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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

A recipe for 6-8 servings

2 pounds total of butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin halved and seeded
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 chipotle pepper
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 bay leaf
1 pinch cumin
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4 chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted Pumpkin seeds
8 teaspoons light sour cream
Season to taste with crushed red pepper and lemon juice

In a heavy sauce pot set over medium heat cover the squash, onion, garlic, chipotle pepper, bay leaf and remaining spices with the chicken stock. Cook the mixture until the squash is tender. Remove the chipotle pepper and bay leaf. Carefully add the mixture to a food processor and work till a smooth texture is achieved adding more stock to thin the consistency and finish the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm garnished with a teaspoon of sour cream and a few pumpkin seeds

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New New Year's Resolution

Far too often a New Year’s resolution to be healthier is a veiled allusion to be thinner at the expense of being healthy no matter what size that happens to be. Well, no more.

The New Year is here again
Time to get to getting thin
It seems that I’ve been here before
And then I pledged there’d be no more

No more diets no more pills
No more useless treadmills
No more being what I’m not
Oh how many gym memberships I’ve bought

No more striving for that size
That I was when I was FIVE!
No more tears and sweat and blood
No more baths in artesian mud

No more weigh ins every week
No more snacks I’ll have to sneak
No more worries that I am fat
Some even say that’s where it’s at

So this year I seek to be
A healthy vibrant same old me
Same old me same old size
This year there is a New Prize

The prize is not thin and svelte
But will be measured how it’s felt
I resolve to feel good even if
The scale peaks out when it’s tipped

My self-worth doesn’t come you see
From being like the waifs on TV
Momma and Daddy weren’t like that
Hmm they were happy and they were fat!

This year my resolution is new
I don’t have to look like you
I like me the way I am
Besides in shape can also mean round!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Twelve Pounds of Christmas

The Christmas season is usually the time of our greatest gains of the year. I hope this little poem eases the pain. Merry Christmas.

Twas the first day of Christmas
With family gathered round
The table filled with pies and such
That adds one holiday pound

Twas the second day of Christmas
And the trimming of the tree
One too many egg nogs
Thus pounds two and three

Twas the third day of Christmas
I dash from store to store
Double latte with whipped cream
Old St. Nick brings pound four

Twas the fourth day of Christmas
Grandma’s fruitcake did arrive
Hope I get that brand new belt
To make room for number five

.Twas the fifth day of Christmas
And I’m in an awful fix
One too many chocolate Santa’s
I fear my pants can’t hold pound six

Twas the sixth day of Christmas
That divinity was heaven
I couldn’t eat just one or two
Now I’ve added on pound seven

Twas the seventh day of Christmas
And I’ve overfilled my plate
Mashed potatoes overflowing
Here comes pound number eight.

Twas the eighth day of Christmas
I’ll have to stand in line
To exchange this gift for a bigger size
To make room for pound nine

Twas the ninth day of Christmas
Go rest ye gentlemen
Watch football from your easy chair
Make room for pound ten

Twas the tenth day of Christmas
The stairs creak as I go down
To the fridge for a midnight snack
This will make the eleventh pound

Twas the eleventh day of Christmas
When one of Santa’s elves
Brought me a half a box of fudge
That quickly adds pound twelve

Twas the twelfth day of Christmas
As my wish list I revise
Now all I want from Santa
Is to fit a smaller size

Happy Holiday’s to all
Is the last wish I say
These twelve pounds of Christmas
Are gone come New Years Day

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On the night before Christmas...

If you have traditionally read Twas the night before Christmas at this time of year this poem may sound slightly familiar. I hope it makes you laugh. Merry Christmas to everyone.

On the night before Christmas and I just couldn’t sleep
So I lay in my in my bed counting sheep after sheep
The lambs all cooked to a perfect medium rare
Adorned a lavish table set with kings fare

As the family all rested dreaming of Christmas glee
I began to fret about vanilla crème Brule
With mama in her gown and I in my chef smock
Only nine hours till dinner says the bedside clock

When down in the kitchen something was awry
Had the kitten helped himself to my pumpkin pie?
I dashed down the stair to see what was the matter
And there lie in pieces mothers’ antique platter

On what will I serve guests on the morrow?
Perhaps Aunt Rabbit has one I can borrow
A stage for the ham and turkey and mutton
With succulent flavor, dressed cute as a button

The hour now seven and the family’s still a snooze
Prep time now march not a moment to lose
As a tight wound toy soldier I haste to work
To polish and peel times not mine to shirk

