Pumpkin, Sausage, Sage Pizza

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We are big fans of pizza in our house. Homemade pizza is very easy to make, economical and gives you a great way to use up small amounts of leftover meat or vegetables in the refrigerator. I love to try new pizza combinations, although this is not always popular in our house. Sometimes you just want what’s familiar. This pizza was terrific–I will definitely make it again!

In full disclosure, this pizza elicited more teen jokes than any other meal I’ve prepared. Trying to be “artsy,” I made a flower design with the sage leaves. My daughter thought it looked like a marijuana leaf. I’m always glad to be the source of amusement. And really, no more trips to Spencer’s Novelty Shop. Really.

This pizza is super tasty and full of fall flavor. It involves no illegal substances, although pumpkin is so addictive this time of year, it probably should require a driver’s license to purchase. We used a spicy chicken sausage, but I think an Italian sausage or sage sausage would be pretty terrific as well. Or even soyrizo if you are going meatless. I replaced our usual mozzarella with a blend of Swiss and Gruyère cheese–I think those cheeses taste great with the sage and pumpkin (and they melt beautifully).

I used organic canned pumpkin for this recipe because it is already cooked and it is very thick with little residual moisture. If you use fresh pumpkin, make sure you cook it down to a very thick paste or your pizza dough will be quite soggy (I made that mistake with butternut squash once and it was not good).

Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Pizza (makes 1 pizza)

  • 1 whole wheat pizza crust (recipe HERE)
  • 8-10 fresh, organic sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. local, spicy link sausage, casing removed
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups grated Swiss and Gruyère cheeses
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium skillet or saute pan, heat the olive oil to medium high.
  3. When oil is hot, add the sage leaves and fry them for about 90 seconds per side or until they are crispy, but not browned. Remove sage leaves to a paper towel to drain.
  4. Add the sausage to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the sausage until no longer pink, breaking up any large clumps with the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Remove the sausage from the pan to a colander or paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  6. Add onion and garlic to the pan with the drippings and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starts to caramelize a bit. Remove the onion and garlic to a small bowl.
  7. Assemble the pizza by stretching the dough (my pizzas are never round–more like rounded rectangles) onto a flour dusted baking sheet or pizza stone.
  8. Top the dough with the pumpkin, spreading it across the dough, leaving a 1-2″ crust around the edges.
  9. Sprinkle the onions and garlic over the pumpkin.
  10. Crumble up 2-3 sage leaves and sprinkle them over the onions.
  11. Top the onions with the crumbled and drained sausage.
  12. Cover the whole thing with cheese.
  13. Arrange the remaining sage leaves into a flower that will be completely misinterpreted by your family.
  14. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is just browned and bubbly.
  15. Cut the pizza and serve immediately.

Lentils, Sweet Potatoes and Spinach in Pumpkin Curry

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We’ve received a lovely dose of frigid weather this week, and it has us craving hearty, hot meals. This dish is perfect cold weather comfort food–hot, hearty, nourishing and healthy. I wouldn’t normally associate a vegan stew with stick-to-your-ribs winter fare, but this fits the bill and is on our list of make again meals. The combination of pumpkin, spices and coconut milk makes a rich base for red lentils, flavorful sweet potatoes and fresh spinach. You could thin this out a bit and serve it as a soup, but we prefer it thick like a stew. You could also substitute butternut squash for the sweet potatoes and chard or kale for the spinach. Don’t let the long list of ingredients keep you from trying this. Most of the list is spices and the whole dish comes together very easily in one pan!

A note about red lentils: Red lentils are smaller than other varieties and will dissolve into a sauce if cooked for long periods of time. If you use a larger, thicker variety of lentil, adjust your cooking time accordingly.

Lentils, Sweet Potatoes and Spinach in Pumpkin Curry (serves 4)

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground, black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 cup dried, red lentils
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, washed and trimmed of stems
  1. Mix the first 10 ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a deep skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 1 minute.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan and stir well, coating the potatoes with the oil.
  5. Pour the pumpkin curry mixture over the potatoes, stir well and reduce heat to medium low. If the sauce is too thick, add 1/2 cup water and stir.
  6. Cover the pan and simmer the potatoes for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and adding water if needed to keep the sauce from sticking.
  7. Add the lentils, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. Add the spinach and cook another 5 minutes or until the lentils are soft, but not dissolved, and spinach is wilted.
  9. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary for your palate.
  10. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pasta

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Pumpkin is everywhere right now. In coffee, on bagels, baked in cookies, whipped into mousse, roasted, stewed and frozen. Try to avoid it. I dare you. Rather than run away from the squash invasion, I’ve embraced pumpkin and its similar fall vegetables butternut squash and acorn squash.

