Tag Archives: soup

Gluten Free Baking/Cooking Challenge

15 Nov

Hi guys!

I know I’ve been spotty around these parts lately, and I just have a few minutes to share something with you today.  In prep for Thanksgiving, which is scary close (!!!), I wanted to share my squash soup recipe, just like I do every year.

This year is a bit different though, as there’s a great cause going on around the blogosphere right now for the Gluten-Free folks.  A dear blogging guru friend of many, Shauna Ahern (who is SO SO SO talented and starting her new book tour TODAY), put together a group of folks that would each share a gluten-free recipe on their blogs TODAY, November 15th, in support of all those people out there dealing with holidays while being gluten-free.

If you want to read Shauna’s post today that has a GREAT round up of all the folks involved, check out her post here entitled Gluten Free Thanksgiving 2010.

There are links to tons of recipes, and trust me they are good, even if you CAN have gluten in your diet. Plus, many of them are easy to make, and don’t require crazy ingredients!

If you can’t get enough, or if you know someone that cannot have gluten, how about getting them an early Christmas present like Shauna’s new book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef!  You can get it on Amazon.com (click that linked title) for a reasonable $20 which is probably way less than you’d spend on a shirt, or something less helpful!

I have a couple more things to tell you, but without further delay, here’s my contribution to her awareness efforts:

Siiri’s Famous Squash Soup

 1 large Acorn Squash
1 medium Butternut Squash
1 large yellow onion (yields about 1.5 cups chopped)
4-6 cups low sodium, fat free chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 cups corn (you can use frozen, just double check label for gluten-freeness, yellow is sweeter, I like this)
1 cup fat free or regular half and half
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 medium sweet potato (optional)
1 cup pumpkin (optional)
½ tsp. Poultry seasoning
In a large soup pot (10-12quarts) chop onion with 1 tsp olive oil. Keep on low heat,  add all spices and caramelize. Should take about 20 minutes. Once caramelized, add broth and bring to a simmer. Lower temperature to keep warm, but not simmering.  Puree corn to a paste consistency in blender using a bit of liquid from pot; add back to pot, stirring occasionally.
Cut squash (all of them) and sweet potato in half length wise, remove any seeds, baste with olive oil, and bake in 425°F oven for 30 minutes (or until fork tender) cut side up. Next, remove pulp from squash and potato and mash into a paste (throw away skins). Transfer to pot. Stir and bring to simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cover for about 20 minutes. Stir in half and half.
Tip: Use a whisk to incorporate each new ingredient. The whisk will help break up clumps of squash or anything else that enters the soup as a paste. Your goal is to have a well blended soup that still has some chunky consistency, but is well incorporated.
Add more spices to taste. Will stay in pot in fridge for up to two weeks. Can freeze if desired.

Please Come In: Mr. Bandy does Udon with Shiitake Mushrooms and Kale in Miso Broth

28 Apr

From my friend, Mr. Bandy, I bring you a rainy day recipe.  Thank you, kind sir!  (check out Jeff’s blog: Hex Conduction Hour)

I’m just getting over being sick for a full month, and when I’m sick I crave Japanese food. I wish I had found this recipe when I was just coming down with the plague. It’s cheap, comforting, easy, and incredibly satisfying. It’s also arguably the healthiest thing I’ve ever made in the kitchen.


This recipe comes from the venerable Veganomicon and features red miso, which magically enhances any broth-y entree.

Since I live alone, I bought all the ingredients, prepped the onions and mushrooms, set half of them aside, and cooked a half recipe two days in a row. Fresh udon noodles should be available at any halfway-fancy grocery store – in fact, I’ve never seen dried udon noodles, so fresh noodles may be easier to find. I also at least doubled the amount of fresh ginger in this recipe, but your ginger threshold may not be as high as mine.



1/2 lb fresh or dried udon noodles
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, sliced into thin half-moons
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, stems trimmed, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
2 Tbsp mirin (optional)
2 cups water
3 Tbsp miso (preferably red, if using light add another Tbsp)
4 c chopped kale
2 tsp soy sauce


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the udon per the directions. Fresh udon will take about 2 min. Drain, rinse with cool water, and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion and mushrooms in the oil over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute.
    Add the mirin, water, soy sauce, and miso, and bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and add the kale.
  5. Toss with tongs until kale has wilted, about a minute.
  6. Add the noodles, toss again, and serve.

Secret Trick: I’m comin’ out! I want the world to know…

22 Oct



You know the words! Every year around this time, I want to scream and shout when I bring out my secret trick: my slow cooker.

This thing is simply THE FREAKING BOMBDIZZLE.

Seriously, whoever invented this: thank you.

I am so excited to get started using it this Fall and Winter. Last year, Emily and I bought a book at Ikea called 100 One Pot Meals.

