put into a 375-degree oven to bake for about 25 to 35 minutes. Mine were ready after 25, so check then. You want the top nicely browned.
Recipe Notes

You can use a rotisserie chicken for this. I like to roast a couple of extra chicken breasts during the week to use in salads, etc.

This was adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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