Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What We're Eating This Week

Here's the plan for this week, starting Sunday, October 29.

Sunday - Dinner out
Monday - Sun-dried Tomato and Avocado Fettuccine
Tuesday - Happy Halloween! - Goulish Split Pea Soup
Wednesday - Chicken Parmesan
Thursday - Kilbasa, Cabbage rolls and pieroggi
Friday- Pizza and Wing day
Saturday - Dinner out!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Aphrodisiac Cooking


The following recipe came from a cookbook I bought at a couple's love party a while back called InterCourses. The cookbook is filled with traditionally sexy ingredients like strawberries and oysters - but it also touches on herbs that can bring on the loving, and other not-so-well-know vegetables that can cause the blood to flow to the neather-regions. Next time you are at the bookstore, check it out!

"The modest avocado, with it's bumpy, often lizzard-like skin, peels away to reveal a creamy, natural butter. Cut in half, the pear-shaped symmetry of the avoacado minics the soft, buttery curves of a woman. A striking green that earned its own name in a box of crayons, the meat of the avocado gives under the pressure of a finger and melts on the tongue in a taste all its own.

In the Aztec culture, avocados were called ahuacatl (testicle) and deemed so powerful that they forbade village maidens to set one virginal toe outside the house while the fruit was gathered. Today, avocados run the gamut of dishes and cuisines, and more importantly, virgins now have easy access to this forbidden fruit. The avocado is just not for guacamole anymore."

Damn those lucky Californians who can grow avocados in their own damn backyard!


1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup basil
1 tbsp chopped green onions
2 tbsp diced green pepper
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1 small avacado, diced
3/4 lb fettuccine
salt and pepper, to taste
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Prepare pasta until al dente.

Combine the olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, lime juice, basil, green onions, green pepper, walnuts, cilantro and half the avocado in a large bowl. Toss the avocado mixture while pasta is still hot. Top with bacon and remaining avocado.

LOVED this dish - and it literally took under 10 minutes to prepare. I won't say if it worked...but let's just say that I am smiling at the moment. *wink, wink*

Edited to add: I would save about a cup of the cooking liquid, it will help to add a little more volume to your sauce - otherwise it may be a little dry.

Way to shop!

We eat red meat about once a week, typically. Since it is a bit of a "treat" I make sure that it is the best steak money can buy - and what is better than good old filet mignon?! It's so tender that you can use a butter knife to cut it, and it's amazingly flavorful - I mean, just look at that beautiful marbling. It also costs an arm and a leg. Two 1-inch thick filets will set you back approximately $25.00 or more.


I was walking around BJ's Wholesale Club a while back, and noticed that they sold the entire beef tenderloin. It was expensive, as a single item...but if you did the math, there were some great savings to be had!

One tenderloin costs about $50.00, depending on the poundage you are purchasing. What I do, is make my purchase - then process the meat when I return home. I set myself up with my sharp knife, a plastic cutting board and some freezer-grade storage baggies. I trim some of the fat and cut my own filets the size that I WANT THEM. I get about 12 pieces of meat out of one tenderloin - that's 6 dinner's worth! I also use the small pieces as stew meat - usually adding up to another whole meal's worth. I save a tremedous amount of money by shopping smart.

The meat freezes beautifully as well.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cookies, of the Christmas kind...

I picked up Better Homes and Garden's 100 Best Cookies (Collector's addition) the other day, and immediately found a cookie recipe that I had to try. I know it's a little early for Christmas cookies - but it's not too early to test drive a couple of recipes beforehand. Work with me people!

Prep 35 min; Bake 10 min; Cool 2 hours

1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
1/4 cup dark or light-color corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup butterscotch pieces
2/3 cup peanut butter (no, this is not a mistake)
1 cup chopped peanuts.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For oat layer, in a medium saucepan stir together sugar, butter and corn syrup over medium-low heat until combined. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in the 1/4 cup of peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.

Place rolled oats in a large bowl. Pour brown sugar mixture over oats, stirring gently until combined. Press oat mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9x13x2 inch baking pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are a golden brown. Let oat layer cool slightly in pan on a wire rack.

In the same saucepan stir together chocolate pieces and butterscotch pieces over low heat until melted. Stir in the 2/3 cup of peanut butter until mixture is smooth.

Sprinkle half of the peanuts over the oat layer in pan. Slowly por chocolate mixture over the peanut-topped oat layer, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the remaining peanuts over the top of the chocolate.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for several hours or until the chocolate layer is firm. Cut into 1 inch squares.

