Butternut Squash Soup

Yep. You read that title right. I’m making butternut squash soup just as winter turns to spring on this lovely 50 degree day. Now normally I would be celebrating all things spring right now, but it occurred to me this week that I hadn’t bought one butternut squash all season long. Crazy right? So I bought one. I asked Paul how and he wanted it and he said soup, so who am I to disappoint? I suppose this will be (hopefully) a farewell dinner to winter. Yea, that makes sense.

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IMG_1768Chop it.

IMG_1769Roast it.

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IMG_1772Simmer it.

IMG_1773Puree it.

Butternut Squash Soup

For the squash:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 1/2 tbl olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • pinch of salt and pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion (or one small onion); chopped
  • 2 celery stalks; chopped
  • 1 cup carrots; chopped
  • 1 garlic clove; minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 4 cups chicken/vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • salt & pepper

To Roast Squash:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place chopped butternut squash onto a tin-foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary over squash. Toss with tongs or your hands so all pieces are evenly covered.

Put in oven and toss with tongs intermittently. About every 10 minutes

Cook for 35 minutes, or until fork tender. Set aside.

For the Soup: 

Heat olive oil in soup pot or dutch oven over a medium heat.

Add onions, celery and carrots. Sauté until onions have softened; about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, rosemary and thyme. Sauté for another 2 minutes.

Add broth to deglaze the pot. Add butternut squash and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 40 minutes.

Puree soup with immersion blender or a regular blender.

Add cinnamon and milk to soup. Add salt & pepper as needed.

IMG_1774Eat it!

Celery Soup

Hello everyone! It seems like forever since I’ve posted. Paul and I just got back from our 7-day Bermuda cruise and it was fabulous! I had meant to give a proper send off last Thursday evening with a cauliflower pizza crust I was working on, however that turned out to be somewhat of a kitchen disaster. Not quite post-worthy if you know what I mean.

Anywho, as I’ve mentioned before I absolutely HATE wasting food. I did my best to plan our perishable shopping accordingly  before we left. I would call it a success, because while we were gone we had only one refrigerator causality; a half eaten english cucumber. Fair enough. However, the next thing on its way out was almost an entire package of celery. Gasp! I opened up our (useless) crisper to find that most of the bunch had become somewhat wiggly and wilty, a sure sign it had to be eaten and it had to be eaten now. Well, rather than eating an entire bunch of raw celery I decided to make a batch of Celery Soup! This was new to me, but definitely a great way to use up leftover celery. Next time I would maybe add some carrots to the mix too.

Celery Soup

  • 4 tbl margarine
  • 1 batch celery (about 6 cups); chopped
  • 1 medium onion; chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic; minced
  • 2 medium potatoes; peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbl flour
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • Pepper & Salt

Heat a soup pot to medium heat. Melt butter and add onions, garlic and celery. Saute for a few minutes then lower heat and cover pot with top. Allow veggies to steam for about 10 minutes. Continually check and stir.IMG_1147

After 10 minutes, add potatoes, celery salt, and pepper and incorporate. Continue to cook and cover with top. Cook for another 10 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally.IMG_1148

Add chicken broth to pot (I used 2 cubes bouillon to 6 cups water). Add bay leaf. Bring pot to a boil. When it reaches a boil, cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.IMG_1150

Take the soup of the heat and remove bay leaf. Use an impulsion blender, or work in small batches pureeing the mixture in a regular blender. Pour pureed soup back into pot. Bring soup to a medium heat.

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In a separate measuring cup, whisk together flour, milk and a 1/2 cup of pureed soup. Whisk well. Pour this mixture back into the soup and incorporate well. Allow soup to simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add thyme and season with salt and pepper too taste.

Eat without guilt, because this is creamy without cheese or cream and a great way to get your veggies! Enjoy!IMG_1425

Zucchini Turkey Burgers

As I’m sure most people with gardens know, zucchini grows like a weed. Summer months consist of everything zucchini!. I obviously do not have a garden of my own as living in the city doesn’t often allow for that. However, when I visited my parents house this past weekend I reaped the benefits of their hard work…again! They gave me a humongous zucchini that I am sure I will be using for days!

