Luscious Acorn Squash Soup

Luscious Acorn Squash Soup, Elaine Griffin, The Laine ListWhen I was a little girl, my grandmother made the most delicious acorn squash. She would cut them in half and scoop out the seeds. A pat of butter, brown sugar, and salt and pepper filled the holes. Bacon strips were draped over the top. When they cooked the house smelled like fall. Earthy, baconny goodness. They tasted even better, served whole on the plate – a perfect side dish on cold, fall days.

Every year, when the acorn squash arrive, I scoop them up like it’s my job, and I cook them just like Gram did.

This year, as I browsed through Pinterest, I thought, why butternut squash soup? Why not acorn?

Luscious Acorn Squash Soup

The Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • sour cream for serving

The Method

  • Cut acorn squash in half, and scoop out the seeds. Season with salt and pepper and place on a foil lined cookie sheet, and cook until tender.
  • Let the squash cool, and scoop out into a blender.
  • Add chicken broth, and blend until smooth. You may have to do this in batches.
  • Pass through a sieve into a soup pot.
  • Heat through, and season with nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  • Warm half and half, and slowly stir into soup.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
  • Enjoy!

This luscious soup is magical when paired with a sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwich on Heidelberg bread!

Do you like acorn squash? What is your favorite recipe?

Learning to Cook from the Heart

Learning to Cook from the Heart, Elaine Griffin, The Laine ListI’ve been watching cooking shows since I was knee high to my mother and grandmother. Of course back then it was Julia Child. The Frugal Gourmet was right up there for me too. But after Julia it was Graham Kerr and Martin Yan.

Soon after that, celebrity chefs hit the scene and the Food Network came along. I could have died and gone to heaven. Celebrity chefs have begun to lose their appeal to me now, unless we are talking about pretty much any Chopped judge and then I will be right there.

Aside from that I now enjoy following chefs like Vivian Howard, who is not only employing the farm to table philosophy, but also learning about and sharing her regional cultural and agricultural food history. So cool.

My mother and grandmother have always shared in my journey to learn about food, and taught me how to cook. When I was young, my mother cooked out of the Moosewood Cookbook and Joy of Cooking. As I grew older we cooked less from recipe and more from head and heart. No matter how little money we had, we always had good food.

My grandmother had recipe cards that she would pull from her recipe box, but mostly her recipes were in her head. Most of the time it was more technique than ingredients. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all of the hours I spent in her kitchen learning farmhouse recipes like homemade baked mac and cheese, scalloped oysters, creamed onions, scalloped potatoes, meatloaf.

She too, cooked from her heart.

The cooking from head and heart technique is how I am teaching my children to cook. Rarely do we cook anything from a recipe, at least all the way. There is always something that needs to be added or substituted. We create. Ben is particularly good at creating not just recipes, but soul-satisfying food. Genevieve is still a little bit too little for that, but her zest for helping to cook makes me believe she will master this skill as well.

Tell me, how did you learn to cook?

Holiday Cocktail 2: Hot Spiked Apple Cider

holiday cocktail hot spiked apple cider the laine list I love this hot spiked apple cider recipe. It’s simple, easy to make ahead and keep warm in the crock pot, and it’s PERFECT for cold Winter days! Make this without the alcohol and add that on a per-drink basis so it is kid friendly!

The Ingredients

1 gallon of cider

1 package of mulling mix

sliced apples

2 oz Bourbon (per mug filled about 3/4 full)

The Method

Simply add the cider and mulling mix to the crock pot and heat on low for a couple of hours. Before your guests arrive, float the apple slices on the top. Serve in mugs with our without the alcohol, and with a slice of warm apple!

As always, enjoy responsibly, and happy Thanksgiving!

Good Eats with Kids: A New Food Blog (Plus a Meal Plan)

Ben and I have been cooking together since he was just a wee babe. It is something we have always enjoyed doing together, and while he is not always open to trying healthy foods, he has a terrific sense of flavors and how they should work together to taste delicious!

We have been working on launching a food blog for…quite some time. It just hasn’t been the right time. Work has been busy. His interest in the blog, frankly, has been hit or miss. My photography is not great.

So we’ve waited, and planned, designed and cooked. And now we are both ready to hit the blogosphere running.

We are very happy to announce we will be launching Good Eats with Kids on January 6th. Our site will offer you healthy meals and recipes that kids like, and that they will like to help prepare. Look for more from us here in the meantime – like menu plans! We are going to migrate this over to the new blog in the next couple of weeks, but for now it will live here. This is our weekday meal plan for this week (albeit a day late!)

meal plan november 18

What are you eating this week?

