Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spicy Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup

Every time I come up with a new combination of veggies and flavors to make soup, it immediately becomes my favorite.    And that’s true of this one…. actually I have been keeping it all to myself over the past couple of weeks, but now that I only have one serving left, which I am enjoying for lunch today, I think it is about time I shared it with you. I am calling it my Spicy Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup.

And believe me, naming this soup was a bit of a problem for me. It has lots of garlic in it, and it also has curry powder… but honestly, Garlicky Curried Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup just sounds so cumbersome… and sometimes putting the word curry in the title of a soup scares people away. And if you thought you didn’t like garlic, that might turn you off as well (leave it out – really!)
So, Spicy Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup it is, and not matter what I might call it, it is fabulous. Really!

I used my homemade turkey broth and my usual soup method to prepare this soup but you could use a store-bought chicken stock, or even make it vegan, and go with a veggie broth. I like to make my own. Ignoring either of those options, just use water. I know the garlic and the curry will give it enough flavor.

I like to freeze leftovers in individual portions.  Just pop it into a small saucepan to thaw and heat for serving.  This soup is thick and hearty and goes like this:

Spicy Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup
Makes 8 one-cup servings.
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one-inch chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into one-inch lengths
  • 1 cup onions slices
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 4 cups broth of choice
  • 2 Tbs curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Prepare your vegetables, onions, garlic, and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tsp coconut oil over MEDIUM heat in large stock pot.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes till translucent, taking care not to let them brown.
  4. Add the squash and the carrots and cook about 5 minutes more.
  5. Add the curry powder and stir till all the veggies are coated.
  6. Add the stock, cover with a lid and turn heat to HIGH.
  7. When the broth has come to a boil, turn heat to LOW and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat and uncover.  Allow soup to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  9. Puree in batches or with an immersion blender till smooth.
  10. Ladle into serving bowls, and season liberally with salt and a dash of pepper. Serve warm.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 88; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 18g; Fat 1g; Fibre 3g.

If you are following the Simply Filling Technique, there is really nothing to count here as the oil per serving is only 1/4 tsp.

Spicy Carrot and Butternut Squash Souop with yogurt1
And I also love it with a bit of plain Greek yogurt .

Spicy Carrot and Butternut Squash soup with yogurt2
It adds an element of creaminess, and also packs a great protein punch.

What's your favorite combination of veggies for homemade soups?

Do you like to garnish your soups with yogurt, or even sour cream?

Monday, December 08, 2014

Coconut Flour Thumbprint Cookies

The Captain has always loved Thumbprint Cookies so when this recipe for a gluten free, grain free version arrived in an email from Laura at Mommy Run Fast a couple of weeks ago, I saved it to try for the Holiday Season.

And they did not disappoint!  Thank you, Laura, for doing the work in coming up with this lovely cookie recipe, and for sharing it on your blog, too!

Coconut Flour Thumbprint Cookies

He is not on a gluten free diet, but several of his family members have serious gluten issues so I will always opt for a gluten free version for him when a good one is available.

And I wanted to share it on my own blog so that my Weight Watchers buddies can enjoy it, too. Several of my friends opt for grain free recipes when they can, even if they use a few more P+ from their daily budget.  These recipes are often way more satisfying than a version with wheat flour might be.

If you haven’t worked with coconut flour much, do be patient. It absorbs more liquid than regular wheat flours and you need to stir it a little longer as well. Don’t pack it down when measuring… just scoop it lightly into measuring cup.

These little mouthfuls are sweet and tasty… and they come together pretty quickly.

I did make a couple of small substitutions… white sugar in place of coconut sugar, and I made them with a regular sugar-laden fruit spread… if you could find a low-sugar or even sugar-free version, the calorie count and Weight Watcher’s P+ values would be less, I am sure.  Your choice, of course.  I used strawberry flavor because that is The Captain’s favorite… about 1/4 tsp per cookie.  Laura uses raspberries in hers. 

I kind of think a lemony curd or custard would be nice, too, spooned into the depression after the cookies are baked and cooled.

Click this link to find Laura’s recipe on her original blog post.

I made 20 small cookies from the dough.  Here is the N.I. I calculated for the ingredients I used.

Per cookie.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 82;  Protein 2g;  Carbohydrate 8g; Fat 5g; Fibre 2.

Dec 7 Coconut Flour Thumbprint cookies 001
The dough is quite stiff and rolls well after being chilled for half an hour.

Dec 7 Coconut Flour Thumbprint cookies 002
Make small depressions in each cookie for jam filling.

Dec 7 Coconut Flour Thumbprint cookies 003
Use about 1/4 tsp jam for each cookie.

Dec 7 Coconut Flour Thumbprint cookies 004
Ready to pop into the oven.

Dec 7 Coconut Flour Thumbprint cookies 007
Make sure to let them cool after baking so you don’t burn your mouth on the hot jam!

It looks to me like some of the jam ran away!  I wonder if it would be better to bake the cookie and then put the jam in them.  What do you think?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Cranberry Pulled Pork in the Crockpot

When the outside temperatures get nippy, I love to get out my crockpot. I am not sure why I equate slow cooking with cooler weather, but I sure do.  I not only used it one day this last week to prepare this Cranberry Pulled Pork, but also the next… to cook up a turkey carcass that was in the freezer for Homemade Turkey Broth to make soups and sauces over the next few weeks.  I should actually have made that broth first, then I could have used it in this recipe!

I have always loved pork with fruit… apples, peaches, and yes, cranberries.  The flavors just go so well together.  This Pork Medallions with Apples and Cranberries is an old favorite. 

This time I decided to leave out the apples and just go with cranberries.  It is lovely and the balsamic vinegar gives just enough sweetness to the dish.  I was tempted to add garlic, but am glad I didn’t.

I used a lean pork loin roast that weighed just over 2 pounds. If you find a nice tenderloin, just reduce the amount of the other ingredients. It’s not rocket science, and you can’t really go wrong here.

I like to make a dish like this and then freeze it in individual or family-size portions so that I can put dinner together quickly on days I am working, or when I just don’t really feel like cooking much.  If you like, add some potatoes or rice, or just a vegetable or a salad, and you have a hearty and delicious meal.

Cranberry Pulled Pork in the Crockpot4

Cranberry Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot
Makes 14 four-ounce servings
  • 2-lb pork loin roast, trimmed of all fat
  • 1 cup onion slices
  • 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dark balsamic vinegar
  • 2 or 3 tsp dried oregano
  1. Lightly coat the inside of your crockpot with a non-stick spray or oil spray to make cleaning up easier.
  2. Brown all the outer edges of the pork roast in a saute pan over MEDIUM-HIGH heat for a few seconds. This is to seal in the juices so don’t skip doing this step.
  3. Spread the onion slices over the bottom of the crock pot, followed by the cranberries.
  4. Place the browned pork roast on top. and then sprinkle with the dried oregano.
  5. Pour the broth over the top of the roast, followed by the balsamic vinegar.
  6. Cover and let simmer on LOW for up to 8 hours.
  7. Remove the lid, and turn the heat OFF.
  8. With 2 forks, slowly pull the roast apart, mixing in the broth and the cranberries as you do.
  9. Measure out 4 ounces of the mixture for each serving.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 121; Protein 16g; Carbohydrate 4g; Fat 4g; Fibre 1g.

Cranberry Pulled Pork in the Crockpot

Cranberry Pulled Pork in the Crockpot1

Cranberry Pulled Pork in the Crockpot2

What’s your favorite crockpot meal?