squash & sweet potato soup

We love soup over here in this house.  In all honesty, we could eat it and enjoy any night of the week…and any season for that matter.  Homemade soups are probably one of the easiest and yummiest meals to make.  What it boils down to (pun intended) is basically choosing your veggies of choice…washing, peeling and chopping them up, and then throwing them in a pot.  Next, add in some liquid goodness, a couple herbs/spices…puree and voila.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.  This simplification isn’t far off.  Super quick to make, yet filled with comfort.  With a few simple ingredients, you can create a warm and soothing dish that your family will love any day of the year.

squash & sweet potato soup
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Recipe type: Appetizer, Side
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4 +
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash – skin removed and cubed
  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes/yams – cubed
  • 2 small- medium onions – finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups or 1 tetra container of vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought)
  • coconut oil
  • a pinch or two of ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • ground pepper and sea salt
  • a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
  • fresh chives – chopped for garnish
  • bacon – chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. begin by taking your cubed butternut squash and sweet potato and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until slightly browned (toss in coconut/olive oil and fresh rosemary, in a large bowl and then spread out cubes on a baking sheet)
  2. in the meantime, sauté the onion and garlic in coconut oil on low-medium heat on the stove-top, in a LE CREUSET/dutch oven, until softened and translucent
  3. when done roasting, take your butternut squash and sweet potato and add them into the dutch oven/pot
  4. next, pour in your vegetable broth and bring to a boil
  5. reduce heat and season with a few teaspoons of ground nutmeg and/or cinnamon (sorry, I didn’t measure the amounts here, but I wasn’t shy)
  6. then, take an immersion blender and puree the soup until smooth
  7. at the same time, add in the coconut milk slowly, and continue blending until desired consistency is reached (if too thick…add in some broth or water)
  8. allow time to simmer on low/medium heat for flavours to meld together – stirring occasionally
  9. serve it up in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper
  10. finish with a few dashes of hot sauce if you want a little bite!
  11. finally, garnish with some freshly chopped chives and crumbled bacon (sweet vs. salty flavouring = wickedness)
  12. enjoy!
Notes

• I am using onion, garlic, chopped up squash and sweet potatoes…but you can basically choose any veggies you like…add in some broth and coconut milk (if you want it creamy) and grab a handy immersion blender to mix it up and you are laughing. You can also play around with different spices and fresh herbs if you like as well. If you aren’t into ‘creamy’ type soups – skip the coconut milk step and ditch the pureeing business.
• Also, you can modify the consistency of your soup by adding in a little bit more broth or water, if you find it’s too thick. Have fun with this one…choose some veggies that are in-season and you are off to the races. Any type of squash is always a good bet as well!!! Oh ya…when re-heating the leftovers (this makes a ton), I also added in some more liquid to even things out.

Time-saver:
• If you want to save time, you can do without the roasting of the veggies…and pretty much chop them up and cook them in the dutch oven on the stove-top as you go. The choice is yours, although I find roasting them add more flavour to the dish. YUM!

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twice baked chipotle sweet potato

Well hello there.  It has been awhile.  I have missed you.  Hope you all have been enjoying some quality family and friend time over this holiday season!  We had a wonderful Christmas filled with loads of laughs, wicked eats and special moments with our loved ones.  The Duster and I are both feeling very fortunate to be surrounded by such incredible people. Infectiously, we wish the same to you and yours!!

Since opening up my stocking on Christmas morn, I have been dying to try out this new wee kitchen gadget that I received as a gift from my mother-in-law.  It is the Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Press.  I had never before seen this sweet little tool and was pumped to give it a go!  Coincidentally, in my mind I had been conjuring up this idea for a twice baked sweet potato recipe for some time now.  I knew lots of crushed garlic, bacon and chorizo were all ‘musts’ in this one…so it was the perfect opportunity to put ‘The Rocker’ to the test!

Let’s just say…I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.  This quirky kitchen gadget is better than any garlic press I have ever tried before!  I highly recommend that it finds it’s way into your utensil drawer as well.  Super sturdy, a breeze to clean…and crushes the garlic in it’s entirety – sans mess!  This product was also a main player and motivation for me to create a new and very garlicky guacamole recipe that is ADDICTIVE!  I created a big batch on Boxing Day for a fam dins and other one today for us here at home.  It is some serious business.  I just can’t get enough!  YUM!!!  Stay tuned for my upcoming recipe blog post on this.

I am presently off on holidays for two weeks, so I have been a busy bee in the kitchen creating new recipes and making some of the visions that have been twirling around in my head, come to life!  I have to be honest, this recipe isn’t a ‘quick paleo’ or ‘on-the-go’ style recipe, but extremely fabulous for a special occasion or weekend dins, when you have a little more time on your hands.  The end product is def worth the wait.  I really enjoyed my time in the kitchen, cheffin’ up this bad boy.  A total meal onto itself…the combo of flavours and ingredients are guaranteed to make your mouth water and your belly smile.

