Plantluck Dinner – A Winter Solstice Celebration Meal

Happy Winter Solstice

On Monday, December 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM EST we can take a collective breath as we begin to see the days grow longer.  Longer days are here again.  As we go from the point of days with shorter daylight to days with longer daylight, there is a cause of celebration.

To celebrate, Helen Yoest (that’s me!) of Gardening With Confidence™ and 3 fellow social media friends created a Winter Solstice meal just for you.

We treated this meal like a potluck dinner.   Each of us offered up what ever we fancied,  but agreed the recipes would be plant-based – not necessarily vegetarian; but a recipe that used a plant as it’s main ingredient.  As such, we are calling this meal, a Plantluck Dinner for a Winter Solstice Celebration Meal.


The planners for your Plantluck Dinner for a Winter Solstice Celebration Meal:

Lynn Felici-Galllant
http://www.twitter.com/IndigoGardens
Indigo gardens

Kath Gallant/Blue Moon Cafe
http://www.twitter.com/BlueMoonMarket
Fan Blue Moon Market & Cafe on
http://www.facebook.com


Teresa O’Connor
Seasonal Wisdom
www.twitter.com/seasonalwisdom
Fan Seasonal Wisdom on
http://www.facebook.com


Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidence

http://www.twitter.com/HelenYoest
Fan Gardening With Confidence™ on
http://www.facebook.com




Kelly Senser

http://www.twitter.com/klsnature






Solstice Stuffed Acorn Squash

.

Ingredients:

4 medium acorn squash, locally harvested if possible

2 cups Lundberg’s long grain brown rice

1/3 cup shredded carrots

1/3 cup minced, dried sweet cranberries

1/3 cup minced, dried sweet apricots

1/3 cup whole, hulled pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup minced red onion

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped mint

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut the top ¼ of the acorn squash, and remove all seeds. Place the squash and the tops face down in a roasting pan. Add ½ cup of water and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the squash is soft to the touch. Set aside.

Meanwhile, blend 2 cups of Lundberg’s long grain brown rice with 4 cups of water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 50 minutes. When the rice is tender, drain and pour it into a large bowl and allow it to cool. When cool, add the carrots, cranberries, apricots, pumpkin seeds, red onion and 2 tablespoons of parsley.

Whisk together balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, mint, pepper, remaining salt and remaining parsley. Toss with the rice and fruit medley. Fill each acorn squash and enjoy!

Lynn Felici-Gallant and Kath Gallant

Recipe by Kath Gallant, Chef and Proprietor of the Blue Moon Café, Exeter, N.H.

About Kath & the Blue Moon Café:

For nearly 15 years, Kath Gallant has nurtured the New Hampshire community through the Blue Moon Café in Exeter. The award-winning café serves creative, abundant cuisine, and is committed to earth-wise education about food and wellness. When not in the kitchen, Kath tends a 2000 square-foot organic vegetable, herb and flower garden that supplies fresh fare to the café, and is presently at work with her sister-in-law, garden designer and writer Lynn Felici-Gallant, on the café’s first (and much-requested!) cookbook.

Today, Kath and Lynn are serving up Solstice Stuffed Acorn Squash.  “I love this dish, especially at the holidays. The natural shades of the rice accented with the vibrant jewel-toned cranberries and apricots served in a savory squash reflect the colors and the spirit of the season,” says Kath.

This dish will be on my Solstice celebration table.  “Rice and fruit-filled acorn squash is my favorite of Kath’s recipes from Blue Moon. It is at once healthful and beautiful, and the combination of flavors, fragrance and textures satisfies all of my senses,” says Lynn.

Seasonal Wisdom’s Kale with Feta and Bacon


Here’s a tasty way to eat more healthy winter greens.  This recipe combines nutritious kale with bacon and goat cheese to create a delicious dish your entire family will enjoy.

Lucky for us, kale grows well in winter in many places, and it’s hard to beat this green’s high nutritional content.  Kale is simply loaded with vitamins A and C, not to mention B vitamins, calcium and other minerals.  At our house, we make this dish whenever nutritious comfort food is needed on a cold, winter night.

