Sunday, October 25, 2015

The no-work butternut squash soup

One of my favorite fall soups is butternut squash soup. One thing that keeps me from making it is sometimes the handy work that has to go into it.
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First, there is operating a huge knife and cutting a very hard squash in half. Then, removing the seeds with a spoon. Followed by peeling and cutting the squash into chunks. That’s a butternut squash workout.
This soup needs only 1 step, maybe 2: cutting the squash in half and removing the seeds.
Then, the squash halves or quarters are places in a slowcooker, half filled with vegetable broth, a carrot, some onion, and the slowcooker produces a ready to puree and eat soup in 4-5 hours.
Yes!
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All done!
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Butternut squash soup in the slow cooker
Makes 4-5 servings.
  • 1 x 2-3 pound organic butternut squash
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • some fresh thyme
  • vegetable or chicken broth, about 4-5 cups
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
  1. Cut the butternut squash in half with a large knife. Be safe! The knife can slide of the butternut squash skin.
  2. Remove seeds with a spoon.
  3. Potentially, cut the halves in quarter so that they fit better in the slow cooker.
  4. Optionally: peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler.
  5. Place in a large slow cooker.
  6. Add the peeled carrot.
  7. In a pan, heat the coconut oil and saute the diced onion for 5 min (sauteeing the onion adds a nice, nutty flavon).
  8. Add onions to slow cooker.
  9. Add herbs.
  10. Fill the slowcooker to half with vegetable broth.
  11. Set slowcooker to high, and cook for 4-5h. (You can shave off one hour if you add hot broth).
  12. During the last hour, add the coconut milk.
  13. Use an immersion blender and puree the soup.
  14. Add the curry powder, and stir. Taste for salt and adjust.
  15. Serve!
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Done!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

How to shop wisely

During Columbus Day shopping, I came out of my blissful bliss that online shopping is often the hassle-free alternative of shopping: no need to get out of the house, find parking at the mall, scramble through busy malls, and then haul the loot home. No, it is delivered right to your front steps by your favorite man in town (or second favorite), the UPS guy.

This season, I was ready for a new Eddie Bauer coat, and I knew what I wanted and which size I needed. When a sale came up online I ordered it. Then, when I took a trip to ‘the city’ (there are few when you live in Maine, and there is only one that has an Eddie Bauer store) over the long weekend, I still checked it out in the store, just for fun, and realized, much to my dismay, that the sales in the store were significantly better. WHAT?!!? The online offer of the coat was $219, and in-store it was available for $170. Ouch. Since I had not worn the online one, I sent it back and bought the in-store version.

Something similar happened at the Gap. Find cute sweater in store, on sale, 30% off, I try it on, love it, take it home, only to find out that the same sweater was only $23 online instead of the $36 in store.  Grumble.

I assume the good times of relying that online prices match in-store prices are over.

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How to shop wisely:

  • Always compare online prices and in-store prices before you buy any item.
  • Before you order online, call in to your nearest store and ask for the price in case you do not have time to visit the store (or it is too far away).
  • Most stores ship items to your home, and do it for the in-store price. Some stores even ship for free (e.g. Lululemon)
  • When you find a great item in store, and have the nagging doubt that there might be a better deal online, use a smartphone to check the online price in the store, or wait until you can check it out.
  • If you find out that there is a better deal available online while you are in the store, ask to get a price adjustment to match the online price in the store.
  • Or, worst case, you can return either one item, online or in store, in case you find it less expensive elsewhere, later on.
  • If you want to save your sanity instead of your wallet, don’t check any prices, and be happy with your item.
  • The End.

 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Brownie Bites with Chocolate Glaze

This is a recipe inspired by my sister. Once I saw her brownies, glazed in dark chocolate, I was smitten and I had to try to make them immediately. It took a while until I had my act together, and added the glaze instead of just eating the brownies.

The recipe is quite straightforward: take your favorite boxed brownie mix (or make it from scratch or make them even vegan), mix according to instruction, but add additional cocoa (and a few other secret ingredients), underbake (just 22min), and then glaze with dark chocolate

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Add about 1/4 cup of dark chocolate extra to the boxed mix. Also add a teaspoon of instant espresso to the dry ingredients, and a teaspoon of vanilla to the wet. Mix the wet ingredients separately.

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I used a ‘brownie’ pan since I like the crust of brownies. One package makes 1 pan.

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Bake 23 min at 325F.

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Cool the brownies and cut them in quarters.

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Mix a glaze with about 1.5 cup of chocolate couverture (I used these ‘chocolate chips’ from Lindt), and melt them over a double boiler. Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

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Dunk the chocolate bites in the melted chocolate, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to dry.

After about 1hour, they are ready to eat!

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Top 5 Fall Plant-based Recipes

The leaves rustle in gold and red, making fall the most colorful season, Earth’s last hooray before the winter. The  stands at the farmers market overflow with all shapes and sizes and colors of winter squash and pumpkin. The days are shorter again, and you find yourself with more time in front of the stove to cook again. Here are 5 heart-warming plant-based fall recipes:

Roasted Butternut Squash soup in a Mason Jar
 
A roasted butternut squash soup is easy to make and nothing spells fall more than a butternut squash soup, whether the squash is roasted first and then cooked, spiced with curry and orange, and classic with celery and carrots. It also transports well as a lunch meal.

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Vegan lentil, walnut, and mushroom meatballs

Meatballs! Is there more to say about comfort food? This is a light and tasty version with lentils, walnuts and mushroom that taste meaty, as they should.
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Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Alfredo with Sage

A creamy pasta sauce with cashew nuts, nutritional yeast (for the vitamin B12), and some miso. Delight pure!
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Kale Butternut Squash Mini Muffins

These muffins are a classic: with kale or baby spinach, roasted butternut squash, tiny, cubed feta and sunflower seeds. Technically not all-vegan however the feta gives it a great flavor and heartiness. They store really well, and are a great addition to the lunch box, for kids and adults alike.
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Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

At last, the classic – a vegan, home-made cream of mushroom soup, made with a mix of dried mushroom and fresh, roasted mushroom, and broth.
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Fall Red

Fall is in full swing. The leaves have turned into a vibrant red and yellow this year.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Into the fall

It’s a long weekend ahead. The seasons seem to be one month behind this year, the foliage only just started, and we have wonderful, sunny days that are still nice and warm, and one can walk around with a t-shirt. Nevertheless I seem to be obsessed with finding the right winter coat, like this one, or this one, or maybe this one (<——I actually manage to order one yesterday when it was 40% off, now it is sold out!) ? It is not really that I need a coat, and they are better bought in the spring when they go on sale. If the style stays classic, it won’t change much for the coming season besides the colors.
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