Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I thought everyone would be over butternut squash by this point, but I was wrong! I took a poll on my Instagram page last week to decide between Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta and butternut squash soup, and it resulted in a tie. Since I couldn’t possibly let half of you down, here’s the recipe for one of my favorite fall soups, just in time for #soupsunday!

A couple reasons I love this recipe: it takes less than 30 minutes to make, and you don’t have to spend any time stirring a pot or dirtying extra dishes! It’s vegan, but is so wonderfully creamy and filling, you’d never know it. You can use whatever broth you have on hand, but I used vegetable broth to keep this soup vegan. It’s perfect paired with a kale salad or some avocado toast for dinner, and reheats nicely for weekday lunches.

I was extra excited to make this soup today because of my new found affinity for crispy sage leaves. It’s not fall without the inclusion of sage in every vegetable dish, am I right? Taking the extra few minutes to “fry” some of these fuzzy little herbs in ghee to top your soup will result in a delicious and beautiful garnish for your roasted butternut squash soup.

bssoup1

 

bssoup2
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

6 C butternut squash, diced

1 T olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 C leeks, roughly chopped

5 cloves garlic, roasted

2 1/2 C vegetable broth

1 C full-fat coconut milk

1/4 t crushed red pepper (optional)

Garnishes for soup- pomegranate seeds, crispy sage leaves, pepitas, etc.

bssoup3

Method:

For crispy sage leaves, heat small skillet on medium heat and add 1 T ghee. Add sage leaves and fry for about 60 seconds on each side. Remove carefully with a fork and set on paper towel to absorb excess ghee.

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread onto rimmed baking sheet in single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss squash for even cooking. Add chopped leeks to baking sheet and return to oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until veggies are golden brown.

Tip** If you don’t have roasted garlic already prepared, here are the Cliff Notes from my last post – slice the very top off of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until fragrant.

In high speed blender, add roasted butternut squash, leeks, garlic, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Blend for 20 seconds on low, and another 30 seconds on medium.

Tip** If you’d like to serve this soup right away, make sure to heat broth and coconut milk before adding to blender so soup is nice and hot!

If soup appears too thick, add 1/4 C more broth. Season with salt, pepper, and optional crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

Spicy Squash Hummus

hummus2

Last week, our friend Kelly brought over a Hubbard squash fresh from her family’s farm in Wisconsin, effectively adding to my No Squash Left Behind Challenge. It had a beautiful bright orange bumpy skin, and looked like a sweet potato/pumpkin hybrid. Kelly mentioned Hubbard squash is best mashed, and I remembered a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa I’ve been meaning to try…

In celebration of the fact I am seeing Ina Garten IN PERSON on Tuesday, I thought her hummus recipe would be the perfect way to use this squash. I made a couple tweaks; using my Hubbard squash instead of butternut squash, roasting the garlic before adding, taking the Greek yogurt out of the recipe to make it dairy-free, and including some cayenne pepper to give it more of a kick. The Hubbard squash was perfect in this recipe, but many different squashes would work in this. You can use butternut squash like Ina does, or even use pumpkin puree if you don’t have time to roast a squash.

I brought this hummus to my friend’s Halloween party last night, and it was a hit! I surrounded my little hummus pumpkin with freshly cut veggies and some crackers, but this would also be amazing with warm pita bread. This hummus is healthy, flavorful, and great for snacks throughout the week or for a festive appetizer!

hummus3
I served the hummus in my hollowed-out Lumina pumpkin. Is that considered cheating my squash challenge?

hummus1

Spicy Squash Hummus

Makes 6-8 servings

1 squash, about 1 1/2 lbs (I used Hubbard)

1 can chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved on side

1 small head of garlic

4 T good olive oil

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1 t sriracha

1/4 C tahini

1/2 t cayenne pepper

1 t cinnamon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut squash lengthwise, remove seeds and brush flesh with 1 T olive oil. Salt and pepper and place on foiled baking sheet, flesh side down. Roast for 50-60 mins, until soft. Set squash aside to cool.

