Monday, October 31, 2011

Thanksgiving Series: Winter Squash and Apple Soup

Today starts a series of recipe repeats focused on Thanksgiving. You can find plenty of great turkey recipes elsewhere, so I'm sticking with my favorite side dishes, accompaniments and desserts.

Thanksgiving is, of course, a time to stick with the traditional dishes your family loves, but sometimes there's room to change it up ever so slightly and add something that might become a tradition in years to come! This soup is just that. I made this many years ago when I hosted my first Thanksgiving. It has become a requested first or even main course, and not just at Thanksgiving. It's a wonderful soup, whenever you choose to make it!

This is a recipe repeat. For a full step by step, visit the original post. (If you've never dealt with butternut squash, it might be helpful to see the step by step.)

One year ago: Fish with Boursin Cheese and Tomato Sauce
Two years ago: Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Find more inspiration at Mangia Mondays, Mouthwatering Mondays, Meatless Mondays, My Recipe, Your Kitchen, My Meatless Mondays, Midnight Maniac's Meatless Mondays, Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, A Little Birdie Told Me, Tasty Tuesday (#2), Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam, Let's Do Brunch, Recipes I Can't Wait to Try, Crockpot Wednesday, What's on your plate?, Real Food Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Made it on Monday, What's Cooking Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked.

Winter Squash and Apple Soup

2 medium Golden Delicious apples
2 medium butternut squash (about 1 3/4 lbs. each)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 can vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup half and half

Peel, quarter, and core each apple; cut into chunks. Cut squash, remove seeds and peel, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks. In a large Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium heat; add onion and cook until tender.

Stir in apples, squash, broth, thyme, salt, pepper and water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring frequently, 20 to 25 minutes, until squash is tender.

Use an immersion blender to puree soup. Alternatively, spoon 1/3 of soup into regular blender and blend at low speed until very smooth. Repeat with all the soup. Return the pureed mixture to the pan.

Stir in half and half, and heat through over medium heat, stirring ocassionally (do not boil). Serves 8.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cranapana Bread

This is a delightful quick bread with a combination of fruits that I wouldn't have put together on my own! Banana, apple and cranberry combine to make a delicious bread that has very little fat because it gets its moisture from the fruit! It also looks beautiful sliced on a plate and would make a lovely addition to any brunch or breakfast buffet. And, it freezes well so you could make it now and save it for the holidays when you'll be glad to just pull something out of the freezer.

Start by combining the flour, sugar,

baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a large measuring cup, combine the milk, eggs, oil

and mashed banana. Whisk the wet ingredients well until blended, then add them to the flour mixture.

Stir this until well combined and then add the cranberries

and apple.

Stir gently to incorporate the fruits, then pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for an hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

See how beautiful this on the inside?

One year ago: Garlic Herb Orzo Pilaf
Two years ago: Double Corn and Potato Chowder

Find more great ideas at Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesday at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Made from scratch Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday (#2), A Little Birdie Told Me, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, What's Cooking Wednesday, Made it on Monday, Real Food Wednesday, What's on your plate?, Crockpot Wednesday, Recipes I can't wait to try, Let's Do Brunch.

Cranapana Bread

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup chopped cranberries
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 banana, mashed

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and sugar. Add the oil, milk and eggs, and mix until well blended. Stir in the cranberries, banana and apple, and stir gently until fruit is evenly distributed. Pour into a greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Double Berry Banana Muffins

A person can never have too many muffin recipes, right? And after loving strawberry banana muffins, I decided to try a version that also includes blueberries. These are packed with fruity goodness and if you can't use them all in the first couple days, you can pop them into the freezer and have a great breakfast ready to go on a busy morning.

These come together quickly with just a couple bowls and a wooden spoon. Start by combining the flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the blueberries and strawberries

and stir carefully so that the berries are coated with the flour mixture. This will help them not to sink to the bottom of the muffins.

Now in a separate bowl, or large measuring cup, combine the sugar, butter,

egg and vanilla. Now add the mashed banana to the flour mixture

then add the egg and butter mixture.

Stir carefully just until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Spoon the mixture into paper-lined muffin cups (or use nonstick spray!) and top with turbinado sugar, if you like. (I love the "bakery" finish turbinado sugar gives muffins.)

