Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creamy Squash Soup

I served this soup along with the Pesto-Ricotta Quiche tonight. I loved the combo! I just LOVE LOVE LOVE squash and sweet potatoes so anything recipe with those things will make me happy. You could always add a sweet potato to this recipe or try using a different kind of squash.

This is how I cooked the butternut: washed the skin, made a few airways by stabbing it with a knife, placed it in a glass dish and baked it at 400 degrees F for about an hour. Once it cooled, I cut it, removed the seeds and skinned it.
Creamy Squash Soup
  • 2 cups cooked squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • croutons, for garnish

Saute the onion and garlic in a a little olive oil until golden brown.
In a soup pot, combine pumpkin, sauteed onions, broth, salt and butter. Simmer over medium heat for 5-10 minutes allowing flavors to blend.

Allow to cool down for 10 minutes before throwing it all in the blender/food processor. Add cream and blend until smooth. If you don't like the thickness, slowly add chicken broth, a little at a time until desired result.

Pour into bowls. I drizzled cream and croutons for the garnish. My hubby added cracked black pepper.

Pesto-Ricotta Quiche

I had bought phyllo dough without a plan but as I surfed the web for recipes, this one popped out at me and I had the ingredients already. I added a bit of cooked, crumbled bacon to it to make it more appealing to my husband who was gracious to try this for dinner even though he's prefer this for breakfast :) The crust got a little too dark and I think my oven runs a bit hotter than it should. Originally, I had it set to 375 degrees but turned it down to 350 and gave it a few extra minutes for cooking. It's done when your inserted knife comes out clean.

Pesto-Ricotta Quiche
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup of cooked spinach, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella
  • 3 tablespoons broccoli pesto (see recipe below) or your favorite pesto recipe
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8-9 sheets of phyllo dough
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Using a basting brush, lightly butter 9-inch pie plate and set aside.

Whisk the eggs and cream together in a medium bowl, add the spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, pesto, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.

Lay one sheet of phyllo in the prepared pie plate. Brush the phyllo with melted butter, leaving the outer 1 1/2-inch rim unbrushed. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo sheets.

Trim the edges to conform with the shape of the pie plate using kitchen shears and pour in the filling. Brush the top of the phyllo rim with butter, and bake until the edges are golden brown and the filling is set, about 50 minutes. Cool before serving.

Broccoli Pesto
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons chicken stock
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place everything in a blender or food processor and blend well into a smooth paste.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Flavored Coffee YOUR Way

With the weather getting colder, I am really enjoying my daily cup of goodness. I love holding my mug just to warm my hands! In fact, did you know Max Brenner has a "hug mug"? I ordered a mocha and it came in an oval-shaped mug with no handle. I had no choice but to hug it!

Today I sprinkled some pumpkin pie spice on the top of my coffee grounds before adding the hot water and now I have a perfect cup of Thanksgiving.

Try cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint extract, cocoa powder or crushed walnuts! It's amazing how the flavor changes and your staying away from unhealthy imitation flavored coffee. Your options are endless. A friend even recommended crushed fresh blueberries!

I came across Talk About Coffee which has some great tips on making flavored coffees, recipes and other related articles.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Burp Clothes

I found some soft material and a piece of solid white fabric at a yard sale which I cut into long, narrow strips. I loved making these!

I made them for a friend who is expecting a boy. Perfect colors, huh? I wasn't in the mood to do bright red with trains or planes so I did a brown and blue theme.

A friend of mine had some of these but it was a tri-fold cloth diaper and one side was decorated with coordinating materials. I just really liked using a narrow kind since they lay over my shoulder better.

Congrats, Bekah! Can't wait to meet the little guy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Craisin Shortbread Crunch

I love shortbread and sometimes will make a batch and dip half the cookie in melted chocolate but this time I had a bag of craisins (dried cranberries) and decided to throw some in with a little crushed corn Chex cereal.

Craisin Shortbread Crunch Cookies
3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup crushed cereal
1/2 cup craisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Slowly add the dry to the wet, beating on low, adding the milk will turn it into a dough.
5. Stir in the crushed cereal and craisins.
6.Form into balls and place on a cookie sheet an inch apart. (these won't grow very big.)
7. Flatten lightly with a spoon or hand.
8. Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the tray. They will crumble if handled too soon.

Try to eat just one and walk away- I DARE YOU!

