Curried Pumpkin Bisque

>> Friday, October 31, 2014

My mom gave me this recipe the last time I visited - and she also gave me a couple of big pumpkins from their patch. We cut them into pieces and roasted them, which produced a surprising amount of pumpkin pulp. After we made this soup, we froze the rest for later.

Pumpkin pulp has a bit more of the strands you find when you carve a pumpkin, so it's not ideal for making pumpkin pie. It does, however, make luscious soups and a pumpkin-ricotta ravioli. Joe's not quite satisfied with his pumpkin ravioli yet, so we'll have to wait for the recipe until he finishes tinkering with it.

The dollop of Greek yogurt on top gives this soup an extra tang and elevates it into something special.


1 medium-sized (2-pound) pumpkin, quartered and seeded
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups diced onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups strong broth, vegetable or chicken
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt (pumpkin is very bland without salt)

1 7-ounce container Greek yogurt, for garnish


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the pumpkin pieces rind-side up in a baking pan with a lip; pour in a bit of water around the pieces. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Turn on the broiler and place the pumpkin pieces pulp-side up under the broiler. Cook 5-10 minutes, or until the pieces are well browned.

Set the pumpkin aside to cool.

In a large pot, heat the oil, then saute the onions until slightly brown. Add the garlic and saute until tender. Scrape the pulp from the pumpkin and place in a blender or food processor. Process in batches until smooth, unless you like a bit of texture in your soup. 

In the same stockpot, heat the broth and coconut milk until bubbly. Add the rest of the ingredients except the yogurt, and stir well. Heat to a boil, reduce heat, then cook for 10 minutes. Taste and correct seasonings.

Serve with a spoonful of yogurt on top of each bowl. Don't forget the Cheddar Biscuits!

Serves 4-6.


Baked Trout on a Bed of Potatoes

>> Friday, October 17, 2014

Baked Trout on a Bed of Potatoes

When I was growing up, I went fishing with my dad quite a bit. We fished from the shore and from boats, and by the end of the season we were all a little tired of fresh fish.

I had forgotten how amazing fresh fish tastes.

Joe went out on a charter boat with some friends last month, and caught the second largest fish in the photo down there. Thankfully, they cleaned the fish there and he brought home lake trout and salmon fillets for us. We made this Northern Italian dish that night.

Charter boat fishing on Lake Michigan

Fresh fish on a bed of thinly-sliced broiled potatoes sounds simple, and it is. It is right in line with Italian traditions of cooking: use the very freshest, tastiest ingredients, cook them simply and season them judiciously, and let those simple flavors shine.

Along with fresh fish, we had a pound of new red potatoes from my parents' farm. This is a great time of year to pick up new potatoes, and they taste the best they will all year.

Happy Fish Friday!


2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb new red or yellow potatoes, thinly sliced (peel if you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (about 2 tsp chopped)
1 lb fresh lake trout or other freshwater fish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Finely chop half of the rosemary, then combine with the chopped parsley, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.

Grease a large baking pan. Spread half of the potatoes on the bottom, and drizzle with a third of the oil. Sprinkle with part of the rosemary-garlic mixture. Add a second layer of potatoes, oil, and herb mixture.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the potatoes are nearly tender.

Baked Trout on a Bed of Potatoes

Place the fish fillets on top of the potatoes, then sprinkle with the remaining oil and herb mixture. Place the remaining rosemary sprig on top. (Note: I am a little sensitive to the strength of rosemary, so the sprigs shown on top are fresh thyme).

Bake until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.


Johnny Appleseed Rum Punch

>> Thursday, October 9, 2014

Growing up in Southwestern Michigan, fall was one of the busiest times of the year. There were plenty of fruit orchards around us, and U-Pick apple orchards got plenty of business. We always went down the road to Jollay Orchards in Coloma, where if you wanted, they cranked your apples into cider. I can still remember how sweet and pungent the cider mill smelled.

As soon as the temps dip below 60s, heat up this punch and pour it into a thermos for tailgating, hayrides, or bonfires. It'll keep you warm and happy all night.

You can add more or less rum to taste, or skip the rum altogether if you prefer.



1 gallon apple cider
2 cups water
1/3 cup clover honey
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cups dark rum


Stir together all ingredients except the rum. Heat to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in rum before serving. Don't burn your mouth!

Makes about 1 1/2 gallons.


Cornbread with Sweet Green Chiles

>> Friday, October 3, 2014

Simple, filling comfort food...that's what we call these cornbread squares! We've tried many cornbread recipes, but this is one of the most moist and flavorful versions we've come up with yet. Stick around to see some of our other cornbread recipes, too.

This is really good with Polish Mushroom Barley soup or Joe's Award-Winning Chili.


1 cup corn meal (we like to use the medium-coarse kind)
1 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, beaten, or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 5-oz can mild or hot green chilies


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. In another bowl, stir together the butter, oil, eggs, milk, and lemon juice. Pour the liquid into the flour mixture and stir until the mixed, but still a little lumpy. Stir in the can of chilies.

Grease a 9x12 baking pan. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until slightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting into squares.

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