Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Best Sweet Potatoes!

This is so simple, it almost isn't worth a post. But this mix of spices is the perfect complement to a baked sweet potato. Last night, we tucked some butter in a baked sweet potato and sprinkled the spices on top. Last week, I mashed two big sweets I had baked with a couple tablespoons of butter (teaspoons? Please!) and this spice mix. I'm going to make a big dish of these for Thanskgiving at my in-laws.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall Fun Extravaganza

My two favorite holidays happen to be ones that my family (of choice) and I have invented over the past few years. These are Fall Fun Extravaganza, held in October, and Christmas Extravaganza Preview, held in December. For my first post in weeks (I do plan to make this a regular thing!), I want to talk about this year's FFE, but first an introduction to the holiday.

The day can include many activities including my favorite, riding the cutoff school bus into the orchard at Strawberry Acres and picking apples.

It might also include carving jack o'lanterns.

And it always includes great food! This year Christina bought great cheese to accompany our bounty of apples, and I brought pumpkin dip, served with ginger snaps. For our entree we had krautnachlen (which i have no idea how to spell), fried cabbage and noodles. Yum! And I contributed corn muffins and a delicious butternut squash and apple bisque with a cider cream.

The recipe, which is adapted from butternut squash soup with cider cream on epicurious.com, originally from Bon Appetit, November 1998, appears at the end of the post.

Finally, we had great apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream for dessert. We also enjoyed each other's company and the fall weather. It was lovely.

Soup Recipe:

5 T butter

2 ½ pound butternut squash

2 cups leeks, chopped (white and light green parts)

One medium carrot, diced

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

1 ½ tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried sage

5 cups of vegetable stock

1 cup apple cider

½ cup whipping cream (optional)

Prepare squash:

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

*Cut squash in half lengthwise

*Place face down in baking pan

*Roast for thirty minutes


*Remove skin and dice flesh

In soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high.




Sautee for ten minutes.

Add squash. Sautee five minutes more.






Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium low and cover.

Simmer approximately thirty minutes, until everything is tender.

Cool slightly.

Puree soup, either in batches in blender or (preferably) with immersion blender.

Bring soup to preferred temperature for serving.

If you want to add cream, do so right before serving.

For the cider cream:

Boil 3/4 cup of apple cider so that it reduces to 1/4 cup. Whisk this into 2/3 cup of sour cream. Spoon this cream over each bowl of soup. I think this makes adding the heavy cream to the soup unnecessary. It's a very rich dish without it.

Even better, when Matt and I were ready a bit tired of eating soup leftovers, I mixed in a bit of cream and tossed it in a pan with leftover pasta, and it made a delicious sauce. I then shredded a bit of smoked gouda on top.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I am NOT glad...

... that these exist. Are you kidding me? What happened to green being trendy? And since when is rinsing out a pot more difficult than getting a steam burn while opening a plastic bag? It seems so odd that everyone talks about green business, and then things like these bags exist, where things are advertised as easily thrown away.

Indian Summer

This past weekend was so warm that we went to the shore to visit Matt’s family and—that’s right—swim! It was a great weekend. My sister came with us, and we stayed in a condo. Usually my mother-in-law cooks a huge amount of food, but she went out to dinner, so I made dinner for Mollie, Matt and myself. I love cooking for Mollie because she is not adventurous with food in general, but always trusts my cooking and tastes whatever I make. Still, I think about her tastes when cooking. The main attraction was one of my favorite meals for a cool summer night: Roasted Tomatoes and Cippoline Onions from Smitten Kitchen. Deb serves it over beans, and I love it like that! But Mollie insists she doesn’t like beans, so I just served it with Ciabatta bread, and it was fabulous.

Tomatoes and Cipoline Onions

As a delicious side, I served fingerling and purple potatoes roasted with garlic in olive oil. Yum! The only problem was that they dried out a bit in the 500 degree oven.

Finally, I sautéed some baby bok choy in olive oil and garlic. Ew! We hated it, especially the texture. I’ve never cooked it before, and I’m not sure I’ll try again.

Here’s the whole spread:

And here’s my dinner plate:

Then we went to Rita’s for dessert, where I negated the fact that dinner was vegan by getting chocolate custard mixed with banana ice. But it was worth it!