Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pumpkin Soup

I laughed so hard when I saw a post on Facebook with a near naked fellow covered in pumpkins and asked myself - has our pumpkin craze gone too far?  What started with the pumpkin spice latte has lead to pumpkin EVERYTHING - I even saw limited edition pumpkin spice english muffins at Kroger, barbara's pumpkin puffins, and pumpkin clif bars. It looks like pumpkins yakked all over Kroger and made it into every product! 
Not wanting to be the pumpkin grinch, I am jumping in and sharing my favorite pumpkin soup recipe. The recipe is from my mom's German friend, Christa Jent, who also shared the Hungarian Mushroom soup recipe with us a few years back that has been a GREAT hit with my Roanoke friends. Thank you, Christa, for another hit! 

Pumpkin Soup
*I always double this recipe*

16 ounce can of pumpkin
1 shallot, diced
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup vermouth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth 
1/2 cup of half and half
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder

Saute the shallot in butter until soft, then add remaining ingredients and cook until hot. Serve with a nice baguette and fresh garden salad. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stuffed Butternut Squash

The best part of going on a vacation for a week is the fresh perspective that you gain while you are away.  I came back last week feeling energetic and rested, and ready to tackle life and squeeze the most goodness out of every day. Oh, how I have missed reading and cooking! I devoured three novels in my beach chair, my favorite being Lucia, Lucia. The delicious meals we shared inspired me to get back in the kitchen. I've been cooking the same-old-same-old for months, and food is not meant to be boring! I make the excuse of being "too busy" to cook, but really it's something that I love and need to make time for. Thank you VACATION for putting things back in perspective. 
In Siesta Key we shared a few special meals, and I was just so excited to come home and reproduce them. My first go is this recipe - which is DIVINE. I love butternut squash, but this is my first time using the squash shells as the bowl, which makes the meal feel so fancy! We even broke out the champagne flutes on a Tuesday night to celebrate my welcome back to Carmens Kitch. Oh friends, I have missed you. 

I read on a healthy blog that you can eat the skin of the butternut squash, so we tried it tonight and then ate the whole squash, try it! 

Stuffed Butternut Squash
serves 2

- 1 small butternut squash
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ground nutmet

- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 garlic clove, minced
-1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp curry powder (a heaping 1/2 teaspoon if you love curry)
- salt and pepper to taste
- nutmeg to taste (I use 1/8 tsp)

Wash the butternut squash and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bake at 475 degrees for 40-45 minutes with the halves facing up. 

While squash is baking, prepare filling. In a pan, saute garlic and red pepper in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add ground beef, seasonings (cumin, tumeric, curry, salt, pepper, nutmeg) and saute until beef is cooked through. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Remove squash from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving 1/4 inch around the edges to keep the squash intact for a serving bowl. Combine the squash with the ground beef and 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese. Stuff the squash shells with this filling. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. 

Bake the stuffed butternut squash at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.