Monday, October 26, 2009

Squash Harvest Soup

· 1 1/2 lb. winter squash (Hubbard, butternut, or acorn), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

· 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
· 1 medium onion, sliced
· 1/2 cup dried apricots
· 2 tbsp. golden raisins
· 3 tbsp. of instant flour
· 1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
· 3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
· 1/4 tsp. salt
· 2 cups of chicken broth

· 1 tsp. cooking oil
· 1 tbsp. steak sauce
· feta cheese for garnish

· In sautee pan, heat oil just at medium heat and cook onions until tender.
· add onions to slow cooker
· combine squash, sweet potatoes, apricots and raisins
· sprinkle with flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt
· in medium bowl, combine broth and steak sauce. pour over veggies in slow cooker
· cover and cook for either 7-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high-heat
· if you want a smooth soup, portion out and blend in blender
· serve with feta cheese and crusty bread.

This soup is all things Fall.
The flavors are warm and earthy. Dried fruit and a bit of brown sugar add a sweet touch to this hearty medley. The feta cheese is a perfect match with the subtle sweetness.

Try this one out before the season's over.

Balsamic BBQ Chicken

Above: Balsamic BBQ Chicken, edamame, and sweet potato orzo pasta with pecans

(Balsamic BBQ Sauce: Giada de Laurentiis)

· 1 cup balsamic vinegar
· 3/4 cup ketchup
· 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
· 1/3 cup brown sugar
· 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
· 1 clove of garlic, minced
· salt/pepper

· mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan.
· simmer for 20 minutes
· brush onto chicken
· cook chicken in the oven at 400 degrees until juices run clear.
· apply another coat of BBQ sauce half way through the cooking process.

This sauce is tangy, sweet, and bold just like a good BBQ sauce should be. The strong balsamic flavor mellows out during the simmering and reduces to create this delicious sauce. It's finger-lickin' good! (I couldn't resist...)


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tuscan White Bean Soup

· 3 cans Cannelini beans
· 1 large onion, chopped
· 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
· 3 cups of chicken broth (you can add more if you do not prefer a thick soup)
· 1 celery stalk, chopped
· 1 large carrot, chopped
· 2 cloves garlic
· 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
· 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
· 2 slices of 1/4 inch thick Proscuitto, chopped into cubes
· salt to taste

· cook beans and drain
· add onion, celery, carrot, and chicken stock
· cook until veggies are tender
· puree mixture in blender or food processor
· return to pot to keep warm & begin the finishing oil
· add extra virgin olive oil to a pan just at medium heat
· add chopped garlic and cook. make sure that the oil is not too hot- you do not want to burn the garlic
· add chopped basil, red pepper flakes, and proscuitto
· cook until basil and proscuitto are crispy.
· drizzle finishing oil over soup when ready to serve.
· serve with grilled bruschetta or in a bread bowl, like I did.

This soup is perfect for the chilling season. It's hearty and thick, but the best part is the flavorful addition that you pour over the soup. I have had this recipe in my drawer for a while, but it always seemed a little boring. That is why I added a few twists. The proscuitto just seemed like the perfect introduction of saltiness and flavor that only a cured meat could provide. The garlic and basil add the perfect flavor balance that is needed to kick this soup up a notch. (Oh no! I sound like Emeril. Sorry.) The bread bowl makes the soup a full meal.

I hope you will try this recipe and it will take you away to the charmed land that is Tuscany.


On the Menu

This little chalk board was the final addition to my kitchen. In all of the other places we have lived, I was always used to having a place to write lists, errands, and other notes for myself. Let's face it, dry erase boards are just not attractive and would not fit in my new kitchen. I found this slender beauty at Paper Source. I use it every day, whether it's to write JJ a cute note or the menu for that evening's dinner. Chalk boards are nostalgic to me. I used to love being called up to the board as a kid to figure out math problems or spell out words because I loved the way the chalk sounded as it hit the board. I think if I weren't a graphic designer, I would be a teacher- solely based on my love for the black board.