Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Happy Hump Day everyone! Congratulations - the weekend is officially in sight! 

As I shared with you last week I was up in Vermont with my family the other weekend, I will not repeat myself by saying over and over again how fun it was.... 

Weekends away are great, but they are in fact quite a bit of work. A weekend away is basically a super long dinner party, so similarly you are crazy if you think you can do it all yourself! Trust me, I have tried, I spent the entire weekend cooking like a mad woman and barely saw my guests. To that end I suggest dividing up meals - for my weekend in Vermont I was responsible for lunch on Saturday. I also helped out with dinner because I am an overachiever... 

When cooking for a crowd I like to keep it simple but also pack a punch with flavors. I also like to serve things family style, as you can see below. 

I didn't realize till I sat down that my artsy blog shot had been photo bombed by my family friend's 3 1/2 year old's lunch and sippy cup. I think it adds a little something extra don't you?

Anyway, for lunch I made my favorite roasted butternut squash soup (always good to have something to warm people up when they come in form the cold!). This soup combines butternut squash, apples, and shallots with the heat of curry. It is a spectacular dish that can warm you up on a cold day. 

I paired the soup with, munster grilled cheeses with fox hollow mustard and arugula. I wanted to jazz up my grilled cheese, so I added the mustard (fox hollow is a balsamic vinegar and molasses based mustard - honestly its like my crack) and arugula. But lets be honest the key to perfect grilled cheese is BUTTER and lots of it. I wanted to add a peppery bite to cut through the sweetness of the butternut squash and the mustard. Now not trying to toot my own horn but it was pretty tasty not going to lie. 

My mom always serves our lunches family style like this - with a large platter of sandwiches where you are able to grab what you want. There is much less waste this way, because you grab however many slices you actually want, be it a half or a whole sandwich. 

The soup can easily be made in advance and reheated day of. The grilled cheeses can also be banged out pretty quickly especially if you have a large skillet (like the ones for pancakes). 

What are a few of your favorite ways to feed a crowd? Let me know in the comments!

xo

L

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • 3 - 4 lbs butternut squash
  • 2 apples 
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 shallots 
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock if going vegetarian) 
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 - 2  tsp curry powder (depending on preference)
  • cayenne pepper (I just used a dash to add heat, you can use more if you love it spicy)
  • salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and roughly chop the apples, shallots, and butternut squash into 1 inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on two baking sheets. Roast for 30 minutes until tender (a fork should come in and out easily).

In a soup pot over medium heat add the butter, once melted add the curry powder. Stir the curry butter mixture, this will allow the curry to bloom and develop a rich flavor. After about 5 minutes add the stock and bring to a simmer. 

Meanwhile heat the stock on the stove to a simmer. Once the squash is tender transfer it to either: A. your blender puree until smooth adding some of the stock to help it grind up. (be careful it will be very hot) OR B. put the roasted veggies and apples in the pot with the stock and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.

Bring the soup to a simmer and allow everything to get to know each other over low heat for approx. 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Note: To make things easier, feel free to roast the squash, apples, and shallots a day or 2 before. The day of puree them with the hot stock to cut down on prep time.

Spicy Hard Cider Pulled Pork

I think I have a case of the winter blues. I usually LOVE winter! I usually LOVE the snow. It usually makes me so happy, like the whole world is frosted and sparkly. But the month of February in New England has cured me of any of those warm and fuzzy feelings I used to have towards snow. Right now I hate snow and I am starting to believe that I will never see green lawns again. The good news is that exactly one week from today I will be in florida and I will get a chance to thaw out and hopefully (fingers crossed) come home to a less wintery wonderland. 

As usual when the world gets me down I turn to my kitchen, so I made insanely good pulled pork. I used hard cider and chipotles to create one of my favorite flavor combinations the whole sweet heat thing! I made myself a big "salad" for dinner the other night with kale, this amazeballs pulled pork, a cheese quesadilla, roasted cauliflower, and lime crema (sour cream + lime zest). It was like a burrito bowl minus the rice and beans but plus kale and cauliflower. Anyway, make this pulled pork it will make you happy and if you close your eyes you might begin to believe you're somewhere warm. 

xx

L

Spicy Hard Cider Pulled Pork

** Pictured here with kale, lime crema, a cheese quesadilla, and roasted cauliflower

  • 1 5 -6 lb pork shoulder
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 3 chipotles in adobo 
  • 2 tbs adobo sauce
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bottle hard cider 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. In a small bowl combine sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and  chipotle chili powder. Rub half of the mixture on the pork. Add 2 tbs olive oil to a dutch oven over medium high heat brown the pork on all sides. Off the heat pour the cider into the pot. Add in the chipotles, adobo, and the rest of the spice mixture. Roast for 6-8 hours or until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Using two forks shred the pork (discard the bones if you have a bone in pork shoulder). 

Eat immediately and enjoy!

