October 5, 2014

Oh fall: you’re here. Not necessarily in temperature (although last night it was SERIOUSLY nice – no humidity, and we sat on the porch with a glass of wine for a while. Glorious!), but in spirit. I am so ready to get into the swing even more with some of my recipes. Fall is one of those times I really enjoy eating a bowl of soup with a big green salad for dinner, and I knew the first one I had to create would be a fall squash soup. I couldn’t resist.

fall squash soup

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed some shifts with my cooking and eating habits. I don’t know if it is my age or if I just had a moment of clarity, but the concept of eating more whole foods and less processed foods has really become a goal of mine. I’ve thought harder about what it is I am putting into my body. Is my food filled with chemicals and ingredients I can’t even pronounce? Do I even know what they are or how they affect me?

fall squash soup

The pantry purge began. I decided to inform myself a bit more on what I was ingesting. Our home was relatively low on processed foods in general, but there were (and are) some exceptions. Everyone will have them. Thankfully, I have a grocery store/market routine that seems to work well for me: stick to the outskirts of the store. I would say 90% of my grocery cart is filled with produce, along with dairy products. I have to venture to the interior aisles to grab some essentials like rice and beans, but I try to avoid the processed foods as much as possible and stick to products with ingredients I can read and understand. The more food without labels (aka produce), the better!

organic vegetable broth ingredients

And when I do have to include pre-made ingredients, it is ideal when I can find something that I could feasibly create on my own. For example – the vegetable broth included in this soup. I know I could make it myself, but the organic vegetable broth I picked up is clearly something that I could make. But hey – I didn’t have time for that and I don’t feel guilty about it! But it did get me thinking about how I should create some of my own vegetable broth for future recipes. It shouldn’t be hard, right?

Of course, I’m not going to be perfect. Case in point: although I DID give up soda/caffeine, I’m still going to drink one every once in a while. And sometimes a little indulgence is totally fine.

fall squash soup

But why go for processed foods when you can have really wonderful, flavorful unprocessed items made with whole foods? Honestly, I find fresh to be best. Could you go an entire month without eating any processed foods? That’s the question I’m curious about today, and honestly I don’t think it’s as hard as you’d think at first! Today, the Sunday Supper family is partnering up with the October Unprocessed challenge to provide you with recipes containing no processed ingredients. There is a lot of inspiration to be had – make sure you check them out!

This fall squash soup is certainly simple, and it can be served up as a main course for a fall evening. Alternately, it would make a great side dish or appetizer. This recipe made enough for about 6 servings, so you may even find yourself with some leftovers. It makes a great next day lunch, paired with a salad on the side or a panini to dip. The consistency is thick enough to coat your spoon, but not so much that you can stand your spoon in it. Warm and comforting – I am loving it.

What is your favorite fall soup to enjoy?

fall squash soup

Fall Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup carrots, diced or shredded
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the butternut and acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush the squash lightly with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then place on a tray cut side up.
  2. Bake the squash for 30 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. In a deep stock pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until the onions turn translucent (about 3-4 minutes).
  4. Next, scoop the flesh from the roasted squash and add to the pot along with the ginger, vegetable broth, and thyme. Bring to a simmer for about 7-8 minutes.
  5. Turn heat to low, then use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve as-is or top with roasted seeds as a garnish: enjoy!
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Here are all of the unprocessed recipes created by the Sunday Supper family today!!!!

Alluring Appetizers and Snacks

Stunning Sides

Enticing Entreés

Decadent Desserts

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October 1, 2014

I’ve been thinking about adding a new “feature” to some of my recipes going forward, and I hope it goes over well! A few weeks ago when I was strolling through my local market, I realized that even though I consider myself to be well versed on a lot of foods and ingredients, there are still so so many that I have yet to experience or cook with. It seemed natural to parlay that into some of my recipes. I want to try something new every week, and include it in a recipe. It can be an ingredient that is completely new to me, or one that I’ve experienced before, but have never cooked with in my own kitchen. Today’s recipe is the very first foray into new ingredients, with these peanut butter and jelly bites!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bites

You’re probably thinking: um – peanut butter and jelly. You certainly have experienced that combination before. Yes, yes I have. However, the flavor of jelly in these bites actually comes from something other than jelly: it comes from dried currants!

dried currants

So: what are currants? Currants are dried berries of the seedless grape known as “Black Corinth.” They are smaller than your average raisin, but look very similar in appearance. Their skin is thin and the inside of the currant is juicy. They are great for baking. And, I may or may not have snacked on some of them (like I do with raisins) as I was making these peanut butter and jelly bites. I procured my currants at Whole Foods in the bulk food section. However, if you are unable to find currants at your local store, you can easily substitute dates or raisins in this recipe. The flavor will be slightly different, but you get the picture!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bites

On to the peanut butter and jelly bites. I have been dying to try out a version of “energy balls/bites” that I’ve seen. When I attended a healthy cooking class at Whole Foods recently, they demonstrated how easy it was to make these sweet treats. Seriously – it takes only a few minutes to put these together. I was inspired to make a batch at home, and I wasn’t surprised to see that Justin really enjoyed them. They mysteriously disappeared from the refrigerator a little more quickly than I anticipated. I guess that means we have a winner on our hands. I love that these peanut butter and jelly bites satisfy my craving for something sweet, but instead of reaching for something sugary and processed I can enjoy one of these little bites of bliss. I have been treating myself to one post-workout as well as for a sweet dessert treat. You can keep these treats in the refrigerator for a few days, or you can even freeze them. Score.

