I’ve mentioned the Sunday evening routine at my house before.
Some how, this past weekend, the stars aligned or something, and I had almost all day at home on Sunday. And it was glorious.
I took full advantage, and spent a good part of the afternoon and evening in the kitchen. In between the time I spent snuggled up on my bed with coffee and the Sunday paper.
I heart Sundays at home.
We didn’t have any errands to run, or any family visits to make, so I knew we’d have a rare Sunday supper at home. And that calls for something kinda special.
But not too hard since I wanted to enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon (and I already had a lot of other stuff to cook–see below). It called for one of my favorite winter recipes of all time–Winter Squash Carbonara.
I found this recipe a couple years ago on the Closet Cooking Blog. I absolutely love Kevin’s delicious, made-from-scratch food that’s not too fussy. I’ve made a number of his recipes, and they all have a unique twist on a straight-forward dish. Like this one.
I’ve modified it a bit, as I’ve made it over the past couple years. This time, I made it with pumpkin cubes that had been roasted and frozen. They were pretty soft when I added them to the sauce, and kinda mushed up. I thought that was going to be a bad thing, so I tried to be very easy as I stirred. I realized they kinda incorporated into the sauce, and made this creamy, gooeyness that was better than any other time I made it.
Carbonara is a traditional Italian pasta dish with the sauce made from cured pork, cream, egg yolks and hard cheese-either parmigiano or pecorino. Italians generally use pancetta, which is cured pork similar to bacon, except it is not smoked.
In a recipe like this, with simple flavors that become the star of the dish, it’s important to use the best quality ingredients you have access to. I use bacon in my recipe. But I only buy bacon from farmers I trust. You won’t find any Smithfield at my house. Ever. There are a myriad of reasons to buy bacon from a farm that raises their pork humanely that I won’t bore you with. However you feel about how your meat is raised is up to you, but I urge you to try some bacon made from pasture-raised pork. You might not think it would taste that different, or be that much better, but it will blow you away. The quality of pasture-raised pork is enough of a reason to use it alone. The bacon is meaty–you know how sometimes you get a piece of bacon that seems like all slimy fat in store-bought bacon. And the taste is more pork-y and yummy.
My eggs came from a farmer that I’ve gotten to know through the Monroe Farm Market. Even this time of year, his hens produce eggs consistently. They eat worms and bugs in an outdoor pen, in addition to their natural corn feed. The yolks are an amazing yellow because of their diet. And the taste is incredible, which is important in a dish that you’ll be eating them only very lightly heated in.
I mentioned that I used roasted pumpkin in place of the butternut squash in the recipe. I also changed it up by using four pieces of bacon. That’s about it. Here’s the link to the original recipe on Closet Cooking Blog.
My usual Sunday evening routine, even when I am out and about on Sunday, entails baking something for breakfast for the upcoming week. And sometimes, if I have time, I throw together a soup to eat for lunch in the upcoming week, too.
I thought it was high time for some quick bread for breakfast. (After last week’s scone incident.) Bam. Nutty Pumpkin Bread from my Simply In Season cookbook.
I have a ton of frozen pumpkin from last fall. I never buy canned pumpkin. It’s too easy to make yourself. Cut in half, remove the seeds and roast. That’s it. Some I diced up after roasting and froze for dishes like the winter squash carbonara I made for dinner, and some I pureed to use in baking.
I’m not a big sweets-for-breakfast person, but I like this recipe because it’s kinda healthy. It uses 50/50 white and whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and I sub applesauce for the oil. It only has one cup of sugar, too. That sounds like a lot, but some quick bread recipes call for as much as three cups! The pumpkin in this bread is so sweet naturally, you don’t need any more sugar.
For lunches this week, I made a big pot of vegetable “venison” soup. My favorite soups are the ones that you just dump a bunch of stuff in and turn on the crockpot, then you have hearty delicious soup in eight hours. This one was almost all local, save for the organic onions and carrots I used. I emptied a lot of jars from my larder. I used a quart each of tomato juice and whole tomatoes that my mom canned, a quart each of venison and green beans that my mother-in-law canned, a pint of frozen venison stock I made from roasted bones, a pint of frozen corn from the end of the season last year, a fresh potato I buy from the farmer I work with, roasted garlic from the Monroe Farm Market, and some salt, pepper and paprika. Now the Hubs and I are set for lunch this week, too.
It’s going to be a delicious week.