Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Fried Shallots

Butternut Squash Soup

One word: delicious. This might be the most delicious soup I have ever tasted. Why? Oh, where to start. For one, it doesn't really taste like squash. Don't let that deter you if your a squash lovin' person though. This soup is a brilliant combination of squash, herbs and wine with the slightest hint of orange for sweetness. The cinnamon whipped cream on top is unsweetened, and a fun twist rather than adding cream directly to the soup, and coupled with salty fried shallots?! Good gracious, this is a must make.

Butternut Squash Soup

In other news-
By the time you read this I will be on a plane to San Francisco on a super sexy trip with my wonderful husband, Jeremy, who planned it for my 30th birthday, which was Nov. 28th. Re-cap to come. We will live it up in San Fran for a few days, which is one of our favorite cities, then get back on a plane (nervously...I hate flying! But I love traveling, so what's a girl to do?) and head up to Seattle to visit my sister. I love that he surprised me with that in our itinerary. I miss my sis so much and I'll be super happy to see her and Seattle (finally). Don't know what were doing yet, but I know a trip to Molly Wizenberg's brick oven pizzeria, Delancey is in the cards. Stay tuned for all the juicy details, but for now, enjoy this ridiculously tasty soup!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Fried Shallots
adapted from Anne Burell
Serves 4-6

Olive Oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
Kosher salt
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1- inch cubes
2 cups white wine
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 bundle thyme
2 bay leaves
1 orange, cut in 1/2
Peanut or other neutrally flavored oil, for frying
2 large shallots
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Coat a large pot over medium-high heat with olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt, to taste, and sweat the veggies until they start to soften and are very aromatic, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the squash and potatoes and season with salt, to taste. Stir to coat the mixture with the oil and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Add the wine and reduce by half.

Add the stock, thyme and bay leaves. Squeeze the orange into the soup and add both halves. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if needed. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and simmer until the squash is falling apart, about 35 to 40 minutes. * If the liquid level starts to get too low, water can be used to replace it.

Remove and discard the orange halves, thyme bundle and bay leaves and puree the soup with an immersion blender or a blender. If using a blender, cool the mixture for about 5 minutes and carefully add it to the blender. It should be very smooth and velvety. Check the consistency. If it is too thick add water to thin it.

In a saucepan heat about 1-inch of the oil over medium heat. Slice the shallots into thin rings. Just before frying, toss the shallots in the flour. Fry the shallots until they are crispy and brown. Remove to a paper towel and sprinkle immediately with salt.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until it holds its shape in soft peaks, then whip in the cinnamon.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with a dollop of the cinnamon whipped cream and fried shallots.

I got my family pictures back, so I'll be posting those very soon! Oh, and watch out for Thursday. I'm guest blogging over on Meg's blog for a segment called "From My Hometown To Yours" Where I'll show you all around my ski town.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Favorite Things Big Christmas Giveaway Winner!


It's Wednesday everyone, which mean I am announcing the winner of my Big Christmas Giveaway! It has been so much fun to host this giveaway and I just might have to make it an annual thing :) A few things before I begin.

1) I chose the winner via random.org. I typed in the number of comment received and it spit out a random number for the winner.

2) I immediately went to the blog to see who the lucky winner was. Only problem? When I hit the back button to the site to snap a photo of the winning number (to prove I'm no cheater) the result number was no longer there! So sorry about that. I'll take a picture BEFORE I check to see who the winner is next time. :)

Without further ado, the winner is: Hillary Baldwin

I also shared it on fb my profile is Baking Bad:) hbaldwin425@gmail.com"

Congratulations Hillary! I'll be emailing you for your address and your goodies will be arriving soon!


Have a happy Thanksgiving everybody, and thanks for participating. I am especially Thankful this year as this package arrived yesterday:


Thanksgiving traditions come about in various ways. About five years ago my Grandpa invited a single fishing friend over to join our family for Thanksgiving. He also brought Sancerre (a bright and crisp white French wine, with a lot of green apple and grapefruit notes). I loved it so much and it complimented the meal so well that now it's a tradition and I only drink Sancerre on Thanksgiving. Everyone knows and it's a lot of fun. I look forward to it all year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Perfect Pie Crust and "The Worm"

Pie Crust

Most people find pie crust daunting but as my main gal Ina suggests, there are a few secrets that will change all that. First the butter, shortening, and water must all be very cold. Second, let the dough sit in the refrigerator (bakers call it "relaxing" the dough) for 30 minutes before rolling, and finally, don't stretch the dough when you're placing in into the pan. Follow these tips and you'll have delicious, flaky pie crust every time. I have pictures and step by step instructions so you can follow easily.

