Dinner in a Pumpkin

Dinner in a pumpkin.jpgImpress your family and friends with afestive fall dinner— soup served in a pumpkin!


When I worked for Food $ense a few years ago we stumbled across what has become one of my favorite fall recipes , dinner in a pumpkin.  It is best to use a cooking pumpkin for these types of recipes.

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 potatoes, 1″ cubes
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, 1/2″ slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 2 T beef bouillon granules
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pumpkin (10-12 lbs.)

Directions:

In a medium pan, brown ground beef, rinse and drain.  Add beef back to pan and add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Stir in bouillon and add tomatoes

Wash pumpkin and cut an 8″ circle around the top stem.  Remove top and set aside.  Take out seeds and loose fibers from inside the pumpkin.  Place pumpkin in shallow pan.  Spoon beef mixture into pumpkin and replace stem.  Brush outside of pumpkin with olive oil.  Bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours or until the pumpkin is tender.  Serve by scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving.  


This article was written by Paige Wray, USU Extension Assistant Professor, San Juan County Family Consumer Sciences/4-H




Spicy Vegetable Soup

 

Spicy Vegetable Soup

Looking for a hearty fall soup? Look no further, this spicy vegetable soup will hit the spot. Bonus: it’s vegan and gluten free!


No need to pull up Pinterest and search for the perfect “fall” soup recipe any longer–I have the perfect one for you here! With the weather being drizzly and cloudy, I decided I might as well embrace the fall-ness. So, I put on my new cardigan, lit my candle, put on some autumn tunes, and started creating this recipe.

Meet — Spicy Vegan Vegetable Soup. One taste and you guys are going to be best friends!  

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There’s nothing better than a warming bowl of your favorite soup on a cold night. Not the kind of soup from a can, but the easy homemade kind that’s comforting and good for the soul, with leftovers to spare.

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This recipe is actually incredibly healthy! One serving provides a significant amount of vegetables, which means many different vitamins and minerals. It’s spicy, it’s easy, it’s warm, and it is oh-so flavorful. You just can’t beat it!

Wanna know what’s even better? This tasty soup can be made in one pot! Less effort + less dishes + a whole lot of veggie action = one ridiculously good meal!

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The spiciness level is bearable and won’t leave your mouth burning, but it’s enough heat to warm you up! Of course you can adjust it accordingly and omit the jalapeno or cayenne pepper if spicy isn’t your thing.  

When all the flavors combine, you are left with a super healthy meal chock full of plant protein from fresh veggies, black beans, plus a nice blend of spices to please your taste buds.

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Spicy Vegan Vegetable Soup

Yields: 4 large bowls of soup, or six modest servings

Ingredients

  • 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 of a jalapeño, finely diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 15 oz. cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes or 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water (or more as needed, depending on your consistency preference)
  • avocado, for topping
  • cilantro, for topping

Spice Blend

  • 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper*

 

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and sauté onion, jalapeño, bell pepper, and sweet potato for about 7-9 minutes. Add garlic for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth/water, and the spice blend. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

  2. Add zucchini and black beans and cook for about 5 more minutes.

  3. Top with avocado and cilantro.

*Optional, the cayenne pepper adds spice


This article was written by Marisa Christensen, Dietetic Intern,  and Jaqueline Neid-Avila, MDA, RDN, CD




Savory Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

Pumpkin RecipesOctober is in full swing, and that means pumpkin is everywhere! Don’t reserve pumpkin just for your baked goods and sweet treats, try these savory pumpkin recipes to get a taste of fall.


Pumpkin is low in calories. One-half cup of mashed pumpkin (without salt) has 24 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 1 milligram sodium. Pumpkins are packed with nutrients, such as fiber and beta carotene. Our bodies use beta carotene to produce vitamin A. Pumpkins are also rich in potassium.

You can steam it, bake it, boil it, microwave it (if you put slits in it), and pressure cook it. Once cooked it can be mashed, pureed, cubed and stored in either the fridge or freezer in air tight containers. Mashed or pureed pumpkin (either fresh or canned) has many options for its use. Here are just a few: Muffins, biscuits, and quick breads with part whole wheat flour; soups, added to the sauce in mac and cheese; added to chili; make a smoothie; cheese balls; and add to hummus. Cubed and cooked pumpkin can be used with pasta, risotto, soups, salads, and casseroles.

