Category Archives: Appetizer/Side

Apple Onion Puff


Whenever I see a picture of food and it has puff pastry in it, I always want to eat it immediately.  Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with puff pastry when I accidentally set fire to my boyfriend’s oven.  It was a minor fire, but his housemates were not too pleased about the failed experiment and I haven’t used puff pastry since.  I decided to try to start forgiving puff pastry by using prepared sheets of it instead of making it myself. I wanted to make little appetizer bite for New Year’s Eve and puff pastry seemed like the simplest way to do that.  I just put a few things on top that I thought sounded good and baked them according to the directions.  It was very simple and, I’m proud to say, there were no fires.

I wanted these to be a more savory than sweet so they would be a nice little appetizer instead of dessert.  I used onion, cheddar cheese, and apple on top of a square of puff pastry.  These little bites would be great for a party as an appetizer.  They are flavorful and can be eaten easily as finger food.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 sheets of puff pastry (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)

1/2 red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium apple

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chili powder

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 15-20 minutes

Servings: 18 3″x3″ squares

Cooking Instructions:

If using frozen puff pastry, remove from the freezer to begin defrosting.  Cut the onion into thin slices.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Saute the onions until they are soft and browning.  Remove from heat.  Slice the apple into thin slices.  Cut the puff pastry into 3″x3″ squares.  If using  Trader Joe’s puff pastry sheets, this would be 9 squares per sheet.  Gently press the tines of a fork around the inside of the squares leaving about a half inch margin.  Preheat the oven to whatever temperature specified by the puff pastry instructions (I baked mine at 400°F).  Place a small portion of the onion in the middle of each square topped with a slice of apple and followed by about a tablespoon of cheddar cheese.  Place the squares onto a lightly buttered cooking sheet using two if necessary. Bake for the time specified (mine said 15 minutes, but I baked them for about 20 minutes total).  Allow to cool and then enjoy!

Ciabatta


I recently tried to make focaccia bread.  It was delicious so I decided to try to make other sandwich breads too, like ciabatta.  I looked at the recipe for ciabatta and saw that you needed something called a “biga” that you had to prepare a day in advanced.  “Nope, not for me.  Too advanced,” my brain said.  Then Adventurous Holly (who made her appearance after sampling the skittles vodka) impulsively decided to start the biga.  I’m now going to take this moment and thank Adventurous Holly.  This ciabatta was delicious and not as difficult as I thought it would be.  So, thanks, Adventurous Holly.  The lesson I learned is one you can too:  Making ciabatta is like making any other bread, but you start it much earlier than normal.

There are many breads that require starters like the biga for ciabatta.  Sourdough is probably the most well known.  In my searchings about biga, I found that a biga is used to make the bread chewier and add some flavor as well.

Making a biga is really simple.  It only sounds intimidating because it’s a weird word and requires planning.  It’s easy to plan though.  If you have a day off, start the biga the night before.  The biga takes 5 minutes to set up at the most so it isn’t a big deal.  I promise it’s fine.  The bread is so delicious, it’s worth the little bit of extra effort

This bread had the perfect light fluffy interior and a perfect crunchy outside.  I had never had homemade ciabatta and it’s infinitely better than store bought. I think the main difference is the crust.  This crust has a great texture and has that crunching sound you want to hear when you bite into ciabatta.  Perfection in bread.

Recipe: (original here, but I found this to be confusing and I hope I can clarify things here)

Ingredients:

Printable Version

Biga:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup water

1/4 tsp yeast

Dough:

1/4 cup water (plus extra if dough is dry)

2 tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp nonfat dry milk

1 tsp yeast

Active time: 25 minutes

Inactive time: 20 hours

Servings: 12 servings

Cooking Instructions:

Start the biga about 12-15 hours before you want to begin making the bread.  In a bread machine or an electric mixer combine the ingredients for the biga.  Mix until fully combined (about 5 minutes).  If using a bread machine, set to dough and then stop once combined.  Allow to rest for 12-15 hours.  It will rise a bit and then start to sink.  This is when you want to use the biga.  The biga will big liquidy and bubbly.

