Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash and Root Veggie Soup

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Sometimes I like to have an adult version of butternut squash soup.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the pureed version, but there are times when a chunky version fits the “chilly Fall day” without feeling like you are eating baby food.

This recipe came about like most of the ones I do…..I look in the fridge and see all the leftovers and “not-enough-ofs” and go from there. Today, October 9th, in Northern Ontario, Mother Nature decided to jack up the temperature,  just for fun I guess after a solid week of cold, blustery, rainy weather.  It ended up being 75F (24C) and very humid, but the day didn’t start out like that so at 6 am in the morning I roasted a butternut squash until soft, golden and filling the house with its delicious nutty aroma and left it to cool while I did some outdoor chores.

12 hours later and starving, I pulled out 3 leftover parsnips from the fridge, the last of the carrots I yanked from the garden today and the remaining equation to the culinary trio, some celery and onions. After dicing my way through the veggies to some very lively Spanish guitar music, soon the holy trinity et al were being sautéed to a golden brown. I then added the chunks of squash, freshly made chicken stock (thank you sweet son-in-law for leaving me with the cherished poultry carcasses last weekend), along with some just picked garden thyme and voila, after a 30 minute simmer…delicioso!!!!

For those needing structure, the recipe is below in its entirety,  but oh man, was it fabulous with toasted whole grain bread and a sprinkle of parmesan I think it is my new favourite soup!

Provecho!
Deborah

Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Veggie Soup

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Ingredients
1 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes*
3 Parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large rib of Celery, diced
1/2 Red Onion, diced
2 small cloves of Garlic, mashed
5 Cups Home-Made Chicken Stock (use Veggie stock for a vegetarian option)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper & Sea Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves
Olive Oil

Directions

* Toss cubed squash lightly with Olive Oil and Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400F degree oven for about 30 minutes or until browned all over and tender inside (stir often), set aside and let cool.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add 2 to 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil and add the onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, garlic and thyme leaves.  Cook, stirring often for about 10 to 15 minutes until veggies are soft.

Add butternut squash and mix gently.  Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings just before serving.

Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and toasted, crusty bread for dipping.

Makes about 6 Cups.

 

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Mushroom and Spinach White Pizza

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I am all about pizza.  Pretty much any kind put in front of me will get eaten as long as there are no anchovies present.  Surveying the fridge yesterday (day prior to grocery shopping), it looked like it was time to use up an abundance of mushrooms and garden spinach so I sat down in the early afternoon and googled “mushroom and spinach recipes” and as you can imagine, oodles came up in all different cuisines.

Since I wasn’t in the mood for Mexican (shocking, I know) and there was some ricotta cheese to be used up as well, I modified the search engine to add “ricotta”.  The results pulled up a myriad of lasagna recipes, but I also came across several recipes for pizza using those ingredients.

I scanned through 3 different pizza recipes, pulling ingredients from each and combining them into one amazing slab of yumminess.  Of which now I will share with the masses as I am all about sharing recipes, spread the flavor is my motto. Scroll down for the recipe!

Enjoy with a cold beer or a glass of white wine. Salud!

Deborah

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Ingredients

1 ready made pizza dough for one large pizza (or make from scratch my half whole wheat/half A/P flour recipe here: http://www.ournorthernhomestead.com/how-to-make-your-own-pizza-doughand-make-it-healthier-too/)
1/4 cup good quality Olive Oil
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese, drained*
2 Tbsp chopped fresh Basil leaves
1/2 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 1/2 Cups thinly sliced Mushrooms
1 Cup torn baby Spinach leaves
3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (or Monterey Jack)
1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Directions

*Drain Ricotta Cheese in a cheesecloth hung over a bowl for at least a couple hours, discard liquid

Preheat Oven to 450F and prepare a large pizza pan (or 2 small) lined with parchment paper or use a pizza stone if you have one (placing pizza stone in oven during preheat).

In a small saucepan, add Olive Oil, Basil, Thyme, Red Pepper Flakes and Granulated Garlic. Heat over medium-low heat for 5 minutes to warm through. Remove from heat and add Ricotta Cheese; mix well and set aside.

Roll pizza dough out to fit pan(s) and prick dough lightly with a fork.

Spread Olive Oil/Ricotta mixture evenly over the dough, getting close to the outer edges.

Sprinkle Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste over the mixture and top with the spinach first, followed by the mushrooms.