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture
Pie Crust

Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.
Pie Crust

Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas.
Pie Crust

With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
Pie Crust

Pie Crust

Dump out onto a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pie Crust

Cut the dough in half. Then you are ready to roll each piece into a circle for your pie!
Pie Crust

Perfect Pie Crust
adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Family Style, Ina Garten
makes two 10-inch crusts

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out onto a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well floured board into a circle, rolling from the center of the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

You can also make this dough ahead of time. Wrap your dough tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Now what happens if you only need one of the pie crusts, instead of the two this recipe makes? Don't halve the recipe. Make the worm!! Not the most fetching name, but I promise, it's delicious. This is what I make anytime I have left over pie crust and it's my husband favorite. My Father-in-law's mother is famous for them.

The worm is a rolled out pie crust that has been smeared with a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons for a whole crusts worth) of softened butter, then sprinkled with a thin layer of brown sugar and cinnamon. See?

Next you roll it up and seal the ends
The worm


Then bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes and let cool. It's not the prettiest thing in the world.

Next, gently cut into rounds with a serrated knife (the worm will be doughy and soft in the center. This is what you want) serve on a plate still warm or at room temperature (cover to keep them soft). What a treat!
Pie Crust Worm

Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the winner of my Big Christmas Giveaway!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taco Soup and Food Exchange

Taco Soup

Don't forget to enter my Big Christmas Giveaway on my last post if you haven't already! A winner will be picked Wednesday morning! Now on to today's post...

Here is the breakdown:

Step 1: You recruit three friends to participate
Step 2: You each pick a meal to make and triple the recipe
Step 3: Divvy up into three portions and place in Ziplock Freezer bags
Step 4: Freeze
Step 5: Meet up with your friends, bring your bags and swap meals
Step 6: You have three different meals ready to go when you are. Just defrost, heat and serve!

Genius, right? I thought I made this up over a year ago but I have seen Martha Stewart advertising something similar to this on her website, so boo to that. Not boo to the idea, just the fact that she stole it from me. Yeah, I'm sure of it. ;) All kidding aside, this really is a good idea. It doesn't take much longer to make and triple a recipe than it does to make enough for your family. It takes way less time than making three separate meals, that's for sure!

For the past two fall/winter seasons I have recruited my friends Melissa and Danielle to swap with each other. Most things can freeze well and you are only limited by your imagination. The usual suspects would be soup and chili. Those are always easy. There are lots of other options though, from homemade spaghetti sauce to sausage lasagna frozen in disposable bakers and wrapped well, to chowders and savory quiche. I happen to know you can freeze already baked quiche. My friend Luanne did it one year. Google it for proper storage, thawing and re-heating instructions.

The happy food swappers: Me, Danielle, Melissa
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This year for the swap Melissa made a yummy and thick vegetarian chili for homemade chili-cheese fries. All you needed to do come diner time is oven roast some potatoes for fries and heat up the chili.

Danielle made a beautiful vegetable pot pie filling. Now, all I need to do is defrost and warm the filling then transfer the contents into a Pyrex dish or pie plate, top with some puff pastry and bake until done. Add a salad and I have one decadent dinner that took me 5 minutes to assemble.

As for my part, I took the really easy road this year and made a big batch of taco soup (it's okay because I'm pretty sure I made a much more labor intensive French onion soup for everyone last year). This is the easiest because all you need to do is heat it through and you have dinner.

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We usually write the name of our dish and date on the Ziplock bags were trading and re-heating instructions if needed. I can't tell you how accomplished you'll feel for having three wholesome and homemade ready to go dinners in your freezer.

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Today, I'll write about my taco soup, but I'll also be sharing Danielle's pot pie filling as soon as I eat it and snap some pictures. Melissa's vegetarian chili-cheese fry chili can be found here if you missed it.

I love this recipe because it's a super hearty one pot meal, but not chili. I like a change every once and a while. Its Mexico in a bowl, with all the flavored tomatoes, beans, corn and olives going on here. The Ranch Dressing mix along with the taco seasoning is what really makes it. I normally don't use pre-made seasoning blends from the grocery store but in this recipe it's highly appropriate. It's casual food that's still fit for company because of how delicious it is. Make sure to serve with corn chips for scooping, green onion and plenty of sour cream or cheese, or both! The original recipe calls for meat, but of course I made it vegetarian. To do the same, substitute 3 more cans of beans total, one of each called for and omit the meat.

