French Apple Turnovers

Long ago, in the days when I subscribed to magazines, I found this recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine. The recipe is no longer online since the magazine has been sold. I’m so glad I saved it. This is a classic pastry made with puff pastry and apples. It’s a quick weeknight treat. To get fancy, you can add in chopped raisins with the apples or a splash of brandy with the cinnamon and sugar. I sometimes add boiled cider for a flavor boost.You will impress your family and guests.

In the past I have made turnovers with frozen puff pastry. I found a puff pastry in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. The puff pastry has a long shelf life, and you don’t have to plan on defrosting anything! It works just as well as frozen puff pastry.

2 tbsp. butter

3+ small apples, peeled and diced.

3 tbsp. or more of granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

kosher salt

1 large egg

1 sheet of puff pastry, cut into four rectangles

Heat oven to 420 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced apples, sugar, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until the apples are softened. I often us Macintosh apples, since I tend to have them in my kitchen. You can use any baking apple. The original recipe calls for one large sweet apple. I find I need more apple for the filling. I’d rather have too much, than not enough. Taste this mixture. Add more sugar and cinnamon to taste. Not all apples are the same sweetness. Any extra softened apple can be the chef’s snack. You can cook the apples earlier in the day and bring to room temperature when you are ready to use. I don’t like putting hot apples on the puff pastry.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with 2 tbsps. of water. Lightly brush the edges of each rectangle with some egg wash. This will help seal the pastries. I often do this on a parchment lined baking sheet. I find it easier to fill the rectangles on the parchment, rather than transferring filled pastry to the baking sheet.

Spread the cooked apples and any juice over half the long side of each rectangle, but not over the egg wash border.

Fold the pastry half without apples over the side with apples. Long side should align with long sides. Press to seal the edges tightly, using the tine of a fork. I like to wipe off any extra filling and egg wash with a paper towel. It could burn while baking.

Brush the tops with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling or granulated sugar. I love the crunch the sugar gives.

Bake until puffed and golden, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Enjoy. A scoop of vanilla ice cream couldn’t hurt!

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White Beans, Shrimp and Andouille

The pandemic has made me think about food. Differently. Shortages of items that are usually in abundance will do that. It’s hard not to plan everything now. You see paper towels, you buy them. Chicken, I grab a couple of packages even though there appears to be plenty. Pancake mix and syrup, yes please! I am always calculating freezer and shelf space. It’s exhausting, but I am fortunate I can worry about how much I can buy and not if I can buy.

I’ve been using beans for a few years in my recipes. You can stack lots of cans in your cabinet. I’ve also read a lot about dry beans. I have found dry beans at the grocery store can be old and take longer to cook. I decided to try to order a brand that had been advertised on social media. They got me. I ordered some Camellia beans. They were more expensive than store dry beans. I hoped they were not old and were easy to cook. I was correct on both counts.They were wonderful! First, I soaked them in cold water for about 6 hours. I used my InstantPot to cook the dry beans. I cooked them in water, with an onion, carrot, garlic and olive oil to stop the frothing. I read it was a good idea to cook them this way, and to season them. I sprinkled a little Creole seasoning in the water. Forty minutes later, I had soft and creamy Northern beans. I used half for this recipe and froze the other half. One pound cooked up to about two pounds.

These creamy beans can be used in salads, soups, or just a simple snack, warmed and drizzled with good olive oil. Use your imagination. I love to canned beans for the convenience, but these cooked dry beans were creamy unlike canned bean.

I found a couple of different recipes online and tweaked them. There are many, many bean recipes. I used some from Camellia beans website. I figured they were the bean experts. They have recipes and how-to’s on the website. Even if you don’t buy their beans, peruse the website for information.

1/2 – 3/4 pounds of cooked Northern beans

1 large onion, diced

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)

1/4 cup chopped red or green pepper (optional)

2 tbsp. dried parsley or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

3/4 tsp. ground thyme

dash of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning

black pepper and salt to taste

1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and water, enough to cover beans

1 cup raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 package of Andouille sausage

3/4-1 cup of heavy cream

Hot white rice

In a large heavy pot, add the olive oil and sauté onions until soft. I sprinkle 1/2 tsp. kosher salt over the onions to help draw out the water and soften them. If you are going to use the celery and peppers, add them now to soften them. I did not have them, but the dish was still very tasty. I would use red peppers for a little sweetness and color. Stir in the thyme and cayenne pepper. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the cooked beans and and stock/water to cover the beans. Add salt, pepper and creole seasoning. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

While the beans are simmering, brown the Andouille. I heat a non-stick pan and brown, slices of sausage until slightly browned.

