Not Weird Butternut Squash Soup

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So I was just visiting my dear friend Chai and her family. Since I’m back on the whole 30 bit she was a little nervous about what in the world I would eat while there so she just bought out all the veggies at the store and we had a bit of fun in the kitchen 🙂

For dinner she thought we could make a butternut squash soup so I said, what if we add ground beef to it. She in no uncertain terms told me I was crazy, but it didn’t matter to me… I was sure this was going to be good… and so it was. So here you go… Enjoy this super delicious, super filling NOT WEIRD Butternut Squash Soup with Ground beef and Jerusalem Artichokes… come on, basic was definitely not going to cut it if I wanted to impress my friend… but fancy doesn’t have to mean complicated either 🙂 and this soup is really easy to make!

Ingredients :

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 onion- diced
  • Butternut Squash
  • Soup stock
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Optional: Maple Syrup to add sweetness

“Optional” Garnish that makes this soup awesome…

Directions:

  1. Lightly caramelize the diced onion with a bit of salt in olive oil in a deep pan or soup pot.
  2. Prepare the butternut squash… Now there are 2 ways to do this…
    1. You can either cut the squash in half, take out the seeds brush with a little oil and bake it face down on a lined pan at 350F until its soft – approximately 45min-1hour. This could also be done in a double wrapped pan if your oven is not kosher.
    2. You can *peel and cut your squash* and add it to the sauteed onions and let it cook in the broth.
  3. Add the squash to the onions along with enough soup stock to cover the squash. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the butternut squash is thoroughly cooked through or for 30 minutes if you pre-cooked the squash in the oven.
  4. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth and give it a taste. Add any cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper etc needed to bring out the flavor. **Just remember it is supposed to be a sweeter soup** – you can even add a dash of maple syrup!
  5. If you like your soup thicker you can cook it down a bit longer, if you like it thinner you can add a bit of water. This is a VERY flexible soup!

    Optional, but not really optional:

  6. Just before you are ready to serve, take the Jerusalem artichokes and process them in a food processor until it is in very small pieces. Put a little olive oil in the pan and add the processed Jerusalem Artichokes. Cook over a medium flame and when you start to see the oil sizzle a bit put the ground beef on top.
  7. Brown the meat with the artichokes and use to garnish the soup.

If you’ve got picky eaters, start with the meat on the side, but if your friends or kids are anything like mine, they’ll end up adding the meat to the soup and won’t look back! The mix of sweet and savory is just too good!

*Peeling and cutting squash is NOT my favorite thing to do, if you are going to do it, I’d suggest wearing gloves as the squash can often dry out the skin on your hands… Alternatively, you can see if one of your local stores caries a peeled and cut squash with a good hechsher, if you have a Harris Teeter nearby you may be in luck 🙂

Leftover Thanksgiving Chicky Tacos

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So Thanksgiving is over, but my mini vacation wasn’t. As much as I could, I tried to plan my meals to match up with what the rest of the family. That way I don’t end up salivating over all their great smelling food, instead I can enjoy my own kosher versions :).

Well anyway, motzei Shabbos was Taco night. As my sister fried up some ground beef and prepared all sorts of yummy toppings for my extended family of 19?20? I kind of lost count. I snagged a couple of taco shells (before anyone else could get to the box), an avocado and checked some fresh romaine lettuce. I pulled my crock pot back out and made myself some SUPER AWESOME tacos…Afterwards my only regret was that I hadn’t snagged more taco shells…

Ingredients:

  • Leftover Thanksgiving poultry, shredded or cut up small
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa- I went with a medium heat level
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Taco Shells
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Tomato? Faux sour cream? Guacamole? Non-dairy cheese? Whatever else you like to put on your tacos…

Directions:

  1. Shred your leftover turkey, chicken, cornish game hens, whatever, in to your crock pot. Add the salsa and mix well. Heat on high heat for about 30-40 minutes, until it has warmed up.
  2. Squeeze the juice of one lime on the heated poultry and mix well.
  3. Wash and cut/prepare any taco toppings
  4. Assemble your tacos…

 

Its as easy as that, and let me tell you, this thing was SOOO FLAVORFUL! Good thing I have more left over chicky…I get to have these tacos again tomorrow!

 

The Little Chicky That Could

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In the past, I’ve made myself all sorts of different foods for Thanksgiving. I’ve done Turkey meatballs, St. Tropez Chicken… basically any kind of poultry I was in the mood for. Since Turkey was never really my favorite, I was never so into preparing something to match up so neatly with what everyone else was eating. This year was different. From the first day in November I was CRAVING a nice roasted piece of turkey… or rather poultry.

