Roasted Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup

Happy first day of Fall ya’ll! Only it’s still in the 90s here in SoCal I am sure the rest of you throughout the country aren’t over heating but these temperatures don’t seem like they are every going away here.

Fall is a super nostalgic time for me & since moving to California I haven’t really been able to get a grasp of the new normal I have out here.

IMG_1134As some of you may know I coached high school cheerleading for 8 years, 4 in Connecticut & 4 in California. Fall to me is football games on Friday nights, cozy sweaters, pumpkins in pumpkin patches, & piles of leaves lining the streets. Here it is football games where I need to apply enough sun block that I don’t burn, pumpkins sitting outside grocery stores while you wear a tank top & shorts, & the palm trees being trimmed around town. Not really the quintessential New England fall that I grew up with.

So with all that is in me trying to bring New England fall to sunny So Cal I am going to be dedicating my fall season to all that is pumpkin, orange, & cozy. Today’s recipe is actually a mess up that I made while I was trying to make a simple butternut squash soup. I through a little too much pumpkin and cinnamon flavor in & Chris ended up loving it. It’s not my favorite, because ironically, I am not a huge pumpkin flavor person but if you love pumpkin this is the soup for you.

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1 large butternut squash
1 sweet onion
2 celery stalks
3 carrots
1 medium apple, peeled and cored
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup water
½ tsp pumpkin flavoring
1.2 tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper

1. Cut butternut squash in half long ways and place on cookie tray. Season with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 60-75 minutes, until top is lightly browned.
2. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool to touch. Peel carrots and chop carrots and celery to 1 inch pieces.
3. Add remaining oil and chopped vegetables to a pot and allow vegetables to cook until tender. 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Stir regularly not allowing the vegetables to burn
4. Remove squash from the skin and discard the skin. Add squash and apples to pot.
5. Add broth, water and spice.
6. With an immersion blender puree all ingredients together until desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, blend ingredients in a blender in small batches and return to pot when completed.
7. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered for 45 minutes.

Weekend Update: Beer & Wine Tasting

Hello friends! Hope everyone had a good weekend! I had the weekend off for the first time since our trip back in the end of July so we jam packed it with fun with friends & food. Saturday morning I woke up after an overnight shift at work to Chris & our friend “the other Megan” unloading our former storage shed into a new, nearby storage shed within our complex. Since they had been up since the ripe old hour of 8 o’clock I thought I’d be nice & whip up some chorizo & eggs for breakfast for them.
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As we vegged a little & took our time getting ready for the rest of the day it was really nice to catch up with Megan. She lives about 2 hours away from us in Orange County so we don’t get to get together as often as we would like. We spent the evening on Saturday with some other friends at an event at Downtown Disney.
Okay, spoiler, Chris works for a company in Downtown Disney which held a beer tasting even… & that’s all I am really going to say about the location. Twice a year they shut down their venue to bring in 18 local breweries. It’s a lot of fun & you get to try a ton of beers you normally wouldn’t.

My favorites of the night would have to be the Prickly Pear Cider from Crispin Cider or the Steller IPA from North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, CA. Yum! My least favorite… a 15% ale that tasted like I was drinking straight bourbon… wowza! I definitely had to wash that down with a plateful of their loaded mac & cheese with pulled pork & pico de gallo.

Before the event started we headed over to the Mexican restaurant in Downtown Disney, Tortilla Jo’s, & snacked on a strawberry mint margarita & some table side guacamole. Mint & strawberry was perfectly refreshing for the 100 degree day.

We called it a night pretty early & everyone crashed at our place where they watched movies & Megan & I knocked out early.

The next morning we took full advantage of my weekend off, & our need to pick up our wines from our wine clubs & headed down to Temecula Wine Valley for a day of tasting & relaxing. But again… the sun did not hide. It was 105 all day & it was pretty killer all day in the sun. Chris & our friend Patrick thought it would be fun to play a round of bocce ball but I am pretty sure they were regretting it after about 10 minutes. Us girls were smart and ate our pizza in the shade. Hey I will take 95 degrees over 105 any day!