Add the cream and raw shrimp to the bean mixture and simmer until the shrimp are pink. Add the sausage to the mixture.

I let the beans, shrimp and andouille simmer for a little longer, thickening the cream sauce. Serve over or under white rice.

Snap Pea Pasta

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Here’s another Gaby recipe. I love it because it’s light and fresh. Snap peas are one of my favorite vegetables. Do I even have to mention my love of pasta?

This recipe is simple, using only a handful of ingredients. Fair warning: it takes time to thinly slice the peas. I lay three pea pods on my cutting board and slice them at once, to speed up the process. You also have to mince a shallot, garlic and zest/juice a lemon. None of those steps are difficult but are time consuming. You must, must, must prep these before you start cooking to make it stress free. I love to have things prepped. It helps you review the recipe.  I like to use a pasta that is long and thin, like a pea pod. The peas would get lost if you use a big, wide pasta like rigatoni. It would be visually unappealing to use small pasta like orecchiette. I found an artisan pasta that works well.

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Ingredients

1/3 cup Land O Lakes Butter with Olive Oil & Sea Salt*

12 ounces fresh sugar snap peas, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more to finish (or parmesan)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

10 ounces pasta

First, who sells 10 ounce bags of pasta? Use the whole 12 ounces. *Gaby is paid for influencing, so Land O Lakes sponsored her. You can use butter with a drizzle of oil and salt, or sea salt. Its’ main purpose is to sauté the shallots, garlic and peas. There will be no difference if you use Land O Lakes. I used it, and enjoyed slathering it on a saltine even more. Never tried that? Oh, you MUST.  Use your judgement with the garlic, shallot and lemon. They come in different sizes. I was fine with the garlic and shallot being various sizes. They become more subtle after they are sautéed. You may want to add more lemon to this recipe. Taste it and add more if you like.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the snap peas, garlic, shallot and red pepper flakes; sauté for 4-5 minutes until garlic is fragrant and the snap peas are slightly sautéed. Season with salt and pepper.

 

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Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and lemon zest.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the snap peas. Add the cheese and stir. Taste and add more salt, pepper and cheese to your liking.

I like to transfer it to a big bowl. You can add cooked chicken for protein or having something on the side. I made this the other night with steak. It was great.

Enjoy!

 

 

Spicy Garlic Potatoes

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Not long ago I discovered blogger/cookbook author Gaby Dalkin . California girl. Avocado lover. Normally I wouldn’t be interested in her, or her recipes. I’m old and a New Englander. But, I like her recipes a lot. I find her genuine and happy. She’s a professional chef.  How can I not be charmed by her?

I have been cooking my way through both of her cookbooks. Her recipes have a southwestern flavor that I have been interested in exploring. You can look at her blog and decide for yourself. First, make these potatoes! They will spice up and ordinary weeknight meal.

1 1/2 pounds baby yellow potatoes

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. The original recipe has it set at 425 degrees. I don’t usually cook at the temperature. I often cook chicken or beef in the oven at the same time. The potatoes will take a little longer to cook, but will still crisp up.

Cut the potatoes into quarters. You can use fingerling potatoes or even Russet or Idaho potatoes. Just peel them and cut into small rectangles, the approximate size of baby sized potatoes.

Scatter the potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the salt, cumin, garlic powder, and pepper on top, tossing to combine. Roast for about 35 minutes until they are golden and fork tender.

The original recipe has you serve them with Toum (garlic sauce). It’s a fantastic condiment to serve with the potatoes. For garlic lovers only!

Enjoy!

 

Lasagna, because every day can be a celebration.

 

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Lasagna

 

Everybody has their own special Lasagna recipe that some family member has made since the beginning of time. I am going to share mine. You can adjust it as you like. It’s important to have good ingredients. The secret ingredient is love.

 

I like to make mine with meatballs. I bake them in the oven, not fry, and simmer them in tomato sauce for as long as I can. Lasagna is time consuming but worth it. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for at least two hours.  I often cheat and buy jarred tomato sauce. Sometimes you have to cut corners. Making tomato sauce is not complicated. It’s all about sautéing and simmering. You can do this!

