Classic Butternut Squash Soup

FullSizeRender-1Finally! Also, in Southern California at the beach we are getting some idea of what fall temperatures feel like. I mean it’s just slightly cooler, the sun hours per day have been decreasing, and it’s getting darker in the evening a lot sooner.

After being to Germany and Switzerland end of September for two weeks where it already felt a lot more like fall, this is kind of nice here too :-)

I always link the months of October and November to the good old pumpkin soup. While I was a child, my Mama would typically make a huge pot of soup for the guests at my birthday party (November 4th – coming soon…) which – at the time – I didn’t appreciate at all. Of course, there were other, kid-friendly dishes as well, so I was a happy and pleased birthday girl at the end!

In my teenage years and early twenties, I started liking the pumpkin soup at my birthdays… And then I finally started loving it and cooking it for myself, for husband, guests etc.

classic butternut squash soup

These days I am so glad, ’tis the time of the year again… And yesterday I cooked the first butternut squash soup of the season. This one is a “classic” approach using butter and half & half. Next will be a more Thai inspired version with red curry paste and coconut milk – so look out for it!

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The classic butternut squash soup (with lots of fresh thyme) goes very well with slices of German Fleischwurst (a kind of ring bologna) which is very common in Germany to add cold cuts into vegetable soups. I’m happy to eat the soup straight as it is and vegetarian, but my husband loves the Fleischwurst slices!

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Classic Butternut Squash Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Classic Butternut Squash Soup

I always link the months of October and November to the good old pumpkin soup. While I was a child, my Mama would typically make a huge pot of soup for the guests at my birthday party which – at the time – I didn’t appreciate at all. Now I absolutely love making this soup for myself, my husband and guests!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter (or cooking oil)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups (20 oz. / 560g) butternut squash, cut in cubes (I used pre-cut)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 cups (~750ml) low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons half & half (or heavy cream, if desired)
  • salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • (optional for more thickness: 1 large potato, peeled and diced)

Instructions

Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add butter. Once it is melted, add in the onions and the ginger and stir. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the butternut squash cubes and thyme leaves (and – if using – diced potato). Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock. Cover the pot and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.

Once the squash is soft, turn off the heat. Stir in the half & half and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Using a hand blender, very carefully blend everything until the soup is smooth and pureed. (Alternatively, pour the mixture into a stand blender to puree smoothly and pour back into pot.)

Cover and let simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and season additionally if desired.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/classic-butternut-squash-soup/

Veggies & Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce

photo 2-1We love pasta, sometimes just the regular (white) spaghetti, but also a whole-wheat kind or a gluten-free one, such as these Fusili made from brown rice and quinoa! And not to forget the low-carb “fake” pasta aka Zoodles made from spiraled Zucchini…

A tomato-based sauce that goes along with all of them is always great, but can get boring if it’s always the same Marinara Sauce… Last week I made a Roma Tomato Sugo which was awesome, so this week I tweaked the recipe a little bit, using different kinds of Heirloom tomatoes and added some veggies to it.

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The vegetables – onions, carrots, celery – and the bay leaf are the classic ingredients for a Italian Bolognese sauce – minus the meat ;)… (A classic Bolognese recipe will be my next “project”).

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The key is to get the veggies to soften before adding the Heirloom tomatoes and then let the whole thing simmer until it has thickened and the flavors have incorporated into the sauce!

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Veggies & Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce

Yield: 4 cups of sauce

Serving Size: 1 cup

Veggies & Heirloom Tomato Pasta Sauce

Veggies and Heirloom Tomatoes for a twist on a classic Marinara Sauce!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and finely diced (optional)
  • 2 lbs assorted heirloom tomatoes, coarsely diced
  • 2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and chiles and sauté until onions are translucent and carrots have softened, for 7-10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, add balsamic vinegar and let simmer for 30-50 minutes w/o lid, until the sauce is nice and thick.

Serve with your favorite pasta (regular or glutenfree) or over zoodles.

Optional, add some fresh basil for garnish.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/veggies-heirloom-tomato-pasta-sauce/

Herbed Cauliflower Mash

I know… Not the prettiest photo, but really tasty!

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This cauliflower purré makes a wonderful stand in for mashed potatoes! It is low-carb, yet creamy and a satisfying side dish that goes well with everything from roasted veggies to pan seared fish fillet and even Bratwurst…

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Mr. RPK actually loves mashed potatoes, but I got him on this cauliflower mash.

My secret ingredient is freshly ground nutmeg (which I also use for the mashed potatoes).

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I added fresh herbs and green onions, not just for better taste but also to add something green to the white cauliflower. Looks so pretty!

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Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced

½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 10-15 minutes.

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In the meantime, sauté green onions in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes until they soften. Remove from heat and mix with chives and thyme.

Drain the cauliflower and place it back into the pot.

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Add nutmeg, herb mix, olive oil and s & p. Mix until well combined.

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Using a hand mixer, purré everything into a mash.

Adjust seasoning if needed.

