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Archive for April, 2010

I love butternut squash soup, and have yet to find an acceptable canned/ boxed version.  They are all either bland or funky, so I made my own.  This recipe is surprisingly easy, too!  The hardest part by far, is cutting up and peeling the butternut squash.  Here is the recipe I adapted from allrecipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded (I ended up using 3 almost 2 pounders)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • cayenne
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut squash into 1-inch chunks.  Cut up carrots, onion and apple.
  2. Cover in EVOO and salt & pepper.  Roast at 350 for 40 minutes.
  3. In large pot melt butter. Add squash, cream and stock.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Puree with immersion blender.
  6. Stir and season with nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Serve.

Tip to cut up the butternut squash:

Use a potato peeler on the uncut squash. The first pass will leave the flesh yellow. The second pass with the peeler will make it the deep orange color. Cut off top and bottom and cut down the middle, long ways. Scoop out the guts and cut up.  FYI, you will probably get a weird/ gross sap type film on your hands… soap and water won’t work, but a pumice stone will do the trick in a jiff.

I think next time I might add garlic, as well.  I’m surprised I didn’t this time around.  After the veggies were roasted, I simmered for probably 25 minutes or so, mostly because I was waiting for the carrots to get more cooked.  The squash was totally ready to go just after being roasted.  And man, the kitchen smelled amazing after I took the veggies out of the oven, yum.

I finally got to use my new toy, cuisinart immersion blender!  I’m not going to lie, it was really fun.  Boyfriend and I even argued a bit over whose turn it was to blend. Then I added the spices….quite a bit of them, because the soup tasted pretty bland to me.  I probably ended up adding at least 1 tsp of cayenne and nutmeg, and even more sea salt and pepper.

The recipe makes A LOT.  It will be enough for 3 meals for Boyfriend and I, so if you are making it for a family, or as a starter, keep that in mind.  The recipe said it would yield 12 servings, and I’d agree with that.

I had an unfortunate bread maker experience, so we didn’t actually enjoy the soup right away.  In fact, I let it sit overnight in the fridge.  I think this was a blessing in disguise.  The soup tastes AMAZING the next day.  I dunno if sitting there helped increase the flavor or what, but it was great.  I garnished with some fresh goat cheese, and served with rosemary & olive oil artisan bread.

yummy!

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Smoothies!

Ok so I am a really picky eater and basically only like eating about 5 kinds of fruits…UNLESS…they are in smoothies.  So we got a blender and I looked up some recipes, just to get an idea of what people do.  Most recipes called for milk or yogurt, but when you do this with fresh fruit, you still need to add ice, or it’s just not cold enough.  But then the ice waters it down, which is a huge bummer.

But THEN I had the best idea ever:  frozen milk cubes.  You get the milk, and the ice, haaaaay!  I told BF and he thought I was crazy so I said back up, genuis at work and made some milk cubes.

I’m not going to lie, they look a little bit weird.  And they feel kinda gross too, but it is the secret amazing ingredient to the best smoothie ever – trust me.  The one problem is, I broke the hell out of our standard hard plastic ice cube tray trying to get the milk cubes out.  They aren’t rigid like ice cubes, so I highly recommend a rubber bendable ice cube tray (I actually bought a baby food/ breast milk one, EW).

You will be amazed what the milk cubes adds to the smoothie.  They seriously make the smoothies super awesome and creamy like the fancy, expensive (and full of added sugar) ones at Jamba Juice.

My favorite, so far, is strawberry banana.  But we have also tried strawberry, nanner, blueberry and just strawberry, blueberry.  I have some frozen kiwis waiting for use, too!  If your fruit is getting too ripe, just freeze it.  Henry’s had strawberries for 98 cents a pound so I bought 3 with full intention of freezing them.

Also, strawberries are great because they are really low in sugar.  As long as you add some strawberries with another fruit with higher carb content, like blueberries or nanners, I’d estimate a glass of smoothie (1/3 of a blender full) is about 25-30 grams of carbs (equal to a cup of pasta).  This is pretty low considering the amount of vitamins, you are getting, and probably about 2-3 full servings of fruit.  Plus, the same size smoothie at a store can contain as much as 100 grams of carbs.

EDIT:

Sooo, we buy fruit at the Costco a lot, and obviously, two people can’t consume 47 lbs of strawberries in 5 days, so I end up freezing a lot of fruit for smoothies.  In my experience berries freeze very well (strawberries, blueberries, etc), as do kiwis.  Bananas on the other hand, not so good.

ANYWAY, the reason for the edit is if you have frozen fruit, you do not need frozen milk.  If you try to blend frozen fruit without 4-8 ounces of regular liquid milk, you might be needing a new blender…not that I’d know from experience, or anything.

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Lasagna

One of the BF’s fav foods is lasagna.  I’m not a huge, huge fan, but I thought I’d be a good little house girlfriend and make some for him.  I got the following recipe from a friend (thanks Steph!):

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • fresh basil, approx ½ cup or so
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  3. Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, 1tablespoon pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley.
  4. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Soak raw, hard noodles in a large bowl of very hot tap water for 10-15 min
  6. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  8. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving

Changes I made (or will in the future):

More ricotta!

I used ground turkey and chicken Italian sausage because I don’t eat beef.

I didn’t use a dutch oven, just a huge saucepot.

I simmered the sauce for probably 3 hours or so, the longer the better!

I made the sauce and assembled the lasagna then stuck in the fridge for a day or two, then baked it.  This is definitely a weekend meal to prepare.

Next time I think I will double the sauce recipe because it is a bit labor intensive, but totally freezable.  Why not do the same about of work and just freeze some for pasta or another batch of lasagna?!

Other than that, shit was delish.  Even I liked it, A LOT.  My BF LOVED it.  I think if the lasagna could be impregnated and make a bunch of little baby lasagnas, he might leave me for it.

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