Ingredients:

3 slices of bacon or vegetarian-style bacon (preferably organic, local or sustainably raised)

1 bunch of kale leaves, chopped

1/3 cup of chopped red peppers (I use frozen peppers from my garden)

1 medium sized onion

1-2 cloves garlic

2/3 cup of vegetable broth

1/4 cup of dry white wine

1-2 tablespoons of feta cheese

1 tsp of Dijon style mustard

1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp of dried thyme)

1 tsp fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp of dried rosemary)

Pinch of cayenne

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon until crisp. Place cooked bacon on paper towels to drain. In remaining bacon fat, sauté garlic and onions in cooking pan at medium heat until onions are translucent. (If using vegetarian-style bacon, add olive oil while cooking bacon and also while cooking onions.) Then, add red peppers and cook a minute or so to soften.

Add herbs, mustard, broth, white wine, and salt and pepper.  Stir to mix well.

Then add chopped kale and stir well. Cover pan and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. A few minutes before done, add feta and stir well. Serve warm.

This recipe makes a yummy side dish.  But these greens also make a great quiche:  simply add a cup of milk or almond milk; 3/4 cup of shredded cheese; and three eggs to the above recipe. Pour mixture into uncooked pie crust and bake at 375° F for 35-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when a toothpick stuck in the center of the quiche comes out clean. Let it sit a few minutes before serving.

Teresa O'Connor Seasonal Wisdom

About the Author: Teresa O’Connor (aka @SeasonalWisdom on Twitter) writes about gardening, local foods and seasonal folklore for online and print publications as well as on her blog www.seasonalwisdom.com.

Teresa co-authored “Grocery Gardening: Planting, Preparing and Preserving Fresh Foods,” (Cool Springs Press) – coming out in January 2010 – where she reported on  nutritional research about produce, and provided tips for purchasing fresh foods locally.


GWC’s Sweet Potato Casserole


ingredients:


6 Sweet Potatoes

Bag of mini-marshmallows

Some butter – optional – I happen to put butter in everything

Some brown sugar – I used 1/4 cup

Proportions can change depending on  your preference.  Add more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste

Boil potatoes with skins on.  Can be boiled a day in advance.  When done (when a knife easily enters the potato) let cool.

After the sweet potatoes have cooled enough to handle, remove the skins.  At this point, the skin will just slide off.

Pre-heat oven to 350° F

Place ingredients directly into an oven proof dish.

Chop or mash the sweet potatoes with a folk.

Sprinkle brown sugar over top

Sprinkle 3/4 mini-marshmallows over top

Dot with butter (if desired)

Mix all together

Cook at 350° F for about a half hour or until heated through.

Add the reminder of the mini-marshmallows on top for garnish.

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook friend’s page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence™ Face Book Fan Page.

Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum

Recipe for Apple Crumb Pie


Crust (if you don’t already have a favorite of your own):

ingredients:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon margarine

1 cup flour

1/4  teaspoon salt

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water



Step 1: Using a fork, cut margarine into flour and salt (already in bowl); combine until particles are about the size of small peas.

Step 2: Add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until the flour mixture is moistened and dough almost cleans the side of bowl.


Step 3: Gather dough into a ball and place on lightly floured surface. Using floured rolling-pin, roll dough until it’s about 2 inches larger than inverted pie plate.

Step 4: Fold dough into fourths; place in pie plate.


Step 5: Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.

Step 6: Decorate edge as you deem fit. I use my fingers to create wave pattern (image 4). Note: I actually use both hands, but I needed one to snap the photo. :0)


Pie filling:

ingredients:

4 or 5 golden delicious apples (or your favorite baking apple)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Step 7: Peel and slice apples, then place inside crust

Step 8: Mix sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apples.

Step 9: Mix all ingredients together until moist and crumbly. Place on top of the apples.

Crumb topping:

ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup butter (margarine may also be substituted)

Step 10: Bake pie at 400 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.

Enjoy!


While I bake this pie for various occasions, it’s a family tradition to present this dessert—warm from the oven—to each child’s teacher during appreciation week in May. We draft a poem to go along with it, which typically begins something like this: “An apple for the teacher is a customary treat/So we baked you a pie to let you know you’re sweet …” Fun for all!


Kelly Senser is a nature-loving mom who enjoys wildlife gardening and outdoor play. She’s a senior associate editor at National Wildlife magazine. Follow Kelly on Twitter @klsnature.




I hope you enjoyed our Plantluck Dinner – Winter Solstice Celebration Meal.  A meal sure to please all of us looking who are forward to longer days!