 

I suggest that you buy a brand name lasagna noodle. I prefer the ones you have to boil. Cooking the lasagna noodles are easy, but you have to include time for them to cool. They are easier to layer in the lasagna if cooled.

 

It’s important to use “good” ingredients. I don’t like the typical ricotta cheese or mozzarella that you find in most grocery stores. Ricotta should not look gelatinous. I use a brand that I find at a grocery store chain that sells natural and organic foods. This Italian hand dipped whole milk ricotta is creamy. I also use the same brand for the mozzarella cheese. You can use whatever you like, but the higher quality the ingredient, the better your finished product.

I always recommend thoroughly reading a recipe before using it. It’s important to have your ingredients ready, such as the onions being diced, garlic minced. This makes cooking a more pleasant experience. Mise en place as the French say!

Sauce

Let’s start with the sauce. If you are buying your sauce premade, you will need approximately 96 ounces of sauce. It’s better to make more than not have enough. You can freeze leftover sauce and meatballs for another meal. For something this labor intensive, it’s nice to get multiple meals.

 

Large onion, diced or grated

3 garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil (good quality)

6 ounce can of tomato paste

Water

3 28-ounce cans of tomato sauce

 

Heat a very large lidded pan on medium heat. To test the heat of the pan, sprinkle drops of water from your fingers into the pan. If they roll up and evaporate, the pan is ready for olive oil. Pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the hot pan. Place the minced onions in the pan. Sprinkle one teaspoon of kosher salt over the onions, to help draw out the liquid. If you are using grated onion, cook at a lower temperature until are soft and fragrant. They cook differently than diced onions. I like to sauté the diced onions until they are soft. You don’t want them to brown. You may need to lower the heat or add another splash of olive oil. While the onions are cooking, open the sauce and paste cans.

When the diced onions are soft and almost golden, add the minced garlic and stir. Let the garlic cook for 30 seconds. Garlic burns quickly. Stir in the tomato paste. Stir in a tomato paste can of water to this mixture. Add the cans of tomato sauce and once again stir. You can add a teaspoon of dried oregano, pepper flakes or leaves of fresh basil if you like. I prefer not to. Put the lid on and let it simmer on a low heat. Occasionally peak under the lid, you may need to lower or raise the heat under the pan to get a simmer.

 

Meatballs

 

I find flavorful meatballs make the lasagna.

 

2 lbs. ground hamburger, not lean meat

1 large onion, grated on a box grater or finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Handful, chopped fresh parsley

2 pieces of white bread, crust on or off

Milk

¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

2 large eggs

 

My general rule is for every pound of hamburger, use one egg and one piece of bread. If you can find it, ground pork adds more flavor. You can substitute one pound for one pound of the hamburger.

Place the bread in a large mixing bowl. Pour milk over the bread. Add just enough milk to be absorbed by the bread. Get a fork and mash the bread. Add the grated onion.  You certainly may use finely chopped onion if you prefer.

Mix in the eggs, parmesan cheese and parsley. Add a tsp. of kosher salt. Add the ground beef and breadcrumbs. You may use a utensil to stir, but clean hands are the best tools. You want to stir and toss the meat mixture. You don’t want to squeeze or compress. Legend says it makes for a heavy meatball. If the mixture seems too dry, add a splash of milk. If it seems too wet, add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Like my grandmother said, it’s a “feel” you develop. Shape the hamburger mixture into meatballs. Not too big. Not too small. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and parchment paper. This makes for a quick cleanup. Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn the meatballs over after 15 minutes for even browning. To make sure they are cooked, taste one!

When meatballs are done, gently place into simmering sauce and cook for several hours.

 

I use about ½ the meatballs in the lasagna. You can slice them. I prefer to mash them. After they are cooked, place the meatballs into a bowl. Drain the sauce off of the meatballs as you take them from the pan. Mash with a fork or potato masher. They can be still somewhat intact.

 

Cook lasagna according to the directions on the package. Drain and pour cool water over them in a colander. You want them cooled off before you place them in the pan. Separate them on a cookie sheet into piles of 4. Each layer of the lasagna will use 4 noodles across. If any noodles tear, save them for the body of the lasagna. The best noodles go on top. Sometimes, depending on the brand, you will have to use three noodles on one layer. I have found that sometimes there’s an odd number of lasagna noodles in a package.

