Butternut Squash Soup

I have made butternut squash soup, a few times, but never with cream cheese.  For a secret ingredient, cream cheese is a delightful one.  It serves little purpose in making soup creamy because the immersion blender makes that happen.

Speaking of the immersion blender, that has proven to be one of the handiest tools, I have.  When, I first got this, it was like a new toy, and I used it for everything, I could find.  I chopped with it and it is great for that, although, you have to watch the consistency.  I made pesto with it and what a blessing not to take out my big food processor.  I use it for dressings, puree, nuts, chocolate and you name it.

All that is done without the piece that makes it an immersion blender.  Attach that piece and soup becomes as smooth or as chunky as you would have it.  We like chunks in our soup and it is a pleasure to get both the smooth and chunky with one tool and one brief time.

Butternut Squash Soup  (adapted from Country Living)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 very large butternut squash, peeled and seeded and cut into chunks

2-3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup apple juice

1 cup apple sauce

1 cup whipped cream cheese (Yogurt to save on calories.)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon majoram

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add onions and sautee for 5 minutes, until softened.

Add squash and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.

Add broth, juice, apple sauce, cream cheese and seasoning.  Bring liquids to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover saucepan and cook until the squash is soft.  (20 minutes)  Remove from heat.

Using immersion blender, mix to the consistency, you want.  I stop mine when, there are still chunks floating around but not that

many chunks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is linked to Fat Tuesdays

 

Creamy Pumpkin Wontons


November is here and so is the Improv Challenge for this month.  Our new leader is Kristin from Frugal Antics of a Harried Housewife.  We are all cooking with cream cheese and pumpkin, two ingredients that go well together.  I read an article about wontons and decided, I would try making them with the two ingredients.

We envision wontons, in a certain way and I doubt it is as a dessert.  On the contrary, wontons make a delicious dessert as this creamy pumpkin wonton proves.

Creamy Pumpkin Wontons

Ingredients

30 – 40 wontons

1 small can of pumpkin

3/4 cup of cream cheese

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

hot oil about 1 1/2 inches deep in saucepan (large)

Procedure

Heat the oil and keep it hot.

Lay out the wontons.  Put water around the edges of one wonton, at a time.  Dab some cream cheese and some pumpkin on the wonton.

Fold into a triangle and seal by pushing around the entire edge with your finger.  Continue doing 3 or 4 of these.

Drop a few at a time into the hot oil.

Turn over after a minute or when it is light brown.

Cook another minute. Drain on paper towels.

You can sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Now, eat, just eat.

Miz Helen’s Country CottageThis is linked to Tea Party Tuesday    Friday Food          Sweet  Indulgences Sunday
What’s Cookin’ Wednesday?

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant

Image via Wikipedia

I hate to admit that I have had this eggplant for almost two weeks and it looks a little worse for its rest.  I planned to make it two weeks ago and it didn’t happen.  This week, I took it seriously and made sure, it happened, but I wanted to put it off.  I took out all the other ingredients before I brought forth the eggplant.  I was fighting hard.  I looked at everything and thought, I could make lasagna or stuffed shells.  I could make a spaghetti pie. Finally, I straightened my back and greeted my eggplant.

The question is why did I procrastinate making it.  I think it is a subliminal thing.  I think eggplant, and my inner being says, “Ugh.”  It is true, I don’t like gushy eggplant but I really do like it breaded and baked or in this case, fried and baked.  So, why do I still push away the eggplant and choose something else to make?  If I had an answer, I would share it with you.

I must also share, this was one of the best dishes, we have had recently and we have been eating very well.  It was a good week, perhaps because, all meals were dairy and if I put a little effort into a dairy meal, it is usually delicious.  These were.  If I made dairy meals, all the time, we would be happy foodies and a lot heavier in weight.

This recipe was really easy unless you don’t like the breading and frying.  I don’t like it for health reasons but I don’t mind doing it.  This went quickly.  It is a straight forward recipe and I was done before I knew it.

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

(Kosher Food @ About.com)  (I made some changes to the recipe.)

