Vadouvan Butternut Squash Soup

Vadouvan Butternut Squash Soup

Recently I decided to give Raw Spice Bar a chance. I’ve had great experiences with Blue Apron and Hello Fresh as far as the meal delivery services go. Raw Spice Bar is similar in that it’s a monthly subscription, but instead of sending you entire meals, it focuses on new spices from around the world. As someone who loves to travel, the idea of trying new spices from cultures near and far each month, is incredibly appealing.

This month is the Pondicherry Flavor Kit. I’ll be honest, I had to google what Pondicherry was. In case you didn’t know either, it’s the capital city of Indian union territory of Puducherry. Over the next few weeks I’ll be cooking and reviewing the first three packets that came in the Pondicherry Flavor Kit.

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Up first is the Indo-French Vadouvan packet. I kinda’ feel like an idiot because I don’t know what those words mean either. “Vadouvan” means Indian spice blend. When you get your spices, each packet comes with two recipes. This provides you with options on how you’ll use your packets.

Since it’s fall, I decided to go with the Vadouvan Butternut Squash Soup. I didn’t have any of the ingredients for the soup other than butter, so I stopped at the grocery store and to my surprise, everything came out to $9.80. That’s pretty impressive considering this is a healthy meal that contains several servings.

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INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp RawSpiceBar’s Indo-French Vadouvan
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, strained
1 medium butternut squash
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup water
3 medium leeks
Salt & pepper, to taste

RAW SPICE BAR’S INDO-FRENCH VADOUVAN SPICES
Toasted cumin, toasted coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, yellow mustard seeds, brown mustard seeds, green cardamom, aleppo pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, cloves, spices

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil or butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.

Chop up the leeks and onions. Add to the pot and stir until translucent, 6-8 minutes.

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Add salt and RawSpiceBar’s Indo-French Vadouvan and stir until fragrant, 1 minute.

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Add butternut squash, re-season with salt to taste. Cook until slightly brown, 8-12 minutes.

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Add tomatoes and let brown, another 4-5 minutes.

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Stir in stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until squash is tender.

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Season with black pepper and salt to taste. Puree to desired consistency.

Ladle into individual bowls and serve with plain yogurt or raita and crusty bread or naan. (I actually used sour cream, because that’s all I had in the fridge.)

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Overall, I’m very pleased with this soup. The flavors are rich and tastes like Fall. With the ingredients pretty much all vegetables, this is a really healthy option for a cold day.

I’m looking forward to trying the other two packets from Raw Spice Bar – Peppercorn Chia and Unpumpkin Pie Spice. Getting spices from around the world every month for only $8 is a heck of a deal. 

Comment below if you have also tried Raw Spice Bar and what you think!

2016 Texas State Fair

2016 Texas State Fair

Nathan and I enjoyed another trip to the Texas State Fair!

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Up first was the fried chicken and dumplings. It’s funny, I don’t know how they decide new foods to fry, but it always amazes me. This was pretty tasty, but I probably won’t get it again next year. The little brown nuggets on the side are baked biscuits.

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Up next was the fried chicken pot pie, which actually ended up being my favorite of the new fried foods this year. On the side is some little mac and cheese dish with crackers on it. I’ll definitely get this one again.

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After a few samples, we met Kilgo, her parents and Ash. They joined us for the rest of the day.

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This was the fried frito pie, good in theory, but, eh… not great. Too greasy. I wouldn’t waste time on this one again.

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Kilgo was really excited about the Injectable Great Balls of BBQ. Inside was really good BBQ and you used that little plastic ‘mini-turkey baster’ to inject sauce in it.

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Below, to the left, are the fried olives. I’m not a fan of olives, so I didn’t try them. On the right, I made Nathan stand next to this sign for Nathan’s Hot Dogs… since his name in Nathan. 🙂

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Below, to the left, is the fried pecan pie – YES. It was very rich, so you have to share it, but it was awesome. To the right – chicken fried bacon – YES. You only live once, right?

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Kelly’s dad had her get the fried BBQ bologna sandwich and as you can tell from her face, she took one bite and that was one too many.

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Nathan is a big fan of fried okra, he said these were good, but they really need a sauce to dip in.

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These curly fries were amazing!

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Right after I took a pic of the curly fries, I spilled them all over my shirt and in my purse. So, if you look really closely, on the bottom right corner of my shirt below, you can see ketchup. Aside from the stain though, this is a great group pic.

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I’m really scared of rides, but, I put on a brave face and we went on the swing one. It was pretty fun, but next time, I probably shouldn’t do it with a belly full of fried food.

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After the ride, we watched a really cute pet show that had dogs, cats, birds and even pigs to tricks. Nathan’s final food item of the day was a classic funnel cake, which was his favorite. I ended with one of my very favorite foods – corn on the cob.

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All in all, we were successful!