I decided then and there, this year would be a basic ‘roasted’ little chiky (as my sister and I call it)… AKA Cornish Game Hen. For me, Cornish Game Hens are one of the few types of poultry sold at my local kosher grocery under the hashgacha I eat. This made getting ahold of the bird… or should I say birds… (they are pretty small so I buy them in 2 packs) pretty easy. If you don’t have Cornish Game Hens, this recipe would go great with a whole regular sized chicken too. This recipe was so easy I was was able to set up my little crock pot and basically forget about it until dinner time.  In the meantime I went on a hike with my extended family, played card games, even learned how to play “Settler’s of Catan…”

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cornish Game Hens- Frozen or Defrosted… either way
  • 1/2 bottle of beer- I used Blue Moon
  • Poultry seasoning (I made my own with a bit of salt, paprika, oregano, and rosemary…no real measurements- as my dad would call it, I used the “shitalach method” meaning a bit of this and a bit of that… no idea if we are saying that right…)
  • Prepared roasted vegetables of your choice… I did sweet potato, green beans, and brussel sprouts.

Directions:

  1. Set up your crock pot an place your 2 cornish game hens inside. Add half a beer and try to coat the chickys with the beer.
  2. Rub the chickys with the seasoning mix. *Careful on the salt here… since kosher meat is soaked and salted, it already has salt flavor and doesn’t need much more*
  3. Turn your crock pot on high for about 4-6 hours until the cornish game hens are cooked through. At this point you can turn off your crock pot if its still too early for your meal. Just be sure to turn it back on a good 1-2 hours before you want to eat so everything will be nice and hot.
  4. About 1-2 hours before you are going to eat, add your prepared roasted vegetables. I roasted them in my oven at home and brought them in a ziplock that I could add to the chicken. I did it this way because I really wanted each of the vegetables to maintain their individual tastes and textures. By cooking them before and only adding them toward the end, my crock pot meal didn’t become another form of cholent… not that there is anything wrong with cholent… 🙂

 

Check out my little cornish game chickys all cooked and ready for some veggies!unnamed-2.jpg

Now if you end up with leftovers… let me tell you, my Leftover Thanksgiving Chicky Tacos were OUTSTANDING in my very humble opinion.

 

 

 

Double Wrapped Vegetable Lasagna

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Growing up my father made the VERY BEST vegetable lasagna. It was such a staple in our house that I was genuinely shocked, and already 20 years old, when I found out that traditional lasagna was actually made with meat. My dad still makes the best lasagna and that’s what’s on the menu for Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Since everyone will be enjoying lasagna, I don’t want to miss out so I’m going to be enjoying my own single serving lasagna too. But since I’ve already got a TON to do, I’m going super easy with this lasagna… I’ll assemble it before I leave and then throw it in an oven double wrapped in foil once I get to the cabin.

Ingredients:

  • Oven ready lasagna noodles (mine were spinach flavor hence the green in the picture)
  • Your favorite tomato sauce
  • Zucchini- sliced thinly
  • Big handful of spinach
  • Sweet Potato thinly sliced
  • Feta cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded cheese- I used munster, mozzarella would have been good too

Directions:

  • Soak the lasagna noodles according to the package directions (mine said to soak in warm water for 1 minute)
  • Put a spoonful or two of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan and place one layer of noodles on top – I used a small disposable aluminum pan
  • Chop or rip the spinach and mix with the feta cheese and sour cream ( I mixed it in a ziplock bag… I told you I love this trick!) You could also add some tofu into this mix if you are looking for more protein. Spread the creamy spinach & feta mixture on top of the first layer of lasagna noodles.
  • Add a little sauce on top and add the next layer of lasagna noodles. Put a spoonful or two of sauce and sour cream then add a layer of zucchini with more sauce.
  • Add the last layer of lasagna noodles and some more sauce and shredded cheese. Wrap with foil, and then wrap with a second layer of foil. Then bake in a 350*F pre-heated oven for 45minutes if you like your veg & noodles ‘al dente’ or for 1 hour for softer lasagna.

Alternative… you could thinly slice sweet potatoes for another layer!- Be sure to bake for between 1 and 1 1/2 hours if you do use sweet potatoes to give them a chance to really cook.

I’m not gonna lie, my dad’s lasagna is still better, but at least I have a good enough substitute :)…

*EDIT*

After making it for my pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday night meal, I edited the recipe to include sour cream in the mix… I had some extra after the sour cream cake so I decided it couldn’t hurt. Let me tell you, not only did it not hurt, but it totally took this lasagna from ‘okay enough’ to WOW WOW WOW!!! I’ve still got some sour cream left so you can bet I am going to prepare a few more of these to store in the freezer for another make shift meal 🙂

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

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There is nothing that makes me happier when the weather gets cool than a good bowl of soup, and truth is, there is really only one kind of soup that I crave and it’s this one.

