Butternut Squash is a fall favorite. Roasting the squash for this delicious soup sounded amazing, and it was. I did not roast the Squash with bacon but chose to keep it a bit healthier, only adding bacon bits to the final product. It is delicious with goat cheese but I also tried it with shredded Monterey Jack (shown below) and it was equally as good. Think of this soup as a spoonful of autumn in your mouth. Yum!
Roasted Butternut Squash & Bacon Soup
1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 slices bacon, diced (I did not add bacon to the roasted squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, or more, to taste
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
Place butternut squash, onion, bell pepper and bacon in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender, stirring at halftime.*
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add butternut squash mixture and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chicken stock and puree with an immersion blender.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Serve immediately, garnished with bacon, goat cheese and chives, if desired.
A few years ago I watched the Rachel Ray episode where she made this dish, sharing it was one of her husband’s favorites. It’s easy peasy and so delicious! It reminds me of a pasta with bacon that I made when the kids were small. Delicious!
PASTA WITH CHARD AND BACON
1 large bunch or 1.5 pounds large, leafy Swiss chard
1/2 pound meaty bacon
2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, white or yellow
4 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup stock, optional
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup pecans
about 3/4 cup heavy cream
about 1 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
Gather your ingredients.
Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.
Stem the chard. Chop the stems. Coarsely chop the greens and keep separate.
Stack the bacon and cut the bacon into batons 1/8 to 1/4-inch wide.
Peel and chop the onion. Halve the leek lengthwise and trim the tough green tops. Run the leek under the water and wash thoroughly. Chop the leek, whites and light greens. Peel the garlic and grate or chop.
Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and render, then remove from pan, if desired. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in pan, drain off excess if there is any.
Add EVOO or butter to pan and add the stems, onions, leeks and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and thyme and soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add wine and stock if using and let it absorb.
Salt boiling water and cook pasta to 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup starchy water.
Toast nuts while pasta cooks in small skillet over moderate heat.
Add cream to sauce, wilt the greens into stems and add a little nutmeg. Return bacon to pan. Drain pasta and add to sauce and greens with reserved water and cheese. Toss pasta 1 minute. Adjust seasoning and serve topped with chopped toasted nuts and pass more cheese at table.
Beef Bourguignonne is savory, hearty meal of tender beef with rich flavors. I’ve enjoyed it many times with friends in their homes or in a restaurant but this was my first attempt to make it at home. It was easy to make and even better to eat.
CROCK POT BEEF BOURGUIGNONNE
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 thick bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
6 fresh thyme sprigs
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 lb. white button mushrooms, halved
1 bottle Pinot Noir
1 tbps. beef demi-glace
Place the flour in a large bowl. Season the beef with salt and pepper, add to the flour and stir to coat evenly. Transfer to a plate, shaking off the excess flour.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the beef on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker.
Add the bacon, carrots, onions and garlic to the sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker along with the bay leaves, thyme, parsley and mushrooms.
Off the heat, pour the wine into the sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the demi-glace and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add to the slow cooker, cover and cook until the meat is fork tender, 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Discard the bay leaves.
Transfer the beef bourguignonne to a platter and serve with steamed potatoes. Serves 10.
Breakfast casseroles are always a treat and easy peasy when you make it the night before. This casserole has a wonderful cream cheese surprise in many bites. Why have I never thought of that?
Serve this dish with a wonderful fruit bowl, a cup of hot coffee (or tea), and great conversation.
BIG COUNTRY BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING
1 loaf Brioche bread, cubed (I used French Bread)
1 cup heavy cream (I used half & half)
1 /2 cup milk
4 oz. can chopped green chiles
2 c. + 1 c. shredded sharp white cheddar (or any shredded cheese of your liking)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
10 oz. browned breakfast sausage (optional)
5 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or 1 tsp. McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning)
Spray a 9×13″ extra deep baking dish and place 1/2 to 2/3 of the bread cubes in the dish.
Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl, add cream, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Reserve 1 to 1.5 cups of mixture and pour remaining over the bread cubes.
Spread green chiles on top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 cups of shredded cheese. Lightly press the bread down to aid in absorption of the egg mixture. Top with cream cheese, sausage and bacon, if desired.
Top with remaining bread and pour reserved egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, if desired.
The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake on middle rack for 45-55 minutes or until the center is firm. Cover the bread pudding with foil about halfway through the cooking time and remove for the last 5 minutes or so.
OMG Scrambled Eggs were an experiment, a gamble that paid off. ‘OMG’ was the first thought that came into my head when I took the first bite. Adding the coincidentally roasted fresh tomatoes and peppers was a fantastic addition.
