Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roasted Winter Squash Soup

Few things put me in the mood to cook seasonally more than the new chill in autumn air, and today definitely took me there. Here are my modifications to Roasted Pumpkin Soup from the Oct 2009 Martha Stewart Living. And feel free to make your own modifications, too! This soup is savory, but it definitely has a special sweet undertone from the squash. I feel so autumny!

2 and 3/4 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, halved, and seeded (Martha's recipe said you could alternatively use the same amount of sugar pumpkins. I haven't tried that.)
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (note that Martha's recipe was for 2 shiitake mushrooms and 2 more cups of water...I haven't tried that way, but you can if you don't have or want to get dried porcinis)
2 cups boiling water
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable stock (I used 2 cups vegetable stock plus 1 cup of frozen tomato water I'd saved from another time when I'd reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the squash into 2-inch pieces. Put the olive oil and salt in a rimmed baking sheet, and toss the squash, onion, and garlic in it. (Martha's recipe had the 2 fresh mushrooms mentioned above included in the toss.) Spread the coated vegetables into a single layer, and roast them 15 minutes in the oven. (I noticed that the olive oil started bubbling and boiling.) Remove from the oven, toss the vegetables, and roast another 15 minutes or until the squash can be pierced with a fork.

While the vegetables are roasting, reconstitute the mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water. This can be cooling while the vegetables are roasting.

Working in batches, put vegetables in a blender with the stock, mushrooms, and mushroom water. Purée, and move the soup to a soup pot. Warm through, and serve with freshly ground black pepper.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Easy Cherry Turnovers

These are super easy, but messy to make. You will not be disappointed in the results, though! They look and taste quite impressive! You could serve them for breakfast or at a party or shower. I used Williams-Sonoma's cherry pocket pies recipe as a jumping point for this one. (I like to give credit where it's due!)

2 cups fresh cherries, washed and pitted
1/2 c. sugar
1.5 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. almond extract
1 pinch salt
1 sheet puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farms's puff pastry, which had no animal-derived ingredients. You have to thaw it 40 minutes before using.)
1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 tsp. water (omit if preparing for vegan diners)
granulated sugar for sprinkling, optional

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add cherries and almond extract, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Although it starts off looking dry, it will quickly get gooey and gelatinous, and this is a good thing.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Once the cherries are cooked, set them aside to cool slightly. Roll the puff pastry sheet to a 12x12 square, and cut into 9 4-inch squares. Put a spoonful of cherries in the center of each square. Brush the egg wash (or just water for vegan preparation) around the edges of the square. Fold over into a triangle and crimp the edges with fork tines to seal. Move the turnover to the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Brush the top of the turnover with the egg wash (or just water for vegan preparation) and sprinkle with granulated sugar, if using.

Bake 20 minutes or until the pastry is browned. (It will brown less without the egg wash and more golden with the egg wash.) Enjoy!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Pie

Happy Independence Day! This recipe comes from my friend Ginger, and I am not sure where she got it. I didn't change a thing about it, b/c it's so good already. Thank you, Ginger!

1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. golden brown sugar
1/3 c. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. almond extract
1 pinch salt
3 large eggs, beaten (I have used medium eggs with perfectly fine results.)
3/4 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. whole pecans
1 frozen pie crust

Place a large baking sheet on the oven rack (middle of the oven), and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With a fork, mix the sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, almond extract, and salt in a 1.5-quart or larger bowl to blend. Mix in the beaten eggs. With a spoon, stir in the shredded coconut, chocolate chips, and pecans. Pour the filling into the frozen pie crust. Place the pie on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set in the center (about 40 minutes). Transfer pie to rack, and cool before serving.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Orzo Salad

This is my version of "Herb Orzo Salad with Feta and Cucumbers" from an article in The Commercial Appeal last month. It's perfect for picnics or for summer evenings when you don't want to eat anything heavy. You could serve it as a side dish or put it over a bed of lettuce for an elegant main dish.

1 lb. dry orzo (Orzo is rice-shaped pasta. It nearly triples in size when cooked.)
1 4-oz. log goat cheese (Vegetarians should be sure to check cheeses to make sure they are not made with rennet or animal-derived enzymes.)
1 pint (or more, to taste) grape tomatoes, halved (Or you can quarter the larger cherry tomatoes.)
1 large cucumber (or more, to taste), peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dried parsley (or 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano (or 1/4 c. chopped fresh oregano)
1 c. (or to taste) balsamic vinaigrette (I used Newman's Own Light.) or other Italian-style dressing of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to cool the orzo, then set it aside to dry. (I stirred this occasionally to expose new surfaces to the air.)

Mix everything except the goat cheese together, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Crumble the goat cheese over the salad, and mix it in. Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator until needed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

ATTN: Kari -- from

Hey Kari -- please send us your email address! :)

Krystal's Popcorn Mix of Sugary Evil

I receive a number of blog updates through email. One of the fantastic cooking blogs I follow is They never fail to have fantastic, easy recipes, not to mention a ton of other household tips. I strongly encourage you to visit them and subscribe.

Here's a recipe that I'm sure will end up in the repertoires of many of my friends and family members!

Krystal's Popcorn Mix of Sugary Evil


  • 4 cups popped popcorn
  • 2 cups mini Oreos
  • 2 cups thin pretzel sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pineapple
  • scant 1/2 cup sugar (scant just means just barely 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP melted butter

In a gigantic bowl add the popcorn, cookies, pretzels, walnuts, pineapple, and raisins.