Today I shredded it up and beefed up (metaphorically) some turkey burgers with this lovely vegetable. We ended up using the same amount of meat we normally would, but adding vegetables to your meat is a great way to stretch the amount the recipe makes. It also adds the wonderful nutritional element of more vegetables without anyone really realizing it. I imagine this recipe would be great for picky eaters…although we don’t know anything about that here! 🙂

Zucchini Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 tsp worcestershire
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Shred zucchini and squeeze excess water out.IMG_1377

Incorporate all ingredients together. Form 4-6 patties (depending on how big you want them). Press your thumb into the center of each patty. This keeps the meat from puffing up when cooking.IMG_1379

We cooked ours in a skillet. If you choose to do the same, spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat to medium heat. Cook patties slowly, when about halfway cooked through, flip patty over. Cook until the meat is firm to the touch and beginning to brown on the outsides.IMG_1380

Dress it up with cheese, avocado, onions, or condiments.IMG_1381

Vegetarian Enchiladas

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I was visiting home this past weekend and was presented with a dinner challenge! Sounds exciting right? I mean it’s not that exciting….But I offered to make dinner for my family, however the catch was that my meal needed to consist of a can of black beans that has been sitting, untouched, in the pantry for weeks. Black Beans?! Easy. I eat them almost every day. The dilemma you ask? How do I get EVERYONE else to not only eat them, but enjoy them in a somewhat healthy meal.

I make a lot of black bean, vegetable extravaganzas as I like to refer to them, but I didn’t want to totally shock my families systems with the weird stuff I consistently make Paul eat. That’s love right? So what to do…Mexican! And what’s better on Meatless Monday than rice, bean and veggie packed enchiladas? Give these a try, you won’t even miss the meat!

Vegetarian Enchiladas

  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups rice; cooked
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 medium onion; diced
  • 4 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper; diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 can black beans; rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1- 1/2 cups shredded chedder cheese; divided
  • 1/2 cup smooth salsa (or chunky salsa or enchilada sauce)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×11 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Cook rice according to directions and set aside.

Heat olive oil to medium heat. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper. Saute on medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes.IMG_1038

Add tomatoes with sauce to the onion mixture. Mix in chili powder, salt and pepper. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.IMG_1039

Add beans, corn and rice to mixture. Incorporate well. Add 1/2 cup cheese and mix thoroughly.
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Spoon about two large scoops of rice mixture into each tortilla. Make sure you have enough of the mixture to feel each one equally. Roll the tortilla up and place crease-side down in baking dish. You may need to squish them over a bit to fit all 8, buy they should fit!
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Pour 1/2 cup salsa over enchiladas. Feel free to use more if you prefer it. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 to 1 cup cheese over the top of the enchiladas. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes.

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Serve with sour cream, salsa or guacamole….or all of it!IMG_1051

Lemon Pepper Tilapia

I freeze everything. I mean EVERYTHING. It’s hard to shop on a budget, for two people and not max out your freezer space….at least I think so. So when I went to Stop & Shop and saw frozen Tilapia was buy one get one free obviously I pounced on it. Now our freezer is a sliding avalanche of frozen fruit, veggies, meals, meats, bread and more. It’s out of control. In fact, it’s actually scary opening up the door because you never know what’s going to come sliding out at you. Gotta have quick reflexes in this kitchen!

With all this Tilapia stock piled I figured it was time to cook some up. I decided to make a Lemon Pepper baked Tilapia from some of the ingredients I had laying around. Give it a try and see what you think!