Top with the grated Mozz or Monterey Jack Cheese and Parmesan.

Bake in the preheated oven for approx. 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your dough until the pizza is golden on the edges.  **Turn oven OFF and turn broiler ON and broil until cheeses on top are golden and bubbly.

Remove from oven, slice and serve!

Makes 1 Large Pizza or 2 Small Pizzas.

 

 

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Oklahoma City Fun!

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I had the opportunity to travel this past weekend to Oklahoma City for 4 days.  Hubby is working a contract job there for a month so to break up his “30 day sentence”, we made arrangements for me to fly down and spend our 38th wedding anniversary together exploring some of the fun and exciting tourist attractions that are available in this large Midwestern city

I was able to glean some information from an Internet pal Amy in Pittsburgh who has frequented OKC on numerous occasions and she gave us brilliant suggestions on places to visit as well as which restaurants to try.  She did not disappoint!

Our first stop was the Myriad Botanical Gardens located downtown, right across the street from the Devon skyscraper.

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The 17 acre gardens are gorgeous and the crown jewel is the ‘Crystal  Bridge’ which is a behemoth of a greenhouse filled with tropical plants from around the world.

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The flora on display is stunning, from teeny violets tucked into crevices to towering palm trees and everything in between.

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A gorgeous Blue Agave plant…Tequila anyone?

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Anyone who loves botanical gardens, definitely put this stop on your to see list. You will not be disappointed.  I could have posted more pictures, but then this post would turn into a novel.

After spending a couple hours strolling the grounds and tropical building (and working up a great thirst!), we went to a fabulous Mexican restaurant touted by Amy as the best Mexican food in Oklahoma City, the Iguana Mexican Grill.

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It is a tiny place, packed with friendly servers, cold beer and mouthwatering food!

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Hubs tried the fish tacos and I had the Yucatan Style Roasted Pork, which was achiote and orange roasted pork cooked in banana leaf and served with soft flour tortillas, cilantro and pickled onions.

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Devine! I chose the pinto beans and red chile rice to accompany the roast pork and was seriously stuffed at the end.  I highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in OKC and you love Mexican food just as much as I do.

Our next tourist destination was the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. I am sure some of you have seen their flagship carving called “The end of the Trail”, a stunning sculpture soaring some 25 feet (at least!) In the air.  The scale of which is hard to depict in photographs. This sculpture signifies a native American and his horse, both weary in body and spirit at the end of their journey.  Sculpted my American artist James Earle Fraser, it is truly a treasured national sculpture.

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There were so many art galleries to meander through, featuring artists from America, Europe and Native North  Americans depicting western life from the early 1800s to the present.  All types of medium were used, whether they were cast sculptures, ink and pen on paper,  oil on canvas, watercolours, tempura and many more. I loved this first one below titled “The Flying Mare”.

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If you love western history and art, make sure you mark this museum down on your bucket list.

They also have a full sized scale of an early western frontier town complete with sheriff’s office and jail,  bank, mercantile shop, saddlery,  saloon and livery stables.  All full of original pieces of furniture,  tack, wagons and full sized replica horses saddled and ready to go.  I was expecting John Wayne to come out of the Saloon at any moment, it was such a fun way to experience a frontier town up close and personal.

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After leaving the Frontier town exhibit, we wandered for over an hour through a maze of of rooms highlighting native and western clothing, saddlery, guns, Chuck wagons,  rodeos and even a room filled with over 1300 samples of barbed wire held in vertical drawers you could pull out and examine. Seriously,  I never knew barbed wire came in so many styles!

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There were a couple of rooms devoted to the film industry of the old West as well.   Featuring actually clothing and props from Western movie stars like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, John Ford and many others.

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There was also a display of Army Cavalry clothing,  guns, horse tack and static displays of enlisted life in the 1800s.  Like the Smithsonian Museum of American History in DC, it has artifacts frozen in time for generations in the future to see and experience.

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Not to be outdone there is a massive display of saddles and tack from not just North America, but early saddles from Spain, Europe and Mexico as well as the saddles made by Native Americans.

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To see the form and function and how they evolved over a century is truly a history lesson I loved to learn.  How they made these items with the limited tools and materials they had available is awe inspiring.

With my limited time in OKC,  these were the 2 main attractions I wanted to see, but there is also the memorial to the OKC bombing of 1995 as well as the OKC Zoo and Botanical Garden which are great places of interest that I would have loved to see if I had more time.

