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National Pumpkin Day: Let’s Celebrate with Pumpkin, Poblano, and Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

October 26th is National Pumpkin Day so let’s live it up with this spicy and satisfying soup!

Aside from being just plain delicious, the aroma of roasting squash and then chiles will make your kitchen smell like Fall with a capital F. You can certainly use canned pumpkin here, but there’s something to be said for diy-ing it—the slightly caramelized edges, the satisfaction of scooping out the velvety goodness from the golden pumpkin shells—it’s all part of this soup’s charm. That said, we all have jobs and responsibilities and using canned pumpkin is certainly a valid life choice. I am not judging. Promise.

But after all of the roasting and/or chopping, this soup comes together fairly quickly. Ideal garnishes include fried tortilla strips and chopped cilantro (or maybe even roasted pumpkin seeds or shredded cabbage) and if you want to substitute the pumpkin, an acorn or a butternut squash will do the trick nicely while still keeping the autumn theme intact.

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, Manchego Soup

Pumpkin, Poblano, and Manchego Soup
About 4 main course . . . → Read More: National Pumpkin Day: Let’s Celebrate with Pumpkin, Poblano, and Manchego Soup

The Perfect Fall Dessert: French Pear Cake

French Pear Cake

This cake is unlike any other I’ve made. Well, except for the apple cake that it’s based on.

But, here, in this rebooted version, pears replace the apples and pecans replace the walnuts. The pears are peeled and thinly sliced and then mixed into a very light batter. During a second trip into the oven, the brown sugar and pecan topping firms up and turns golden brown, with an almost custardy cake beneath. It’s really pretty amazing.

There may seem to be a number of steps, but don’t fear, it all comes together very easily and the only special gadgets you need are a cake pan and a couple of spatulas. So give this fall dessert a try!

French Pear Cake

French Pear Cake

French Pear Cake

French Pear Cake

French Pear Cake
About 8 servings; Adapted from the Apple Lady Apple Cake in the Paris Cookbook by Patricia Wells

Cake
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup 1% or 2% milk
3 large pears, cored, peeled, and sliced into thin wedges — I used 2 Anjou and 1 Starkrimson

Topping
1/3 packed . . . → Read More: The Perfect Fall Dessert: French Pear Cake

Fried (or not) Avocado Tacos with Creamy Poblano Ranch

Avocado Tacos with Poblano-Buttermilk Dressing

If you haven’t already tried coating avocado with breadcrumbs and then frying, what exactly have you spent your life doing?

It’s okay. You can start now. Using this preparation, the outside gets delightfully crunchy and inside, the avocado is all ripe and creamy. But, if you’d rather not fry, you can achieve pretty much the same results by baking the coated avocado wedges in the oven.

This recipe produces wonderful summer tacos–little avocado wedges on a tasty refried beans pillow. Garnished with shredded cabbage and cheese, as well as salsa, you really can’t go wrong here. Plus, if you prepare the Poblano Ranch Dressing too, you’ll make it better!

I’ve made these tacos both ways; frying in peanut oil and baking in the oven. I found that the frying leads to a bit more of a uniform and golden crispiness, but rotating the avocado wedges in the oven did a fairly good job of even browning as well.

Since avocados can be bland, the key to maximum tastiness is to season the flour well and also to hit the finished avocado wedges with a sprinkle of kosher salt.

Avocado Tacos with Poblano-Buttermilk Dressing

. . . → Read More: Fried (or not) Avocado Tacos with Creamy Poblano Ranch

Kerrin’s Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Really, what is better than a fresh gooey chocolate chip cookie straight out of the oven? Air conditioning? Well, yes. But…it’s not the chocolate chip cookie’s fault that August 4th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Do not blame the cookie if the weather is too hot to even think about turning on the oven.

That said, and as I write this on the 3rd, we’re about to break records for the hottest day ever on Earth in the Pacific Northwest (108 degrees F in Portland), so let’s think back to a cooler time–gentler time when I opened up my copy of Dorie’s Cookies and found this amazing and alt chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Buckwheat flour! Whole wheat flour! A sprinkle of fleur de sel on top! They are healthy! Kind of…for cookies. In this version, I also added vanilla and I upped the nuts, as one tends to do if the occasion calls for it.

So, if you can safely turn on your oven, you might want to celebrate August 3rd by baking a batch of these wonderful and interesting chocolate chip cookies.

Spoiler: The cookie dough needs to chill in the refrigerator for at . . . → Read More: Kerrin’s Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Stick a fork in a cool summer salad

Edamame, Corn, and Green Bean Salad

Ah, summer! Full of hot weather and the desire to eat cool foods for dinner.

Here’s a dish that will definitely win you over with healthy edamame, crunchy bell pepper, avocado and even roasted nuts. Okay, yeah, and some cheese. The dressing is especially flavorful–a mix of fresh ginger, soy sauce, maple syrup, olive oil, and rosemary.

This can be kept vegetarian or you can add some shredded, cooked chicken breast. Also, raw corn is so delicious in salads. Try it, you’ll thank me.

Edamame, Corn, and Green Bean Salad

Removing corn kernels from an ear of corn

Edamame, Corn, and Green Bean Salad
Adapted by a recipe for BLD’s fresh vegetable salad in the LA Times; serves 3-4
2 cups frozen, shelled edamame
1 cup (about a big handful or so) green beans, trimmed and chopped into about 2-inch pieces
1 cup raw fresh yellow corn (about two ears), husked
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup toasted cashews or almonds *
Optional: 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded

Dressing:
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1/4 of a small shallot (I usually peel the shallot, then slice a small piece off) – you can always add . . . → Read More: Stick a fork in a cool summer salad