Monday, October 31, 2011

Creamy Pumpkin (or Squash) Soup

Source: Real Simple, October 2011

Why, yes, it is butternut squash week at our house!

Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 20m
Total Time: 50m


1 3-pound sugar pumpkin or 3 pounds kabocha or butternut squash—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
4 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
4 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
sour cream, croutons, and paprika (preferably smoked), for serving


1. Heat oven to 400° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the pumpkin with 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the roasted pumpkin, 4 cups of the broth, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. In a blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth, adjusting the consistency with the remaining broth as necessary. (Alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender in the saucepan.) Top the soup with the sour cream and croutons and sprinkle with the paprika, if desired.

Butternut Squash Salad With Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese

Source: Real Simple, October 2011

Geoff and I have made this a few times. We've substituted shallots for the red onion. Geoff prefers the red onion, but I'm not really a fan of either one, so we'll be leaving them off my salad the next time we make it.

Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 10m
Total Time: 50m


1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, delicata squash, or sugar pumpkin—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (we used a 20-oz package of pre-cut butternut squash)
5 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 cups mixed greens (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)


1. Heat oven to 400° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, spread the hazelnuts on a second rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly, then rub in a clean dish towel to remove the skins (discard skins). Roughly chop.

(NOTE: Geoff and I bought a bag of chopped hazelnuts, toasted them, and left the skins on. Just learn from my mistake: chopped nuts only take a few minutes to toast, not 10-12!)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the squash, hazelnuts, greens, and onion and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the blue cheese.

sour cream noodle bake

Kind of the ultimate comfort food. As usual with the Pioneer Woman, this doesn't exactly qualify as health food, but I used all low-fat dairy products and soy crumble, and it still tasted great. We ate it with roasted brussels sprouts, which were an excellent complement.


  • 1-1/4 pound ground chuck [I specifically chose this recipe because I had a package of soy crumble and couldn't tell if it was going to be disgusting, so I wanted to disguise it in a dish with a lot of strong flavors...]
  • 1 can 15-ounces tomato sauce [I used half a jar of leftover tomato sauce]
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces of egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground chuck in a large skillet. Drain fat, then add tomato sauce. 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add to noodles and stir. Add green onions and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

Serve with crusty French bread.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Roasted chicken, Ferran Adria style

G bought me a cookbook for my birthday, filled with lots of recipes for busy parents -- although I like to think it'd work for any busy person.
I'll be making lots of recipes from the book this week, and already I can tell you that doing a lot of the prep work the weekend before makes for an easier time during the week.
So, I've got a couple chicken recipes I'll be trying. The cookbook says start with rotisserie chicken, in an effort to make it even easier. But I find roasting chicken is so easy, and worth the effort.
This recipe caught my eye a few weeks ago, because Ferran Adria is a culinary genius. Make a recipe that is one of his, without all the "tricks"? Sounds like a good idea to me.
This one is a lot of work, but it's so, so good.

Adapted from Serious Eats (because I didn't bother with the pan sauce)

2 whole chickens, 4 1/2 pounds each
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons
20 dried bay leaves
3 3/4 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/3 cup dried thyme
2/3 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Use a pair of strong kitchen scissors to snip off the tips of the wings. Cut off the parson's nose (tail) of the chicken.
Put the chicken in a roasting pan, season inside and out with salt, then rub with oil. Finely grate the lemon zest over the breast and legs.
Cut the lemon into pieces and place inside of the chicken.
Put the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and peppercorns into a small food processor or blender and process to a fine powder.
Rub the herb mixture over the chicken and push the unpeeled garlic cloves inside the chicken.
Roast the chicken, breast facing down, for 25 minutes.
Turn the chicken over and roast it for another 35 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
Let chicken rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baked Pumpkin (or Apple) Oatmeal

Adapted from: Annie's Eats

Ok, so, I would definitely make this again, but with some changes. I am going to put the original recipe here since this is what I followed, and I will explain the adaptations I would make next time. Basically, this was too sweet for me, but still worth eating, and I am about to polish off the whole thing, which I have been eating every morning for breakfast for the past week (it makes a lot). If you prefer your oatmeal on the less-sweet side like I do, cut back significantly on the sugar Also, I didn't think there were enough bananas for the amount of oatmeal that this made. Third, I think next time I will try this with apples on the bottom instead of bananas, because I think the tartness from the apples would work nicely with this recipe, and would offset the sweetness a bit. But, with those things in mind, I will make this again, but I will play around with it a little bit.