To start the dough, combine the biga and the other dough ingredients into the bread machine pan or the electric mixer bowl.  If using a bread machine, set to dough cycle and start.  If using an electric mixer, use a dough hook and a low setting to mix for 5-8 minutes and then let rise for 1 hour.  The dough should be sticky and tacky.  It should not be liquid, but it should be close.  Add water or flour as necessary.  Whenever you handle the dough, wet your hands with water or oil to prevent it from sticking to you.  Half way through the rising time turn the dough over in the pan or bowl.  This will be tricky because it’s so sticky, but just do your best.

Cover a cutting board in plastic wrap and cover the plastic wrap with oil.  Cover two cookie sheets with oil (I only had one and all my bread baked into each other.  Bad call, use two).  Remove the bread from the bread machine or mixing bowl after the rising cycle is complete or it has risen for 1 hour and place on the cutting board.  Divide the dough into 6 equal parts for large sandwich rounds or 12 for smaller sandwich rounds.  Place half on one cookie sheet and the other half on the other cookie sheet.  Shape the dough by pushing and pulling the edges of the dough until it is shaped how you want.  It won’t be perfect, so don’t try.

Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.  Uncover and (with wet fingers) poke holes gently into the dough.  This will give it a more rustic look.  Recover with freshly oiled plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from the baking sheet and turn off the oven.  Place the bread back in the oven and crack the oven open while it cools.  Allowing the bread to bake this way will create a crunchier crust (maybe take one out to munch on while the rest crisp up).  Remove from oven and enjoy.  And don’t forget to go for second helpings!

Tomato Gorgonzola Soup


Until recently, I didn’t really like soup.  Something about drinking food with chunks in it seemed really weird to me.  That was until I went to this small soup shop in Tacoma, Washington called Infinite Soups.  I had a tomato gorgonzola soup, and it was amazing.  Since then, I have tried other soups and they’ve been good, but they’ve never compared to the tomato gorgonzola I first had at Infinite Soups.  If you ever get the chance to go there, I highly recommend it.  They even have vegan and vegetarian selections and all the soups are made fresh daily.

I’m always worried to try to make my favorite of anything because I’m worried it won’t turn out well.  There’s nothing worse than expecting something awesome and getting something awful.  Luckily, that was not the case this time.

When I realized my boyfriend and I had guests coming over for dinner, I decided soup was an easy option and I should try to make my favorite soup.  I took the risk that it might turn out bad, any it actually turned out really well!  It was creamy and cheesy and tomato-ey.  All of the flavors came out smoothly and none were overpowering.  This is a delicious one-pot meal that makes food that will last for days.  It was a hit with everyone else as well.  This would be a great meal for a potluck as a vegetarian option.

While I was looking around for a decent recipe for a tomato soup, I found out that baking soda will prevent milk from curdling.  I think it must be something about it being basic since it’s sodium bicarbonate, but I don’t know why.  I didn’t search for very long, but I couldn’t find any answer for why this happens.  Does anyone know?  I’ll give you a recipe for tomato gorgonzola soup if you can tell me…oh wait….

Recipe:

Printable version

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp baking soda (to prevent curdling)

8 oz low fat cream cheese

8 oz gorgonzola cheese

1 cup half and half

3-14.5 oz cans of fire roasted tomatoes, salt free

2 cups low sodium tomato juice

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp oregano

salt and pepper, to taste

Prep time: 30 minutes

Servings: 8 servings, about 1-1/2 cups each

Cooking Instructions:

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the baking soda, the gorgonzola cheese, the cream cheese, and the half and half.  Break apart the cream cheese and stir until the cheeses have melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the soup heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the canned tomatoes, tomato juice, and spices.  Stir to combine.  Heat for a few minutes until the tomatoes are slightly tender.  Then blend the soup using an immersion blender or by pouring the soup into a regular blender and blending in parts and return to heat.  Stirring frequently, heat to a simmer and let simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.  Garnish with extra oregano or basil.  Enjoy and don’t forget to go for second helpings!

