Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (with Cranberries)

img_2204Winter is here after all. Sigh. The last few weeks I have been visiting all our local farms to try  and stock up on all the fresh apples of this season. Along with apples, there have been a good bounty of pumpkins and squash as well. This past weekend when I scouted the farms again to pick up any leftover apples – before they closed for the season, I found squash at throwaway prices. 99c for one. Not a bad deal! So I picked up Butternut squash and a couple acorn squash.

Butternut Squash is a winter squash very popular in the US and Canada and also in Australia and New Zealand. It tastes very much like pumpkin – quite sweet but has a nutty flavor. Because of its sweet taste, I have personally liked it only in soups. Roasting it is the easiest way to cook it plus also gives it additional flavor.

So I decided to make the soup mixing both the butternut and acorn together since acorn squash is a little less sweet. Halfway through my cooking process, I decided to add cranberries. I thought that would be a good way to mellow the sweetness down plus add a bit of tanginess.  You could also use tomatoes for this purpose but since I am avoiding all nightshades I decided to use cranberries for this purpose. Cranberries turned the soup into a nicer color too, imparting it more of a reddish tinge. Unfortunately since it was night time the photos don’t do justice to the actual color of the soup.

Butternut Squash soup with cranberriesMy son who is my main food critic at home, loved it and gulped down two bowls of the soup! And my daughter who doesn’t usually eat any vegetables much slurped it down too merrily. What more can I ask for 🙂

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (with Cranberries)

  • Servings: Makes 5-6 servings
  • Time: about 1 hour prep(baking) and 30 mins cooking time
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a large butternut squash
  • 1/2 of a medium acorn squash
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 6 cups water
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top
  • red chili flakes for extra heat (optional)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 400 deg F. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Cut the acorn squash in half and place in a tray lined with al foil face down (skin up). Add the garlic cloves with skin on onto tray as well.

Place tray in the oven and roast for about 40-50 minutes until the flesh inside the squash is tender. Remove from oven and Cover the squash pieces with foil and let cool for a few minutes. Peel the skin from the squash and the garlic and keep the flesh aside.

While the squash is in the oven, chop the onions and celery.

In a large cooking pot, add the oil and the onions and celery. Salute for 5 minutes on low until tender. Then add all the spices and the salt.

Next add the roasted squash and the roasted garlic(peeled). And add the cranberries and the water. Let simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Turn heat off. take an immersion (hand) blender and puree the soup in the pot. (Alternatively, if you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender – but wait until the soup is less warm)

Serve with a dash of extra virgin olive oil and some red chili flakes on top!

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Butternut Squash soup with cranberries

 

Spicy Egg Roast (Kerala Mutta Roast)

Egg Roast

IMG_0947You may wonder ‘Egg roast’? …now, what in the world is that? Well if you like your eggs spicy, you will just love this! This recipe is indigenous to Kerala where it is called ‘Mutta(egg) roast’. This is a dish often paired with Vella appams (rice hoppers or pancakes) or with Idiyappam (which are steamed rice noodles).  This is an easy recipe …well for those of you who do know how to ‘hard boil’ eggs ! LOL 🙂  So you hard boil your eggs, saute them a little bit with some spices and then make a spicy and tangy onion masala and drop your eggs into that and serve! hmm…sounds mouthwatering, right? I love eggs because they are so versatile – you could half-fry or do a sunny side up,scramble them up or do an omelette.! Omelette reminds me of a lovely hearty omelette that Angie of the Novice Gardener recently made – do check that out!.  And then continuing with the humble eggs’ multiple uses – you could make frittata or quiche adding a lot of veggies into those and make it really wholesome.!  And then finally you can make this spicy egg roast!

