Who says delicious and nutritious meals have to be expensive? This soup, with all of its ingredients combined, will not cost you more than $5. And that’s for four people. In addition, Butternut Squash is so nutritious, it is unbelievable:
- Butternut squash contains many vital poly-phenolic anti-oxidants and vitamins. Similar to other Cucurbitaceae members, this too is one of the low-calorie vegetables, which provides just 45 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, is rich source of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients. Squash is one of the common vegetables that often recommended by dieticians in the cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
- It has more vitamin A than that in pumpkin. At 10630 IU per 100 g, it is perhaps the single vegetable source in the Cucurbitaceae family with the highest levels of vitamin-A, providing about 354% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protected against lung and oral cavity cancers.
What? Do I hear a “Gee, tell us more Mr. Science!”? OK:
- Furthermore, butternut squash has plenty of natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds like ? and ß-carotenes, cryptoxanthin-ß, and lutein. These compounds convert to vitamin A inside the body and deliver same protective functions of vitamin A on the body.
- It is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
- It has similar mineral profile as that in pumpkin, containing adequate levels of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Now, there’s a large number of squashes at the supermarket, all of which are incredibly nutritious. The butternut squash, however, is one of the most healthy types. If you’re not familiar with the butternut squash, this is what it looks like:
Do not mistake it with the Spaghetti Squash, which looks remarkably similar. Anyway, here are the ingredients:
- One butternut squash cut into cubes
- Handful of small carrots
- Two stalks of celery, cut into 2″ pieces
- One medium onion or 2 shallots
- 4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for the vegans)
- Two slices of fresh ginger
- 2 tbs of heavy cream (optional – you can also use milk for a lighter taste)
- 2 tbs of Olive Oil
- 2 tbs of Maple Syrup
- Dash of nutmeg
- Dash of rosemary (or thyme, whatever you have) and 2 sprigs of rosemary (or thyme) (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out all the seeds and slimy bits – discard. Slice the halves into 1″ slices and peel each slice, then dice the slice (!) into 1″ cubes (it is as fun as it sounds).
Take a large ziplock bag, put in the olive oil and maple syrup, then add all the squash, carrots and celey bits. Close up the bag tight and shake like there’s no tomorrow to coat all the pieces in oil & maple syrup.
Prepare a shallow baking tray with a double layer of aluminum foil (so we don’t have to wash the darn thing when we’re done), and dump out the bag contents onto the tray. There’s no right way of doing this, just dump it in and level it. It should look something like this:
I have some rosemary sprinkled on top and added two sprigs of rosemary on top to create some nice smells in the kitchen as it is roasting.
Stick this in the oven at 350 for about 1 hour to 1 hour & 15 minutes, or until squash is soft & cooked.
After about 45 minutes add the sliced ginger on top, so it roasts a bit as well.
After about 80 minutes in the oven, all veggies should be cooked. Grab a tall soup pot and put in all the veggies:
Add about two-three cups of chicken broth, until the veggies are submerged:
If you don’t own one of those handheld emersion blender thingies, this next step will be a bit messy (so I recommend to purchase one of those Cuisinart emersion blender thingies (I don’t own stock in Cuisinart)). Anyway, if you’re stuck with a regular blender or food processors, then work in small batches and pulverize the mixture into a smooth texture. I can assure you, you do one of these soups in your regular blender/food processor, and you’ll be running out the door to purchase a emersion one. If you have one of those, the next step is easy:
You can now go to town with it: mix & blend until smooth, adding more broth until a) you run out of broth, or b) the soup is thin enough:
Make doubly sure everything is pulverized, you don’t want to be chewing on a large piece of ginger later on.
At this point you can taste the soup. I am sure it tastes delicious, but it can probably use some salt & pepper. Also add a dash of nutmeg & stir it up.
You can now add the cream or milk if you wish to make it more creamy tasting. This is completely optional, the squash made this soup incredibly creamy already.
The soup is now ready to serve. Ladle it into bowls, sprinkle a minuscule bit of nutmeg on top & add a bit of parley or rosemary for garnish.
I have tried a large number of mushroom risotto recipes, but this one is by far the best. You just have to make sure you have plenty of nice mushrooms available. This time I used dried Shiitake (from Costco), dried Chanterelle and fresh Porcini (from the grocery store), and a half pound or so of regular white button mushrooms. You can really use any kind of mushroom you like, but if you use only mild mushrooms you may need some extra mushroom flavour. You can use as many or as little mushrooms you like, it makes no difference to the recipe, except for the mushroom taste of the final product.
- 6 cups of hot chicken broth in a bowl with a soup ladle to dispense.
- 1 1/2 cup of Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine (or rice wine, or sherry, whatever you have on hand)
- 2 tbs olive oil
- a pound of mixed mushrooms. If you use dried mushrooms, make sure you soak them in hot water for about half an hour before cooking. RETAIN THE WATER! This is the BEST mushroom broth ever!! Chop all mushrooms.