A Trip to NYC & Baby Kale Salad

Just realized this post never never went live : ( here is an update on what I did before Christmas!!

I just spent the most fabulous weekend with my sister in NYC, it was so much fun! We danced, ate, exercised, and drank. The dancing was covered by going to see an epic 80s cover band and by going and seeing the Nutcracker. The eating was covered by restaurants in her neighborhood and Spice Market. We went to exercise classes at Refine and Flywheel (my ass will never be the same). And lets be honest, we all know how we managed the drinking. This was one of my first visits to NYC that didn't cause me huge amounts of anxiety. It felt very relaxed, maybe I'm staring to get a hang of the big apple? who knows.

There are two highlights to this trip:

ONE:

Getting to go on stage with the 80s band (called Jesses Girl) for Girls Just Want to Have Fun. The singer yelled out, "lets get all the hot girls on stage" and before she had even finished her sentence my sister and I were up there. We had the stage to ourselves for about 30 seconds before other girls came up and joined us. It was epic.

TWO:

I ended my time in NYC with a trip to Eataly. I follow them on instagram and I was absolutely dying to go there in person. It was insane there were people EVERYWHERE. But we had a fabulous time eating mozzarella, amazing fresh ricotta, cured meats, and oysters. We drank red wine and made friends with the people around us. Even though it was totally crazy it definitely made you feel like you weren't in New York and had a great European feel.

So anyway back to the reason you read this blog, the food! Theres this mustard, that you can get in Vermont. It is a molasses based mustard. It is called

Fox Hollow Mustard

. It is amazing. I put it on hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and keilbasa. Now my friend K, made a warm bacon vinaigrette and used this mustard. This was a full on mind bomb for me. I frequently put whole grain mustard in my vinaigrette. So as you wonder why you are reading about my thoughts on mustard, I shamelessly copied my girl K, and made a baby kale salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette (using fox hollow of course) and topped it all off with a fried egg. I can actually see myself eating this for breakfast, or dinner, or lunch.

Make it for yourself or someone who you want to love you because trust me after this they will.

Merry Christmas!

xx

L

Baby Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette & a Fried Egg

  • 3 slices of bacon, minced in lardons 
  • 1 tablespoon fox hollow mustard (or whole grain)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Baby Kale

In a large sauté pan over medium heat render the bacon until crispy. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon, add the mustard and olive oil whisking until well combined. Add the bacon to a large bowl with the baby kale, toss with the vignette until coated.

In another large sautee pan over medium heat melt the butter. Once it is sizzling crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, flip the eggs. Cook for 1 more minute. The whites will be cooked through but the yolks will still be runny.Place eggs on top of salad. Eat immediately! 

Ancho Chicken and Kale Quesadillas

I was watching Watch What Happens Live the other night and Rachel Ray was on. She said that a really cheap and easy way to have a holiday party would be to have a nacho bar. Now I got to thinking, nachos (are one of my favorite foods) but I prefer them with melted cheese rather than a cheese sauce. And making a nacho bar with melted cheese would be difficult (these are the things that I think about when I am running). Then I started thinking about omelet bars, and it hit me! Quesadilla bar! Way yummier and you could use a omelet bar set up to make the quesadillas! Mom and Dad I hope you are paying attention, there WILL be a quesadilla bar at my hypothetical wedding.

Anyway I got home from my run and was absolutely starving, so I threw together this quesadilla and let me tell you it was amazing. I felt healthy because I used my handy-dandy grill pan to grill my chicken and put kale inside the quesadilla. Is it just me or does adding just a little bit of kale to something automatically make you feel like your eating something that is good for you?

Enjoy!

xx

L

Ancho Chile Chicken and Kale Quesadillas 

  • 2 Corn Tortillas (or flour if gluten full is the way you roll)
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast 
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 good dash of oregano
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 cup of baby kale
  • 1 clove of garlic diced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend 
  • 2 tbs olive oil

For Avocado Crema

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 c sour cream 
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt and pepper

In a small bowl drizzle chicken breast with one tbs of olive oil, ancho chile powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oregano. Set aside, so all the flavors can get to know one another. 

In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in one tbs of olive oil. Once the garlic is fragrant and begins to cook add the kale. Sauté until soft (it will shrink down a lot), about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Put a grill or sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, cook the chicken about 4 minutes per side. You want to get a nice sear on the outside to keep all the juices in. Set aside to rest. After it has rested for 5 -10 minutes dice. 

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium low heat, place one of the tortillas in the pan, sprinkle with half of the cheese, kale, and diced chicken. Sprinkle with the other half of the cheese and top with the other tortilla. 

After about five minutes (or when you see the cheese on the bottom getting nice and melty) flip your quesadilla and brown the other side. About 4 more minutes. 

In a food processor combine the avocado, sour cream, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Pulse until well incorporated. 

Cut your quesadilla and serve with avocado crema. enjoy!