Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Stay warm this Fall with my new favorite soup!

butternut-squash

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

-1 butternut squash

-1 yellow onion, chopped

-1 small Granny Smith apple, chopped

-1 small Gala apple, chopped

-5 thyme sprigs

-2 tablespoons butter, melted

-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

-1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

-salt and pepper

-4 cups chicken broth

Instructions:

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  

2.  Place squash in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes so that it’s softened and easier/safer to cut.  Remove both ends of the squash, then cut in half lengthwise.  Peel the tough, outer skin and remove the “guts” from the inside of the squash.  Continue to cut the squash into smaller, bite-size pieces.

3.  Place the squash in a bowl with the melted butter and thyme leaves, then generously salt and pepper.  Place on the lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The squash should be tender enough to pierce with a fork at the end of cooking.

4.  When the squash has cooked for 20 minutes, heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and optional sugar (generally I wouldn’t recommend sugar, but since this is a lot of soup, it’s hardly any sugar per serving).  Add the apples, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. 

5.  In batches, add the cooked squash and onion/apple mixture to the blender along with a cup of chicken broth with each batch.  Blend until smooth.  Continue to add the squash, onions, apples and broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with thyme.  Enjoy!

Three Healthy Meals and One Dessert To Impress Your Guests This Holiday

It’s important to eat with the seasons, and with the cold winter months rolling in, it’s time to start eating warmer, more grounding foods. Below are four simple holiday recipes (also budget-friendly!) that should keep meal prep and cook times to a minimum so that you can fully enjoy your holiday season with friends and family. These dishes could either be served together as one delicious four course meal, or perhaps separately before the big Thanksgiving or holiday meal. I would serve the salad first, then serve the soup and vegetable galette together. Obviously save the dessert for last… or don’t!

Winter Salad

Featured image

-1 bag fresh spinach

-1 container of pomegranate arils

-1-2 handfuls of dried cranberries

-chopped pecans

-1 pear, diced

-feta cheese

-balsamic

1. Wash the spinach, pat dry and put into large salad bowl.

2. Add the pomegranate arils, cranberries, chopped nuts, pear and feta cheese. I like to add the juice from the pomegranate container.

3. Personally I find that the salad doesn’t need much dressing if you add juice from the pomegranate arils, but balsamic would be a good choice too. Serve and enjoy!

original recipe: autumn chopped salad

Roasted Carrot Soup

-6 organic carrots
-1 potato
-1 yellow onion
-4 cloves garlic
-chicken stock (I used veggie stock or you can just use water. You can also add a bullion cube or Italian seasoning for flavor)
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper
   1. Heat oven to 425 F. Peel the carrots and cut them into bite-size chunks. Cut the potato and onion into smaller chunks. Place the carrots, potato, onion and garlic in a baking dish with olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and roast for 10-15 minutes, until it starts to smell delicious.
    2. Remove dish and place the roasted veggies in a pot. Fill the pot with the chicken stock until it just covers the vegetables. Throw in a bullion cube if desired. Bring to a boil then reduce temperature to a simmer and cover with a lid for an hour.
    3. Place contents of pot in a blender and blend until it’s a smooth soup. Enjoy!
Vegetable Galette
(serves 2, or serves 4 as appetizer)
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-1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
-2 small, yellow squash cut into thin circles
-3 tablespoons pesto
-1/3 cup ricotta cheese
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper
-flour or whole wheat flour (could also use a GF flour, like coconut flour)
   1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
   2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter or on a cutting board. Lay puff pastry sheet out on top of the flour. Use a rolling pin to spread the sheet out a bit.
   3. Spread ricotta over the puff pastry sheet. Then the pesto.
   4. Lay the thinly cut squash circles on top of the ricotta and pesto. Fold up the sides of the puff pastry.
   5. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper the squash.
   6. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
original recipe: The Forest Feast, by Erin Gleeson
And finally, for dessert…
Black Bean Brownies
(boyfriend approved!)
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-1 15oz. can beans, drained, rinsed well and patted dry
-2 large eggs
-3 tablespoons coconut oil
-3/4 cups cacao powder
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup raw sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking power
-optional: chocolate chips or crushed nuts
   1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
   2. Lightly grease a baking dish (8×8 works)
   3. Add beans to a food processor and puree. Then add the remaining ingredients, except the optional chocolate chips and nuts.
   4. If the batter seems too thick, then add a little water and pulse again. The batter should not be too runny.
   5. Distribute the batter into the greased dish and add optional chocolate chips and nuts.
   6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Your brownies are ready to serve!  I poured a little unsweetened almond milk over mine to give them a little moisture. Enjoy!
original recipe: black bean brownies

Shepard’s Pie

Shepard’s Pie is such a comforting winter dish and makes for great leftovers.  It’ a classic, traditional recipe, although this was my first time trying the dish with lamb and not beef.  The meat and vegetables were so satisfying and flavorful on their own that I can even recommend this dish sans potatoes.

