Long Island Mom

What I've learned about being a mom.

Butternut Squash Soup

I’ve been dying to make this but I’m pretty picky about how I like my butternut squash soup.  I don’t like it too sweet, no curry flavor please, just straightforward, fall-flavored, squashy-goodness.  With heavy cream.   I mean come on, how good is heavy cream in a soup?

So I tinkered around with a few recipes I found online and kind of made my own up.  And I have to say, it came out pretty awesome.  I also have to say, that in an ironic turn of events, I ended up with soup in my hair and telling my husband ‘you were right.’  Which is not my favorite thing to do.

Two years ago Dave bought me an immersion blender as a stocking stuffer.  I love a good kitchen gadget, but I found this one unnecessary and returned it.  Tonight, while making this soup and blending up small batches of the hot liquid making sure to cover the blender with a towel, I had the ‘man I wish I would have kept that’ thought.  Then, after turning off the blender and carefully removing the top, it bubbled up and splattered directly into my hair.  Yes, Dave, you were right.  The soup is still worth it.

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Butternut Squash soup

1/2 stick of butter

1 tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 apple, peeled and chopped

3 lbs of butternut squash (2 small or 1 large)

4 cups of chicken broth, veggie broth, water, or a mixture

lots of salt and pepper

3-4 sage leaves

1/3 cup heavy cream (optional, but is it really?)

parmesan rind (optional) *

 

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut squash in half and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 40-50 mins until tender.

2. Saute onion and apple in butter and salt and pepper on medium heat for 5 minutes until soft.

3. Once squash is cooked and cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add to the apple and onion.  Add broth or water, sage leaves and parmesan rind* and simmer, breaking up the squash as it cooks and starts to dissolve into the soup, about 15 minutes.

4. Blend in small batches, or, if you’re smart, keep the immersion blender your husband gave you for Christmas and just whizz it up.  Turn off the heat and add the cream.  Enjoy!

* my mom has always talked about putting in the end of the parmesan cheese wedge leftover after you’ve grated all you can from it into soups and stews.  It melts right into it and gives it a cheesy background flavor that is unbelievable.  I’m hooked.

 

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

 

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Sweet and Spicy Bacon Chicken Bites

Couldn’t resist this one when it came across my search for Football Food on Pinterest.  Sweet, spicy, bacon wrapped chicken bites.  They were incredibly easy to make and addictive-ly tasty.  This is going to be my go-to ‘what can I bring?’ dish from now on.

http://www.101cookingfortwo.com/sweet-and-spicy-chicken-bacon-wraps/

SWEET AND SPICY CHICKEN BACON WRAPS

PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
A great finger food for that “bring a dish” party. What could go wrong with bacon, sugar and spices? Nothing. Cubes of chicken wrapped with bacon and coated with brown sugar, chili powder and cumin. Baked until crispy. A skill level of 3/10 (easy). Plus it is easy to double or triple if needed.
Author: Dan Mikesell
Recipe type: Party
Cuisine: American
Serves: 15 servings
INGREDIENTS
  • about 1¼ pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1½ pounds bacon
  • ⅔ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 T chili powder
  • ½ t cumin
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 convection. In a large mixing bowl, combine ⅔ cup dark brown sugar, 2 T chili powder and ½ t cumin. Mix well.
  2. Clean and trim about 1¼ pounds of skinless boneless chicken breast. Cut into approx. 1 inch cubes.
  3. If using thick bacon, thin out with the back edge of a chef knife. Cut the bacon in half, roll around the chicken cubes and secure with a tooth pick. This is the point to cover and refrigerate for better timing.
  4. Prep baking sheet with aluminum foil a rack and spray with PAM.
  5. Roll the pieces in the brown sugar mixture. Be sure to pack some in the ends. Place on the rack.
  6. Bake until golden brown. About 35 minutes for me. Cover with foil on heavy dish to keep warm until served.

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Rigatoni with sausage and brussel sprouts

Is it Brussels Sprouts or Brussel Sprouts?

In any event, I never ate them growing up – and I was forced to eat a lot of things.  I think my mom had a mental block against them.  Well, now they’re everywhere.  The first time I had them I was at a BBQ place with my husband and some of his friends and his buddy Alex insisted I try a deep-fried brussel sprout.  It was amazing and from then on I was hooked.  I love them roasted in the oven with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper, and even more sauteed in a pan with bacon and finished with balsamic vinegar.  Trader Joe’s also sells this stuff called ‘Cruciferous Crunch’ that is a mix of broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale all shredded that is amazing roasted in the oven.

Cruciferous-Crunch

 

Tonight, I felt like pasta, and brussel sprouts.  And sausage.

I’ve made a pretty common Italian dish with orecchiette, sausage and broccoli rabe that you can find in lots of great Italian restaurants in my area of Long Island.  I like broccoli rabe but it is very bitter and my husband isn’t the biggest fan.  So tonight, I subbed brussel sprouts for the broccoli rabe and rigatoni for the orecchiette.  It was so awesome and done in 30 minutes.  My kind of meal.

