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Fall Recipes: Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

English: Cucurbita pepo (butternut squash). Lo...

English: Cucurbita pepo (butternut squash). Location: Maui, Foodland Pukalani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

Nothing says fall like a pot of soup on the stove, and soup made with the best of autumn’s ingredients says it even louder.  This recipe puts it all together with ease and a dash of pizzazz.
Place 2 butternut squash (about 4 pounds), halved and seeded, in a 425˚ oven.  Sprinkle with 8-10 chopped sage leaves and salt and pepper, dot with 2 tablespoons butter and roast for 1 hour.  After cooling the squash scrape out the flesh and set aside.

In a large sauce pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté one small chopped onion until tender.  Add squash, 4 cups chicken stock, 1 cup apple cider, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce, pinch nutmeg and ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree cooked mixture in the pot with an immersion blender, or if you don’t have one, use a regular blender then return to the pot.  Reheat the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste, then just before serving stir in ½ cup heavy cream. Top individual servings with peeled, diced apple, or a dollop of sour cream.

This recipe serves 8 as a side dish with grilled German sausage over sautéed green cabbage and sliced red peppers.  Delicious comfort!


Servin’ it Up for Summer

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand...

A 1-liter glass bottle and bowl Bertolli brand Riserva Premium extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil from Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia, and bottled and packed in Italy. Olive oil purchased in a Stow, Ohio store. Photographed in Kent, Ohio, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For an easy, summer meal, do it all on the grill, including corn on the cob, roasted peppers and asparagus, savory pork loin and summer peaches with cream.

Shuck four ears of corn and clear away the straggling silk by twisting each cob in a paper towel with both hands.  Combine one teaspoon garlic salt and one quarter cup extra virgin olive oil, brush each ear thoroughly with oil mixture and wrap individually in foil.

Wash and slice a large red sweet pepper in strips, about one half inch wide and cut two large bunches asparagus down to the tender part of the stem (about four inches long).  Place veggies in large bowl and toss in two tablespoons of olive oil, two teaspoons dried basil, one teaspoon salt and a shake of course ground pepper.  Wrap in foil, allowing veggies to lie in a flat formation, stacked no more than two high.  Peel and slice five ripe peaches and toss in a mixture of one fourth cup honey and two tablespoons lime juice.  Wrap in foil for later.

Rub pork loin with one tablespoon minced garlic, one half teaspoon sea salt, shake of course ground pepper and two teaspoons ground oregano.  Wrap in foil and place immediately on hot grill along with the corn.  Your pork loin should cook to a temperature of 135 degrees, or for about fifteen minutes.  The corn will take the same amount of time.  After they have cooked for seven minutes add package of veggies to the grill. While they grill turn each of the packages at least twice.  Just before removing everything from the grill, unwrap pork loin and let it cook on all sides for about 30 seconds.

After removing other foods from the grill, while you’re serving, put peaches on the grill.  Leave for about seven minutes.  Serve warm peaches in bowls with a splash of cream.

Quick, easy, healthy, delicious!

By Any Other Color

An old Cream of Wheat box, circa 1919

An old Cream of Wheat box, circa 1919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We spend a lot of time in the kitchencooking, eating, doing dishes, drinking coffee, eating again – and it needs to be a place we feel called to, a room that tells us we are home.   Sometimes we get so busy thinking of the kitchen as a “utility” room that we forget to make it work aesthetically.  On the flip side, a kitchen that suffers from décor overload can make us feel disorganized and stressed.  The kitchen does have to support the work that goes on there, but it should also be pleasing to the eye.   Martha Stewart who simply refuses to work in a kitchen that is anything less than beautiful , suggests an investment in small appliances, bake ware and utensils that are not only functional, but that are pleasing to the eye.  A mixer can beat the egg whites into a meringue just as well when it is lime green as opposed to something the color of Cream of Wheat.  Have some fun, add some color, or go the other way and take every drop of color out.  A totally white, or a silver and black palette can be stunning.  Your kitchen works hard and it is screaming for drama, something that says to the world, “the food cooked in this room may change your life”.  Make your kitchen a place you want to be after dinner is done and the dishwasher is running.  And while you’re there, put your feet up.  You work hard too.

Cast Iron Eggs

cookingWhen you need to put together a healthful meal and your kitchen time is limited, turn to your cast iron skillet.  This recipe for a crispy, cheesy egg dish is a modification of a Martha Stewart recipe and is easy, quick and fabulous!

