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Warming, wholesome foods: Julianna Pletcher shares her favorites to fill and warm you up this season.

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Come January, the excitement of the holiday season has passed, winter stretches out before us, and spring seems far away on the horizon. In this new season of long, dark nights, we can and should take the time to rest and support our bodies with nutritious, wholesome foods and to make our winter kitchens cozy spaces.

While gazing out at the austere landscape this time of year, I am often inspired to cook colorfully. Chard, kale, beets, sweet potatoes, winter squash and carrots are among some of the winter vegetables that are readily available. We are lucky to live in an area where fresh, locally grown apples are also easy to obtain; my family and I pick ours in the late fall and store some to use throughout the winter months. Dried fruits, such as raisins and cranberries, can be used as a sweet and colorful garnish. Best of all, many of these fruits and veggies are easy to prepare and very nutritious. And, most have the added benefit of being quite "kid friendly."
Veggie Frittata
(Serves 6)

This is one of my family's favorite recipes for Sunday breakfast. A
frittata is a firm, thick Italian omelet that can contain any
variety of chopped ingredients, including vegetables and meat(s).
To make this an even quicker recipe, you can use baked potatoes
from a previous dinner. Look for fresh, local and/or cage free eggs
at whole food stores or one of the many farmers' markets in the
area. You can prepare the frittata the night before and simply
reheat in the morning. The veggies and herbs provide heaping doses
of vitamins and minerals, and the eggs area great source of
protein, making it a perfect meal to start the day. Try it served
warm or at room temperature for leisurely brunch gatherings.

Ingredients:

 1 cup diced baking potato
1/4 cup water
 1 tbs olive oil or butter
 6 scallions (green onions), white and some green parts, thinly
 sliced
 1 cup loosely packed, fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil and parsley (or other herbs of your choice),
 chopped
 6 large eggs
 3 tbs milk
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground pepper, about 1/4 tsp each or to taste
1-2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
2-3 ounces of crumbled goat cheese or shredded cheddar
cheese (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place potato and 1/4 cup water in a
microwave safe bowl. Cover with a loose lid and microwave on high for
four minutes or until tender, stirring once. Or, boil potatoes on the
stovetop until tender. Drain and set aside. Then, heat a medium (10-12
inch) cast iron skillet, or a nonstick, ovenproof skillet if you don't
have cast iron. Add oil or butter and green onion. Saute for 2-3
minutes. Add potatoes, spinach and herbs and continue to cook for 3-4
minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk,
Parmesan, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Pour the egg mixture
into the skillet and stir gently to combine. Cover the handle with
aluminum foil if it isn't ovenproof. Place the skillet into the oven
and cook for 15-20 minutes until set, then remove it from the oven
and set the oven temperature to broil. Top the frittata with tomato
slices and extra cheese, if desired. Broil for 4-5 minutes, or until
the eggs are set and the cheese melts, to finish. Cut into six wedges
and serve. Variation: Substitute different vegetables, like the
colorful winter veggies mentioned at left, and/or add meat, like
prosciutto or bacon.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

My husband loves acorn
squash. So, over the
years, I have tinkered
with many recipes
to keep this hearty
winter variety an
ever-changing staple
on many of our dinner
menus. This is one of
my favorites.

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Ingredients:

 1 medium sized acorn squash, cut in half
 1 tbs butter
 1 tbs olive oil
1/2 white or sweet onion, finely dropped
 2 doves fresh garlic, minced
 1 apple, Granny Smith or other firm type, peeled and cubed into
 small pieces
1/2 cup raisins
 1 tbs fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup pecans, toasted (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash (1/8 tsp or less) of nutmeg, cardamom, salt and pepper
2-4 tbs maple syrup

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the squash in half crosswise and
scrape out its seeds and membranes. Spray fleshy sides with cooking
spray of your choice, or lightly coat with an oil suitable for high
heat. Place flesh side down in a 13 x 9 baking pan. Add 1/2 inch water.
Cook for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in butter and oil
for 4 minutes, or until onions start to soften and brown slightly. Add
apple, raisins and ginger, and continue to saute for 3 additional
minutes. Add remaining spices and pecans. Turn off heat. When squash is
cooked and soft, cut around edge and make several crosswise slices into
flesh. Mound the onion mixture into the squash cavity and drizzle each
half with some maple syrup. Serve and enjoy!


Julianna Pletcher and her husband, Mark, own and manage the Blue Sky Cafe in Fletcher, NC, which features creative family dining with something for everyone. For more information and to see their cafe menu, visit their website at www.iloveblueskycafe.com, or give them a call at 828-684-1247.
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Title Annotation:soul kitchen
Author:Pletcher, Julianna
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Dec 1, 2008
Words:909
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