Some of the equipment you’ll need you should already have stocked in your kitchen, and if not, consider buying the following things:

Mixing bowls            Potato masher or food mill          Large ovenproof casserole dish

Cutting board           Large pot                                          Spatula

Kinfe                           Saute pan                                         Microplane or other zester

For the filling:

-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 Spanish onion, diced

-2 stalks celery, small diced

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-1 whole celery root, peeled and medium diced

-1 lb ground lamb

-2 tbsp tomato paste

-1/2 cup red wine

-2 tbsp fresh mined rosemary

-2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, minced

-1 tsp whole mustard seed

-1 tsp coriander seed

-2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

-2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

For the mashed potatoes:

-2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

-3 tbsp kosher salt

-2 bay leaves

-1 dried chili pepper

-2 tbsp unsalted butter

-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

-2 tbsp grated horseradish, preferably fresh

-zest of 1 lemon

-salt and pepper

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Peel potatoes and cut them into quarters.  In a large pot, add chilies, bay leaves, salt, and potatoes.  Add enough water to fully cover the potatoes and cover the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer with the lid removed for about 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.  Strain and discard bay leaves and chilies.

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Place cubed potatoes in pot with chilies, salt, and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to cover all the potatoes.

2. Prepare onion, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and garlic.  Place all diced vegetables and herbs in a dish, leaving garlic on the side.

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Cut both the carrots and celery into thirds first

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Dice carrots

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Peel the celery root

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Medium dice the celery root spears

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Diced carrots, diced celery, diced onion, diced celery root. Leave garlic on the side, since that’ll be the last thing to go into the pan with the meat.

3.  In a saute pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the lamb and brown.  Add mustard seed and coriander seed.  Add onions, carrots, celery, celery root, rosemary, thyme, and combine with a spatula.

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4.  When vegetables have cooked slightly, add garlic and tomato paste and mix.  Add red wine.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

5. After potatoes have cooked and drained, use a masher or food mill to mash potatoes.  Add butter, lemon zest, olive oil, and horseradish.  Add grated cheddar cheese.  Transfer lamb mixture to a deep ovenproof baking dish and spread evenly.  Adjust seasoning.  Spread a layer of potatoes over the lamb mixture and run a fork over the top, creating ridges.  Bake until potatoes are golden and the lamb is hot, about 15-20 minutes.

6.  While the dish is baking, prepare the mint and parsley to garnish.  When potatoes are done, remove and sprinkle the mint and parsley over the potatoes.  Drizzle some olive oil and serve!

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Baked Eggs and Asparagus

Need a new, healthy breakfast idea?  If you’re like me and are a lover of eggs, then this recipe is a good way to switch up your morning meal while also getting in a serving of vegetables.   60becc443498900bf0927e22732465a1

This recipe, in my opinion, is super easy to make. Even if I have other stuff to do to get ready for my day, the timing of this meal works perfectly with my morning routine .  When I make this meal my routine is I generally get up and turn the oven on, crack the eggs in a bowl to get to room temperature, let my dog out or crawl back into bed for about 15 minutes, then start cooking once the oven is ready.

This meal is a fantastic meatless option, however, I sprinkled bacon bits on top of mine.  Toasted prosciutto is also delicious.

Ingredients:

-2 eggs, room temperature

-8 pieces of asparagus, snapped into pieces

-salt

-pepper

-oil

-parmesan cheese, freshly grated

-optional: onions, bacon.

Directions:

1. Turn oven to 400 degrees F.  Take out eggs and crack them in a small bowl.

*Note: If you’re cooking bacon, lay bacon out on a foil-lined cookie sheet.  Cook for 15 minutes starting with the oven cool and set for 400 degrees F.

2. Coat gratin dish with olive oil and fill dish with asparagus pieces and chopped onion (optional).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Bake asparagus for 10 minutes and remove from oven.  Slide eggs from the bowl on top of the asparagus in the gratin dish.  Bake another 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes the white of the egg should barely look set.

4. Sprinkle cheese over eggs and asparagus.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.

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Here’s how mine turned out!

ENJOY!

