Saturday, November 21, 2009

Soup that warms your soul...

I'm so excited for Thanksgiving this week! I can't wait to eat all of the delicious recipes and to be able to sit down with all of my family and just be together!

The thought of it just warms my soul... ok, that was sooo cheesy! But I am going somewhere with all of this warmth, I promise!

Soup. Soup is warm. Soup warms your soul... and one of my favorite soups has to be Butternut Squash & Leek Soup.
(see, i told you i was going somewhere with that!)

This recipe is truly easy and only has 3 steps to it. It's a great way to start your Thanksgiving meal and a real palate opener for all the rest of the foods that are about to come! It's also a fantastic fast recipe for a cold night during the winter!
I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I'm giving thanks to all of you who follow my blog and try out these recipes! Happy Thanksgiving friends. May this soup warm your soul! (I couldn't resist one last bit of cheesyness!)

Butternut Squash & Leek Soup


1 tablespoon butter

1 leek stalk, chopped

2 stalk celery, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

2 medium potatoes, cubed

1 large butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and cubed (also can buy pre-packaged frozen or fresh squash from the supermarket)

1 container chicken stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the leek, celery, carrot, potatoes,and squash 5 minutes, or until the celery & leek are translucent. Pour in enough of the chicken stock just to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.

Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock if it's a little too thick. Season with salt and pepper.


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For a smokier flavor, you can put the cubed pieces of squash into the oven, drizzle with olive oil and roast them for 15 to 20 minutes.

For a creamier soup, can add up to 1/2 cup heavy cream into blender.
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Fresh Herbs, i.e. Cilantro, Thyme, Chives or Finely Chopped Dill would be a delicious addition to sprinkle on top of each bowl.

Slice 1/4 inch thick slices of french bread, drizzle with olive oil and toast in the oven- use them to dip into the soup or even lay a slice on top.
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If you wanna go the extra mile, it would be extra festive if you could find some pumpkin or squash looking bowls to serve this in.

Please feel free to email me any stories, memories or recipes that you would like to recreate at!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Holiday's are upon us...

Holiday Healthy

I'm not usually the person you would think to come to ask about a recipe for a heart healthy holiday meal... I mean who doesn't love all that yummy fattening food that the holiday's have to offer... apparently ME! I was recently told by my doctor that I need to start watching my cholesterol level, which means I'm gonna have to readjust most of my favorite recipes- and let me just tell ya, THESE NEW ONES ARE FANTASTIC and I'm really looking forward to indulging in them! On that note... here's an article that I recently contributed to a local health magazine...

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if your Diabetes, High Cholesterol or Blood Pressure were just like a food allergy and you could simply avoid that food, take your meds and you’d be all set? With holiday season rapidly approaching and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years being just around the corner, if you have one of these conditions you may be forced to examine your eating habits and tune into your body and what will keep you healthy. Special occasions can be challenging, but they aren’t impossible.

Cooking for someone who has any of these conditions can also pose some challenges. Here are some fantastic recipes and ideas for a Holiday Feast that’s really delicious for just about anyone... whether you have a condition or not!

Holiday Tips:

  1. Remember you are in control!
  2. Don’t obsess over trying to cook the perfect meal for everyone at the table. Instead create a bunch of small dishes so that everyone can “mix & match” and get what they want out of their meal.
  3. Try preparing some of your old favorite recipes but decrease the fat and sugar by using sugar substitutes and reduced or low fat products.
  4. Don’t go to your holiday party starving! This will cause you to over eat and possibly indulge in a little more pumpkin pie than you’ll really mean to.
  5. Exercise! Keep your body moving for at least 30 minutes a day. This movement will help keep your blood sugar levels controlled and burn those extra calories.

These tips are not meant just for those of you who have Diabetes, High Cholesterol or Blood Pressure… After all, what’s the best, healthiest diet for someone who is living withany of those conditions? It’s the very same healthy- eating diet and guidelines for someone who doesn’t have them.

I hope you enjoy and try these recipes. They’ll be sure to please even your most hearty holiday eater!