Pumpkin Chili

(From Taste of Home)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and
    drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; stir in the next 10 ingredients. Cook, covered, on low 4-5 hours. If desired, cube avocado and thinly
slice green onions, and top when serving.

Yield: 10 servings

Quick and Easy Creamy Pumpkin Soup

(From NDSU Extension Service)

  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly, tops included
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 (14.5-ounce) cans chicken broth, reduced sodium or
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 (16-ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup undiluted, evaporated skim milk
  • Salt* and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley

In a 6-quart saucepan, sauté onions, green onions, celery and chili pepper in oil. Cook until onions begin to look translucent. Add broth, pumpkin, bay leaf,
and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf. Add evaporated milk and cook over low heat 5 minutes. Do not boil. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2
teaspoon black pepper, if desired. Transfer hot soup to pumpkin tureen. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Serve hot.

*Canned chicken broth and canned pumpkin may contain added salt. Taste the finished soup before adding salt, as additional salt may not be needed.


This article was written by Teresa C. Hunsaker, USU Extension, Weber County, Family and Consumer Sciences Education




Roasting Vegetables

Roasted Veggie how toTry these simple directions to achieve perfectly roasted and flavorful veggies.


Fall is upon us and so is the abundance of the harvest.  Are you looking for a fast, easy and yummy way to prepare those vegetables?  Roasting them is a great way to add some pizazz to your next meal.  Not only is roasting vegetables delicious, but it is very healthy as well.

Combining vegetables that have similar roasting times is an easy way to create a delicious, evenly cooked vegetarian side or main dish. You can also combine foods with varied roasting times – just add the faster-cooking vegetables to the oven later or pre-cook hard root vegetables on the stove top.

Easy Instructions:

  • Set oven temp to 450 F.  High heat is necessary for the vegetables to brown and caramelize by the time they are completely done.
  • Cut vegetables into similar-sized pieces.
  • For every 2 pounds of vegetables, toss with 1 T. olive oil and seasonings (such as salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme or sage).
  • Line baking sheet with either parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  • Spread vegetables on baking sheet in a single layer with space between pieces.
  • Roast each vegetable variety separately or combine them.
  • Use roasted vegetables as a side dish, on a sandwich or Panini, on a tortilla, in soups or over brown rice or whole grain pasta.

Approximate cooking times for various vegetables:

10 to 15 minutes:  asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, buttercup squash, yellow and zucchini squash, garlic, leeks, okra, tomatillos, radishes

15 to 20 minutes:  Brussels sprouts, carrots, cherry tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms, parsnips

20 to 30 minutes:  baby artichokes, baby carrots, cauliflower, onion, corn on the cob, eggplant, kohlrabi, plum tomatoes, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, turnips

30 to 40 minutes: butternut squash, baking potatoes, rutabagas, new potatoes, celery

50 to 60 minutes: acorn squash, beets


This article was written by Patricia Mathis, USU Extension 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Educator in Wasatch County




Chicken Chili Verde Three Ways

Chicken Chile VerdeDid you know you can mix up your mealtimes while using your same favorite recipes? With small adjustments, one recipe can provide a variety of meals. Here’s an example of a delicious recipe and how it can be altered to provide you with several dinner ideas!


Chicken Chili Verde

  • 1 lb. chicken
  • 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or olive)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (7 oz.) green chilies or ½ cup roasted chili peppers
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth

Make it a Burrito

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a medium saucepan, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining oil and flour. Stir constantly until flour browns. Stir in garlic, cumin, and salt. Mix in chilies and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and sauce thickens, 30-45 minutes, adding more water to thin if necessary.

Serve in tortilla shells; top with cheese or other desired toppings.

You can also serve it over rice.

Make it a Soup

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a saucepan, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon oil.

In a separate medium saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon oil with the flour. Stir constantly until flour browns. Slowly add chicken broth or water, whisking until smooth. Stir in chicken, garlic, cumin, salt, and chilies. Add more liquid, as needed, to reach the desired consistency of soup broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender. If soup is too thin, simmer sauce until thickened. If soup is too thick, add more water.

Soup can be topped with cheese and sour cream if desired.

Make it a Salsa/Dip

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a medium saucepan, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining oil and flour. Stir constantly until flour browns. Stir in garlic, cumin, and salt. Mix in chilies and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender. This is where personal preference comes in: if you like salsa/dip to be chunkier, simmer for a longer amount of time, until it has reached the desired thickness. If you like salsa/dip to be runnier, add more liquid as needed, simmering for less time until it has reached the desired thickness.

