Happy Birthday, Family Meal Blog!

one year

I posted my first recipe on this day last year.  It was about a fruity oatmeal “cobbler” I’d make for Olive when I was in the thick of making baby food in huge batches each week.  That’s really what started this blog – well, it’s what propelled it.  I began my journey with cooking when I was about 10 years old and I would cook lunches every day for my family during the summer.  My mom worked and my dad and brothers worked outside in dad’s woodworking shop all day and I was in the house doing the laundry, cleaning and cooking.  Mom had taught me the basics; how to boil water for pasta, how to brown meat, how to not burn the house down, and from there I began enjoying putting a meal together for my family.  I really didn’t care about food until I was married and Matt and I became obsessed with chef culture and technique and the origins of recipes and how to do something from scratch.  Then, I really didn’t pursue cooking until we had Olive. And by pursue I mean, cook every single meal, every single day of the week except for Saturdays.  I started to feel like my biggest source of joy and peace was found in the kitchen.  I feel more confident there than I do anywhere else.  Cooking, for the most part, makes sense to me, and it makes people happy and heals sickness and just generally brings people closer together.

In the past year, I’ve posted 132 times, I’ve had one recipe pinned over a thousand times on Pinterest and I even got to shoot a little segment on a local access show called 24 Frames, which I am dying to share with everyone once it becomes available online.  When I started this blog, I gave myself the goal of posting a couple times a week for one year and I am happy to have met that goal!  I plan on continuing and I’m happy no matter what happens.  If everyone stops caring about this blog tomorrow, I will carry on because I love cooking, I’m cooking every day, anyway, so why not photograph and document it, and I love having a history of recipes from my family to look back on.  This coming year holds many new adventures, as well, and I’m looking forward to them as they develop!

Thank you for the fun ride, for making me feel super special and a special thank you to my friend, Katrina, who said over one year ago, “Um, why aren’t you writing a food blog, already?”  Love you, Katrina.  🙂

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Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup and trying something new

Butternut Squash Soup
This is one of the best soups I’ve made all winter.  Previously, butternut squash soups were borderline too sweet for me – I could never finish an entire batch and would guiltily throw the leftovers down the sink.  I’ve made this version three times, now, and each time, we eat it all!  It doesn’t get boring – the flavors are so complex and balanced, thanks to that crazy looking celery root.  It’s perfect!  It’s also incredibly filling and very low fat, so I think it’s quite possibly the most wonderful food to have when you’re watching what you eat, but don’t want to feel deprived.  It’s also perfect as a baby food!  With just two simple vegetables, it’s a great way to introduce flavors to a little one just starting out on solids, or a toddler who might eat soup better than they would eat a new vegetable.  For toddlers, I think the best way to serve soup is in a small, handled cup.  Fill it half way and let them sip at their own pace.  They love feeling in control and YOU will feel better with limited soup-spills as would occur most certainly if you handed them a spoon 🙂  This soup is also a great way to introduce YOU to a new vegetable!  Who here has bought and prepared celery root?  (also called celeriac)  If you haven’t, you don’t have to be afraid – it tastes like celery with the consistency of a sweet potato!

I’m happy to announce a little cooking segment I’ll be doing this year on my friend, Paul’s PBS show, 24 Frames!  (this soup makes an appearance!)  It’s very exciting to be a part of something creative and I’m deeply flattered that he included me in his show. I love talking about food more than anything, so once I get over the mortal fear of seeing myself talk on camera, I’ll finally start to enjoy watching my own segment.  Please tune in to 24 Frames every Saturday night at 9 p.m. Central on PBS!  The show should be available online very soon for those who don’t live in this area, and when it is, I’ll post a link!

Thank you all for watching and for reading my blog.  It’s very humbling and I hope you can feel a little more confident in the kitchen with every new recipe you try!

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup
serves 6-8

 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 – 2lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 celery root, peeled, rinsed and diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock, hot
black pepper and cream for garnish
1. Peel and chop the onion, celery root and butternut squash.
2. Heat the oil in a large stock pot.
3. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir the squash, celery root and salt into the pot and cook for about 10 minutes until the squash begins to soften.
5. Add the rosemary and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer over medium heat, partially covered, for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
6. Using a blender in batches, or an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and thin out with cream or extra stock as desired.  Ladle into bowls and add a swirl of cream and a few dashes of fresh cracked pepper and serve!

Superbowl Food: Roasted Sweet Peppers with Goat Cheese and Proscuitto

sweet cherry peppers with goat cheese and proscuitto
This made an excellent little appetizer bite tonight for a get-together we went to with some of our friends.  We decided to cook based on a theme and that theme was “stuffed” since our dear friend, Cali, will have her baby in about three weeks.  I made these roasted peppers and some high-class pigs in a blanket and a truly college-essence PopTart cake, which I’ll post pics of tomorrow.  The peppers were a hit.  I tried them first with bacon and it was too greasy.  The proscuitto was just right, a perfect blend of salty and sweet and were gone in minutes.  I think it would make a great addition to a Superbowl spread so I’m giving you the simple recipe here!

stuffed sweet peppers
Sweet Peppers with Goat Cheese and Proscuitto

1 jar Mezzetta Sweet Cherry Peppers, or something similar
1, 8oz log goat cheese
1 tablespoon garlic oil or olive oil with 1 clove minced garlic
1 package thin sliced proscuitto, cut into 4 strips each

Get the goat cheese up to room temp and in a medium bowl, add the garlic oil, or olive oil and minced garlic and stir well to combine.  Drain the peppers and dry on lots of paper towels and fill each pepper with goat cheese until full.  I used a spreader and it worked great.  Take a thin strip of proscuitto and wrap around the peppers and place on a greased baking rack fitted on top of a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375 until proscuitto crisps up, about 20 minutes (check to make sure they don’t burn).  Also: try to keep the top of the peppers up – the goat cheese will melt and drip mostly out if you don’t!

Serve immediately!