Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat!

There is a house in the next town over, the town where my husband grew up, that every Halloween displays dozens of the most beautiful jack-o-lanterns I have ever seen. I always thought is was a group of people, maybe a club, that got together to pump out the masterpieces, because there was no way it could be done by one person. Well last night I met the woman responsible and it turns out she does do it all. Wow! Every year I look forward to seeing them and am never let down by her amazing creations.

Last week I told you to stay tuned for the next instalment of the roasted butternut squash and here it is. I have seen several recipes popping up for apple and butternut squash soups and the combo sounded really delicious. They all started with uncooked squash but what I had was leftover from last week's risotto and was already roasted and smashed so I had to improvise. The result was a smooth, earthy soup with a hint of tartness to lighten the flavor.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
makes 4-6 servings
1 T butter
1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 granny smith (or other tart apple), peeled, cored and cut into 8 pieces
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, roasted and smashed
pinch nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper

If you are not starting with leftover butternut squash, cut a whole butternut squash into 8 pieces, wrap in foil and roast in 375 degree oven for about 1 hr, until very soft. Scoop the flesh out of the skins and mash.

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are slightly golden. Add the stock, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, about 20 minutes, until apples are very soft.

Puree soup and squash, in batches, in a blender and return to the pot. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally 5-10 minutes. Serve with a hearty bread or croutons.

Note: I made my own garlic croutons with cubes of stale bread that I coated with melter butter and minced garlic and toasted under the broiler, tuning once, until golden. The crunchy croutons nicely contrasted the silky soup.


Jer did the shopping last week and picked up ham and turkey for sandwiches and then it sat, untouched all week. I was worried it would go bad before we even opened the packages so I put Monte Cristos on the menu again. They ended up being the perfect meal in the middle of the week when we both got home pretty late and didn't feel up to cooking much.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches
makes 2 servings

4 slices sandwich bread
thinly sliced ham
thinly sliced turkey
sliced American cheese
sliced Swiss cheese
2 eggs beaten
1/8 cup milk
maple extract (optional)
maple syrup

Between two slices of bread, layer American cheese, ham, Swiss cheese and turkey (that is the order we like). Heat the sandwich in the microwave for about 25 seconds.

Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Beat the eggs, milk and extract (if using) in a shallow bowl. Coat the sandwich on both side with the egg mixture and place in the skillet. Cover with a lid. Cook the sandwich until golden brown on both sides. Serve with warm maple syrup.


I can't recall ever having eaten a chili dog before in my entire life so I was surprised with myself a couple of weeks ago when I had an intense craving for one. I put off making them but once I get an idea in my head I can't let it go until I have tried it. I'm not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that I really enjoyed it. Not only while I was eating but even an hour later I felt totally satisfied. This may be trouble.

Chili Dogs and French Fries

No recipe here. I opted for a store bought chili this time.


I thought this sounded like such and interesting combination of flavors that, although I had already completed my menu for the week when I came across it, I added to the list. The meat of the chicken was perfectly cooked but the skin never got very brown or crispy, the way I like it. I think it was because it didn't have any kind of fat on it to help it along. Next time I think I'll use a little butter.

Roasted Chicken with Apple and Leeks
modified from Real Simple
makes 2 servings

4 small, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 T butter, softened
2 small, crisp apples, quartered (I used Braeburn)
2 leeks, halved crosswise and lengthwise
3 small sprigs rosemary
1 T olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan ( I used a cast iron skillet lined with parchment because I didn't want anything to get welded to the bottom) toss the apples, leeks, rosemary, olive oil, 1/4 t salt and 1/8 t pepper.

Rub the butter over the skin of the chicken and season with 1/8 t each of salt and pepper. Nestle the chicken, skin side up, into the apples and leeks.

Roast 40-45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and apples and leeks are tender.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween! And don't forget to set your clocks back tonight (only if you are in a part of the world that does that of course)!

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Anonymous said...

I think we might have to make the soup today - it's about the only thing we have all the ingredients for. And I need some real food after all the candy I ate last night!

Snake Charmer said...

omg those lanterns are just beautiful!!

chefonfire911 said...

Monte Cristo's are so Awesomenesness (yes it is a word it is in my FB Dictionary!) Whe I worked at country club's I would sell them in the South here they had no clue, but it quickly becomes a favorite. Try it dusted with powdered sugar and some blackberry preserves to dip in! Killer. Not too many people know about the, anymore. It'll come back just like Alfredo which should be taken out to the desert and put out of it's misery. Good Post!