This recipe was very easy to make, and thankfully I had all the ingredients in my pantry. One thing to keep in mind is that introducing even a pin drop of water to melting chocolate will make the mixture seeze...so thoroughly dry all stirring utencils if they are newly washed! Otherwise, you will have to start over, because no amount of praying will return your chocolate to glossy. (It didn't happen to me this time, but it has happened in the past, and it freakin' sucks!)

The one thing that is bothering me, is the chocolate and oatmeal combination. I don't like it. If I make this again, I will probably use my mother's suggestion, and make a blond brownie layer in place of the oatmeal layer. Or make a plain flour, butter, sugar cookie layer to start it off. The chocolate part is absolutely awesome and totally worth saving the recipe.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I am not a seafood lover, besides the occasional peeled and deveined shrimp here and there. However, I do prepare some kind of seafood once every other week or so, for the health benefits - and because Nathan enjoys it so much. I came across this recipe, and it looked super easy so I thought I would give it a go and see if it was something I would add to my recipe collection at home.


4 medium carrots, cut into strips approimately 5 inches long
1 1/2 cups herbed stuffing (uncooked)
1/3 cup of butter, melted
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 lb fresh or frozen sole (or other flat white fish) fillets, thawed and drained*
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice carrots, and cook until crisp-tender in plain boiling water. Remove, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter and add to the herbed stuffing in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and stir to combine. Set aside.

Divide carrots into bundles, and wrap fish fillets around the prepared bundles. Place, seam side down, in a greased, shallow 9 x 13 baking dish. Top each bundle with prepared stuffing. Cook, covered with foil for approximately 10 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 10 minutes until fish is flaky. Season with salt and pepper before service.

*I used Cod, because Sole was not available at my grocery market. Talapia would also work beautifully.

I served the bundles on top of a little whipped parmesan mashed potatoes, and granished it with a little flat leaf parsely for color and cut lemons. Not a sling drop of tartar sauce was needed! (And, that says alot, if you know me!)

A+ recipe! And, from start to finish, the whole process took only about 30 minutes to prepare. Great for a dazzling week night menu.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

3 C's - Curried Coconut Chicken

If you don't like curry - sail on by...this recipe is not for you. I like curry dishes, and this one was pretty darn fabulous, if I do say so myself. Not only was it inexpensive to make, but it also used ingredients that are easy to find (this can be unusual when you are making food from another part of the world), and was a snap to prepare. I didn't even thaw the chicken before cutting it up and throwing it in the skillet!

CURRIED COCONUT CHICKEN (recipe courtesy of www.landolakes.com)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 (16 oz) package of frozen stir-fry vegetables*
1/2 cup of hot water
1 tbsp curry powder
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 tsp coconut extract**
toasted coconut, for garnish (if desired)

Heat oil in a large skillet, add chicken, stirring constantly and cook until no longer pink. Add bag of vegetables, stirring constantly and cook until crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, mix hot water, bouillon and curry powder in a small bowl. Add to chicken mixture, and continue cooking an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in sour cream and coconut extract. Keep on stove, until heated through completely. Serve over rice. Add toasted coconut to garnish.

*I used a frozen vegetable mix of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and lima beans. You can certainly use fresh vegetables as well, but the frozen veggies are so darn easy!
**You can find the coconut extract right in the baking aisle. (Get it now, before all those Christmas Cookie bakers snap it all up!)

I also added a couple of embellishment into my rice...some frozen peas and just a touch of cayenne pepper for some spice.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Meatball

On top of old smokey,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table,
And onto the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled right out the door.

What's a few hundred meatballs between friends, right?!

It's funny - I like lots of veggies and texture in my meatloaf, but I like my meatballs meaty and pretty plain, so that they don't compete with the sauce or gravy that I may add them too. I also like to make them in great big batches, and freeze them for later applications. My brain is working in overdrive right now, thinking of different meals I can prepare just because I have a bunch of meatballs in the freezer!


1 lb package of Ground beef, usually 80/20 or 85/15 - whichever looks better in the case
3/4 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tbsp Garlic powder
1 tbsp Onion powder
3 tbsp dried Parsley
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning

Mix all ingredients together with your fingertips until well incorporated. Determine the size of the meatball you would like.

Drop meatballs into boiling water, and cook until they float to the top.

If freezing, let cook completely before packaging.

