Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup

So we may or may not have had to buy a second bag of Halloween candy because we ate most of it before it was time for trick-or-treating… Next year we’re not buying candy until October 31st!

Now that Halloween is over, we’ve been craving wholesome meals made with plenty of vegetables. This creamy butternut squash soup is made with carrots and parsnips so it’s a nice immune system booster and really hits the spot when it’s -10 C in Calgary!

Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium Butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (2-3 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 cups light coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or less if using vegetable broth with sodium)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
A dash of chili pepper flakes (optional)

1. Melt the butter or margarine in a heavy skillet. Add the diced squash and cook without stirring until browned underneath, about 6 minutes. Then stir the squash and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 more minutes. Remove from the skillet.
2. Melt the coconut oil in the same skillet and add chopped onion, parsnip and carrots. Saute for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the caramelized squash, onion, parsnip and carrots to a large pot. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, or more if needed, until vegetables are covered by a layer of the vegetable stock. Add coriander, salt and pepper.
3. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. When vegetables are cooked, remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of coconut milk.
4. Puree the mixture in batches until smooth. Return to pot.
5. Warm up the soup before serving and add more vegetable stock if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve with a fresh french baguette and a scoop of sour cream if desired.

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Pumpkin Spice Muffins

So you may have noticed we’ve been on a pumpkin baking kick lately, ie. pumpkin mini muffins and pumpkin bread with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. We tried to balance out all the baked goods with a healthy pumpkin soup, but it was a DISASTER. We tried to make it savoury, then realized it tasted better sweet. We tried to correct our mistake…. but it was no good. It was a sad day for pumpkins everywhere. So this time around, we decided to continue baking with pumpkin because you can’t go wrong. Sugar has a way of making everything better, doesn’t it?

Serve these on Halloween! Fresh from the oven muffins would be wonderful after returning from trick-or-treating with the kids. Or on your own. Or from getting a blast of cold air every time you open the door to give out candy. That takes work too.


Pumpkin Spice Muffins

2 large free run eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with Halloween-themed muffin cups.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and oil. Add pumpkin puree and stir until combined. Stir in flour mixture until combined.
4. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes in the center of the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
5. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan. Let cool before serving.

These muffins are excellent on their own, but even better with orange cream cheese frosting!

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the orange juice and orange zest and mix until incorporated.
2. Spread the frosting and decorate muffins.

Makes 12 – 14 muffins.

Pumpkin Banana Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

We decided to add a fall touch to our banana bread recipe by adding pumpkin puree, pumpkin spices and smothering it in a delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Make this bread with our pumpkin puree!

Pumpkin Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted organic coconut oil
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 free run egg, beaten or egg replacer equal to one egg
1.5 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Add melted coconut oil and mix well with a wooden spoon.
3. Mix in the sugar, egg and pumpkin.
4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking soda and spices in a small bowl. Mix together and fold into the wet ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.
5. It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and then take the bread out of the pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Cinnamon cream cheese frosting

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the spices and mix until incorporated.
2. Spread the frosting on the pumpkin loaves.

Makes two loaves.

Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Halloween means many things to me. It means watching The Nightmare Before Christmas with my father, making a costume I’ve been planning since August, looking for the scariest Halloween decorations because when I was little I hated “cutesy” decorations, gorging on chocolate intended for trick-or-treaters, imagining the streets coming alive at night, and baking with my mother. This is one of the Halloween recipes we like to make. Use our pumpkin puree from last week!

These pumpkin mini muffins are oil free, low in fat and 1/4 of the size of a regular muffin so it’s totally okay to have 12 of them. At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s the problem with mini muffins… how can you eat just one?? They’re so tiny!

Top these with strawberry jam and drink with a big glass of almond milk!

Pumpkin mini muffins

3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp chia seeds with 1/2 cup water
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease paper liners.
2. Mix chia seeds with 1/2 cup water until smooth. The chia gel acts as a binder and the superfood adds protein, fiber and omega 3 to the muffins. In a bowl, mix the chia seeds with cane sugar and apple sauce. Add pumpkin and 1/4 cup water.
3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
4. Add the wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
5. Grease muffin cups with oil. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
6. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes at 350 F. Take care not to burn the muffins.