I have flagged about 25-30 pages so far.  Many things are great about one pot meals, oh let me count the ways:

-You have very little prep
-Don’t have to stay in the kitchen
-Can start it before you go to bed, it’s done in the morning
-Can start before you leave for work, it’s done right when you get home from work
-You can eat from the same meal for at least 4 sittings
-The leftovers for lunch at work only require 1 tupperware dish
-Barely any clean up for the KP (Kitchen Patrol) duty person
-Flavors get better as days go on
-You can take to a friend’s house or event
-The warmth can help you stay cozy even if you’re cutting back on heating -the house
-It’s a great excuse to have friends over, without a bunch of labor
-It tasts so good when it touches the lips

So, if you’re not convinced yet, then I’m wasting my time with you. If you ARE convinced, GREAT! Welcome to the cult. Please no recording devices. :)

I am going to start making these cheap, easy and dilicious meals soon, and will of course share with you my recipes (or lack thereof), thoughts, results, and ideas, along with pictures. Lots of pictures.

But since I haven’t done one yet, I wanted to show you what someone else has done to get this party started:

Hearty slow cooker meal of beef stew with mushrooms served over mashed potatoes.

Slow-braised Beef Stew with Mushrooms

From Sunset Magazine

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4  pounds  boned, fat-trimmed beef short ribs or chuck
1  orange (2 1/2 in. wide), rinsed
1  onion (about 8 oz.), peeled and finely chopped
About 1 cup fat-skimmed beef or chicken broth
1  cup  dry red wine
1/2  cup  port or cream sherry
1/4  cup  balsamic vinegar
2  tablespoons  soy sauce
1  teaspoon  dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
3  or 4 very thin slices (quarter size) peeled fresh ginger
1/2  teaspoon  Chinese five spice
1  pound mushrooms (1- to 1 1/2-in.-wide caps)
2  tablespoons  butter or olive oil
2  tablespoons  cornstarch
Salt and pepper
1/4  cup  chopped fresh chives or green onions

1. Rinse meat; cut into 3- to 4-inch lengths (for chuck, about 1 in. thick and 1 1/2 in. wide) and place in a 5- to 6-quart slow-cooker.

2. With a vegetable peeler, pare orange part of peel from orange and sliver it; save orange for other uses. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan, combine peel, onion, 1 cup broth, wine, port, vinegar, soy sauce, thyme, ginger, and five spice. Bring to a boil over high heat. Pour liquid over meat. Turn slow-cooker to high, cover, and cook until meat is very tender when pierced, 5 to 6 hours.

3. Rinse and drain mushrooms; trim off and discard stem ends. Cut mushrooms in half lengthwise and place in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan; add butter.

4. Skim off and discard fat from liquid in slow-cooker. Ladle 1 cup liquid into pan with mushrooms. Stir mushrooms often over high heat until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are lightly browned, 13 to 17 minutes.

5. With a slotted spoon, lift meat from juices in slow-cooker and lay in a single layer in a shallow casserole (about 9 by 13 in.). Pour mushrooms over meat. Bake in a 375° regular or convection oven until meat is sizzling and browned, 12 to 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, measure remaining liquid from slow-cooker. If less than 2 cups, add beef broth to make 2 cups, pour into a 2- to 3-quart pan, and bring to a boil over high heat; if there is more, pour into pan and boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2 cups, 8 to 12 minutes. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Pour into boiling liquid and stir until thickened, about 30 seconds. Pour evenly over meat and mix gently to blend with liquid in casserole, adding salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives.

Don’t confuse beef short ribs with back ribs cut from the beef loin. If you don’t have a slow-cooker, put meat in a 2-inch-deep, 4- to 5-quart baking pan (about 9 by 13 in.); heat liquids and flavorings (step 2), pour over meat, and seal with foil. Bake in a 350° oven until meat is very tender when pierced, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. After 1 hour, check liquid and add water up to original level. Reseal pan with foil and return to oven; after 30 more minutes, check and adjust liquid level again. When meat is tender, continue with step 3; leave meat in pan, draining off liquid, or transfer to a casserole. You can make this dish up to 2 days ahead; let cool, then cover and chill. Bake, covered, in a 350° oven until meat is hot, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve stew with hot cooked rice or mashed potatoes.

Main event: Squash soup

21 Oct

I posted the following almost exactly a year ago, and thought I’d bring it back out to remind everyone of the wonderful variety of squash available at ANY grocery store or market this time of year. I was thinking about making my first seasonal batch of squash soup soon. So, if I do, I’ll share any variations I make with you.

Enjoy, and let me know if you have questions or ideas on these or other types of squash!


This weekend, we’re having a couple friends over for dinner that we rarely get to see.  We’re very excited to catch up, walk the neighborhood and look at the leaves and pumpkins (Seattle weather permitting of course) and eat good food with good company.

Since it’ll be a Saturday evening, I thought something warm and familiar would hit the spot just right!

Butternut Squash

photo of butternut squash

So I’m making my famous “Siiri’s Squash Soup.” Now, it might only be famous amongst my family and close friends, but isn’t that the fame that really counts? Bringing the people you love something that makes them happy?  That’s what I love about the art of cooking!

