Saturday, November 26, 2011

Maple Surprise

I have a bit of a blogging backlog these days. We've had guests down for 3 of the last 4 weekends (clearly to see the baby, not us!), which means that I've been cooking a fair amount - albeit relatively simple recipes.  But still.  And I haven't had a chance to blog any of them, since I've been so busy in between guests.  

Now that the visits have come to a halt, I'm going to try to get on top of blogging the recipes I've made over the past few weeks for our guests.  But tomorrow I also have plans to make all sorts of yummy things, time permitting (aka if my kids sleep!).  My plan is to wake up, walk to the grocery store with the kids and then cook whenever they don't need my attention.  Here are my plans:  I want to dig out a recipe for homemade donuts, make some muffins, zuppa du jour for our dinner, carrot and coriander soup to stick in the freezer to go with dinners and hot artichoke and spinach dip to use the leftover defrosted spinach that I still have in my freezer. Yes, I'm a nut :)  

Everyone keeps asking how in the world I have the time to cook and blog with an 18 month old and a new born.  The answer is due to a few factors:

1.  I may possibly have the world's easiest newborn (though I have far from the world's easiest toddler, so I figure it all evens out!).  She basically eats and sleeps. And then eats again.  And sleeps again.  And she barely even makes a peep when she is hungry.  It's true.  Ask my family.  I'm not lying to make you jealous.  And this leaves me at least a bit of time to keep cooking.

2.  We've had guests down for the past few weeks.  Which motivates me to cook.  And really, guests or no guests, you've gotta eat.  Baby or no baby.  And I'm really not a frozen food person.  Nuff said.

3.  I enjoy cooking/baking and prioritize it over other things.  Such as cleaning my messy house.  I would post pictures of the current state of my house to prove it, but that would be just too embarrassing.  You can just take my word for it.

4.  I have a wonderfully supportive husband who will keep the kids busy while I'm cooking away.  Or I'll stick Chloé in a sling while he plays with Logan.  My guess is that it's because he likes eating the good food :)

On to today's recipe.  My sister, Ashley, was just down for a few days with her hubby and 5 month old.  Some very chaotic, yet super fun days.  Three babies 18 months and under makes for non-stop noise and craziness.  Though we did have a brief moment when all three babies were asleep.  Can you say heaven??  The experience made me realize that I would never cut it as a mother of twins.  Or can you imagine triplets??? 

Beautiful Maddy

My favourite niece :)

Pure chaos!! 3 kids 18 months and under!
Due to some food intolerances that their daughter Maddy has, Ash is on a very restrictive diet, since she is breastfeeding.  Which gave me the challenge of finding food that I could serve to her that wasn't super complicated to make, since time is a premium these days.  I'd come across this very odd sounding recipe years ago in the The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook.  And since it was one of the few desserts I could find that Ash could eat, I figured I'd give it a try.  And it was actually quite delicious.

I used sugar pumpkins to make this, which are the little pumpkins that are sold all fall.  I always buy some around Halloween to decorate our stairs outside.  I typically make my pumpkin coconut soup with them afterwards.  But when I was pregnant with Logan, I got sick after eating this soup and haven't since been able to stomach the idea of making it again.  So this is what I made with them this year.  I used rum instead of vanilla extract (I mean, who are you kidding!!).  The first batch was way, way too sweet with the 1 cup of maple syrup.  Everyone was in agreement on that.  I put in 1/2 C in the second batch and that was much better.  And I'm going to whip up some more to freeze tomorrow with the remainder of our pumpkins.  I also omitted the walnuts, as Ash is allergic, as well as the candied ginger, as I couldn't be bothered going to get any.

The predominant flavour of this simple dessert is the maple. Just don't tell your guests what is in the dessert before they've tried it, or they may not want to eat it!

4 C squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 C melted butter
pinch salt
1 tbsp. dark or amber rum or 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C maple syrup
3 tbsp. walnuts, finely chopped
3 tbsp. candied ginger, finely chopped (can be found in bulk food stores)
vanilla ice cream (optional)

1.  In slow cooker stoneware, combine squash or pumpkin, butter, salt, rum or vanilla extract and maple syrup.  Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until squash is very tender.

2.  With a wooden spoon or potato masher, crush mixture to a smooth purée.  Spoon over vanilla ice cream, if desired, and top with walnuts and ginger.

Serves 6.

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