Butternut Squash, Bacon, Onion, and Spinach Quiche


I have a horrible habit of buying butternut or acorn squash and then letting it decompose on our kitchen countertop without ever using it. Grandiose ideas always dance in my head when I happily add it to my shopping cart at the grocery store. “I will carve this butternut squash into a festive turkey, roast it, and drizzle it with a balsamic reduction,” I tell myself. “It will serve as the centerpiece for our thanksgiving meal and it will become so beloved, that it will evolve into a tradition that I pass down to my children’s children and we will call it the Gobbler Gourd.” The voice narrating the regal scene I am imagining suddenly develops a hybrid accent of British/Australian/West Virginian because I have never been good with linguistics, even in my dreams. And then I make it through the checkout line, struggle to find my car keys, load a crying and hungry Smith into his car seat, pull in the garage, and drop half of the groceries on the floor before I see the butternut squash again and wonder if our sheep or chickens will eat the rotting blob it will surely become. “Surely the grocery store used some sort of trickery to force me to buy it,” I surmise. In the moment, I second guess whether or not we actually enjoy the taste of squash.

The particular butternut squash I used in this recipe was destined for a similar fate of those before it, but I decided it was time to stop being so wasteful and find some new ways to incorporate this ingredient into our weeknight meals. The idea for a quiche quickly came to my mind as we had a surplus of eggs from our hens and I needed to make a few batches of pie dough for the upcoming Turkey Day celebration. I turned to my new favorite book, America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School, and followed the guidelines for making quiche and then added some extra jazziness to it. By the way- if you don’t have this book and would like to learn some classic cooking techniques, I highly recommend it. I adore everything ATK produces and this publication did not disappoint.


In addition to the butternut squash, I used ingredients that I had on hand that I thought would go well together. Because I was going to be serving this for dinner, I added bacon to it to appeal to some of the other members of my household. I like to think the new reports on the health risks of cured meat are mitigated if one consumes good quality bacon and makes sure to incorporate plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. But maybe that’s just me.

Soapbox aside, the quiche was a surprising hit for our family. Though Robert is always very kind and gracious when I make new recipes, I could see the flash of what I like to call “meat insecurity” shoot across his eyes when he saw what was for dinner. It only took a single bite to reassure him. Poor guy.  I only wish I would have thought of this sooner, but I was so glad I was able to at least save this butternut squash from a sad ending.

Happy Saturday, all!


Butternut Squash, Bacon, Onion, and Spinach Quiche

Yield: 1 9″ quiche


  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 6 strips bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise in thin strips
  • 1 cup loosely packed spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 single layer pie crust
  • Olive oil, butter


  1. Press pie dough into 9 inch pie pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes.  While the dough chills, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat.  Once heated, add the squash and onions and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Add in the garlic and heat until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, for about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, whisk together the milk, eggs, salt, and pepper. Add the shredded cheese and sautéed vegetables to the custard mix. Set aside.
  2. After the dough has been chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place aluminum foil over pie crust and secure down with pie weights. Blind bake crust just until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the aluminum foil and pie weights and transfer pie pan to a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet back in the oven and carefully pour the custard mix into the pie crust, making sure to leave 1/2 room between top of the custard and edges of the pie crust. Moving the baking sheet to the oven before adding the custard prevents the custard from spilling all over the place if you add it before you move the baking sheet to the oven.
  3. Bake the quiche until puffed and lightly golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack and allow to set for 1-3 hours before serving.

Note: You may have extra custard depending on the depth of your pie pan. I used the extra I had to bake egg cups in standard muffin tins (I baked these for about 18 minutes) and they were great for breakfasts on the go.

Source: Method for preparing quiche from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School

Spooky Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treat Pops


Of all the holidays, Halloween is my favorite for making festive treats. There are so many cute ideas floating around the interwebs and I find many of them so irresistibly charming. These spooky Frankenstein Rice Krispie treat pops were no different. I was particularly drawn to them because of the ease and I had romantic ideas of my little rump roast helping me make them. As usual, the reality of situation was far different from my expectation and Smith was more interested in putting his toy tractors in my salad spinner. But I had lots of fun doing it myself and my little laddy enjoyed eating them. It was a win-win situation.