1 cup steel cut oats
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
4 cups very hot water
2 medium bananas, sliced (I would use at least 3, or try apples instead)
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. brown sugar, lightly packed, divided (I would use less)
2¼ tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
3 cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Place the steel cut oats in a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of the butter. Pour the hot water over the oats and cover the bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized bananas. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bananas, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon to the pan. Toss gently and cook briefly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

After the steel cut oats have finished soaking, stir in the old fashioned oats, remaining ½ cup of brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, remaining 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the pumpkin, milk and vanilla. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the oat mixture.

Spread the bananas over the bottom of a lightly greased 2 quart-ish baking dish. Pour the oatmeal mixture on top of the bananas. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nana's Peanut Butter Cookies

How is this recipe not here? I was too lazy to go searching through my recipe box, so I typed some searchy things into our search box and it's not here.

It should be here. And now I'm off to make peanut butter cookies.

1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. brown sugar (either kind)
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter
Mix together. Add:
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. soda
Beat with hand mixer. Add:
1 1/2 c. flour with 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well. Chill dough for 30 minutes. Roll into balls, press with fork to flatten. Bake 10 minutes at 375.
They're foolproof, these cookies.

Pumpkin cupcakes

I can't believe I didn't post this recipe. Because it is so, so good and you all need to run out and make it, quick like.
I'm really just going to post the link, because I didn't do anything different than the recipe. I took these to work, and my guys (I have all guys that work for me) raved about them. Several weeks later, they're all still talking about the cupcakes and asking when I'll make more.
That might partially be because they're all bachelors and don't do any baking themselves.
Anyway, make these cupcakes.

Easy corn chowder

Also adapted from the new cookbook. It's in the slow cooker today on this gray, rainy day, when I've got a sick almost 3-year-old (!) laying on the couch, being very demanding.
You don't have to have the sick pre-schooler in order to be able to make this recipe, though.

1 qt. chicken broth (do yourself a favor and get the low sodium, low fat kind)
1 bag frozen corn
1 small onion, diced
3 red skinned potatoes (I think any potato would work), diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1/2 c. heavy cream (half and half would also work)
salt and pepper to taste
bacon, fried and crumbled

Combine broth, corn, onion, potatoes, and green pepper in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Mash half (or use an immersion blender) to thicken, and add cream. Cook on high until heated through.
Use the bacon as a topping. (You could also use some cheese as a topping, too)

Pork and apples

Truth is, we haven't been make a lot of earth-shattering recipes lately. Sometimes we fall back on old favorites -- like braised short ribs -- and other times we just fall back on quick and easy. This seems to be the season of quick and easy.
Lucky for me, I got a couple new cookbooks for my birthday, and so I'm back in the kitchen. With quick and easy.

This is adapted from the "Crockpot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes," which Gaby and Katie picked out for my birthday.

4-6 boneless pork chops
4-5 medium apples, sliced (the recipe calls for Golden Delicious, but I used gala)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Place pork in crockpot. Cover with apples. Combine brown sugar and salt in a small bowl; sprinkle over apples. Cover; cook on low for 6-8 hours. (definitely 8 if you start with frozen pork, like me)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Tuna Patties

These were fast to prep and fast to cook. Just reminiscent enough of crab cakes that we took out the Old Bay and gave a shake over the finished patties. They are moist and lemony enough that they don't even need a condiment.

From Elise

•2 6-ounce cans tuna
•2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
•1/2 cup white bread torn into small pieces (bread crumbs)
•1 teaspoon lemon zest (I zested the whole thing)
•1 Tbsp lemon juice (I juiced the whole thing)
•1 Tbsp water (or liquid from the cans of tuna)
•2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
•2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives, green onions, or shallots
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•A couple squirts of Crystal hot sauce or tabasco
•1 raw egg
•2 Tbsp olive oil
•1/2 teaspoon butter (I didn't use this)

1 Drain the liquid from the tuna cans. If you are using tuna packed in water, reserve a tablespoon of the tuna water, and add a teaspoon of olive oil to the tuna mixture in the next step. (I didn't add oil to the tuna because they were being cooked in OO and I figured the egg, lemon and parsley, etc. were texture and flavor enough.)

