Butternut Soup

In case it wasn’t obvious – I’ve taken quite a hiatus from blogging, for many reasons that I’ll discuss with you if you’re interested. But the main reason for this new post is simply because I had so many people asking for this recipe, it was easier just to type it out and post it here!

This recipe is husband-approved even though it’s vegetarian, and goes mouthwateringly with some buttery biscuits.

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Butternut Soup

(adapted from the Pampered Chef “Harvest Cream Soup” recipe.)

1 lb butternut squash, chopped into 1-inch pieces

2 leeks (white and light green portions), chopped in half lengthwise, and then into 2-inch pieces

1 lb (3 cups) baby carrots (or regular carrots, chopped into baby carrot sized pieces)

3 small gala apples, peeled and quartered

1 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced (or more – I love garlic)

salt and coarsely ground black pepper

2 (14.5oz) cans (or 4 cups) vegetable or chicken broth

1 can (12oz) evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine squash, leeks, carrots, apples, oil and garlic in a large mixing bowl; toss to coat. Spread vegetables in a single layer in a large baking pan (I use a large jelly roll pan with the 1″ sides, but if you were desperate you could probably use a 13×9 and just stir the vegetables while they’re baking), sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until the mixture is tender and golden brown (don’t worry if some edges are a little burned – it doesn’t affect the soup).

In a blender or food processor, combine several scoops of vegetables with a portion of the broth. Word to the wise – never fill your blender more than half full when blending soup or other hot liquids, or you’re asking for soup all over your kitchen. Not good, especially when working with piping hot veggies.

Blend until smooth, transfer to a large soup pot, then repeat with the rest of the mixture and broth until you’ve used both up. Another word to the wise – the veggies won’t blend unless they’re mixed with broth, so make sure to portion out your broth accordingly. The quantities can be rough while you’re blending, because it’s all getting mixed into the same pot.

Add evaporated milk into the soup pot with the mixture; mix well. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

And serve! (Preferably with yummy, buttery biscuits.)

Side note: This makes a LOT of soup. About 6-8 healthy servings, depending on how much you eat. But, it freezes beautifully. I usually have it for dinner that night, leave one portion for the next day’s leftovers, then ladle the rest into mason jars for another day. Just treat it like a can of soup after thawing and heat it up.

One last side note: I discovered that I apparently had posted the original Harvest Cream soup a couple years ago, but that was prior to me tweaking it. Don’t use that recipe. Use this one. So much better with apples!

Enjoy, friends!

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Cocoa Bottom Banana Pecan Bars

Because bananas couldn’t get any better.

On my quest to use up my stash’o’bananas in my freezer, I came across another delicious recipe. We can thank the folks over at Kitchen-Aid for this one. Yum.

Cocoa Bottom Banana Pecan Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 5 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a13x9-inch baking pan. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or you could do it by hand), beat sugar and butter at a medium speed until creamy. Add the bananas, egg, and vanilla, continuing to beat until well blended.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, and beat until well blended. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Divide the batter in half. Stir the cocoa into one half, and spread the chocolate batter into the bottom of the greased pan. Top with the plain batter, and swirl with a knife as desired.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Now, there were only a few tricks to this one. I wouldn’t even call them that, really.

First, I have a tendency to never pre-mash my bananas if they’re going in the mixer anyway. Call it laziness, or call it not wanting to wash another dish. (Another name for laziness?) And my bars turned out just fine.

Second, it didn’t swirl as well as I expected. This photo was taken after me swirling like a madwoman. The batter was just too dense to really swirl well.

But it’s okay. Because in the long run, it turns out just lovely.

Remind yourself that the edges of this are not burned…they’re CHOCOLATE. Yum.

Gorgeous, and very simple to cut into bars and serve in any fashion you desire. (Or eat four bars before you realize what even blind-sided you.)

The final flavor is still very reminiscent of banana bread – I guess when you squeeze five bananas into a batter that only fills a 13×9 pan, you’re going to have a pretty dominant banana flavor.

But just think…banana-y…chocolate-y…goodness. If you’re even more of a chocoholic (cough – MOM- cough) you could add mini-chocolate chips to this batter and I’m sure it would be even more delicious.

Here’s the easy-to-print version for you my friends: Cocoa Bottom Banana Pecan Bars

Now go…and bake!

Bed Rest?

Hi my friends!

Short post today. I’ve barely been writing recently due to fighting a two-week cold, and just as I was coming out of it, I managed to sprain my back to the point where I can barely walk.

SO. Needless to say, I have not been cooking lately! While I am laying flat on my back though I am watching lots of interesting documentaries and catching up on reading so I will hopefully have lots of fresh ideas to share with you when I get back up and running.

In the meantime…I’ll be signing off from blogging for a few more days, and will hopefully be back and better than ever sometime next week.

Keep cooking, and stay cool during this monster heat wave!

Travel Urges

Anyone who knows me knows that despite not having an ounce of French heritage, I’ve had a lifelong love of the French culture and language and have dreamed of traveling there.

I’m still nowhere close to this dream, but this article (brought to my attention by the fabulous Lauren) from the New York Times made my heart ache for France just a little more intensely. And if you need a little break from trying to make it through Friday, this will bring lovely daydreams to your head.

Read it. You’ll love it.

A Paris Farewell – by Amy M. Thomas

Photograph by Julien Goldstein for the New York Times.