I used melted chocolate chips to dip the pops in and it worked pretty well. However, I recently learned, from my binge-listening of America’s Test Kitchen podcast, that the chocolate chips aren’t the best option for melting and dipping/coating confections because of the addition of emulsifiers in the chips themselves. You see, chips are designed not to fully melt as they are most commonly used in baked goods. In the future I will use a chocolate bar, but I had to use what I had on hand this time around. Just a little fun fact for you.

If you are looking for a last minute Halloween treat, I would highly recommend some spooky Frankenstein pops. If nothing else, you will enjoy the classic flavors of one of the most beloved treats.

Here are some more downright petrifying ideas to get you in the Halloween spirit:

Spider Web Cupcakes

Spooky Marshmallow Ghosts

Chocolate Skeleton Cookies

Harry Potter Butterbeer Cupcakes


Frankenstien Rice Krispie Treat Pops

Yield: 9  3″x4″ pops


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for utensils, pan, and your hands
  • 10 oz bag of marshmallows, regular or mini
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Green food coloring (I prefer AmeriColor)
  • Sugar eyes (available at most craft stores or on Amazon)
  • Popsicle sticks (available at most craft stores)


  1. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large pot (I used a Dutch Oven) over medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir and fold gently with a buttered scraper (so the scraper wont stick to the marshmallows). Continue this process until the marshmallows are fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Stir to combine. Add in 2-3 drops of green food coloring and stir well until color is evenly distributed. Add in the cereal and gently fold until well-coated. Transfer the mixture to the greased pan. Use  your buttered scraper or your hands (careful it could be hot!) to gently press the Rice Krispies into the pan. Allow to cool for at least one hour.
  2. After the treats have cooled, use a buttered knife to cut into roughly 3″x4″ rectangles. Transfer to parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Carefully insert a popsicle stick into the base of the rectangles.
  3. Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave, stirring after 30 second increments until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pick the pops up by the popsicle stick. Turn upside down and slowly dunk top about 1/2 inch into chocolate. Pull straight out and slowly twirl pop as to remove excess chocolate. Place on parchment or baking mat and repeat with remaining treats. Transfer remaining melted chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a plastic sandwich Ziploc bag with the tip cut off. Pipe a mouth onto the treats. Pipe two dots where you want to place sugar eyes and then place eyes onto the dots so that they will stay. Allow chocolate to harden and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Rice Krispies

Apple Crumb Coffee Cake


A good coffee cake is an underrated baked good. Most recipes are easy to make, they can be fixed ahead of time, they are great for crowds, and best of all they transform a standard cup of joe into a quaint occasion. Our friends from college visited us last weekend and I decided a seasonal version of apple crumb coffee cake would be wonderful shared with some of our favorite people.

This particular recipe is from the gregarious Emeril Lagasse. A brief side note about Emeril: I will always hold a special place in my heart for this man. When I was in middle school, The Food Network was added to our cable package and I became obsessed with Emeril Live. One of the big highlights of my day was watching his show at night after I finished my homework. It was so fascinating watching him entertain the studio audience with his catchphrases “BAM!” and “let’s kick it up a notch!” and I tried to start incorporating a similar narrative into my detailed construction of nighttime snacks.  I was a pretty wild child, if you can’t tell. I think even my parents lovingly teased me about my infatuation with my boy, Emeril. I eventually stopped watching his show and replaced it with more age-appropriate social activities; but it was fun while it lasted.

Okay enough about New Orleans’ favorite chef; and back to this coffee cake. I was very pleasantly surprised how well it turned out. I am often so swept up in the pumpkin mania that surrounds this time of year, that I forget how delicious apples are in baked goods. This cake is well-spiced and scattered with generous chunks of apples and then topped with a crumb topping that balances the whole concoction. Don’t be deceived by the homely appearance of it. It really is anything but ordinary. Luckily I sent the majority of the leftovers home with our friends so I wouldn’t end up eating most of it.

If you are looking for a seasonal treat to jazz up your weekend morning, may I suggest this gem from my childhood friend, Emeril?


A few snapshots from Autumn in Amish country:








 Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

Yield: 12 servings


For the cake:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups apples, chopped (I used 3 medium honey crisp apples)
For the crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan with butter and line with a circle of parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the stick of butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition and scrape down the sides. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a third small bowl stir together the sour cream and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the sour cream mixture. Stop the mixer, remove bowl and carefully fold in the apples just until evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread out evenly.
  3. Next, make the topping by combining the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Mix using your fingers or a fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and carefully press into the batter. Bake until golden brown and set, 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Remove from pan and serve.