 

The next step is what I call “assembly.” You’re almost done. You can do this.

 

You will need a pan 9 x 13 that is at least 2 inches high.

 

1 15-ounce container fresh ricotta

8 ounces mozzarella, sliced, or diced, or shredded

½ cup grated parmesan

1-pound mashed cooked meatballs

Tomato sauce

 

Preheat oven 350 degrees

 

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add 4 lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping them. I add layers of meatballs, and cheeses between layers of noodles and sauce.

On top of the noodles, spoon about ¼ cup of tomato sauce. Drop spoonfuls of the ricotta over the noodles. Add spoonfuls of mashed meatballs and mozzarella to the layer. Sprinkle some parmesan on top. Keep in mind you will have about 3 layers, so divide accordingly. It’s all approximate. Sometimes I forget an ingredient in a layer, and just add a little more in the next. It will still taste wonderful.

Repeat the 4 noodles, sauce, meat and cheeses layers. Your final layers will just be the lasagna noodle and sauce. Make sure you completely cover the noodles with sauce, including the corners. The corners could become very crisp if they don’t have sauce on them.

 

Bake at 350 degree for 45 minutes. It should be bubbling hot. Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
To re-heat leftovers, place a little sauce or water in the bottom of a 10-inch fry pan, with lid. Cut lasagna and place in pan. Put lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes. Cook until it’s piping hot. You can also add some cut up meatballs to the pan. I like leftover lasagna better than fresh from the oven. You can freeze the cooked meatballs and sauce for another night. Goes great with spaghetti.

 

I like to freeze any leftover lasagna. It makes a quick lunch or dinner on a busy night. A little goes a long way.

 

Enjoy!

 

Let’s talk condiments

I’ve developed a new-found love of condiments. Deeper than my love for ketchup. They last about a week in the fridge. You can serve them with tacos, carnitas, on vegetables, on chicken, on beef. Anything! They perk up a boring weeknight meal. They especially go well on a grilled hamburger.

Sing with me, while I find my salt and pepper…

Let’s talk about food, baby

Let’s talk about you and me

Let’s talk about all the the good

and bad things that we eat

Let’s talk about food

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CREMA

Crema is a thinner, tangier and slightly saltier sour cream. It’s simple and delicious.

1 cup sour cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Whisk the sour cream and heavy cream together, in a large bowl. Add the salt and lime juice and whisk some more. I like a little more lime juice. I like to use a glass bowl when I make condiments. Glass doesn’t absorb odors. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for at least two hours. It will start to thicken. You can use it right away or put it in a jar or container to be stored in the refrigerator. I think it tastes better the next day. This should keep in your refrigerator for a week. Try it. You’ll like it!

PICKLED ONIONS

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 medium red onion, sliced thinly

1 cup water

In a small bowl, preferably glass, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and water until the sugar and salt dissolve. Place the sliced onions in a glass jar or other container. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions. I like to cut my onion in half from root to tip.  Peel off the outer layer. Lay on the flat side and thinly slice half moon shaped onion slices. It’s hard to slice a whole onion.  It’s easier to slice the halved onion. Trust me.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. I like to make these the day before. The onions lose their sharp, sometimes bitter taste. They are soft and delicious. You can put them in a salad, on a hamburger, in an enchilada, use your imagination. They are a flavor booster!

TOUM (GARLICE SAUCE)

Toum is a pungent sauce, or condiment, loaded with raw garlic. It’s amazing. It’s smooth and fluffy. It goes great with roasted potatoes, vegetables, just about anything. If you are uncertain, make half the recipe. It makes a lot of garlic sauce. You will need a food processor to fully emulsify. Make this for your garlic loving friends!

1 cup whole garlic cloves, peeled, green ends cut off

2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 cups grapeseed oil

1/4 cup ice water

Do not buy pre-peeled garlic. Buy two cloves and do it your self. He are some suggested methods of peeling garlic.

Place the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor. Add the salt and pulse for 10 seconds, pausing to scrape down the sides, until the garlic is finely minced. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and continue processing until a paste begins to form. Add another tablespoons of lemon juice and process until completely smooth and slightly fluffy.

