Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Squash Soup Experiment Continues!

Shout out to my Mom for bringing me a nice butternut squash!

This is Butternut with a butternut.  Do you know how hard it is to pose your cat with a vegetable?!

Here is another, very slightly different (mainly different in technique with a few more details than the previous) recipe, for squash soup.
1 Butternut squash, halved, peeled and seasoned with olive oil and about 2 T garam masala and roasted at 425 for about 30-45 minutes.

1 large clove garlic, roasted (leave it in its skin and place on roasting pan with squash for about 20 minutes).

1 carrot
1 onion
1 potato
carrot, onion and potato diced (carrots and onions unpeeled).

1 T olive oil
1 T butter

1 T curry powder
1 t cayenne
1 t cardamom
1 t ginger powder

4-6 cups veggie broth

roast the squash.
with about 15 minutes left on the squash, cook onions, potato, carrot in butter and oil over medium high  in a big soup pot, cook until onions are soft.  this smells SO GOOD!
remove the squash from the oven and cut it into chunks.  add to pot with seasonings, roasted garlic and about 1 C of the veggie broth.

Let sit covered for 5 minutes on medium heat.

Add more broth and let simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

Blend with immersion blender.  Remember, blend and add more or less broth depending on your preference to how thick or soupy you like.

P.S. I know not everyone (including me!) has 2 hours to spend making soup.  But, when I need to do something that isn't school related, and need some "me" time in the kitchen, this is what I do.  Roast the squash the day prior to save time, or just cook the squash in the soup pot to save time.  Whatever you do, if you do make this recipe, make it your own!  That's my favorite part of cooking.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Menu

With a special out of town visitor (potential cooking adventures there... it's CARA!), a ladies night planned, and a husband in tech week for a local theatre production, and general craziness this week's menu includes... LEFTOVERS and flexibility! I didn't want to plan too much in case Cara and I do some fun cooking.  Sometimes you have to plan to have no plan!  Have a great week everyone.

Butternut squash soup (recipe coming Tuesday).

Leftover Thai if Ryan doesn't eat it for lunch!! (drunken noodles and ginger chicken from Thai Flavors)

Leftover pasta salad from last week.

Frittata or maybe a quiche if I can find time to make the crust recipe my friend Faith sent me...

P.S. I got a nice bag of garlic from New City Market.  I have been consistently underwhelmed by the garlic selection at Hy-Vee and Dahl's.  Lots of tiny cloves hidden in the core and dry brittle, like it's been on the shelf forever.   New City had a pound bag of garlic for $6.

look at this perfect, beautiful garlic!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Annual Fall Squash Soup Experiment

Yes, it's finally a little chilly in the air and Fall is showing its signs.  That means, of course, squash soup.  I bought a kind of squash at the farmer's market that I'd never cooked with before:

what kind of squash is this?

The soup was delicious, warm, spicy not spicy hot but spicy from the garam masala and smooth! Serve with a side of roasted beet salad!

Here's how I made it!

1 squash -- (Honestly, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my squash when I started cutting it up.  I decided to roast it, and cut it into long slices.  This was a mistake, it was really hard to get the squash flesh off the blazing hot squash rind and into the pot!  If you are going to roast your squash, just cut it in half, then roast, then scoop.  Or, you can peel it prior, cube it, then roast it. Or!  Just peel it, cube it and skip roasting. Add it to the pot with the potato, carrot and onion)

I roasted my squash at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, with about 2T garam masala, salt and pepper and olive oil.

1 potato, diced.
1 carrot, diced.
1 onion, diced.

1 T olive oil
1 T butter

4-6 C vegetable broth, depending how thick you like your soup!
1 T curry powder
1 T ground ginger (I didn't have real ginger, but I'd rather use the real thing!!)
1 t cayenne
2 cloves garlic, roasted if you're already roasting, minced otherwise.

heat oil and butter in large pot.  add potato, carrot, and onion. sautee on medium heat, stirring often.  veggies should soften and become deliciously fragrant and caramelized a little.

while the veggies are working, prepare squash  then add squash (in my case, this involved me cutting the rind off and adding it to the pot, if I could go back, I'd just scoop the roasted squash out of the rind into the pot).
add garlic and seasonings.
add broth.

let simmer for 20 minutes, then blend with immersion blender.  slowly add more broth if you like it soupier, remember you can always add more, but you can't easily take it out!

garnish with cilantro, and sour cream!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekly Menu! September 17-23

Whew! Here it is.  The state of this weekly menu reflects the state of my mind as school is keeping me SO busy right now.  I like being busy, but WOAH.  I still need to eat!  Who knows if any of these plans will actually take place, a few of last week's did not.

