Happy Holidays!!

I know I’ve been MIA lately, and I’ve really been itching to write more for you all, but time is limited and since Santa hasn’t granted me my wish for 28-hour days during the holidays, I’ll have to make do with what I have. I’ll be back on January 4 with new posts for you all.

On another note…

 

Ornament
Baby’s First Christmas 2015 ornament (Hallmark)
 
Happy Christmas, Happy holidays, and Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people on the Interwebz!! May the holiday season be filled with love, laughter, and happiness and may 2016 be a year of health, wealth, and prosperity!

 

Star Ornament
2013 Swarovski Annual Ornament
 
**Please note that all experiences/views are my own and are not influenced/endorsed by any third party. The ornaments featured are from my personal collection.

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Squashing And Reversing Opinions

Guess what??

I have my first recipe to share with you!

I was going to leave this for another week or two, as I have a backlog of reviews to post (‘cus I’m sure no one noticed my prolonged absences, right?), but then I was doing a repeat of the recipe and felt inspired, so I thought what the hell, just post it.

So here we are! Let’s start at the beginning.

As I’m sure I’ve told you before, I grew up not only with little money, but in a house where cooking and dinner were nothing more than nourishment. My mother never liked cooking, neither did my dad, and it was always a chore. One thing I will always remember, though, is my mother and her immersion blender.

We had only the most essential kitchen utensils, and almost no appliances. Seriously. We had a coffee maker (the old-school-drip kind), a toaster, a coffee grinder, and this immersion blender. She called it the “noga” or ‘leg’ in Polish, and used it very frequently. That thing was some 20 years old, and I think it died only a couple years back. I could be wrong… It could still be around somewhere.

When I got married and we started to acquire kitchen appliances, I discovered the magic of a stand mixer and a hand mixer, the blender, the food processor, and the slow cooker. I remember telling myself that I would never have a simple tool like the immersion blender in my kitchen as I didn’t need it… The blender could do the job just as easily and it could be used for many other things. The immersion blender was a one-trick pony.

Then we had our little one and I started making purées for her. The first few times I used the blender and it worked amazingly. Then I needed to make a puréed soup. I used the blender, but was frustrated as I had to purée it in two batches. And lo and behold, I started to wish I had an immersion blender. This feeling grew stronger and stronger as I continued to cook for our little one and as I made soups more often (autumn and soup, people!).

Finally I caved. We had money left over on a gift card and I knew I would be getting an Empire Red KitchenAid immersion blender (we have everything in red in the kitchen and like KitchenAid for appliances). I hopped online and the store had the blender, in red, on sale, with free shipping. Bye-bye gift card balance, hello new toy! And I manage to get it for just over $40, tax in. Total win.

 Roasted Squash and Apple Soup 
It’s with this little beauty that I finished off today’s soup. You can, of course, omit the blending completely if you wish, or use a traditional blender to do the job. I, for one, am getting my money’s worth from this simple appliance… Guess being a one-trick pony isn’t so bad, after all.

 Roasted Squash and Apple Soup 
Roasted Squash and Apple Soup

Yield: 4-6 generous servings (depending on squash size)
Prep Time: 5 minutes + 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes + 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium squashes (I used sweet dumpling squash the first time and one each butternut and carnivale squash the second time)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2-3 small or 1 large carrot/s, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 1.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large spring (multi-branched) fresh or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 1 cup milk (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

For Roasted Squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds and insides.
  3. Place rind-side up on baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the flesh is tender.
  5. If you wish, you can roast the apple as well. Add in last 15 minutes of roasting time.
  6. Allow squash to cool slightly before handling.

For the Soup:

  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, cooking until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add carrots and celery, cooking another 5 minutes.
  4. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the squash, careful to discard any rind bits, and add into the pot. Allow to caramelise slightly.
  5. Add the apple, then the stock and cider.
  6. Add the oregano, thyme, and cinnamon.
  7. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 – 30 minutes.
  8. Take off the heat and blend, if desired. Season, to taste. Milk can be added as well (cream would be overly-rich, in my opinion).
  9. Serve with fresh baguette, if desired.

Roasted Squash and Apple Soup 
Hubby, who doesn’t usually like squash or squash soups, has devoured both versions of this soup. I’ll be trying it with a few other varieties of squash as the opportunity arises. This soup also freezes well, so you can enjoy it whenever the mood strikes you! Bon appetit!

