Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup with Garnish

I’m pretty disappointed at the overblown pumpkin frenzy this season.  It came earlier than usual, and everyone is trying to cash in on it.  Sadly, this led to a lot of sub par pumpkin treats – most of which aren’t even reminiscent of pumpkin.  I love the taste of pumpkin.  I mean, I like it sweet, savory, and all by itself.  But even though I look forward to pumpkin season all year, this will likely be the only pumpkin recipe from me until next year.  I’m just over it.  But the recipe I have to share with you today is different from your typical pumpkin pie or muffins.  This is one of the many fantastic ways to use pumpkin in a savory application.  Pumpkin is also an amazing fruit (that’s right – it’s technically a fruit, along with all its squash cousins!) with awesome nutritional qualities!  It’s low in calories (when not in dessert-form), a good source of fiber, and an excellent source of vitamin A.  It also boasts some vitamin C, copper, and manganese in smaller amounts.  Oh, and it’s delicious and versatile!

A few months ago, I bought some toasted pumpkin seed oil, and I’ve been patiently awaiting pumpkin season ever since.  It’s supposed to be excellent for things like salad dressing and pasta, and I have no doubt!  But I really wanted to use it in a soup to compliment pumpkin.  The oil has a rich toasty taste – you can definitely tell its source!  I will be experimenting more with it in the future, for sure.  It has a low smoke point, so it’s not good for high temperature applications, but it’s great for using raw, and for roasting and light sautéing.  You can absolutely make this soup without it, though.

I also recommend using an immersion blender for this recipe, but a plain old blender will work, too.

This soup is the perfect dinner on a cold fall evening.  It’s quick and easy, and the flavors won’t disappoint!  The coconut milk brings a creamy quality to it, without going overboard on calories or cholesterol – and that makes it vegan friendly, too!  You’ll love how filling the soup is, and the slightly spicy notes from the Thai curry paste really complete it.  I used a whole pumpkin that I roasted in the toasted pumpkin seed oil, but canned pumpkin (not pie filling) will work just as well and save time.  I also roasted the pumpkin seeds in the oil, with a little salt and pepper.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my very favorite fall treats, and they make the perfect garnish.  What I learned this year from other bloggers is that there’s no need to drive yourself crazy cleaning the seeds.  Just separate them from the “guts” as much as you can and toss them on a cookie sheet.  No oil really needed, but I’ve been dying to use my new oil!  Roast at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes – toss halfway through.  And that’s it!  Any of the remaining pumpkin pieces roast up nice and crunchy, and you’ll love it!

Now for the main event!

THAI PUMPKIN CURRY SOUP

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup with Garnish Close up

Serves: 6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, Chopped
2 ½ – 3 cups Pumpkin Puree
1 can Lite Coconut Milk
1-2 Tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste

Directions

1.  In a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion until soft and translucent.

2.  Add pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and red curry paste, and bring to boil.

3.  Blend with immersion blender until smooth.  Alternately, puree soup in blender in small batches.  Return to pot and bring to simmer.

4.  Serve hot, garnished with toasted pumpkin seed oil and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Thai Pumpkin Curry Soup Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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When in Boston…Eat!

A few weeks ago, Handsome Husband and I took at trip to Boston.  We wanted to get away and relax, since we weren’t able to during the summer.  Plus it is probably the last trip we’ll be able to take, just the two of us!  So we decided to go to Boston to soak in the history of the place.  We hit up as many historical locations as we could in the 4 days we were there; Boston Tea Party museum, Old North Church, Boston Massacre site, the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument, the Samuel Adams Brewery, and we even drove a little north to Salem one day.  And while all those sites were completely awesome, the highlight for me was definitely the food tour we booked with Boston Foodie Tours in the Back Bay Neighborhood.  Our tour guide, Audrey, was wonderful, and knew so much about the area and each establishment we entered.  We both highly recommend the tour!  So here is Boston, in food pictures!

First was Lobster Bisque – from Legal Seafoods, of course!

Legal Seafood, Boston, MA

Yum!

Lobster Bisque from Legal Seafood

Next we hit up a food truck called Bon Me.  It is a Vietnamese food truck with awesome sandwiches called banh mi.

Bon Me

And these deviled tea eggs – delicious little treats!

Tea Soaked Egg from Bon Me

These sandwiches were great and so fresh!  We sampled the miso braised pulled pork banh mi.  We also tried the spicy ginger lemonade – I must experiment with these flavors!

Miso Braised Pulled Pork banh mi from Bon Me

Our next stop was L.A. Burdick Chocolate shop.  They make all their chocolates from hand – no molds!

