What I Made: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

While fans of the Pumpkin Spice Latte might disagree, to me, nothing says “Fall is here” like butternut squash soup. It’s sweet but savory, and hearty enough that it makes a nice meal when served with a crusty piece of french bread.  Pair it with a grilled cheese when there’s really a chill in the air and enjoy the Fall season before we’re all complaining about the bitterly cold winter.  Maybe I’m just still in shock from the deep freeze that was last year.  Brr!

Besides the patience required to sit idly by while smelling the delicious vegetables as they roast slowly in the oven, the soup recipe is very simple. Cut up the squash and place cut side up in a baking sheet, brushed with oil and sprinkled with thyme.  Cut the tops off two onions and a head of garlic and do the same.  Cover both with foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for at least two hours.  My squash roasted faster than my onions, so check frequently, as cooking time may vary. Once the veggies are cooled, peel off the skin and mash together in a large pot. Add broth and cream (I used half and half to cut down a bit on the fat) and mix with a stick blender until smooth.

ButternutSoup

 

As always, the full recipe follows.

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What I Made: Pork Stir-fry with Bok Choy

As promised, here’s a bok choy stir-fry recipe!  (No worries, folks, we’ll return to the soup theme tomorrow.)

The technique and sauce for this recipe are great bases for any stir-fry dish you’d like to make. The possible combinations of meat and vegetable are endless. First, the sauce is made by combining soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar with a bit of water. Then, the strips of meat are tossed in cornstarch and added to hot oil in a deep skillet after garlic and ginger are cooked. Lastly, the bok choy is wilted and all the ingredients are tossed with the sauce. Full instructions follow.

BokChoyStirFry

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What I Made: Udon Soup with Bok Choy

The week of soup continues! I’ve been using a lot of Asian flavors in my cooking, especially when I have lots of bok choy to use. Udon soup is a nice alternative to using bok choy in stir fries, although admittedly, you’ll be seeing lots of that as well.

The soup has minimal steps. First, chicken stock is simmered with some cinnamon and star anise for a rich flavor with minimal work.  Next, dried udon noodles are added before an egg is poached right in the broth. (Check out the original recipe for directions using fresh udon noodles.) The next steps are to cook the bok choy, then garnish with green onions, soy sauce, and garlic powder.

I’d strongly recommend using a low-sodium (or homemade!) chicken broth or stock for this recipe, because my soup turned out waaaaay too salty for my taste, even when using a low-sodium soy sauce.  If I were to make this again, I’d use a low or no salt stock and start with a half tablespoon of soy sauce and work up in dashes from there. If anyone tries this, I’d love to know how yours turns out.

Udon

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What I Made: Chicken and Kale Soup

The weather here has taken a turn for Fall, and so have my recipes!  This cool, dreary, and rainy weeks has called for big batches of soup to eat this week and to stash in my fridge and freezer for even cooler days ahead.

This chicken and kale soup is like an extra healthy version of chicken noodle soup. The original recipe notes that a cup and a half is estimated to provide around 40% of your daily value of vitamin A, 32% of vitamin C and 21% of your daily iron needs! It’s not surprising, as it’s loaded with some good stuff. Onions and garlic are softened in a heavy pot with oil, then the chicken is cooked. After that, it’s a matter of dumping in chicken broth, a can of rinsed garbanzo beans, and a can of diced tomatoes with the juice.  Once that comes to a boil, the pasta is cooked.  I used whole wheat rotini but the original recipe called for penne; use whatever you prefer. (I think the recipe would be extra cute with alphabet-shaped pastas!) Once the pasta is to your preferred level of doneness, cut the heat and add ribbons of kale.  As it sits, the heat of the soup will lightly cook the kale.

KaleChickenSoup

 

Click the title of this post to see the full recipe below.
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What I Made: Vinegar Glazed Beets with their Greens

Past my toddler years, I have not historically been a big consumer of beets. However, I have received a TON of beets in my CSAs baskets this year, and usually take the boring route of steaming them and eating them as a side.  This recipe, however, uses both the beets and their greens, so I was actually very excited to get fresh beets and have an opportunity to try this out.

The beets and the greens are both steamed, but then the beets get heated with butter in a pan. Then, balsamic vinegar is added and cooked down.  It’s an easy way to add a twist to the run-of-the-mill steamed beets. Full instructions are below.VinegarBeets

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What I Made: Pear Pie

Pears are not my favorite fruit to eat raw.  For folks like me who don’t care for the texture, baking is the perfect way to break down the pears, and of course, the addition of all that sugar and dough certainly doesn’t hurt anything either.

This pie recipe is really quick if you use a pre-made pie crust like I did, with all the flavor of the delicious Bartlett pears and not much of the weird texture. If you cut the pre-made crust to make a pretty lattice top like I did, it looks extra fancy!  (Perfect for impressing all your Instagram followers.) Full instructions are below.

