Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Cheese

I had two butternut squashes left from our last CSA pick up and I wanted to use them before they went bad.   The hubby and I are both huge fans of soup, and thankfully, he is totally fine with soup and sandwiches for dinner.

I started by roasting the butternut squash in the oven.  I find it intensifies the flavor of the squash and it is so much easier than peeling and dicing it for soup. All you need to do is stab it a few times with a sharp knife and place them on a rimmed cookie sheet.  I bake mine in a 350 degree oven until they are soft, flipping them once, it usually takes about 35 minutes.

While the squash roasted, I cut up some onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.  I sauteed them in a saucepan with a bit of olive oil and butter, seasoned with salt and pepper.   I added two boxes of chicken stock and let it simmer.  Once the squash was cooked through, I put it on a cutting board, slice it down the center and let it cool down a bit.  I scoop out the seeds and then using a large spoon, I scoop out the cooked flesh and add it to the stock pot.

I tossed in a few sprigs of fresh thyme and let the enough thing cook for another half hour.  I removed the thyme stems and pureed the soup.  I added a small bit of heavy cream and grilled up a few ham and cheese sandwiches. YUM!

grilled cheese, butternut squash soup

Grilled Chicken

Our weather has been awesome for late November.  The days have been sunny and mild, the nights have been fairly warm for this time of year.  I have no complaints!   We tend to grill year round, I find we do less of it in the fall and winter but with this weather, the urge to grill outdoors is still alive and kicking.  I picked up some boneless chicken breasts and marinated them before leaving for work.

When I got home, the hubby started the grill for me and I whipped up a batch of Goya Yellow Rice with Corn.  I had some broccoli from our CSA that was begging to be used, so I cut it into florets and steamed it with some cauliflower.

All I needed was to add a small pat of butter to the veggies and dig in!

chx dinner

I hope this weather continues into winter, I am not looking forward to snow, one decent snow fall per year works for me, preferably on a weekend when I don’t have to work….but if I had my way, fall and winter would be just cold enough to make me appreciate spring, without all the icky snow and ice!

Stuffed Pork Chops

While I was at the butcher I picked two bone in stuffed pork chops.  The butchers wife makes a homemade bread stuffing and the hubby loves both it and the chops.   I am not a fan of wet bread, so stuffing to me is OK, but it will never be in my top ten of things I like to eat on purpose.

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I like to bread the chops so they have a crispy, crunchy exterior.  I have to say, this is one time that I cheat and use a store-bought product.  For two chops, it just doesn’t make sense to pull out three plates, make a breading station, and have tons of clean up.  Instead, I grab a box of shake and bake pork chop, wet the chops, toss them in the crumbs and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Easy, simple and a much faster clean up.

Because I am not a fan of the stuffing, I usually make a second start for me and give my stuffing to my husband.  He is always happy because he is a HUGE fan of two starches at every meal.   I steamed up two small heads of broccoli that came from our last CSA pick up.

This week was our last pick up of the season and while I am sorry that I won’t get to see the farmer’s again until spring, it has been a struggle this year to find the time to pick up the produce and get it all used before it went bad.  The hubby and I have had an extremely busy 2015, here’s hoping 2016 is less stressful and we have more time at home!

Steak and Potatoes

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love a good steak.  In fact, if it has been more than a week since I have had a really good cut of beef I get legitimately cranky.

Thank goodness I was able to make it to the local butcher and pick up two beautiful filets for dinner.   Potatoes are always a great side dish and I love the combination of grilled steak and baked potato, I know it is cliché, but it really does taste good together. Then again, when do potatoes not taste good?

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We had some salad greens from our CSA that were begging to be used up, so our vegetable last night was a tossed salad.  I genuinely enjoy having salad as our vegetable, and thank goodness the hubby agrees. Of course, we differ significantly on what constitutes a salad – for him it is lettuce and croutons, for me – as many veggies as you can fit on the plate and a sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles never hurts.   I rarely take a photo of his salad, because, let’s face it, his salads are BORING, so here is what mine looked like.

salad

Heck, if I add blue cheese crumbles along with the olives and marinated peppers, I rarely add any salad dressing.  The creaminess of the blue cheese and the tangy, vinegary bite of the olives and peppers is all I need. Needless to say, this dinner made me very happy and more than ready to take on another 6 day work week.  This fall semester has been killer!  Three more weeks and finals start.  We have a bit of downtime in late December and come back with a vengeance in early January.  I will need the holiday break to rest up for the coming spring semester. Dinners like this go a long way to keeping me happy and satisfied so I can work an insane amount of hours each week.

Ham with Mac and Cheese

I worked a relatively short day on Saturday, but I was still tired from a long week of work. I wanted an easy dinner, one that included some sort of comfort food.  I settled on a ham slice with mac and cheese.   I did add a nice fresh green salad to the mix, so at least we had something really healthy on the side!

ham mac and cheese

The salad greens came from our CSA this week, SCORE!  I was able to use up more of the CSA, whoo hooo!

salad

The mac and cheese was easy to throw together, I boiled up the pasta and while that was cooking, I made quick cheese sauce.  I combined the two, poured them into a pan and baked it for 20 minutes.   All I had left to do was clean the greens and plate the salad.  Presto!  Dinner in a flash.  Not bad after working six days this week, if I do say so mysefl!

Chicken Stir Fry

Whew, I got a lot of produce with my CSA this week and I did not want to waste a single bit of it.  I decided on a chicken stir fry for dinner on Friday to use up as much as I could.  I was so happy with the results.  I used up a head of napa cabbage, a head of bok choy, three leeks, three carrots, and four turnips.  I added a bag of snow peas and a can of water chestnuts, because I wanted to, and it was delicious!  A bit more green than I like, but the flavor was fantastic and it used up what I had on hand.

stir fry

Honestly, I love making stir fry’s for dinner.  They come together so quickly.  I will admit the prep takes a bit of time, but once you have everything peeled, cleaned and sliced, it is only a matter of minutes before you have dinner on the table.  I chose to marinate the chicken in a store-bought sesame garlic marinate, I used an orange stir fry sauce to keep my life simple.  I have been working way too many hours lately and I decided that taking a little help from the store was better than eating take out.  I couldn’t have been more right, I really needed a meal that was very heavy on veggies.

chx stir fry

I made a batch of sushi rice to put underneath all of those lovely vegetables, and we dug in.  I added a small splash of soy sauce to my plate.  I really like soy sauce and I have to be so careful I don’t over do it, but just a splash made my dinner taste awesome.   Great use of vegetables and a really tasty meal, I couldn’t ask for a better Friday night!

Using up my CSA

So for dinner the other night, I tried to use up as much of my CSA as possible, hence, smoked pork chops with roasted butternut squash and salad!

salad smoked chop

I truly hate for any of our produce to go to waste but this year has been a struggle to get through all that we get each week.  I have been working so many hours and the hubby’s travel schedule has been insane.  I was so glad I was able to put this week’s veggies to good use.

I love salad, I could eat it every day, and this one was just perfect.  Slightly bitter greens, vinegary peppers and olives, sweet tomatoes, and creamy, tart blue cheese.  All my favorite salad fixin’s in one plate.

The roasted squash turned out to be amazing, such a perfect fall meal.  The pork chops came from the butcher, he has his own smoke house and you can really tell a difference between his chops and the ones I pick up at the store.  These taste so much better, they are thicker and so tender.  It really is worth the trip to the butcher, that is, whenever I have a free weekend!

I poured myself a glass of apple cider and dug in.  What a great meal, hopefully I am able to put this week’s produce to the same good use, wish me luck!