Butternut Squash and Apple Soup – My Fall Favorite

At a wedding may moons ago, I had a fantastic butternut squash and apple soup.  I’ve been trying to replicate and/or reinvent it since then.  This is one of my favorite attempts thus far:

You’ll Need:
3 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Medium Butternut Squash (peeled, seeded, chopped)
1 Large Granny Smith Apple (chopped, seeded)
4 Shallots (chopped)
3 Cloves of Garlic (diced)
3 Cups of Chicken Broth (gluten free, of course) (or rabbit broth, if you’re feeling frisky)
2 Cup of White Wine or Hard Apple Cider
1 Cup of Sour Cream
Fresh Tarragon
Salt & Pepper

Optional: Bacon! (cooked and then coarsely chopped)

Do this:

Melt butter in the pan, add garlic & shallots.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the squash and apples, cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the squash is fork tender).  Add the wine/cider, tarragon leaves, some salt & pepper.  Stir together and then immersion blend (or run through your regular blender in stages).  Then stir in sour cream and chopped bacon!  (add more salt/pepper to taste) Garnish with a spoonful of sour cream and an apple slice.  Try not to eat the whole batch at once….it’s hard.


Gluten-Free Rosemary Potato Rolls

Alright – so here is the final piece of my three day recipe roundup.  I have to give about 95% of the credit for this to these guys over at gluten-free-bread.org, this is their recipe with a few tweaks I made to use up the whey we made in step 1…and a few other tweaks because I can’t leave well-enough alone.  My mother has always yelled at me for never trying a recipe as written the first time, I always change as I go.  So here you go:

You’ll need…

2 cups mashed potatoes (instant potatoes will work great also) <–here’s where my disagreement begins, NEVER WILL I MAKE instant potatoes – they’re not real food and besides they taste weird.

1 cup water (use the water from cooking the potatoes)

2 packages active dry yeast

3 Tbsp. sugar 2 tbsp of honey

1 ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature however much leftover whey you have + enough regular milk or buttermilk to equal 1.5 cups.  I had a half a cup of whey so added a cup of milk.

6 Tbsp. melted butter, cooled (I threw in the whole stick – it’s how I do)

3 tsp. salt

2 – 3 tsp. dried rosemary (crushed) 1 tbsp of fresh rosemary (chopped)

5 ½ to 6 ½ cups light gluten-free flour blend King Arthur Gluten Free Flour, this stuff is the bomb.

1 tsp. xanthan gum  xanthan gum is pricy and I don’t have any, so I skipped this and they came out just fine

** my addition here, an egg.  It might have made up for skipping the xanthan gum.


In a large bowl, mix sugar honey, yeast, water (make sure this is just slightly warmer than body temperature or it will kill the yeast), and mashed potato. Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes, until the yeast begins to foam.


With the paddle (or dough hook) attachment on your stand mixer, and with the mixer set on low, add buttermilk/milk/whey, melted butter, salt and rosemary to the yeast/potato/water mixture.


Add in 5 ½ cups of the flour, a little at a time, until the dough starts to get sticky. With the mixer on high, mix the dough for 4 minutes.  Toward the end, toss in the egg.


(If you don’t have a mixer, you can still make these rolls. Just work the dough with your hands until the mixture is combined, for about 8 minutes or so.)

Put the dough onto a well-floured work space. Roll the dough, with a floured rolling pin, until it is ¾ inch thick. Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into 2-inch squares or triangles (you can also roll these sections into balls for a true ‘roll shape’).

I skipped the above and just went with a muffin tin, it made the cooking time shorter and also was just less of a pain all around.

Place the rolls 1 inch apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Let the dough rise for 15 to 30 minutes. Fill muffin tin cavities 3/4 full with well-risen dough. Then, place into your preheated oven. Bake for about 18 to 20 12-15 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Et voila! 🙂






Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe! Pineapple Cream Cheese Dip!

So now that you’ve strained the whey out of your yogurt, mix in some salt and herbs or fruit and honey and you’ve got a super easy homemade cream cheese substitute that tastes great and happens to be the byproduct of something you were already making.  Go you!  You can experiment with any variety of seasoning or fresh herbs from the garden.

My family has a weird affinity for pineapple cream cheese dip, so I made a version of that with my strained yogurt.

You’ll Need:

  • 16 ounces of yogurt with the whey strained out.
  • 3 tablespoons of mayonaise
  • 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple (drained-ish)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar

Do this:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir to blend, cover and chill over night.

You can dip all sorts of things in this.  My father prefers to spread it on wheat thins (which I’m allergic to).  I dip potato chips in it.  Lots of people think it’s gross…until they try it and realize that it’s AWESOME.

Does your family have any food that outsiders think is weird but that you love?


Beet Kvass!

I super love when you start a process and end up with more than one end product – like a few weeks ago, when we juiced lemons and got both lemonade and a citrus infused vinegar.  Today’s project will yield three results – so I’m breaking it into three posts!  And posting every day!  Excitement.

First up is Beet Kvass.  I love a shot of this stuff on occasion and when I saw fresh beets in the farmer’s market, I knew it was time for a little beety action.