Taco Soup

Taco Soup
adapted from Paula Deen
serves 6 (vegetarian version serves slightly more, about 6-8 because of the extra beans)

2 pounds ground beef, ground turkey, or a mixture of both (I made this vegetarian by substituting 3 more cans of beans for the meat)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 -15 oz can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 - 15 oz can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 - 15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 - 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained or 2 cups frozen corn
1 - 14.5 oz can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 - 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1 - 14.5 oz can mild rotel (tomatoes with chile's)
1-2  cups water
1 - 4.6 oz can sliced black olives, drained
1/2 cup green olives, sliced (optional)
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 -1 oz package ranch salad dressing mix 

corn chips, sour cream, cheddar cheese,
green onions, and pickled jalapenos

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large pot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, rotel, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, 1 cup water and ranch dressing mix. If you need additional water to make a soup consistency, add another cup. Bring everything to a simmer and cook together for 20 minutes.
The added water will work with the seasoning mixes to thicken the soup. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Serve!

You can also make this in a crock pot. If you plan on freezing this soup for a swap or even just leftovers- freeze your bags as flat as possible for the best storage, like pictured.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Favorite Things" Big Christmas Giveaway


Can you hear those sleigh bells ring?


Krysta’s Favorite Things

BIG Christmas


I miss Oprah. And I know I'm not the only one. So, in the spirit of the Holiday season, I am hosting my own mini version of the "favorite things" giveaway and giving my readers a chance to win four different prizes! Here's how it works:

Prizes are broken up into four different categories. The lucky winner will get to pick ONE prize from each category. All you need to do is :

1) Follow or be a follower of my blog

2) leave me a comment telling me which items from each category you would like if you win. Choose wisely because this is what I will use to determine what to send you. One comment per person, please.

* If you blog about this giveaway or mention it on facebook or twitter, leave me an additional comment telling me so and I will enter you again for each.

I will pick the winner on Wednesday, November 23rd, hopefully using the random computer generated thingy if I can ever figure it out. Otherwise it will be done the old fashioned way-names in a hat. I'm sorry you have to click on a link to see some of these items but Sur La Table does not allow me to upload their pictures. Boo!

Oprah usually aired her Favorite Things show around Nov. 20th, so I'm a bit early, but I'm sure you don't mind.

*I can only ship to USA, so please only enter if you have a valid US address.

I am SO excited for this! Good luck everyone!


Catagory 1-

1) Pepperberry Wreath and Garland- Handmade with fresh salal, cedar spiral eucalyptus, pepperberries, cinnamon sticks, pine cones and a festive red ribbon.

Click here to see

2) Breville Electric Milk Frother- Perfect for Hot Chocolate- This machine quickly and precisely heats up to 25 oz. of milk to your ideal temperature, and froths it into perfect microbubbles with a uniformly silken texture. If you like it extra hot or on the cooler side, select your preference using the temperature control. Put this compact appliance to work making rich hot chocolate, steaming milk for lattes or creating airy foam for cappuccinos. Two removable frothing discs are included-one for lattes, the other for cappuccinosimg1b

3)European Cheese Hamper-Includes:-Robolio Rustica- A washed rind cow’s milk cheese that’s nutty and aromatic with a soft, supple interior 14 oz. -Scharfe Maxx- An artisian Swiss cheese from master cheesemakers Kaserei Studer that combines rich nutty flavors with delicate hints of mushroom. 8 oz. -Chaource- A bloomy –rinfdcow’s milk cheese with rich, buttery flavor and hints of toasted nuts. 8.8 oz. -Carbonocio- A creamy Italian cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk cheese by Caseificio dell’Alta Langa prized for it’s velvety texture and buttery flavor. 5 oz. -Thin crackers from Sardinia and Panpepato- A chewy dried-fruit and nut cake from Siena. All packaged in a beautiful wicker basket hamper. img10b

4) Etched Wine Decanter and Set of 4 Tumblers- These are my favorite go-to everyday wine glass. I use mine all the time. The flat glasses-not stemmed.zm_etch-gls-decanter-a_1

5) Breville Panini Press- I use mine weekly for grilled cheese.img100b


Catagory 2-

1)Large Double Handled Soup Bowls- set of 4. These durable bowls can be used for soup or chili, and are oven safe for pot pies.img15b

2) Cuisinart Smart Power Compact Blender- A slim powerhouse that does it all. Four to-go cups. Great for individual smoothies or salad dressings, baby food and more. Pick your color: Plum, Blueberry, Pomegranate, Parsley or Lemon.