Lemon Pepper Tilapia

2 tilapia fillets
2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl lemon juice
4 garlic cloves; minced
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp parsley (I used dried and fresh)
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a glass baking dish and place fillets in it. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper.IMG_1365

In a pan heat olive oil to medium heat and add garlic. Cook garlic until soft. Lower heat and add lemon juice. Continue to cook for about a minute.IMG_1366

Pour olive oil-lemon mixture over fillets. Sprinkle fillets with lemon pepper seasoning and parsley. Cook in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.   IMG_1367

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Beef & Broccoli

Friends, I had my very very last day of work this past Friday and ever since I’ve been go, go, go! I only have about three short weeks until I begin my newest adventure as a MSW student at Simmons College. Yikes! I can’t believe how fast it’s approaching, but I’m much looking forward to some time off beforehand. Paul and I visited the Cape for a night and boy did I get a little taffy/candy/seafood crazy! I had a legitimate food hangover today.

Due to my food hangover, I decided to try and get back on track today and whipped up a delicious, clean eating dinner. I’ve been wanting to make this Beef & Broccoli all week and today was the perfect opportunity since I already had the ingredients. Here ya go!

Beef & Broccoli

  • 1/2 lb beef sirloin, cut into stir-fry strips. (Got mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 small broccoli crown
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion; sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 2 tbl soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

.Steam broccoli (or boil if you don’t have a steamer) until tender. A fork should be able to easily pierce it. Set aside.
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In a non-stick pan, heat on medium-low and cook beef until browned. Remove grease from pan and set beef aside.
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Use the same pan and heat olive oil to medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent.IMG_1008
Whisk cornstarch and water together in a separate cup. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch-water mixture, and ginger to garlic-onion mixture. Continue to cook on medium until liquid has a thickened- about 3 minutes. IMG_1009
Add broccoli and beef to pan and incorporate. Allow mixture to heat evenly, about a minute,. We poured ours over brown rice and devoured it! Better than take-out!IMG_1011

BBQ Beer Chicken

I’m totally winging it today everyone! I sat down last night thinking and thinking about how to use the leftover tofu I have in the fridge in a quick and fast meal that I could prep the night before. That way, when I came home from volunteering today I could do less cooking and more eating. Well, I failed. I couldn’t come up with a single simple and appetizing meal. So alas, the tofu will have to wait. I’m open to suggestions for a future quandary!

Anywho, what else is ready as soon as I walk in the door than a crockpot meal? I decided to go crockpot only and try a simple BBQ Beer chicken recipe with some odds and ends in my fridge.

IMG_1333BBQ Beer Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup bbq sauce
1/2 cup beer
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup black beans

Serves 2-3 people

Place chicken breasts at the bottom of crockpot. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Whisk together bbq sauce and beer in a separate cup and pour over chicken.

Pour in beans and corn and lightly incorporate into bbq-beer mixture.IMG_0993

Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3.5 hours. Mine wasn’t as shreddy as I was hoping for since somebody turned the crockpot off about a half hour early. Ehem, Paul.

To be fair, it came out great anyways!IMG_1329IMG_1330

We served this with sautéed kale and couscous.IMG_1332

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

Oh. My. Goodness. These noodles are fantastic! I’ve always wanted to make Sesame Noodles, but I’ve never had the right ingredients. It was kind of one of those meals that required me to buy more than one thing I didn’t already have, so I just kept putting it in my back pocket for another time. Well I finally splurged and purchased the sesame oil and rice vinegar and can now continue to explore new recipes with these fabulous ingredients.

I made my Sesame Noodles with tofu…please don’t say “Blech!” I honestly really enjoy tofu, and Paul likes it too! Can you believe it? It was a really wonderful addition to these noodles so give it a try!

I adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, it’s very similar so I give her the credit for these awesome noodles!

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

1/2 block extra-firm tofu
1/3 cup cornstarch
pinch ginger
Thin noodles; enough for 4 servings (I used my Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta spaghetti noodles)
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tbl sugar
2 cloves garlic; minced
2 tbl sesame oil
1 tbl rice vinegar
4 tbl canola oil; divided

Serves 4

Cook pasta according to directions. Keep warm until ready to use.IMG_1322

Sauce: Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic and 2 tbl canola oil in a bowl. Set aside.