Source: Emeril Lagasse


Chicken Shawarma


Because I grew up in the country, I didn’t have a large variety of cuisine to sample from. The standard spices in the recipes of my Midwestern region tend to be salt, pepper, and sugar. Lots of sugar. While I love the delicious food I grew up with, and I still make a lot of those traditional recipes, I didn’t really know beauty of other cuisine until Robert and I moved to Columbus. As with most larger cities in America, Columbus is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities. This means there is a plethora of ethnic restaurants just waiting to inspire the taste buds of diners. I was introduced to spices like turmeric, saffron, and garam masala. It was educational and delicious all in one.


Perhaps our favorite discovery, though, was The Olive Tree in Hilliard. It was at this Mediterranean restaurant that we found the magic of chicken shawarma. Shawarma, by definition (thanks to a quick, highly technical google search), refers to the method of preparing meat by roasting it in a vertical, rotisserie-type of device called a spit.  It’s also often served with hummus or tahini and eaten with pita. I think I originally ordered this because it reminded me of the post-credits scene in the movie The Avengers, but not even the acting skills or Robert Downey Jr. could have prepared me for the deliciousness that was served. A gorgeous medley of amazingly-seasoned chicken and vegetables were sitting atop a silky swirl of creamy homemade hummus and accompanied by pillowy soft pita. Robert and I were both hooked and there was a fabulous stretch of time when we ordered take-out from The Olive Tree about once a week because we had shawarma fever.


It’s fun and exciting to try new foods. It adds to a richer experience in life and it broadens one’s worldview. Just as we have the ability to evolve and mature as individuals, we have the ability to allow our tastebuds to do the same. Now more than ever, we have access to previously hard-to-find ingredients and there are millions and millions of incredible recipes at our fingertips thanks to the Internet. I’ve happily added this chicken shawarma recipe to our family’s rotation of meals. It’s a great way to shake up the classics and it has actually become a meal that I would classify as a comfort food. It reminds me of many convivial moments dining with friends and family and it nourishes both the body and the soul.



Chicken Shawarma


  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 bell peppers, julienned
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Hummus
  • Pita bread
  • Feta cheese, optional
  • Fresh basil/cilantro, optional


  1. Make two separate batches of the marinade: in 2 separate small bowls, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon all spice, 3/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken in a zip-loc bag or bowl and pour one of the bowls over the chicken. Ensure the pieces are coated evenly and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Cover other bowl of marinade and set aside to used for vegetables.
  2. Grill the chicken: heat grill to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover with aluminum foil and allow meat to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Sauté the vegetablesAdd about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add the peppers and onion and the other bowl of marinade. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to ensure vegetables are evenly coated. Turn down the heat of the stove to medium and cook until peppers and onions are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Plate and enjoy: After the chicken rests, cut into strips. Swirl a generous amount of hummus on a plate or bowl. Add a scoop of the sautéed vegetables and then a few pieces of chicken. Top with feta cheese and fresh basil or cilantro. Serve with pita bread. Enjoy!

Source: Tori Avey


How to Make a Well-Balanced Smoothie


Let me go ahead and preface this post by saying that I am not a licensed dietitian or nutritionist. I am a mere mortal, who has learned a lot about making well-balanced smoothies through the wisdom of dietitians, reputable podcasts, and reading over the past few months.  As a result, I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different ingredients and discover the combinations needed to create a smoothie with nutritional staying power. Smoothies and protein shakes have become pretty popular in the last few years and, unfortunately, just because something sounds healthy, doesn’t always make it so. A lot of these drinks are essentially sugary milkshakes in disguise and they lack the nutrients necessary to keep us properly fueled. This may lead to a shameful run-in with cinnamon rolls, hypothetically speaking- maybe.


When building my morning smoothie, I try to incorporate three main components: carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat.

The carbohydrates are complex and come from the fruits and vegetables.  The need to add in extra sugar is eliminated if you use extra ripe fruit. I also always add in a generous handful of spinach (and sometimes kale) as a way to kick start my vegetable intake for the day. Don’t worry- when you blend it all together, you can’t taste the spinach. As for the kale, you have to blend that extra well or you will be tasting “spinach with hair” as Jim Gaffigan so lovingly describes this green. I’m sorry, I love vegetables, but it’s true.

