Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Curried Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Soup

Let me first say that this soup turned out awesome, I absolutely loved it. The combination of the squash, sweet potato and apple plus the addition of the apple chicken sausage is perfect for fall. That being said I have to be honest and say this soup was pretty time consuming. If you could bypass cutting up the butternut squash, making this soup would be much easier. Now Brady did let me in on a secret (after I cut up 4 pounds of butternut squash), apparently you can microwave the butternut squash for a few minutes before cutting and that helps soften up the squash. Definitely going to try that next time!

While the soup took a little work to make it was definitely worth it. It would be the perfect recipe to make on a Sunday when you have a little more time. It would also be much easier with a second set of hands in the kitchen. Hopefully I haven't scared anyone from trying this recipe because it really is worth the work and it makes a ton so you can easily freeze some of the soup which will make all of your labor even more worth it!

Taken from the These Peas are Hallow website. My photographer (Brady) wasn't here and I have given up on trying to photograph soup. It always looks terrible!

Curried Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Soup
** from These Peas are Hallow

Serves: 8
Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
1 - 4 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1 inch pieces
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
6 shallots, peeled and quartered
2 small granny smith apples, or 1 large, peeled, cored, and quartered
10 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups wild rice, cooked according to package directions
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
4 chicken-apple sausages, diced
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Toss squash, apples, shallots, and sweet potatoes with a tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread out on two baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Roast for about an hour, tossing a few times, until soft and cooked through, and beginning to turn golden brown.

Transfer about half the vegetables to a food processor with 2-4 cups of chicken stock (enough to cover veggies), and puree until smooth. Transfer to stock pot, and repeat with remaining vegetables.  Stir in the cooked wild rice, and add the remaining chicken stock to desired thickness. Season with 1-2 tablespoons of curry powder, depending on how spicy you like it, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup up to a very gentle simmer.

Meanwhile, heat a small amount of olive oil in a medium saute pan, and cook the sausage over medium high heat until cooked though and crispy brown. You can either stir the sausage in or use it as a garnish.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Lemon-Dill Dressing

I made the below salad a couple of weeks ago and have been meaning to add it to the blog. I loved how simple it was and it can be served warm or cold. I brought this in my lunch all week and ate it cold and it was great.  You could easily alter the ingredients to suit your taste; I thought some canned tuna would be an easy and cheap substitute for the chicken. This salad will definitely be added to my lunch rotation!

Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Lemon-Dill Dressing
*** adapted from One Perfect Bite

Serves: 6
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 c. quinoa
2 c. vegetable or chicken broth
2 c. frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 c. cooked chopped chicken
1 T. grated lemon zest
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. drained and diced jarred roasted red peppers
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook quinoa for 8 minutes. Remove lid and add edamame. Cover and continue to cook about 8 minutes. Drain any remaining water if necessary.

Whisk lemon juice, oil, dill and salt in a large boil. Add peppers and quinoa. Toss to combine. Stir in chopped chicken and walnuts.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots

I made the below pork chop recipe for Brady over Labor Day weekend and it was a huge hit. Brady's a big fan of pork chops but I never seem to think of making them. When I've made pork chops in the past, I've been afraid that I was going to overcook the pork but the below cooking method helps keep them from drying out. Plus, you can set the cooked pork chops aside, tented with a little foil, while you prepare the sauce and that allows the juices to settle in the meat, making them extra flavorful. I served the pork chops with roasted vegetables which made for a perfect simple and healthy dinner.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Shallots
** adapted from Skinny Taste.com

Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 tsp butter
2 pork line chops (with bone), 1 inch thick, trim all fat
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 c. fat free chicken broth
10 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 T. dijon mustard
2 T. chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and add the pork to the skillet. Saute for 5 minutes, turn and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Put the skillet in the oven and cook the pork for an addition 5 minutes or until done. Remove cooked pork chops from the skillet; set aside and keep warm.

Add shallots to the skillet and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the stock to deglaze the pan and stir in the mustard, 1 T. parsley, and mushrooms. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and cook about 3 minutes. Put the chops on a platter and pour the mushroom sauce over the meat, top with remaining parsley.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

BLT Pasta

I just realized that I haven't posted any new recipes since the 18th, yikes! It's been a busy (and fun) two weeks with the start of school and a wedding last weekend in Minneapolis. I have a few recipes that I will be posting this weekend that we have made over the last two weeks and hopefully from here on out I will be better about posting more frequently. No guarantees though!

This week we made two great dishes, a BLT pasta and a pizza that I will share the recipe for later. The BLT pasta was Brady's idea, it's a favorite dish of his at a restaurant in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where he went to college. I was expecting a heavy pasta dish but the recipe that we used is light and perfect for the end of summer. I loved the garlic lemon sauce and the addition of the basil and arugula not only adds great flavor but makes the dish bright and aesthetically pleasing!

BLT Pasta
recipe from Heather Cristo Cooks

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 lb whole wheat pasta (we used Fusilli)
5-6 slices bacon
1 large bunch arugula
1 handful fresh basil
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, juiced
¼ cup olive oil (I think you could use less and just add a little pasta water at the end)
Kosher salt and Cracked black pepper
*** canned crab meat (optional) 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon till crispy and then set aside to drain on a paper towel.

Cook the pasta according to directions.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to a skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Add the crumbled bacon, arugula, basil, and cherry tomatoes to the pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

*** The original recipe suggests topping the pasta with a little crab meat. We tried this, it was good but I don't think it's necessary.