Coconut Curry & Butternut Squash

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This past week I put together a few of my produce box vegetables to make a curry dish.  This coconut and curry dish is slightly sweet with a thick sauce made of puréed squash. It made plenty of food – enough for freezing, leftovers, or to feed a large crowd.  I served it with cooked Basmati Rice.

I made it milder for my kids, but amped up my own bowl with a few more spoonfuls of curry paste.  Curry is one of my favorite flavors of all time and I am fairly certain I could put it on just about anything. Curried ice cream, curried cookies, curried bananas…you name it and I will try it with curry.

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Start by cutting 1 medium butternut squash into 4 sections and removing the seeds.  Place the squash sections on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake it at 400° for 35-40 minutes.  This is the easiest method for preparing butternut squash, because after the squash has cooled off, the skin just peels right off.

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Purée the cooked and peeled squash with 1- 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk and 1 cup of water.  I split my pureé into 2 sections, so as to not overflow my Ninja Professional Blender (this is the best blender I have ever owned!)  You may have more or less, depending on the size of the squash, and therefore adjust water as needed.  Place the squash mixture into a slow cooker and turn it on low.

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Peel and cube 2 medium potatoes.  Add to slow cooker. Sauté 1/2 of yellow onion in oil until softened, add to slow cooker. Mix in 2-5 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (less for milder dish, more for spicier dish).

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Cube 1 block of extra firm tofu.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with oil, and spread out tofu.  Flip to coat in oil.  Bake in oven at 400° for 15- 20 minutes, flipping once.  This helps to dry out and the tofu before adding it to the squash mixture.  For crispier tofu, follow broiling steps, with or without flavoring.  Remove tofu from baking sheet and add to slow cooker.

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Remove seeds and ribbing, and slice 1 medium green bell pepper, add to slow cooker. Stir mixture well, and cook on low, covered, for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  I served this with cooked Basmati rice.  As you can see, the recipe creates a very full slow cooker.  You can reduce veggies or tofu amounts, if desired.

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Other things going on in my world – caucusing is coming up. I live in Iowa, so of course the political scene is a big deal right now.  February 1 is the big date and the candidates are still working Iowa hard.  I haven’t caucused since college and am looking forward to being a part of the process again.  We found this hilarious shirt at the downtown Des Moines Raygun shop.

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It’s been cold, so the kids and I have been catching up on our reading.  This is a new family favorite – Star Wars ABC.  My daughter just giggles when I tell her that wookies are my favorite part of Star Wars.  I haven’t seen the newest one yet and have a rule in my classroom that students aren’t allowed to spoil it for me.  I need to get Eric up to speed first, as he is not as much of a Star Wars fan as I am.

 

Coconut Curry & Butternut Squash 

  1. Cut 1 medium butternut squash into 4 sections and remove the seeds.  Place the squash sections on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake it at 400° for 35-40 minutes.  Allow squash to cool and remove skin.
  2. Purée the cooked and peeled squash with 1- 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk and 1 cup of water.  Place the squash mixture into a slow cooker and turn it on to low.
  3. Peel and cube 2 medium potatoes.  Add to slow cooker.
  4. Sauté 1/2 of yellow onion in oil until softened, add to slow cooker.
  5. Mix in 2-5 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (less for milder dish, more for spicier dish).
  6. Cube 1 block of extra firm tofu.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with oil, and spread out tofu.  Flip to coat in oil.  Bake in oven at 400° for 15- 20 minutes, flipping once.  Remove tofu from baking sheet and add to slow cooker.
  7. Remove seeds and ribbing, and slice 1 medium green bell pepper, add to slow cooker. Stir mixture well, and cook on low, covered, for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  Serve with cooked rice of your choice.

High Trestle Trail Ride

 Last Sunday we finally made our way to the High Trestle Trail in Iowa.  We started in Woodward, Iowa, which is about a 30 minute drive from Des Moines.  We drove up after breakfast, fully loaded with snacks, water bottles, and the orange bike sticking out on either side of our car rack like an large orange dragon.  We parked in the High Trestle Trail parking lot and promptly realized we left the entire diaper bag at home.  So, off we road to a local gas station that was teeming with coffee sipping cyclists.  It’s amazing to see what a bike trail can do for small communities.  The best part – we were banking on lighter crowds due to the start of RAGBRAI.
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It is an easy 3 mile ride from Woodward to “The Bridge,” as it is dubbed.  The High Trestle Trail Bridge is a 13-story, 1/2 mile long bridge that was formerly a railroad bridge.  There are outlooks along the bridge that spans the Des Moines River, with informative signs detailing items such as river wildlife and cultural features.  There are 41 steel frames over the bridge which are meant to represent the frames used in historic coal mines.  The pillars at either end of the bridge have ceramic tiles created to look like coal veins.

We stopped the orange dragon at the first major scenic overlook, where we had nice views of the entire span of the bridge.  The kids were in great spirits and just wanted to be on the bridge.

I love taking this bike out – everywhere we go we get compliment and questions.  I think most people just assume that a bike trailer is the only way to ride with kids.  We used a bike trailer at first, but once we found out #2 was on the way, we started to explore other options.  We have discovered that a cargo bike is more enjoyable for adults and kids alike for a few reasons: A. it is lighter and easier to turn on a fully loaded cargo bike than you’d think. B. The cargo bikes can be configured in a variety of ways to suit your family. C. Kid passengers are not enclosed in a hot trailer, stuck in a reclining position, but are able to sit up and interact just as the adult cyclists are able to.

We bought our cargo bike from REI, but check around your area for dealers.  Even if you are not in the market for a cargo bike, I highly recommend the Yepp Bicycle Seat as an alternative to a trailer.  They can be used on regular bikes as well.
We stopped at an overlook for a selfie.  Yay for not being on RAGBRAI this year, and enjoying this inaugural ride with fantastic Iowa countryside views.  As you can see, the bridge is deserted!  It was not this empty on our return ride after noon, though.

 The verdant valley with the Des Moines River.  Lots of rain = a very green Iowa this year!
The pillars at the far end of the bridge.  We are heading on toward Madrid, Iowa (not pronounced like Madrid, Spain).

We found a great lunch spot in Madrid.  The kids split grilled cheese, fruit, and mac and cheese.  As my daughter said, “It is so good, it tastes like candy.”  There you have it, a strong endorsement from a 4-year old.
Saddles BBQ Bistro was the perfect mid-ride stop.  The kids were happy with their meal and Eric and I enjoyed our wrap and tacos immensely.  Madrid was a little deserted on this Sunday at lunch time, so we opted to eat our lunch outside.

 However, the inside of the restaurant was tastefully outfitted in cycling and Western riding decor.
We chose to dine al fresco in a small picnic area directly across the street from Saddles.  This way, the kids could stand and dance while eating.  They both get antsy after sitting on the bike for a while.

The weekday specials were prominently displayed in the front window.  After finishing our meals, we packed up and headed back toward Woodward.  It is only 6 miles between the two towns, so all in all, we ended up doing an easy 12 miles.
 My favorite shot from the day – selfie in motion.  Next time, we will ride more of the trail and hit up some of the infamous watering holes along the route. Cheers!

What’s your favorite bike route?