Pineapple Shrimp Southwest Salad


On black Friday, I raided all kitchen supply stores.  I also got some presents from my mom of things she rarely used (thanks, Mom!).  One of the things I got was a pineapple corer.  It’s a weird device that allows you to easily remove all the best parts of the pineapple and leave the rest behind.  The next week, I saw pineapples on sale.  It was a sign.  The new pineapple corer needed to be used.

I got home, excited to eat the pineapple when my boyfriend asked, “What are we going to eat the pineapple with?”  I really only ever ate pineapple raw and plain as a kid.  Sometimes, as a treat, we would have it with coconut and chocolate sauce, but other than that it was always plain.  I went in search of what else pineapple was used in. One person suggested eating it in a salad with shrimp.  I’ve also seen it in salsa.  I decided to combine these two ideas and make a Pineapple Shrimp Southwest Salad.  Since I’m a vegetarian, I made mine without shrimp and it was still delicious.  I let the salsa act like the dressing.  Since my recipe for salsa has tomatoes and onions in it, it also made it so I had to add fewer ingredients but still got a great variety of flavors.  I also decided to let corn chips act like the croutons.  The combination sounds odd, but it was quite delicious.

For this recipe I won’t add exact amounts since it’s all about what you like and what you don’t like. Salad is very customizable like that.  I’ll give you the ingredient list and you can find the proportions that make this your favorite salad.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

Fresh sliced pineapple

Canned black beans

Romaine lettuce

Blue corn tortilla chips

Fresh chunky salsa

Shrimp (optional)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking instructions:

Chop the romaine lettuce with a lettuce knife (not metal) or tear it using your hands and place it in a salad bowl.  Heat the beans according to instructions and add on top of the lettuce. Scoop some chunky salsa on top.  Crush up the tortilla chips and sprinkle over the salad.  Top with prepared shrimp.  Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve the same day.  Enjoy and don’t be afraid to go for second helpings!

Whole Wheat Breadsticks


First of all, I’d like to thank people that have been pinning my posts on Pinterest.  It’s a great way to spread the recipes around, and I want you to know that I appreciate it.  I will be pinning all of my recipes on my board here so if you want to re-pin those pins, that’s fine.  If you don’t know what Pinterest is, you should click here.  It’s a useful tool for finding new ideas and sharing yours.  Now on to the story and recipe!

This week, my boyfriend’s mom had us over for a soup night.  I was in charge of bringing bread.  I, of course, brought made the favorite crumbly bread (recipe to come!).  As it was baking, I thought, “How are we going to dip a crumbly bread into soup?  This makes no sense.  It will fall apart into the soup!”  So I decided to make some breadsticks to go along with the other bread.  One to dip and one to eat on the side.  It turns out that these are PERFECT for a delicious hot soup.  They are strong enough to scoop chunky soups and soft enough to soak up creamy soups.

 

I actually didn’t use my bread machine to make these breadsticks.  I know you all are very surprised since I have a mild bread machine addiction.  I wanted to make sure I was doing it right so I found a useful video to help me with my kneading.  My dough was stiffer than in the video, but it was still a good reference tool.  I ended up adding a little more water to my dough so that I could knead it more easily.  I added about a ¼ cup more than what I have listed below.

 

Recipe:

Printable Version

Ingredients:

1 cup water (plus extra if needed)

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups wheat flour

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 20-25 minutes

Makes: 16 breadsticks

Cooking Instructions:

Stir the yeast in the milk and water until mostly dissolved in a large mixing bowl.  Add the honey and salt and continue to mix until the yeast and honey are completely dissolved.  Stir in both types of flour and mix until a ball of dough forms.  Add more water if the dough is extremely stiff (again, I added about ¼ cup).

