Food is one of the many things that can bring people together, however it can also be a big stress-inducer, especially if you’re the chef.
There is always a lot of unnecessary noise in my head when I’m cooking for family – that article about the perfect turkey, Grandma’s secret stuffing ingredient to prevent dryness, even the latest side dish trend.
When you let that noise into your head and your cooking, it can feel like nothing comes out right. It can feel as though you’re not being the great host you know you can be. However, pausing and taking a breath to center yourself and focus on what you’re doing in that moment, will help you to remember the real purpose of the gathering.
Enjoy these seasonal recipes, remembering that it’s not about what you cook, but whom you share it with.
Butternut Squash Soup
4 3/4 cups Butternut Squash, Peeled and Large Diced
3 1/4 cups Sweet Potatoes, Peeled and Large Dice
3/4 Cup Celery
3/4 Cup Onion, Large Dice
3/4 Cup Carrots, Peeled and Large Dice
1 5/8 Tablespoons Canola Oil
6 3/8 Cups Cider
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
2 3/8 Teaspoons Sage, Fresh
1 1/4 Teaspoons Vegetable Base (Condensed Vegetable Broth)
1 1/4 Tablespoons Salt
1 1/4 Teaspoons Pepper
1. In a large sauce pot combine canola oil, carrots, celery and onions and simmer on medium heat until soft and transparent.
2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potato, cider, nutmeg, sage, vegetable base, salt and pepper.
3. Let simmer for about one hour or until squash and potatoes are soft.
4. Let the soup cool down and puree in a blender until the soup is smooth.
5. Serve hot.
Note: Pumpkin Seeds or Sunflower Seeds make a fantastic garnish to this soup!
Port Wine Braised Kale
6 3/4 Quarts Kale, Chopped and Cleaned
1/2 Cup Red Onion, Julienned
1 1/4 Tablespoons Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Port Wine
1/2 Cup Tomatoes, Diced
1 1/4 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ Teaspoons Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
1. Cut and clean the kale by pulling the leaves off of the stem and chopping into bite size pieces, then wash under cool water.
2. Sauté red onion and garlic in a large pot until onions are cooked and starting to caramelize. You’ll want to stir them frequently so they don’t burn, let them cook until the onions are a nice translucent brown in color.
3. Deglaze pan with port wine and let it simmer until it has reduced by half.
4. Add diced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and the kale to your pot. Cook until kale is wilting then add salt and pepper.
5. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes to soften up the fibers in the kale.
Hummus Stuffed Portabella Caps
8 Portabella Caps
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Scrape gills out of Portabella caps with a spoon
3. Marinade Portabellas in Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below for recipe)
4. Roast at 350 for 25 minutes
5. Once cooled, fill with 1/4 cup hummus and bake at 350 for another 15 minutes (see below for recipe)
1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Pinch Pepper
1. Add balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper to a blender and mix until emulsified.
1 Can Garbanzo Beans
1/2 Cup Tahini
1 1/2 Teaspoons Water
3 3/4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 2/3 Tablespoons Garlic, Minced
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 1/4 Teaspoons Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3 1/3 Tablespoons Parsley, Chopped
1/4 Cup Scallion, Chopped
1. Combine garbanzo beans, tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, sesame oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. (A few chunks of bean are certainly ok)
2. Mix in parsley and scallions.