Butternut Squash Soup

I can’t believe it’s the end of August; I love the summer so much! The older I get the faster the seasons seem to pass. I heard the crickets loud as ever last week and before I know it they will be sneaking out of the cracks and greeting me in the wee hours of the morning, just before I’m off to work. In the next few weeks my husband and I will try to visit the Jersey shore as many times as we can fit into our schedules. But the time will pass quickly and fall will be upon us. Aside from summer, I love fall almost as much. I love the baking, our trip to Pittsburg to try and catch the fall foliage and visit my husband’s childhood home town. Pulling out the sweaters and lighting the fireplace for the first time on a chilly night. It’s so much fun Spotting the first pumpkins and gourds at the local farm market. Going on a hay ride with your family and pulling out recipes for favorite soups and stews. With all of these things to look forward to I can open my mind and embrace the upcoming season. Sundays are good days for me to be in the kitchen. After church I love to come home and make something special for my family. Today with the realization that the end of summer is about a month away, I thought I’d try making butternut squash soup. I’ve never made butternut squash soup so it will be a time of testing for me. I have had it at restaurants and last year at a friend’s house. I really enjoyed it each time I tasted it. I knew I would love to make it for my family homemade. I scouted the internet for recipes. There are many! I saw recipes that boiled the squash and vegetables and others that roasted them. I’m a big fan of roasted vegetables. Roasting just seems to bring so much flavor out of any vegetable. The other ingredient I wanted in the soup was apple. This is sure sounding like a fall soup now! I consulted my flavor bible book and decided to use bay leaf, nutmeg and cinnamon to add flavor. I also added an over flowing tablespoon of pure maple syrup to add a little more sweetness. To finish the soup I added a good dash of light cream and fresh grated nutmeg, just a dash. For a garnish on my soup I toasted some pumpkin seeds and sprinkled them on top. My house smelled amazing during this process I must say. My husband was kindly yelling out smells good in here! I just love that. Cooking and baking is such a blessing to me when I can share it with others. That’s what makes it a joyous task. Well, after about an hour and a half I brought my soup out to my husband for tasting. He really enjoyed it, as did I. All the flavors and ratios worked well together. I would definitely serve this to company. I would however like to make this soup a few more times and try a few different recipes before I give it a place of honor in my recipe box. As much as I will miss summer I’m looking forward to fall and all the fun and yummy things that come with it. God Bless and enjoy your day!

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Butternut Squash Soup

2 lbs. butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 large granny smith apple, peeled and cored, cut into 1 inch cube

1 large yellow onion, cut into 1 inch cube

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 cups vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Dash of cream

Fresh grated nutmeg, optional

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

On a baking tray evenly spread out the prepared squash, apple, and onion. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Pour olive oil over the vegetables and apple. Bake 30-35 minutes until the squash is very tender. When done roasting the vegetables pour them into a saucepan. Add 1 ½ cups of vegetable broth, the bay leaf, and the nutmeg and cinnamon. Bring to a gentle boil and heat through and let the spices marry. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup and add the remaining broth until you have a nice consistency to the soup. Finish the soup with a good dash of cream stirring to combine. Grate a little fresh nutmeg over top. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Hot Cross Buns And Snow

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My snowy backyard.

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I was at the book store one day last week and to my delight my eyes came upon a new magazine: SIFT, a King Arthur Publication. As I thumbed my way through I saw beautiful pictures of bread, muffins, cakes, biscuits, pizza, sandwiches, gluten free baked goods, and a section on a Mediterranean feast. The photos all looked so appealing, but one picture really had my attention: hot cross buns. I was hoping to make hot cross buns for the upcoming Easter season this year to share with my Mother-In-Law Helen. She just loves hot cross buns and buys them every year. I read over the ingredients and method for preparing the dough and the baking. I happily purchased my new magazine and couldn’t wait to bake the buns. Later that week we had a snow storm and I knew it was the perfect day for baking. The recipe called for either apple juice or rum, and I had rum on hand so I used that. It also called for mixed dried fruit, and I used a mixture of golden raisins and California raisins. I chose to mix the dough by hand instead of the mixer. When baking bread at home in such a small batch I love to get my hands in it. The dough was easy to mix and the process was relaxing. I did some reading during the rise times. It was so hard waiting for those buns to cool, but I wanted to enjoy the little taste of icing piped on the top to get the whole experience of the tasting. It was worth the wait! The bun was soft and tender. The fruit was tasty with the infusion of the rum, and who doesn’t love the taste of icing? I love the buns and the magazine. I will be patiently awaiting the next issue, but ‘till then there’s lots more great recipes in this issue to try.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

These muffins smell so good baking in my oven this afternoon. I have always made these muffins just around Thanksgiving. The beautiful fresh red cranberries just beg to be added to muffins, breads, and fresh cranberry sauce of course. Who could resist them! I lived in Washington State many years ago and I would bring these muffins to my Sunday school class. Everyone really seemed to enjoy them. When you bite into this muffin it’s moist. The orange zest and cranberries give a burst of fresh tangy flavor and the nuts give a delightful crunch. Once you try these tasty muffins you will want them every year. When see those beautiful red cranberries, you won’t be able to resist!

