Food

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

We had been waiting and waiting for our “kitchen appliances” box to arrive in San Diego (as well as my car… cookbooks… cookie trays… mixing bowls… oh and clothing) when it arrived!!! In this box was what Charlie refers to as “The Game Changer” – my 30-year-old Cuisinart mixer. “But Amanda!” you say, “How is that possible, when you are just a spritely 25-years-old?” It was a wedding gift to my parents, and just like their marriage, it is still magical and extremely productive.

I had never made soup before, so I wanted to make something easier for my intro lesson. I have always loved Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Soup, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it!

When I went to the grocer I found two butternut squash options – a $1.69 full butternut squash or a $2.99/bag of pre-cut butternut squash. Well, I would have needed to buy three pre-cut bags, and the guy at Trader Joe’s told me that cutting butternut squash was impossible… so naturally I bought the full butternut squash. I love a challenge. Well, he was right… it was awful. But I’m glad I did it because; 1) I proved him wrong and 2) I saved five dollars!

Butternut-Pear Soup and Grilled Cheese

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion – diced
  • 1 small butternut squash (2 pounds) – peeled seeded and diced large
  • 2 pears – peeled and diced large
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup low fat plain greek yogurt
  • chopped fresh chives (if you want – for serving)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook until translucent (I really don’t know what that means – I cooked it for eight minutes).
  2. Add squash, pears, and 4 cups of water. (Note on this: I didn’t think 4 cups seemed like enough but Charlie told me to follow the recipe and it would be fine – he was right! No need to add more water).
  3. Season roast with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until squash is soft – 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. In batches, fill a blender half way (don’t get too enthusiastic and fill it more) with soup and puree with yogurt until smooth.
  6. Transfer to a clean pot as you work.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and serve with chives if desired.

Things I will try next time!

  • Nothing different! I loved the texture and the balance of butternut squash and pear. It is definitely delicious with a grilled cheese!

 

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Food

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

In Chicago there was this magical place called Homemade Pizza. You could get all sorts of fun and delicious toppings on a yummy thin crust – and then bake it at home! My favorite was the Georgia, Charlie’s was the Buffalo Chicken (gross). Anyway, since relocating to sunny California, I have been craving Homemade Pizza like crazy! I had never made a real home-made pizza before so I was kind of apprehensive about the dough/baking instrument/ingredients/toppings… everything. After all thirteen of our boxes showed up… (Yes – we packed our entire life into two cars and thirteen boxes) I found Charlie’s old pizza baking tray and felt inspired! I searched for pizza recipes and found this one on Real Simple. I changed some of the ingredients/steps… but it turned out AMAZING! Like Meryl Streep Amazing.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups quattro formaggio (mixture of yummy cheeses of your choice!)
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups spinach
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Form pizza dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. (Note: This is a pain in the biz-utt, make sure the dough is at room temperature – I had to use a rolling pin and a whole lot of perseverance).
  2. Place pizza form onto a baking sheet (with corn meal on the bottom) or pizza pan.
  3. Spread olive oil over crust – sprinkle salt and pepper.
  4. Break cream cheese into small pieces and place on oiled crust.
  5. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cheese over cream cheese and oil.
  6. Quarter artichoke hearts and spread over pizza.
  7. Cover pizza with spinach.
  8. Sprinkle remaining cheese over pizza. (Feel free to add more cheese – you can never have enough!) 🙂
  9. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Things I will try next time!

  • Cooking the crust for a little bit prior to dressing it up. (Charlie says this will make it crispier!)
  • Moooore artichokes. Yummy!!
  • Spreading the cream cheese over the pizza dough evenly before adding olive oil and other toppings!