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It was a great weekend with friends that we don’t get to see too often but Monday everyone was back to work. I am definitely glad I was able to step out of my beer bubble & try some new tastes. With the holidays fast approaching it looks like I will have one more free weekend before my life will be over taken by crazy mall hours & my retail life. Next month we are heading to Vegas for a quick overnight trip to celebrate Chris’s sister’s 21st birthday! I have a few spots that I can’t wait to visit but does anyone have any suggestions of places to go, things to eat, & drinks to drink? We are always up for new & exciting adventures. Let me know!

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Meat Lasagna

I am sitting here at 11 o’clock at night, having a little glass of wine & eating as much cheese as I can find. I just went to the grocery store & I still feel like the only thing I have in the house is cheese, salad, & Captain Crunch cereal. I mean, I’m not complaining, I’m just making a statement.

I’ve been trying to be good the past few months & not binge eat a block of cheese in one sitting, because trust me, it’s one of my biggest weaknesses. So now if I need cheese for a recipe I find the smallest block of cheese, or find ways to use it up so it isn’t staring at me every time I open the drawer telling me to eat the entire block. But then I found these single serving pre-wrapped goat cheese discs from Trader Joes & I mean is there anything better in the world? No, the answer is no.

In my defense I am eating a few berries also! See healthy!

Anyway I digress.

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Today for lunch I stuck on the same cheese path, maybe that was my gateway drug. I pulled out a lasagna that I made a few weeks ago from the freezer because I knew I wouldn’t have time to cook dinner tonight since I was closing the store. So I left some home for Chris & I took a portion to work to eat during my lunch break.

It was a hearty, meat packed lasagna that Chris had loved when I first made it. Growing up my mom always seemed to find ways to throw veggies into…. well anything she was cooking. So lasagnas always had spinach in them at the very least. Now I get to make meat filled pastas & she will never know… it’s like drinking soda behind her back! =]

Try it out, the best part about any lasagna, you can freeze it! Any if you have been around this blog a time or two, you know I love anything you can freeze & eat later. Because there is just two of us at home, I usually make a full lasagna but break it into two 9×9 pans instead of a 9×13. It’s a little fatter but we don’t end up wasting the majority of it, which is always nice. You can make it whichever way works better for your family. Enjoy!

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1 lb ground beef (90% lean)
2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
8-10 basil leafs
¼ cup dried parsley
Salt and pepper
2 gloves garlic
½ medium brown onion, chopped fine
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Cheese Mixture:
16 oz Ricotta cheese with whole milk
1 lb mozzarella
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Salt and oil pasta water. Cook pasta to directions on box. When pasta is cooked, drain and separate noodles so they do not stick together.
** I lay them over the side of the pasta strainer and pot that I cooked them in.
2. Brown beef in frying pan. When done, use a slotted spoon to remove the beef from the grease. Place on a dish lined with a paper towel.
3. Heat olive oil in a deep sauce pan. Sautee onions for a minute or two and then add garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes. Add tomatoes.
4. Add meat, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and allow to cook 30 minutes.
5. While sauce is cooking mix an egg into the ricotta cheese. Mix well so ricotta is fluffy and smooth. 6. Add salt and pepper and set aside until ready to assemble lasagna.
7. Cut mozzarella into 1 inch cubes.
8. When sauce is cooked, remove from heat and add the first layer of sauce to a 9×13 baking dish.
9. Place noodles down to cover the entire bottom of the dish. Top with ricotta cheese mixture and sprinkle mozzarella throughout. Add sauce on top and top with a noodle.
10. Repeat until there is about ½ inch to the top of the baking dish. The last layers should be noodle, sauce, and sprinkle the top with grated parmesan cheese.