I’ve included a list of the fruits and vegetables I have personally used and loved. You may notice I didn’t include raspberries on the list because I have found they tend to make the smoothies too tangy and gritty for my liking.  Also, I typically use frozen fruit to make the smoothies thicker and more scrumptious.


Fruits- About 1 cup

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas

Leafy Greens: 2 generous (and well-washed) handfuls

  • Spinach
  • Kale

For the protein portion, I prefer using a good quality whey protein powder. It turns out we don’t get nearly as much protein as we should and this is the component that helps keep our hunger at bay. I have also used cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt when I don’t have the former option available.


  • High quality whey protein powder (>15 grams of protein per scoop/serving)
  • Greek yogurt (1/2-3/4 cup)
  • Cottage cheese (1/2-3/4 cup)

Adding healthy fat is necessary to help stabilize blood sugar and increase our good (HDL) cholesterol. Contrary to my previous belief, nut butters count as a healthy fat and not a protein. Incorporating a healthy fat also makes the smoothie extra delightful.

Healthy Fat:

  • Natural peanut butter: 1 tablespoon
  • Natural almond butter: 1 tablespoon
  • Coconut oil  (unrefined, cold-pressed is best): 1 tablespoon
  • Canned coconut milk: 1/4 cup
  • Avocado: 1/4 cup

To provide the right consistency for drinking, I always add a liquid base to my smoothies. Using milk will add a little extra protein; but I often mix and match depending on my mood. Here are my favorites:

Liquid Base: 1/2-1 cup total depending on your preference

  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Milk
  • Water
  • Cold-brew coffee

To top off my scrumptious breakfast, I usually add in a little extra jazziness to brighten my day.  I’ve listed my favorites below:

Extras: Usually between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon

  • Ground flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Espresso powder
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Orange zest
  • Canned pumpkin (it is that time of year)
  • Cinnamon or any other spices you fancy :)


Some of my favorite combinations are:

  • Banana- spinach-peanut butter-coffee-almond milk-cocoa powder-chia seeds (inspired by one of my favorite local restaurants Zest)
  • Blueberries-banana-spinach-coconut cream-coconut milk-ground flaxseed-fresh lemon juice
  • Mango-pineapple-coconut cream-coconut milk-fresh lime juice
  • Strawberries-banana-spinach-avocado-almond milk

The possibilities are endless and delicious depending on your personal preference. Again, I am only sharing what I have learned and not intending this information to be dietetic law. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day!

SourcesNutritional Weight and Wellness, Nutrition Diva





Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins


Do you hear that? It’s the sound of full-fledged pumpkin hysteria and I am right there on the frontline of it all. We have officially arrived at that time of year and I love to welcome this autumn staple with open arms when fall begins. Perhaps it’s the result of being married to a wonderfully practical man, but I am a firm believer in celebrating each season at the right time. I don’t purchase pumpkin spice lattes in August and we don’t put our Christmas decorations up until after we’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving. It’s all part of my super self-actualized ideology of living life in the present. By the way, I just finished Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me?  and she uses the term “self-actualized” rather frequently and I fancy it so much that it is now my go-to description for what I hope my thirties (gulp) will be.  How self-actualized of me. So hipster.


I guess you could say I’m self-actualized in my ability to fully embrace the fact that I have an incredible propensity to embarrass myself on very regular occasions. In my younger years, I was less than fond of that part of myself; but I now accept it. The people closest to me seem to like my tales and I am glad I can provide comic relief for those I love the most. Just last week, I was evaluating a patient in her home and I wanted to look at the safety of the bathroom set-up, so I asked, with my hand already turning the door knob, “do you mind if I take a peek at your shower?” I said this more as a formality and I pushed my shoulder against the door and barged right in before the sweet, elderly lady could tell me her daughter was using the restroom. I got a high-def, panoromic view of a poor, unsuspecting women just trying to go to the bathroom in peace. The worst part was this was just the beginning of the eval, so we were able to spend lots more quality time together after I profusely apologized and slammed the door shut. Oy.


When I am not storming in on people using the restroom, I like to fill my house with aromas of fall. These pumpkin muffins do just that. They are made with a full can of pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I made these for breakfast for Smith and he loves them. I like them because they aren’t too cloyingly sweet and the whole wheat flour adds a good heartiness with each bite. The muffins are equally great for busy weekday mornings or for lazy fall weekends paired with a piping-hot cup of joe.

