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Monday, April 10, 2017

Recipe Review from 4/2/2017

Not much going on this week...or I should say it was "the usual" this week - work, yoga, and errands.  Though!  We did have a chance to start puttering around in the yard on a couple of beautiful afternoons.

Raked up the winter's wind blown sticks, tidied up under the bird feeder (which I take down beginning of April because I don't want to draw bears into the yard), evicted the mice from the grill and scrubbed that down, cleaned out the porch flower bed and cleaned out three flower beds in the main garden. Husband worked on a few other odds and ends.  Doesn't seem like much, but it makes a difference when planting season rolls around so all in all a good start. 

The Meal Plan from week of 4/2:
Sun (L)  leftover polenta and ragu   (S) Brats, beans and kraut
Mon (yoga) leftover brats
Tues- Mexican Butnut Squash Soup  Split Pea Soup 
Wed (Virginia) Brown rice cakes Split Pea Soup
Thurs (yoga) - leftovers
Fri (Pike Lake/yoga) - leftovers
Sat (L)  Leftovers  (S) ??

Lunches - Mexican Butnut Squash Soup

Mexican Squash Soup (Food Lab/Serious Eats)  gluten free, vegetarian option**
I actually made this about two weeks ago, but used poblano's instead of ancho's because I wasn't certain if they meant fresh or dried (Northern girl - not used to dried chilies).  I used dried anchos this go around and did the recipe as written.  Except I realized as I'm typing this I forgot the sugar.  Not sure if that would have made a difference in taste or not.

This wasn't as flavorful as I thought it would be (lack of sugar?).  It's certainly easy enough to assemble, especially if you have a Husband who's willing to cut up the 5lb squash.  HUGE time saver having that prepped ahead.  But for that "Ancho" flavor I was anticipating, it wasn't quite there.  Still, this made for a refreshing lunch option and I would use this technique/recipe again.

photo from
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
2 ancho chilies, stemmed (see note above)
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth**
1 cup water
Sugar, to taste
Mexican crema or sour cream, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds), for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving 

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss squash with 2 tablespoons oil, season with salt, and spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast squash, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, about 35 minutes.

2. In a dry skillet, toast ancho chilies over high heat, turning once, until fragrant. Let cool, then tear into pieces.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add ancho chilies, chicken stock, and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain simmer. Stir in butternut squash.

4. Using a blender or stick blender, blend soup until completely smooth. Season with salt and add sugar 1 teaspoon at a time to balance the flavor, if needed.

5. Spoon soup into bowls and garnish with crema or sour cream, cilantro, and pepitas. Serve with lime wedges.

Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup (modified from ATK Slow Cooker Revolution)  gluten free
If you haven't gotten this slow cooker cook book yet, GO GET IT!  Oh my goodness, so many excellent recipes!

This was another winner, though I strongly suspect I've reviewed this before and forgot to make note in the cook book.  Still, it was good enough to make again (and again...)  I did one significant modification -I omitted the ham steak completely.  There is plenty of meat on the ham hock and, in all honesty, I'm not wild about ham.

This is also the perfect recipe for a weekday/weeknight.  Prep on the front end is pretty simple, and with a 9-11 hours on low cooking time, that should easily accommodate most schedules. 

My last note - use your largest slow cooker.  I used my small and it was nearly overflowing. 

2 onions, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 red pepper flakes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 lb (~2 cups) split green peas, rinsed and drained
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 bay leaves
1 smoked ham hock
8 oz ham steak, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp lemon juice  (I think I forgot this bit)

1. Saute onion, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes over medium-high heat until onions are just softened.  Transfer to slow cooker.

2. Stir broth, water, split peas, carrots, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Nestle ham hock in pea and broth mixture, Cover and cook until peas are tender 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on hight. 

3. Remove ham hock, let cool and shred into bite sized pieces, discarding skin and bones.  Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon.  Remove bay leaves.

4. Stir in ham steak and shredded ham hock, cover and cook on high until heated through, about 15 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

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