In a mug or small bowl stir together the sugar and cinnamon.

Drizzle the popcorn mixture with the melted butter, sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar, and toss gently to coat.

Hide the leftovers from yourself in an airtight container.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Granny's Potato Soup

My Granny was a no-nonsense kinda lady, and I totally loved that about her. I still adore thinking about it. This is her potato soup recipe, and it's no-nonsense. I hope you think it's as fun and easy as I do.

celery - washed and chopped - use whatever amount is right for you
onion - peeled and chopped - use whatever amount is right for you
potatoes - peeled and chopped - use whatever amount is right for you (Granny was so no-nonsense that she just used a bag of Ore-Ida frozen potatoes most of the time.)
garlic - peeled and minced - use whatever amount is right for you
salt and pepper, to taste

Naturally, most of us will want the potato to be the dominant ingredient and everything else is just seasoning. So, you put whatever combination of the above vegetables that you like (I usually use about 3 potatoes, 1/2 onion, 3 celery stalks, and 2 cloves of garlic. This serves about 4.) into a pot large enough to accommodate them. You cover them with water. You start boiling the water. Let it boil until the potatoes are kind of falling apart and making a sort of thick, starchy broth. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Add more water if you find you've let it boil down to be too thick, unless thick is what you like. (I usually find mine has gotten too thick and simply add water to the right consistency. Works like a charm.)

It's hard to believe that's all there is to it or that something that simple or that vegan could actually be delicious. But Granny was no vegan, believe me. She just liked simple food that was also good. Give it a whirl! If it does not taste right, it's only because the ratio of the ingredients is not right for you. Adjust, adjust, adjust. It CAN be right with just these ingredients, I promise!

Fried Rice

Last night I made some delicious fried rice, and really, I was just winging it. It turned out GREAT! I served it with all-natural vegetarian spring rolls that I got from the freezer section of the grocery store. There's a lot of room to improvise and stylize with fried rice. Here's basically what I did:

3 c. cooked white rice (You need to cook the rice in advance and let it sit in the fridge for a while. For whatever reason, fried rice is not right with just-cooked warm rice.)
1 egg
1 T. plus 3 T. canola oil
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1 cup frozen or fresh broccoli pieces
1 large carrot, peeled, cut in half length-wise, then sliced into half-moons
1/2 small onion, chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 t. celery seeds
5 or 6 large leaves of kale, washed, large stems removed, cut into ribbons
1 T. sesame seeds
soy sauce, to taste (I'd say at LEAST 1/2 cup. You could also use tamari or shoyu instead.)
salt, to taste

Heat 1 T. canola oil over medium-high heat in a small non-stick skillet. Beat the egg, then pour it into the hot oil. Cook it scrambled, busting it into small pieces while it's cooking. Once it is quite done, remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat 3 T. canola oil and crushed red pepper over medium high heat in a large deep-sided skillet. When it is nice and hot, add the broccoli and carrot, and stir them quickly while they cook. If using frozen broccoli pieces, take care, because the water from the frozen broccoli will cause the hot oil to spit and splatter. After you've cooked them for a couple of minutes at most, add the onion, garlic, celery seeds, and ginger. Stir them in the hot oil until they're cooked the way you want them. Add kale and sesame seeds. Stir-fry until the kale is just wilted. Stir in the cooked egg pieces. Add the rice, ensuring any clumps are busted up to individual grains. (NOTE: You may have to add more oil here, too, if things are sticking. You may have to turn the heat up or down. You be the judge.) Begin adding soy sauce (or tamari or shoyu) as you stir-fry everything. You want at least enough to color all the rice brown, but add more if you like more. When it looks done, taste for salt. Add whatever amount of salt you like, and you're all set! Enjoy! (This served about 3.)

There are lots of other things you could stir-fry into this: celery, scallions, snow peas, baby corn, water chestnuts, tofu, mushrooms...these are just a few ideas that would be great! Omit the egg to make this vegan. Have fun!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gnocchi with Goat Cheese-Pesto Sauce

Gnocchi is an Italian dumpling and is pronounced "NO-key". I made this recipe for the first time last night, and it was delicious! I saw a different recipe online yesterday for gnocchi, and it inspired me to create this recipe. I hope you like it! I served it with sautéed kale (Yes, I love kale. It's the only thing coming out of the garden at this time of year, too!), crusty white bread, and white wine. Any variation of white beans would have been perfect with it, too.

1 lb. gnocchi - You can make this homemade (I used the recipe for potato gnocchi from PeTA's The Compassionate Cook cookbook.), use frozen gnocchi, or use purchased fresh gnocchi.
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. goat cheese
1/3 c. water
2 T. pesto (You can use purchased prepared pesto. I used homemade.)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large Roma tomato, chopped

Prepare the gnocchi according to the recipe or package directions. While the gnocchi are boiling, sauté the minced garlic in 1 T. of the olive oil over medium-low heat. When you begin to smell the garlic (after about 1 minute), add the goat cheese and water. Stir constantly until you have a smooth sauce. Stir in the pesto, the remaining 1 T. olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

When the gnocchi are finished, toss the warm dumplings in the sauce to coat them, then top with chopped fresh tomato. Enjoy!