Very simple. Because I don't add diced onions or garlic, these meatballs are very easy to roll - and keep their uniform shape while cooking. I made two different sizes myself, big ones for the spaghetti dinner, and some smaller ones for a couple of meals that are pinging around inside my head!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Recipes...from here to eternity!

Fantastic Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Risotto Rice Balls
Pork Pot Stickers with a Citrus Soy Dipping Sauce

Creamsicle Pass the vodka!

Banana Bread
English Muffin Bread

Ham and Broccoli Strata
Rainbow Jello-Mold - a total show off dish!
Cranberry Fruit Concerve aka Gourmet Cranberry Sauce
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Eat it with your hunny...two garlic breaths cancel each other out.
"Springtime" Quiche
Banana-Stuffed French Toast
Watermelon Gazpacho

Kat's More Chicken than Noodle Soup
Split Pea Soup
Butternut Squash Soup ...Even the kids liked it!
Meme's Cream of Broccoli Soup It's homemade...out of a can...but so tasty.
Creamy Leek and Potato Soup
Northwoods Wild Rice Soup
Lobster and Shrimp Bisque
Roasted Cauliflower, Fennel and Garlic Soup CityMama's awesome recipe. A must try!
Moroccan Spiced Chick Pea Soup
Savory Bacon and Potato Chowder
Lentil Soup
Beet Soup
Turkey Meatball, Orzo and Escarole Soup

Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Basic Risotto
Roasted Beet Salad

Crispy Tofu with Vegetables over Rice
Beet and Goat Cheese Ravoli This dish is so rich, and takes very little time in preparation because there's a TRICK!
Indian Chickpea Delight
Coconut Curried Tofu with Green Jasmine Rice
Meditteranean Egg Bake
Huevos Rancheros
Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta
Korean Spicy Noodles with Veggies
Sweet Pea and Artichoke Lasagna
Ditalini with Pesto, Beans and Broccoli Rabe
Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes
Brussel Sprouts Alfredo

Pasta Puttanesca
Spaghetti Carbonara So gooooooooooooood!
Rigatoni with Acorn Squash
Sun-Dried Tomato and Avacado Fettuccini (with BACON! - this recipe is from my aphrodisiac cookbook! wink, wink)
Creamy Pasta with Vegetables
Rigatoni with Bachemel Sauce - Fancy Mac and Cheese
Classic Sausage Lasagne
Rigatoni and Acorn Squash
Sausage and Pepper Bowties - a perfectly tasty way to end a long work day.
Pasta with Chicken in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce

BBQ Chicken Bundles
Cilantro Chicken with Red Beans and Rice
Peanut and Honey Encrusted Chicken
Coq Au Vin
Roast Chicken
Fried Chicken
Italian Chicken Parmesan
Curried Coconut Chicken
Indonesan Peanut Chicken - lots of peanut'y flavor. A little too much for us.
Chicken Divan
Beautyfall's Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs Nancy deserves all the credit here - they are fabulous. Chicken Tikka Masala A taste of India, with little effort, and big payoff!
Sour Cream Enchiladas Patti's stellar recipe...make tons, they are even better the next day!
Grilled Chicken with a Spicey Chipotle Sauce
Chicken with 40 Cloves
Two Mustard Chicken - this was so good!!!
Garlic and Tomato Chicken
Ham and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Roulade
Chicken Chili AKA White Chili
Healthier Turkey Swedish Meatballs - Can also be made with beef!
Pultry Brine
Cornmeal and Coriander Crusted Chicken with Black Bean and Mango Salsa

Kat's Chili Con Carne
Beef Stroganoff *my* favorite dish of all time.
BBQ Meatballs over Rice Scoll way down to the bottom for this recipe.
Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
Swiss Steak
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Filet of Beef with Cucumber Raita

Baby Back Ribs - finger lickin' good.
Orange Glazed Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Olive-Laced Pork Tenderloin
Pork Chops with Apricot Scented Onions
Cherry Stuffed Pork Loin with a Pomegranate Cherry Reduction

Pasta With Scallops
Steamed Mussels
Srimp Scam'Pasta
Lemon Sole with Carrot Bundles
Sexy Salmon This dish will definitely heat up your libido!
Pan Seared Tilapia with Pesto and Tomatoes
Seared Scallops with a Warm Corn Salad
Seared Salmon with New Potatoes in Dijon Broth

Devil's Food Cake with (mint) Chocolate Ganache - a chocolate lover's wet dream!
Black and White Checkerboard Cake

Banana Caramel Cake - OH, MY! It's like eating Banana Bread, in cake form!
Classic Tiramisu An adult dessert (please don't hold the liquor - it would break my heart.)
Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes Wow!!!!
Peach Wiggly Giggly Who say's jell-o is for kids only?
Cherry Topped Meringues
Basic Cheesecake No fail cheesecake, every time.
Angel Lush with Pineapple
Mixed Berry Bundt Cake
Summer Fruit Terrine
Lattice Pear Pie
Mixed Berry Bundt Cake
Wine Poached Pears with Fruit Salad
Ice Cream Cake
Light and Airy Chocolate Mousse

Delux Sugar Cookies
Cream Cheese Cookies
Chocolate-Mint Snow-Topped Cookies
Quacker's Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Russian Tea Cakes
Buckeyes - No Bake!
Checkerboard Cookies
Poinsettia Cookies
Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies
"Comfort" Balls
Cherry Snowballs
Chocolate Mint Wafers
Goulish Finger Cookies - Perfect for any Halloween gathering!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Here...piggy, piggy

Pork tenderloin is one of those things that takes a some real effort to eff up. Which makes it perfect for cooks with a short attention span...or those who are sick of chicken on a daily basis. It's lean, takes the flavor of what you are cooking it in, and has great "plate presence."

I found this recipe on www.landolakes.com, and it is simply wonderful. Although it did take some time to cook in the oven - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since we don't have the heat on yet and the house is currently resting at a chilly 52 degrees!


Pork Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter, melted
2/3 cup finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped apple or sweetened dried cranberries (or both)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 pork tenderloin

Glaze Ingredients:
2/3 cup orange marmalade
2 tbsp dry white wine or orange juice
dash of cayenne pepper

Toothpicks are also needed for this recipe!!! Get them out before you get your hands all yucky!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Melt butter in a large skillet until sizzling. Add carrots, apples and cranberries and cook until "crisp tender." Take off heat and set aside.

Place pork tenderloin on a large cutting board. Cut a deep slit lengthwise along the tenderloin. Place raw pork into an aluminum foil-lined and greased 13x9'' baking dish. Rub inside of pork with salt. Carefully stuff pork with carrot mixture. Secure with toothpicks, so the incision is closed off. Bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine all glaze ingredients in a small (microwave safe) bowl.

Brush 3 tbsp of the glaze over the pork, after it's first baking period. Continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the pork's internal temperature reaches a safe 160 degress. Remove from the oven, and let stand for approximately 5 minutes before serving. (Remove toothpicks!)

Before service, microwave the remaining glaze for approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Serve pork with warm glaze.

I really enjoyed this dish. The fruit and vegetable stuffing added just a touch of natural sweetness - it certainly took over that longing for apple sauce that I always get while eating pork. Plus, the stuffing provided some moisture in the cavity, allowing the meat to stay really moist. I served the tenderloin with some buttered noodles, and the extra stuffing that I reserved...the tenderloin was certainly the highlight!

(photo courtesy of Land O Lakes)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Indonesian Peanut Chicken

Last night was new recipe night!

"New recipe night" can either be a positive or negative experience, depending of course, on the meal offering. When I was younger, I would hide in fear when my mother pulled out her gigantic well-worn Betty Crocker cookbook...although some of those "new recipe nights" became "pizza nights!"


Cut up chicken parts - legs, thighs, wings, etc.*
2 tsbp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup of smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup of chili sauce
1 cup of water
salt and pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
Salted, or unsalted peanuts, for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet until hot. Add chicken, and cook thoroughtly until no longer pink on the inside. Remove chicken from skillet, and keep warm.

Add onion to hot skillet, and cook until translucent. Add red bell pepper, peanut butter, chili sauce and cayenne pepper. Stir until all combined. Add water slowly, wisking throughout. Sauce will thicken as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to mixture, and heat through. Garnish with chopped peanuts. Serve!

I served this dish over rice, and with a side of asian mixed vegetables.

*Instead of chicken pieces, I used just plain old boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I don't care for dark meat (I'm just not a fan) and I had chicken breasts available in the freezer. If I make this again, I will probably flatten the breasts out, so they cook up a little more tender, and look nicer for the presentation.

