Saturday, March 3, 2012

Butternut Squash Puree

So tonight when I made my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, I used a quarter of the squash and roasted it in 1/4 inch of water in the oven at 375 for 45 minutes.

Luke has already tried bananas, so we added a new food this week, butternut squash!

I love our magic bullet! It has come in handy for so many things, most recently baby food for Luke.
This puree is good for 3 days in the fridge, or in an airtight container for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Luke loved it!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

My favorite thing to make for Josh and I (and for our family over Christmas!) is this roasted butternut soup. I love the flavor of butternut squash, but when you pair it with tomatoes, pears, leeks, and garlic! Mmmmm, it gets so much tastier!

Beautiful veggies before they hit the oven to roast. Aren't they beautiful? Swoon.

Here is the recipe:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1-2 pears, cut into 1-inch cubes
2-4 tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 leeks, white parts only
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth, as well)

Preheat oven to 375.

First, cut all of your veggies into 1-inch cubes. I usually peel the squash before cutting. Discard the seeds and yucky parts out of the squash. For the leeks, discard the dark green parts. Then, slice the leeks lengthwise, the chop into 1-inch chunks. You will want to wash the other vegetables and fruits before you cut them, but wash the leeks after you cut them. They have lots of gritty dirt in the actual vegetable.

Place all the veggies and fruit on 2 foil-lined baking sheets. (I love doing this, it makes for very easy cleanup!) Make sure you only have a single layer of veggies and try not to make a big mound. Use as many baking sheets as you need. Drizzle the oil over the veggies and toss with your hands to coat. Bake for 45 minutes or until squash is fork tender.

In batches, but the roasted veggies into a food processor or blender with the broth and puree. Depending on how big your blender is, you may have to do this in 2-3 batches. If you are extraordinarily lucky and got a HealthMaster for Christmas like we did (thanks MIL!) then you can do it all in one batch. Add more liquid if your soup is too thick for your taste.

This soup is a meal in itself. If you like, you can add carrots or apples to the mix to make it a bit sweeter. My husband is more of a savory dish kind of guy, so we go for the garlic. Make it your own, and enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Seedling Starters for Spring

The time has come when we are starting our seedlings! I am so excited for our garden this year. We are growing a variety of veggies and should have a bountiful harvest by spring and summer (fingers crossed). We are using the Square Foot Gardening techniques out of this book:
So far we have had the most luck with butternut squash, summer squash, okra, and jalapeno seedlings. Here are our jalapeno seedlings, so fun!
We have never grown jalapenos but apparently they are a good one to grow in Houston. Josh loves to make salsa and stuffed jalapenos, so hopefully we will have some fresh, tasty ones this summer. I'll have to post his recipes on here; he is such a natural chef.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: For the love of...

Valentine's Day has brought on a whole new meaning this year with our own little cupid to boot. Luke is five months old and as fun as ever. We are not to the age where we can do a lot of the cute Valentine things you see for kids, but I did get him a cute book and a balloon. Boy, does this boy love his balloon. I tied it to his crib so he can see it often and he gets the biggest kick out of touching it and making it make noise.

So yes, this year brings a new (little) person to show love on. Of course the big deal with V-day to me and Josh is the dinner. Josh usually cooks, but this year I wanted to treat him. I stay at home with baby boy, so I had plenty of time to make a three-course meal. Not an ordinary thing in this house, I might add. Unless you count my pre-dinner and post-dinner snacking. Oops!

I picked up some heart-shaped pasta the other day at World Market and finally came up with an idea to use it. Josh and I are both pizza lovers, especially out-of-the-ordinary pizzas, or fancy pizzas, if you will. So I turned one of our favorite pizzas into a pasta dish, because I can't miss out of the opportunity to use heart-shaped pasta!

Heart-Shaped Pasta with Prosciutto, Fresh Tomato, and Arugula
(Adapted from Eric S. Lee's Sweeping Her Off Her Feet With Food)


   6 ounces heart-shaped pasta or pasta bowties, cooked al dente, and drained (reserve 1/4 cup pasta water)
   1/3 cup olive oil
   2 cloves garlic, chopped
   1/2 cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
   1 cup chicken brother with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in
   6-8 paper thin slices prosciutto, cut into 1" ribbons (you can ask for it this way at the deli counter)
   2 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
   1 tablespoon lemon juice
   1 or 2 cups roughly chopped arugula
   Salt and pepper
   4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan


   Preheat large saute pan on medium-high heat
   Heat oil, then add garlic and saute until it begins to soften, about 30 seconds

   Add white wine and cook until reduced by half (this take at least 5 minutes, keep an eye on it)

   Add broth with dissolved cornstarch and bring to a boil.

   Add reserved pasta water, prosciutto, and tomato and cook for about 30 seconds.

   Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

   Fold in pasta and arugula. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan.

I married a cheesecake addict, so I searched and searched for the perfect cheesecake recipe to make for my husband (and of course, the dessert addict, yours truly.) This one rocked our world and then some. So much that I forgot to take a picture of the completed masterpiece until we already dug in. The vanilla bean is what makes this SO delicious!

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Strawberries
(From Everyday Occasions)

8 graham crackers
4 tablespoons of butter

2 blocks of 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Prepare the crust by breaking graham crackers and putting in a food processor to make fine crumbs. Melt butter and stir into graham cracker crumbs with a fork. Pack the mixture into a cheesecake pan packing it  up the sides, as well. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

For the filling, whip together cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer. Add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla bean. Whip until smooth. Pour filling into the crust and smooth out carefully with a baking spatula.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes (the larger the pan, the less time it will take to bake. Look for slightly brown edges and solid consistency. You should be able to wiggle the pan and nothing jiggles.) Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours uncovered, the wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours-overnight.

Happy Valentine's Day!