Food

Roasted Squash Soup

I love squash soup, but I have never made it myself. My mother-in-law gave us some lovely squash so I decided to whip up a batch of this beautiful comfort food this past weekend. Even my squash-hating hubby enjoyed this soup.

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I started by cutting a large squash in half and scooping out the seeds.

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I drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted for nearly an hour.

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Allow the squash to cool for a while before scooping out the good stuff and putting in a blender. At this point, an immersion blender on the stove top would work as well.

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As I puréed the squash in batches in my blender, I added chicken broth, sautéed onion and garlic, and maple syrup. I seasoned it with a little salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

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Maple syrup adds a comforting sweetness to the soup. I then simmered the soup in a large pot on the stove until we were ready to eat dinner. I used an entire 32-ounce box of chicken broth, but you can add the broth gradually to ensure you achieve the thickness you want. Vegetable broth could be used to make this an entirely vegetarian dish.

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Before serving, I drizzled a bit of olive oil over the soup and sprinkled each bowl with a bit more nutmeg.

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Recipe:

  • 1 large (or a couple of small) squash
  • 32 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg (plus more for sprinkling before serving)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds
  • Drizzle each half of squash with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place each half of the squash face down on a large baking sheet.
  • Roast the squash in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Let the squash cool for at least 15 minutes before scooping out of the peel and into the blender.
  • Purée the squash in batches, never filling the blender more than half full at a time. It will expand as you blend.
  • As you blend the batches, place the puréed squash in a large pot on the stove.
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes, adding more broth as needed until the desired consistency is achieved.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with nutmeg and serve!
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Food

Happy Birthday Norm: Birthday Cake for Dogs and Humans

Norman turns nine this week. After his cancer scare last month and the surgery that followed, we are celebrating his life and health more than ever. This birthday cake is edible for dogs and humans, so it is perfect for spoiling our furry friend.

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I scoured the web for dog-friendly cake ideas and ended up combining a couple of recipes to come up with this. It’s quick and easy. My older daughter had a great time helping bake it.

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Full disclosure: It wasn’t my favorite cake in the world, but it wasn’t terrible. Norman, actually a fussy eater most of the time, devoured his serving. My daughter thought it was so cool that she and her dog brother could eat the same cake.

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I loved this green striped number candle by Papyrus that I found at Safeway. My daughter helped Norman blow out his candle and said she made a wish for him. Later, she revealed the wish: “I hope Norman gets a princess.” I think he has more princesses around than he can handle.

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Recipe:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (plus more for frosting the cake)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg

 

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the flour and baking soda.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.
  • Stir with a spatula until combined.
  • Place in a greased 9-inch pan.
  • Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool for 30 minutes and frost with peanut butter.
  • Serve to dogs and humans alike!
Food

Lamb with Tzatziki

On a lovely summer night what could be better than grilling and dining on the deck? Last night the hubby and I made lamb with tzatziki sauce. It was simple and delicious.

We started by marinating a small rack of lamb (16 very small chops) for about an hour in the marinade listed below. This was the perfect amount of food for us with a small bed of couscous, but could easily serve four people with a couple more side dishes. Tabbouleh or roasted potatoes would be great!

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Marinade: Combine a teaspoon of chopped garlic, two tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper, a tablespoon fresh thyme, and three tablespoons olive oil in a food processor just until blended. Then pour into a plastic bag and add the individual chops. Marinate about an hour.

Grilling the lamb: Grill the lamb chops over direct heat at 450 degrees for about three minutes on each side.

Tzatziki: Whisk together one cup of Greek yogurt, three tablespoons vinegar, one teaspoon sugar, salad pepper, and a teaspoon of chopped fresh mint. Drizzle over meat or use as dip.

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Food

The Cookies I Can’t Stop Making

I love these cookies. They’re healthy because of the oatmeal, right? I didn’t photograph a play-by-play on this one, but I have made these a couple of times in the last few weeks. They’re easy and will disappear quickly!

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I found the recipe in a Land-O-Lakes ad. Fancy, right? Make these and you won’t be sad you did.

Recipe:

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned or quick oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup M&Ms
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine the brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla and beat at medium speed until creamy.
  • Add the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat at low speed until well mixed.
  • Stir in the M&Ms and chocolate chips.
  • Drop dough by heaping teaspoons, a couple of inches apart, on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake approximately 11 minutes and allow to cool on the baking sheet for a minute before removing to a cooling rack.

 

 

Food

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

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This weekend featured rainy fall mornings made for baking cookies. My two-year-old is really into making Daddy cookies lately, so we got right to it yesterday. This peanut butter blossom recipe is an oldie-but-goodie from one of those family cookbooks most of us have in our collection.

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I like to use the miniature Hershey’s Kisses. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic.

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A creamy mixture of peanut butter and shortening gets the ball rolling right. Then granulated and brown sugar are added as well as egg, a little milk, and vanilla. The flour, baking soda, and salt are then mixed in gradually.

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Roll the cookies in granulated sugar before baking. My daughter loved helping with this part.

Just when the cookies come out of the oven, three mini kisses are placed on top so they melt slightly into the top of the cookie and look like a pretty little blossom. Happy fall baking, everyone!

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Recipe:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup additional granulated sugar for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • Miniature Hershey’s Kisses
  • Heat the over to 375 degrees.
  • Beat the shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended.
  • Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 cup packed brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg, milk and vanilla. Beat well.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to peanut butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  • Shape the dough into one-inch balls.
  • Roll in granulated sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately place three kisses on top of each cookie, pressing down slightly.
  • Makes about 18 cookies (but I make my cookies fairly large!)
Food

Roasted Lemon Shrimp

I love roasted shrimp. It is an easy, yet elegant dinner.

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Of course, it is about 10 times easier when you can find peeled and deveined raw shrimp. Thank you, Lenten specials at our small town grocery store.

You can use the pre-cooked shrimp, but I think the shrimp turns out to be much more delicious when starting out raw.

These roast for less than 10 minutes and are juicy and delicious. They are perfect paired with some pasta or rice.

Happy Friday!

Recipe:

  • As much shrimp as you want
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Toss the shrimp in olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the shrimp and arrange a few slices on top of the shrimp for roasting.
  • Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until the shrimp is pink.