  
And that’s it for my first recipe! I’m hoping you have a chance to give it a try and that you’ll enjoy it as much as we did. Next time, I’ll tell you all about these amazing carrots we made!

*This recipe is my own and was created based on my very basic knowledge of how to make soup. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by KitchenAid or any other third party.

You Can Never Go Wrong With Creaminess

I have to say, that for all of my efforts to eat healthy, I will never say no to a cream soup or dish. Now, that’s not to say that these dishes can’t be healthy, but tou don’t typically associate ‘cream’ with ‘healthy’. But take this Spinach Tomato Tortellini from Damn Delicious for example. Lots of yummy spinach, healthy tomatoes, some tortellini (you can choose a whole-grain version to up the health-factor)… There’s nothing unhealthy about it really. A bit of fat is good for you, anyways, and you’re getting calcium and other vitamins from the cream. Go ahead. Treat yourself.

This is a dish where the timing relies almost solely on how quickly your tortellini cooks. The recipe says 15 minutes, but if you’re cooking frozen tortellini like mine that has a cook time of 20-25 minutes, you’re a bit out of luck. However, if a friend showed up at your place with ready-cooked tortellini, you could have this dish on the table in about 10 minutes. You could go with fresh pasta, too… That has a cook time of about 5-10 minutes.

Also, if you have a friend that would randomly bring you cooked tortellini, send them here. I need to meet them. 

 Spinach Tomato Tortellini 
Yield:

  • Original Yield: 4 servings
  • Actual Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time:

  • Original Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Actual Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time:

  • Original Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Actual Cook Time: varies with pasta; spinach-tomato cream sauce 8 minutes, pasta according to package directions 5-25 minutes

Notes or Comments:

  • As I mentioned above, the cooking time varies with the pasta. I used a frozen tortellini and it took double the time to cook than a fresh pasta would. Keep this in mind when prepping this dish.

Verdict: Success! This is a quick and simple dish that gives you that comfort-food feeling while still providing you with your required intake of veggies. It’s super tasty, and even picky eaters will love it (hubby isn’t a fan of spinach, so we used 2/3 of the given amount).

 Spinach Tomato Tortellini

**Please note, the recipe for Spinach Tomato Tortellini is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Damn Delicious or any other third party.

Knot My Usual Dish

Hello all you lovely people! I’ve been a bit MIA this past week (this post took me two days! Ugh!), I know, and I am sorry. I hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday had a restful and relaxing holiday with family, friends, and delicious food of course!

We were busy with our own cooking and baking, though none of it thanksgiving related. Two batches of cupcakes for a potluck, and apple crisp and a delicious dinner for my in-laws apparently wasn’t enough… Our little one also cut her second tooth (finally!!!!!)! We’re hoping this means she’ll be less cranky now.

I had wanted to share this recipe for Easy Garlic Parmesan Knots I had found on Damn Delicious before US Thanksgiving as it would make a great appetizer. Oh well. These little guys are delicious on their own, too. Now, I’m not a fan of using pre-made or almost-made dough, especially for something as easy to make as biscuits, but hubby wanted to give these a try and I didn’t know how much dough was in a tube anyways, so I caved.

And boy, was I glad I did!

 Garlic Parmesan Knots 
Yield:

  • Original Yield: 16 knots
  • Actual Yield: 18 knots

Prep Time:

  • Original Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Actual Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time:

  • Original Bake Time: 10 minutes
  • Actual Bake Time: 10 minutes

Notes or comments:

  • I used this Pillsbury biscuit dough, which gives me 8 very large biscuits, so I made 18 knots. You can always just pass your extras this way if you want the original yield. Or just pocket them. In your stomach. I won’t judge.
  • I might want to try these with a homemade biscuit dough, as I’m sure they’ll be even yummier that way! I’ll let you know when I do and what recipe I used.
  • The garlic-herb-cheese topping would be amazing on some breadsticks, garlic bread, or even tossed with pasta.

Verdict: Success! This recipe was super simple, used ingredients I had on hand (biscuit dough being the exception), and tasted amazing. Hubby and I ate the whole lot of knots (haha, that rhymes!), and they were amazing. Also, I may have eaten more than my half. Or my two-thirds. I regret nothing.

 Garlic Parmesan Knots 

**Please note, the recipe for Easy Garlic Parmesan Knots is in no way mine. The views and experiences above are mine and not endorsed/influenced by Damn Delicious, Pillsbury, or any other third party.