{Recipe} Butternut Squash Soup

Chicago has been experiencing some unseasonably warm weather for this time of year. It has been glorious! Until yesterday that is, when we got our first day of what felt like full blown winter. What better way to warm up than with a savory bowl of soup? This butternut squash soup will not disappoint!

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Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
1 honey crisp apple, peeled & shredded
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
 1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chicken stock
 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, melt the butter on low heat
  2. Add the onions, garlic, apple and squash and cook on low heat, covered, stirring occasionally until translucent but not brown, 30 minutes to an hour
  3. Add the chicken stock and spices; cook two hours, until contents are soft
  4. Add the cream cheese and milk
  5. With an immersion blender, mix soup until smooth and creamy
  6. Season with salt and pepper

Blueberry Everything {Recipe}

What do you do with 6 lbs. of freshly picked, Michigan blueberries? Answer: you bake. Bake a lot. I made the best ever blueberry muffins, lattice-top blueberry pie, and a blueberry cobbler. After all that baking, I still had blueberries leftover to eat plain, put in Greek yogurt, and add to vanilla ice cream! Sheesh, no wonder I’ve put on a few extra lbs!

You guys, Michigan is the best. It’s where I grew up spending the majority of my summer days on the lake, and picking fresh fruit and vegetables at farms. See for yourself:

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Blueberry Muffins:

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Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • About 1 tablespoon white sugar for the top (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. You may want to lightly grease your muffin tin so that the crown of the muffin doesn’t stick to the pan (I didn’t though).
  2. Combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. I stir the baking powder and salt into the flour right on top of the wet ingredients so I don’t have to get out another bowl. Once the baking powder and salt are pretty well distributed in the flour, stir them into the wet ingredients until combined. Don’t over mix. Just stir until it’s no longer lumpy.
  4. Stir in the Greek yogurt just until well distributed. Fold in the blueberries (I left about half for the top so some would be visible on the crown of the muffin).
  5. Evenly distribute the batter in the muffin tin. If you are making 8 high crowned muffins, you will be filling them all the way to the top. If you want to make shorter muffins you could probably fill 12. If you saved some berries for the top, sprinkle them on and press them in lightly. Sprinkle the tops with the 1 tablespoon of sugar if you want.
  6. Bake muffins for about 30 minutes.

 

Lattice-top Blueberry Pie:

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Ingredients:

  • Pilsbury double pie crust
  • 5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Roll out one pie crust half and place in 9-inch pie pan. Trim edge to 1/2-inch beyond rim. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse and drain blueberries. Put into a bowl. Toss lightly with sugar, flour, salt and lemon peel. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Drizzle lemon juice over filling. Dot with butter.
  3. Roll out remaining pastry. Cut into strips about 1/2-inch wide. Place 4 to 5 strips across filling in pie shell. Angle 4 to 5 strips across first ones. Weave strips in crisscross fashion to form lattice top. Trim ends. Fold trimmed edge of lower crust over ends of strips. Seal and flute.
  4. Bake 55 minutes until crust is golden. Cool on rack.
  5. Serve with scoops of ice cream, if desired (….I guess).

 

Blueberry Cobbler:

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Ingredients:

For the Blueberry Filling

  • 6 cups fresh blueberries, sorted, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons flour

For the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled & cut into bits
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, optional

Directions:

  1. Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Prepare the Blueberry Filling: Place blueberries into prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. (I like to work the zest into the sugar with my fingers to release the essential oils for maximum flavor.) Add the flour and whisk until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle mixture evenly over berries in prepared baking dish and toss gently. Make sure the sugar and flour mixture is evenly distributed over the fruit with no mounding in the center or in any one place. This will ensure the sugar will caramelize and the flour will thicken evenly throughout the cobbler with the berry juices. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal with small pea-sized pieces of butter. In a small bowl, whisk vanilla into beaten egg using a fork. With a fork, gently toss beaten egg and vanilla into flour mixture until moistened and dough starts to hold together. Continue to toss and blend gently with fingertips until well combined yet taking care not to overwork the dough.
  4. Assemble the Cobbler: Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping evenly over fruit filling. Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping with sugar and, if desired, dust with freshly grated nutmeg. Alternatively, dust with cinnamon-sugar combining sugar and cinnamon before sprinkling over topping. If desired, dust freshly grated nutmeg over cinnamon-sugar.
  5. Bake the Cobbler: Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden brown and filling is cooked through and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. To prevent over-browning of topping, cover with sheet of aluminum foil after 25 minutes of baking. Remove foil and carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.

