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!

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Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

It’s pumpkin season people! September! The very very very cusp of fall and I plan to take full advantage….even if it was 80 degrees out today. Whatever. I LOVE fall, as do many New Englanders. It is my favorite season without a doubt, and I love how it subtly leads us into the winter holiday season. Although, I do NOT love Winter…like most New Englanders.

Anywho, I eat pumpkin all year round because it’s absolutely fantastic for you. I’ve been on a forced pumpkin hiatus as Whole Foods, my go-to pumpkin haven, has temporarily (or permanently?!) stopped carrying their 365 Canned Pure Pumpkin. I’m super annoyed by this situation, and I’ll tell you why. I JUST discovered this beauty long enough to buy just 2 sad cans before it disappeared! Get it somewhere else? No. Whole Foods 365 is the cheapest I’ve ever been able to find it, I think about $1.69/can? So I boycotted it from other stores.

That is until….TODAY! Woo. I strolled into Shaws today…I never stroll into Shaws, I hate Shaws. But that’s a rant for another day…. Anyways, I strolled in looking for a particular item (which they didn’t have) and stumbled into the baking aisle and what did I see?! Shaw’s brand canned pure pumpkin. Could it be! And marked down to $1.29/can. Yes! I bought 4 cans. I may have to go back.

Rant Over. Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies. ButterLESS, OilLESS, GuiltLESS. Check it out.
WARNING FOR COOKIE SNOBS: This cookie will not have your “average” cookie texture. It’s a bit denser but the flavor is great. Definitely a great guiltless dessert you won’t find yourself regretting.

IMG_1431Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1/2 cup & 2 tbl canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup Agave (or honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbl flax meal (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts; chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

Combine pumpkin, egg, agave and vanilla well. Set bowl asideIMG_1427

In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, flax, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Lightly mix.IMG_1426

Slowly incorporate the dry mix into the wet mix. Once nearly mixed add in chocolate chip and walnuts. Finish incorporating. Taste test and add more spice as desired.IMG_1428

Scoop even spoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheet. Press dough down and form into a cookie shape.
*Because there is no oil/butter the cookies will not spread naturally. It is very important to form the cookies prior to baking.IMG_1429

Bake cookies for 14 minutes or until they are no longer smooshy on the tops. Remove from tray and cool on cooling rack.IMG_1433

Bruschetta

Bruschetta! I love it. I always make way too much it. We always eat ALL of it. What can I say, we love our carbs.  This recipe compliments the delicious Celery Soup I made! Try them together, it won’t disappoint. My only complaint…I probably shouldn’t have made it on a day where the humidity was 90%. Whoops. Sweating while eating is NEVER preferable.

IMG_1424Bruschetta

1 baguette; sliced evenly
1 large tomato; chopped into small cubes
3 tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
5 basil leaves; chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients (except bread!) in a bowl and whisk together. Give it a taste and add seasoning as needed. I ended up adding a touch more garlic and salt and small drizzle of olive oil.
*This recipe is great because you really can’t mess it up! Too salty? Add more olive oil. Needs more flavor? Add more seasoning. Easy!IMG_1415IMG_1416IMG_1417
Place bread slices on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up!)

Top each slice with a spoonful of tomato mixture. Use as much or little as you want. We used a lot and got 12 slices out of it.

Drizzle the remaining olive oil in the bowl over each slice of bread. Top with a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
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Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, broil for another 1-2 minutes until cheese gets melty and bread is crispy. Enjoy & eat it all!IMG_1421

Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups

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Zucchini Challenge Day #2. So as I mentioned yesterday I have a gigantic zucchini my parents gave me that absolutely needs to be eaten up by tomorrow evening. Paul and I are setting sail to Bermuda this Friday for on a week long cruise and I refuse to let anything in my refrigerator go bad…ever! Because our fridge is filled with summer squash and zucchini I decided to make these cute little Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups. I channeled an old veggie lasagna recipe I made awhile back and jazzed it up a bit with a white sauce. I think the next time I make them I would love to add some carrot to the veggie mix or even some mushrooms. Yum!

Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups

  • 10 lasagna noodles
  • 1 1/2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup summer squash; diced
  • 1 cup zucchini; diced
  • 1/2 medium onion; diced
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 cup kale; torn
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 10 leaves basil; chopped


White Sauce

  • 2 tbl margarine
  • 2 tbl flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package; about 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool in colander. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan to medium heat. Add onion, squash, garlic and zucchini. Saute until soft and onions are translucent; about 10 minutes. Add kale and saute another minute, until kale is wilted. Add salt, pepper and dried basil.
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Once cooled, in a separate bowl combine veggie mixture into the ricotta. Mix well and set aside.IMG_1388

White Sauce: In pan heat margarine until melted. Whisk in flour and allow to cook for about 2 minutes, until golden.
Slowly whisk in milk a little as a time. Whisk continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. Add parmesan cheese and continue to cook and whisk; about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt & pepper to taste. IMG_1386

In a baking dish spoon a small amount of white sauce on the bottom of the dish. Take each lasagna noodle and spread about 2 small spoonfuls across each noodle. Sprinkle with a small amount of fresh chopped basil. Roll each noodle up and place seam down in the baking dish. Continue this step with each noodle.

