Roasted Squash Soup

Squash soup is as fall as colorful leaves, apple cider, pumpkins. And even though the leaves have been blown by the wind into disorganized piles around the yard, pumpkins replaced with holly greens and lights, squash still holds an honored spot in our local grocery stores. As long as these fruit-like vegetables stick around, I will turn them into soup… Bwahaha

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Roasted Delicata Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

3 to 4 pounds squash, peeled and seeded (I use Delicata, but if you can’t find that, Butternut works too)
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally (sprinkled on top)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread it in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until very tender.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done, put them through a food mill fitted with the medium blade. (Alternatively, you can place the roasted vegetables in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the chicken stock and coarsely puree.) When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there’s enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor.

Recipe slightly modified from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.

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Coconut Chicken Curry

February in Portland always fools us with its sunny, springlike days. Then, just as you think it’s safe to go outside, the cold winds knock you down. I was able to sneak away to the beach last weekend, and returned to a husband and daughter who appear to have caught the flu. Let me tell you, not having the flu while everyone else in your house does, is almost as bad as all that. They seem to be on the mend, and as a way to stay clear of their germs, I spent some time creating comfort food. I’m not sure they loved it, but I sure found it comforting.

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If you’re still in the wintery season where you are, you need this in your life.

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Keep in mind that I am still without a stove or kitchen, so I made this in my life-saving skillet.

This could easily be turned into a vegetarian or vegan dish. I’m thinking of trying it with cauliflower, green onions, maybe some chickpeas. Once you get the curry sauce to your taste, you can build it however you like.

Coconut Chicken Curry

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 sweet onion, diced
1 delicata or butternut squash, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
2 cups low-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Teaspoon ground ginger
2 Teaspoons tumeric
2 Teaspoons coriander
2 Teaspoons curry powder
1/8 Teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Rice or pasta to serve alongside

Directions
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet (or Dutch oven) over high heat. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces and cook until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Reduce heat and add remaining 1 T olive oil to pan. Add diced onion, diced squash and ginger powder. Cook for a few minutes until the onion and squash is soft. Add pressed garlic and cook for another couple minutes.
Add tomatoes and pumpkin puree. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until puree is lightly browned.
Add broth, coconut milk, tumeric, coriander, curry and cayenne. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add chicken and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Stir in cilantro.
Serve with rice or pasta, and a glass of red wine.

Oh my, sweet potato pie!

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Raise your hand if you’ve never had sweet potato pie. Much like pumpkin in its consistency, sweet potato pie is custard-like and creamy, but the spices in this recipe create a dessert that is nothing short of heavenly. Trust me on the coriander… I hesitated on that one too.

In my family, no one likes to break tradition (except yours truly), and this pie seemed to set off some alarms. Or maybe it was the color, or the thought of a soggy crust (which this does NOT have)… either way, I got to take most of it home from our family Christmas gathering. Yeah! More for us!

Sweet Potato Pie
(thank you to Joy the Baker (and her Dad) for sharing the filling recipe)

1- 9″ pie crust (chilled)

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2- 5oz cans evaporated milk (1 1/4 cups evaporated milk)
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Boil three sweet potatoes, with their peeling on, in a covered pot over medium heat, until the sweet potatoes are very soft and tender. Test with a sharp knife. If there is any resistance, boil until a knife penetrates the potatoes smoothly. Remove potatoes from the water and let them cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel potatoes, cut into chunks and place in a large bowl or food processor. Mash potatoes thoroughly until completely smooth.

Measure two cups of the sweet potato mash and place it into a medium sized pan with the packed brown sugar, all of the spices, salt, the 1/2 stick butter, and one 5 oz can of evaporated milk. Cook on low for about 5 minutes, whipping with a wire whisk until butter and brown sugar are completely melted, and the mixture is blended, smooth and just beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool in the pan.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the three eggs with a fork. Add the second 5oz can of evaporated milk, granulated sugar and vanilla to the eggs, and continue beating until creamy. Pour the cooled sweet potato mixture into the egg mixture. Blend thoroughly with a whisk and refrigerate mixture overnight or use immediately.

Pour into a 9-inch prepared crust.

Place a cookie sheet into the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place pie directly onto preheated cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes to set the crust, and to keep it from getting soggy.  Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. and bake for another hour. The crust should be brown and the sweet potato mixture will be puffed up, but still slightly wiggly in the center. After 1 hour, remove pie and place onto a wire rack to cool. The pie will firm up more as it cools.

Serve room temperature with whipped cream.

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