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I’m a bit obsessed with all things pumpkin right now, so I saw these pumpkin pancakes in my Google reader yesterday, I decided right away that this was what we’d be having for breakfast today. And we did. And they were fantastic! They’re spicy and wholesome and the apple-cinnamon-maple compote really takes them over the top. They taste like a plate of autumn. I actually forgot that they were 100% whole wheat at first, you really don’t notice it – they’re just as light and fluffy as you could ask for.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes

Adapted slightly from Honey and Jam, who adapted it from 101 cookbooks
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice*
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 large eggs

2 tablespoons butter, melted
butter, to serve (and for pan)
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet and put in the oven.
To make the pancakes, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, spice and salt in a large bowl. In a second bowl, beat the eggs. Add the buttermilk, pumpkin, and melted butter, and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir together. Don’t over mix – a few lumps are fine. The batter will be very thick.
Heat your griddle – it’s ready when a drop of water sizzles and dances when dropped onto it – and grease it with butter. Using a quarter cup measure as a scoop, pour the batter onto the griddle. Cook pancakes until the edges begin to dry out and air bubbles start to break out onto the surface – then flip and cook a couple minutes more on the other side. Place finished pancakes on the wire rack in the warm oven, then repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with Apple Maple Compote

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Apple Cinnamon Maple Compote

1 apple for every 2 people
Butter
Cinnamon
Maple syrup
Slice up your apple(s) (I only used one for the two of us). Heat an appropriately-sized skillet, depending on the amount of apples you’ll be cooking, then melt a generous pat of butter in it. Cook the apples, sprinkling both sides with cinnamon and stirring, until the apples are soft. Pour enough maple syrup over the apples until they’re just covered. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes, then turn down to low and keep warm until the pancakes are ready.
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I think of all the seasons, I get most excited for fall… after weeks of being unable to turn on the oven – even dreading having a single burner on because it will turn the kitchen into a sweltering sauna – suddenly finding myself able to to roast or simmer or braise to my heart’s content comes as a relief. I love cooking with butternut squash and pumpkin again, warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, slow-cooking braises where the meat falls off the bone. There is nothing so satisfying and comforting as tucking into a big bowl of steamy, hearty soup on a chilly fall day.

This soup certainly fits the bill. It’s about as hearty and wholesome as they get – big chunks of colorful, tasty fall veggies, chock full of fiber- and protein-packed lentils, bursts of vitamin-rich spinach, all melding together in a flavorful, soothing broth. It’s perfect for fall. James and I have been enjoying the heck out it – the recipe makes a lot so we’re getting quite a few easy dinners out of the leftovers. After a long  hike yesterday up a mountain in central New Hampshire, it sure was nice to come home and heat up a couple of servings of this deliciousness.

The original recipe calls for just sweet potatoes, but I had half of a butternut squash already peeled in the fridge, leftover from another dish, so I chopped it up and threw that in as well. I think it’s a winning addition – I’m crazy for butternut squash – so I think I’ll add it to this soup from now on. Feel free to leave it out, or even substitute a different kind of winter squash… I’m think I’ll have to try pumpkin one of these days. Swiss chard, tough stems removed, could be substituted for the spinach. The original recipe also calls for vegetable broth, which would make this meal vegetarian, but I prefer the savory goodness of chicken broth.

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Squash and Spinach

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Serves: 8 – 10

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 1/2 cups brown lentils

4 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

3 cups water

2 cans (15 ounce) diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent and garlic is just barely starting to brown. Add carrot, celery, sweet potatoes, and squash. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables soften, about 6 – 9 minutes.
  2. Stir in the lentils, broth, and water. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Cook on medium-low heat for about 35-40 minutes or until lentils are cooked.
  3. Add the fresh spinach and stir. If necessary, season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves and serve.

All together, now: yummmm!

This was a yummy, hearty, delicious bowl of comfort food goodness. And it was healthy! I used whole wheat penne and the dish is loaded with veggies. Plus it’s meat-free, but you won’t notice it – my husband was shocked when I pointed out that there was no meat. He didn’t miss it at all, and this is a guy who needs meat to consider it a complete dinner. This pasta is extremely satisfying and filling and very flavorful. It’s one of those rare pasta dishes that you can eat your fill and thoroughly enjoy each delicious bite and walk away without feeling bloated or heavy.

I’ll say it again: yum! I need to make this again soon. It’s a perfect fall dish and comes together very easily, but it’s so complex and flavorful that you’d think it came from a restaurant.

Penne alla Norma

Adapted from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast
Serves: 4 to 6 Prep time: 20 minutesTotal time: 20 minutes
 

Coarse Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound penne rigate (I used whole wheat)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch chunks

2 pints grape tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup water, plus more as needed

1/2 cup firmly packed torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

  1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente – I set my timer for one minute less than the shortest time in the directions. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggplant; season generously with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook until eggplant begins to release its juices, about 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes (if mixture begins to brown too much on the bottom of the pan, add up to a few tablespoons of water, and scrape up bits with a wooden spoon).
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomato mixture and basil to pot, and toss with pasta; briefly reheat over medium-low if necessary. To serve, divide among bowls; top each with a dollop of ricotta, and garnish with additional basil and a couple grinds of black pepper.

Suzi

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