The Weekend Dish – Curried Butternut Squash Soup

curried butternut squash soup

There are a few food scents that upon detection send me to my “happy place” – cinnamon, cloves, roasting garlic and to a slightly lesser extent coffee and cooking bacon. A new addition is curry. This month, I have been making dishes with curry more than usual and I have noticed it is beginning to have that happy effect on me. Recently, returning home after making this soup, I am transported to my aroma therapy happy place. The faint curry scent coupled with the delicate squash create an olfactory bouquet I view as a little gift to myself. In the five seconds or so I am mentally reveling in this gift, my daughter exclaims, “mmm, smells good!”, a bonus gift!

The squash, with the help of a few supporting ingredients, is elevated to a smooth, warm, savory delight and allowed to shine.

_MG_8721soupFor this simple yet elegant soup. . .

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper
1 tsp curry
6 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dry sherry

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add onion; cover and cook   5 minutes. Stir in jalapeño and curry, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in squash, water, and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Place half of the squash mixture in a blender ; process until smooth (or can be processed in pan using a hand held blender). Pour the puréed squash mixture into a bowl. Repeat the procedure with the remaining squash mixture. Return the puréed squash mixture to the pan and stir in the sherry. Can be brought back up to a simmer and kept warm.

curried butternut squash soupThe perfect dish for warming a cold, winter day.

Try it this weekend and see if you will be transported to your “happy place”.

~ Susan

The Weekend Dish – Macaroni and Cheese

_MG_8317mac&chse Bringing the focus theme into the kitchen, the idea of recipes that focus on one or two ingredients became the clear and obvious choice for a weekend dish. Macaroni and cheese are two ingredients when combined create a simply delicious dish. In this backyard sister’s kitchen, macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. I don’t mean the boxed variety with the powdered orange cheese sauce but the made from scratch, whip up a cheese sauce and mix with your favorite pasta variety. It was the “go to” dish when I first started playing around in the kitchen with savory dishes. This happened mostly on nights when our parents were going out and we wanted to get creative with a meal.  Recently, I turned the dish into an appetizer by putting it in mini muffin tins and baking until crispy.

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The Recipe:

Macaroni and Cheese

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 cup milk (I use non-fat)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 pound grated cheese – I use sharp cheddar, but a mixture can be used with cheddar,     gruyere, parmesan; as long as the amount equals 4 cups grated.
1 pound elbow macaroni or your favorite small shaped pasta (I have also used penne before)

Preheat oven to 350°

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, when melted add flour and stir to mix. Pour in the milk, add the pepper and cook over med/low heat until thickened. Add the grated cheese and stir until completely incorporated and smooth.
Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and mix until pasta is completely coated with sauce.
Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Add 1/4 cup of milk to the pan and gently shake from side to side to work milk to the bottom. Bake in preheated oven until top is slightly browned, about 20 minutes.   Alternately, if you would like to make the bite-sized version place spoonfuls into a greased mini muffin tin. Use 2 tins or put remaining in a small baking dish. Bake for about 14 minutes or until crispy and browned.

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We like to serve with barbecue sauce or ketchup to add a little tang.

_MG_8337mac&chseA salad and some green beans or broccoli usually round out the meal.

Enjoy and cheers,

~ Susan