Roasted Butternut Squash

Well, he’s here. We’ve been waiting and waiting and he finally made it. James Ryan, the newest addition to the family was born on 1/2/13. Not only is he the first little one to officially make me an Aunt, but now I have a reason to buy toys. I have a reason to bake robot cookies, and super hero cakes, and best of all, dress up vegetables to look like really cute things in hopes of him giving them a try. Not that any of that will be my job, his mom and dad are already extraordinary parents. I want to be like my Aunts are; full of fun, adventure, creativity, new surprises, and especially helping to spark my curiosity about the world.  I’m so excited I get to pass that on to a new little punk.

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 Recently, I’ve been all about the roasted veggies. Beets, carrots, squash, pumpkins. It seems that the hot oven just brings out the natural sweetness and transforms them into a better, friendlier, even chattier (yes, they get along better with other foods) version of the vegetable’s self. And what I love most about it? It couldn’t be easier and the oven warms up our little apartment on a cold day. (This genius finally called the gas company to fix our heater, yay!) Plus I feel like my favorite chef, Ina Garten while doing it. If she roasts, everyone should.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks about the same size
A few glugs of olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Instructions
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Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the cubed squash on pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Give it all a good toss to make sure it is evenly coated. Keep the squash in one layer. Roast it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. When it is fork tender, it’s ready. Try not to eat all of it while standing over the warm oven.

 Note: I use this in salads, on top of pizzas, in sandwiches even. 

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Green Juice Smoothie

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With the year drawing to a close, I can already feel myself trying reset and start fresh again. For me, it’s more about un-doing what happened in December because I know at least in our families, there are so many treats around its just tough not to over do it a little (or a lot.) So here I am, a few days after Christmas, trying to figure out what to have for breakfast. I’m still in that window where I could probably convince myself that pie is a viable option, but at this point, pie is just not pie without the whip. 

So then I decide that a smoothie is just what I need. Then I remember that The Green Juice Smoothie has spinach in it so thats a double win. Perfect. I’ve escaped dessert for breakfast for one day… until tomorrow at least.

I found the recipe over at Annie’s Eats, one of my very favorite blogs. I modified mine just a bit, but we’ve been eating a lot more pears than we used to. I just always forget to add them in. I’ve frozen the bananas before or left them room temp and it comes out great both ways.

IngredientsIMG_3306

1 banana (frozen or at room temp)
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups spinach, rinsed and dried
Honey, to taste

Directions

Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Serves 2

 Source: just slightly tweaked from Annie’s Eats Green Monster Smoothie

Homemade Pizza Sauce

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I’ve been on a “from scratch” expedition lately. Everything from chocolate syrup, doughs, salad dressings, extracts, and sauces. (Plus so many more on my list!) With Jordan and I trying to save and live on a tighter budget it makes zero sense to buy things like this when I already have the ingredients in my pantry. Plus, now that I’m tasting the amazing difference, I’m not sure I can ever go back.

I found this recipe over on Food Wishes. (It’s actually a whole series on homemade pizza!) What I love about it is the way you start out browning your spices, which I hadn’t thought to do before. The possible flavor combinations seem endless here, but I haven’t strayed too much yet, just adding some basil, extra garlic, and pepper. (Jordan’s favorite) The consistency of this sauce is solid and I think it could handle any number of substitutions, so I see it as the perfect place to start. Plus the fun addition of baking soda takes me right back to those early elementary school volcano experiments…

 Yield: enough for 4 medium pizzas, depending 

 Ingredients

1 can whole peeled tomatoes (28 ozIMG_3019

4 cloves garlic

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano IMG_3065

A few fresh basil leaves

pinch sugar

small pinch of baking soda

1/2 cup water

 Instructions

Empty the can of tomatoes into a bowl. Cut each tomato in half, squeezing as many seeds out as possible into a separate bowl. Discard seeds. Run the tomato liquid through a strainer to catch the leftover seeds. (Note: if a few seeds make it in, it’s fine. Just aim to get the majority.) Crush tomato halves with a masher or clean hands.

Set a medium sauté pan over low heat. Add olive oil and garlic and cook just until it starts to sizzle. Add all the dry herbs and pepper. Stir into garlic and oil for about a minute, keeping low heat. Take care not to let the garlic or herbs burn.

Add tomatoes to the pan. Give it a good stir. Add in salt, pinch of sugar, and the half cup of water. Stir well. Let sauce come to a light simmer. Add a very small pinch of baking soda. A foam will begin to rise out of the sauce. Using a spoon, skim the foam off the top and discard.

Let the sauce simmer on medium-low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes. Toss in some basil. If you prefer a thinner sauce, run it through a blender until it reaches desired consistency.

Slightly adapted from Food Wishes

Chicken Soup With Dumplings

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that I’ve never loved. What?! She has a food blog… She should love food. I don’t trust her, let’s go! Wait. Don’t leave. Let me explain. There’s something about the abundance of food all at one time… and I hate feeling over full… let me continue by playing the world’s tiniest violin so you can actually feel some sympathy for me.

What I do love about Thanksgiving is getting to see most of my favorite people all at one time. This year was no exception. I could go on about how thankful I am for all of them, but I’m pretty sure you all stopped reading after I told you my feelings towards over-eating.  I will say I’m so proud to come from such loving and generous people. Also, if the future of the world rests in the hands of my younger cousins… well, I’m more than ok with that too.

So after eating like a baby dinosaur, (I know, I blame myself, not the day) I didn’t have an appetite for anything. I figured some soup was in order, specifically the chicken type. I had never actually made chicken soup from scratch before. Not only was I surprised at how easy and simple it was to throw together, but I realized it’s an amazing way the use up what you have left in the kitchen. And in order to entice Jordan into eating it, I threw some dumplings in there. Fluffy, delicious, goodness. A hot bowl of this and I may never get out of bed.

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded

Fresh herbs, optional 

Lemon, optional

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, diced

Half an onion, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

Half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 

5 1/2 cups chicken broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1 egg

Instructions

In a sauce pot, cover chicken with cold water. I like to add whatever herbs or citrus I have in my fridge. In this case, it happened to be a sprig of rosemary and half a lemon.  Bring water to a boil. Cook until chicken is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from water, shred and season with salt and pepper.

Add olive oil to the bottom of a pot. Add vegetables and sweat them down, about 5 minutes. Mix in shredded chicken and cilantro. Add broth. At this point, give it a good couple of stirs. Let everything simmer until the veggies soften. Mine took about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, for your dumplings, bring milk and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and add salt and garlic. Stir in the flour. A dough ball should form around the spoon. Add the egg. Spoon dumpling dough into soup, each about a tablespoon in size. Take care not to compress the dough or roll them into balls, as this can make the dumplings tough. Cover and simmer for another five minutes. When the dumplings float up to the top, they’re finished cooking.

I like my soup topped with extra cilantro or oregano and a little bit of cheese. Enjoy!

Source: Dumplings adapted from Mr. Bobby Flay