Bake for 20-22 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

One year ago: Pumpkin Cake Roll
Two years ago: Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins

Find more great recipes at Turning the Table Thursday, It's a Keeper, Full Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Sweet Treats Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Bake with Bizzy, Foodie Friday, Fusion Fridays, Fat Camp Friday, Sweets this Week, Food on Fridays, Friday Food.

Double Berry Banana Muffins

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup blueberries
3/4 cup strawberries, chopped

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Carefully fold in the blueberries and strawberries and coat them all with the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the mashed ingredients to the flour mixture, then stir in the egg mixture. Stir carefully just until all the dry ingredients are moistened.

Line muffin tins with paper cups and fill each cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 12.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Caramel Cracker Bars

Today is Reveal Day for Group B of Secret Recipe Club! This month I was assigned to Shugary Sweets. I was so excited about this assignment, because a couple months ago I had tagged Caramel Cracker Bars to try sometime, and now I had the perfect opportunity!

These little gems are a wonderful combination of salty and sweet, with a delicious chocolate topping, reminiscent of scotch-a-roos. They are super easy to make, but hard to wait for once they're cooling in the fridge! But don't be tempted to sneak one early - they do need time in the fridge to set up properly.

I started by making graham cracker crumbs. At first, I thought it was weird to add graham cracker crumbs to a caramel mixture, but they add a really interesting depth of flavor. You can make crumbs in the food processor or by crushing them with a rolling pin or whatever your favorite method is. Just make sure they're crushed quite finely.

Next, line a 9x13 baking pan with foil, grease the foil (or spray with nonstick spray) and then line the bottom with a layer of Ritz crackers.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, brown sugar,


and graham cracker crumbs.

Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil

then stir and cook for an additional five minutes. Pour half the caramel mixture over the layer of crackers,

then add a second layer of crackers on top of the caramel.

Pour the remaining caramel

over the second layer of crackers. Look at all those crackers just swimming in caramel.

Finish this off with a third layer of crackers, then cover the dish with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour. In the meantime, you can make the topping.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, butterscotch chips

and chocolate chips.

Cook and stir over low heat until the mixture is smooth. It will take a little while, at first it will just look like this!

But it will smooth out, and when it does, dollop it over the crackers and use a spatula or knife to spread it out in an even layer.

Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours. These may be the longest four hours of your life; but be patient! When the time is up, remove the bars using the foil handles, and carefully pull away the sides of the foil from the caramel.

Slice into thin strips

then into bite sized pieces. Store these in the refrigerator. (I actually found it easiest after those first few cuts to invert the bars onto the cutting board, remove the foil completely, and then slice upside down before turning right side up to serve and store.)

Thanks, Shugary Sweets. You've now made me, and several others, addicted to these yummy treats!

See all the Secret Recipe Club participants in the list below.

One year ago: Pumpkin Cake
Two years ago: Peach Pound Cake

You can find even more good stuff at Mouthwatering Mondays, Mangia Mondays, Your Recipe, My Kitchen, Menu Monday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday (#2), Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday (#3), Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Crockpot Wednesday, What's on your plate?, Cast Party Wednesday, Made it on Monday, What's Cooking Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked.

Caramel Cracker Bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter

Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil and grease the foil well. Place a layer of Ritz crackers over the foil and set aside.

In saucepan, heat graham cracker crumbs, sugar, brown sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil and continue stirring while boiling for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour half of caramel mixture over Ritz, then add another layer of crackers over the caramel mixture. Top with remaining caramel and then one more layer of crackers. Refrigerate for about 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt butterscotch and semi sweet chips with the peanut butter. Stir until smooth and creamy. Pour over the top layer of crackers and refrigerate 4 hours or over night.

Remove the bars from the pan using the foil, and place them chocolate side down on a cutting surface. Remove the foil and then cut (upside down) into bite sized pieces. Turn right side up to store and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower is one of my favorite side dishes EVER. I have been known to eat it right off the roasting pan and devour most of it before even serving it for dinner!

It makes a wonderful pairing with any meat or like I mentioned, you can just stand over the stove and eat it right off the pan. Be sure to pick up the crispy bits of Parmesan...

This is a recipe repeat. To see the complete step by step, go to the original post.