{Recipe} Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Today is a beautiful spring day in Chicago, with temps being in the high 60’s. The perfect day to grill and celebrate your best friend’s birthday! (Hi Kristen!) Our group of girls loves all things cheese, so spinach and artichoke dip is the perfect appetizer for a special (or any) occasion.

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Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 can artichoke hearts (14 oz.) chopped
1 package (10 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed
4 cloves garlic
Cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together parmesan and mozzarella cheese, spinach and artichoke hearts
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, cream cheese, and garlic. Add to spinach mixture and mix until combined
  4. Pour in an oven safe bowl and bake for 25 minutes
  5. Serve and enjoy!

 

{Recipe} Oh the weather outside is frightful…

It’s pretty nasty outside today. I don’t know about you guys, but I am SO not prepared for this impending winter weather we have recently been experiencing. I was hoping it would just stay Indian summer mode until spring. I guess Mother Nature has other plans. But an easy way to beat the cold, is by indulging in some yummy homemade French Onion Soup. This recipe is super easy and actually could even be made in your slow cooker.

Bowl of French Onion Soup with a Goats Cheese Crouton
Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 onions, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 6 oz beer
  • 12 oz beef stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Gruyere cheese
  • Baguette, sliced

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, add the butter, onions, garlic, balsamic and sugar. Mix well, and cook until onions are soft and caramelized, stirring frequently
  2. Add the flour, and mix. Then add the beer, stock, thyme, and plenty of black pepper, and mix well again. Simmer, about 60 minutes
  3. To serve, spoon the soup into heat-proof bowls, and top with a slice of bread and some cheese. Broil for a few minutes, until the cheese is crispy. Alternatively, if you don’t have heat-proof bowls, lay the bread on a baking sheet and top with the cheese. Broil for several minutes, and then serve the cheesy bread on top of the soup.

 

 

 

[Recipe] Baked Lemon Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce over Kale

I am a huge seafood lover and this is hands-down, my favorite salmon recipe. I had to share!

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Baked Lemon Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce over Kale

Ingredients:

4 6 oz. salmon filets
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Creamy Dill Sauce

1/3 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2-3 tsp. milk
1/2 tsp. honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Drizzle tops evenly with lemon mixture, and gently rub over salmon. Bake 15-20 minutes.

For the Sauce:

In a bowl, mix together Greek Yogurt, garlic, dill, honey, and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in refrigerator, about 20 minutes to chill.

While the salmon is in the oven and the sauce is chilling, saute kale until bright green.

Place salmon over kale and top with creamy dill sauce. Enjoy!

[Recipe] Skinny Chicken Pot Pie Soup

It’s been cold and snowy here in Chicago, so what better way to warm up than with some chicken pot pie? This lightened up alternative is just as good as mom’s but with fewer calories. I made mine with Grand’s Flaky Layers Biscuits and it turned out dee-licious! Mmm.

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Skinny Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 chicken bouillions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of thyme
  • 10 oz. frozen mixed vegetables
  • 5 red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, shredded

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil, add thawed chicken breast and cook for 15-20 minutes or until done
  2. Shred chicken, set aside
  3. In a large pot, bring milk and 1/2 cups water to a boil
  4. Add celery, onion, potatoes, frozen vegetables, chicken bouillions, thyme, salt & pepper
  5. Partially cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are soft
  6. Add shredded chicken
  7. Combine remaining 1/2 cup water with 1/4 cup flour and whisk until well blended
  8. Add flour mixture to soup, stirring frequently until soup thickens
  9. Adjust salt & pepper to taste
  10. Serve with Grands Flaky Layers Biscuits and enjoy!

[Recipe] Spaghetti Squash and Cheese Casserole

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Happy October ya’ll! (Yes, I am 100% Yankee, with my great-grandmother being my only tie to the south, so just run with it).