Vegetable Crustless Quiche

Labor Day is the last true hoorah of summer. Whether you are going back to school or not, there is something about September that screams you need to get back on a schedule & focus. For me, in retail, it is a reminder that I have two months to get my team ready & prepared for the holiday season… aka two months of straight hell in November & December.

When I was coaching cheerleading a few years ago September meant practices got more intense, every Friday I had two football games I had to sit through & working two jobs during the busiest season for both, would be craziness.

Getting out of the door in the morning can really be a struggle sometimes, but I am not the type of person that can skip breakfast & be happy & perky until lunch time. No mam, this girl needs a little something to get her morning going. Granola bars can get old, & a few years back I totally did it in on hard boiled eggs. If I don’t have another for another year it’ll be too soon. So I am always looking for something easy to grab on my way out the door.

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My mom obsesses over crustless quiches. I honestly don’t think she makes them that often, but whenever I say I am having people over for the weekend, or need something easy for the morning, she always suggests, “you know, I make this crustless quiche…” So I thought I’d finally try it. Honestly one of the easiest things I have thrown together.

One Sunday I was doing a bunch of cooking for the week & I threw this together pretty quickly, & even better… cheaply. You can really grab whatever veggies you have in the fridge, & it is really good for those weeks that you over buy in veggies & you know you’re going to end up throwing some stuff away.

I had kale, broccoli and bell peppers in my fridge and just a little extra mozzarella cheese leftover from a lasagna I made. With my aunt talking me through how she makes her quiche, ironically she had made one for brunch that day, I made a few tweaks to her directions & there I had it, breakfast for the entire week.

Since my boyfriend is one of those weird people that don’t like cheese, I was able to enjoy this all to myself. Next time you are thinking, how am I going to eat all of these veggies before they go bad tomorrow, grab a carton of eggs & bake them together. Enjoy!

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3 eggs
½ Tbsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 ½ cup cream
2 broccoli heads
2 cups kale
1 bell pepper, chopped
¾ cup mozzarella cheese
1 oz goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ and spray pie dish with vegetable cooking spray.
2. Sauté cleaned broccoli and kale in a dry pan. Do not add any oil, you are simply trying to remove any excess water from the veggies so the quiche doesn’t get watery.F
3. Layer in kale and broccoli along the bottom of the pie dish. Top with an even layer of bell peppers.
4. Layer the mozzarella cheese evenly over the vegetables and then crumble the goat cheese evenly throughout.
5. Crack eggs into a separate bowl and beat. Add salt, pepper and cream to mixture and continue to beat allowing the eggs to aerate.
6. Pour egg mixture into pie plate and bake for 45-60 minutes or until cooked through the middle.

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Turkey and Red Bean Chili

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August has been a rough month. Since our road trip to Portland, I never really got back on a good schedule & I have been exhausted! I have wanted to do nothing but lay in bed & sleep. Last week I had two days off in a row & I did nothing but lay in bed, catch up on my TV & read. I loved it. Now that September is here, it is like back to school time, even at 28. I am back onto focusing on my real estate classes & getting ready for holiday at work. So without wanting to change up too much I am bringing it back today to a recipe that I make pretty often. My turkey & red bean chili is something I have made forever & is quick, simple & easy. Enjoy.


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1 lb ground turkey meat
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
½ sweet onion
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1/8 cup chili powder, or to taste
2 cans Red Kidney Beans
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomato
1 cup water
Salt and pepper

1. Brown ground turkey in a skillet seasoning it lightly with salt and pepper.
2. In a pot, add oil, chopped carrots, chopped onion and chopped celery. Allow onions to become translucent and veggies to become tender.
3. With a slotted spoon, remove meat from any extra grease and place in pot. Add beans, chili powder, and red pepper flakes.
4. Add diced tomatoes with the juice and 1 cup of water. Mix together and add salt and pepper.
5. Bring to boil and lower heat to medium for 45-60 minutes.