Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lucky Girl

I am a very lucky girl. Not only am I about to marry the man of my dreams, I have the most amazing friends and family who threw me a beautiful "bride-to-be tea" this weekend. I was so busy visiting with everyone and enjoying myself that I didn't take 1 picture, but there were lots of other photographers so as soon as I get some pictures I will do a full recap of the lovely party. In the meantime, I just want to say THANK YOU to my fabulous best friend Lucy and all her little helpers for putting on such a perfect event for me, and to all our friends and family who made me feel so special. Seriously - lucky girl.

Before getting myself beautiful for the afternoon tea, I started Saturday morning right with some French toast.

I used challah bread, and topped it with some apples sauteed with butter and sucanat. Sucanat is my new favorite sweetener! No, its not one of those gross, all chemical, no calorie sweeteners. Its non-refined cane sugar, and its much better for you than refined sugar. It has a higher nutritional value and doesn't make your blood sugar spike.

Today I had LOTS of new fabulous kitchen equipment to play with. I should have been spending my afternoon finding space for all of it, but all I wanted to do was cook! I got good use out of our new All Clad mixing bowls, measuring cups, and measuring spoons.

We got some delicious pears in our CSA this week, so I made a batch of ginger pear muffins.

Ginger Pear Muffins
makes 12
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sucanat
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp grated fresh ginger
4 medium pears, peeled and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Butter a 12-cup muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sucanat, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, olive, oil, yogurt, milk, vanilla, and grated ginger.

Add dry ingredients to wet and whisk until just combined. Gently fold in pears. Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan, filling cups almost to top. Bake for about 20 minutes, then insert tester in center of muffin. If tester does not come out clean, bake 3 - 5 minutes more. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and cool on rack.

Now that it is officially Fall, its squash season! Summer is most certainly the best time of year for food - in my opinion - but the warm, comforting flavors of Autumn are a very nice change of pace. Tonight I turned them into a butternut squash soup.

Butternut Squash Soup
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls unsalted butter
1 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 dry white wine
2 - 3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 Tbls chopped fresh thyme
salt & pepper
1/4 whole milk

Heat oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. If you're as lucky as I am and were recently given a Le Creuset by your fabulous mother as a shower gift, use that.

Add shallots and garlic and cook about 30 seconds until slightly softened.

Add vegetables, toss with oil, garlic and shallots, then pour in white wine.

Add thyme and season with salt and pepper. Add broth or water and cover, leaving cover slightly askew so steam can escape. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 - 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

When vegetables are soft, remove pot from hear and puree soup with an immersion blender, leaving some chunks of vegetable. Or puree in batches in a blender, after its cooled slightly. Return soup to low heat and stir in milk. Heat until just warm and serve with slices of toasted baguette sprinkled with grated cheese.

This Fall is getting off to a nice start. I think its gonna be a good one.

UPDATE:  Lizzy has some cute pictures posted from my shower!

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