LA Burdick Chocolates

Their claim to fame is these little mice:

Chocolate Mouse from LA Burdick

Adorable as they are yummy!  But they have so many other treats!

LA Burdick

We sampled the drinking chocolate.  Dark chocolate, rich, and warm.  Perfect for a chilly Boston day!

Drinking Chocolate from LA Burdick

Moving on to Georgetown Cupcakes!  What a great little bakery!  Audrey tells us this place is so popular that lines run out the door and onto the sidewalk in the mornings!

Georgetown Cupcakes

Look at all the choices!

Georgetown Cupcake selection

Salted caramel for me, please!  Oh my, was this ever good!  We even went back the next day!

Salted Caramel cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes

Bacco’s Wine and Cheese Shop was next on our tour.

Bacco's Wine and Cheese

This is one of those eclectic little shops with a little bit of everything local.  So fun! (I forgot to take a picture of the plate before we ate some!  I was so excited!)

Tasting plate from Bacco's

And Flour!

Flour

This might have been my favorite stop on our tour!  What amazing pecan sticky buns!  The very same sticky buns that beat Bobby Flay on Throwdown!  Really, I could exist entirely on these sticky buns if only they were nutritionally complete!

Sticky Buns from Flour

Another food truck for our next stop!  Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese!  Grown up comfort food!  What could be better?

Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Our sample had BBQ ribs in it.  I never would have come up with that combo in a million years, but it works great!

BBQ Ribs Grilled Cheese from Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Just one more stop before our amazing food tour comes to an end.  The grand finale!  Towne.

Towne

Award winning restaurant, where some of Boston’s elite frequent.  Of course we were there during off hours, so no VIPs that day.  But amazing Lobster Puffovers!  Just look at those huge chunks of lobster!

Lobster Puffover at Towne

Our tour was about 4 hours, and completely and totally worth every penny.  If you’re ever in Boston, look up Boston Foodie Tours with Audrey and do it!

We also managed to fall in to this amazing little pizza place – Figs.  This wasn’t part of the food tour, but just as easily could have been.  Their specialty is their balsamic fig pizza.  Go here, too!

Figs

It was one of the only restaurants we could find near the USS Constitution Museum and Ship, so we decided to drop in.  We are SO glad we did!  This is probably one of the best pizzas I can remember eating.  They have their pizza oven right in the seating area, and you can watch them making your pizza!

Figs pizza oven

We got a 50/50 pizza.  Half the pizza was balsamic fig and prosciutto, and the other half was calamari with lemon aioli and arugula.  Drool-worthy!

Pizza from Figs

It was a long week, but we had such a great time!  We are happy to be back home, though and back in a routine.  Have you ever been to an amazing food joint in Boston?  What’s your experience?

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Homemade Vegetable Broth from Scraps

Vegetable Broth from Scraps

It’s been a crazy week!  Well last week was.  Handsome Husband and I took a trip to Boston for the week for some fun-filled touring before the baby comes.  We took in tons of history, and tons of amazing food!  More about the awesome eats next time, once I can get all the pictures organized.  You’ll love it as much as I did, I promise!

I wanted to share this broth with you.  It’s so flavorful, has no sodium, and it’s free!  What could be better to make all your homemade soups with?!  For the broth, you’ll want to start saving all your vegetable scraps – put them in a zipper bag in the freezer until you accumulate enough.

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You can save pretty much anything you want, but you may want to steer clear of vegetable with a very strong flavor, or dark color – like beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, etc.  Feel free to save herbs, onion skins, the insides of peppers, carrot skins, celery leaves, spinach and lettuce.  Just don’t save anything that is passed its prime or moldy, of course.

Throw everything in a big pot with whatever spices you like (bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, etc.), cover with water, and simmer for about an hour.

IMG_1431

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Then strain it and cool it.  Pour it into containers or zipper freezer bags.  Store in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for longer.  Probably months to a year, but I bet it won’t last that long!  Tip: If you freeze the broth in freezer bags on their side, once frozen you can stand them up in a line in a basket for easy selection.  This works with all kinds of liquids.  That way, nothing gets stuck forever on the bottom of the pile!

HOMEMADE VEGETABLE BROTH

IMG_1433

Makes: 6-8 cups

Ingredients

4-6 cups vegetable scraps

2 Bay Leaves

5 quarts Cold Water

Directions

1.  Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring to boil.

2.  Reduce temperature and simmer for one hour.

3.  Strain it all through a fine mesh sieve, and press to squeeze out all broth.

4.  Cool completely, and store in freezer bags to containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Happy, healthy eating!