While oven is still on, slice top off of whole head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes (you’ll know it’s done when you can smell it). Remove foil and set aside to let cool slightly.

Scoop roasted squash out of skin and add to food processor. Add drained chickpeas, 6 roasted garlic cloves, 3 T olive oil, lemon juice, sriracha, and tahini. Pulse until combined but not smooth. Add spices and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse a few more times. If it’s looking too dry, add 1 T of reserved chickpea liquid at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with veggies and pita. Store in airtight for up to a week. Enjoy!

Cranberry Oat Bars (GF)

This morning, I needed a break from apple and pumpkin everything. Don’t worry, I’m okay… I think. I had some fresh cranberries in the fridge that I’ve been meaning to use, and the thought of warm oat bars fresh out of the oven to enjoy with my coffee was just too good to pass up. It’s Friday but my brain is already in weekend mode.

oatbars1

 

oatbars2

These bars came together quickly and easily, and I love the way the crunchiness of the slivered almonds and the warm soft bursts of fresh cranberries is dispersed throughout the baked oatmeal. Cinnamon and ground ginger add some spicy warmth, making it a perfect companion for your Saturday morning coffee.

As with any breakfast I make, the goal is usually to have leftovers that I can store for on-the-go breakfasts. I think these will be perfect warmed back up in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. I’ll pat myself on the back now; breakfast for next week is ready to go!

 

oatbars3

 

oatbars4

Cranberry Oat Bars

Makes 9 squares

2 C old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 C coconut flour

1/4 C tapioca flour

1/2 t sea salt

1 1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground ginger

1/3 C coconut oil, melted

1/4 C pure maple syrup

1/4 C agave (or you can just do a full 1/2 C of maple syrup)

2 eggs

1/3 C  milk of choice

1 1/4 C fresh cranberries

1/2 C slivered almonds

Tip** If you have an orange laying around, try adding a teaspoon of fresh zest to this recipe!

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 8×8 square baking pan with nonstick spray.

In large mixing bowl, combine oats and both flours. Add salt, cinnamon, and ginger and whisk together until combined.

In separate bowl, beat coconut oil, maple syrup, agave, eggs, and milk together. Pour into dry ingredients and fold together until combined. Fold in cranberries and almonds and mix until evenly dispersed.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cut into 9 squares. Serve warm topped with yogurt and nuts, or freeze individual squares for busy weekday morning breakfasts! Enjoy.

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’ve learned to live without a lot of fun dairy-filled things since coming to terms with my lactose intolerance a couple years ago, but cheesecake was really hard to let go. I used to make a marbled pumpkin cheesecake every Thanksgiving as a pumpkin pie alternative, and it was always a hit. With all my freshly- made pumpkin puree in the freezer this year, it occurred to me that  a vegan alternative could work…

Now I know that putting the words “vegan” and “cheesecake” together are going to scare a lot of you, but after bringing these bars into work and to a potluck last week, I concluded that this vegan dessert is a dairy-free success! I have officially converted numerous non-believers into vegan pumpkin cheesecake fans and it’s all thanks to Minimalist Baker for inspiring me to try a cashew-based batter.

This recipe is no-bake, but does require some time on the front end to properly soak your cashews before blending them to make your “cheesecake” batter. Keeping this in mind, be sure to allow for an hour of inactive time before you get started!

pumpkin vegan cheesecake1

 

pumpkin vegan cheesecake2

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Makes ~ 16 squares

For the crust:

1 C pitted medjool dates

1 1/2 C pecans

1/4 t sea salt

For the filling:

1 1/2 C raw unsalted cashews (I use pieces because they’re much cheaper!)

About 3 C boiling water

3/4 C pure maple syrup

1/2 C pumpkin puree

1/3 C full fat coconut milk

1/4 C lemon juice

2 t vanilla extract

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t cardamom

1 t pumpkin pie spice

pumpkin vegan cheesecake3

Method:

In a medium bowl, soak cashews in boiling water for about an hour. Once soaked, drain cashews and set aside.

Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper (one long sheet overlapping another so you have an “X.” This will make removing the cheesecake super easy once it’s set!

Add dates, pecans, and salt to food processor and pulse until dates break down and crust begins to stick together, forming a ball. Spray your fingers with nonstick spray and press crust into bottom of lined pan, setting in the freezer while you make filling.

Add soaked cashews to food processor and blend until smooth, adding coconut milk as needed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the pumpkin. Mix until filing is smooth, scraping sides to incorporate all ingredients.

Spoon half of filling mixture onto crust and put back into freezer. Add pumpkin puree to the other half of the filling, and pulse until combined. Spoon carefully on top of white filling, gently spreading to create an even top layer. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top, and lightly drag a toothpick or butter knife in a swirling motion.

Place in freezer for about 2 hours or until set. Remove from pan by lifting parchment paper and use chef’s knife to slice into 12-16 pieces. Keep these stored in the freezer, wrapped with plastic wrap. They should keep up to a month, but I promise they won’t last that long!

Tip** Let them sit out at room temp about 30 mins before serving so they’re not totally frozen

Enjoy!

 

Spiced Apple Muffins (GF & Nut-Free)

Matt and I ventured to the Illinois/Wisconsin border last Sunday to pick some apples, and came home with half a bushel of McIntosh. Half a bushel doesn’t sound like an intimidating amount, but let me tell you it’s WAY more than our tiny kitchen can store. So I’ve been spending the last week finding ways to enjoy them and muffins was first on the list!

Most gluten-free muffin recipes center around the use of almond flour, but since I have some nut-free people in my life, I experimented with oat flour as a replacement and they turned out great! These little guys are packed with fresh apple goodness, are refined sugar-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and gluten free! They are filled with warm spices and will make your home smell like Fall. The sweet-cinnamony crumb topping is the final touch on these magical muffins. It sounds impossible, but they are even Matt approved and that’s how I measure a good muffin.

I was trying to use as many apples as I could, so please note that this recipe makes a double batch of muffins. Or, if you only have one muffin tin like I do, make 12 muffins and a loaf of bread! You could half the recipe, but you’d probably regret it.

muffins1

 

muffins3

Spiced Apple Muffins

Makes 24 muffins, or 12 muffins + one loaf

For the muffins:

1 3/4 C oat flour (2 C old fashioned rolled oats)

1/4 C coconut flour

2/3 C tapioca flour

4 t cinnamon

2 t baking soda

Pinch cardamom (optional)

4 eggs

2 t vanilla

1/2 C coconut milk (or almond milk if you aren’t making nut-free)

1/3 C coconut oil, melted

1/3 C honey

2/3 C pure maple syrup

2 C shredded apples, excess liquid squeezed out

1 C small diced apples

For the crumb topping:

1 T vegan butter, melted

1 T honey

1/3 C old fashioned rolled oats (whole, not oat flour)

1 t cinnamon

muffins2

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin tins, or grease and line loaf pan with parchment paper.

Make oat flour! I use my Vitamix for this because it’s a quick and easy clean up, but you can also pulse in your food processor or just buy oat flour at the grocery store. 2 C of regular oats makes about 1 3/4 cups of oat flour if you’re making at home.

In large bowl, combine oat flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, spices, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, and milk. Add coconut oil, honey, and maple syrup and whisk to combine. Shred 2-3 medium sized apples using food processor or by hand (these do not have to be peeled). Cut another apple into a small dice. Add all apples to wet ingredients and stir together.

Make a well in dry ingredients and carefully pour in egg/apple mixture. Using rubber spatula, carefully fold together until combined. Do not over mix! Spoon into prepared muffin tin or loaf pan.

To make crumb topping, combine ingredients and spoon on top of batter.

For muffins, bake about 18-20 mins, and for loaf bake about 35 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

If you aren’t eating them all fresh out of the oven, keep refrigerated so they stay fresh longer. Enjoy!