Holiday Feast

Oven Roasted Turkey with Mushroom Gravy

Low-Sugar Cranberry Apple Dressing

Sweet Potato Pie


Oven Roasted Turkey

½ Cup dried cherries

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Teaspoons snipped fresh sage

1 10-12 lb Whole Turkey

1 Large onion, quartered

Mushroom Gravy

1½ Cups dried porcini, oyster, shiitake, and/or chanterelle mushrooms

2 Cups of boiling water

½ Cup all-purpose flour

1 Cup Low Sodium/Low Fat Chicken Broth

2 Tablespoons dry sherry

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place dried cherries, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sage in a blender container or food processor bowl. Blend mixture just until cherries are finely chopped.

2. Slip your fingers between the skin and meat of the

turkey just under the breast and loosen the turkey skin. Lift the skin and, using a spatula or spoon, carefully spread the cherry mixture directly over the turkey breast meat. Place the turkey on a rack, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Place the onion quarters inside the cavity of the turkey. Tie the legs together using butchers twine. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh portion of the turkey without the thermometer touching the bone. Brush the top of the turkey with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

3. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Roast in preheated oven for 2½ hours. After 2½ hours of cooking, cut the string between the drumsticks so thighs will cook evenly. Uncover; roast 30 to 60 minutes more or until meat thermometer registers 180 degrees farenheight. Remove turkey from oven. Cover; let stand 15 minutes before carving.

Mushroom Gravy…

Meanwhile, place mushrooms in a medium sized bowl. Pour boiling water over mushrooms to cover. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain mushrooms. Strain the mushroom-soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth, paper towels, or a coffee filter and reserve.

Pour pan drippings from turkey into a large measuring cup. Skim and reserve fat from drippings. Pour 1/4 cup of the fat ( if necessary, add butter) into a medium saucepan. Stir in flour.

Add enough mushroom liquid and chicken broth to remaining drippings into a measuring cup to equal 2 cups. Add broth mixture all at once to flour mixture. Whisk over medium heat to make sure it’s all incorporated well. Cook and continue stirring over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in mushrooms and sherry. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Turkey & Gravy Make 12 servings.

Cranberry-Apple Dressing

1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

3 tablespoons sugar

1½ tablespoons spoonable sugar substitute

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled and diced

2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh lemon juice

In a saucepan place the cranberries, sugar, sugar substitute, and cinnamon and add water just enough to bring the cranberries to a float. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes and then drain, but leave a small amount of water in the pan.

Add apples and cover mixture for 5 more minutes or until apples are tender. Stir in lemon juice.

Allow to cool then transfer dressing to a serving bowl. Cover and refigerate for at least two hours. Serve chilled.

Makes 3 cups

Sweet Potato Pie

3 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine, softened

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 large egg yolk

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes

1 cup evaporated skim milk

3 large egg whites

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350°F

In a large bowl, beat together the margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, allspice, and egg yolk. Mix in sweet potatoes and evaporated milk.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into sweet potato mixture. Do not over mix. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack until ready to cut into wedges to serve. Makes 10 Servings

If you want any other great recipes for the holidays or just need a little help planning please shoot me an email! I'm happy to help or suggest!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Strawberry Swirl.....

So I just had a friend write to me about wanting to make a Strawberry Cream Cake for someone and wanted it to be super easy... so I thought I'd share with you what I shared with her....


  • Frosting Ingredients:
  • 2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

  • Cake Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 T. plus 1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam
  • 2 1/4 pounds strawberries, hulled, sliced (about 6 cups), divided
  1. Frosting Directions:
  2. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in sugar, then jam. Beat cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into frosting. Cover; chill until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.
  3. Cake Directions:
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch high sides. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add sour cream; beat 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, beating to blend after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  5. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides, then turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely.
  6. Using large serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake half, cut side up, on cake plate. Spread 2 Tablespoons strawberry jam over, then 3/4 cup sliced berries, arranging in a single layer. Repeat 2 more times with cake layer, jam, frosting, and berries. Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Spread 2 cups frosting over top and sides of cake in thin layer to coat completely. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Stir remaining 1/3 cup jam to loosen. Spoon teaspoonfuls onto top and sides of cake, then use back of spoon to swirl jam decoratively into frosting.
  7. DO AHEAD:
  8. Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.
  9. Cut cake into wedges. Serve with remaining sliced strawberries alongside.