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When all of the noodles are rolled and in the dish, spoon the remaining white sauce liberally over the roll-ups. Make sure every noodle is covered well. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

IMG_1393Yum! Next time I might top it with mozzarella cheese and add a little to the noodles before rolling them up for a more lasagna-like feel. I thought about it before but couldn’t stand the thought of running another errand. These came out great anyways. Enjoy!

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

Pineapple-Coconut Smoothie

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I was so super pumped when Chobani came out with some exciting new yogurt flavors. I absolutely love love love the Blackberry one, and I think it has definitely become my newest favorite. I was anticipating really loving the Coconut one so I bought a 4-pack and dug in. Well, it isn’t my favorite. I don’t mind it by any means, but it’s kind of just blah to me. I think it reminds me of a plain old vanilla, which I used to eat EVERYDAY in high school. Ya. True story.

Anywho, I’m running out of time and I’ve still got coconut yogurt to spare so what’s a girl to do? Smoothie! This yogurt is great in a smoothie. I made a fabulous tropical, pineapple-coconut smoothie that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Pineapple-Coconut Smoothie

1/2 frozen banana
3/4 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned- 100% juice NO SYRUP)
1/4 cup almond milk
1 container coconut yogurt
1 tsp agave
water (you may need a splash it to help puree)
1/2 tsp flax meal
1 or 2 spinach ice cubes(optional)

Blend it all together! If it’s too thick feel free to add more liquid, such as almond milk, water or pineapple juice.

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IMG_1354Mine is green due to the spinach!

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

Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are absolutely, 100% my favorite food. Yep, could I have picked a worse one for you? I love every french fry, in any way, shape or form. I don’t discriminate. With that being said, sweet potato fries are NOT the same. Not even close. Don’t me wrong, I love a good sweet potato and I thoroughly enjoyed the following recipe; but they’ll never hold a candle to my french fry obsession. Nope. Never. Alright, fry ramble over, let’s move on.

I promise, these sweet potato fries are incredibly easy to make a fabulous healthy side dish. They might not be my guilty fried pleasure, but they’ll get the job done. So here ya go!

Sweet Potato Fries

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tbl olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
IMG_0935Slice sweet potatoes into even “fry-sized” slices. Put into a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
IMG_0937Distribute fries onto prepared baking sheet and put in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and flip fries over. Put back in the over for another 15 minutes. Be sure to check on fries intermittently, as mine got a little toastier than anticipated!IMG_0938-1-1

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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Portobello Mushroom Bruschetta

Portobello mushrooms kind of used to repulse me. Mostly just the look of them. Scraping them out still kind of irks me. However….that being said, I will WILLING scrape any number of mushrooms to reap the delicious benefits of these Portobello Mushroom Bruschettas! They are hearty, tasty and combine all the wonderful Italian flavors I love. I was so disappointed with my final pictures, but I promise the taste is better than my photography skills!

Portobello Mushroom Bruschetta

  • 4 portobello mushroom
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1/3 cup onion; chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 tbl fresh oregano; chopped
  • Fresh basil (about 10 leaves); chopped
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

IMG_0951Remove stem and gills from mushrooms. I use a spoon to scrape the bottom, then rinse and pat them dry. Place on a baking sheet.

Chop onion and garlic. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a pan and heat to medium. Add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent.IMG_0953Add diced tomatoes and about half the juice from the can. Add oregano, 5 basil leaves , salt and pepper. Simmer mixture at a medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until juices evaporate.

Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper over mushrooms. Spoon tomato mixture evenly into each mushroom. Sprinkle each mushroom with remaining basil leaves. Drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar over each.IMG_0954Place one slice of mozzarella on each mushroom. (I got a little overzealous cheese-wise as you can see from my pictures!)

Drizzle olive oil over mushrooms and finish with a pinch of salt.

Pop into the oven for 10 minutes. Finish by broiling for 2-3 minutes. Enjoy!IMG_0959My pictures don’t do these justice!

*Want some delicious Foccacia Bread (or any bread) in the Boston area? Clear Flour Bread is our new hot spot!