- 2 challots, minced (or 1/2 medium regular onion if you like)
- 1/3 c parmesan cheese
- 1 tbs butter (or margerine)
Risotto is labour intensive. You have to stand at the stove and stir constantly, so make sure you have no other cooking responsibilities once you start. Also, risotto is best eaten immediately after cooking, so you ave to make sure all your other parts of the supper are ready to go!
In a large wok-type pan, heat up 1/2 the olive oil and once hot, add one shallot. Saute for about two minutes. Add all the mushroom and stir-fry for about five minutes, or when they start to release some liquid. Remove everything from the pan and pour into a bowl (including any liquid–this is GOLD, Jerry, GOLD!). Add the rest of the olive oil and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the other shallot and fry for a minute or two. Add the rice and stir-fry until all the kernels are coated in oil and the rice is starting to brown a bit (five minutes). Add the wine. Now is where the constant stirring begins. Grab a wooden spoon and start stirring the rice mixture. As you stir, you see the rice absorbing the liquid. When nearly all the wine is absorbed start adding chicken broth, just one ladle at a time, again stirring until it is al absorbed before adding more. I cannot stress this enough: STIR CONSTANTLY. So, after about ten minute of adding broth and stirring, you can add the whole bowl of mushrooms (and their liquid) and stirring again until this liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding chicken broth and stirring. If you retained the water from the dried mushrooms you can also add that here. After about 20 minutes, the rice should be nearly cooked and you should be running out of broth. Taste it. It’s pretty good isn’t it?
Take your pan off the stove and put in the butter and parmesan cheese. Stir until creamy and immediately serve. This will be the best wild mushroom risotto you have ever tasted!Read More
This is a great veggie dish. A good side for any meat. Easy to make and very tasteful (if you like garlic). Just a handful of ingredients which are, thanks to the giant supermarkets we have these days, easy to get. This dish will take about five minutes to cook, so make sure you start this after all your other sides are cooked.
You can optionally finish this dish by making a Chinese style white glaze sauce (like a Guy Ding type sauce) by combining a few teaspoons of cornstarch with a few tablespoons of cold water and a teaspoon of sugar. Add this mixture at the end together with the Sherry and you’ll end up with a nice little glaze.
- 1 lb of baby bokchoi (or Shanghai bokchoi whchever you prefer). You need the SMALLEST kind, the ones you don’t have to cut up. They have them in bags for about $1.99/bag. Just take 1/2 a bag, rinse them thoroughly and set them aside).
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of Chicken broth (or vegetable broth for the vegans)
- 2 tbs of Sherry (optional)
- 2 tbs of olive oil
- 2 tsp of sesame oil (optional)
Here we go:
Heat up the olive oil (and optional sesame oil) on medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute. Then lower the heat to low/medium and add the bokchoi. Let them heat up for about minute or so. Use some tongs to toss them around the pan and coat them with the oil and garlic. Just as the pan starts to get dry, add a little of the chicken broth and keep tossing the bokchoi. Once again, as soon as the pan starts to get dry again add some more broth. Repeat this process until the bokchoi are cooked (about five minutes). Add the Sherry (optional) and let it evaporate the alcohol for about a minute. One final toss with the tongs and the bokchoi are ready to be served.
I don’t know about you, but when I want to eat a cream of mushroom soup, I want to have a TON of mushrooms in the soup. Many cream of mushroom soup recipes feature more cream than mushrooms. Not this one. It is easy to make, super yummy and has TONS of mushrooms! It is also a cream soup–without the cream. You can use this method to make ANY cream soup you like, just replace the mushrooms with other ingredients such as leeks, carrots, etc. Just remember the basic rules – some fat (margarine) and equal amounts of tbs of flour vs cups of liquid.
Here we go:
- Mushrooms: a LOT. They can be any kind you like, be it Shiitake, Porcini, Cremini, Portobello or just plain white button mushrooms. I had about four-five cups of chopped mushrooms for my three-person soup. Did I say I like a lot of mushrooms in my soup? If you have a lot of less-tasty mushrooms, such as cremini and white button, you may want to boost the taste of the soup with my all time favourite mushroom taste booster.
- 1 medium onion.
- 2 Tb magerine or butter
- 2 Tb of cooking oil.
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- 3 cups of milk
- 4 Tb of flour
- 1 Tb dry Sherry
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (if desired).
- Some fresh herbs you have lying around such as thyme, marjoram or chives.
Clean all mushrooms and chop them. Chop onion.
Melt some margerine in a large wok type pan. Add 2 tbs of cooking oil, such as vegetable or olive oil. When hot, add the onion and lower heat to low-medium. We don’t want to BROWN the onion, we just want to cook them. If they start to brown, you’re too hot. Cook these for about 10 minutes.
Add all the mushrooms. Stir fry the mushrooms for about 10 minutes until they are all soft and starting to release their moisture.
Add all the flour and stir until it looks like a dry, ugly mess. This is OK!
S L O W L Y add the chicken broth. While adding, stir the liquid into the mushroom/flour mixture until incorporated. As the mixture becomes more liquid you can add more liquids faster and faster.
Slowly add the milk while stirring.
When all the liquids are added bring the soup to a low boil and simmer for a few minutes to release the glutens from the flour and bind the soup. If, after a few minutes, the soup is too thick, just add a bit more milk. If it is too thin, you’ll have to boil it down another 10 or 20 minutes.