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Some people are worried that there is a shortage on pumpkins this year- i was finding a lot of information on this topic but maybe that's just Libby's problem. I read in the Washington post that "A couple of 29-ounce cans of Libby's are going for nearly $30 on eBay". Read here.

What a sad day that would be if there were NO PUMPKINS! I realize the mid-west did have some problems with the rain earlier this year, but we are still ok according to the Chicago Tribune. read here.

Why would you spend $30 on canned pumpkin when every local produce stand has a beautiful variety of pumpkins! My friend had pulled out a few sandwich-sized zip-lock bags of her own cooked pumpkin and we turned them into pumpkin pies! I was inspired so I bought a butternut squash because the stand lady said they are a meaty pumpkin and make great pies.

Let me just say for a huge $2.00 squash and easy prep work, I got 7 cups of pureed pumpkin in the freezer waiting their fate!

My butternut did have a very long neck so that's why I ended up with so much goo. I'll share very quickly how I prepared it.

1. washed the skin
2. preheated the oven to 400 degrees
3. stabbed the skin a few times in different places for steam vents
4. placed the pumpkin on a cookie sheet and slid into the oven
5. cooked for an hour (or longer) until my fork went through it smoothly
6. removed the squash and allowed it to cool for a few hours
7. cut it open and removed the seeds and skin
8. placed it in a huge bag and allowed it to sit in the refrigerator overnight
9. cut the corner of the bag over the sink and drain any juice
10. freeze it!

I didn't puree it, which I'll have to do upon thawing but I should have threw it in the food processor or blender before freezing. Just be careful not to blend it too long which will put too much air into it and look bubbly.

Now you are loaded with fresh, pureed pumpkin for muffins, pies, breads or soups!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Man- Shirt Summer Dress

I am constantly impressed by Dana and her creativity which she shares on her blog, MADE. She has wonderful tutorials and makes everything look possible.

I saw "The Shirt Dress" and decided I would give it a shot- I don't have the greatest camera and my little model wouldn't cooperate, but here it is.

Found an XL blue and yellow striped shirt for $4.00...

And turned it into a 4T summer dress...

Go over to Dana's tutorial for the Shirt Dress for easy directions and beautiful photos! There is no way you can't get inspired by her blog!

I ended up making two- here's my little reluctant model :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spiced Chai Recipe-updated

Chai is one of my favorite drinks during the cold months. I first learned I could MAKE it 4 years back when a friend made it for our group in Taiwan. It was heavenly!! I was really missing Chai since they don't sell it at any coffee shop in Taiwan but with a few spices, it can be done right in in the kitchen!

Cardamom is native to India and it is very expensive. I had a hard time finding this but you won't want to make Chai without it! You will need the pods for this recipe. Otherwise, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks should be easy to come by.

UPDATE: a friend told me her way of making Chai is to use GROUND cardamom and even add pumpkin pie spice but you'll need to strain it through a cheese cloth to get rid of the ground spices.

Spiced Chai- serves 6

3 cups water
4 cardamom pods
5 whole cloves

2-3 cinnamon sticks
Bring this to a boil, reduce to medium-high and cover for 8 minutes.

4 black tea bags of your choice
(I cut the stems off and let them float in the water)
Stir occasionally for 5 minutes.

1/4 cup sugar
Stir until dissolved. Adjust heat to LOW.

3 cups milk
stir and heat thoroughly.
Adjust sugar and milk to taste.

A cup of Chai and a pumpkin cookie- a match made in heaven!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Glazed Pumpkin Cookies


Since the weather is getting colder, it is definitely time for a cup of spiced chai tea (I'll share the recipe in the next post) and a soft pumpkin cookie! These were so easy to make! I found them on Mary's blog, Delightful Bitefuls, where the photos made my mouth water! I just had to try them.

I didn't use her frosting recipe since I was out of cream cheese so I used a glaze from allrecipes.com. They were amazing but I could see how the cheese cream would have made them that much more YUM! I didn't have all the spices either but I used 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead and then sprinkled a little more on the glaze.

They were pretty easy to make- my goal was to pop a DVD in for my daughter and be finished when the DVD stopped. I didn't have ALL of them baked or the kitchen back in order, but I was pretty much done, and we enjoyed a warm UN-FROSTED cookie together. ( I am not even going to start counting how many I ate during the course of this day!)

They are irresistible and so moist!
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