I managed to squeeze out 2 stops at local yarn shops, which of course, I just had to make sure was on the to do list.  The first stop was Yarnatopia and Mustang Creek Alpaca Company.

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I happily contributed to the coffers of both, splurging on yarns not available back in my neck of the woods.  I also managed to fit in Hobby Lobby and a quick trip to JoAnns for sewing patterns as they are significantly cheaper in the U.S., even with the exchange rate.

All in all a fabulous albeit a short visit to spend time with hubby and see the sights Of Oklahoma City. Soon it was time to get back on the plane (not without a cold beer and an awesome grilled vegetable flatbread for dinner)

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and say adios to midwest life and head back north to Canada and my home.

Deborah

 

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Smoked Gouda, Mushroom & Spinach Pizza

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It didn’t take me long to whip up a pizza utilizing the freshly smoked gouda cheese.  I kept the pizza simple with no strong ingredients to compete with the cheese and it was absolutely delicioso!

Studio_20180430_095325Want to make your own?  Take my whole wheat pizza crust recipe here and top with a minimal amount of pizza sauce, thinly sliced red onion, tomatoes, mushrooms and baby spinach leaves.  Top with grated smoked gouda and cook in a 475F oven until the edges start to crisp, flip to broil and broil until cheese is bubbly.

Enjoy!

Deborah

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Tomato & Avocado Salad

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I had a pretty good garden crop this year, especially the tomatoes.  A bumper crop of the luscious round globes had me eating them in a variety of ways, especially with the extended summer heat of September.  The thought of having to prepare and cook a hot meal on days where the mercury climbed above 30C had me melting into a puddle.  Salads became a staple for lunches and dinners.

A favourite is this super simple and super tasty tomato and avocado salad.  With so few ingredients, you are done in a snap!

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Ingredients
4 Garden Fresh Tomatoes (for a prettier plate, use multi-coloured tomatoes like Golden Queen and Heirloom varieties)
2 ripe Haas Avocados
1/4 cup diced Red or Sweet Onion
6 fresh sprigs of Cilantro
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Limes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with the fresh lime juice and set aside.

Slice tomatoes and arrange on 2 plates.  Peel, pit and slice avocados and arrange over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle onion over tomatoes and avocados.  Drizzle with the olive oil and lime dressing and top with fresh cilantro leaves. That’s it! You are done!  To make this into a satisfying and healthy dinner salad, just add some grilled chicken or salmon along with a nice crusty loaf of whole grain bread.

Serve immediately.  Makes 2 servings.

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Lightened Up Egg Salad

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I love eggs.  One of Nature’s wonders of the food world.  I would love to eat them everyday, but my family history is peppered with heart health issues so I only indulge when I really, really, really have a craving for them.

Yesterday was one of those days.  I came back from a bike ride and while cooling down from the physical exertion, I started having a hankering for egg salad for lunch.  Not keeping any mayo in the house (high in fat and calories) I Googled whether or not I could sub fat free Greek yogurt for the mayo in egg salad.  Why yes you can!  Duh. I have already been replacing mayo in a lot of other dishes (chipotle mayo for my fish tacos for example) so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner to replace mayo with yogurt in egg salad.

Probably because I hadn’t had a craving for it in a very long time, until now!

So I took my favourite egg salad recipe and just swapped out the mayo with the yogurt.  You know what?  You would never know it wasn’t mayo!  I am going to have to splurge a little more often on egg salad, it was just too darn good!

For anyone wanting my egg salad recipe, here it is below, but most recipes that you find online are pretty close unless you get into some weird flavour combos.  Me, I like plain old egg salad. Nothing fancy for me.  I am a purist when it comes to this long standing traditional dish.

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Deborah’s Egg Salad Recipe

Ingredients
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced green onion (green parts only)
1/4 cup (or more to taste) of Fat-Free Yogurt
1 Tbsp mustard
1/4 tsp chile powder (I like to use either chipotle chile powder or pequin chile powder)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a medium bowl, mix together mustard and yogurt, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Let sit in fridge for at least 60 minutes to chill.

Serve on buns, wraps or whatever vessel you prefer. If you are doing the no carbs thing, lettuce bowls make an attractive presentation.

Enjoy!

Deborah

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CopyCat Deep Dish Shroom Pizza

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This is 2 years in the making.  Well, technically dreaming of making it over the last 2 years, but the other day I finally had an epiphany about the mushrooms in this pizza.

