Butternut Squash Wild Rice

It’s been raining here, steadily, for days. We need it, so I shouldn’t complain, but the temperatures have finally started to release their grip on us, and we are aching to spend more time outside.

While my kindergartener could happily splash around in the rain, the baby doesn’t get to experience that for a while yet, unless I want to introduce him to his first cold.

So that means I retreat to the kitchen, cooking up things that try to balance out the gloom. Soup is often a go-to, but when you have kids, there’s only so many meals per week that you can serve just soup. Instead, I try to change out our side dishes to match the season.

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4 tips for welcoming vegetarians to the holiday table (Veggie Pot Pie)

Written by Jan of Family Bites.

For me, Thanksgiving and Christmas are about coming together around the table to share a special meal with those you love. I’m sure it’s the same for most of you, and I’m certain you’d agree that when it comes to holiday entertaining, most celebration menus lend themselves to focusing on the meaty main dish. And for good reason too. What’s not to love about a turkey roasted to golden perfection, bacon-wrapped anything, and glazed hams? Turns out a lot, if you happen to be a vegetarian.

Meat-laden meals are great if you’re an omnivore, but are certainly less than appealing if you happen to be a veggie eater. All too often, those who opt for a plant-based diet leave a special occasion dinner feeling as though they’ve consumed nothing more than an assortment of side dishes for their feast. While this wouldn’t bother me (and I’m a meat eater) I know that not all vegetarians feel the same way.

After years of planning holiday parties at a catering company, I would often hear from 1) meat-free guests who wished there had been a main course for them to enjoy at the dinner/party they were invited to, and 2) hostesses who felt fatigued by trying to plan a menu that was welcoming and delicious for all, including those who eat a plant-based diet. In fact, when it came to planning Christmas parties, the number one question I received before the holidays was “what should I serve to my vegetarian guest(s)?”

I eventually came up with a few tips for welcoming herbivores to the holiday feast. Each suggestion is a small way to ensure that what’s being served for dinner can be eaten by whoever is lucky enough to be attendance, regardless of their dietary preference. [Read more…]

Squash & Parmesan Crustless Mini Quiches and an appetizers round-up

For years, my party appetizers of choice were tiny handmade spanikopita that I would assemble ahead of time and bake up piping hot and buttery when the party was in full swing. They were lovely, made from wilted fresh spinach, crumbled feta, and sheets of paper-thin phyllo pastry.

At the time, the golden spanikopita were well worth the effort that went into making each one, oh, right down to the last shard of phyllo, but now? I’d be amiss to put those efforts ahead of my young family’s needs.

Appetizers coming from my kitchen have simplified greatly over time as I have added three children to my family. I continue to entertain, but it is rare that I fuss over a menu or pencil in finicky finger food.

Still, I love grazing, and, the big turkey dinner aside, one of my favorite ways to entertain for the holidays is with a table of appetizers and a generous stash of wine. Cookies and coffee usually round out the event and once again, memories have been made with minimal effort.

Today I’m sharing a few of my simpler appetizers, all which are loved equally for their flavor and their ease of preparation.

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5-ingredient Butternut Squash & Apple Soup (sous vide recipe)


Long ago, in the kitchen of one of Montreal’s finest restaurants, I was taught that a truly fantastic soup can be made from a mere handful of humble ingredients.

What made the soup exceedingly good was the quality and freshness of the ingredients, and the method used for cooking. Over the long, frigid Montreal winters, we cooked batch after batch of sous vide butternut squash, and pureed them with a splash of cream for a velvety soup with vivid color. Night after night, I filled bowls with the rich potage, and topped it with delicacies such as seared foie gras, sauteed wild black trumpet mushrooms, and a pomegranate juice reduction. Sublime.

Today’s recipe is inspired by those upscale bowls of soup: a simple combination of apple, squash and onion, seasoned with salt, and thinned with a little cream. Garnished with diced apples, it’s fall in a bowl; and yes, it was cooked sous vide.

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butternut squash and leeks

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup Recipe

Written by Katie of Good Life Eats

I have not always been a fan of winter squash. I never cared for it as a child, but rather ate it because I was told to – so long as it was covered with enough butter and brown sugar. I was never a picky eater, but I always had a couple things that, even after trying, I just didn’t care for, and squash was one of them.

As an adult, however, I’ve found that sometimes liking or not liking certain vegetables or other ingredients depends so much on how that ingredient is prepared. Not to mention that taste buds mature with age.

It’s always good to keep experimenting and trying new things. Sometimes I surprise myself with the way my tastes have changed.

I know now that I don’t like to eat plain, cooked squash straight out of its shell. I like my squash best when it is cooked and used within a recipe, like with this Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. I’ve found that the variety of winter squash that I like the best is probably butternut squash, thanks to its sweet nutty taste.

Although I definitely have a favorite winter squash, I certainly can appreciate all that winter squash has to offer during a time where, in my opinion, produce is often pretty boring (I have always favored the brightly colored spring and summer fruits and vegetables).

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