Original Recipe: Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Parmesan, Kalyn’s Kitchen

Home Remedies for Dry Skin

I’m all about moisturizers and soft skin, especially when the weather is this chilly.  The air and wind outside have stripped my hands of moisture and sometimes hydrating just isn’t enough to restore skin.  Store-bought lotions and potions are often expensive stews of chemicals, alcohols, solvents, and synthetic fragrances, which actually increase skin’s dryness.  Some products even contain carcinogens or trigger allergic reactions.

There are various recipes out there for homemade moisturizers and creams using limited ingredients.  Everyone has different skin and needs tailored products, but most natural moisturizers contain plant oils.  Some oils to look for are: shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil.  Products may additionally contain other plant compounds or essential oils, like rosemary oil or lavender oil, or essences, like rose water.  Ensure that products are “paraben-free,” or “phthalate-free.” A good rule of thumb when choosing products (or even with food) is to skip over products with any ingredients you cannot pronounce.  It’s just not natural.

Keep It Simple

Save money on fancy moisturizers and use the extra-virgin olive oil in your kitchen on skin after moisturizing.  Take several drops of olive oil and smooth on skin while skin is moist from cleansing.  What’s great about olive oil is that it’s rich in monounsaturated fats, which hydrates skin without leaving skin greasy.  Alternative oils are wheat germ oil (rich in Vitamin E), almond oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.

Make a Gel

An alternative, easy, natural recipe is flaxseed and water.  Stir 1 teaspoon flaxseed into 1/2 cup cool water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the mixture becomes thick and gelatinous.  Cool and pour through a sieve to strain out the seeds.  Dab the strained gel onto skin and massage in. Keep refrigerated and this moisturizing concoction should last a few days.

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Sweeten Up Your Skin

Honey has long been enjoyed for its benefits on the skin.  In fact, honey is a potent antiseptic, helping to ward off bacteria that cause acne and other skin problems.  Honey also doubles as an anti-inflammatory, reducing redness and irritation, and it seals in moisture improving skin hydration and minimizing the appearance of fine lines.  To make a honey mask at home, pick up the following items from your local store:

-4 ounces plain yogurt

-2 teaspoons raw honey

-1/4 teaspoon olive oil or almond oil

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Apply to face and leave on for 15 minutes.  Rinse.  Repeat one or two times per week.

-Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

Author and integrative medicine expert

All-Natural Moisturizing Lotion Recipe

Different oils will suit different moisturizing needs.  Do some research, experiment and see which oils work best for you.  Here is a basic recipe:

aloe-rose-moisturizer

-2 tablespoons pure aloe vera gel

-2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin

-1/2 teaspoon jojoba, grapeseed, apricot kernel, or avocado oil

-1 teaspoon pure beeswax

Combine aloe gel, glycerin, and oil in a bowl.  Melt the beeswax in the top of a double boiler.  Add the melted wax to the ingredients in the bowl, whisking rapidly until blended, then more slowly until the beeswax mixture thickens and cools, about five to seven minutes.  Transfer the lotion to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Keeps two to four weeks.

Shaving Cream

Save that vegetable glycerin from the moisturizing lotion recipe and use it for your homemade shaving cream.  Because shaving strips away the outermost layer of skin cells, sensitive “new” skin is exposed every time.  Many store-bought shaving creams contain petroleum-derived chemicals, including isopentane and additional compounds that are irritants, hormone disruptors, and potential carcinogens.  Use safer shaving creams and try the following homemade recipe:

-1 cup real witch hazel extract

-1/2 cup high-proof vodka, rum, or brandy

-1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin

-10 to 20 drops each peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils (thyme or rosemary essential oils also work)

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake well to blend.  To use, pat a little mixture onto freshly-shaven skin.  The lotion keeps indefinitely.

-Annie B. Bond

Better Basics for the Home

Have a homemade moisturizer recipe?  I’d love to hear it!  Please leave your ideas in the comment section below.

Simple Fried Rice

Have extra vegetables in the fridge and don’t know what to do with them all? Need a meal that’ll last a few days and makes great leftovers? Make some dank fried rice!

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A family friend taught me how to make fried rice when I was little and I always remembered how quick of a dish it was to make.  It wasn’t until recently though that I started making fried rice often, but it’s definitely become a favorite meal in my house because it’s easy and everyone likes it.

I recommend always having rice on hand in the pantry and some low-sodium soy sauce.  I also find having chopsticks at home is great.  Not only are chopsticks appropriate for Asian dishes, but I also use them as a tool when cooking, instead of using tongs.  Chicken, or some meat, or tofu are optional for this dish.

