Thursday, September 26

Roasted Autumn Squash Soup

It's harvest time around here.  While I'm loving the chill in the air and bluest of blue skies, the colors of the plants are my love language.

I'm a huge proponent of eating good food.  Not only good tasting food, but good-for-you food.  There is something to be appreciated about raising and growing your own food, then transforming it into something delicious.  And as a wife and mom, I am constantly thinking of every bite of food my family puts into their body. It's no light task, either.  Of course my child loves all things sweet, and it's not that I don't indulge alongside her at times (salted caramel ice cream, salted caramel anything?!!), but it's the exception.  The child is equally happy with an apple or a lollipop- we eat a lot of apples around here ;)

This "I'm too busy" world we live in resorts to precooked, prepackaged, preserved filth far too often. I work in medicine and I hear it all the time-- "I'm too busy to made homemade meals", "it's easier to get take out", "it's cheaper to eat out" (this one is another story for another day- yes I know McDonald's has a dollar menu, but it is not cheaper to feed a family at McDonald's.  Rice and beans.  Rant over.).  I try to have something healthy for my family to eat when I work- if that means making ahead and freezing/canning/storing, then that's what I do.  And I'm not an expert, and yes my family does occasionally eat out, but I'm referring to everyday, each week, the majority.  We have a homemade muffin or granola bar in place of a pop tart. A double batch of soup refrigerated in place of stuff from a can. It's definitely not impossible and it's definitely more economical.  I think it makes a world of difference.

To get started, roast up some autumn vegetables and purée with  other great ingredients for several meals worth of seriously good-for-you soup!  This will be my family's meal while I finish up my week with two more 12 hour shifts :/  At least I know they're eating well!


Roasted Autumn Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
1 acorn squash 
1 small pie pumpkin (or 1 cup canned pumpkin)
2 large sweet potatoes
1 onion 
2 apples (I had red delicious on hand)
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
1 tblsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1-2 cups low fat milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Clean and dice vegetables. I'm not sure if I'm just not tough, but cutting winter squashes is hard work! I opted to leave skins on squash and remove them after roasting, it made my life easier :) 


Coat vegetables in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 min- 1 hour, until caramelized and tender, turning vegetables about half way through. 

When vegetables are done, add stock and spices/cinnamon stick to soup pot over medium low heat.  Add roasted vegetables, removing squash skins first. Bring to boil (this will be a thick mixture), and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. 


When vegetables are soft, remove cinnamon stick, add milk and maple syrup.  Purée soup (I used immersion blender) in batches in blender, adding more milk (or cream, if you're feeling decadent) to achieve desired consistency. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve warm.


Side note: I used this as a sauce on pasta once with some ricotta, Parmesan and fresh sage- delicious!

I've been holding back on using recipes due to my lack of DSLR.  However, since I have been following Annapolis and Co. and her awesome Instagram tutorial #theeverydayproject, I have learned so much about using my iphone for photography, especially food photography.  Big, big thanks @annapolisandcompany.

I can't wait to pick some more squash and try out some other recipes.  
Next on the list: a warm fall salad with squash a millet!

Enjoy this season.


Monday, September 23

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Chili


It's another attestment to the beauty of a garden. 

I did not grow the sweet potatoes or garlic, but the rest is fresh from our our piece of God's earth!

This is an Autumn-spin on a classic cold-weather dish.  My family loves a good, hearty stew or soup.   And I love one pot meals.  It's a win-win around here.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Chili

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
2 boxes beef or vegetable stock
1 large can red kidney beans (I used dark red because that's what I had)
3 sweet potatoes
3 green peppers
cilantro or parsley

Brown meat in stock pot/soup pot, drain.  Over medium heat, add diced onion and green pepper, cook until onion is translucent, approximately 10 minutes.  Add minced garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes, so as not to burn the garlic.  Add spices to meat (may add salt/peper to taste at this point) and cook for another minute, then add stock, water, beans and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil, simmer over low heat for 1-2 hours(longer if you prepared ahead!) 30 minutes before serving, add diced sweet potatoes and simmer until fork tender. Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley before serving. 

Side note: I have made this completely vegetarian by omitting beef and using vegetable stock- it's still fantastic (and my husband had no clue)!

Happy autumn!



The birthday weekend has come and gone, and I'm trying to relish some joy from our memories.  It seems that each birthday is more a reminder of how behind I am on my life plan. I'm 28. Five years ago, 28 would mean a house full of babies and a career I loved.  But God's plan reigns superior.

I'm trying to make sense of it! In a nutshell, I'm a mom to 1 sweet 2 year old girl and I don't love my career. I know God has blessed us beyond measure, I just am learning to love His plan

The weekend began as I was greeted Friday evening after a 12 hour shift to some beautifully homemade cupcakes by  Molly and her babysitter. The joy and pride that tired little girl offered over those cupcakes- I hope to never forget that moment. So after sharing 2 cupcakes, Molly threw a classic 2 year old tantrum. She wanted more. It was night night time.

We traveled to a beautiful 100 year old pear tree with my mom, aunt, Molly and her cousin Quinton. After bravely scaling the limbs, we left with some gorgeous pears.  And we (Molly) made a friend with a local barn cat. That girl has country in her blood.

We spent my birthday in Pittsburgh, enjoying Molly's first zoo experience, Starbucks (birthday cake pops!), and a meet up with friends for dinner and a quick photo with the Pitt Panther- a little college reminiscing.  Molly was a trooper- although she was car sick on the way down, we are getting good at detecting it. Jesse managed to capture nearly all the vomit in an empty coffee can. Poor girl. I just can't withhold a trip to the zoo, and we are reassured when she immediately informed us "I'm okay!" That girl is rapidly leaving her baby ways. It's so bittersweet.

I had an impatient mommy moment that's really bothering me even today. After we drug her on a 2 hour car ride, she was a complete sweetheart at the zoo. We met some of my college friends for dinner after, and without a nap all day, she refused to sit and eat. I lost my patience with her in the parking garage as she tried to run wild, grabbed her arm and yelled "no Molly!", in a voice that I didn't even recognize. That girl stopped in her tracks and the tears flowed. I was too impatient, she was tired, I was too harsh. I've apologized, but I need to learn, grow from that experience. I never want her to remember me scolding her like that. I've been praying for patience all day.  

"Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."  Isaiah 40:31

Here is to a week full of patience and love.