Friday, December 30, 2011

Butternut squash soup - perfect winter dinner

Butternut squash soup might be the easiest soup to make in the world. Alright, it does make a few more dishes than I'm normally on board with but it might just be worth it. This soup has some wonderful fall flavors with apple, nutmeg and cinnamon.

I had a stray squash in the fridge, which I really needed to use and I was getting ready to head out of town but what to make? I was just getting over a cold, so it was feeling like a soup kind of day. Soup seems to be the standard thing to make with butternut squash, so since I'd never done it, the time seemed ripe! Pun totally intended.

I started browsing some recipes and they all seemed pretty similar, differing a little in their spice pallet but the gist was - cut up squash and boil in chicken broth before pureeing with whatever else you decide to put in there with it. This is what I came up with:

1 medium butternut squash
1 apple (I used 1.5 small gala apples)
2 cubes of chicken bullion
3 oz cream cheese
dash of nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
dash of salt

Equipment: food processor or blender

Cube the squash (tip) and core and dice the apples. Place squash and apples in large sauce pan with bullion and just enough water to cover the contents. Boil for 20 minutes or until squash is tender. Spoon cooked squash mixture into food processor with a sloted spoon, add cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and  blend until smooth. If you would like a thinner soup, add cooking liquid and blend until soup reaches desired consistency.  Makes 3 large bowls.

Be careful not to be too heavy handed with the spices, I put a dash because I think even a 1/2 tsp will be too much.

I will definitely be making this again and again all winter long, this soup was tasty. It does make some dishes, mostly because of the food processor but it's worth it. How else can you make a delicious soup in under 30 minutes? Also, it's ridiculously healthy and low in calories.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peanut Butter & Nutella cookies

My contribution to the office holiday party this year was none other than peanut butter and nutella cookies. If you don't know what nutella is, you should. Just go buy some, you'll love it, I promise.

This all started when I saw a recipe somewhere for peanut butter and nutella cookies but they were no-bake and frankly, did not look too tasty. This got the idea in my head. What could possibly go better? So I got to thinking, nutella is not so different from peanut butter, why couldn't I just make peanut butter cookies and sub-out some peanut butter for nutella? No reason I could think of, so that is exactly what I did.

You can probably do this with any peanut butter cookie recipe but this one from Simply Recipes makes a fairly small batch - a plus for us single ladies.

1/2 cup sugar *and additional to roll dough balls
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup nutella
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together to form dough. Roll dough into small balls, roll in  additional white sugar and place on greased cookie sheet. Using a fork, press into each ball twice, making a cross-hatch design. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

They will look a little darker than typical peanut butter cookies, so watch that they don't burn.

While these were tasty, I feel like the peanut butter and nutella flavors competed a little bit with each other. In the next round, I might make all nutella cookies and see how that turns out.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Late photo - Thanksgiving feast

I have been a supreme slacker on blogging. To be honest, I haven't been cooking very much either! However, my friend Kim (who just moved to DC!) and I did prepare a feast on Thanksgiving! See below two (very tardy) photos.

The ham was made by slicing a smoked ham partially apart and putting brown sugar in each slot. The toothpicks are holding small bits of apple and pineapple each. My grandma advised that using apple and pineapple adds a slightly different flavor. It was a tasty ham (made in the crock pot) but I'm not sure it's the best it could be. If anyone makes this for Christmas, be sure to let me know how you like the addition of apple!

The other photos shows part of the feast - green beans with blanched almonds, mashed potatoes, gravy (instant, sadly) and stuffing. We also had apple and pumpkin pie (both made from scratch by Kim!), turkey breast (small group), garlic biscuits, cheeses and any number of other yummy things.

Ham in the crock pot!

Just some of the Thanksgiving feast!