Cider Braised Pork and Butternut Squash Tacos

Cider Pork Tacos

Lately I’ve been obsessed with tacos. Going gluten-free has been pretty easy at home, but dining out is a bit of a challenge. No short ribs because they’re dusted in flour before searing; sushi is a bit complicated unless you bring your own tamari (gluten-free soy sauce); and watching people gobble down a giant bowl of pasta is just not fun. So I’ve latched onto Mexican cuisine. It was already one of my favorite cuisines, but knowing it’s pretty much all naturally gluten-free, so long as the tortilla shells are corn, it’s a no brainer. Though ordering or dining out on tacos a few times a week does add up.

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Warm Summer Squash and Lentil Salad

Summer Squash Lentils (3)

Squash might very well be one of my favorite vegetables. I’ve never heard a person say, “I don’t like squash.” There are so many varieties, saying you dislike squash is like saying you don’t like herbs. It’s hard to generalize. I’m not a huge fan of spaghetti squash. Perhaps it’s because I don’t quite “get it”. But shying away from that one variety isn’t going to put me off squash for life. In the summer, I love zucchini, bright yellow summer squash and all the mini variations that come with it. Winter warms me to butternut squash, acorn squash and pumpkin (yes, pumpkin is a squash too!). I put up both summer and winter varieties, shredded or chopped in the summer, pureed in the winter so I’m never without.

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Slow Cooked Butternut Squash & Apricot Stew

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I have a tendency to hoard food. There’s no basis for this habit. I’ve always been well fed (too well fed as my scale sometimes notes) and never gone without, but for some reason I have this anxiety that if I eat it all, I can’t get it again. Maybe it happened when I started taking this locavore thing so seriously. The realization that strawberries can’t grow year round in the northeast. I need to get my fill while they’re in season, preserve their flavors as best I can and hunker down for a round 9 months without seeing them again. By the time strawberry season finishes, I’ve stuff myself so full I can’t imagine having even the smallest of berries. That lasts for about a month or so, then the cravings return with a vengeance. Preserving helps, knowing that I have fresh strawberry jam to last the winter puts me slightly at ease. Until it doesn’t. I only have 6 jars to survive the winter (let’s forget about the other few dozen types of jam I also have stored up in my pantry). I panick. Will they really last? So I ration myself, allowing myself only a small spoonful of the sweet chunky jam every few weeks, determined to make my inventory last. Fast forward 9 months later, as strawberries start to surface at the greenmarkets and I find myself still left with 4 jars. I’ve rationed too well and find myself pushing jars of jam on everyone I know (thanks for holding the subway door for me; here, have some homemade jam) so I can start fresh in the new season.

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Butternut Squash, Spinach & Leek Tart

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One of my fall habits has been to pick up a butternut squash (or two) with every trip to the Farmer’s Market. A trip every week, or even every other week over the course of several months equals a whole lot of squash. I’m great at bringing it home, roasting it, pureeing it and freezing it for later in the winter. What I’m not particularly good at is finding new uses for that beautiful squash puree besides my go to mac and cheese. So when I found a recipe for a Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart with Gruyère in a recent issue of Cooking Light, I tour it out, set it aside with high hopes of actually making it.

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Favorite Recipes of 2012

2012YearEnd

I am done cooking for the year! Sad and nice at the same time. We’ll be traveling to visit more family for the rest of the year and heading out for New Year’s Eve. So after making pizza this evening, I am not expected to cook ANYTHING until New Year’s Day. And yes, that even includes preparing a bowl of oatmeal.

While I love cooking, it is fun to get a break. This year I’ve cooked a lot and tried to blog about most experiments and even some failures. I had a lot of extra time during the summer, and as a result my pantry is overflowing. Who knows what I’ll achieve next year. I have started thinking about a sort of “bucket list” as to what food goals I’d like to achieve in 2013, but until then, let’s have one last 2012 recipe hurrah with you, the readers’ favorite recipes of the year and a few additions of my own.

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