I’ll give you all the juicy details after I cook the whole soup and other dishes, complete with pictures, but for today I’ll tell you what I’ve done so far.

The great thing about having dinner set up on a Saturday and making something like this hearty dish, is that you can start earlier in the week, and just do a thing or two one day, and then when weekend comes along, half your work is already done! (sweet, right?!)

Acorn Squash

photo of acorn squash

So last weekend, when Paul and I were in Lake Chelan enjoying the brisk lake air and beautiful changing leaves, we stopped at a produce market right up the street from the cabin. We go there every year. It’s great, good prices and the staff is really helpful and willing to cut into literally anything to give you a taste. Now THATS good marketing. There we bought apples, pears, and the squash I’ll be using for the soup.

Butter Cup Squash

photo of buttercup squash

I bought a HUGE butternut squash (I think between 6-8lbs), an acorn squash (little guy), and a buttercup squash (medium size, but lots of seeds, not so much pulp.

Here’s a great site that will tell you all you ever wanted to know about squash varieties and what to do with them, What’s Cooking America.

Last night, while I was doing laundry, trying to find something to eat at the house (fail), and watching Grey’s Anatomy, I roasted the squash.

It could not be easier. The thing about roasting much of anything is that you don’t need a recipe. It’s literally the hardest thing to mess up!

I just turned on the oven to 400F (you can choose any temperature you like, but the hotter it is, the less time it’ll take (of course don’t go too high, anything upwards of 425F and you could be asking for some charred black squash).

I cut them each in half, put a bit of olive oil on them, sprinkled with salt, put on cookie sheets (foil or silicone sheets covering so no clean up), and slapped ’em in the oven for an hour. I checked them at the hour and the littler ones were done. I took them out and left the big butternut in there for another 45 minutes (they’re really dense, so it’ll take much longer).

After they’re done, I let them cool and scooped the flesh out, put them in containers in the fridge.

So now, all I have to do tomorrow is pull all the ingredients together! YAY!

Stay tuned for the recipe (which is really forgiving and changes every time I make it, depending on what I have lying around the house), and lots of pictures!

Stay out of the rain!

Main event: Siiri’s famous squash soup

20 Oct

Good Tuesday Morning, Readers!

So last week, I shared my squash hunting experience with you, from the crisp and windy shores of Lake Chelan, Washington. I showed you how I roasted the squash to prepare them for my famous soup, which I was going to make for our dinner guest on Saturday night.

And indeed, squash soup was created and devoured. (I now think I may call it Squash Chowder, because it’s so hearty and thick, and slightly chunky, it resembles a chowder more).

I’ll share my “recipe” with you below, which of course is like most of my dishes in that the recipe is forgiving, loose and adaptable, so you can really just use what you’ve got with almost little to no ‘store run’ purchases.

I also will show you my favorite Fall decor accessories that I’ve been dying to use since I picked them up on Crate and Barrel discount at the end of last Fall. (please excuse the blurry photo)

Crate and Barrel pumpkin soup bowls

1 Acorn Squash
1 Butternut Squash
(other squash optional, I used Buttercup, known for it’s sweetness)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1-2 cans low sodium, fat free chicken or vegetable broth
1 bag frozen corn, about 16oz. (yellow is sweeter, I like this)
1 cup fat free or regular half and half (or nonfat plain yogurt, which is what I used this time since I had it already)
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1.5 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. Chili powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 medium sweet potato (optional)
1 cup pumpkin (optional)
½ tsp. Poultry seasoning

carmelize your onions

In a large soup pot (10-12quarts) chop onion with 1 tsp olive oil. Keep on low heat, and caramelize. Should take about 20 minutes. Once caramelized, add half the broth and all the yogurt, bring to a simmer. Lower temperature to keep warm, but not simmering. Add all spices.

add your spices to the carmelized onions and let toast for a few minutes, stirring constantly

Puree corn in small batches with remaining broth to a paste consistency; add to mixture, stirring occasionally. (lumps are good, leave ’em)

roasted squash and pureed corn with broth

Add your roasted squash, no skins. Use whisk or spatula or potato masher to break up flesh.  Stir and bring to simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cover for about 20 minutes. Stir in half and half. If need be, add flour to thicken or water to thin.
Tip: Use a whisk to incorporate each new ingredient. The whisk will help break up clumps of squash or anything else that enters the soup as a paste. Your goal is to have a well blended soup that still has some chunky consistency, but is well incorporated.
Add more spices to taste. Will stay in pot in fridge for up to two weeks. Can freeze if desired. The flavor definitely gets better as the days go on. So my advice, make at least this much (sometimes I double the batch in a huge stock pot.) You’ll thank yourself on day 7 when you can’t stop filling your face with this healthy and hearty Fall staple.

(Here’s a bad picture of our dinner table. I need a new camera, this is a joke!)


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