 

Cooking with Squash

My mom paid a visit to Kasten Waukau Creek Farm in Omro, WI last week and came home with “$25 worth” of different squashes, which let me tell you, is way more than it sounds like. She then sent me home with approximately 20 pounds of different varieties, and if there’s such thing as overdosing on squash I’m sure I’m dancing on the threshold. I am taking this copious amount of Winter squash and turning it into a challenge; to come up with a great recipe for each one in the bag!

In an attempt to start putting all these glorious gourds to use, I baked the orange and green beauty below, pureeing, and freezing it for later. Needless to say, this is only the beginning of the slew of squash-related recipes coming your way.

squash3

If you know me, it’s clear that I love pumpkins. Carving them, seeding them, putting them on my desk to stare at adoringly all day… But squash is so much more than just a festive decoration.

Squash is one of the original Three Sister Crops, its origins dating back over 10,000 years ago in Mesoamerica. There are many squash varieties, but they are most commonly separated into two categories- Summer and Winter. Since zucchini falls under the Summer category, I’ll wait until next year to drop all my favorite zuch recipes on you.

Squash in general provides numerous health benefits, including high amounts of vitamins A and C, reduces risk of cancer, and improves sleep. It is also known for boosting your immune system and helps manage Diabetes.

After endless Googling, I have identified the squashes Mom sent me home with. The squashes shown above (in clockwise order from top left) are:

Sweet dumpling

Acorn Squash

Musquee de Provence pumpkin

Another Acorn

Lumina pumpkin

And last but NOT least…Butternut squash!

Over the next couple weeks, I will provide you with a recipe for each of these winter squashes! I know- try and contain your excitement. If you think you are not a squash person, I hope my enthusiasm encourages you to try at least one of them so that you can discover your deep-rooted passion for these vegetables.

Pumpkin Chocolate Oat Bars

Today is definitely Monday… the WiFi is out at our apartment, and my work email was hacked…but who cares because today is the first day of October! In my mind it’s officially Fall and I’m ready to bake pumpkin everything. Trader Joe’s is my pumpkin dealer of choice, and whenever I’m there I make sure to pick up a [few] bag[s] of their chocolate chunks because they’re better than regular old chocolate chips in so many ways.

100118-1

These pumpkin chocolate oat bars are on my Favorite Recipes list because they are gluten-free, low in fat, perfect for breakfast on the go, and full of pumpkin spice goodness. These bars are also nut-free (s/o to Abby and Lia), but you can include pecans or almonds if you choose. If you’d like to make them vegan, all you have to swap out is the chocolate chips- either omit entirely or make sure to use vegan chips.

Whatever your dietary restrictions/level of pumpkin fanaticism, these bars are proven to make any Monday better, so give them a try and let me know how they turn out!

pumpkin bars 2

pumpkin bars 1

Pumpkin Chocolate Oat Bars

makes about 12 servings

3 1/2 C old fashioned rolled oats

2 1/2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 3/4 t pumpkin pie spice

1/2 t cinnamon

1 14 oz can (or 1 1/2 C) canned pumpkin puree

1/2 C pure maple syrup

1/4 C honey

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 C unsweetened applesauce

1 T coconut oil or avocado oil

1/2 C chocolate chunks, plus more to sprinkle on top

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 9″ x 13″ pan.

Make oat flour! I use my Vitamix for this because it’s a quick and easy clean up, but you can also pulse in your food processor or just buy oat flour at the grocery store. 3 1/2 C of regular oats makes about 3 cups of oat flour if you’re making at home.

100118

In a large bowl, combine oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Whisk dry ingredients together. Next, add all wet ingredients- canned pumpkin, maple syrup, honey, vanilla extract, apple sauce, and oil. Fold together until combined and add chocolate chunks last. Spoon into prepared pan and sprinkle some more chocolate chunks on top. Don’t skimp 😉

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool partially before cutting into squares and serve warm. Enjoy!

*Tip: I like to store some squares in the freezer in ziplock bags for breakfast on weekday mornings. Just heat back up in the microwave on a plate or napkin for 20 seconds.