While we are on the topic of eggs, until a few years ago, eggs had earned a bad reputation for raising cholesterol levels. But in 2000, the American Dietary Association gave the green light for healthy adults to enjoy eggs once again! 1. Of course as is the case with everything else, moderation is key everywhere. Hey! eggs are good..eggs are fun..eggs are good for everyone! 🙂

I normally make this egg roast as a side dish with rice.  But sometimes I make it as an accompaniment to Idiyappams (steamed homemade rice noodles)! You could also just have it with some nice fresh bread. I will post the recipe for Idiyappam separately shortly! For now I am bringing the Mutta roast and Idiyappam to Angie’s for the Friday Fiesta! 🙂

Spicy Egg Roast (Kerala Mutta Roast)

  • Servings: about 4 servings when served with bread/rice
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
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Ingredients:

  • 6-8 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper pow
  • 1 tsp fennel powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt 1/2 tsp
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli pow (use less for mildly spicy)
  • 2 tbsp coriander pow
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise (omit if you want less spicy)
  • 1 small tomato, about 1/2 cup chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 -1 cup water

Method:

1. In a small bowl, mix the salt, turmeric, fennel powder and the black pepper powder. Make slits on the eggs and then rub the dry spice mix onto the eggs.

2. Take a medium size heating pan and add about 1 tsp coconut oil and saute the eggs lightly for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Take a medium size wok or non stick cooking pot and heat the coconut oil in it.  Then add the onions and saute on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Then add the salt, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, the green chillies and continue sauteing for another 4-6 minutes on low to medium heat until the onions are really transluscent and soft. Then add the spices – turmeric, coriander powder red chilli powder and saute for 1 minute. Then tomatoes too and continue cooking for another couple minutes until the tomatoes turn soft.

4.Then finally add some water depending upon how thick you want your curry. if you really want it a little on the dry side, add little water. Then add the vinegar and stir and take off from heat.

5. Drop the spiced eggs into the masala and serve!

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Pumpkin and Walnut bread with cream cheese swirls

Pumpkin Bread with cream cheese swirl
Pumpkin Bread with cream cheese swirl

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I did a lot of baking (and cooking!) this past thanksgiving weekend and was too tired to post the recipes. Now slowly I am getting my energy back and so you are going to see a lot of  thanksgiving and ‘pumpkin’ recipes!  These would also actually make some great ‘Christmas goody gifts’ if you are among a few of us rare folks who like to bake gifts instead of shopping for them!

In my desire to always incorporate some healthy ingredients into my baking, this year I decided to substitute whole wheat flour for part of the flour.  And I also spiced it up a notch with a liberal dose of ‘all spice and pumpkin spice’.  I have been making this bread for several years now using a recipe that I found in a book making some slight modifications, reducing the sugar and sodium content mainly.  The whole wheat flour addition did not significantly reduce the deliciousness of this bread – in fact they were a great hit with family and friends and I never told them about my secret addition of a healthier ingredient!

So here’s the recipe:  I used a 9 * 13 rectangular pan.  If you would like the filling to appear only in the middle and not on top, you should use a smaller size pan so that you can form 3 different layers – pumpkin, cream cheese and pumpkin.

This recipe will make a large 9*13 inch rectangular cake
Ingredients:
1 cup All purpose flour
2/3 cup Whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp or a pinch of salt
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp all spice
1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade(if using homemade,
make sure you add no water when you make the puree)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts
For the cream cheese filling:
1  pkg 8 oz cream cheese (not cream cheese spread)
softened at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 egg
1 tbsp freshly grated orange or lemon zest
pinch of nutmeg powder

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Lightly grease your pan and set aside.
In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and beat using a hand mixer until smooth and creamy.  Keep this aside.IMG_2588

In another larger mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, the oil, the eggs and the sugar and mix well using a hand mixer.

Mix all the dry ingredients separately in a tray or a plate or just wax paper. Now add the dry ingredients slowly little bit at a time into the mixing bowl with the pumpkin mixture.  Once all the dry ingredients are incorporated, add the chopped walnuts and at this point turn the mixer off and mix by a spoon.

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Now pour a little bit of the pumpkin batter onto the pan.   Then add the cream cheese layer and keep alternating so you get cream cheese swirls. (If you like just 3 layers, use a smaller pan )

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Bake at 325 deg F for about 50-55 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. (Start Checking every 5 minutes after 45 minutes).IMG_2594

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