After spending a beautiful afternoon apple-picking, we decided to get adventurous with our
bounty – and WOW – did we ever find the perfect autumn comfort dish. Thanks to our friend
Onna (check her out at http://fullandhappy.com/about.html), we were able to find a perfect
dish for our apples (besides the apple pie of course!) that also uses another one of our fall
favorites: Butternut Squash.
This soup will have your whole home smelling like fall. One amazing find we made on our apple
picking adventure was a homemade Sweet Hot Pepper Relish. This dish is so packed with
flavor, we though a little sweet heat would be the perfect compliment. Was it ever!
Ingredients (serves 4 adults easily):
2.5 pounds butternut squash (1 large or 2 small squash)
1 Tablespoon salt
½ cup of olive oil
4-6 apples, peeled and diced (any will work - but Granny Smith is the best IMO)
2 leeks, the white and light green parts
12 sprigs fresh thyme, picked – or however many you like!
¼ cup sherry wine, marsala wine, or dry white wine (you should be drinking white wine
while cooking anyway so just pour some out of your glass!)
2 cans of regular coconut milk
32 oz of Vegetable stock
¼ cup raw sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Dollop of Sweet Hot Pepper Relish (if you can find it)!
Preheat the oven to 425F. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the
seeds. Generously rub the flesh with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Roast face-up at 425 for about 40-45 minutes, the key here is to make sure the flesh has
a nice browning on the outside.
Peel and dice the apples, and chop the leeks
In a large stock pot saute the apples and leeks in olive oil until they are lightly browned,
and the apples are soft – about 8 minutes
Add the Thyme and white wine to help scrap the tasty bits off of the bottom of the pot
Add the coconut milk, and lower the temperature to simmer for 15 minutes
Once the squash is roasted, take it from the oven and scrape out the flesh and put it
into the pot (if it is cook properly you should be able to do this with a spoon easily
Add the sugar and vegetable stock and simmer for another 15 minutes
Once it is cooked, blend it with a hand blender, or in a standing blender
Super Surprise: This soup (if you use 6 apples) will be nice and thick. That means once it is in
the fridge (if you have leftovers) it will thicken even more and make a delicious apple saucy
Pairing suggestion: for the kids, and our kids loved this dish – a grilled cheese with a nice cheddar is divine!
The Fridge Clearing Special!
We always buy too many beautiful vegetables! Thinking we are going to eat SUPER healthy that week, so we stock up on everything that looks wonderful in the organic vege isle. What always happens is life gets in the way of cooking some nights, then later in the week we have ourselves a vegetable crisis! Every time we open the fridge the vegetables stare at us, begging to get eaten before they go bad.
It is all very stressful.
We found a great recipe from our friend Onna that helped us, in one beautiful and delicious dish, use ALL our vegetables! And we did it thanks to the super hero of all spice mixtures – curry!
This Thai Curry dish is super easy to make, and goes great with any flavored or plain rice you have in your cupboard. We used a basil-chili rice for the adults, and good old-fashioned Basmati for the kids. We tapped our box (shhh!) of California pinot grigio, and turned a Friday night into a Thai adventure.
We make this with two cast iron pots – one for the curry and one for the vegetables. Meat eaters can throw anything in here also and it would be just as great. The recipe below is all of the vegetables we had on hand, but literally any vegetable would taste great in this mixture. Making it separately also allows the non-fans of the curry to have the charred veges with whatever sauce they want (which helped with our kids since we went with a spicier curry).
Combine and enjoy! One thing to add (if you have it around) would be some fresh cilatrno or a squeeze of lime juice. The leftovers of this dish the next day, in my opinion, are even better than the original – so go ahead and cook all those veges in your fridge now and have lunch ready tomorrow!
Sadly, we have not yet managed to fit apple-picking into our jam-packed weekends so far this fall... Only joking. No, I'm not joking about not making it out to the Pennsylvania countryside for apple-picking, but, actually, lately we've been really lazy and cozy on the weekends. I don't know what it is about this rainy weather, but it makes me want to do nothing but curl up at home with The Office and with snacks. ALL THE SNACKS. There is only so much microwave popcorn or carrots and hummus or carrots and cheese that a woman can consume, and so I've been looking around for new ideas. That's why I loved this blog post:
It Was Hard To Snack Healthy Until I Learned These 22 Delicious Metabolism-Boosting Ideas
The first idea that grabbed my attention happens to be my favorite all-time snack and perfect for fall: apple, peanut butter, and granola delight!
1. Take an apple, a jar of peanut butter, and a box of granola. What do you get? Sandwiches!? It's also super easy to make like all sandwiches are, but this one has a fun, fresh kick to it, and is a nice bread replacement if you tend to eat too much bread or too many crackers as I do.
2. Just slice the apples into flat, round, cracker-shaped slices and spread peanut butter on the flattest side. Sprinkle granola atop if you love crunch. (And oh, I do!) You could also skip this step and use crunchy peanut butter, I guess, but I love granola! Here is the low-down on whether or not granola is good for you. (Also, FYI another of my top 5 favorite snacks is a quick bowl of granola, greek yoghurt, and banana slices.)
3. Top your peanut butter and granola with another apple slice, and that's it!
Now we just have to find a nearby orchard and we can even make this snack with apples we picked ourselves. We're new to Philly, and I'm excited to explore new, good spots for apple-picking. I'd welcome any recs as well! What's your favorite thing about fall?
Around the World through our Stomachs!