Alright…signing off for today!  Sending huge amounts of love & goodness to you for 2012!!!  Keep an eye on my website, as I am currently working on some new projects…

twice baked chipotle sweet potato
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Recipe type: Appetizer, Side
Serves: 4 +
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes – halved
  • 2 hot chorizo sausages (pre-cooked) – diced
  • .5 lb bacon – baked and chopped into pieces (I used back bacon ends from my local butcher shop)
  • 1 large package of white mushroom – diced
  • 3 small white onions – thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1-2 tbsp of smoked chipotle
  • fresh chives – chopped
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • butter (from grass-fed cow) – optional
Instructions
  1. start by cooking bacon in oven on a tin foil-lined pan
  2. bake at 325 degrees, until bacon has achieved desired crispiness, set aside to cool
  3. next, slice sweet potatoes evenly in half
  4. take some of the leftover bacon fat and brush on the flesh side of the sweet potato
  5. place the halves face down on another foil-lined baking pan
  6. bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until inside is tender (time may vary depending on size of sweet potato – can check using a fork to press on skin side)
  7. when done, set aside and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes
  8. in the meantime, on medium, heat all leftover bacon fat in a skillet
  9. add in onion and garlic and cook until translucent
  10. then, add in mushrooms and smoked chipotle
  11. cook until softened and slightly browned
  12. then, add in chopped bacon and chorizo sausage (pre-cooked) to the mixture and cook for another 5 minutes – stirring occasionally
  13. when finished, take baked sweet potatoes and remove insides into a bowl using a spoon
  14. take the mixture that you created in the skillet and combine with the softened sweet potato insides – mix well
  15. take the empty skins and fill them up with the mixture from the bowl
  16. place stuffed skins back on the foil-lined pan and broil for 5 minutes or so, until they are slightly browned and crispy on top (keep a close eye on them, as you don’t want them to burn!)
  17. remove from oven and garnish with some sea salt, ground pepper and chopped chives
  18. top with some butter (if desired – optional)
  19. enjoy!
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pumpkin, sweet potato & leek soup

Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!  I woke up early this past Saturday morn and decided to make a trip to the Evergreen Brickworks outdoor farmer’s market.  Did a little texteroo with one of my friends (who actually picks up the phone and calls people anymore?  I know I should more…) and arranged to meet up at her place and drive over together.  So, we did just that.  With reusable bags in hand and cash in our pockets, we were good-to-go!

When we pulled in, the market was already in full swing.  We were fortunate enough to squeeze into a parking spot that someone was just pulling out of.  Fantastic timing.  Next, we made our way into one of the buildings that just opened up a new cafe, to get the much needed americano.  It was delish.  While warming our fingertips…fall was definitely in the air, we strolled around taking our time to check out all the vendors.  Now, when I say, taking our time…I really mean it.  While chatting it up with people, looking at different products and enjoying the company of one another…we fully and completely lost track of time.  I love that feeling.  Yes!  Three hours went by in a flash.

If you know me…I have a very difficult time focusing on one thing at a time.  I am a total distracto at the best of times.  There was a lot going on…so in the end, I think we did about 800 laps of the market, just to make sure we didn’t miss a thing.  Nearing the close of our visit, we stopped by an apple orchard stand that was selling apples (of course!) and hot apple cider with cinnamon!  Yep…that’s it…that’s all…just those two ingredients.  I am usually not the biggest fan of cider, but to say that it was unreal is an understatement.  Definitely a little somethin’ to write home about!!!  Oh…and I bought some of their MacIntosh apples.  Small, some weirdly shaped and NOT shiny!  Yes folks…that’s what apples are supposed to look like!

Anyhoo, after realizing the time, we decided that we better make a push for home.  We were both super proud of our wicked hauls and 100% pleased with all the yummy goodies that we just reeled in.  I left feeling so warm and fuzzy inside (kinda corny I know), but good food excites me!  What I love even more, is knowing where my food is coming from and also supporting local farmers.  If you live in the Toronto area or will be visiting soon…seriously check out the Evergreen Brickworks on Saturdays.  You will be glad you did!

With the cool breeze blowing through my hair on this venture and the inaugural sportin’ of the fall jacket, I was inspired and decided to wrap my arms around what is ever so closely upon us…FALL/AUTUMN…whatever you may call it.  This recipe screams warmth, comfort and coziness all in a bowl!  I am a huge soup fan any day of the week, but this one’s flavours are especially delightful this time of year.  P.S – Not gonna lie…I love fall sweaters. Don’t fight it…embrace it!  Get some stuff and make some soup.

This week’s big ass market haul:

pumpkin, sweet potato & leek soup
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Recipe type: appetizer, side
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6 +
Ingredients
  • 1 small cooking pumpkin – cubed
  • 6 large leek stalks – finely chopped
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes/yams – cubed
  • 4 medium carrots – chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 container of vegetable stock (I used about 800 mL)
  • 5 cloves garlic – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion – thinly sliced
  • coconut oil
  • ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • ground pepper and sea salt
  • a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. start by sautéing the onion and garlic in coconut oil on low-medium heat on the stove-top, in a LE CREUSET/dutch oven, until they are translucent
  2. follow by adding in the leeks and let cook until softened
  3. next, take your chopped pumpkin, sweet potato/yams and carrot and add them into the pot
  4. pour in your vegetable broth and bring to a boil
  5. reduce heat to medium and continue until these veggies are throughly cooked
  6. season with a few teaspoons of ground nutmeg and/or cinnamon (sorry, I didn’t measure the amounts here, but I wasn’t shy)
  7. then, take an immersion hand blender and puree the soup until smooth
  8. at the same time, add in the coconut milk slowly, and continue blending until desired consistency is reached
  9. allow time to simmer on low heat for flavours to melt together
  10. serve it up in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper
  11. finish with a few dashes of hot sauce if you want a little bite!
  12. p.s – I added in an extra spoonful of coconut milk to give it a pretty swirl in the end
  13. enjoy!
Notes

• feel free to play around with the spices if you wish
• some cumin or paprika would probably be a nice touch
• also, you can modify the consistency of your soup by adding in a little bit more broth, if you find it is too thick
• have fun with this one…choose some veggies that are in-season and you are off to the races
• any type of squash is always a good bet as well
• oh ya…when re-heating the leftovers (this makes a ton), I also added in some more liquid to even things out

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