The verdict: Nathan hated this dish, yet still licked his plate clean. I thought it was quite tasty...for the first couple of bites. Then the peanut flavor started to assault my taste buds. It got old really fast. However, I think it would be a wonderful starter or appetizer...grill some chicken chunks on skewers, then prepare the "dipping sauce" separately. In that format, I think it would be a huge hit.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

21 and over, please

I'm not a cheap date. Instead of $1.00 draft beers, I like $7.00 mixed drinks. (However, I do have a 4 drink maximum - but that is another story.)

We have a pretty well stocked bar at the house, which unfortunately, rarely gets used. Last night, I needed something a little mind-numbing. I ended up downing two!


2 oz. orange flavored vodka
1 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. Orange Juice
1 oz. Heavy Cream

Measure all ingredients into a shaker, filled with ice. Shake, then strain into a martini glass. Cheers!

Pasta, please?

I was in the mood for a little vegetable delight, after eating meat for the past couple of nights. So, I found this recipe and gave it a whirl:


1 Package of pasta of your choice (I used campanelle pasta)
2 cups of chopped fresh asparagus, into 1 inch pieces
2 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash*
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
Dried parsley, for color

Prepare pasta as according to directions.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Saute asparagus, squash and garlic until veggies are tender. Remove vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

Add cream and lemon zest, and bring to a boil. Keep on high heat, stirring occassionally until the liquid reduces. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cooked vegetables and prepared pasta to liquid. Remove from heat, and stir to combine. Sprinkle with parsley for an extra punch of color.

This recipe, from start to finish took only about 15 minutes to throw together. Perfect for a weeknight meal when time is tight. The presentation is also really pretty, with the green and orange contrasting with the whiteness of the cream and pasta. The delicate flavor of lemon hits your tongue, but doesn't overpower the whole dish.

I simply served this with some ripe sliced tomatoes, off the vine.

*You can substitute butternut squash for summer squash or zucchini - both would be absolutely delicious, especially in the summer months, when they are in season.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


How I hated meatloaf as a child.

In fact, it was one of those dishes that I always said I would never make as an adult (that, and shepherds pie - yuck!)...until it was requested by my sweetie. I remember the day as it was yesterday. My heart sank, and I think I threw up in my mouth a little!

Instead of makin' my mama's meatloaf, I decided to twist it up a bit, and make it my own. After all - everyone has their own meatloaf recipe that they think is the best...here is my offering:

MEATLOAF - Kat style

1/3 lb both ground sirlion and chuck
1/2 large carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper
parsley - fresh or dried

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a medium pan. Saute onions, garlic, carrots and green pepper until tender. Take off heat, and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix together ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and worchestershire sauce until just combined. Add in sauted vegetables and parsley and mix with your fingertips until well combined. Place in an ungreased loaf pan and create "wells" around the edges of the mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for approximately 60 minutes. (Cooking times may vary - cook ground meat until at least 160 degrees to be safe.)

About 20 minutes into cooking, spread an even layer of ketchup on the top, if desired.

I played around with this recipe for a while...in my first go-round, I didn't saute the vegetables, and when the meatloaf was finished cooking, the veggies were still quite crunchy. Not good! Over the past couple of years, I've "tweaked" the measurements, and now I can actually say that I *like* meatloaf.

Since meatloaf is the numero uno comfort food, I decided to pair mine with some sour cream mashed potatoes, and roasted match stick carrots.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Let's Cook!

Last weekend I took my neice and nephew to the pumpkin patch for a full day of fun. Needless to say, the cold temperatures and fall colors inspired me to make a dinner that welcomed the beginning of Autumn....

...Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is so easy, yet makes you look like a total rock star in the kitchen. I love the velvety smooth texture, and simple sweetness - plus, the color is pretty darned dandy for Fall.

1 butternut squash, peeled*
Nutmeg, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 onion, diced
6 cups chicken stock - either pre-packaged or homemade

To make peeling a little easier, slice the bottom of the butternut squash to that create a steady platform. Cut the squash into 1'' chunks. Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the chunked squash and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is fork tender. Puree mixture in small batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add back to stock pot, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

I also use a kitchen tea towel and my hand to hold down the top of the food processor. It's a little extra insurance, and piece of mind, in case a build up of pressure (from all the hotness) should push the top off while you are blending.

This soup is good as is - but you can also jazz it up a bit with a few simple garnishes...crunchy croutons and a fresh grate of parmeasan cheese or a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley or a little chopped scallion for color.

Since this was a dinner, and I wanted it to be substantial, I also added some cooked small cheese ravioli. Tortellini would also be fantastic.

*You can also substitute acorn squash, or canned pumpkin.