Having a family with roots all over the world, we try to find new and fun ways to teach our
children about the world and different cultures. Eating your way around the world is a great
way to do it! We tried Shakshuka (pronounced “Shack-Shooka”), and we are so proud of how
well it turned out (because it is actually a very simple recipe!). This dish makes a great fancy
brunch for adults, or even a cozy dinner recipe. Shakshuka is a very popular North African dish,
that is also popular in Israel. The traditional recipe has cayenne pepper and/or red pepper
flakes. We did not go there because we are trying to get our kids to enjoy it too, and spice is
the only flavor they are not on board for yet. I would not be shy about hot sauce or other
spices if you have the palette for it – spice really turns this dish into something special.
1 large Yellow Onion diced
Fresh bunch of cilantro
1 large red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves (at least that is how many I use!)
1 can (28 Oz) of crushed or whole plum tomatoes (having the chunks is key so stay away
from straight tomato purees)
LOTS of Feta cheese (sorry, I use LOTS but a couple crumbles works too – it gives the
whole dish a nice salty flavor without having to overdo it with salt)
Shredded parmesan (as much as you like!)
6 large local eggs
Spices & oils
o Olive oil (about 3 tablespoons)
o 1 teaspoon ground cumin
o 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
o NOTE: I actually use more cumin and paprika than this because I love the earthy
sweet flavor, and this is what gives the dish its character. That said you can
always add more spice, but you CANNOT TAKE IT OUT, so I would recommend
you starting with a teaspoon of each, and taste it. If you think you want more
afterwards then go for it. You can also sprinkle some on individual bowls if some
people want more. If you like a bit of heat then you can add a dash of cayenne
or red pepper flakes. If my kids were not eating this, I would load up on the
If you have not gotten a big cast-iron pot/skillet you need to. We cook everything in
these pots, and you can usually find one cheap if you do not want to splurge on a fancy
one. They are naturally non-stick, and pretty much indestructible. The one in the
picture below is over 10 years old and still looks brand new.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in the onion and bell pepper
and cook. The key here is to cook them slowly for 20 minutes so they really breakdown.
Add the Garlic, paprika and cumin around the 15 minute mark.
Turn on your oven to 380 degrees
Add in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until nice and thick.
Mix in the feta
Crack the eggs over the top of the mixture and put the whole thing in the oven until the
eggs set. This takes about 7 minutes. You want the yoke to be a bit runny (or at least I
do) so you can mix it all together.
Top with the parmesan and cilantro
We actually just put the entire pot right on the table on a hotplate and let people scoop
out the yummy goodness. I eat it with a baguette, as it's a great utensil, and trust me you
are going to want to sop up every bit in your bowl!
My goal in life is to raise children who love cooking as much as my husband does. I'm a terrible cook and only started to learn for my kids' sake. How many frozen pizzas or mac n'cheeses can one mom serve in good conscience?
So after some negotiating and promises of video games, our daughter agreed to spend five minutes
watching my husband cook! (Here's to the small victories!!) What happened next was a half hour (as in 30 whole minutes) of her asking Ryan about various vegetables, tasting and discovering new flavors, and a running conversation that touched on all aspects of life.
I now know that my daughter loves the taste of raw onions and can eat raw sweetcorn by the mouthful. That is the magic of cooking.
It slows everything down, takes life offline, and gives families a common task to accomplish while drinking wine and eating delicious things.The recipe below is my vegetarian take on a summer classic. I have pinned the bacon-filled recipe also for those who are interested. We're always trying to find vegetarian recipes to share with our kids, and I've found including children in their preparation makes them more adventurous. I actually found some vegan bacon, which was beyond tasty. Added bonus: it gave the soup some texture. Corn soup is a very understated flavor, and makes for a great palette for all sorts of flavors!
Sweet Summer Corn Soup with Fake Bacon
8-10 fresh ears of local corn. Frozen works too, but part of the fun is shucking the corn!
4 TBSP of butter (if you use bacon then cut this amount in half)
1 yellow onion
1 bunch chives
Garlic to taste (I used 3 cloves)
1 bunch green onions
4-5 Yukon Potatoes
4 cups of water
Whatever spices you want (I like fresh Thyme, but dried works also)
1 Cup of Whole Milk (or half & half)
Anything else you want! Try honey or sugar if you want to sweeten it, or jalapenos and
Optional: Cajun spice if you want to give it a kick.
Soup is always so easy!
1. Shave the corn kernels off the cobs into a bowl
2. Dice the garlic, yellow onion and green onions (with the green onions, just dice the
white part – you can use the green part as a garnish)
3. Put the butter into a large pot and melt.
4. Add the garlic and onions and cook on medium-high for 5 minutes or so, until they start
5. Add the potatoes and the water and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat
to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally.
6. Once the potatoes are soft enough to crush with a fork, use a hand mixer to blend. A
standing blender works just as well, it is just more dishes so go with the hand mixer if
you have one. Once you have blended, it is time to add the milk and/or honey.
7. Add salt & pepper as desired. Chop the chives and sprinkle on the soup. A giant hunk of
delicious cheese (cheddar, gouda, parm etc) would also be amazing if you are in the
8. Serve with a nice French baguette, some garlic bread or grilled cheese.
Isabella & Ryan
This is the one section Isabella is currently collaborating on with another. She's learning to cook, while her husband is already an excellent chef. You can follow Ryan on Pinterest: @rmccaffr