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29 Comments »

  1. JP said

    Plantluck? I love it!

  2. Helen:

    Thanks again for including me such a wonderful group of women in your plantluck banquet. Can’t wait to try everyone’s recipes. They all look delicious….

    Hope you have a lovely solstice, Helen. It’s been a real pleasure meeting you this year. Teresa O’Connor

  3. joey said

    Perfect name for a delightful idea to celebrate this special day, a favorite of mine! Thanks for sharing the yummy recipes :)

  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by HelenYoest: A Plantluck dinner – Winter Solstice Celebration meal with @SeasonalWisdom @IndigoGardens @klsnature http://tinyurl.com/ykwkcl8

  5. Thanks so much for inviting me to participate, Helen. Such a lovely post to be part of. Sometime after “National Wildlife” magazine debuts its new wildlife gardening section in January, I hope to welcome you as a guest too. Always enjoy my e-visits to Helen’s Haven, seeing all the critters it supports…. You’re a wonderful habitat advocate.

    The happiest of holidays to you and your family!

    Kelly

    • Thanks for participating Kelly. It was your tweet about your apple pie that inspired me to do this. May you find comfort and joy this holiday. H.

  6. 2nds on the Sweet Potato and Apple dishes! I was just thinking maybe I should host a Winter Solstice party – as I always hold a Summer Solstice one. Think you may have inspired me…

  7. Seconds all around for me!!! A Winter Solstice party sounds divine. I din’t know holding a summer solstice party was something you did. Ask me about the Summer Solstice Celebration fundraiser I started at the JCRA…H.

  8. Looks delicious! Especially the stuffed acorn squash. Hmmm. I’m thinking that next meatless monday (21st) we may have to celebrate the Winter Solstice at dinnertime. I love it! The kids and I usually plant a couple of milk cartons with perennial seeds and place them out side for the winter to celebrate the solstice. When temps warm up in the spring they sprout! The seeds… not the kids…although they do too.

  9. Lisa Cerne said

    Kelly was kind enough to share this apple pie recipe with me some years ago… and in fact was the person who taught me to make pie crust. In the years I have been making it, it has always received rave reviews and actually has elicited more than one marriage proposal (!), oddly enough, not from my husband, though indeed this pie makes him one very happy fella, too! I recently finished pastry school and this is and will remain my go-to apple pie recipe!

    The crust is lovely when made with butter, also, and I strongly advocate using a deep dish stoneware baker if you have one — the resulting crust can’t be beat!

    A side note… I find it fitting that Kelly’s recipe is included in this Winter Solstice menu — 21 December is her birthday!

    I look forward to trying the other recipes!

    -Lisa

    • Lisa, that is a very nice story…Maybe the pie should part of Match.com! I’m just learning about Kelly’s birthday being on Monday too. It just goes to show, there are no coincidences.

  10. Helen said

    That does look delicious

  11. Lynn said

    Thanks so much, Helen, for inviting Kath and me to be part of your plantluck gathering. I will surely try each of the dishes, and pass them on to my friends. As I mentioned to you earlier, this virtual post could only be made better by sharing this beautiful meal in person with you, Kelly, Teresa and Kath. Happy solstice, my friend. Bravo on another terrific contribution to the blogosphere ;). Lynn

  12. Oh, Lynn, it turned out to be the perfect meal from friends who like to cook and share. I am so looking forward to preparing the Solstice dish from Blue Moon Cafe. It looks yummy. Thanks again for participating.

  13. Stevie said

    mmm it all looks great but I want the kale – everything tastes good with bacon!

  14. These look like yummy recipes – just in time for cookin’! Thanks! But I missed your record-breaking, three-Helens-in-a-row comment fest by *that* much!

  15. Gail said

    The stuffed squash sounds luscious..I do love recipes that feature the healthier brown rices. Helen this is truly a delicious post! gail

  16. Diana said

    Helen, delicious event and recipes! And to think just 4 more days! I’m ordering my seeds for the vegetable garden.

  17. What a wonderful group of creative cooks you’ve brought together! Now the only question is which recipe to try first…

  18. [...] Tomorrow (Monday) at 12:47 PM EST will bring the Winter Solstice.  For this light starved gardener, the Winter Solstice is a much anticipated day.  To celebrate, fellow bloggers and I created a Plantluck Dinner – A Winter Solstice Celebration Meal. [...]

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