Remove from the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until you can gently press on the dough with two fingers and have the indentations stay.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.  Roll the pieces out until they are about an inch around.  Grease a cookie sheet lightly and place the breadsticks on the sheet.

Melt the butter and add the parmesan cheese and garlic powder to the butter.  Brush the butter mixture over the breadsticks.  Preheat the oven to 400ºF and let the breadsticks rest while the oven preheats.

Once the oven preheats, bake for 20-25 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheet and let cook on a wire rack for a few minutes.  Enjoy immediately or reheat in the microwave and serve with soup. Don’t forget to go for second helpings!

Stuffed Pita


This the final post in three part series involving recipes for piquillo pepper hummushomemade pita (or pitta), and now stuffed pita.  The hummus is amazing and the pita is the best I’ve ever had.  Combine with a few more simple ingredients and you have a scrumptious snack.  This snack, or light meal, is also quite healthy even though it does not taste like it at all.  I feel like it’s a treat even though it’s good for me, and I’m not one of those people that enjoy eating tofu and call it “yummy.”  My skinny jeans wish I was though.

 

When I was going to make dinner, I was planning on making stuffed zucchinis.  I’ve made them before, and they were awesome.  I chopped up the onion, and I pulled out he zucchini and….the zucchinis had begun to rot.  I was VERY bummed.  But, I had just made pita and hummus and my mom sent me falafel mix I had been intending to try.  So I took the lemons that life handed me and made stuffed pita.  This turned out to be a very good decision.  I didn’t have feta cheese which is typical in stuffed pitas so I used a different kind of goat cheese crumbles.  The tangy flavor of the goat cheese really complimented the other flavors in this pita in an unexpected, yet harmonious, way.

Before the recipe, I would love input regarding what types of recipes you, my audience, would like to see more.  More bread?  Healthy options?  Vegan recipes?  I would also love input about my writing, photography, and recipes.  Do you like having the nutrition facts and printable versions?  Since this is a very new blog, I’m still trying to find out the best way to cater to my readers.  I think the best way to do this is to ask my readers.  Please comment or email at hollyshelpings@gmail.com if you have any suggestions, questions, or just want to say “Hi.”  Now, for the recipe.

Recipe for Stuffed Pita:

Printable Version

Ingredients:

1 pita pocket

1 tbsp piquillo pepper hummus

2 prepared falafels*

Torn off bit of Romaine lettuce

1 tsp chopped red onion

1 tbsp goat cheese crumbles**

*I used a falafel mix.  I tried to make my own and, as my sister put, they were fa-AWFUL.  I used Telema® brand.  They were slightly salty, but very easy and yummy in this stuffed pita. I got the mix from my mom and will update with where she bought it.

**I used Montechevré brand crumbled goat cheese “fresh & natural” from Fry’s (a Kroger owned supermarket).  This cheese has a very strong and tangy flavor so I did not use very much.

Active Time: 5 minutes

Inactive Time: 0 minutes

Makes: 1 stuffed pita

Cooking Instructions:

Using a serrated bread knife, cut the pita in half. Take one of the halves and spread the piquillo pepper hummus on the thicker side inside of the pita pocket.  Sprinkle the goat cheese in the pocket in an even manner.  Do the same with the onion.  Make sure the front of the pocket has as much goat cheese and onion as the back of the pocket.  Wrap the falafel ball in a tiny bit of romaine lettuce and stick it in the pocket.  Do the same for the other half of the pita.  Devour.

This snack is so amazing, healthy, and easy that you must go for second or third helpings.

Since there were  so many variants in this recipe, I have not posted nutrition facts.    The pita is 100 calories, the hummus would be about 25 calories, and the falafel brand I used would contribute approximately 50 calories.  However, I used a very specific brand of falafel mix and goat cheese and these factors could change the nutrition content significantly.  I would say that it is likely to be no more than 250 calories per whole stuffed pita (2 halves).  If you have questions about this, please leave a comment or email (address above) and I will do my best to answer.