I’m back, bringing you an easy, comforting and healthy fall dish. Drum roll please: Spaghetti Squash and Cheese Casserole. No, spaghetti squash does not taste like pasta, as it is slightly sweet and a vegetable. But if you are craving mac ‘n cheese, this is a tasty alternative without the guilt.

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 flour

2 cups skim milk

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

8 oz. reduced fat cheddar cheese

4 cups baby spinach

1/8 cup grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds

Place squash in a roasting pan, flesh side down with a small amount of water to cover the bottom

Bake until tender, about 1 hour

Separate the strands of squash with a fork and place in a medium bowl. Discard shells

Heat butter and oil in a sauce pan over medium heat

Add onions and cook about 2 minutes

Stir in flour, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continually, 3-4 minutes

Add milk and chicken broth and continue whisking until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick

Season with salt and pepper

Remove from heat, add cheddar and mix until melted

Add cooked spaghetti squash and baby spinach

Pour into baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top

Bake until golden, 25-30 min.

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Spaghetti Squash and Chard Gratin 500

[Recipe] Italian-style stuffed red peppers

For those of you who know me, know that I have the diet of a five year old. Until recently, I would turn my nose up at the thought of eating red peppers, or any pepper for that matter. Now, I can’t seem get enough of them. My food preferences must be evolving as I get older.

Most stuffed red pepper recipes are made southwestern which means I will not even think about eating them, as they are made with beans (yuck). So, I decided to channel my inner Italian with these Italian-style stuffed red peppers.

I could not get enough of this super filling and satisfying dish, so I thought I’d pass it along:

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Ingredients:

1 lb Lean ground turkey

3 Red bell peppers

2 Cups Pasta sauce

1 tsp Basil seasoning

2 cloves Pressed garlic

1/2 tsp Salt & pepper

1 1/2 cups Fresh spinach

8 tbs Parmesan cheese (mozzarella works too)

Optional 1 tsp sugar for sauce (I like my sauce slightly sweet)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil for easy clean up and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Remove stems
  3. Cut peppers in half, length-wise, and remove the seeds and ribs inside the peppers. Set peppers aside on baking pan.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the ground turkey in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir and break up the turkey as it is cooking. When turkey is completely cooked, reduce heat to low and add the sauce and seasonings to the pan. Add the spinach and parmesan cheese and stir until well incorporated.
  5. Scoop 1/2 cup mixture into each pepper half
  6. Sprinkle remaining parmesan over the top of each pepper
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown
  8. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

[Recipe] Super (disappointing) Bowl XLVIII: Stuffed Jalapenos wrapped in bacon

Anyone who watched the Broncos vs. Seahawks in the super bowl this year knows how painful it was to watch, especially those rooting for Peyton Manning like we were. The commercials weren’t even that great. Thank goodness for the Puppy Bowl, am I right?

Aside from the lackluster football game, the spread of food was phenom {nom-nom} enal.

If you’re anything like me and have a mild obsession with all things cheese, then you will love these stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon:

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Ingredients:

10 Jalapenos

8 oz. cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1 lb bacon

BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)

20 toothpicks

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, grease baking sheet and set aside
  2. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and cheddar cheese until well blended
  3. Add cumin and paprika and stir until incorporated
  4. Slice jalapenos in half (long ways) and remove seeds
  5. Scoop mixture and generously fill each jalapeno half
  6. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap each jalapeno half with bacon and secure with a toothpick
  7. Slather BBQ over tops of jalapenos
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bacon is browned

[Recipe] Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

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‘Tis the season for all things baking. This chocolate PB fudge recipe is the easiest fudge recipe you will probably ever come across.

Ingredients:

1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 bag (10 oz.) Peanut Butter Chips

1 bag (10 oz.) Chocolate Chips

2 tsp. Vanilla

Instructions:

1. In a microwave safe bowl, mix 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk , 5 oz. chocolate chips and 1 tsp. vanilla

2. Melt until creamy and pour into an 8×8 baking dish

3. Mix 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk, 5 oz. peanut butter chips and 1 tsp. vanilla. Repeat step 2.

4. Cool 2 hours. Cut, serve & enjoy!

-M