Healthy & Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

Every year, for many years, I have broke a promise to myself and it all has to do with soup.  Yes, I said it all has to do with soup.

You see, each year I have told myself that this is the year I’m going to make Homemade Butternut Squash Soup.  But then I never do make the soup and there has never been a good reason for it either.  Just lame excuses.

This year, I finally kept my word to myself and made the most delicious and healthy soup imaginable.  I now realize that all that procrastination was crazy.  The most time consuming part of making this soup is the peeling and cubing of the squash – which I enlisted my hubby to help me with.  If you want to speed this soup making process up a bit then I suggest purchasing the squash already peeled and cubed from the vegetable section of your favorite supermarket.

This soup recipe fits my tastes and expectations perfectly.  There was no disappointments and I’m adding it to my tried-and-true recipes in hopes that I’ll make it for many more years to come.  If you try this recipe please let me know what you think of it.

Homemade Butternut Squash Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. butter (or margarine)

1 small onion, diced

1/2 c. diced carrot

4 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash

4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. skim milk

1/4 c. half & half

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter and oil on low heat.  Add onions and cook until tender.  Once onions are cooked, add carrots, squash, and broth.  Cover; bring to a boil until vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and puree the mixture.  Return to low heat and stir in milk, half & half, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt & pepper to taste.  Do not bring to a boil.   

This soup makes a great appetizer or entrée.  I served it as an entrée with a salad and homemade Almost Texas Roadhouse Rolls that I’ll be sharing with you in a future post.  

Although the ingredients are different, this soup reminds me of Panera’s Vegetarian Autumn Squash Soup – yum!

What is your favorite soup recipe?

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Simple Sunday Morning Breakfast–Fill Your Bellies; Warm Your House

 

I suppose it was to be expected.  Cold temperatures and snow flurries have intruded upon those of us that live in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.  I’ve switched to wearing boots and a warmer jacket when I venture out.

But what about inside?  This morning our house was cooler than it has been and I was eager to get a fresh pot of coffee brewing.  And while the coffee warmed my soul and awakened me, it didn’t help warm the house.   Yes, I could have turned up the heat, but I had a much better idea like making breakfast in the oven.

With a plan in mind, I turned on the oven and started by raiding the fridge.  I came up with lot’s of healthy veggies, my favorite cheese -Jarlsberg Lite, low-fat ham, and of course our farm fresh eggs.  You can see where this is going can’t you?  All the fixings for a delicious frittata!

Making a frittata does not require a recipe or an exact science.  It’s more about adding a variety of your favorite ingredients. or those ingredients that you happen to have on hand at the time.

Here is how simple it is:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Grease a pie pan with non-stick cooking spray
  • Beat (4) large eggs in a large mixing bowl
  • Add 1 cup of milk to the eggs (I used skim)
  • Add diced veggies, grated cheese, and cooked meat to the egg and milk mixture (I added onion, red pepper, spinach, ham, mushrooms, and Jarlsberg to mine frittata)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Top with a little more grated cheese
  • Bake until the frittata is firm and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes before cutting

I opted to go for a crust less quiche for a couple simple reasons.  Less calories and  less fat.

This is a perfect dish to prepare in advance if you are having overnight guests. Think about the holidays that are fast approaching.  

What ingredients would go in your favorite frittata?

Homemade Skillet Pancakes with Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt

Disaster struck in my kitchen twice this week.  Talk about frustrating!  The first failure happened when I was attempting to make a yeast bread; the second, when I was attempting to make a quick bread.  The only ones who gained from my failures were our chickens and ducks.  They love it when I fail in the kitchen because they will eat just about anything I throw their way.  

To make up for my losses, I had to have at least one win this week.  And these pancakes are that – a BIG win!

The Chobani Yogurt plant is about two hours away from where I live, and as you all know, I love to promote local.  So, when Chobani offered to send me some samples I was elated.

I use sour cream all the time when I bake.  I love the moistness it adds to cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and quick breads.  But I have to admit that my use of yogurt in baking is limited, so the samples I received give me the chance to put on my mad scientist apron and experiment.   I figure maybe, just maybe, I will create a little healthier version of a few of my favorites.

Pancakes are not a baked goods, but they are good great.  So, being Sunday morning and all, I decided it was time to break out the yogurt and use it in a batch of homemade pancakes.  Please tell me, what could be better than homemade pancakes with (our) homemade maple syrup on a cool Sunday morning?  I figured you’d say that!

Homemade Skillet Pancakes (made with Chobani Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt)

2 tbsp. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. Chobani Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

1 c. all-purpose flour

Margarine for a non-stick skillet

In a mixing bowl, add sugar, egg, baking soda, salt, oil, vanilla extract, and yogurt; using a whisk, mix by hand.  Add flour; mix thoroughly. 