Also, I love to talk to people about food and read food blogs.  Please comment so I can visit your blog too!

Piquillo Pepper Hummus


Hello, all!  I have decided to do a three part series.  I made 3 delcious things yesterday, but I think that this is just too good to put in one post.  Today I’ll be posting about piquillo (or pequillo) pepper hummus (the happiest mistake I’ve ever made).  Next, I’ll post about the pita bread I made to go with the hummus.  Lastly, I’ll post about the stuffed pita I made when I realized my planned dinner had gone bad in the fridge (the second happiest mistake I’ve made).  These recipes are all very delicious and can be made with minimal effort and, except in the case of pita bread, minimal time. So without further ado, I give you the story of why piquillo pepper are in hummus.

I have been trying to clean out my pantry in attempts to make more space.  In the back of one of the shelves I found a jar from Trader Joe’s of Piquillo Peppers.  “Odd,” I thought to myself, “What did I want to make that involved piquillo peppers?”  I put them in front to remind myself to figure out something to do with them and continued with my cleaning and baking.  As I was making the pita bread, I reached for my sugar behind the peppers and… *CRASH*  The pequillo peppers fell out and the bottom of the jar broke off.   Luckily the glass did not shatter.  “Ok…. I guess I’ll use these today.”  So I decided to try to make some hummus to go with my pita and add the piquillo peppers.  Maybe like roasted red pepper hummus?  Turns out, it’s a million times better than roasted red pepper hummus.  Why have we been using red peppers when we could be using these superior peppers?  If you like roasted red pepper hummus, you’ll like this even more.  I will never be buying store bought hummus again and I most definitely will be using piquillo peppers whenever I can.  Give this recipe a try, you’ll be happily surprised.

Recipe for Piquillo Pepper Hummus 

Printable version

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans

3/8 cups tahini sauce

1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp paprika

2 roasted piquillo peppers (available in a jar at Trader Joe’s), drained and rinsed

1 tbsp olive oil

sprinkle of ground chipotle pepper powder (optional, I found this at Target)

Total time: 10 minutes

Makes: About 2 cups, 1 serving is 2 tbsp

Cooking Instructions:

Combine all ingredients except the last two (olive oil and chipotle pepper) in a blender or food processor.  Scrape sides occasionally to ensure that all the garbanzo beans are blended. Pour into a bowl. Create a little well in the middle  Cautiously sprinkle the chipotle powder, if using, over all the hummus.  Too much can make your hummus REALLY have a kick.  Pour the olive oil into the well.  Serve with fresh pita (recipe below) or pita chips.  Hummus will last a few days in the fridge covered.

Note: To make regular hummus, simply do not add the piquillo peppers or paprika (but you’ll be missing out).

This hummus is delicious and nutritious so don’t forget to go for second (or third, or fourth….) helpings!

Onion Cheese Bread


Last post I hinted that I would be making pasta for my next recipe.  If you read the title, you may realize that this isn’t pasta.  That is because I epic failed at making it.  Pasta and I aren’t talking for a while.  Especially the stupid butternut squash ravioli kind….  The problems first started when I ran out of all purpose flour in the middle and tried to add some whole wheat flour to substitute.  This trick, which normally works well in bread recipes, did not work at all.  The pasta was weird and chewy and looked very frightening.  No good.  I’ll try again, but I moved on and made some bread instead.

This bread was pretty good and made a huge loaf.  I’ll definitely be making it again soon.  I’m experimenting with my camera and different lighting techniques so I don’t have many pictures that turned out well, above is one I really liked.