Happy Saturday, all.



Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup real maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 eggs
  • Cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon cinnamon 3 tablespoons sugar), for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, butter, maple syrup, milk, and eggs until well-combined. Carefully add dry ingredients to the wet and mix gently until just mixed through.
  2. Use a large ice cream scoop to fill batter into cupcake liners. Sprinkle the top of the muffins with cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until top of muffins spring back when you gently push down with your finger. Transfer to cooling racks to cool for about 5 minutes, remove muffins from the tin and allow to cool completely. Enjoy! These muffins also freeze well.

Source: Adapted from A Pinch of Yum








Savory Butternut Squash Bisque


That distinct Ohio Autumn crispness has floated into the morning air the past two days and it has sparked in me a fierce urge to cook and bake. The summer humidity always dampens my desire to be in my kitchen, but my oven and stove were working overtime this past Sunday afternoon.  Our house temperature rose to a stifling 76 degrees, but whatever. It was fun, albeit steamy.

One of my weekend projects was this soup.  I had scooped up a hefty butternut squash at the grocery store without any recipe in mind last week. This, unfortunately, tends to result in me throwing out a rotting squash because no plans come to fruition and I always vow to waste less “next time.” But then the vision of a silky and earthy butternut squash soup danced in my head and I was researching recipes in no time.


I have a personal preference for savory spices with starchier vegetables like sweet potatoes or butternut squash. They are already sweet to begin with and I think adding spices like cinnamon and nutmeg makes these types of dishes seem more like a dessert. As a result, I added thyme to this bisque instead. The addition of flavorful leeks and sherry really make this soup extra lovely. Sherry is one of the best ways to take a creamy soup up about 50 notches. It adds a whole new dimension and richness. I highly recommend using it if you can; plus- it lasts forever! I think the sherry I have was originally my great grandmother’s and my mom gave it to me when my parents were moving.

If you are in the mood for soups and you are in the autumn spirit, I highly recommend making this soup. It makes a great side dish and is wonderful topped with crème fraiche and good balsamic vinegar. You could also make it a main dish and jazz it up with a few crumbles of thick bacon. Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.


Looking for more soup recipes? Here are a few of our favorite soup recipes from the archives:

Wedding Crab (or Lobster) Bisque- the beloved soup recipe served at our wedding (sherry is in this recipe, too!)

Sweet Potato Chili– a healthy and hearty soup with no added sugar

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese– creamy and rich

Corn Chowder– all of the flavor of summer before we say goodbye

Crab and Corn Chowder– shellfish and corn go together like peas and carrots

Sweet and Spicy Chili– a little sweet and a little heat make for a classic soup

Cream of Mushroom– earthy and satisfying

French Onion Soup– let’s be real, the best part is the cheesy bread on top

Chicken Tortilla Soup– for those who want a little extra spice in their lives

P.S. We have three new ladies in our family: Ruth, Idgie, and Sipsey. They are Rhode Island Red laying hens and we love getting fresh eggs every day. Fresh eggs are so much richer and more flavorful than those found in the grocery store and one of our girls is a double-yolk-laying machine.


Savory Butternut Squash Bisque

Yield: About 6 side dish servings


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only, chopped and rinsed well (about 1 cup total)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Crème fraiche and balsamic vinegar for topping, optional


  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven. Add in the leaks and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add in the squash, thyme, black pepper, and salt. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Add in the sherry and cook for about 2 minutes longer to allow the liquid to reduce.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce hit to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes or until squash is tender.
  4. Using a hand blender or regular blender, blend the soup until desired texture is achieved  (I personally like a few chunks and bits left). Return the soup mixture to the Dutch oven. Add in the milk, cream, and any additional salt or sherry as your personal taste indicates. Stir to combine and reheat to desired temperature.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!


Source: Slightly adapted from Merrill Stubbs at Food52

DIY Crème Fraiche


Aw, yes, crème fraiche (pronounced KKKREM FRESH in the most obnoxious French accent possible.) It’s the snooty, more sophisticated cousin to sour cream. Crème fraiche is thicker, less tangy, slightly nuttier in flavor, and it is delightful in both savory or sweet dishes. It also has a higher butterfat content compared to sour cream, which makes it a great addition to sauces and soups because it won’t curdle at higher temperatures.