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Garlic Roasted Green Beans

Garlic Roasted Green Beans 1

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you have something amazing planned for the weekend!  It’s going to be chilly and probably rainy here in Pittsburgh.  I think it’s about time to pull all the veggies that are left in the garden into the house soon.  Snow is actually in the forecast for us in the next week.  The time for warming food is pretty much here, but I wanted to share one more “summer-ish” recipe with you before the snow flies.  These were about the last green bean harvest from Dad’s garden for the year.  Truly, fall is upon us. 🙂

I can’t honestly think of any vegetable that’s not amazing roasted in garlic, and these green beans are no exception.  Roasting makes the beans kind of crunchy – I bet you could call them bean fries and the kids would gobble them up (can you tell I’m starting to think about kid foods already?!).  Remember those days of soggy, tasteless, canned vegetables?  This will change your mind about green beans forever.  Promise.  Feel free to experiment with spices, or more or less garlic to suit your taste.  We loved these garlicky beans, and I hope you will, too!

GARLIC ROASTED GREEN BEANS

Garlic Roasted Green Beans 3

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 lb Fresh Green Beans, washed and snapped, if needed

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Place cleaned beans on baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Toss to coat.

2.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and salt/pepper if desired.

3.  Bake at 425⁰ F for about 20-30 minutes, until baked through and slightly crispy.

Garlic Roasted Green Beans Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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Thin Crust Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Just a quick post to share this pizza dough recipe with you this morning, as promised!  This isn’t my recipe.  It’s from a cookbook that came with my pizza stone, but I really like it.  It’s healthier than your typical crust because it’s made with whole wheat flour, instead of refined white flour.  The recipe makes 4 crusts that are about 8 inches in diameter.  I love that it’s so thin, so it cooks fast!  I almost never end up with a perfectly round pizza, but it tastes just as good!

After kneading the dough, let it rise until doubled in size.

Pizza Dough

Roll out the dough to about 8 inches wide – any shape is fine!  If you have a pizza peel, and you’re transferring the pizza to a stone or preheated baking sheet in the oven, it helps to have cornmeal under the crust.  It slides right off!

Rolled out pizza dough

Add your toppings!  This one was buffalo chicken.

Pizza Toppings

Bake on a preheated pizza stone, or baking sheet for about 8-10 minutes, until bubbly and crust is crispy.

Pizza on stone in oven

Carefully remove and enjoy!

 

WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA CRUST

Makes: 4  8in pizza crusts

From Gourmet Pizza Made Easy

Ingredients

1 package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (105⁰ – 115⁰ F)

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

1.  Stir yeast into water until dissolved.

2.  In a separate bowl, mix flours, salt, and sugar.

3.  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and pour in yeast mixture and oil.  Fold together ingredients until combined into a dough.

4.  Turn out onto floured surface, and knead dough until springy and smooth, about 15-20 minutes.

5.  Divide dough into 4 balls.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and place two balls on each.  Cover with damp towels, and place in a warm location to rise until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

6.  Once risen, dough is ready to be rolled out, or wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for future use.

7.  To roll out, sprinkle work surface with flour, and press dough down with fingers, and flatten out from the center using your palms.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.  Use a rolling pin to roll dough until it’s very thin – 8-10 inches.  Don’t worry if it’s not round.  Any shape is fine!

8.  Add toppings, and bake in 450 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.

Serving size: 1 crust

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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Grilled Caprese Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza

Grilled Caprese Pesto Pizza

Before it becomes too cold to grill, I must share this goodie with you!  It’s a rainy, dreary Saturday here in Pittsburgh.  That means inside chores like laundry and basement cleaning.  Fun?  No.  But needed.  We also did some baby shopping.  There’s so much out there, it’s gonna take a while for it all to sink in.  And really, there seems to be so much more out there than is actually needed.  We haven’t actually bought anything yet because it’s just so overwhelming!  Soon!

So this pizza.  THIS PIZZA!  You guys, you are going to want to make this!  I have seen many grilled pizzas around the interweb this summer, and this is my first try at one.  It couldn’t have turned out better.  And really, what’s a better combo than tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese?  Classic.  I had some leftover pesto sauce, so you better believe that went on it.  I made this pizza crust.  If you don’t want to make a crust, a pre-made crust is fine, but make sure it’s a raw one (freezer section).  Have everything set up and prepped and sliced ahead of time.  This pizza goes quick!