PearPie

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What I Made: Tomato Sauce

My freezer is constantly stocked with a few staples: pork chops, homemade chicken stock, and ice cream. (Just being honest here!) I also try to freeze servings of soups or stews I make for quick meals when the fridge is empty and there’s no time to cook, like the dumplings I made previously. With the abundance of roma tomatoes, I decided to add another item to the freezer stash.  Whether heated over spaghetti and meatballs or used in place of canned sauce, this is great to have on hand. The fact that it’s based on a recipe from my Grandma guarantees that it’s going to taste great, though not as good as she would have made it!

Start by dunking the fresh roma tomatoes in boiling water until the skins split.  After they cool, the skins can be removed.  Afterwards, add to a big pot with some onion, green peppers, tomato paste, garlic, and some herbs and simmer for a few hours.

TomatoSauce

Not the most photo-friendly dish, but trust me when I say it tastes better than it looks.

If you’re looking for a meat sauce, simply brown the ground meat of your choice in the pot along with peppers and onions in the second step below!

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What I Made: Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower

Hot wings are a favorite snack of mine.  I used to buy those big bags of frozen wings, but all that completely changed when I found a recipe to make them at home.  The wings are tossed in salt and olive and and roasted in the oven until the skin is nice and crispy, then tossed in a buffalo sauce, made of melted butter and your favorite brand of hot sauce in a 1:8 ratio.

This recipe for roasted cauliflower in buffalo sauce takes the chicken recipe and adapts it with a healthy twist: roast the cauliflower until browned and then toss in hot sauce.  Now it’s the perfect vegetarian and lower fat snack or side!
BuffaloCauli

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What I Made: Cavatelli with Squash and Sage

One of the things I have come to appreciate about getting my produce from a CSA is the unmistakeable slide of the seasons. There’s no need to check to calendar to know it’s no longer summer. We’ve clearly left the tomatoes and peaches behind for substantial squash and crisp apples. With its warm spices and hearty sauce, this dish is one of those that tastes like fall and is perfect when the days start turning a bit cooler. (Those Pumpkin Spice Latte aficionados understand that sentiment, I’m sure.)

This was another attempt at homemade pasta. This time I got even more adventurous by combining all purpose and whole wheat flour. It wasn’t exactly a failure, but I did think the dough could rest longer to better incorporate the whole wheat.

AcornSquashPasta

Cavatelli with Squash and Sausage, adapted from Simply in Season
(Cavatelli recipe via Food Network)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 large egg
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/cavatelli-with-asparagus.html?oc=linkback
1 pound Italian sausage (I used spicy, but recipe suggests sweet)
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh sage, cut into thin strips
1 cup dry white wine (could also use chicken broth)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup acorn squash or other winter squash, cooked and pureed
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:
1. Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Mix the ricotta and egg in a small bowl with a fork and then dump into the well. Using the fork and working your way around the well, gradually mix the flour into the ricotta mixture until the dough is crumbly. If the dough is too dry to come together, add up to 3 tablespoons water, a little at a time.
2. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic (not sticky), about 6 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature, 30 minutes. (The dough can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator, just bring it to room temperature before rolling it out and forming the pasta.)
3. Take about one eighth of the dough (leaving the rest wrapped), roll the dough on the counter into a 1/2-inch-thick log. Cut the log into 1/2-inch pieces and then roll each piece into a small ball.
4.With a butter knife, gently pull the the dough towards you and let the dough curl up over the knife edge, making a thin, twisted pasta.
5. Place completed cavatelli on a floured baking sheet, and repeat step 4 to make the remaining cavatelli.
6. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente, about 5 minutes.
7. Brown sausage in pan. Remove meat and drain off fat.
8. Return pan to heat and sauté garlic and onion until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
9. Add bay leaf, sage, and wine and cook until reduced by half.
10. Mix in pureed squash and chicken broth, and bring to a simmer. Add sausage back in to mixture.
11. Stir in milk, cinnamon and nutmeg and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
12. Remove bay leaf and add cavatelli.  Cook 1 minute until pasta is heated. Serve  topped with with additional sage and grated Parmesan.

What I Made: Breakfast Potato Hash

I’m not big on making elaborate breakfasts.  I generally keep it simple in the mornings, because need I remind you of the blueberry buckle (mostly averted) fiasco? Now that the weather is turning cooler, however, it’s nice to start the day with something a little more substantial than a slice of toast.

I’m a huge potato lover, so of course I’ll jump at any excuse to eat them for breakfast.  The best part about potato hash is the endless ability to customize it to your tastes.  Want a Tex Mex kick?  Add taco seasoning.  Top with cheese or don’t! Add tomatoes or don’t!  Anything on a based of fried potatoes is a winner in my book.

For this version, I cut potatoes roughly into 1 inch wedges and fried them in some oil until they were nice and browned on all sides.  Then I added green bell peppers and onions and cooked until thy were soft.  A dash of salt and pepper later, breakfast was served!

PotatoHash

I’d suggest looking at this recipe if you’re really clueless on where to begin, but honestly, no recipe is needed.