2 In a medium bowl, mix together the tuna, mustard, torn white bread, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, chives, and hot sauce. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste the mixture before adding the egg to see if it needs more seasoning to your taste. Mix in the egg.

3 Divide the mixture into 4 parts. With each part, form into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Place onto a wax paper lined tray and chill for an hour. (You can skip the chilling if you want, chilling just helps the patties stay together when you cook them.)

4 Heat the olive oil and a little butter (for taste) in a cast iron or stick-free skillet on medium high. Gently place the patties in the pan, and cook until nicely browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.

Serve with wedges of lemon. You can also serve with tartar sauce on slider buns for a tuna burger.

Makes 4 patties.

Mushroom Sugo

From Elise.
This was sooooo delicious. We served it over polenta.

It did take a while (30 min) to pull all this together but then it cooks itself for 90 minutes. Mincing is close work; I got my mindfulness dose today.

I loved the texture of the sauce because the veggies don't cook to complete uniform sauciness. Reviewers compared it to a bolognese (meat) sauce and while I love that it can be made entirely, beautifully vegetarian, the hearty texture and earthy flavors make me agree with this assessment.


The onions cook for a long time, during which you can prep the rest of the vegetables if you want to save some time. If you are using dry herbs, use half as much. The mincing is important, as the sauce is not strained or puréed.

•1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
•4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
•2 medium yellow onions, peeled and minced (yielding about 2 cups minced onion)
•2 carrots, peeled and minced (yielding about 1 1/2 cups minced carrots)
•3 celery ribs, minced (yielding about 1 1/2 cups minced celery)
•6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
•1 bunch parsely, minced (yielding 1/3 cup loosely packed)
•1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
•1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
•1/4 teaspoon fresh marjoram (we didn't have marjoram growing so we used fresh oregano instead, which has a similar flavor)
•1/2 cup dry red wine
•1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
•1 beef bouillon cube (use vegetable bouillon cube for vegetarian option)
•1 bay leaf
•Freshly ground black pepper

1 Place dry mushrooms to soak in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water. Set aside. (I had never used porcini before - what a treat! You know you're a grown-up when...)

2 Heat olive oil in a medium, thick-bottomed pot (4 or 5 quart) over medium heat. (I used a deep/wide skillet so I could spread the veggies out and use the shorter cook times for each step) Add the minced onions and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a deep golden color, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust the heat lower if necessary to keep the onions from drying out.

3 Add the minced carrots and cook for 5-6 more minutes. Add the celery and cook until soft, about 10 more minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Cook for 4-5 minutes more. (and then it starts to smell AMAZING!)

4 Remove the porcini from the soaking liquid, reserving the liquid. (The easiest way to do this we found is to pour the porcini and soaking liquid through a coffee filter, into a bowl or measuring cup. This helps remove any grit that may be lingering in the soaking liquid.) Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the vegetables in the pot.

5 Push the vegetables to one side of the pot and increase the heat to high. Add the 1/2 cup of red wine to the side of the pot without the vegetables and cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes. (subbed stock)

6 Add the tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups of the mushroom soaking liquid, the bouillon cube (break it up with your fingers as you add it), and the bay leaf to the pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Add ground black pepper to taste. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Discard the bay leaf.

Serve over polenta or toss with ravioli or other pasta.

Serves 8.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pecan Praline Topping

I wanted to make something as an extra special thank you to some of our friends who gifted us with spectacularly awesome gifts at our housewarming party and I thought the Maple Syrup Spice Cake would be just the thing. Topped with this recipe for Walnut Praline Topping from Joy the Baker.

I could have made the pear spice cake since I have pears in the fridge but honestly it was more work and dirty dishes than I had time for today. Also, the maple syrup cake is actually not very sweet so this topping is perfect for it. And it is heaven. I used toasted pecans because I think they go really well with this particular recipe. And it's so good I have to stop myself from cutting one more tiny piece. Also, this is not vegan in any way so if you are serving the cake which is vegan, well, keep that in mind.

1 stick butter
3/4 C packed brown sugar (I used dark)
1/4 C cream
1 C toasted pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

Combine butter, brown sugar and cream in a medium saucepan on medium-hi heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil 3 minutes then stir in nuts. Pour over cake and serve warm or at room temp. A perfect fall dessert to take to the office or eat for breakfast or to say thank you.