Ingredients: 

-1 cup cooked rice, cooled

-2tbs Canola oil, coconut oil, or sesame oil

-soy sauce (low-sodium)

-pepper

-5 cloves garlic

-2 eggs

-2 carrots, chopped

-2 green onions, chopped

-Ideas for additional vegetables:

-1 head of broccoli or cauliflower

-bok choy or other leafy green vegetables, like pea shoots, kale, etc.

1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-medium high heat.  When hot, add half the garlic and the leafy greens.  Add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan and cover, allowing the greens to steam for a few minutes. *see below*

2. Once wilted, remove greens from pan using a slotted spoon and keep in a medium or large bowl.

3.  Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Add the rest of the garlic, carrots, and any other vegetable, like broccoli, with a tiny bit of water.  Add pepper.  Cover and allow to steam for about five minutes, or until soft.  Once cooked, remove the vegetables from the pan and add to the bowl of cooked leafy green vegetables.

4.  Crack the eggs in a small bowl and beat with a whisk.  Add the eggs to the pan and scramble.  Once scrambled, turn the heat to medium-low and add the rice, and cooked vegetables.  Add the green onions and add soy sauce, tasting as you pour.

How easy is that??  Now you have meals to get you through the next day or two!

*If you plan to cook some chicken or meat with the dish, I cook the chicken in the pan with oil first before starting the vegetables.  Once cooked, I remove the chicken using a slotted spoon, and the add the garlic and vegetables to the pan.  Once the rice and everything is combined, I then add the chicken in.

Gravy Chicken

This gravy chicken is a pretty simple recipe and tastes damn good, especially the thick gravy on these colder nights.  I recommend pairing this dish with pasta, potatoes, a fresh baguette, or anything that soaks up the sauce.  If you prefer a healthier option to pair with the sauce, try out these cauliflower “mashed potatoes.”

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Here’s the recipe for 2-3 people:

Ingredients

-3 chicken thighs

-10 cloves of garlic (1 head of garlic), separated and peeled

-fresh thyme

-2 tbs cooking oil

-1/2 cup chicken broth

-1/2 cup dry white wine

-2 tbs flour

-1/2 tbs butter

-salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Heat large, oven-proof pan on stove with cooking oil over medium-high heat.

*Tip*- to tell when the pan is hot enough, sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan. If it sizzles, then it’s ready.

2. Wash chicken and pat dry.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on pan.  Brown the chicken on both sides and turn every couple of minutes for about 8 minutes.  Remove chicken and place on a plate.

3. Reduce heat to medium.  Add the garlic to the pan until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the garlic and stir until combined.  Add the chicken back to the pot, cover, and place in the oven for 15 minutes.  (If you don’t have a lid, substitute for aluminum foil).

4. Remove pot and place back on stove over medium heat.  Remove chicken to plate.

5. Whisk in the wine and simmer for one minute.  Whisk in the chicken broth, thyme, and a little more salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens.

6. Turn heat off and whisk in butter.  Add chicken back to pot and re-warm.  Taste sauce and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

 

This recipe is a crowd pleaser.  I hope you enjoy!

Maple Glazed Delicata Squash

Over the next few days, I plan to post three new recipes, all which are healthy and easy to cook.

Delicata-squashThis recipe was requested by a friend at dinner last night.  My maple glazed delicata squash comes out so sweet and delicious and is a dish easy to make.  All you need is a few simple ingredients, a cookie sheet, parchment paper, and a small bowl.  It takes approximately 30 minutes to make.  I tend to eyeball a lot, but the following steps have worked for me:

Ingredients

-1 delicata squash (serves 2 people)

-1-2 tbs butter (melted)

-1 tbs organic maple syrup

-1 tbs olive oil (or enough to lightly coat the sides of the squash)

-salt and pepper

-optional: 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce

Squash

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet.

1. Peel the squash.  Remove the end of the squash and discard.  Cut the squash into rings, as seen above, and then scoop out centers with a spoon or clean fingers.  Discard seeds.

2.  Coat both sides of squash rings with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. In a small bowl or dish, combine melted butter with syrup and optional soy sauce.  Coat rings with the mixture on each side, but save some mixture for basting during cooking.

4.  Lay rings out on cookie sheet and place in oven for 10 minutes. Turn rings over using tongs or chopsticks and baste rings in the butter/syrup mixture.  Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.  If the squash are not soft then keep in the oven a little longer.