With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of grapeseed oil in a very thin stream, followed by 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Continue the process, alternating 1/2 cup of the oil with 1 tablespoon of ice water, until all of the oil and ice water have been incorporated.  Transfer the garlic sauce to a container and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

 

 

Breakfast Sandwiches

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I have never used Pillsbury Crescent Rolls before. There. I said it. I saw one of my favorite bloggers make a breakfast sandwich using them. It was exactly what I was looking for to make my son. He needed a heartier breakfast than cereal. I do all the prep ahead of time. This makes assembling and baking quick. You can be creative with the fillings, if you want. You make them for lunch using heartier fillings like turkey, sliced ham, dijon mustard and mayonnaise, and scallions.

With summer weekends ahead of us, this could be perfect for company breakfasts. Quarantine breakfast! Add some cut up fresh fruit, muffins, a smoothy and you have a variety of filling foods for your family or friends.

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

4 slices of microwave bacon, crisply cooked and drained on paper towels

4 eggs, scrambled

1/2 cup shredded cheddar of Monterey jack cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll dough onto work surface. I pinch together the perforations to make one sheet. Then I divide it into four rectangles. I like to stretch them out a little. If the perforations return, pinch them together again.

Use can use regular bacon, cooked crisp in the oven. For me, the microwave bacon is quick and less messy. If you have company, you may want to cut a few corners. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I crumble the bacon a little to fit on the rectangle. You can use more bacon if you like.  When I make the scrambled eggs I use a little water and salt. I don’t scramble them too much. It’s easier to place the eggs on the dough if they are more whole than scrambled bits. I under cook them little and put them in a clean bowl.

You want to leave about a 1/2 inch border around the rectangles. On one half of the rectangle, place the a big pinch of cheese, some scrambled eggs, and bacon. Fold the other side of dough over the filling. Press the edges with a fork to seal. I do the assembly on a piece of parchment,  on a baking/cookie sheet. If you place the fillings on the four rectangles at once, you can distribute them evenly.

Back at 350 for about 15 minutes until golden brown. If you’d like, you can brush the tops with some beaten eggs, reserved from the scrambling eggs.

 

M & M Cookies

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Whom amongst us doesn’t love a good cookie AND M & M’s? Exactly. So, combined, they make the perfect treat. I used mini M & M’s because I found a big bag of them in the grocery store and HAD TO BUY THEM.

I’ve made M & M cookies before using the Toll House Cookie recipe. They were okay. This recipe is just different enough that it is better suited for M & M’s. The same ingredients are used, for the most part, in different proportions.  I like soft cookies. There, I said it. The secret to soft cookies is cornstarch. You only need a little. I also chilled the batter. This process helps keep them from spreading out on the baking sheet. I left them in the fridge for over an hour. They didn’t spread and were chewy. Perfection!

I made 1/2 the recipe, just in case, the first time. Next time I will make the whole recipe and freeze the cookies. I do this with chocolate chip cookies. You can freeze the balls of batter and cook them later. I prefer to cook them all at once and freeze the cooked cookies. They taste delicious frozen. Ha!

Let’s bake cookies!

Ingredients

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup butter at room temperature, salted or unsalted

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 cups M & M plain chocolate candies, I like the mini ones

If you aren’t going to chill the batter, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a mixer, cream butter and sugars together. Add in the eggs and mix until the color lightens and batter seems to expand. It takes about 2 minutes. It will seem like eternity, and you can stop at 1 minute. You are trying to get air into the batter. Add the vanilla extract until combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer on a low speed. I’ve worn flour. It’s not a good look on me. When the dry ingredients are mixed in completely, stir in the candy with a spatula or spoon.

You can chill the batter now or proceed to baking them. Roll the cookie dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons of dough. Place on prepared pan leaving about 2 inches between the cookies.

Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes. Start watching them around 8 minutes. They are done when they start to become a light golden brown.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, so they can set. Then you put them on a rack or the inside of cut open paper bags. Paper bags are the old school method of cookie cooling! They absorb a little grease/butter too.

Here is the original recipe

Put on some tea water and grab a cookie or two. You deserve a break!

Note: You can gently press additional candies onto the warm cookies, for a prettier presentation. WHY?