This pasta is coated with a thick, savory sauce that has the texture of a creamy pasta sauce without all the fat. Perfect for a chilly, fall night when you crave something as rich as mac and cheese, but still need to lace up your running shoes and move forward. This recipe is based on one for Creamy Pumpkin Pasta by A Bird and a Bean, but it reduces the fat content, ups the pumpkin and reduces the amount of meat without sacrificing flavor. Think of this as a foodie version of a cozy fleece jacket–warm, comforting and satisfying. We used a wonderful, smoked, lean Canadian bacon from Mae Farm, and this added a tremendous amount of flavor with very little meat (saving fat and $$$). If you don’t have Swiss chard, you can easily replace it with chopped, fresh spinach or another mild green.

Embrace pumpkins and fall greens this fall!

Pumpkin Pasta (makes 4 servings)

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 small, sweet onion, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 ounces smoked Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth (or 1 can)
  • 1/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground, black pepper
  • 4-6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 cups chopped Swiss chard
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 lb. ceccerece pasta (or similar shaped pasta like macaroni)
  1. Heat water for pasta in a large stock pot.
  2. While water is heating, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook 2 minutes or until onion softens. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the chopped Canadian bacon and cook until warmed through–about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove vegetables and meat from the pan.
  5. Add the stock and whisk to deglaze the pan, bringing up all the brown bits (they have lots of flavor).
  6. Whisk in the almond milk, pumpkin, sour cream, nutmeg, pepper and sage, and whisk well.
  7. Add the onion mixture back to the sauce and the chard, and keep warm over low heat.
  8. Cook the pasta according to directions and drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  9. Add the cooked pasta and cheese to the sauce, tossing to coat the pasta well with sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the pasta water to thin. Pasta sauce should coat and stick to the pasta.
  10. Serve immediately.

Week 44 Budget and Menu

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This week is full of fall goodness–pumpkin, acorn squash, chowder, kale–yum! Our weather finally feels like fall, and while I’m sad to see our summer weather go, I’m glad to get my cute boots and sweaters out of storage!

Our markets are full of peppers, squash, pumpkins, lettuce, kale, green beans and hopefully we will have broccoli soon! I am missing our summer berries–that season always seems too short–but we are enjoying apples. Last season, North Carolina had an apple shortage due to a late spring freeze in the mountains, but this year is a completely different story! So glad to see lots and lots of apples out there!

Breakfasts this week include homemade muffins, bagels, and steel-cut oatmeal. Our lunches are typically leftovers and fruit or oatmeal.

The budget this week is good! We are helped as always by Tom supplying us with the fish he catches (one of the benefits of living close to the ocean!).

Budget [$87.51]

  • The Produce Box (apples, green beans, acorn squash, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, peppers, kale): $47.25
  • Trader Joes (Romano cheese, pasta, ground organic turkey, taco shells, avocado, frozen fruit, yogurt, almond milk, whole wheat flour): $34.26
  • Panera (bagels) $6.00

Weekly Menu

  • Wednesday–Green salad with hard boiled eggs
  • Thursday–Leftover pasta with red pepper sauce
  • Friday–Chicken and kale stuffed acorn squash, quinoa
  • Saturday–Baked fish, green beans, salad
  • Sunday–Corn and crab chowder, salad
  • Monday–Pumpkin kale pasta
  • Tuesday–Turkey tacos, spicy rice

Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Pizza

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Okay, in full disclosure, this pizza elicited more teen jokes than any other meal I’ve prepared. Trying to by “artsy,” I made a flower design with the sage leaves. My daughter thought it looked like a marijuana leaf. I’m always glad to be the source of amusement. And really, no more trips to Spencer’s Novelty Shop.

This pizza is super tasty and full of fall flavor. It involves no illegal substances, although pumpkin is so addictive this time of year, it probably should require a driver’s license to purchase. We used a spicy chicken sausage, but I think an Italian sausage or sage sausage would be pretty terrific as well. Or even soyrizo if you are going meatless. I replaced our usual mozzarella with a blend of Swiss and Gruyère cheese–I think those cheeses taste great with the sage and pumpkin (and they melt beautifully).

I used organic canned pumpkin for this recipe because it is already cooked and it is very thick with little residual moisture. If you use fresh pumpkin, make sure you cook it down to a very thick paste or your pizza dough will be quite soggy (I made that mistake with butternut squash once and it was not good).

Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage Pizza (makes 1 pizza)

  • 1 whole wheat pizza crust (recipe HERE)
  • 8-10 fresh, organic sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. local, spicy link sausage, casing removed
  • 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups grated Swiss and Gruyère cheeses
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium skillet or saute pan, heat the olive oil to medium high.
  3. When oil is hot, add the sage leaves and fry them for about 90 seconds per side or until they are crispy, but not browned. Remove sage leaves to a paper towel to drain.
  4. Add the sausage to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the sausage until no longer pink, breaking up any large clumps with the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Remove the sausage from the pan to a colander or paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  6. Add onion and garlic to the pan with the drippings and saute for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starts to caramelize a bit. Remove the onion and garlic to a small bowl.
  7. Assemble the pizza by stretching the dough (my pizzas are never round–more like rounded rectangles) onto a flour dusted baking sheet or pizza stone.
  8. Top the dough with the pumpkin, spreading it across the dough, leaving a 1-2″ crust around the edges.
  9. Sprinkle the onions and garlic over the pumpkin.
  10. Crumble up 2-3 sage leaves and sprinkle them over the onions.
  11. Top the onions with the crumbled and drained sausage.
  12. Cover the whole thing with cheese.
  13. Arrange the remaining sage leaves into a flower that will be completely misinterpreted by your family.
  14. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is just browned and bubbly.
  15. Cut the pizza and serve immediately.

Bison Chili

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When football season rolls around, I do love making a big pot of chili! Chili stews are quick to put together, tasty, and often economical. I love vegetarian chili, too, although this is decidedly not a vegetarian recipe. This recipe replaces beef with ground bison. Several North Carolina farmers are raising bison now, so we have some terrific local sources. If you’ve never had bison, it is very similar to beef, with a definite meaty flavor. Bison is lower in fat, higher in protein and richer in nutrients than beef, and it is very high in iron. Using ground bison in chili or tacos is a good way to test it out without spending a fortune (and really, your family will probably not notice the difference).

This chili uses up a lot of late summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, onions, kale and pumpkin. Yes, I said pumpkin! It also incorporates Anasazi beans, an heirloom variety of bean that is very meaty and holds up well in a stewed dish like this. I prefer them to kidney beans, which to me don’t taste like anything, but you could substitute any kind of canned canned bean if you like. While this chili is a bit spicy, it is not super hot. Instead, we used cumin, smoked paprika and cinnamon to add spice without so much heat. So it is a bit on the cozy side and not so much on the hot side. While we love hot and spicy food, this more soothing chili was still a hit.

This recipe makes quite a bit of food–we liked that because we wanted leftovers for a busy week. If you are feeding more people, you could easily reduce the amount of everything by half or just reduce the amount of meat and increase the amount of beans to stretch things out a bit. This dish also freezes very well. Leave off the cheese and/or sour cream and freeze the chili in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Bison Chili (makes 6-8 servings)

  • 1 lb. ground bison meat
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large, organic sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, washed and chopped
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2-3 jalapeño peppers, trimmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small bunch of kale, washed,stemmed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups organic, canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups rehydrated anasazi beans (1cup of dry beans soaked in water overnight)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Shredded cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream for garnish (optional).
  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the bell pepper, jalapeño and kale. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  4. Add contents of skillet to a large pot or dutch oven and wipe skillet clean.
  5. Put skillet back on medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ground bison and cook, stirring often, until browned. Sprinkle the spices over the meat and stir well. Add the meat to the pot.
  6. Add the beans, pumpkin and tomato to the pot and mix well.
  7. Simmer the chili over medium low heat for an hour or more. Or add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for several hours.

Pumpkin-Kale-Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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Okay, okay, I have jumped on the crazy pumpkin bandwagon at last. I was doing just fine resisting all the pumpkin muffin, pumpkin, cookie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin coffee cake, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin smoothie recipes. Because, you know, I’m still hanging on to summer. It helps a little that fall hasn’t arrived in NC, at least not in any meaningful way. Fall here is like a teenage girl texting–here one second, completely distracted and bumping into people the next.

Summer seems to focus on us like a laser beam, so I’m sticking with it until fall decides to pay attention.

I did decide to acknowledge fall this weekend, however, when I saw this recipe from Amy at What Jew Wanna Eat. It is easy, delicious, and made the most of foods that are available right now, like fresh bell peppers from our garden, organic kale, sweet onions and locally made organic cheddar cheese. The only substitutions I made from her recipe were to use kale instead of spinach and plain almond milk instead of milk–both worked great! I added the chopped kale raw and it cooked just fine. Next time, I may try this with sweet potato instead of pumpkin since we are typically up to our ears in them by November!

This recipe is flavorful, nourishing, and absolutely delicious. Measurements and cooking times are spot on. All the thing you want in a healthy, fall (or late summer) supper. Click HERE to get the full recipe!

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