butternut squash soup


As previously documented, I was responsible for brining two things to Thanksgiving Dinner. Cranberry Sauce... and Butternut Squash. The cranberry sauce went much better than the squash. The squash was too lumpy and unimpressive. I tried to fix it by adding candied walnuts and that was really just a bandaid for a bad dish.

So at the end of the meal, I packed them up and figured I'd try and turn it into soup. The soup was a far greater success than anticipated - and incredibly easy considering I already had a good start on the squash. Squash soup is pretty decent but can be boring or bland. This soup was the opposite of that thanks to the extras that I added: pomegranate, fried sage, and a dash of sour cream.

In the past, I've always just defaulted to adding croutons to a soup but these were great ways to add not only a little extra heft to the meal - but also texture and flavor.

Here's how it goes.

  1. Combine squash and chicken stock in a pot on the stove. Stir to begin blending the two ingredients together.
  2. In a skillet, sautee chopped garlic and then add to the squash pot. 
  3. Blend the ingredients together using either a blender or an immersion blender.
  4. Reheat before serving if necessary.
  5. For the toppings, drop a tablespoon on sour cream on your soup and then swirl it with a knife. Then add in your pomegranate seeds and fried sage.

Shopping List
3 cups butternut squash
3-4 cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic
sour cream
pomegranate seeds

Maple Orange Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a pretty straight forward dish. It could not be easier to make and customize to your own tastes. You have a better chance of screwing up everything else on your table than the cranberry sauce. 

About a month ago I went to a cooking demonstration at a local appliance store. The chef demo'd brussel sprouts, mushroom bread pudding, and cranberry sauce. My prime takeaways? I don't use enough olive oil in my mushrooms and I've been cooking brussel sprouts all wrong. With regards to the cranberry sauce, I always knew it was easy but they did this great little "make your own" bar thing with it. After making just a very basic batch of sauce, they had different sweeteners to pour over the top of it (whisky based, maple syrup-ish, citrus-ish, etc).

For Thanksgiving this year, I was responsible for butternut squash and cranberry sauce. I'm pretty sure that I failed at the squash. It was just too lumpy and sad. I might turn it into a soup? But the cranberry sauce was a win. Here's how it goes.

Also, the picture at the top shows the progression during cooking. 0 minutes > 10 minutes > 22 minutes. After about twenty minutes, you've got homemade sauce and everyone is impressed.
  1. Rinse the cranberries. 
  2. Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add the cranberries, 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling over medium heat until the berries burst and break down, forming a sauce, 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Taste for sweetness. If it’s too tart, add more syrup – a tablespoon at a time – until the sauce tastes sweet enough for you. 
  4. Remove from the heat and let cool. Spoon into your serving container to serve or store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for 3-4 days. 
Shopping List
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup pure maple syrup + more if needed
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup water 

harvest scones


I've been itching to make scones for several weeks now - and today was the day.

When I put up my Christmas tree last week, I felt like I had some gingerbread scones on the brain. But with Thanksgiving happening, I pulled a switcheroo and went with some pumpkin. I am not a "pumpkin" person per se. I never opt for pumpkin because it feels so abused and sometimes the flavoring is so strong. But, these scones are perfection.

While I love making scones, I sometimes skip it because my method can be so arduous. But when I discovered how to make amazing scones, I just couldn't go back. The frozen butter and then subsequent freezing steps just take it to the next level. But - I just couldn't motivate for all the steps tonight. So instead I took a few shortcuts:
  1. grated frozen butter / absolutely important, can't skip this
  2. after making the dough, shape into a flat disk or square shape then put in the freezer for 5 minutes / no need to roll out the dough just keep it cold.
  3. take the dough out of the freezer, and cut into scones. put back in the freezer for 30 minutes. / this step is another can't miss. it's really important.
The steps might still seem like a lot - but I promise that it is less work than the original steps that include a rolling pin and flour all over your counter. Takeaways? Frozen dough is critical to scone perfection.
  1. Grate your frozen butter into a bowl and put it back in the freezer to keep it cold.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs till smooth.
  4. Add the frozen butter to the bowl and mix to combine. Then add the pumpkin/egg to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together. You might need to add a little milk to get everything together.
  5. Dump the dough into some flour covered parchment. Shape into a disk or rectangle and then put in the freezer for 5-10 minutes while you prep the oven and baking sheet.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment and preheat the oven to 425.
  7. Take your dough from the freezer and cut into whatever shape you want. Place scones on the baking sheet and then put the uncovered sheet in the freezer for up to 30 minutes.
  8. Brush each scone with melted butter and then bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven. 
  9. If desired, make a simple glaze of powdered sugar and milk. Sprinkle the top of the glazed scone with chopped cranberries.
Shopping List
2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
1/2 cup frozen butter
1/2 can of pumpkin
2 large eggs
dried cranberries
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