Serve with chips as a side dish.

 


This article was written by Kelsey Chappell, Family and Consumer Sciences Intern, and Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County




Quick and Easy Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce Wraps

Celebrate Family Mealtime Month and prepare one of these quick, healthy lettuce wrap ideas for your next family dinner.


As you are probably aware, lettuce wraps are trending right now in the food department. They are fun, easy, and most of all, delicious. Even kids have a fun time eating their veggies with wraps. There are many types of lettuce you can use to change things up a bit. Here are some ideas that may be just the ticket for your next quick, easy and nutritious dinner:

Chicken Club Wrap

Bacon bits, cooked shredded chicken (can use leftover grilled chicken too), chopped tomatoes, avocados and ranch dressing (I make my own with buttermilk and reduced fat mayo).

Quinoa Basil Wrap

Fresh basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 cups cooked quinoa, 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added red kidney beans, rinsed and drained.

Taco Wrap

You guessed it…use the lettuce as the shell…the rest is taco meat, cheese, sour cream, salsa, etc. Whatever your favorite taco fillings are, they are perfect in a lettuce wrap!

Tasty Tuna Wrap

Make tuna salad as you like it. I like to make the dressing with plain Greek yogurt, mustard and lemon pepper seasoning. Add shredded carrots, chopped celery, and diced green onion. Chopped apple or sliced grapes are also a nice addition. You can also use chicken or hard boiled eggs to change up your salad filling.

Cheeseburger Wrap

Brown ground beef, add chopped onion and seasoned salt to taste. Melt cheddar cheese on top, place in lettuce and top with tomatoes, pickles, ketchup and other cheeseburger favorites.

Hawaiian Pineapple Wrap

Place sliced ham, cheese, and pineapple chunks inside lettuce. Top with chopped celery and chopped green onions. Drizzle with your favorite teriyaki sauce.

Asian Shredded Pork

Place cooked shredded pork, chopped water chestnuts, chopped celery, chopped green onion, shredded carrots and teriyaki glaze in a lettuce leaf.  Enjoy!  We also like sesame seeds, coconut and drained, crushed pineapple on ours.

 

There are so many other ideas, from a Greek/Mediterranean twist, to a smoked salmon filling, to a Thai with peanut sauce filling. The sky’s the limit! Wraps are fun to experiment with, and are a great way to stretch leftover meat. Whole cooked grains like cracked wheat, barley and brown rice also make a great addition. Or what about couscous?  Have fun!


This article was written by Teresa Hunsaker, USU Extension family and consumer sciences educator, Weber County




Making Family Mealtime Part of Your Daily Routine

Family Mealtime RoutineWant to give your kids every opportunity to thrive and succeed? Try making time in your routine for family meals. 


Was it truly just one generation ago that the majority of American families ate at least one, if not two, meals together every day? In today’s fast-paced world, Sunday dinner as a family is a great tradition, but it is a giant step away from more regular or daily time spent eating and socializing around the table.

In recognition of its importance, September is now branded as National Family Meals Month. Why all the fuss about sitting down together for a routine that may only last 15-20 minutes? The benefits are actually numerous.

Utah State University Extension’s Food $ense program lists a few of the benefits–especially for children whose families eat together five or more times a week as opposed to those whose families eat together two times or less each week:

  • Nutrition and physical development – kids eat more fruits and vegetables, get a wider variety of nutritious foods, have lower rates of childhood obesity, and make healthier choices when they are on their own.
  • Emotional development – kids are better able to manage negative emotions, are at less risk of developing eating disorders, and have more positive interactions with others.
  • Social development – kids learn important turn-taking skills, have improved communication skills, and learn appropriate ways to share thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
  • Academics – kids are more likely to make A’s and B’s in school,  and they develop larger vocabularies, even more than those who read together with their parents.
  • Behavior – kids are much less likely to use marijuana, alcohol, or tobacco or have friends who use these substances and are less likely to engage in other risky behavior such as premarital sex.

If a family is new to the idea of eating meals together, there will undoubtedly be a few challenges. For example, it may be unrealistic to go from zero meals together to every day. So, set a realistic goal all family members can agree on —  it may very well be Sunday dinner once a week and that is a great start. If dinner isn’t the best option, perhaps having family breakfast time on Saturday may work better for you.