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ Teaspoon baking powder

½ Teaspoon baking soda

½ Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ Teaspoon ground ginger

2 Tablespoons freshly grated orange zest

½ Cup shortening

¾ Cup Fresh orange juice

2 large eggs beaten

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ Cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1 ½ Cups pecans, chopped

Bake 375 degrees in a pre-heated oven

Bake 15-18 minutes

In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients and the orange zest

Cut in the shortening

Stir in the orange juice, eggs, and vanilla

Stir just till combined, add cranberries and nuts. Gently stir just to bring ingredients together. Don’t over mix. Line muffin pans and fill 2/3 full with the batter. Makes 1 ½ dozen.

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Apple Pie and Pittsburg

Apples from Trax Farm

I have been dreaming of baking an apple pie for several weeks now. The fall chill in the air just seems to beg for the oven to be lit. My husband, Joe and I planned a quick getaway last weekend to Pittsburg. He was born in Pittsburg and grew up in the boro of Castle Shannon. I decided to wait on my pie so I could purchase the apples from a farmers market nearby. Trax Farm has so many different kinds of apples. Joe’s Mom Helen always made her apple pie with star apples. I was going to look for those apples to make my pie just like his mom’s. Unfortunately they had no star apples. Since there were so many different kinds of apples I decided to use a variety of apples for my pie. I chose Jonathan, ginger gold, golden delicious, Jonagold, and granny smith. I loaded up my bag and paid. It was cool enough in the car that they wouldn’t spoil for the few days we were visiting. We had such a great time sight seeing and visiting Joe’s old neighborhood. We even made it to the Steelers game on Sunday due to the generosity of an old college buddy of Joe’s who lives in Pittsburg. I was so excited on our return home to make my apple pie. I waited till the next day and rolled up my selves. I relived our trip in my mind as I prepared the pie. When Joe came home from work that day we enjoyed a piece after our dinner. It was so delicious! I’m sure it was all those different apples and the fact that they came from Pittsburg of course!

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Apple Pie

Double crust pastry

8 cups apples, different varieties of baking apples. Peeled and sliced.

2-3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

2 tablespoons of whole milk

Prepare your favorite pastry crust chill for a least 1 hour or purchase a ready-made crust. Peel and slice the apples. Toss the apples with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and spices and mix with a spoon until evenly coated. Roll out the bottom crust and fill with the apple filling. Dot the top of the pie with diced unsalted butter. Roll out the top crust and place on top of the apples. Crimp the edges. Brush the top crust with while milk, and then cut slits in the top of crust to make a vent. Bake in a pre-heat 375 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cool and refrigerate and serve cold.

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Pumpkin Bread

It’s the perfect time of year for my favorite pumpkin bread recipe. These loaves were prepared and baked by my son Timothy. We have been working through some of our favorite family recipes together. I have been baking this pumpkin bread recipe long before he was born. The bread is moist and delicious. A real family favorite. Tim is enjoying cooking as well as baking. His goal is to be able to cook familiar recipes that he grew up with and loves. His beautiful loaves taste every bit as good as mine.

Tim's Pumpkin Bread
Tim’s Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

2/3 cup of shortening

2 2/3 cups sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl

1 16oz. can Libby’s pumpkin

2/3 cup water

3 1/3 cups all- purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons of salt

½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ cup walnuts, chopped

¾ cup raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees, grease the bottoms of 2 loaf pans.

Mix the shortening and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in large bowl using a whisk

Add the eggs, pumpkin, and water

Blend in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves

Add the nuts, and raisins

Pour into pans about 2/3 full

Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Then turns the loaves out to cool completely before serving. Store in a zip lock bag or air tight container. The bread gets moister as it ages a day or two. You can also safely freeze the bread.

If your not a fan of the nuts and raisins you can leave them out.

Tim used a decorative baking pan for this loaf.
Tim used a decorative baking pan for this loaf.

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Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffin.
Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffin. A comforting Autumn treat.
Whisk dry ingredients.
Whisk dry ingredients.
Lightly beat eggs, add wet ingredients.
Lightly beat eggs, add wet ingredients.
Add melted butter to dry ingredients. Then add the other wet ingredients. Stir just to combine.
Add melted butter to dry ingredients. Then add the other wet ingredients. Stir just to combine.
Fold in the nuts and raisins.
Fold in the nuts and raisins.
Spoon batter into prepared muffins cups.
Spoon batter into prepared muffins cups.
Drizzle muffins with Maple glaze.
Drizzle muffins with maple glaze.
Enjoy!
Enjoy!