Homemade Irish Creme, a Delicious Holiday Treat

Homemade Irish Cream over ice
Homemade Irish Cream over ice

A Facebook post from my friend Melissa, reminded me of a couple of drink recipes in y grandmother’s recipe box. This recipe, for Irish Cream, is like chocolate milk with a kick. It’s comforting and homey, and a most delicious treat to drink on a cold evening while you are wrapping your holiday gifts!
This recipe. according to my grandmother’s recipe card, is courtesy of Judy, which Judy, I’m not sure, but thank you kindly, Judy, wherever you are!

Homemade Irish Creme

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup whiskey
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon Hershey’s syrup (I used a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cocoanut extract
  • 3 eggs

The Process:

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until…blended! Serve chilled and over ice, if that’s how you roll. Enjoy responsibly.

What is your favorite holiday drink?

Easy Blackened Chicken Recipe

I have been cooking all my life, but for some reason I was afraid of making blackened anything. I really thought it would turn out awful, plus I’m really not a huge fan of chili powder or cumin. But one night when I didn’t know WHAT to have for dinner, I thought, ‘why not?’ Thinking outside of the box a little, I added my own little twist to make this easy blackened chicken recipe more palatable for me.
blackened chicken recipe

The Ingredients

  • 4-6 chicken breasts (or other protein of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

The Method

I actually made a rub for this with the spices and the olive oil. Mix it up, coat the chicken with the mixture, and place it in a screaming hot pan! You want this crisp, but not burned, and cooked in the middle, so don’t leave it. I did actually cover it for a short period of time in order to make sure it was cooking through, but don’t do this for long or your crust will get soggy!

So there you have it, easy blackened chicken that isn’t too spicy, and can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike!

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Sandy’s Apple Crisp

When I was in second grade, my class put together an apple cookbook. Or, more accurately, our parents sent in recipes, the students colored an apple for the front, and the teachers did all the hard work! Regardless, here it is, 15 years later. A little battered, but still loved and used.
apple cook book
The recipe I submitted was Brown Bag Apple Pie. Yes, you cook the pie in a paper grocery bag in the oven! It’s marvelous.
The recipe I most like to cook, however, is the Apple Crisp recipe from Sandy, because it is easy and so GOOD!
In the years that followed the publication of our book, I had the chance to get to know Sandy quite well as she went from a mother of one of my peers to a co-worker and friend. Unfortunately, Sandy passed away recently from breast cancer. Here is to Sandy, who made some amazing crisp!

apple crisp

Sandy’s Apple Crisp

The Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sliced apples (I generally use a combination of a soft apple, like a Macintosh, and a harder apple, like Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • A couple of dashes of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of butter, softened

The Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the sliced apples in a buttered baking dish. Mix dry ingredients together, and then slice the butter into the bowl. Using a knife and fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is approximately pea-sized. Bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

What is your favorite thing to cook in the fall?

Make This Soup! Healthy Lasagna Soup: Laine style

Out of all the meals I’ve made this week, lasagna soup has been the fan favorite! And between our regular meal plan and the kids being sick, I’ve made a lot of soup this week.

Until last week I had never heard of lasagna soup, and there seem to be a lot of recipes floating around the internet. Being the recipe tweeker that I am, I took this recipe into my own hands. Part of what I love about this soup is it’s versatility. You can make it vegetarian or vegan, or add cooked sausage or browned ground beef. However you like your lasagna. I happen to like a really unhealthy lasagna, but I’m workin’ on my bod, and my recipe is healthy with great flavor.

The ingredients:

Use however much or little you want!

  • Sauce
  • Chicken or vegetable sauce
  • Tortellini or ravioli of your choice
  • Frozen spinach
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped green onion
  • Part-skim ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • The method:

    I make my own tomato sauce, and I had some leftover, so I used that as the base, along with some chicken stock to thin it down. You could also add vegetable stock to make this vegetarian-friendly!

    Look at this yummy base! There are many tomato chunks, and it’s heavy on some pesto, too, which I used in my original sauce.

    lasagna soup base by Elaine Griffin Designs
    lasagna soup base!

    I brought that to a good bubble and added the tortellini and spinach and cooked through. Tortellini is the secret weapon here, and what makes it unlike the other recipes I saw online, which called for broken lasagna noodles (great idea!) or other kinds of pasta. Hey, do whatcha’ want! Whatever your groove is works for this soup.