Here are some additional tips for making family mealtime a positive experience:

  1. Plan meals ahead of time.
  2. Schedule a set time for meals.
  3. Involve all family members in the meal prep and clean up.
  4. Turn off the TV and all other electronic devices, including phones.
  5. Have pleasant conversation and leave discipline and other negative emotions for another time.

Additional helps are available online from Food $ense, including conversation starter ideas and  making the meals fun using themes (e.g. Taco Tuesday). Ideas for menu planning with recipes can be found there (e.g. citrus chicken salad, oatmeal nut pancakes and honey glazed chicken).

Learn more about family mealtime or eating healthy on a limited budget here, or contact your local USU Extension office to find out about upcoming classes taught by certified nutrition education assistants in your area. From the Food $ense homepage readers can select from a variety of additional information resources for menu planning, preparing foods, eating healthier, and incorporating physical activities in the day.

Food $ense in most counties also has a local Facebook presence. For example in Iron County, search for “Food $ense Iron County” or see “Food $ense Utah State University.”


Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.




Create Family Mealtime // 4 Tips for Success

Create Family Mealtime

We know eating together as a family is important, but sometimes it can be tough. Try these tips to make your family meals a success, and make an effort to eat together as a family during National Family Mealtime month in September.


With school starting, it may feel like your family is getting pulled in all directions.  Piano practice, football games, swim team tryouts, school projects, and study groups may be filling up your family’s schedule.  An important way to keep your family connected in busy times is having meals together.  Family meals have been associated with improved diets, academic performance and vocabularies. They also decrease the risk of children experiencing depression, eating disorders, and drug/alcohol use.

This may be why September has been declared National Family Mealtime month, and Healthy Family Meals month in Utah. Here are some tips that can help make family mealtime a habit.

  1. Plan and prioritize. Make family mealtime a priority by planning it in your day.  Plan when, where, and what you will be eating.  Let your family know that it is important for everyone to be present.  Take time each month (or a few times a month) to plan your meals.  This can help you save time and money throughout the month.
  2. Make it work for your family.  Is family dinnertime not working?  Try family breakfast, lunch, or afterschool snack time.  Just take time to sit together, share a healthy meal (or snack), and connect as a family.
  3. Ditch the electronics.   With so much socializing happening online, we can lose touch with the art of conversation.  Help your family spend time together undistracted by turning off or putting away cell phones and other electronic devices.  Parents, this includes your devices too!
  4. Keep it simple and fun.  Family mealtime doesn’t need to be a source of stress.  By planning your meal and involving the whole family in the prep and cleanup, you can keep it from being a burden.  Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself that it has to be a certain way (see tip # 2).  Use this time to talk about your days and fun memories.  Avoid discussing topics that may lead to contention: discipline, etc.

Equipped with these tips, we invite you to take the pledge to start the habit of more family mealtimes this September.

For more family mealtime tips, check out our resources at CreateBetterHealth.usu.edu.


This article was written by LaCee Jimenez, Food $ense (SNAP-Ed) Coordinator with Utah State University Extension




Wild Rice and Bacon Soup Mix

wild rice soupPrep some wild rice and bacon soup mix for those busy nights when you need an easy dinner. 


Soup Mix Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 cup imitation bacon bits
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery flakes
  • 1 cube beef bouillon
  • 1/4 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 cup dried minced onions

Place soup mix in a large soup pot. Add 7 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add canned or fresh sliced mushrooms if desired. Cover, reduce to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender.


This recipe was contributed by Suzanne Prevedel, family and consumer sciences educator for USU Extension in Duchesne County




Hearty Beef, Barley & Lentil Soup Mix

Beef Soup MixMake a few batches of this soup mix for an easy weeknight dinner.


Ingredients

 

  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef or stew meat
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced celery
  • 1/4 cup dried carrots
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup imitation bacon bits (optional)

 

Directions:

Brown meat in a soup pot. Add water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until lentils, barley, and vegetables are tender.

Make it a Mix:

Dry ingredients can be combined and stored in pint jars or ziplock bags to make dinner easy any night of the week.

Add other dried veggies for a more colorful and flavorful mix. My favorite is the red and green bell pepper mix.


This recipe was contributed by Suzanne Prevedel, family and consumer sciences educator for USU Extension in Duchesne County