Hubs is back working in NY state temporarily on a special project and pretty much the first thing I asked was if Uno’s Shroom Pizza is still on the menu.  Sadly no, they pulled it off again.  I can see why because of the amount of cheese used as well as the time it takes to make this pizza, or more importantly, the time necessary for marinating of the mushrooms can cause their costs to produce to be quite high.

I knew the little round scrumptious fungi were marinated in something, but I couldn’t figure out what.  Until the other day.  I was minding my own business, trimming my herb garden when it hit me.  Thyme, there has to be thyme in it along with the white wine.

After gardening chores, I pulled my tablet out and googled “marinated mushrooms”….BINGO.

A dozen or so recipes came up, pretty much all the same with slight variations.  So I picked one and got to work.  The mushrooms need to marinate overnight, hence why I think this (and the amount of cheese) is why Uno’s Grill only brings it back for a short time.  Definitely a loss leader for them, I am sure they try to sell more beer/liquor to make up for it.

Anyway, back to the shrooms!  Marinating the mushrooms is THE key to this pizza and this must be done 1 day earlier.  As for the deep dish pizza crust, I like Uno’s 5-grain version but couldn’t find a copycat out there (another thing to work on) so I just used my own pizza dough recipe here: http://www.ournorthernhomestead.com/how-to-make-your-own-pizza-doughand-make-it-healthier-too/

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CopyCat Deep Dish Shroom Pizza!

Ingredients

Pizza Dough (recipe link above, or google Deep Dish Pizza Dough recipe)
1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed and stems removed
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1 lb Button mushrooms (if buttons are not available, quarter larger mushrooms)

For Marinade:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar (or White Balsamic Vinegar)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme (or 1/2 Tbsp dried)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Rinse mushrooms and slice a layer off the stem end (if mushrooms are larger, quarter them); bring a pot of water to a boil, add mushrooms and reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain mushrooms and rinse with cold water, set on a towel to dry.
Meanwhile, whisk remaining ingredients together in a container large enough to hold all the mushrooms and marinade. Add mushrooms and combine. Seal up container and place in fridge overnight.

Directions

Prepare Pizza Dough (see recipe link above), this will make 2 small pizzas or one large one. If making 2 small, use a 9″ cake pan or a deep dish metal pie plate. For a large pizza, use a large, cast iron skillet.
**Note – if making 2 small pizzas, divide toppings in half between the 2 pans

Grease skillet/pans with Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 500F

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Roll out dough and lay over the pan, gently press dough down and up along sides to the top edge. Trim an excess dough. **Let dough sit for 20 minutes before filling**

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Drain mushrooms from marinade (reserve marinade – see footnote) and place in bottom of the pan on top of dough.

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Layer spinach (I actually used chopped chard from the garden as I didn’t have spinach, which is an excellent substitute) over the mushrooms.

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Add mozzarella cheese and top with parmesan or asiago.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (for 9″ size), up to 35 minutes for a large pizza **keep an eye on the top crust so that it doesn’t burn)

Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes and serve!

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Voila! A thing of beauty!

Deborah

*Marinade Footnote – Marinade can be used for roasting beets, trim beets, place in a baking dish and pour marinade overtop.  Cover and roast for 35-45 minutes in a 400F oven or until beets are cooked through.  Let cool, peel and chop.  These are FANTASTIC on salads!

**Edit ~ I used the leftover marinade as a salad dressing….yowza! What fantastic mushroom flavour it added to a tossed salad!

 

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Squash & Black Bean Quesadilla

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Tonight’s dinner was a snap, especially when you already have 2 of the star ingredients cooked and on hand.  In this case, it was the squash and beans.  I am a bean snob, I prefer to rehydrate and cook my own vs canned beans, something about starting out from scratch that has always appealed to me, in whatever I do.

Anyway, back to quesadillas!  and yes, another (say it with emphasis now)… a-nother!Mexican flavor inspired recipe.  I had already made the beans for another batch of my black bean and wild/brown rice enchiladas and the squash was leftover from dinner on Sunday, so I was looking through my recipes for quesadillas and landed on my empanada recipe and thought…why not switch out the sweet potato for the squash and slap the contents into a tortilla?!

Bravo! We have a winner!  A couple other changes and the whole thing was on the plate in less than 15 minutes.