Truss turkey, bake bread, stir mac into cheese
Set table, print name cards, take a break now, oh please
Though my feet will swell and back sure to ache
I’ll take no rest till the last guest gets cake

In the oven goes the ham on the stove cooks the peas
Time to rest, not so fast I’ve gifts to wrap you see
Soon out of town family will fill up this house
With no room to stir for even a mouse

Now the house is a buzz children run to and fro
Is the casserole burning? Dear turn the oven to low
I’m thinking that next year we’ll go out to eat
But Christmas won’t be Christmas if the house stays so neat

Does Ole St Nick work as hard delivering toys?
As I do for this feast that my family enjoys?
I just can’t stop this grand old tradition
If so just think of the fun we’d be missin’

True I love a proper and prim set table
Like might exist in a Rockwell picture fable
And I love to have family year after year
Sit and share in the holiday cheer

This season can be hurried and the cooking a scare
But everything always gets done by a hair
As the last guest drives away clear out of sight
A Merry Christmas its’ been again tonight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

To Cook A Turkey……

Long before I had any culinary aspirations I watched my family labor and sweat over the Thanksgiving turkey year after year. It seemed as though cooking the holiday bird was a very very difficult task that took up almost an entire 24 hour day. Between the thawing and the carving of the annual Thanksgiving bird there were many tense moments around my house.
Now that the Thanksgiving turkey preparation has fallen to me I take a slightly different and less arduous approach to getting the bird from freezer to fork. If you can identify with the worries of cooking your own Thanksgiving turkey then here I come to make the day a little easier.

First some background on how to season the Thanksgiving turkey. This step can range from simple salt and pepper to elaborate preparations that involve marinades, injections, rubs or brine. When the care and cooking of the turkey is my job I usually use a sweet spicy rub with a sweet citrus injection giving the bird flavors within and without.
For the rub try a mixture of about one half cup of dark brown sugar mixed together with 2 tablespoons of chili powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Add to this a half teaspoon of salt and rub the mixture all over the skin and even under the skin of your bird. Once the cooking has begun baste the bird from time to time with melted butter. The injection if you so choose to do what I do is a mixture of maple syrup and orange juice. These flavors are unique to Thanksgiving but will be a welcomed change.
As to how to cook the Thanksgiving turkey follow the package directions. On every bird, unless you go out and bag one from the wild, there is information on the time and temperature relative to the weight of the bird. Following these instructions is key to having a Thanksgiving turkey that is properly done but not dry.
Please note that nowhere in the sharing of Joe’s personal Thanksgiving turkey recipe were there instructions for covering the bird while cooking. Covering a turkey would cause it to steam rather than roast and that is not a pleasant site when it garnishes the center of the holiday table.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy cooking

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Candy Coated Apples

Every fall around Halloween me and Sara make caramel apples for the fall festival at church. This year we decided to make candy coated apples. The recipe is much simpler than the caramel ones (see the last RHC post). Both are  fun. What makes them healthy you ask? We make them once per year!

1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon red food color
12 apples
12 sticks
1 sheet pan lined with parchment paper

Combine the corn syrup, water, sugar and food color in a sauce pan and set over high heat. Cook to the hard crack stage (310 degrees) then remove from heat to cool slightly. While the sugar mixture cooks place a stick in each of the apples. Once the sugar mixture cools slightly coat each apple and place on the parchment lined pan to cool.
For even more interesting candy coated apples coat some in chopped nuts and some in colorful sprinkles.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Caramel Apples

When it comes to candy this is your season. For the kids and the kid in you it is officially open season for all things sweet. One of my favorite treats has always been caramel coated apples. This I suppose is because this treat provides a bit of nutrition with an overload of sugar.

While you still have a little time to get your Halloween goodies together or even plan for next year you should try your hand at making your own caramel apples. With a few ingredients that you probably already have you can easily make these tasty and nutritious seasonal treats. Just be careful with the hot sugar mixture and handle with care.

1 pound dark brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
¼ teaspoon salt
12 popsicles sticks
12 medium apples

In a heavy bottom 3 quart saucepan combine the brown sugar, butter, condensed milk, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses and salt. Stir over medium heat until all of the sugar dissolves. Brush the sides of the pan with water to ensure that all of the sugar dissolves. Next attach a candy thermometer to the pan and cook until the temperature reaches 236 degrees stirring constantly. Next pour the caramel mixture into a metal bowl and allow to cool to below 200 degrees. Next place the sticks in the apples and dip into the caramel. Place on a sheet pan lined with buttered aluminum foil. Allow to cool and enjoy.