 

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

2 Cups all-purpose flour

¾ up to 1 Cup granulated sugar, if you want a sweeter muffin use 1 cup of sugar

½ Teaspoon fine sea salt

1 ½ Teaspoons baking powder

¼ Teaspoon baking soda

1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ Teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ Teaspoon ground cloves

1 Cup solid packed pumpkin puree, Libby’s, or organic

¼ Cup buttermilk or evaporated milk

¼ Cup sour cream or plain yogurt

4 oz. Butter (1 stick), melted

2 Large eggs

¼ Cup raisins

¼ Cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Sift the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl; you can use a whisk to sift if you like. Melt the butter and set aside. In a separate bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the pumpkin puree, sour cream, and buttermilk or evaporated milk. Add the melted butter and wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon just to combine the ingredients. Fold in the nuts and raisins. Spoon 2/3 of batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes or till cake tester comes out clean.

Bakers note: I used organic pumpkin for my muffins. If you use Libby’s the muffins will be a darker color.

Glaze

4 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Stir the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, add more of either ingredient to get a not to thick not to thin mixture. Drizzle over cooled muffins.

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Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie

I work with a really sweet lady named Joyce. We have become really good friends over the last seven years; her birthday was a little over a week ago. Joyce had passed a comment at work that she didn’t want birthday cake this year she just wanted a pumpkin pie. I instantly was dreaming of that yummy creamy, spicy pumpkin pie I love to bake for Thanksgiving. Joyce and our dear friend Danny, and I always get together and celebrate each others birthdays. I would have no problem surprising our birthday girl with the pie. While I’m at it I thought I’ll make two, I have to have one to taste to make sure it’s just right!  I met Joyce in the parking lot before we went in and surprised her with the pie. I loved seeing the smile on her face. It’s so fun to surprise people! I’m sure she never thought her wish for pie instead of cake would come true. We all had a lovely dinner and gave Joyce gifts to celebrate her birthday. When I saw Joyce at work that week she told me she really loved the pie. Well so did my husband, son, and I. Our pie was gone in 24 hours I guess we love pumpkin pie! This will be one of the creamiest pumpkin pies you’ve ever had and the spices put it over the top.

Assemble the pie crust ingredients.
Assemble the pie crust ingredients.
Whisk the flour,and salt together.
Whisk the flour,and salt together.
Add the butter and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender.
Add the butter and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender.
It should look like this. Now with a fork slowly add water and the dough will start to stick together and form a ball. You may not need all the water.
It should look like this. Now with a fork slowly add water and the dough will start to stick together and form a ball. You may not need all the water.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate 1-1 1/2 hours.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate 1-1 1/2 hours.
Roll out the dough on a floured board.
Roll out the dough on a floured board.
Put the crust in the pie plate and crimp the edges.
Put the crust in the pie plate and crimp the edges.

Pie crust

Yields double crust

12 oz. Flour, 1 ½ cups

½ Teaspoon salt

4oz. Ice cold butter in cubes, 1 stick butter

4oz. Ice cold solid shortening, ½ cup, I use Crisco

2-4oz. Ice cold water

In a medium size bowl add the flour and the salt. Whisk together with a wire whisk to incorporate the flour and the salt. Add the ice cold butter, and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender till pea size pieces appear. Add 1 tablespoon of the water at a time into the flour butter mixture. Only use enough water to bring the dough together into a ball. Shape the dough into 2 discs. I used the entire dough for my pie. I have a large pie plate and I like to have lots of dough to work with. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-1 1/2hours. Remove from plastic, flour a large cutting board or your counter top. Dust the rolling pin and roll out the dough it should fit your pie pan with at least 2 inches hanging over. Trim up the dough around the pie plate tuck it under all the way around and crimp the edges. Place the pie crust in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to get it cold again. This will help you get a flaky crust. Add your filling.

 

Assemble your ingredients for the filling.
Assemble your ingredients for the filling.
Beat egg with a whisk.
Beat egg with a whisk.
Add the evaporated milk, milk or cream which ever your using. Whisk together.
Add the evaporated milk, milk or cream which ever your using. Whisk together.
Add the spices and salt. whisk again.
Add the spices and salt. whisk again.
Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine all ingredients.
Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine all ingredients.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 50-55 minutes longer.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 50-55 minutes longer.
Serve the pie with fresh whipped cream and just a little sifting of ground cinnamon.
Serve the pie with fresh whipped cream and just a little sifting of ground cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pie filling

2 Extra-large eggs

1 1/3 Evaporated milk, 1  12 oz can

½ Cup whole milk, or heavy cream

2/3 Cup granulated sugar

1/3 Cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 ½ Teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 Teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 Teaspoon ground nutmeg

 1/8 Teaspoon ground cardamom

½ Teaspoon salt

2 Cups solid packed pumpkin, I use Libby’s

In a large bowl beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add the evaporated milk and the milk, or heavy cream whisk gently together. Add the sugar, spices, and salt whisk gently. Add the pumpkin and whisk again to combine all ingredients together. Pour into your prepared pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for the first 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely. Refrigerate the pie for 3-4 hours before serving. I serve the pie with whipped cream with a sprinkle of sifted cinnamon.

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