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup crumbs, I made from Rice Chex  (use Panko crumbs – that would work beautifully)

  • 1/2 cup oil  (add if you need more…..I started with less and added a tablespoon when it was getting dry)

  • 12 ounces  spaghetti sauce

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1/3 pound  Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Procedure

1. Peel eggplant. Cut eggplant into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.

2. Dip each slice of eggplant into eggs and then crumbs.

3. Saute breaded eggplant slices until brown on both sides.

4. Preheat oven to 350° F .

5. In a baking dish, spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses.

6. Bake, uncovered, at 350° F  for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.Next time, I think, I will skip the frying and go right to the baking.  We don’t need all that fat.  I have made other recipes without the frying and they were fine.

Zucchini Pasta Pancake

I was reading the latest Cooking Light (August 2011) .  Their reader recipe caught my interest; a zucchini angel hair pancake.  I already envision this, using spinach in place of the zucchini.  That is for the next time.

I learned a lot, making this recipe.  I, basically started off, following directions, until I ran into a problem, I could not solve.  I could not turn the large pancake in the pan, whole.  I had to resort to dividing in, into 4 sections and cooking a piece at a time, in a smaller skillet.  This meant, a recipe, I chose for the short cooking time became one that took, what seemed, forever.  I, purposely took a quick recipe because of the abusive heat.  I had no desire to stay in the kitchen with the stove on for more than I had to.  That did not work out.  Next time, I would use two smaller skillets.

I sat in front of an air conditioner and shredded the zucchini and sliced the onions.  If you are cooking in the heat, my advice to you, is be organized.  I had everything lined up, ready to be used.  I had pre-measured.  When push came to shove, I had little left to do besides stand over the hot stove, watching my huge pancake.

Zucchini Angel Hair Pancake (adapted)

  4 servings (serving size: 2 wedges and 2 tablespoons marinara)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded zucchini

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

  • 1 (8-ounce) package angel hair pasta, broken into 3-inch pieces

  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium marinara sauce (I served this without the sauce – I think the sauce would add to the pancake)

  • 1 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)

  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream

  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  • 1 onion, sliced and then halved

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation

1. Place zucchini in a colander, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss well. Drain for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally. Press zucchini between paper towels until barely moist.  (I am always amazed at the liquid that comes from the zucchini.)

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Don’t forget to break the spaghetti into smaller pieces, first.

4. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, flour, and the next 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Add zucchini and pasta to bowl; toss well.

5. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini mixture to pan, pressing down. Cook for 5 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Carefully turn pancake over; cook 5 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned. Cut into 8 wedges. Serve with marinara.

*The last step is the one, I had to change.  I had some difficulty cutting the wedges and moving them to the smaller pan.  They kept falling apart and I kept reshaping them, the best I could.  My best was not good enough.

The finished pancake was delicious.

This is linked to Savory Sundays
Mounthwatering Monday @ A Southern Fairytale

Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling
Monday Mania

 

Just Another Meatless Monday,·

 

Mingle Monday,

Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays

Pasta Combo

I selected this recipe without reading it.  I had a picture in my mind as to what was to be done and what the ingredients would be.  I was close except for a key ingredient or may be two.  This, Mr. Food recipe had no ricotta and frankly, I think it needs it.

I just saw what my problem is.  I barely glanced at the recipe but I read the description and I see, I misread baked ziti to be lasagna.  No, the words are not similar.  This was all in my head.  I was thinking of what a great combination lasagna and eggplant parmesan were but that was not close to what was written.  I am leaving the original title and will add my changes.

Baked Macaroni and Eggplant Neapolitan is like eggplant parmigiana and baked ziti all rolled into one. Every mouthful is pure delight!

Baked Macaroni and Eggplant Neapolitan

Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ziti pasta (Penne)
  • Vegetable oil for frying (olive oil)
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 16 ounces Ricotta, divided
  • 2 cups  shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Procedure

Cook pasta according to package direction; drain.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Cook eggplant, a few slices at a time, until well browned on each side, adding more oil as needed. Drain eggplant on a paper towel-lined platter and cover to keep warm.  (I did this about an hour before, I actually put it together. It is time-consuming.  I also was able to squeeze out more oil, when the time had passed.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking  spray.