For dinner, we enjoyed the cauli mash with Italian sausages…

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Next day’s lunch we had the leftovers with arugula salad and roasted veggies. Delish!

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Herbed Cauliflower Mash

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Herbed Cauliflower Mash

A low-carb stand in for mashed potatoes. The nutmeg and the herbs make the difference!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook for 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, sauté green onions in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes until they soften.

Remove from heat and mix with chives and thyme.

Drain the cauliflower and place it back into the pot.

Add nutmeg, herb mix, olive oil and s & p.

Mix until well combined.

Using a hand mixer, purré everything into a mash.

Adjust seasoning if needed.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/herbed-cauliflower-mash/

Avocado Cucumber Dip with Dill

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Most of you will know that avocado is full of healthy fats. Did you also know that it is a tree fruit? And that it is said to be the butter for vegans? ;-)

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Well, I am not vegan, but I just like plant-based dishes and options. And as my husband doesn’t eat dairy, this dip is a creamy non-dairy option! He likes it along oven-roasted potatoes – instead of anything that contains sour cream…

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It is wonderful with crudités or oven-roasted fingerling potatoes, but also as a spread on toast. You can even use it as a dressing on firmer lettuce like kale or radicchio!

The cucumber is great to balance out the creaminess of the avocado with some freshness.

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And dill pairs well with cucumbers anyway!

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When using it as a dressing, just 1-2 tablespoons of the dip (depending on how much salad you are going to make) and add more lemon juice. No need to add more oil – you will get enough healthy fats from the avocado itself already!

 

Ingredients:

1 ripe Hass avocado (or any variety), peeled and chopped

½ Hothouse cucumber (about ½ cup), chopped, peeled and seeded

1-2 Tbsps minced fresh dill

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp pure maple syrup

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a mini food processor or chopper. Alternatively, in a high container and use your hand mixer – I did that, works wonderfully!

Add ¼ cup (60ml) and blend until mixture is very smooth.

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Season with salt and pepper.

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Et voilà!

And for you? Avocado – yeah or nay?

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Avocado Cucumber Dip with Dill

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

This dip is wonderful with crudités or oven-roasted fingerling potatoes, but also as a spread on toast. You can even use it as a dressing on firmer lettuce like kale or radicchio, whisk some of the dip with more fresh lemon juice!

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe Hass avocado (or any variety), peeled and chopped
  • ½ Hothouse cucumber (about ½ cup), chopped, peeled and seeded
  • 1-2 Tbsps minced fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

Place all the ingredients in a mini food processor or chopper. Alternatively, in a high container and use your hand mixer – I did that, works wonderfully!

Add ¼ cup (60ml) and blend until mixture is very smooth.

Season with salt and pepper.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/avocado-cucumber-dip-with-dill/

Ratatouille

RATATOUILLE – a vegetable sauce from the Provence traditionally made with various bell peppers…

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I placed this recipe in the pasta category, as it is just a great pasta sauce! Today we had it with some quinoa rice pasta for lunch. 

But we love the Ratatouille as a side dish along with seafood, grilled chicken or steak.

 Anyway, it’s quick and easy – so you better double the recipe so you can enjoy over several meals, with or without pasta, vegetarian or with a nice piece of fish or meat.

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Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
1 small red chile, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
1 yellow zucchini squash, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsps tomato paste
1/3 cup (80ml) water
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high. Sauté onions and chile for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add bell peppers, zucchini squash and garlic and sauté for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened a bit. Add rosemary and tomato paste and stir until well combined. Add water. Lower heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and let it cook for another 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Serve with your favorite pasta or as a side dish along with European sea bass, grilled chicken or steak.

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What is your favorite dish that includes bell peppers?

Ratatouille

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 cups of sauce

Serving Size: 4

Ratatouille

RATATOUILLE - a vegetable sauce from the Provence traditionally made with various bell peppers...

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 small red chile, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 yellow zucchini squash, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tbsps tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) water
  • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high.

Sauté onions and chile for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.

Add bell peppers, zucchini squash and garlic and sauté for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened a bit.

Add rosemary and tomato paste and stir until well combined.

Add water. Lower heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and let it cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with your favorite pasta or as a side dish along with European sea bass, grilled chicken or steak.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/ratatouille/

Naked Beef Burgers

Naked Burgers

… aka “Frikadellen” in Germany!

1 lb grass fed ground beef (93% lean)

¼ cup red onion, diced and sautéed

2 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsps Siracha sauce

2 egg whites

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 tsps olive oil

 

Mix all the ingredients (through salt and pepper) together until well combined. Shape into 4 evenly sized patties. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Place patties in skillet and fry for about 5 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned.

Enjoy!

I served the burgers with a cucumber bell pepper salsa :)

Naked Beef Burgers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 burgers

Serving Size: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef (93% lean)
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced and sautéed
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsps Siracha sauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsps olive oil

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients (through salt and pepper) together until well combined. Shape into 4 evenly sized patties. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Place patties in skillet and fry for about 5 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned.

http://blog.realpeoplekitchen.com/naked-beef-burgers/