Butternut Squash Soup

Thick, creamy and satisfying. Not always words you can use to describe soup, but they definitely apply for this butternut squash soup!  I love the slight natural sweetness you get from the squash that mingles with the warmth from fresh cracked pepper and chicken broth.

I paired this with cheese, apples and crackers to make a complete meal.  You could also serve it alongside a warm, gooey-cheesy grilled sandwich.  Or maybe a first course at Thanksgiving? Nom nom nom. 🙂

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 4 lbs butternut squash
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cube chicken bullion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven the 375°. Cut the squash into manageable size pieces and roast on a tray, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove and peel off skin. The flesh will not be fully cooked through, that is ok. Cut into 1 inch pieces, along with the celery and put into a large saucepan.  Quarter the onion and add to the pot.

Partially dissolve the bullion cube in the cup of hot water. Pour it into the pot along with the broth, pepper and bay leaf. Bring it to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. The squash and celery will start to soften and dissolve into the broth. Remove the bay leaf and any pieces of celery that are particularly stringy. Working in batches, puree the squash and vegetable mixture until smooth. Return all the mixture to the pot, taste, and add salt if needed.

Serve warm and enjoy!

– Erin

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

I’ve noticed that lately I’ve been getting more new readers here at Erin’s DC Kitchen. I want to say hello! For the newbies and seasoned followers alike, this cupcake recipe is my ‘thanks’ to you, for sticking with me and enjoying food together!

These cupcakes have the most amazing texture; they are dense and very moist and not to sweet, thanks to the sweet potato. They remind me of the flavors of a sweet potato casserole- cloves, cinnamon and ginger. But the pièce de résistance is topping these little buggers with candied bacon. Sweet and salty is delicious, don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise.

I brought these to a coworker’s baby shower and they seemed to be a big hit. I mean, bacon plus dessert? C’mon!  🙂

Oh yes, these are topped with pillows of whipped cream cheese frosting

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbl honey
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and powder in a bowl, set aside. Mash the sweet potatoes with the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and honey, set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes until whipped looking. Add in the sugar and continue beating on high until fluffy, about 3 more minutes. Add eggs one at a time, and then mix in vanilla. Stir in the sweet potatoes until combined. Add flour mixture, beat until combined. Divide the batter evenly between 24 cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 0z cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together on high speed for 3 minutes. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Continue beating on medium speed for 5 minutes or more, until the frosting looks very fluffy and airy. Get ready to frost!

Candied Bacon

  • 5 strips of bacon
  • brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°. On a foil lined baking sheet, arrange the bacon in a single layer. Grab a handful of brown sugar and sprinkle it over the bacon. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and flip. Bake for another 12-15 minutes, until the sugar starts to carmalize and the bacon crisps up. Remove from the baking sheet and transfer the bacon to a separate plate to cool. Once cooled, snip the bacon into 1 inch pieces with kitchen shears and top the frosted cupcakes with one piece.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Homemade Applesauce

Even though the summer garden bounty is gone, and mostly (hopefully)  put up, there are plenty of apples to preserve. I highly recommend using a combo of Stayman, Winesap and Granny Smith apples for sauce because they are sweet and tart at the same time with firm flesh that breaks down beautifully while cooking.

On left, chunky-cinnamon applesauce; on right, smooth applesauce

If you want to preserve this in jars, you can. However, you can also just freeze the applesauce in quart containers. Pull it out when you want to use it and let it thaw in the fridge.

I love heating the chunky-cinnamon applesauce up and eating it warm, it’s so comforting. 🙂 Or, you can use it in place of oil in baking to add more healthful flavor to cakes and muffins, like I did here.

This recipe is forgiving; if you are planning on freezing versus canning it, you can adjust the amounts of apples, sugar and spices to suit your taste. If you can the sauce, I suggest sticking more closely to the recipe- for safety purposes. I made two types of applesauce, both of which I canned.

Homemade Applesauce*

  • 8 lbs of peeled, cored and quartered apples

For Chunky-Cinnamon Applesauce:

  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbl fresh squeezed lemon juice

For Smooth Applesauce

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tbl fresh squeezed lemon juice

In an extra large saucepan, combine apples with just enough water to prevent sticking, Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the apples are tender and have broken down a bit. This time will vary greatly depending on the firmness of your apple.

Remove from heat. Split the apple mixture in half into two separate pots, one pot will be for chunky and one pot will be for smooth. For the smooth batch, puree the apple mixture in a food processor and return to the pan. Stir in the white sugar and the lemon juice. Stirring frequently, bring to a low boil. If canning, fill your jars now.

For the chunky batch, use a potato masher to break down the apple mixture a but, leaving some large apple pieces behind. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Stirring frequently, bring to a low boil. If canning, fill your jars now.

Process the filled jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Remove, let cool and store.

*Note: This is for a split recipe, half chunky and half smooth. If canning, this will yield about 7 pint jars of applesauce.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Harvest Roasted Potatoes

I’m so excited it is finally fall! This is my favorite season, it has the best sports (football and basketball), the best weather (pull out the sweaters!), the best holidays (Halloween and Christmas, hello?) and the best food (candy corn pumpkins, apple cider donuts, stuffing, sweet potatoes, acorn squash and anything pumpkin ).

Fall also employs some excellent cooking techniques. Cranking up the oven and roasting is ok now that the temperature hovers in the 50’s and 60’s. Or simmering a pot of soup on the stove all afternoon while you watch some Michigan State football :-). These are the things I look forward too.

This recipe officially kicks-off fall cooking for me!

These potatoes are warm, toasty and crispy with flavors of rosemary and sweet apple. My husband and I ate them up for dinner as a side dish to pork. Next time, I want to try tossing them with some roast chicken and greens for a comforting warm salad. Yum!

Harvest Roasted Potatoes

  • 1/2 lb golden fingerling potatoes (about 12-15 small)
  • 2 small apples, roughly quartered
  • 2 thick slices of shallot
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Wash and dry the potatoes and apples. Don’t peel them; roasting brings out a deliciously unique flavor from them, I guarantee you’ll like it! Roughly quarter the apples, the pieces shouldn’t be too small or else they will get mushy while roasting. Break any really large potatoes in two.

On a foil lined baking sheet, spread out the apples, potatoes and the rings of shallot, then drizzle generously with olive oil. Shake the pan back and forth to evenly coat. Sprinkle the rosemary, salt and fresh cracked pepper over the potatoes. Shake the pan again to coat.

Roast at 400° for about 40 minutes. Halfway through cooking, turn the potatoes over with a spatula. This helps then brown evenly all over.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Question of the Day: What is your favorite fall flavor?