I got this recipe from a book that I literally have not been able to find anywhere.  I got it on clearance at Borders for my boyfriend a couple of years ago as a present and I have been looking for one for myself ever since then.  He eventually just gave it back to me, but there was a sad time when I didn’t have the book or it’s delicious recipes.  I think that it’s this one but there’s another book by the same name.  It’s very confusing.  Either way, I have the recipe with my modifications below.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

4 to 4-1/2 cups flour

2-1/4 tsp yeast

1 tsp mustard powder

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

2/3 cups lukewarm milk

2/3 cups lukewarm water

1 tbsp butter, melted

Active time: 30 minutes

Inactive time: 2.5 hours (in the down time I made my own light box)

Servings:  Makes 1 humongous loaf

Cooking instructions:

Saute the onions in the olive oil until they begin to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  In a bread machine pan,* combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients, except for the butter and 1/2 cup of cheese, following the instructions from your machine.  Mine have always said to put in the wet ingredients the the dry ingredients, but I guess that’s not always the case.  Set to dough. The dough should not be sticky so you should add more flour until you can touch the dough without it sticking to you.  Add about 1/8 of a cup at a time and allow it to fully mix in before adding more.  I added about another 1/2 a cup.

*If you don’t have a bread machine you can use a stand mixer or your hands.  Just combine the wet ingredients together.  Then combine the dry ingredients.  Mix them together and knead for about 10 minutes adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky.  Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, knock it back.  Divide the dough into roughly 20 equal parts.  I did this by first dividing it in half, then quarters, then attempting to divide those into five somewhat equal parts.  It’s ok if it’s not perfect because it’ll make the bread look more interesting.  Spray a 10×5″ bread tin with cooking spray or oil.  Shape the 20 parts into balls (again, it’s ok if it’s not perfect).  Place half of the balls into the bottom of the tray.  Brush the tops of the balls with half the butter.  Put the remaining balls on top.  Top those balls with the remaining butter.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot for about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top until it has reached your desired cheesiness level (Side note:  cheesiness is a real word.  I totally thought I made it up).  Bake for 40 minutes.  If the loaf is still not done as determined by a knife or toothpick, cover the top with tin foil to prevent browning and bake for however much longer in 5 minute increments.  I had to bake mine for 55 minutes total.

Remove from the oven and let cool.  You can slice the bread or pull off the balls you rolled up.  I went the tear off route like pull apart bread.  It was super yummy.   I dipped mine in leftover carrot soup and it was so delicious. This would be a fun bread to bring to a party and share with many people because you can tear off bits and enjoy it with many people.

Immune Boosting Ginger Carrot Soup


I wasn’t really sure what to call this soup.  It’s mostly carrots, but just carrot soup sounds boring.  I thought about calling it Spicy-Ginger-Onion-Garlic-Carrot-Soup, but I thought that was too long.

Anyway, I made soup!  The boyfriend is sick and since I’m  vegetarian, I went hunting for a chicken soup alternative.  I’ve heard (but I have no idea if it’s true) that ginger, garlic, and onions are all supposed to be good for you if you’re sick.  Add a big helping of Vitamin C from the carrots, and I think this soup qualifies as an immune-booster soup.  The bonus is that it tastes about 50 million times better than cherry cough syrup.  This soup is delicious and will feel great on a sore throat.  Also, I just realized this recipe is vegan.  It’s so yummy that I didn’t even realize it.

Another bonus is that I got to whip out my immersion blender that I got from my mom this weekend.  One of the best parts of moving out is that you get so much stuff when you go to visit.  I returned with a Gamecube (Super Smash Bros., anyone?), a pasta roller (I’ll let you guess what my next recipe will be), an immersion blender, and a bunch of other random hand-me-downs.  Thanks, Mom!

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can still make this recipe.  Just pour the soup into a regular blender and puree it until it’s smooth.  You’ll get the same results except you’ll lose whatever you spill.  I know I’d probably spill about half of it.  I hope you all are more coordinated than I am.

