Butternut Squash Soup with Turkey Meatballs

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By Corinne

I tend not to eat a lot of soup in the summer, with the exception of a fresh dilly bean soup that is my go to summer soup fix. But all it takes is the first rainy September day to rekindle my love of soup in preparation for the cold, snowy months ahead. Today wasn’t really a soup day, it was a glorious fall day, one where if you close your eyes and feel the sun on your face you might imagine that summer is still here for a few moments more. But still, I love soup and this is a good one for the fall as the squashes are coming in 🙂

This soup is inspired by Deb Perlman’s Carrot Soup with Turkey Meatballs.

Like most soups, this one freezes well.

Serves: 6

Time: 1 hour

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1-2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled if you like, chopped
  • 2 large clove minced
  • 3 generous cups of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 7 cups water 3-4 tbsp veggie bouillon or equal amount of chicken stock
  • a generous handful of fresh spinach for each bowl of soup

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (to make this GF, leave out the breadcrumbs, the meatballs will still stick together fine, I find the bread crumbs just gives them a smidge of extra tenderness)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, add the butter, chopped onion, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally while you prep the butternut squash. Cut off ends, and peel and cube. I usually peel with a vegetable peeler, but a sharp knife also works. I love toasting my squash seeds the same way you can do pumpkin seeds. I usually mean to use them as a garnish, but sometimes we eat them before the soup is done 🙂

Add the squash and the water and bring to a gentle boil. While the squash is cooking, prep the meatballs. Add the 2 tbsp of milk to the bread crumbs, then add all ingredients together and mix.  Cook until squash is tender, and then using an immersion blender, blend until smooth and return to a boil.

After the soup is blended, form the meatballs, rolling into about one inch balls and dropping into the soup. I find this easier with wet hands as generally ground turkey and chicken is more ‘sticky’ than ground beef. Once all meatballs have been added, simmer for ten to fifteen minutes to ensure all are cooked through.

Shred or cut a generous handful of spinach into each serving bowl. Ladle hot soup over shredded spinach. Garnish with asiago if desired.

When I freeze this soup, I do so without the spinach. I like adding the spinach to the bowl rather than directly to the pot as it wilts but still retains a nice texture.

Slowcooker Pulled Pork

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By: Corinne

I have a busy life. One of the ways I manage cooking is just recognizing that sometimes I’m not going to have a lot of time to put something together for supper. I like my slow cooker for these applications, but even more so like things that I can prep and freeze and then throw into the slowcooker when I need to.

I like this recipe for pulled pork, mostly because I find it’s much easier to use the leftovers for a variety of things, pulled pork pizza, pulled pork wraps with avocado and sprouts, baked pulled pork pasta with peppers, or soup. I find a more thick BBQ saucy type pulled pork for sandwiches, but not much else. So if you like that style, but anticipate having a lot of leftovers, just pull out what you want for sandwiches and sauce it up.

I usually buy boneless pork rib roast as they go on sale fairly frequently. This tends to be a less fatty cut than others used for pulled pork. In the photo below you can see that I didn’t need to drain off any fat, but you may if you use a fatty cut of meat.

You Will Need:

  • 1.5 – 2kg roast, cut in half (mine was 1.86kg)
  • 2 large freezer baggies
  • 2 large onions chopped (one for each bag)
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped (two for each bag)
  • 1 beer (half for each bag)- not an IPA as the bitterness really comes through. Use a more boring beer like Alexander Keith’s or Sleeman’s honey brown. To make GF, omit the beer and add 1 cup of water or veggie or chicken stock, or use a GF beer. While I haven’t tried it, I bet a cider would be good in this recipe too, not one of the really pop-like ones.. but a dry cider would probably work just fine and would also be gluten free.

All of the following ingredients are that amount for each half of the roast- so you put that amount in each baggie

  • 1 tbsp chili powder (I used my homemade stuff, depending on your spice level you may want more or less)
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 3oz tomato paste-  half of a small can
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (for GF substitute balsamic vinegar or a GF Worcestershire)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo chopped

Add all of the ingredients to the baggies, it really doesn’t matter what order you do it in, as long as you add the beer last and smush everything around so it mixes before you add the pork. If you happened to oopsie and add a whole beer to each bag instead of just half, don’t worry it will be just fine 🙂 Then pop it in the freezer and you are good to go for another day. If you are skipping the freezing step you can of course do this all directly in the slow cooker 🙂 When that other day comes, take your already good to go pulled pork from the freezer, let it thaw in your fridge over night (in the slowcooker even so it’s all ready to go in the morning) and then into your slowcooker on low for 6-8 hours. My slowcooker on low is quite gentle, so it’s been fine for up to 10 hours.

When it’s finished, if you used a very fatty roast and seem to have too much juice, feel free to pour some off (but don’t toss it yet!) before using two forks to shred the pork. If you have time to let it sit for another 15 min after shredding it gives the sauciness a chance to get right in the meat and you might find you want to use some of those juices you poured off.

Serve on soft buns with your favourite coleslaw. Even though this is just half of the original roast- it makes a lot and I always plan to make something with the leftovers.

Favourite things to make with leftovers- pulled pork pizza, pulled pork pasta and pulled pork soup!

Mexican Inspired Stuffed Peppers

 

By: Corinne

I live in a small city where the only thing vaguely Mexican (and I think that is a generous description) is Taco Time. Really, tater tots are Mexican? Who knew…

I love anything Mexican inspired, chipotle, lime, cilantro, beans- I could eat that stuff every day! This recipe is one of my favourites. I always make it in this amount and freeze them before cooking.  Then they become an easy supper for those nights when you’re busy, and it can be quite virtuous and still delicious if you leave out or don’t go too crazy with the cheese. Great served with a salad, coleslaw, or just on their own as a super simple supper.

You Will Need:

  • 6 peppers, any colours you like
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1 540ml can black beans (or the same amount of rehydrated black beans)
  • 1 large onion (230g chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (15g)
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce *
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt if using rehydrated beans

Cheddar cheese if desired

*I find these peppers can vary in hotness, and often vary in size in the can. Use less and then taste- you can always add more, but it’s hard to take it back if you’ve made things too spicy for your taste! See this Quick Tip for what to do with the rest of the can.

Brown beef and add chopped onion to pan when beef is almost cooked. While beef is cooking, cut peppers in half. Trim but do not remove stem, it will keep your pepper from splitting when they cook. Trim out seeds and white parts of pepper and lay them chopped side down to dry a bit while the beef and onion are cooking.

Finely chop cilantro, peppers in adobo sauce (start with one if you are hesitant about the heat) and garlic. Add to beef and onion once beef is fully cooked and onion is softened. Add the drained and rinsed black beans. Add 3/4 cup of water to pan. Add cumin and salt if using. Let simmer for about 10 min until water has evaporated. Taste and feel free to up the heat factor by adding more chipotle pepper.

If your peppers are going immediately into the oven, you can spoon in the filling while it is still hot and top with cheddar cheese. If you are feeling particularly decadent, you can put some cheese in the pepper BEFORE you put in the filling and then on top too.  If they are going into the freezer, let the filling cool a bit before filling peppers and wrapping individually in tinfoil. If freezing immediately, add the cheese the day you heat them, otherwise I find you lose an annoying amount when you unwrap them from the tinfoil.

Top with cheddar cheese and pop in a 400F oven for 35-40 minutes or until pepper is tender and cheese is melted. If the tops are getting too  crisp but the pepper is still firm, lightly cover with tinfoil and continue cooking.

If taking from the freezer, let them thaw overnight and bake at 400F for about 25-35 minutes until heated through.