Melt two tablespoons butter in a cast iron skillet on your stove top, add one cup of sliced mushrooms and cook until tender and dark brown.   Crack eight to ten eggs on top of the melted butter and mushrooms.  They will be crowded and the uncooked whites will overlap as though they are running together.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and course ground pepper and allow the eggs to cook undisturbed for about four minutes.  Cut two ripe tomatoes into thin slices and lay overlapping on top of the eggs.  Allow the eggs to cook for three more minutes on the stove top.   Finally, sprinkle with one cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Place the skillet into a 350 degree oven and let bake for six minutes.  Serve by scooping out onto plates with a large spoon – no slicing.

Serve with warm biscuits, butter and jam, or hot cornbread with butter and honey.  Add some fruit and you’ll have a meal fit for a king or even a cowboy!

Chicken Pasta Alfredo

Real comfort food is the very best thing in life.  This is something you can prepare quickly, because comfort does not have to be time consuming, and it will delight all diners.

cooking at Pine Country FeedIn a large skillet heat two tablespoons butter and add three boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Sprinkle chicken with one tablespoon tarragon, a shake of garlic salt and course ground black pepper.  Turn chicken and let cook for three minutes.  Remove the breasts one at a time and cut into large bite size pieces then return to pan.  Continue to cook chicken until it is white all the way through.  Do not over- cook.

While preparing the chicken, heat a large pot of water, adding two teaspoons of salt.  When the water boils add your favorite pasta, radiatore is especially nice, but linguini or fettuccini work perfectly and are more traditional.  Add one pound of the pasta to boiling water and cook, uncovered for 10-12 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, melt together in a heavy saucepan, one stick butter, one 8 ounce package cream cheese, one cup heavy cream and one half cup grated parmesan cheese.  (don’t save calories by using fat free substitutes, you will lose the creamy flavor) Stir frequently until the butter and the cream cheese are completely melted and the ingredients are combined.

Drain your pasta completely and place on a platter, then sprinkle with course ground black pepper.  Spread the cooked chicken over the top of the pasta and cover with the sauce.  Serve with grape tomatoes halved and sprinkled around the platter as garnish. 

This isn’t a dish you would eat often, but when you do, enjoy every bite.  The ingredients are genuine and fresh, and worth the splurge!

Who’s Hungry?

colorado tack and feed storesShepherd’s Pie is a traditional dish from the British Isles, loved for its deep meaty flavor and hearty textures.  It is easy to make and something tasty enough to serve to guests.

Brown 3 pounds of steak (your favorite cut), thinly sliced into bite sizes, one large chopped onion and two cloves of minced garlic in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  When the onions are tender and the meat browned on all sides add one quarter cup Worcestershire sauce, 2 cups of Swanson’s Beef Broth (it is less salty than other brands) one bottle of your favorite dark ale, and three to four carrots sliced.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  After twenty minutes add one bag of petit frozen peas and continue to simmer. 

While the beef mixture simmers, cut six large peeled red or gold potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in a pan of salted water on high heat.  When the potatoes boil turn down, but let the water continue to boil for fifteen minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.   Drain the potatoes thoroughly in a colander so that they are dry.  Return to pan, add six tablespoons of sliced butter, garlic salt and coarse ground pepper to taste, two teaspoons of ground sage and one third cup heated half and half.  Mash potatoes until creamy and spices are incorporated.

When the beef has simmered for one half hour and the liquid has reduced by about a third, transfer to oblong glass pan.  Sprinkle mixture with two tablespoons of flour, spread mashed potatoes over the top and sprinkle with one half cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake pie in a 350 degree oven for fifteen minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve immediately from oven with a green salad or sliced tomatoes.  When you receive rave reviews, be humble and say it was just something you threw together.

Shall I Pour?

western wearYou have to wonder if the Wild West might have been different if there had been access to better coffee.    When you started and ended your day with a coffee made from grounds, boiled over a fire, in a sock and a tin pot of water until just the smell could cause an ulcer, you figure it had to affect your sunny disposition.  Imagine if they’d had a nice French pressed cup of only the best Allegro blend, strong but not bitter, and never inky, Billy the Kid might have thought twice about shooting the barber who gave him a bad haircut.  A good cup of coffee can make the difference in public reactions on many levels.  Throwing someone through the picture window of the local pub doesn’t seem quite as necessary when one has been properly caffeinated and thoroughly prepared for the worst, by the ingestion of a powerful dark roast with just a hint of the outdoors.  In a recent viewing of the movie True Grit, I found myself wondering what a thorough cleansing and a mug of Sumatra might have done for Jeff Bridges.  Matt Damon needed some sort of assistance, but I am afraid even a well-brewed espresso wouldn’t have been enough.