Caprese Ingredients

I used fresh mozzarella for my pizza.  You can get that right in the dairy section with the other cheeses.  It comes in a ball or brick shape.  Slice yours thinner than I did in the picture.  It will melt much better.  The crust should be grilled about 5 minutes or so on each side.  You will be amazed at how grilling the pizza transforms it.  And the pesto sauce instead of tomato sauce?  Amazing.  I promise.  You’ll love this!  I bet your kids will, too!  I mean, it is pizza!

Caprese Pesto Pizza on Grill

This isn’t exactly health food.  But it is healthified pizza.  We all need a little pizza sometimes.  It’s definitely better than pizzeria pizzas.  And it’s so gratifying to make it from scratch, right?  Enjoy!

GRILLED CAPRESE PESTO PIZZA

Sliced Grilled Caprese Pesto Pizza

Makes 1 16 inch pizza (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 raw 16 inch pizza crust (see my recipe here)

½ – ¾ cup pesto sauce

2 medium tomatoes, sliced

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

8-10 fresh basil leaves

Directions

1.  Clean grill grates, and rub with olive oil to prevent sticking.  Preheat grill and reduce heat to medium low.

2.   Prepare all ingredients, and have them assembled by the grill ahead of time.

3.  Place pizza dough directly on grill grates.  Close lid and grill for about 5-8 minutes.

4.  Flip dough over, and assemble ingredients on top in this order: pesto sauce, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil leaves.

5.  Close lid and grill an additional 7-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

6.  Carefully remove from grill.  It helps to use a spatula and slide a cutting board under the pizza if you don’t have a pizza peel.

7.  Slice and serve!

Grilled Caprese Pesto Pizza Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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Spicy “Kohlslaw” (Kohlrabi and Cabbage Slaw)

Spicy Kohlslaw

Summer has unofficially ended, but it sure doesn’t feel like it yet!  While my brain is ready for winter squash, root vegetables, pumpkin, and soups, my body just isn’t into it.  Well except for Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.  My body always wants that!  Special shout out to Starbucks for releasing it early this year! 🙂

I do have to apologize for not posting as much as I should be.  It’s now safe for me to announce that Handsome Husband and I will be welcoming a little addition to our family in March!  We are as excited as can be!  Luckily, I haven’t experienced any morning sickness.  Mostly profound tiredness.  My doc calls it pregnancy narcolepsy, and that describes it perfectly.  So while I have barely managed to cook some meals in the last 3 months, there’s been little else.  I’m hopeful to have more for you now!

On Friday, we hit up the Benedum Center for Performing Arts with some friends to check out the Lion King on Broadway.  It’s in town for a whole month, so if you’re local, do try to get there!  It’s a spectacular performance with the most amazing costumes!

Lion King on Broadway

We went to dinner before the show at a restaurant called Vallozzi’s.  I ordered a squid ink linguine with crab meat and white asparagus sauce with prosciutto sprinkled on the top.  I did take a picture for you, but it was so dark in the restaurant it just didn’t come out.  It was spectacularly delicious, though!  And the portion size was just right, too!  I was mostly impressed by the HUGE chunks of crab meat in the pasta.  Real crab meat.  I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re looking for a nicer place to go some night.

So let’s talk about this week’s recipe.

This year, my dad grew kohlrabi in his garden.  It kinda looks like an alien, but they are super low in calories, and great sources of vitamin C!  You can eat kohlrabi cooked or raw.  Today’s recipe takes advantage of the crispy, fresh tasting qualities of the vegetable in a slaw.  I have also roasted it with garlic, which is quite delicious too!

For the slaw, you will need to remove the skin from the kohlrabi.  It’s edible, but it doesn’t shred up very well, so it’s best to remove it.  The cabbage (from my aunt and uncle’s garden!) and carrots add a traditional element.  I replaced the typical heavy mayonnaise sauce with a light lemon and olive oil dressing, making this slaw a much healthier alternative to most.  Watch how much red pepper flakes you use!  I used the full teaspoon, and it was pretty spicy!  Start with half of that and taste it.  You can always add more, but you can’t remove it once it’s in there!

SPICY “KOHLSLAW” (KOHLRABI CABBAGE SLAW)

Spicy Kohlslaw

Serves: 12

Ingredients

½ small head of Cabbage, sliced thin

1 Kohlrabi, skin removed, shredded

3 large Carrots, shredded

1 medium Onion, slice thin

¼ cup Lemon Juice

¼ cup Olive Oil

1 tsp Honey

1 Garlic Clove, minced

½ – 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Zest of ½ Lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Toss first four ingredients together in a large bowl.

2.  In a smaller bowl, whisk remaining ingredients together, and pour over cabbage mixture.

3.  Toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least a few hours so flavors can marinate.

Kohlslaw Nutrition Facts

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