Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
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Yield: ~2 quarts
When the weather cools, a bowl of hot soup is a lunch or dinner favorite. Fall and winter bring delicious squashes and hearty root vegetables in abundance. You can make a particularly tasty soup by roasting your vegetables and pureeing them with some broth to achieve the consistency you like. The quantities of the vegetables can be adjusted and even the choice of vegetables can vary. In the base recipe here, I have used butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and a yellow onion, but you can change up the taste a bit by adding garlic, carrots, other squashes, or even something more exotic such as a small beet. If you use vegetable broth and leave out the sour cream garnish, this recipe will meet the guidelines for being vegan.
  • 6 cups butternut squash cut into ~1 inch dice
  • 4 cups orange yams or sweet potatoes cut into ~1 inch dice
  • 1 large onion cut into ~1 inch dice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (a microplane works well for this)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Diced red pepper for garnish (optional)
  • Celery leaves or parsley leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Light sour cream thinned with a bit of milk or water for garnish (optional)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a 1/4 sheet pan or a large baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and stir to mix. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with ~1 teaspoon of salt, and mix to coat all of the vegetables evenly. Pour into the lined baking pan and distribute the vegetables into an even layer. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and are beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven. At this point you can use a standard blender to puree batches of the vegetable mixture with the broth and spices or you can use an immersion blender. In either case, you transfer the mixture to a sauce pan (3 quarts or larger) so that you can heat it to serving temperature. If you would like a thinner consistency, add additional broth or water. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into serving bowls and garnish with a sprig of parsley or celery leaves, diced red pepper or some sour cream. An especially attractive way to use the sour cream is to use a small spoon to distribute dots of thinned cream in a circle. Use a toothpick to drag a line connecting through the middle of all the dots to make a pretty pattern.

Talley’s Trail Mix

Talley's Trail Mix
Recipe type: Snack, Gift
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Yield: 5 cups
Besides being delicious as a snack and providing energy for athletic endeavors with a healthful amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fiber, this trail mix makes a nice gift when packaged in a pretty airtight can, jar, or gift bag. The flavors can be adjusted to your tastes by changing the ingredients or the amounts of specific ingredients. This version was always a big hit at fund raisers, sold in holiday gift bags tied with colorful yarn or raffia. Thanks go to Talley for sharing her recipe. I use the Pumpkin Pie Spice to make the preparation easier instead of the list of spices she recommended.
  • All quantities are approximate.)
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup walnut pieces or halves (or pecans or combination)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, roasted
  • 1/3 cup tamari pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup golden raisins (or whatever you have)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon plus 1/8 – 1/4 tsp of each of the following: nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger (go easier on the stronger flavors) OR 1 1/2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice*
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. water
  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. In a large bowl or gallon zip-top plastic bag, mix all the ingredients together except for the egg white, salt and water.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg white and water with an electric mixer until frothy.
  3. Fold the frothy egg white into the nut-fruit mixture gently to avoid breaking up the nut pieces.
  4. Line a 9”x13” baking pan with parchment paper, aluminum foil or a silicone liner, such as Silpat. (The mixture will be very sticky as it bakes.) Spread the fruit and nut mixture into the pan in an even layer, avoiding the pan sides unless you are using a non-stick pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in the pan on a rack. When cooled, break the trail mix apart into pieces. Store the trail mix in an airtight container until ready to serve.
*You can use the individual spices or save some time (and possibly some money) by replacing the spices with ~1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies

Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies
Recipe type: Bakery, Cookies, Dessert
Prep time: 
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Yield: 5 dozen
Just about everybody loves sugar cookies and these buttery cookies with the melt-in-your-mouth addition of cream cheese are especially lovable. They are flavored with the warm spices of the holiday season. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can use cinnamon and a little nutmeg, grated with a microplane instead. They are not like the heavier shortbread cookies, nor as “tough” as a rolled or pressed cookie. The flavor is more complex than a Snickerdoodle and I don’t find these cookies to be as doughy. They are fairly delicate and crispy and it is very hard to eat just one…or two…or three. While I call them Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies, I am thankful that they are delicious any time of year. I was trying to count how many I made in this last batch so I could write the number down for you with some authority, but I started eating them as I put them on the cooling rack. I’m pretty sure it made around 5 dozen cookies.
  • 1 cup butter – 2 sticks or 1/2 pound (leave at room temperature for about an hour)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (leave at room temperature for about an hour)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar + more for dipping a glass to press the cookies
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (only if using unsalted butter)
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Beat in the sugar (and salt, if using) until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix the flour, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice together until the color is uniform. (Be sure to get any lumps out of the baking powder before pouring it in the flour.) Stir the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together just until combined. Chill an hour or more to firm up the dough to make it more manageable.
  2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls quickly with the palms of your hands. Place them on ungreased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. A one-tablespoon spring-loaded scoop makes this very easy. Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar. Rub a very small amount of cookie dough (to make the sugar adhere) on the flat bottom of a glass or a small metal measuring cup that fits in the shallow bowl. Dip the glass in the sugar and flatten each ball of dough into a thin circle, dipping the glass back into the sugar for each cookie.
  3. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the cookie sheets and cool on wire racks.