Weeknight Simplicity: Winter Squash Soup

November 18, 2011 § 4 Comments

Oh my God is this good. I know that’s exactly what Ina says, but the statement couldn’t be more true when it comes to this soup. You will be blown away on so many levels.  First, I would have never thought to categorize this as a simple weeknight meal until I learned how easy it is to peel a butternut squash with a vegetable peeler (why was I ever going at that thing with a knife?).  You could take it a step further and just purchase pre-cut squash.  Second, who knew adding pureed pumpkin to butternut squash soup would make such a difference? We were totally totally shocked, but now are oh so addicted. It’s officially my new favorite fall soup, fall dish, fall weeknight meal- fall everything.  Do yourself a favor and double the recipe.  It freezes really well, but I have a feeling you’ll be polishing off the pot in no time!

Have a great weekend!

Winter Squash Soup slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa in Paris
Serves 4

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (1 large 2 small onions)
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup half and half or 1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy bottom stockpot, add the onions and cook over medium low heat for 12-15 minutes, or until translucent. Add the pumpkin puree, butternut squash, chicken stock, salt, and pepper.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, until the squash is very tender (pierced easily with a fork). Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it’s very smooth.  Once blended add the half and half or heavy cream and heat slowly.  Serve with a toasted baguette or croutons. The crouton you see in my photo is sliced baguette that’s been toasted under the broiler and then brushed with a little melted butter.  They’re dangerous but delicious.


Weeknight Simplicity: Apple Crisp

November 6, 2011 § 8 Comments

At first glance, apple crisp might not seem like something you could  pull together on a weeknight.  And in some recipes, it’s not.  But I wanted to create one with no frills- simple, straightforward, and easy enough to make any night of the week. When researching recipes for such classic dishes, it will come as no surprise that I always turn to Ina.  It’s only natural the woman would have a good apple crisp!

Her original recipe wasn’t terribly complicated, so I just simplified the ingredient list a bit, and cut down on the size of the dish (meaning less prep work). We had no trouble devouring the whole dessert in one sitting (including a large portion of vanilla bean ice cream), so I’d say it turned out pretty well!  I used granny smith apples, but you could use whatever you have on hand. The crisper the apple, the better.

Now I just need to get my act together and make that apple pie! Have you made any apple desserts this fall?

Apple Crisp adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! 
Serves 2

  • 2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and chopped into large chunks
  • juice of a 1/4 wedge of lemon
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 T sugar

For the topping:

  • 4 T cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss together the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar, and pour into  a small baking dish.

Place all ingredients for the topping in a bowl.  Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it’s in chunks the size of peas.  This will be a crumbly floury mixture, not a dough.  Sprinkle over the apples.

Bake crisp for 45-50 minutes until top is golden brown.  Let cool slightly, then serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Weeknight Simplicity: Cacio e Pepe

October 20, 2011 § 15 Comments

Oh my goodness is this good and easy!  Recipes like Cacio e Pepe make me question ever attempting complicated dishes when you have ones like this that are so simple, yet produce such a satisfying meal.

Cacio e Pepe, or cheese and pepper pasta, brings together a mere four ingredients- spaghetti, olive oil, pepper, and grated cheese- to create a creamy pasta dish.  Reading through the recipe you may be a little skeptical. Really, the olive oil and pasta water are going to mix with the cheese and pepper to make a sauce? Yes. It’s going to happen. Even when you’re cooking and it feels like it’s not going to come together- it does.

I’m so obsessed with this dish right now, I’m planing to host a dinner party and serve it as the main entrée.  That said, it takes just 30 minutes to prepare, thus making it perfect for a lazy week night meal.  Enjoy!

Cacio e Pepe slightly adapted from Saveur

Serves 4

sea salt, to taste
1 lb. thick spaghetti
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
1 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (good quality!)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling drop your pasta and cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper and cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Pour 3⁄4 cup pasta water into skillet and bring to a boil. Using tongs, transfer pasta from your colander to the skillet. Toss gently with the water and oil, coating the noodles. Then sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups grated parm and a large pinch of sea salt (or kosher salt) and toss well, swirling the pasta around the pan for 1-2 minutes until sauce is creamy and clings to pasta. Place pasta in a large serving dish, sprinkle with remaining parm and a little extra pepper.  Serve immediately.

Weeknight Simplicity: Lentils and Potatoes with Curry

October 4, 2011 § 17 Comments

From time to time I’m left with a lone ingredient in my cupboard that has been staring back at me, begging to be put to good use for months. A can of sweetened condensed milk. Some sort of nut or grain. And most recently- lentils. I’ve been toting around 2 cups of dried lentils for months.  When we moved into our apartment, and I was once again faced with these lentils, I knew I really needed to get rid of them.  I mean honestly, they traveled to a new city! A moving company moved my lentils! Ok, enough.

In these situations, I turn to Mark Bittman. Out of all the cookbooks I own, the one that always saves me when I’m dealing with a stray ingredient is Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.” Perplexed with what to do with my lentils, I turned to the index of this book.  After scrolling through a dozen or so lentil recipes, I settled on one that sounded incredibly simple.  Ridiculously simple is more like it. Lentils, potatoes, curry, and coconut milk come together in this heart warming stew that tastes like it’s been sitting on the stove all day, when in reality, you can bang it out in under an hour on any week night.  Oh and it’s super healthy, which was something I felt like my body really needed this week. It’s providing the perfect balance to my after dinner ice cream intake.

Lentils and Potatoes with Curry slightly adapted from Mark Bittman

Serves 3-4

Though I doubled the recipe, I’m sharing Mark’s original proportions below. That said, this dish freezes very well, so it can’t hurt to make a big batch!

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

1 15 oz can coconut milk

2 1/2 cups chicken broth (or veg broth)

1 T curry

2 medium starchy potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks

2 T butter


greek yogurt and chopped cilantro for serving

Place lentils in a large bowl.  Bring several cups of water to boil, and pour over lentils.  Let rest for 15 minutes while you prep other ingredients.

Set a heavy bottomed pot to medium high heat.  Add in lentils, coconut milk, broth, and curry.  Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in butter.  Once butter is incorporated, add in potatoes, cover pan, and let cook covered and undisturbed for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes season with salt and pepper. Cover and continue to cook for 15 minutes until lentils are quite soft. The mixture should be moist but not soupy.  Serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt and cilantro.  Can be stored up to 4 days in fridge, or frozen for up to two months.

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