Add the Sherry and the nutmeg, and cayenne pepper if you’d like the soup to have a little kick.
Now to finish the soup, I FIRST TASTE IT. Probably needs a bit of salt and pepper.
You can also add some chopped herbs, if you wish. I had some chives lying around from the mashed potatoes I made last weekend so I put those in, but you can easily add other herbs such as thyme or marjoram, or parsley. Whatever, anything goes, really, at this point. It’s all about what YOU like.
Serve it up in a soup bowl (duh!) and garnish it with a sprig of parsley.
And there you have it… a creamy Cream of Wild Mushroom soup, without the cream calories.
Tuesday night. Came home from a long day at work. Craving some vegetables. Left-over Quinoa salad in the fridge. Piece of chicken breast thawing out on the counter. Perfect night for a mixed-grill!
The beauty of the mixed-grill is that you can basically use any vegetable you have on hand. (And you don’t dirty any pots and pans!) If you follow Things You Should Always Have On Hand, you should have most of these vegetables in the fridge:
- 1 red pepper, cut in halves of smaller
- 1 medium onion cut in wedges
- 2 small tomatoes cut in half
- 4 spears of Asparagus, whole
- 2 Portobello Mushroom caps, whole
- Eggplant, cut in parts
- 2 medium zucchinis, cut in parts
- 2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- some herbs & spices (we like Victorian Epicure Bruschetta Herbs), fresh basil, whatever fresh herbs you have
Cut up all your vegetables (except the Asparagus & mushrooms) and place on BBQ grilling basket/tray. Brush everything with the olive oil on both sides until nice and glistening. I like to season the asparagus and tomatoes with some salt & pepper, and season the blander vegetables, like zucchinis, with some herbs & spices, like the Bruchetta Herbs. We like the cut-in-half tomatoes to taste just like a bruschetta, so garlic, salt & pepper, basil & Parmesan cheese on those. Put everything in a single layer, like this:
LEAVE OFF the tomatoes, because they will cook in about 5 minutes, while the rest will take 10 – 15 minutes. Preheat your barbecue to medium heat, and add your meats, if you choose to cook them at the same time. About 15 minutes before your meat is done, place the basket on the grill. Turn the vegetables about every five minutes. If your veggies are BLACK after the first five minutes, your heat is too high. If they show NO SIGN of cooking, your heat is too low. Keep it somewhere in between and you’ll be fine. Remember the setting for tomorrow’s supper! (I guarantee you’ll like these veggies so much, you’ll want to have them again real soon!)
After about 10 minutes, add the tomatoes. Cook for another five minutes.
Your mixed grill is now ready and should look something like this:
Pair with a small, BBQ’d chicken breast and some Quinoa salad:
And a perfect summer meal, ready in under 30 minutes. And your back yard will smell like you’re on vacation in the Caribbean!
Quinoa is an ancient grain. Pronounced ‘keen wah’, quinoa is a frequently neglected and relatively unknown superfood–containing a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and a great source of protein. Nothing else packs a punch of nutrition quite like quinoa.
Quinoa’s complete protein contains all eight essential amino acids; these amino acids are essential because our body cannot produce them. Plant based protein is superior to meat proteins as they do not include harmful cholesterol and fat. Further, plant based proteins contain nutritional factors (complex carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and fiber). Quinoa is a complete protein and contains many additional nutritional benefits including lysine, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, and phosphorous; these nutrients are essential in tissue growth and repair and are especially valuable for those with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.
Quinoa is also extremely easy to cook: put it in the rice cooker, just like you would rice, two cups of water per one cup of quinoa. Fifteen minutes later, you’ve got yourself one of the healthiest things you can eat on the planet.
We like to get the big bag at Costco (truRoots Organic). It has been thoroughly washed, so no need to rinse, just pour into your rice cooker, add water and away you go.
I like to cook WAY more than I would need for supper. 1) to have left overs for the rest of the week — it microwaves perfectly, and 2) to have some left over to make a cold quinoa salad for an easy side in the summer months, to some mixed-grill vegetables, for example.
As an option, when NOT making quinoa to put in a cold quinoa salad, I like to add a little mushroom bouillon to the water and some sliced mushrooms to give the quinoa a mushroom taste. You can also add some chicken bouillon.Read More
This is such a healthy and yummy side dish. And it is very easy to make, keeps for a long time in the fridge, and is a snap to serve on those summer BBQ evenings. All you have to do is cook a cup more quinoa next time you make it for supper and store the left-overs in the fridge until you make this salad.
- 3 cups cooked quinoa chilled
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped tomato
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers (jar type, or use left-overs from your mixed-grill)
- Pinch salt, Pinch pepper
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 finely minced garlic Clove (large)
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- Mix together in a zip-lock type container so you can shake and mix it.
Shake up dressing and pour over quinoa and mix. Put in fridge for several hours to blend the tastes.
If you have on hand you can add any of the following:
- Niblet corn
- Diced cucumber
- Thawed frozen peas
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped olives
This recipe was developed by my wife, Joanne.Read More