Also stacked against sour cream, crème fraiche is more difficult to find in grocery stores (especially in our rural neck of the woods) and it is more expensive. So chic. So European.


The good news is that it’s quite easy to make crème fraiche in the comfort of your own home, where you can call it “cream fraytch” if you are true, red-blooded Ohioan like I am. All you need is a pint of heavy cream, real buttermilk, and a little patience. The stand-in buttermilk mixture of milk and vinegar or lemon juice won’t work in this recipe because the heavy cream needs the active bacteria found in the true buttermilk to get that crème fraiche explosion going.


To make the crème fraiche, combine the pint of cream and 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk in a sterile mason jar. Give it a good stir, secure a coffee filter over the top of the jar using a rubber band, and place the jar in an oven or a draft-free place for about 24 hours. The mixture will thicken. After the 24 hours are up, give the mixture another stir and put the jar in the fridge for another 24 hours. When this time has passed, you will find a magnificent jar of homemade crème fraiche waiting for you and ready to jazz up any and all food you make. My current favorite way to use it is to treat myself to fresh strawberries, a dollop of crème fraiche, and a small drizzle of local honey. It is so lovely.

If you are interested in making this recipe, here is the helpful video I watched before I embarked on this fun experiment. Good luck!

Source: Food Wishes

Homestead Living: Classic Basil Pesto


I’m in a magical state of mind as I sit here and write this post this morning. The house is so quiet I can hear the fridge humming and the sun is just beginning to peek its head up on the horizon. My little rumpy is still snoozing soundly. This is such a rare moment that I keep tiptoeing back to the bedroom to check on Smith because, at this point, he is usually sprinting around the living room with one of his toys and some treasure he pilfered from my kitchen (usually an ice cream scoop or can opener these days).

It’s hard to believe summer is almost coming to a close, but the window of daylight is gradually shrinking and the little pups are going back to school. I’m always ready for the changes in seasons, but I know I am going to miss the fresh flavors of summer come January. One of the quintessential summer herbs is deliciously wonderful basil. My front porch pot of this plant did great this year and, in an attempt to preserve the sunshine, I made a big batch of pesto that will (hopefully) make it into our meals this winter.

With this particular recipe, I put the pesto into pint jars. I reserved one in our fridge and placed the others in our freezer. My mom introduced me to this method of freezing items in glass jars and I find it keeps very well. The most important step, in my experience,  is to make sure to leave plenty of extra space between the lid and the food. As we know, liquid expands as it freezes and it can result in a big mess if you fill the jar too full.  I find leaving about an inch works well and, with pesto, I put a thin layer of olive oil on top because Ina Garten said so. And it helps keep it fresh. :)

I hope you are all having a wonderful week.


Classic Basil Pesto


  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Place garlic, walnuts, herbs, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add in cheese. Process until well-incorporated, about 15 secs. Store in fridge or freeze. Don’t forget to add a thin layer of olive oil or plastic wrap to the top of the pesto to prevent it from browning! Enjoy.

Source: Slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Feeding Our Rump Roast: No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites

IMG_6685Our little rump roast isn’t so little these days. He is a rambunctious toddler with a serious love for running, not walking, to explore the fascinating world around him. Because of this, it can be a bit challenging to pin him down and make him eat; he’s just too busy chasing the dog or driving his matchbox cars all over the house. I have been trying to find quick and healthy snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated, so I can be ready to refuel my little dude at a moment’s notice. These no bake oatmeal energy bites are one of my new favorites. 


They are super easy to make and they are perfect for summertime because I don’t like using my oven more than I have to this time of year. All you need is a food processor and, voila, a delicious and healthy snack awaits you. With only five ingredients and no added sugar, I feel really good about letting Smith dig into these little nuggets of fun. He loves them and feels so proud because he can play and eat at the same time.   

An added bonus to these babies is that they are equally tasty for adults.


No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup Medjool dates (usually in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s or health food stores)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Remove the pits from the dates. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the dough comes together and all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. You may need to add a few more dates if the dough is too crumbly.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and shape into balls. Place in on a plate in a single layer and refrigerate to allow the bites to firm up slightly. Enjoy! I keep them stored for about a week in the fridge.

Source: Barely adapted from A Couple Cooks