One year ago: Apple Dumpling Cake
Two years ago: Potato Soup

Find more great stuff at Turning the Table Thursday, It's a Keeper, Full Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Friday Food, Bake with Bizzy, Friday Potluck.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3/4 - 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2-3 Tbsp. shredded or grated parmesan cheese

Place cauliflower florets in large mixing bowl; drizzle with olive oil and stir well to coat. Add garlic and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and stir well. Pour out onto a large rimmed baking sheet coated with nonstick spray (or use stoneware). Sprinkle pieces evenly with parmesan cheese.

Roast for 30-40 minutes until tender, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4-6.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Portobello Spaghetti Risotto

I saw a card printed with this recipe on my friend's counter and knew I wanted to try it. The original calls for dried mushrooms, but I adapted it to use fresh ones instead. This is a wonderful meatless entree served on its own, or a nice side dish for beef or chicken.

Start by combining the chicken broth and water in a large saucepan

and then add the mushrooms.

Heat the broth over medium heat, then keep warm on low heat. Just like "regular" risotto, you'll add the broth a bit at a time, so it's good to keep it warm.

In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic

in olive oil until fragrant and soft, about 4-5 minutes. Break up the spaghetti into small pieces and then add it to the pan.

Saute the pasta, cooking and stirring, until it is toasty and golden, about 6 minutes. Add the wine

and cook for a minute or so until the wine cooks away. Add the chicken broth, one ladle at a time,

waiting until the broth is absorbed before adding more.

Spaghetti will cook up faster than rice, so start checking for doneness after 8 minutes or so. When you're down to hardly any liquid left,

take the mushrooms out, chop them up, and then add them to the spaghetti.

Stir in the butter,

then the cheese,

and stir to coat all the pasta with the cheese. Arrange the risotto in individual bowls and top with the greens.

One year ago: Mixed Berry Coffeecake
Two years ago: Garlicky Shrimp and Spinach Pizza

There are more great recipes at Mouthwatering Monday, Menu Monday, Mangia Mondays, Your Recipe, My Kitchen, Make A Food "E" Friend Monday, Meatless/Vegan Monday, Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays, My Meatless Mondays, Tasty Tuesdays, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, A Little Birdie Told Me, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday (#2), Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table.

Portobello Spaghetti Risotto

1 8-oz. package baby bella mushrooms
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 pound whole grain spaghetti, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups spring mix

Place mushrooms, stock and water in a Dutch oven or large saucepan and heat through; keep warm.

Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add the olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add pasta and toast until deeply golden in color and very nutty in fragrance, 6-7 minutes. Stir in wine and let it cook away, about 1 minute.

Add a ladle of stock to the pan, and continue to add one every few minutes, stirring for a good minute with each addition of stock. Evaporate almost all of the liquid before each addition of stock. (The pasta will cook up quicker than rice so start tasting after about 8-9 minutes of cooking time once you begin to add stock.)

When the stock is almost gone, remove the mushrooms, them chop and add them to the pasta.

When pasta is cooked to al dente, stir in the butter and then the cheese. Serve topped with greens.

Adapted from Rachael Ray via my friend Gail

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

I combined three of my favorite savory things - mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese - to make these yummy bite-sized morsels. They are a nice appetizer or even a light dinner when combined with a salad.

I made these over the summer, and used my toaster oven as to not heat up the house. If you're making a larger quantity or don't have a toaster oven, the regular oven works just fine.

First, mash up the goat cheese a bit to smooth it out.

Add the sundried tomatoes and garlic

and stir well to combine.

Wash the mushrooms, then take out the stems.

Stuff each mushroom cap with the cheese mixture - you'll probably need to use your fingers.

Line the mushrooms up on a baking sheet

and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is golden and tomatoes start to brown.

One year ago: Goat Cheese and Apple Bruschetta (another goat cheese recipe!)
Two years ago: Pear Custard Bars

There are more great ideas at Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Friday Food, Bake with Bizzy, Friday Potluck, Fusion Fridays, Fat Camp Fridays, Simply Delish Saturdays.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

1 - 8 oz. package baby bella mushrooms
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1/2 tsp. minced garlic

Wash and stem mushrooms. Combine goat cheese, tomatoes and garlic and stir well to combine. Fill the mushroom caps with the cheese mixture, using your fingers to stuff it in. Place mushrooms on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is golden.
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