Blue Apron’s Fresh Linguine with Roasted Fennel

Blue Apron’s Fresh Linguine with Roasted Fennel

On Tuesday I got another box from Blue Apron which included a recipe for roasted fennel on a bed of linguine. I love pasta but had never had fennel before. Come to find out, it reminds me of an onion and I discovered that I really liked it. This was yet another easy and really delicious recipe.

Cook along with me in the video below.

INGREDIENTS
10 Ounces Fresh Linguine Pasta
⅓ Cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Fennel Bulb
1 Lemon
1 Bunch Parsley
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Shallot
¼ Cup Breadcrumbs

INSTRUCTIONS
1 . Prepare the ingredients:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Pick off and mince a few of the fennel fronds (the thread-like tops of the plant). Cut off and discard the fennel stems. Halve and core the fennel bulb; slice into ½-inch-thick strips. Pick the parsley off the stems. Peel and mince the garlic. Using a peeler, remove the lemon rind, avoiding the pith; mince to get 2 teaspoons of zest (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel and mince the shallot to get 2 tablespoons of minced shallot (you may have extra).

2. Roast the fennel & make the lemon ricotta:
Place the sliced fennel bulb on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange in a single, even layer and roast, stirring halfway through, 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. While the fennel roasts, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and the juice of 3 lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Make the breadcrumb mixture:
While the fennel roasts, in a large pan, melt the butter on medium until hot. Add the garlic, shallot and half the parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant and softened. Add the breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 4 minutes, or until toasted and browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe out the pan.

4. Make the sauce:
While the fennel continues to roast, in the pan used to make the breadcrumb mixture, combine the lemon zest, the juice of the remaining lemon wedge, ½ cup of water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat to boiling on high; stir to thoroughly combine. Remove from heat.

5. Cook & finish the pasta:
Using your hands, carefully separate the strands of the pasta; add to the pot of boiling water. Cook 4 to 6 minutes, or until tender. Reserving ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly and transfer to the pan of sauce. Add the roasted fennel bulb, minced fennel fronds and reserved pasta cooking water. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until well combined. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Plate your dish:
Spread a layer of the lemon ricotta onto the sides of 2 dishes. Divide the finished pasta between the dishes. Garnish with the olives, breadcrumb mixture and remaining parsley. Serve with the remaining lemon ricotta on the side. Enjoy!

For all the deets and the tails about this recipe, click here.

Mushroom & Swiss Poppy Seed Rolls

I recently saw a ham and cheese recipe on Pinterest from Kevin & Amanda. I don’t care for ham so replaced it with slices of mushrooms and it was amazing. Try this super easy recipe and let me know what you think.

INGREDIENTS
• 1 can of Pillsbury Crescent Seamless Dough Sheet
• 1 cup of white button mushrooms sliced
• 6 slices of Swiss cheese

MUSTARD POPPY SEED GLAZE
• 8 tablespoons of butter
• 2 tablespoons of brown
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Unroll the pizza dough onto a cutting board and press into a large rectangle. Top with the mushrooms and cheese slices. Starting on the longer side of the rectangle, roll up the edge tightly. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. Cut into slices approximately 1-inch wide. Arrange in prepared baking dish.
3. Next combine the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and poppy seeds in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk until the butter is melted and the glaze is smooth and combined. Pour evenly over the rolls.
4. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or bake, uncovered for 25 minutes until golden and browned. Enjoy!

 

Join Me and Let’s Make Homemade Strawberry Jam!

After visit Rita in Canada, she always inspires me to be a little more earthy and resourceful. Click here to learn about Rita. That being said, I just took a stab at making homemade, sugar-free strawberry jam. While the process took a little longer than I thought, I’m very happy with the results. The recipe is from 100DaysOfRealFood.com. Comment below if you have some favorite jam recipes that you think are worth sharing.

Cooking an easy Summer Spaghetti Dinner

Cooking an easy Summer Spaghetti Dinner

This is an awesome and very easy (healthy too!) summer pasta dish that I wanted to share with you from Blue Apron.

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INGREDIENTS
½ Pound Whole Grain Spaghetti
5 Ounces Multicolored Cherry Tomatoes
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Ear Of Corn
1 Bunch Basil
2 Tablespoons Mascarpone Cheese
1 Shallot
Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

STEP BY STEP
1. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and shallot. Remove and discard the husks and silks of the corn. Cut the corn kernels off the cob; discard the cob. Pick the basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems.

2. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Reserving 2/3 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the cooked pasta thoroughly.

3. While the pasta cooks, in a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, shallot and corn; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant.

4. To the pan of vegetables, add the tomatoes, half the basil (roughly chopping just before adding) and as much of the crushed red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined and the tomatoes have softened slightly.

5. To the pan of vegetables, add the cooked pasta, mascarpone cheese, all but a pinch of the Parmesan cheese and half the reserved pasta cooking water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pasta is thoroughly coated. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Divide the finished pasta and vegetables between 2 dishes. Garnish with theremaining Parmesan cheese and remaining basil (tearing just before adding). Enjoy!

In case you need a little extra help, just cook with me!

For more information on Blue Apron and this recipe, click here.

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