Makes 36 mini muffins.

For regular-sized muffins, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see if they’re done with a toothpick.


My recipe originally appeared on The Calgary Journal food blog.

– Silvia

How to Make Pumpkin Puree

One year I decided I would be ambitious and make pumpkin puree from scratch. There’s nothing like scooping out goop from the pumpkin with your fingers and getting stringy orange bits in your hair. It brings new meaning to the phrase “getting your hands dirty.”

Am I selling this to you yet?

Just kidding. It’s really not that messy, and it makes your pumpkin pie just that much sweeter.

And the roasting pumpkin smell that fills the house is so worth it.

I made puree from sugar pumpkins as they are sweeter and have more flavour. A sugar pumpkin won’t have much guts, as its grown for its thick flesh that you can make into puree. It’s the one on the left in the picture below.

Pumpkin Puree

1. Find a sugar pumpkin at your local Farmer’s Market. Regular grocery stores will carry them as well. Cut the pumpkin in half. Use a big, sharp kitchen knife and be careful as it will be quite difficult to cut. Watch your fingers!
2. Scoop out the pumpkin pulp and separate the seeds from the pulp. Save the seeds if you’d like to roast and eat them.
3. Discard the pulp.
4. Cut the pumpkin into slices like you would a watermelon and place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake the slices of pumpkin at 375 F for one hour and a half. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.
6. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow it to cool. When it has cooled, scoop the pumpkin flesh from the rind and put in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Discard the rind.
7. Store in a glass mason jar in the fridge for up to three days until ready to use the puree. You can also freeze the pumpkin in a plastic bag.

Next week we’ve got a pumpkin mini muffin recipe that will make use of this puree! Check back for it next Sunday!


My method originally appeared on The Calgary Journal Food Blog.

– Silvia

Oyster Mushroom Pasta

We’ve been on a bit of a pasta kick. This pasta comes together really quickly with minimal ingredients. It’s the perfect dish to follow a long day of work/school when energy and enthusiasm for cooking is far from our minds. The oyster mushrooms add meatiness to the dish, while the double-smoked cheddar cheese grated on top enhances the flavour.

3 cups dried pasta, preferably rotini
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 oz oyster mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Double-smoked cheddar cheese, grated
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
2. Saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Drain the pasta and return to pot. Add sauteed mushrooms and garlic, marinara sauce, salt and pepper. Stir and heat until thoroughly warmed through.
4. Top with double-smoked cheddar cheese and serve with garlic bread.

Vegetarian Lasagna

We love gooey cheese dishes, bonus if we can sneak a vegetable in there like zucchini. Usually we’re not really sure what to do with zucchini besides eat it straight off grill or put it on pizza. We love putting vegetables like eggplant in risottos, stews, etc. but the zucchini somehow gets neglected. However, it’s absolutely delicious in this lasagna! This dish is healthier than traditional lasagnas thanks to the vegetables and the low fat cottage cheese.

3 cups organic Marinara sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 package lasagna noodles
2 medium zucchini, sliced
7 oz oyster mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups low fat cottage cheese
2 cups shredded cheese (We used a 4 cheese blend)
1 teaspoon oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic for two minutes, then add oyster mushrooms and zucchini. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until zucchini and mushrooms are tender.
3. Cook the noodles in boiling water for a few minutes, rinse in cold water and drain.
4. Cover the bottom of a 9×12 inch baking pan with 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce, then cover the sauce with one layer of lasagna noodles. Cover this with a thin layer of cottage cheese, then add a layer of cooked mushrooms and zucchini and a thin layer of marinara sauce. Repeat 2 times, then add a layer of noodles, a layer of marinara sauce and a layer of shredded cheese. Sprinkle oregano on top of shredded cheese.
5. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the lasagna and bake for another 15 minutes to lightly brown the cheese.
6. Allow lasagna to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

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