Here's a Kitchen Table Friend confession:  I have been lacking inspiration a little lately which bums me out, so any suggestions or words or encouragement are welcome, friends!!

As I write this, Ryan is making a delicious meal for us:

pineapple, cashew fried rice with chicken and thai coconut shrimp soup!  It smells very good.

tomorrow I'll make:  pork chops with a tortellini salad (I was inspired by the recipe I posted last week, but when it came down to making it I went on my own...)

combine in a bowl:
1 package tortellini, cooked to package directions
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
about a pint of grape tomatoes, halved
chopped red onion or green onion or both!
sliced kalamata olived
spinach, chopped
basalmic dressing

and the plan for the rest of the week...

the famous fish tacos!!

 a roasted beets, goat cheese, walnuts and wild rice salad with spinach  (I've been waiting for time to roast these beets for over a week now.. more importantly I want to eat them!!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Weekly Menu: September 8-15

Woah! It's the 3rd week of school and I am already busy! Not to mention some interesting home projects underway.  Don't worry, we are still eating well in Des Moines... and now that I have already made one of the dishes, you get  a little more information about it!  Win win, readers.

This menu is driven by a trip I took to the farmer's market on Saturday morning. I woke up early and decided to head out before it got crazy.

Thai red curry inspired by these amazing long beans I picked up at the farmer's market for $1.

 Yes I used a prepared curry base.  It didn't seem to have any scary ingredients in it.  Taste and add more curry paste as needed. The recipe I found on the product website said 1 Tablespoon, I used a total of about 4.  Oh, and I was out of normal white or brown rice so I dipped into my special reserve of red rice I brought back from France.  It made this dish even more special!

Also on the weekly menu:

dinner with friends:  eggplant parmesan (I'll be making this for the first time!) Using Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything (I cannot find a good link for that right now). Side dish of okra from the market...

homemade pizza

roasted beet and goat cheese salad! I am very excited for beets again... haven't had them in months.

black beans, rice burritos

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Easy Heirloom Tomato Recipe Ideas

Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes.

I'm loving all the colorful late summer heirloom tomatoes on display at the farmers market.

I fill a bag with one of each color and leave them to ripen on the windowsill throughout the week.

They are so much more flavorful than those hard little pale red tomatoes you can buy at the grocery store year round. I hardly think they should be allowed to share the same name.


These tomatoes are just so good.

My favorite summer tomato recipe:

Slice tomato into thick slices. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Eat with a knife and fork. Or maybe just your hands.

Garden Tomato Salad: Slice tomato into thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on your plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with freshly torn basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese.

B.L.A.T. (bacon lettuce avocado tomato): My spin on the classic BLT. Stack your toasted bread with mashed avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Caprese: An open faced sandwich, drizzle a toasty slice of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Top with a tomato slices, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves.

Pesto & Tomato Flatbread: Roll your pizza dough extra thin onto a greased rectangular, rimmed baking sheet. Spread a generous amount of basil pesto over the dough. Top with thickly sliced tomatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

If I think of more ways to enjoy the last of all of these summer tomatoes I'll post them here.

How do you like your tomatoes?

Weekly Menu: First Week of September

I survived the first week of school.  I realized that during the many getting to know you, introduce yourself activities that I participated in during those first days of class, I always introduced myself by mentioning something about food.

What is a great book you read this summer?  The Sharper your Knife, the Less You Cry
What do you like to read? Cooking Memoirs and Food magazines.
I made a coat of arms, on which in the "something I am good at" section, I drew my beloved chef's knife, a tomato, a pepper mill and a skillet.
What was a highlight of your summer break?  Cooking in a professional kitchen.

If you read the "about us" section on this blog you'll notice that I stated that I don't like the term foodie.  To me, it sounds pretentious. .  I like the experience of making and of course eating it. Some people are really into golf, or star wars or flower gardening.   I really like all aspects of food.  So fine, you can call me a foodie if you want to... or maybe a gourmande...

Now that's out of the way, here's the weekly menu:

tortellini pasta salad with zucchini fries

sausage and pepper empanadas* (we are on an empanada kick!!) with salad

squash, quinoa and walnut salad

frittata with spinach, tomatoes and cheese

lentil salad with baked fish

* I have a note that says "make extra empanadas"!  They are nice to take for quick lunches, or even heat up for a hearty snack.

I bought an eggplant for experimentation.  I'm not a huge fan of eggplant, but am coming around to liking it... so hopefully I will have time to do something with that!