I am now obsessed with ideas of how I will change up the ingredients on these bites for future goodness. Oh boy. The wheels are spinning.

So I’m curious: have you ever made a recipe similar to these peanut butter and jelly bites? Do you use any different ingredient combinations? And of course…what ingredient should I try next? I’d love some ideas as I go forward – inspire me! What would YOU like to try?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bites

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Add oats, currants, peanut butter, vanilla, and cinnamon into a food processor. Pulse until smooth. You may need to add about 2 tablespoons (one tablespoon at a time) of warm water to the mixture in order for it to turn to the proper texture for rolling.
  2. Use a small cookie scoop (or teaspoon) to scoop balls of the mixture out. Place on a plate or tray lined with wax paper. Continue scooping until all of the mixture is in ball shapes.
  3. Chill bites for at least 30 minutes. Then, roll the bites tightly into a ball and place into an airtight container until ready to serve. Keep chilled, or freeze for up to one week - enjoy!

Notes

Source: Whole Foods

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September 28, 2014

Halloween season is approaching, and I can hardly wait!!! From haunted houses to scary movies to creepy costume parties, we are ALL about them in this household. And of course, there is one component of Halloween fun we can’t forget: frightful food. Today, I am sharing a deliciously creepy recipe (and a video too!) for some mashed potato monsters!

mashed potato monsters

Do you host Halloween parties at your home (or attend them)? Halloween is one of my favorite holidays to decorate for, and although we haven’t hosted a party in a few years, it’s on the list for 2014! I love that you can extend your spooky decor all the way through to your food, and the Sunday Supper crew is here today to give you some spooky inspiration using Idaho® potatoes!

mashed potato monsters

September 25, 2014

My love for fresh pasta sauce has not yet ended. You might recall a post of mine from earlier in this year when I raved about making fresh pasta sauce and how I did not ever want to buy store bought ever again. Although I still have the “emergency” jar of pasta sauce in my pantry, I have to say – I’ve gone full steam ahead with my plans to make fresh as often as possible. Even though fresh tomato basil sauce is fantastic, it’s time to switch it up a little bit for some variety. Today I have my latest concoction: pumpkin tomato sauce.

pumpkin tomato sauce

…because it is officially fall and that means pumpkin goes into everything you make, right? Well, some things at least! I have been so very tempted to begin some fall baking with pumpkin, but I’ve resisted thus far. I have no self control when it comes to having baked goods in the house. My lack of self control paired with the fact that I work from home is a lethal combination. I already go to Pure Barre classes 5-6 times a week; I don’t need to increase that number to accommodate for too many cookies, breads, and all of the other pumpkin goodness I could create if left to my own devices. Baking is going to be designated for Fridays…when the weekend is about to happen and I have other people around to share my creations with.

pumpkin tomato sauce

Annnnnnyway, I have been tempted to swirl some pumpkin goodness into my pasta sauce for a while now, and I’m very happy with the result of my latest kitchen endeavor. I was lucky enough to find the most amazingly red, fragrant, perfect tomatoes at my local produce market this week: for 69 cents a pound. Um: count me in on that deal! I couldn’t resist picking up a large bag of those beauties to create some sauce. This pumpkin tomato sauce is destined for a repeat appearance in my kitchen throughout the season, I just know it. I love the fusion of the squash with the tomatoes – the sweet and creamy concoction is a yummy one. The fresh basil pesto adds an extra layer of goodness as well. It works oh so simply with a bowl of pasta. Speaking of pasta: this pumpkin tomato sauce is urging me to break out my new pasta press attachment for my stand mixer again. The first time we used it was SO fun and the pasta was extremely delicious. There are 6 different press shapes for the pasta: I think I need to try them all. Soon.

Do you make your own sauces? What are your favorites to make and enjoy?

pumpkin tomato sauce

Pumpkin Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes (approximately 7 medium tomatoes), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto (click HERE for recipe)
  • 8 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • Generous pinch of sugar

Instructions

  1. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, add the salt and then use a potato masher to break apart the tomatoes.
  3. Add the basil pesto, pumpkin puree, and a generous pinch of sugar. Allow the mixture to simmer an additional 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.
  4. Serve immediately over pasta, or allow to cool and store in jars in the refrigerator (or freeze!). Enjoy!
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