    Then I ladled into bowls, put a dollop of ricotta in the middle, and garnished with parsley and green onion. You guys! Parsley and green onion garnish is my new favorite thing to have on soup! It is too yummy – you must try it!

    And so here is the bowl of healthy, hearty, hot, delicious soup!

    Lasagna soup
    Lasagna soup!

    Served with a chopped salad with a pesto vinaigrette and fresh bread from the bread machine!

    Chopped salad with pesto by Elaine Griffin Designs
    Chopped salad with pesto
    Homemade bread by Elaine Griffin Designs
    Homemade bread

    All the flavor and love of lasagna, but much healthier!

    Tell me, are you going to try this delicious soup?

Monday meals: week of January 9, 2012

Heirloom tomato soup by Elaine Griffin Designs!
Heirloom tomato soup!

Here we go ya’ll. Time to figure out what we’re eatin’ this week. I’m only semi-inspired by my menu.

Monday: Lasagna soup – tomato soup with tortellini and a drop of part-skim ricotta on top. Also, some sort of mixed chopped veggie salad, and homemade bread if I can find the time to finally get my new bread machine out!

Tuesday: Curried black eyed peas, sweet potatoes, peas, and turkey over wild rice. With a sweet heirloom tomato chutney. Yum!

Wednesday: Cream of broccoli soup, salad, homemade bread.

Thursday: Leftover night!

Friday: Pizza night!

I have to say, of all the meals I’m most excited about tonight’s meal – lasagna soup, salad, and bread. But is anyone really surprised by that? I’m obsessing over tomato soup since I made this tomato soup a couple of weeks ago. I’ll let you know how it is.

What are you all eating this week? Anything super yummy? Or healthy? Or inspiring?

 

Light Asian-style chicken and pineapple salad with crispy wontons

I know I’ve said it before, like in this post about the best salad EVAHHHHH!  But immagonna say it again. I LOVE salad, ya’ll! I love it so much that I even had it for breakfast this morning. It was delicious.

Get your favorite lettuce or salad mix. I generally get the bulk organic baby lettuce. I feel it’s more bang for your buck – there is no waste and much less time spent prepping it.

For this salad I used:

  • leftover steamed brocolli
  • roasted red peppers
  • carrots
  • cucumber
  • toasted almond slices
  • green onions

If I had sesame seeds, I would have toasted those to throw in too.

Here’s the salad:

salad-with-Asian-vegetables
Salad with Asian vegetables

I marinated the chicken in:

  • soy sauce
  • orange juice
  • rice wine vinegar
  • honey
  • red pepper flakes
  • a tiny bit of olive oil

I would have used ginger if I had remembered I had it! Which was totally a mommy brain moment, because I bought it just for this dish. Whatevs.

Then I sautéed it in another bit of olive oil until brown and almost done, and added a can of pineapple tidbits, without the juice – which you need to save. I don’t usually use canned foods, but pineapple is one I almost always keep around. Sautee your pineapple and chicken until it starts to get nice and golden, and then get it out of the pan. This would be better grilled on skewers, but I didn’t have it in me. Although I guess I could have thrown them on the grill pan that way. Oh well – next time!

Deglaze with the pineapple juice (probably about half). Or put pineapple juice in a pan if you have used a grill or grill pan for your chicken. Then add the same ingredients you used for your marinade. Wisk it good and get it good and bubbling without burning it. Keep it going for a few minutes to reduce it down. See – a yummy dressing that is thick and rich and not too horrible for you!!

Here is the chicken:

Asian-style-chicken-and-pineapple
Asian-style chicken and pineapple

It was yummy!

Here is the dressing:

 

citrus soy salad dressing
citrus soy salad dressing

Normally I would dress the salad, but people always complain when I do that, so I put it on the side.

Now here is the best part. I made crispy wontons that were not fried! Oh yes I did!

It’s super easy. Get some wonton or egg roll wrappers, and cut them into strips. If you get egg roll wrappers, cut them down the middle and then into strips. Toss them with the littlest bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and put them on a pizza sheet sprayed with non-stick spray, at about 350 degrees. Keep your eye on them and give them a stir now and then. Just cook them as crispy as you like!

See!

crispy baked wontons
crispy baked wontons!

These were so good. And this whole meal was a super hit with everyone. Rock! Try this salad and tell me what you think!