I also made this recipe combining the tomatoes and peppers into the egg cups and loved them as well.
The recipe could be adapted easily to add more bacon, cheese, pesto or whatever floats your boat. Worth trying! I may be dreaming of this tonight.
OMG SCRAMBLED EGGS
3 slices bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 bunch swiss chard (or kale) stemmed and chopped
1 dozen eggs, whisked
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pesto
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
roasted tomatoes and peppers (optional)
Sauté the bacon in a non-stick skillet until cooked about half way.
Add onions and cook through. Drain most of the bacon fat off.
Add Swiss chard and cook until it wilts.
Add the eggs, salt and pepper, and pesto.
Stir the eggs often to assure they cook through.
Add cheese when eggs are about half way cooked.
Serve with warm roasted tomatoes and peppers.
MUFFIN EGG CUPS: Mix all ingredients together, including the chopped roasted tomatoes and peppers. Grease muffin tins and bake egg cups at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until done in the center and golden brown.
Stuffed pumpkin (or in my case Kobacha Squash) was a novel idea I heard about from friends. I found this wonderful recipe and adapted it to use the Kobacha squash I’d recently purchased from Trader Joe’s.
It was a fun, and delicious, experiment and one I’ll try again, shaking it up with different ingredients. This is a great way to use leftover pumpkins from Halloween or Thanksgiving. A new tradition perhaps.
ROASTED STUFFED KOBACHA (OR PUMPKIN)
1 pumpkin (I used Kobacha squash), about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, shredded
2-4 garlic cloves (to taste) coarsely chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped
About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot—which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn’t so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I’ve always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I’ve been lucky. (Note: I baked my squash in a round Pyrex casserole lined with parchment paper)
Using a very sturdy knife—and caution—cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween Jack-o-Lantern). It’s easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.
Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper—you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure—and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled—you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little—you don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (It’s hard to go wrong here.)
Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours—check after 90 minutes—or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.
When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully—it’s heavy, hot, and wobbly—bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table.
You have a choice—you can either spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful, or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. I’m a fan of the pull-and-mix option. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls, it’s just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.
It’s really best to eat this as soon as it’s ready. However, if you’ve got leftovers, you can scoop them out of the pumpkin, mix them up, cover, and chill them; reheat them the next day.
Let me send a huge compliment to one of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girls Eats. Not only is she from Iowa but she eats gluten-free and has many great ideas. While browsing for egg recipes I saw that she had tried bacon egg cups and I decided to give my own version a whirl. Most of the recipes on the web show that you use a whole egg in each cup but I decided to scramble the eggs and add ingredients.
Next time, I would either cook the bacon even longer or I would precook the bacon and crumble it in the bottom of each cup. I like my bacon crispy so I’d prefer my bacon slices to be the same. You’ll also see that the bacon was not on the outside of the eggs cups since the bacon shrinks while precooking but they come out beautifully as cups just the same!
BACON EGG CUPS
6 slices of bacon
1/4 cup cheese (I used cheddar)
pinch of Herbs de Provence
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wrap a slice of bacon around each of six muffin tins. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until almost done to your liking.
While the baking is cooking, beat eggs and add cheese, herbs and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Remove muffin tins from oven and carefully pour or remove the bacon fat.
Carefully pour egg mixture into each of the six muffin tins.
Bake another 15+ minutes or until eggs are completely cooked through.
My daughter, Megan, told me this was a great recipe. As mentioned in my Roasted Fennel post of last Friday, we garnished the soup with bits of the fennel and loved it. From now on, it will be a traditional side served with the soup, and a slice of hearty Italian bread.
The original recipe called for heavy cream, but we liked the soup without the cream and without the extra fat. Next time I would add chopped carrots and celery.
ZUPPA TOSCANA…COPYCAT OF OLIVE GARDEN RECIPE
1 lb. Italian sausage
2 large russet baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
2 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I omitted)
Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces.
Brown sausage in your soup pot.
Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.
Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in the pot.
Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Turn to low heat.
Add cream (optional) and heat.
Tear pieces of kale into bowl and pour steaming soup over the top.
Potato Bacon Chowder is officially a family favorite, shared with me by my sister Carolyn. It’s a quick fix for a weeknight meal and GREAT as leftovers. Need I say more?
POTATO BACON CHOWDER
8 slices bacon (cut in 1 inch pieces)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
Fry bacon until crisp in a 3 quart saucepan; add onion and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Pour off fat.
Add potatoes and water. Bring to boil; cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.