Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS:2 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved vertically and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling

½ cup chopped shallot (about 1 large shallot bulb)

1 teaspoon salt

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1 teaspoon maple syrup

⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups vegetable broth

1 to 2 tablespoons butter, to taste (substitute olive oil for dairy free/vegan soup)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside (about 1 teaspoon each). Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and discard the tough skin.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet (or large soup pot, if you’ll be serving soup from that pot), warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.

If you have a high performance blender like a Vitamix (see notes if you’re using an immersion blender instead), transfer the cooked shallot and garlic to your blender. Add the reserved butternut, maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can stir in any remaining broth later). Secure the lid and select the soup preset. The blender will stop running once the soup is super creamy and hot.

If you would like to thin out the soup you can add more stock or water but usually 2 cups is enough. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to taste, and blend well. Taste and blend in more salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve immediately (I like to top each bowl with a little more black pepper). Let leftover soup cool completely before transferring it to a proper storage container and refrigerating it for up to 4 days (leftovers taste even better the next day!). Or, freeze this soup for up to 3 months.

Middle Eastern Potato Salad

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs new potatoes, unpeeled

6 green onions, sliced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1⁄3 cup olive oil

5 tablespoons lemon juice

3⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin

3⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pinch allspice

1 pinch ground coriander

1 1⁄2 cups Italian parsley, chopped

1 1⁄2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large pot, put the potatoes and cover with cold water; salt and bring to a boil.

Cook potatoes for 10-12 min or until fork tender.

Cool and quarter, or cut into 8 pieces depending on size.

Meanwhile, in another large bowl, stir together the green onions, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, ground cumin, salt, black pepper, allspice, and coriander.

Add the potatoes, parsley, and tomatoes; toss well to coat.

Recipe from: http://www.food.com/recipe/middle-eastern-potato-salad-178969 

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Skewers

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1 lemon, cut into wedges/sliced for serving

2 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken (thighs and/or breasts), cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes
INSTRUCTIONS: 

Combine the crushed red pepper and paprika in large bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of hot water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper to spice mixture in bowl; whisk to combine. Stir in garlic and lemon juice, then chicken. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Prepare grill over medium-high heat. Thread chicken pieces on skewers, dividing equally. Discard marinade in bowl. Sprinkle each skewer with salt and pepper.

Grill chicken until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer skewers to platter.

Serve with tzatziki and extra lemon wedges
Recipe from: http://whatsgabycooking.com/yogurt-marinated-grilled-chicken-skewers/ 

Quiche Lorraine

INGREDIENTS:
Pastry:

175g (6oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

85g (3oz) hard block margarine or chilled butter, cut into cubes 

Filling:

8 rashers of smoked dry cure bacon, chopped

5 large eggs

284ml carton single cream

150ml milk

140g Gruyère cheese, finely grated

1 onion

generous grating of nutmeg

Salt and pepper
METHOD:

First make the pastry: tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the margarine or butter and rub in gently with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 3 tablespoons cold water until the pastry comes together in a ball. 

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 10in loose-bottomed flan tin. Ideally, use a fluted tin. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220˚C. Prick the pastry case all over with a fork, to prevent air bubbles forming during baking. Line the base and sides with baking parchment and weigh it down with baking beans. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake the empty case for a further 10 minutes, or until the base is lightly browned. Trim the overhanging pastry. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 180˚C. Crisp the bacon in a sauté pan over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and leave the juices in the pan. 

Place the onion in the pan and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes or until golden. 

Beat the eggs, cream and milk together with a fork then add the cheese, nutmeg and plenty of seasoning. Stir in the onion and most of the bacon and carefully pour the mixture into the baked pastry case then scatter over the remaining bacon.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is set, starting to turn golden and slightly puffed up above the pastry case. Allow to cool a little before removing from the tin. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a green salad.

Lasagna Soup

Ingredients

FOR THE SOUP:

2 tsp. olive oil

1 lb. lean ground beef (5% fat)

3 large mushrooms (used what we had leftover but would be happy with more!)

1.5 chopped onions (could use up to 3 depending on size)

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. dried basil

2 T. tomato paste

2 400 gram cans diced tomatoes

2 bay leaves (I used fresh thyme instead)

4 cups chicken stock

350 grams tomato passata

8 oz. fiorelli or fusilli pasta

1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE CHEESY YUM:

250 grams ricotta

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. salt

pinch of freshly ground pepper

additional cheesy yum:

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese


Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add beef, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.


Recipe adapted from: 

http://www.afarmgirlsdabbles.com/lasagna-soup/#7xRDe05DEHMAmYCz.99

Banana Muffins



INGREDIENTS:

100g plain flour

75g whole meal flour 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large ripe bananas, mashed

100g caster sugar

1 egg

75g butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Place 10 paper baking cases in a muffin tin.

Sift together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt; set aside.

Combine mashed bananas, sugar, egg, vanilla, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Mix in walnuts and chocolate chips, if using. 

Spoon evenly into baking cases in muffin tin.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly tapped.

Adapted from: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/36/delicious-banana-muffins.aspx