Cooking pancakes can be tricky because they can cook too quickly or end up soggy in the middle.  I am going to share the way I cooked mine with you.

Lightly coat your non-stick skillet with margarine.   Turn your burner on a slow heat.  Heat the skillet until it is hot, but don’t let it overheat and smoke.  Using a small ladle, pour batter into skillet.   How many you can make at one time depends on the size of your skillet.  Leave lot’s of room to flip each pancake comfortably.  Cook the pancakes until bubbles form consistently across the top of each one.  Flip, and cook the remaining side until the center of each pancake is firm.

These pancakes were DELICIOUS!  Lucky for me, I still have some batter leftover and I can’t wait for tomorrow morning to get here!

Before closing this post, I have to tell you how fascinated I am with Chobani’s history.  I would encourage everyone to go to their website to learn more about them, their products, and pick up some money saving coupons while you’re there.  But I couldn’t resist sharing a piece of their history because I know that in an ailing economy, we all need a little inspiration.

“While tidying up his desk back in 2005, our Founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, stumbled upon a classified ad for a yogurt plant recently closed down by Kraft. After initially throwing the ad away, Hamdi listened to his gut, fished it out of the trash and went to see it that day. He decided to buy the plant on the spot, and went to work on perfecting the recipe for Chobani based on his belief that everyone, regardless of income or location, deserved access to delicious, high-quality yogurt. The first cup of CHO finally hit shelves 18 months later and has since grown to become America’s #1 yogurt.”

They say yogurt is good for your digestive system and I’m betting Mr. Ulukaya had his fair share of yogurt before starting this company because It seems that his gut feeling was spot on.

I received Chobani Yogurt samples which were used to make the pancakes in this post, but the opinions herein are my own.

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Homemade Hearty Rye Oatmeal Bread

I usually make a lot of homemade bread during the winter months, but this year I have to admit that I’ve been a slacker. 

Today, I decided my slacker days are over. 

The thing I like most about homemade bread? Other than it’s deliciousness? There are zero preservatives in it. 

These loaves of bread didn’t rise particularly high, but the texture and flavor is exactly what I was looking for.  This recipe makes a moist, dense, and hearty stick to your ribs kind of bread.   I can’t wait to toast a slice and slather it with homemade jam!

Homemade Hearty Rye Oatmeal Bread

(Makes two loaves of bread)

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

2 cups boiling water

4 tsp. instant yeast

1/4 c. warm water

1/8 c.  honey

1/8 c. molasses

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 c. rye flour

2 c. all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, soak oatmeal in two cups of boiled water for about 20 minutes, or until it cools and is just warm.  Add  remaining ingredients in order; mix by hand.  The dough will be slightly sticky.  On a moderately floured surface, knead dough into a ball.  Place ball into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Let rise until doubled.

Knock dough down and cut in half.  Knead each half on lightly floured surface for about two minutes; shape into loaves.  Place loaves in greased bread pans and cover with towel.  Let rise until nearly doubled. 

Bake at 350 degrees about 20-25 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove from oven and lightly brush olive oil on top of each loaf.  Remove loaves from pans and allow to cool before cutting.

*Note – if the yeast is added to the oatmeal mixture before it has cooled sufficiently, it will hinder your bread from rising properly. 

How do you feel about preservatives? Do you read food labels when you shop?  If so, what is most important to you when you choose a product?

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The Two Ingredient Mini Cupcake

Okay, for those of you who have heard of this recipe, why the heck didn’t you tell me about it?  You’ll never guess who did end up telling me about it – a doctor.

This recipe only requires two things to make these delicious, moist, and chocolaty mini’s.

1.) Your favorite brand and flavor of cake mix. 

2.)  One 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin.

That’s right, no eggs and no oil.  The elimination of those two items makes this recipe much lower in calories, and much healthier.  

Want to be creative? Try adding dark chocolate chips to these, or make them with a carrot, spice, or vanilla cake mix. 

I did a little research on these mini’s after the doctor told me about them.  I found the directions for making them, along with the nutritional information, at the Hungry Girl

I made a couple minor adjustments.  I added about 2 tablespoons of water to the bottom of  the pumpkin can to rinse it out.  I then added that water right into the batter.  I also baked my mini’s at 325 degrees for about 14-15 minutes.  Check with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean before removing them from the oven.

I am currently looking for healthier recipes to share here at The Joy of Caking.  If you’ve got a healthier tried and true recipe that you’d love to share, or would like to guest post with me – PLEASE email me!