This soup is savory, sweet, filling, flavorful, yet somewhat light… too many words, but basically it’s fantastic. There are a lot of ingredients, so when I make this soup, I make a lot of it and enjoy the leftovers for days and freeze some for perfect meals whenever the weather gets cool again.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 chicken breasts sliced
  • 1 -2 TBSP fresh (or frozen) ground ginger
  • 2 11oz containers of cooking grade coconutmilk- I use So Delicious brand
  • 2 – 3TBSP of your favorite curry powder
  • 2 TBSP date sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 delicata squash (or 1 butternut squash peeled) and cut up
  • 1 cauliflower (checked for bugs)
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut
  • 2 pieces of fresh lemon grass cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro washed and checked for bugs
  • 2 32oz boxes of vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 bundle of green onions
  • 3 Limes

 

Directions:

In a big soup pot sautee the onions in your favorite cooking oil (I used olive) and almost immediately add the sliced chicken breast and one carton of coconut milk, curry powder, ginger, and sweetner of your choice. As the chicken cooks, finish preparing the other vegetables and add them to the pot: Wash, cut, and de-seed the delicata squash (the great thing about this squash is you can eat the peel!), check and cut the cauliflower, wash, peel, and cut the carrots, wash, check and rip the cilantro, and cut the two pieces of lemongrass.

Add the 2 boxes of soup stock (Tabachnick is generally easy to find at your local grocery). Heat over medium heat until the squash and carrots are fork tender. To finish the soup off, add some fresh green onions, the juice of 3 limes, and the second carton of coconut milk. Add any additional salt, curry powder, or sweeter to balance out any flavors. Enjoy!

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Salmon with “Honey” Mustard Glaze

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This salmon is easy, can be made whole 30 approved, and can be baked either open or double wrapped. It tastes best fresh, but I’ve been known to make a few days worth in advance…

Ingredients:

  • Fresh salmon (you can use frozen if it’s all you have, but regarding fish, I’m a snob so it’s gotta be fresh!)
  • Your favorite mustard
  • Honey (or date sugar /fresh dates blended into a paste if you are into the whole no processed sugar thing/whole 30)

Directions:

Rinse your salmon and using a knife against the grain, scratch the scales off the skin of the fish and rinse again. Mix equal parts mustard and honey/date sugar/date paste in a ziplock bag and add your salmon. Let the fish marinade for at least an hour, or over night in the fridge. Bake on parchment paper at 400*F for 10-15 minutes (if double wrapping in foil, add an additional 10 minutes and make sure your oven is fully pre-heated)

Enjoy!

Your Rosh Hashana Main Dish…

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This thing is gorgeous. It smells great, tastes better, and BH is SUPER easy to throw together! What’s better? All you need is a crock pot and 8 hours!

It was my mom’s birthday and I wanted to something special. I’ve been doing the whole 30 diet *my sister is a great influence on me!* So I was looking for something that would both meet my new diet and also be a great meal for my mom. After much google searching and debating I finally decided on this one: http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/crockpot-sweet-sour-pomegranate-short-ribs-creamy-polenta/  I only made the beef, and I used cholent meat instead of short ribs… man this thing was SOOOOO good!

Here’s what I did…

Ingredients:

  • A splash of Olive oil to coat the crockpot
  • 2 1/2 lbs of cholent meat (I used grass fed because it’s what I had in my freezer… and officially it’s better for you. It’s also part of the reason I chose this recipe, because grass fed beef needs to be cooked low & slow or it can become tough)
  • 5 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 4 carrots – chopped
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2-3 TBSP Date Sugar (yay whole 30!)
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos (yay whole 30!)
  • 7-10 sprigs worth fresh thyme (check here to learn how to de-stem thyme the easy way!)
  • 3-4 springs worth fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • Seeds of 1/2 a pomegranite (save the other half for the garnish)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

Use olive oil to coat your crock pot (to make clean up way easier). Then add all the ingredients listed above. (The original recipe says to sear the meat, but I wanted easy… plus my meat was frozen and I was not about to wait till I could separate it into smaller pieces to sear. Since I used cholent meat, I figured it would be okay and BH it was!) Set your crock pot to low and come back 8-9 hours later. I made mine overnight and it re-heats great when you want to eat it!

When you are ready to eat, garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds and any remaining parsley you have.

Enjoy!