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple soup

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Lovely weather for a bowl of hot soup! Butternut squash is so plentiful this time of year, so it’s easy to include it in your diet. It roasts beautifully for a side dish, or you can make a thick and delicious soup. For ease, I bought one pound of pre-cut butternut squash. It can be a challenge to cut and seed a whole squash

When I searched online, there were many simile recipes with a few ingredient variations of squash, liquids, and some spice. I decided to roast the butternut first, to intensify the flavor and remove a little liquid. I added one macintosh apple for sweetness and some spices to add to the flavor. It’s a little savory, a little sweet.

I omitted some of the liquid of other recipes. I wanted it to be thicker and not use any dairy. I had some blocks of frozen chicken stock in my freezer. You can absolutely use vegetable stock, homemade or store bought. The recipe doesn’t make so much soup, that you get sick of it. You can increase the ingredients to make more and freeze it. I topped off my bowl with roasted pumpkin seeds, for a little crunch. You can also used croutons.

As always, prep your ingredients so there are no surprises or delays. It makes the cooking experience much more pleasant.

Ingredients:

One pound of cut up butternut squash, cut in one inch cubes.

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

3 cups chicken stock

olive oil or butter

1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

Pinch of cinnamon, ground ginger, cayenne, nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté the onion, carrot and celery with either butter or olive oil. Cook on a medium high heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened. This fragrance with waft through your home! Lower the heat if they start to brown. You only want them to soften.

In a 350 degree oven, add the cut up butternut squash to a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil and salt. Roast the squash for about 15-20 minutes, so that it softens and gets a little color.

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While the squash is roasting, add the stock to the softened vegetables. Stir and heat thoroughly. When the squash is softened, add it to the pot. Cover your pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

Once the soup cooked and all the vegetables are soft, use an immersion blender to puree the soup. You can (carefully) use a blender or use a food mill. Add the seasonings to the pureed soup. You can add as much or as little of the spices. I suggest adding a pinch at a time, because you can’t take out the spice once it’s been added. I didn’t want the soup to be overwhelmed with seasoning, so I added only pinches of the spices. Salt and pepper to taste.

I garnished the soup with roasted pumpkin seeds. You can add whatever you want or leave it plain. This soup makes about 6 cups and freezes nicely.

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Here is one of the recipes I used.

 

InstantPot BBQ Pulled Pork

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This is the best pulled pork recipe I’ve made. It is so easy and quick. It was done, including the prep work, in a little more than an hour. It takes about 15 minutes to get the pressure to build. InstantPots are faster than stovetop braising, but still the process takes some time and planning. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house. I bought a 3 lb cryovac package of boneless pork shoulder from Shaw’s. There is even a picture of a slow cooker on the label. I guess I am a visual person.

I used Jack Daniels bbq sauce and Dr. Pepper for the soda. I didn’t want to use a sweet sauce, because there’s soda and brown sugar already. There is no browning, which makes it quick to throw together. A pinch of this, a splash of that and you are ready to cook.

My least favorite and favorite thing about this recipe is that you don’t keep the cooking liquid when the pork is done. You pull the pork and then add 1/2 cup of new bbq sauce. I think next time I might hold off on the bbq sauce if I use it for something other than in a bun. The meat is amazingly tender. I let the cooking liquid cool, then I put it in a container. Once it is cooled more, I put it in the freezer until trash day. A lot of fat cooks off the pork. You do not want to pour that down your drain. It’s a little work but so worth it.

3 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 large chunks

1 can Coke or Dr. Pepper

2 1/2 cups bbq sauce,  divided

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

Rolls for serving if you’d like.

Add pork to a lightly greased InstantPot. Pour soda over the pork.

Add 2 cups bbq sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder to the pot. With a spoon, just lightly mix the ingredients over the pork. Swirly, swirly.

Place lid on InstantPot turning the valve to a locked/closed position. Set the pot, using the manual setting on high, for 45 minutes. It will take about 10-15 minutes for the pressure to build. I cannot rest peacefully until the cooking countdown starts. Do a natural release for 10 minutes after the cooking time. Open the float valve to slow release the rest of the steam. Once the float valve drops, remove the lid.

Using two forks to shred pork into small chunks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a bowl, stirring in the remaining 1/2 cup of bbq sauce. If you think you want to serve the pork, not in a bun, it accompanies mashed potatoes and green beans sans sauce. The meat is so tender, you don’t always need the bbq sauce.

Serve the bbq pulled pork on hamburger rolls if you’d like.

Enjoy!

Here is the original recipe. It has some recipe notes and directions for a slow cooker.