Recipe:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

about 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 tbsp chives

1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tbsp thyme

1/4 tsp paprika

1 lbs carrots, pealed and chopped into 1″ pieces

4 cups (2 cans) vegetable stock

 

Active time: 10 minutes

Inactive time: 20 minutes

Total: 30 minutes

 

Serving Size: 4 portions

 

Cooking Instructions:

Soup is pretty easy to make.  Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the onions, red pepper, garlic, ginger, chives, crushed red pepper, thyme, and paprika (what a list!).   Saute until the onions turn a light brown color (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Add the vegetable stock and carrots and bring to a bowl.  Cover and reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are soft and easily pierced with a fork.

If you have an immersion blender, use it now to blend the soup.  I left some chunks just because I like a little texture in my soup.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, pour the soup into a blender or food processor and blend until it’s your desired chunkiness.

Garnish with crackers and/or extra chives.  Serve after it’s cooled so you don’t burn your tongue like I did.  As always, don’t be afraid to go for second helpings!

 

Twice Baked Butternut Squash


Ok.  New goal:  Put up a post every week on Tuesday evening.  I read somewhere that Wednesday morning is when the most people are on the internet.  I don’t know if it’s true, but it posting before Wednesday seems like a good goal.  Especially since I totally abandoned this blog for about two weeks.  I can’t really expect to gain loyal readers if I abandon them now can I?  For any potentially loyal readers, I apologize.  I won’t do it again.  I don’t even have a good excuse for why I didn’t post.  My family was in town for a week (we went to the Grand Canyon!) and then the other week the things I made were not very good.  I’m going to start making drafts before I post online so that even if I don’t have time that week, I can still post.  I think it’ll work well…I think.

In other news, it’s fall.  This means there are a flurry of pumpkin and butternut squash recipes.  I thought I’d try one to see how it went.  It turned out awesome.  Since butternut squash doesn’t have a low GI, this recipe is not the best for diabetics.  However, this recipe does have very few calories per serving.  You can check it out in the nutrition facts.  Now, on to the recipe!

Recipe:

(Makes 8 side dishes or 4 main courses)

1 medium to large butternut squash

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

1 green pepper (optional)

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup lowfat cream cheese

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp melted butter

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1.  The goal of this first part is to end up with butternut squash mash.  I’ll explain how I did it and then how I think it could be done.  First preheat the oven to 425°F.  Next, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and guts.  Place the squash cut side up on a baking tray and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake until the flesh is soft and you can easily insert a fork (about an hour depending on the size of the squash).  When the squash is done, remove from oven and let cool.  Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scrap out the flesh into a large bowl and mash it up.

I think that a better way to do this would be to peel the squash before placing it in the oven and then cutting it into 1″ cubes.  This would reduce the baking time and also allow you to immediately mash the squash when it comes out of the oven.  Also, I’m impatient and burnt myself because I didn’t let the squash cool enough.  However you want to do it, you want to end up with butternut squash mash.

2.  While the squash is in the oven or while it is cool, heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Once hot, add the chopped red onion, the chopped green pepper, the thyme, and the ginger.  Stir occasionally and cook until the onion and pepper begin to brown.  Add to the large bowl with the butternut squash mash.

3.  Add the cream cheese and the parmesan cheese to the bowl and mix all the ingredients together until uniform.  Spoon the mixture into oven safe dishes.  I made mine in 4-3.5 oz ramekins.  You could also put all of the mixture into one large baking dish (probably a 9×9 glass casserole dish) for a family style dish.  Add the bread crumbs and chopped pecans to the melted butter and mix.  Spoon the mixture over the top of the mixture in the dishes as evenly as you can.

4.  Place the dish(es) in the oven at 425°F for 25 minutes until the tops begin to brown.  Remove from oven.  Let cool and then enjoy and don’t hesitate when going for second helpings!

Nutrition Facts:

Also, here’s a picture with my kitty (Rhombus) in it.  It’s blurry, but I ♥ my kitty so I’m posting it anyway.

%d bloggers like this: