What says winter better than soup and Christmas cookies?
For whatever reason, I didn’t start cooking until after dinner last night, meaning I finished at about 11 p.m. But with the original Miracle on 34th Street playing in the background, I was ready to go.
Recipe #1 Butternut squash soup
You may remember that butternut squash and I have a rough past. I hate cutting it because it is so tough that you can see the imprints of the knife in your hand. When I made butternut squash-mushroom risotto? Disaster. Only two things turned out ok — the soup and the side dish (olive oil and parmesan cheese on top of cubed squash and then roast them. I bought a butternut squash a few weeks back determined to try again, but then it just sat in my kitchen. I couldn’t muster the energy needed to tackle the troublesome veggie. Finally, last night I went back to the soup recipe.
Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, 1 peeled and chopped carrot, 1 small onion, 1 celery rib, 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 2 garlic cloves, halved, 4 sage leaves, 1/2 cup 1 percent milk, salt and pepper to taste.
I ditched the celery and used four cups of broth instead of six. I was also using about 3/4 of a butternut squash because I wanted to make the side dish tonight.
Directions: Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut into cubes. In a large heavy pot, combine squash, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, sage and broth and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes, until squash is tender.
Discard the sage (or bay leaves) and using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Add milk and adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve. Great topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
I was not paying close attention to the recipe (I was trying to see whether Mr. Gailey would save Kris Kringle!) and I accidentally added the milk before blending the ingredients. It seemed to turn out OK, though perhaps a little thinner than I remember. So, I added 1 1/2 cup of parmesan to the pot when I was finished instead of just sprinkling it on top with each individual bowl.
Now I just have to remember to pack the soup for lunch this week.
On to baking cookies! (It was then about 9:45 p.m.)
Again, I made these last year, but why not share them again? Everyone loves Christmas cookies, especially peanut butter blossoms.
Ingredients: ½ cup shortening (1 stick of butter/margarine), ½ cup peanut butter, ½ cup white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 ¾ cup flour, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda.
Directions: Cream together the shortening and peanut butter. Gradually add and cream well the white and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Finally, gradually add the flour, salt and baking soda.
Shape by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Press candy kiss into center of each. Return to oven, bake 3-5 minutes more. (With my oven, 9 minutes in the oven to bake the batter, then 2 with the Hershey kiss seemed to be the right combination)
Somehow, I managed to forget that my mixer broke last week while I was making chocolate chip cookies. This is now two Decembers in a row that I’ve mangled a mixer. Anyway, I decided to soften the butter first so that it would be easier to cream by hand.
These are all packed up and ready to go to work so 1) I don’t eat them all myself and 2) bribery.
That’s it. Off to work I go!