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Ingredients
1 Cup cooked black beans
1 Cup roasted butternut squash (if cubed, mash slightly)
1 small clove garlic, peeled and mashed
1 Tbsp finely chopped jalapeno
3 Tbsp chopped red onion
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Large 10″ Whole Wheat floour toritilla
Olive Oil
1/4 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Juice from one lime
Avocado
Sour Cream
Cilantro

Directions

In  skillet set over medium heat, lightly toast cumin, coriander, salt and pepper until fragrant (about a minute), add oil, onion and jalapeno.  Saute for 2 minutes until onion softens, add garlic and lime juice. Stir constantly for about a minute or two until garlic softens.  Reduce heat to low and add beans and squash.  Combine thoroughly and let contents warm through (about 2-3 minutes).  Remove from pan and set aside.

In same skillet, turning heat up to medium-low, place tortilla in the pan and add cheese to one half.  Add squash/bean mixture over the cheese.  Fold tortilla in half and cook until the bottom starts to brown (about 2-3 minutes).  Flip and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from skillet and serve immediately with cilantro, sour cream and avocado.

This recipe makes one serving, size up as necessary!

Salud!

Deborah

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Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms and Kale

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DSC06088I think last night was one of the best creative nights in the kitchen that I have had in a very long while.  I turned out a fabulous vegetarian dish packed full of vitamins and protein that can be used as a stand alone meal or be a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or salmon.  Sometimes I amaze myself with my ingenuity.  Believe me though, I have had major flops too, so I take this win as a small victory.

Looking in the fridge I knew I had a container of leftover roasted squash, not enough for soup, but enough to be added to….something.  So the chef hat went on as I gathered ingredients out of the fridge.  Mushrooms…yup, have to use those.  Kale, absolutely (I was bitten by the kale bug last week again, I always forget how much I like it). Then what to add as “filler” I pondered.  As I was staring into the pantry, there sat a jar of black quinoa – perfect!  A few other odds and sods pulled out of the pantry and fridge and a game plan was forming.

As I prepped the kale and chopped some onions, I wondered if quinoa could be cooked like a risotto? Short answer, no, but dinner did take a long time to cook as I discovered that fact (I will explain later), but since I was starving, it was time to get cooking!

Ingredients

1/2 dry black quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked squash (roasted and mashed)
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped kale (stems removed)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp good red wine (don’t buy “cooking wine”, use the good stuff!)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a saucepan over med-high heat; add onions and cook until just starting to turn transluscent (about 3 minutes), add mushrooms, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are tender (3-5 minutes).

Add quinoa and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add broth and wine and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to med-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked (about 15 – 20 minutes), remove lid and raise heat back to a boil.  Boil off any remaining liquid.

Turn heat to low again and add the squash, mix until combined.  Taste seasonings at this point and adjust to your liking.  Add kale, stirring to mix in, then cover and let the kale steam for 2-3 minutes until bright green.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings as a meal alone or 4 servings as a side dish.

What I found with trying to cook quinoa as a risotto (seriously, don’t waste your time trying) is that the quinoa needs to sit in the liquid and cook at a lower heat or it won’t plump up.  After 30 minutes of adding liquid and stirring it was still rock hard.  Once I added more broth, lowered the heat and covered the pot, the quinoa cooked.  Lesson learned!

Meanwhile, I am having the remainder of this dish for lunch today, simply outstanding!

Deborah

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount per Serving
Calories: 184
Calories from Fat 45.0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 0.49g
2%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 99.65mg
4%
Total Carbohydrate 26.38g
13%
Dietary Fiber 8.46g
33%
Sugars 3.39g
 
Protein 5.31g
3%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat
9%
Carbs
57%
Protein
11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories need.

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Cheddar Chive Cornbread

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Today I was waffling.  Waffling about whether to make cheddar chive biscuits, or cheddar chive muffins.

So I made cheddar chive cornbread instead.  I know, sometimes what I think I want, I don’t want at all.  The mind of a woman was clearly at work here.

Since I had just given my rapidly sprouting chive plant a trim last weekend, it was a good time to rummage through my recipe files for an appropriate dish to use some of them up.

No big fanfare here, just a simple, delicious cornbread to enjoy with a Tex-Mex dinner menu (or anytime!).

DSC06019Cheddar Chive Cornbread

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp minced fresh chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

1. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, butter and buttermilk.

3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.

4. Gently fold in cheese and chives.

5. Spread mixture in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 18 pieces that are 1″ x 2″

Enjoy!

Deborah

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