Tofu: Cut tofu in half and fold a paper towel in half on a cutting board. Place tofu slices on paper towel and place another folded towel on top. Lightly press on the tofu to soak up liquid. Continue to do this until most of the liquid is absorbed.
IMG_1317Cut up tofu into bite-sized cubes and sprinkle a pinch of ginger onto cubes. Pour cornstarch onto a plate and dredge the tofu pieces in it. Make sure each piece is coated evenly.IMG_1319IMG_1320Heat 2 tbl canola oil to medium heat in a non-stick pan. Add tofu and cook on medium-low until the tofu is crispy and golden. Make sure to continually turn the tofu in order for it to cook evenly on all sides. Set aside.IMG_1321Take strained pasta and add sauce. I did this in the same pan I cooked the pasta in. Why dirty another pan…especially when you don’t have a dishwasher. (ugh!) Incorporate sauce well. Add tofu right before eating. Enjoy! (We did!)IMG_1323IMG_1324

Rosemary Shrimp & Summer Squash

Work has been especially stressful the last couple days and my last day is a week from tomorrow. So to say I have one foot out the door is an understatement. All day the only thing I could think about was getting out and going for a nice long run. So when I was done, I bolted out of there and did exactly that. Five miles later I came back extremely sweaty, de-stressed an a hell of a lot happier than I was when I started. It’s amazing what a couple of miles of pavement pounding can do for the mind, body and attitude!

When I came home, Paul told me he wouldn’t be home for dinner tonight which was initially disappointing. Then I realized something great…I could make whatever MY heart desired! Sometimes he can be a smidge picky…don’t tell him I said that! Rosemary Shrimp & Summer Squash it is!

I made a meal that only serves one tonight, but I altered it and provided a recipe that serves two posted below.

Rosemary Shrimp & Summer Squash

About 12, pre-cooked shrimp
2 tbl olive oil
1/2 green zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow zucchini; sliced
1/2 onion; sliced
1 clove garlic; minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in pan to a medium heat. Sauté green zucchini and onion for about 5 minutes. Add yellow zucchini and continue to cook until all veggies are soft. I covered mine for a couple minutes to help steam them through.photo 2When veggies are cooked, add garlic, shrimp, rosemary and thyme and cook until shrimp is heated through and garlic is soft.photo 3Season with salt and pepper.

I served my shrimp over Israeli couscous. Enjoy!photo 4

Vegetable Ricotta Stuffed Shells

IMG_0972Hello friends! I’m back to the grind after two amazing days off from work. Back to work also means back to my weekly Wednesday night volunteering. Because of this, my Wednesday night dinner usually consists of an easy meal I can reheat once I get home. I’m pleased to announce that tonight was a different story! On my Tuesday off I was able to prep a wonderful meal that Paul easily popped into the oven…with some detailed instructions of course.

Let me tell you, these vegetable stuffed shells are the perfect combination of healthy eating and Yum! They came out absolutely fantastic. I made this recipe for 2 people, but definitely double it up if it suits you!

Vegetable Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • 1/2 cup diced green zucchini
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow zucchini
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 12 jumbo shells
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • Spaghetti sauce (I used about a cup)
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta shells according to package. I cooked them until al dente; about 10 minutes. When cooked, drain and set aside.photo 1

Dice onion, green zucchini, yellow zucchini and shred carrot. Heat a pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute veggies for about 10 minutes on a medium-low heat, until everything is soft. *If you need more oil use a little at a time but I sometimes just add a little water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the veggies.

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While veggies are cooking, mince garlic. Then whisk egg. Incorporate parmesan cheese, egg and garlic into ricotta cheese. Set aside.

When veggies are cooked, incorporate them into the ricotta mixture.

Spoon a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture and place into dish. Continue filling and placing the remaining shells in the dish. When all the shells are filled, pour sauce sparingly over the shells. I also topped with mozzarella cheese because I had it.

IMG_0970Cover dish with tin foil and cook for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

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