Here is where I did everything differently.  This is how I layered it.  Under this is what Mr. Food wrote.  I hope this will not confuse you.          

1.  I put about a cup of Marinara on the bottom of the dish.

2.  I covered this with half of the pasta.

3.  Next layer was one half of the Ricotta cheese.  Use a utensil to smooth it out or drop it in balls on the pasta.

4. Cover with Marinara sauce and half the eggplant.

5.  Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the Ricotta and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on top of that.

6.  Now, repeat, pasta, Ricotta, Eggplant, Marinara, Cheese.  Note eggplant, comes before sauce, in this half. 

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  (I basically layered it like lasagna.)

Mr Food speaks:

Layer half the ziti mixture in the prepared baking dish then 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, half the eggplant, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; repeat layers. Top with reserved 1 cup spaghetti  sauce the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, and remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until heated through.  (Mine was too brown at 30  minutes so it would be good to check it, before that time.

This was delicious.  The eggplant was a nice bite in the middle.  The Ricotta was the binding ingredient.  It was soft and inclusive.  My husband made it clear, he hoped to see it, on our table, again.

LINKED -

Sugar and Dot’s What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Lady Behind the Curtain’s Cast Party Wednesday
Daily Organized Chaos’ Foodie Wednesday
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

These Chicks Cooked
Wow Me Wednesday

Pennywise Platter

Curly Cheddar Bake

Every once in the while, I discover an old cookbook , hidden in the recesses of a bookcase.  There is something very exciting about such discoveries.  What could an older cookbook have that our new ones don’t have?  I thought I would find a lack of specific terms such as Thai, pesto, capellini and even couscous.  It is not that they did not have these, it is that I don’t remember them at all.

It is not unusual to find an older book, not being used, with so many diverse new cookbooks on the horizon.  Each time, I tell myself, I am not buying any new books,  one comes out that sounds different and intriguing.  These are the times that it is good, I am thrifty, by nature.  Despite this character trait, I still fall prey to the advertising and in the past few years have increased my collection of recipes, whether from books, magazines or the Internet, many fold.

I have made it a practice, every few months, to pull an unused cookbook, off the shelves and cook from it.  I am not sure, it is going to Be Mr. Food, although he has a website, with many ebooks to download, and his recipes, could keep be busy for ages.  My guess, a baking book, will be the one that wins.  Tune in and we will see what I find.  In the meanwhile, I plan to make a few of Mr. Food’s quick and easy side dishes.

The book, I found, was published in 1995 and called Mr. Food’s Quick and Easy Side Dishes.   I perused the pages, hastily, just to get an idea of what I would find.  Indeed, the recipes were easy but they were not the famous five ingredient type.   They had what they needed to make a tasty dish.  For a small book about 5 x7, it had a lot in it.  Mr. Food gives all kinds of advice and tips throughout the book.  There is variety in the recipes.

While, this is not gourmet cooking, it appears to be good cooking.  It is a great book to have on hand when you want to make a meal without complications.  You will have, on hand, most of the ingredients and the techniques, from my quick look, are clear to follow and to do.

I had in mind, before even finding the book,  macaroni and cheese for dinner.  I, also had in mind, I did not want to work hard.  I wanted  1-2-3 to have a meal sitting, in front of me.  This basically did just that.

Mr. Food’s Curly Cheddar Bake  (altered recipe)

Ingredients
  • 3/4 pound shaped pasta (spirals)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1  cup milk  (I use 1 percent and it works.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup additional Cheddar cheese

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions; drain well and place in a large bowl.

Add  Cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the margarine, Parmesan cheese, and eggs; mix well. Add the remaining ingredients.

Pour into an oval baking dish that has been coated with nonstick vegetable spray. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the center is set.

Mr. Food says that this is as good the next day as when it was baked.  We had a small piece left and it was good.

Do I recommend it? – Yes.

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