Sub any kind of pasta you like for the rigatoni.  (orecchiette, penne, etc)

Sub any kind of hearty green veg for the brussel sprouts.  (broccoli, broccoli rabe, etc)

Sub chicken sausage for the pork sausage if you’re trying to be more healthy.

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Rigatoni with Sausage and Brussel Sprouts

1/2 pound of rigatoni

1 bag or 1 stalk of Brussel Sprouts (about 1 lb)

1/2 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 pound italian sausage

1 cup white wine

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

salt and pepper

red pepper flakes (optional)

1 tbs olive oil

shredded or grated parm cheese

 

1. Cook pasta according to directions

2. Crumble sausage and sauté in olive oil until browned (2-3 mins)

3. Add brussel sprouts, salt and pepper and brown (2-3 mins)

4. Add onion and garlic and sauté another 2 mins

5. Add white wine and chicken broth and simmer for 3-4 mins

6. Add red pepper flakes and combine with pasta

7. Top with shredded parm cheese and enjoy!

 

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Rainy Day Activities

Pinterest is good for so many things – recipes, outfits, home decor, and arts and crafts.  I am not a crafty mom and the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on art supplies and making a mess of my already condemnable house makes me kind of shudder, but looking at all of these Pinterest ideas makes me feel like the worst mom ever.  I am never going to do these things, which surely means I’m robbing my children of a fun childhood.  I actually pinned something called “100 activities for a rainy day with toddlers” like I was going to go out and buy a magnetized fishing pole so they could ‘fish’ in the bath.  Then, I pictured this activity in my head.  It ends in screaming over who splashed who, saving plastic fishies from the toilet, and a lot of cleanup of my bathroom.

So, here are my realistic ‘rainy day activities for kids’

1. Play doctor

Sofia has a Doc McStuffins doctor kit and loves to pretend she’s a doctor fixing her stuffed animals.  If I lay down on the floor and pretend to be her patient, I’m guaranteed a solid half hour of doing absolutely nothing.

2. Knock down mommy

I make a pile out of pillows, sit in front of it, and tell the kids to go in the other room and run at me to knock me down.  They can do this for hours, and bonus – it completely wears them out.

3. Make a rocket ship

We get pretty regular shipments of diapers and other home staples from either diapers.com or amazon.com – so we’re in no short supply of large boxes.  Today I sat both of them in the box with an assortment of crayons, stickers and markers and told them to make a rocket ship.  They have been coloring all afternoon.

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4. On your marks…

Just saying ‘On your marks, get set, go!’ to my 2 year old gets him running around the house as fast as he can.  I don’t know why.  He’ll do it 30 times before it gets old.

5. Hide and seek

You don’t have to find them.  You just have to say ‘wow what a great hiding spot! I can’t believe I can’t find you!’ in a loud voice every few minutes.

6. Autobahn

Again, lay on the floor, give the kids some cars and tell them you’re the road and the cars have to drive around you.  They found this hilarious today.

 

If you have any other realistic activities that don’t take a trip to Michaels or hours of cleanup, please pass them along.  And pray for sunshine!

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Pumpkin Everything

It’s Fall, it’s cool out, and pumpkin is everywhere.  I used to love the arrival of the pumpkin spiced latte and pumpkin muffins, but now I think we’ve gone a little overboard.  Trader Joe’s is pumpkin central right now with everything from the standard canned pumpkin for pies to pumpkin flavored pop tarts.

I make Pumpkin Spiced Lattes at home, and it’s actually pretty simple without all of the chemicals in the Starbucks variety.  I keep a small container of pumpkin pie spice by my coffee maker (I actually have a Nespresso and it has changed my life) – and you can buy it pre-blended in the spice aisle of the supermarket, or make your own from :

4 tbs ground cinnamon

4 tsp ground nutmeg

4 tsp ground ginger

3 tsp ground allspice

 

Add this to your coffee along with your usual milk and sugar routine and it satisfies the PSL without the huge amount of calories and the chemicals.

 

Also, I’ve been looking for a way to add pumpkin to a recipe in a savory dish and found this from Skinnytaste (I know I’ve been posting a lot of her recipes but they’re just so good).  It’s a cheesy baked pumpkin pasta and it was absolutely perfect.  I subbed regular pasta for the whole wheat variety, parm for the pecorino and sage for the rosemary.  It’s quick and easy, cheesy and comforting.

 

http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/11/cheesy-baked-pumpkin-pasta.html

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So go ahead and overdose on pumpkin, but try to add these lower-calorie and natural options.  Enjoy Fall!

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

Now that Autumn is officially here, cooler weather and all, I am loving the Fall-inspired recipes I’m finding on Pinterest and Facebook.  I found a great recipe from local Oceanside, NY mom Gina Homolka on her website Skinnytaste for a Chicken Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash.  Easy, low in fat but high in flavor, and full of all of the Fall awesomeness I was looking for.

http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/11/farro-and-sausage-stuffed-roasted-acorn.html

 

I am not a mushroom fan, so I omitted those, and swapped the farro for couscous because it’s what I had in my cupboard.  I also topped it with parmesan cheese :)

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Super delicious, give it a try!

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