Click here to see

3) Winter Forrest Hand Soap, Lotion and Dish Soap Set- Williams Sonoma’s Essential Oils collection is biodegradabale earth-friendly formulations that contain no parabens, ammonia, chlorine or lauramide DEA, and are made in the USA without nimal testing. Gift sets come in a stainless stell wire caddy. Winter Forrest scent.img58b

4) Chocolate-Chocolate Croissants- This offering from Jean-Yves Charon is a chocolate lover’s dream. To create the decadent flavor, he adds rich European cocoa powder to his traditional buttery puff pastry dough and a filling of the finest Belgian chocolate. To enjoy them fresh from the oven, simply let the frozen croissants rise overnight then bake. The delicate flaky pastries emerge with richly browned chocolate colored exteriors and velvety melted-chocolate interiors. Set of 15. Perfect for all that family you have coming to town.img87b

5) 12 Piece All Purpose Glass Wine Set-

Generously sized, ideal for red or white wines, conveniently boxd and perfect for holiday giftgiving-to yourself or someone else-Dishwasher safe. Set of 12.

Click here to see


Catagory 3

1)Vintage Style Rose Wine Stopper- Cabbage Rose Knobs resemble old iron ornamentation. Handmade in the USA. Approx. 2" diam., 3" h. Pick your color: red, green or gold.


2) The Barefoot Contessa-Family Style Cookbook- By Ina Garten. The cookbook that taught me to cook. Beautiful photo’s of every recipe such as: Parmesan Chicken, Penne with Five Cheeses, Roasted Vegetable Soup, Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes, Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins, Summer Pudding with Rum Whipped Cream, and many, many more. Her recipes turn out perfectly every single time.


3) Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blende

This ultra versatile kitchen helper blends and chops in bowls, pots and more with simple one touch continuous or pulse control. Pick your color.


4) Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Fathers Daughter Cookbook-


5) Naturally Flavored Gray Salt Collection-

Roasted Garlic, Sundried tomato and Citrus rosemary618


Catagory 4-

And last but certainly not least:

A one-year subscription to any of the following magazines:







Ready? GO!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brie and Raspberry Panini

Brie and Raspberry <span class=

Kel made me this sandwich for the first time about 2 months ago. Guess what Kel has eaten almost everyday for lunch the past 2 months? Healthy, right? She drizzles hers with organic honey and insists it is somehow good for you because of that. I mean, it's organic. Let's get this straight Kel. You drizzled added sugar onto white crusty bread with melted cheese in the middle and yet somehow, that's healthy in Kel-land. Yep, that just happened. I just called you out.

Good thing something doesn't have to be healthy to be absolutely slap-yo-face-stupid-delicious. Which is why I reserve eating this sandwich to about every two months or so. Any more than that and I'm scared I'd get addicted and eat it everyday...like Kel. Oh, don't go and get all mad now. You know I'm kidding you in the most honest but lovingly sincere way. People, think of baked brie on toasted baguette with raspberry. That is basically what this is. Ridiculous. I rest my case.

Jingle...Jingle...Watch for tomorrow :)

Brie and Raspberry Panini

Crusty white, sourdough or Italian bread
Brie cheese, sliced in 1/4" thick slices
raspberries, halved vertically

Lightly spread butter on the outsides of the bread. Fill sandwich with slices of brie and raspberry halves and press butter sides up and down in a preheat panini press until melted and golden. Or you can do this the old school way in a non-stick skillet over medium heat a la grilled cheese.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Orzo with Feta, Arugula and Cranberries

Orzo with Feta, Arugula and Cranberries

In the month of November we all know and look forward to having Thanksgiving. But if you are looking for inspiration for the other 29 meals that also happen this month, look no further. This time of year, it's easy to eat rather heavily, isn't it? What with all the potatoes and bacon being in season and all. What? Bacon is always in season. But if you are looking for fall flavors without the guilt may I suggest this orzo? It's earthy, easy, and tart-sweet and savory. It can be a lunch, a side dish or a main for dinner, like we ate it. You can even go crazy and add some chicken if you are the poultry eating type.

Or turkey (leftovers?) But we weren't going to Thanksgiving on this post, were we? Dang.

You can also make this with whole wheat orzo if you can find it. The nuttiness would be really great here. Eating a big bowl of orzo for dinner alone sound weird to you? It shouldn't. It's no different than a big bowl of pasta, only healthier because of the ingredients therein. So pop in a movie, snuggle in on the couch with your sweetie, or friend and enjoy your orzo straight up. Stuff is addicting.

Orzo with Feta, Arugula and Cranberries

Orzo with Feta, Arugula and Cranberries
adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis via Week of Menus
Serves 6-8 as a side
Serves 4 for a main meal

1 pound orzo pasta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for tossing the pasta
2 cups fresh arugula (about 3 ounces)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup dried cranberries
12 fresh basil leaves, torn
13 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta. Toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and let cool slightly.

Mix together in a bowl, 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.

While the orzo is still slightly warm, transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, including dressing and toss gently to combine. Serve. The arugula will wilt slightly from the heat of the orzo, which is exactly what you want.

Jingle...Jingle- Stay tuned. I have a rather big giveaway coming...