If you’ve never heard of Beet Kvass, this video (which incidentally is how I found out about it) will answer all of your questions:

The first step is to make whey!  Whey is the liquid part in a lot of dairy products.  I make it by straining yogurt – I’d definitely recommend this way (ha) of making whey because it yields the project in tomorrow’s installment.


I wrap the yogurt into a little bundle of cheese cloth and tie it around a skewer and leave that in the fridge to drip over night.  Different brands of yogurt produce different amounts of whey, so I always get at least two of the little containers – I find that a big 16 ounce is always a little too much for my needs.

As we learned in the video (and as Sally says) – you only need 1/8-1/4 cup of whey – but never fear, in installment 3, we’ll use whatever is left of your whey for something else!

Next we chop our beet.  I never peel mine, just give them a bit of a scrub and chop them into 1″-ish cubes.


Bua-ha-ha-ha beet carnage.

Then you just chuck your beets and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the jar with your whey, shake, and wait for two days!


Day 1!  Beets soaking, you can see the foam around the top already!

I’ve always been fond of picklebacks (shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle brine), but for a colorful twist on that- you can try beetbacks.  I had the bright idea a few years ago and they were the hit of a friend’s birthday party- a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of beet kvass.  Cures what ails ya!


Small-batch Homemade Hard Cider from Storebought Juice

This is a recipe I’ve been tweaking over time (that is bits and bobs borrowed from here and there to begin with!), but I think it’s a pretty decent (and easy) one for a novice home-brewer. 🙂

You’ll Need:

  • A gallon glass jug of apple juice or cider from the store (this saves you having to buy juice and the bottle – aka carboy – separately)
  • A packet of cider yeast –  I like this one.
  • An airlock – like this guy
  • A few tablespoons of alcohol, type unimportant
  • An appropriately sized bung…yup, a bung…also called a drilled stopper. The wholefoods brand juice takes a size 6.5 bung.
  • Another quart of juice or cider (you won’t use this for a few weeks, so don’t worry too much about this yet)
  • A cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup of honey or brown sugar
  • A bucket or pot that holds at least a gallon and a half of liquid.
  • A length of food grade tubing – mine is about 4 feet, which is the least I’d recommend.
  • Bottles – I’m a fan of swing tops like these – so that I don’t have to deal with capping them.

Day 1:

  • Sterilize your stopper (I just run it through the dishwasher on sanitize).
  • Open your juice and dispose of the cap – you won’t need this.
  • Dump in about 1/4 packet of yeast.  The rest can go back into the fridge for later or you can chuck it if you’re never going to do this again.
  • Pop the top on your airlock and fill with alcohol.  As you can see mine has purple liquid in it – it’s creme violette, which is all I happened to have had laying around, oddly.  Some places will tell you to fill your airlock with sanitizer, but I’d rather fill it with something that I wouldn’t mind drinking if it splashed in.
  • Put your jug in a cool-dry place out of direct sunlight.  Cider likes a cool ferment, so between 60 and 70 degrees is best, but up to 75 is ok.
  • IMG_6772

Day 3:

  • Check to see that there are bubbles passing through the liquid in the airlock.

Day 7:

  • Sterilize your bucket or pot and your tubing.
  • Siphon (with your tubing) the liquid from your glass bottle and into your pan.
  • Clean out and then sterilize your glass jug.
  • Siphon your cider into your now sanitized glass jug, return airlock, return to its cool, dry place.

Day 21:

  • Place a cinnamon stick and your sugar or honey into a pan with the fresh quart of apple juice or cider.
  • Heat until all of the sugar has dissolved and then cover and allow to return to room temperature.
  • Sterilize your bucket or pot.
  • Pour sweetened room-temperature juice (sans cin. stick) into this bucket or pot.
  • Siphon your cider into this bucket or pot and allow it to mix
  • Then siphon into bottles.  This can be a bit of a sticky situation if you’re not careful.  A sanitized ladle and funnel can be helpful as this is a tiny batch.
  • I got this trick from a brewing forum – fill a clean coke bottle with cider so you can check for carbonation.

Days 23-25:

  • Squeeze the coke bottle to test for carbonation.  Once it feels like a regular coke does (pretty solid), you have good carbonation in your  cider.  You now have two options.  If you’re keeping the cider for yourself and have fridge space for it, put it all in the fridge – this is called “cold crashing” and will kill all the yeast and stop it from making anymore alcohol (or exploding your bottles).  If you want to store it at room temperature or give it away, you need to heat pasturize it to kill the yeast.  I’ve never done this, because I’m the only person I know who loves cider.  If you want to try it, there’s a post here that will walk you through the steps.  Please don’t hurt yourself.

At this point, I drink the coke bottle cider – it’s not in a pretty bottle and I want to know what the baseline taste is.  Your cider will mellow with age, so I’d let it rest in the fridge for 2-6 weeks…but you can let it age for up to a year, if you feel like it. If you start this week, you’ll have a great offering for the Thanksgiving dinner table. 🙂

FIRE CIDER – The People’s Medicine! (recipe always in flux)

A few years ago, a coworker of mine came in with a bottle of fire cider that her mother had sent her and dared all of us to give it a taste….we were nervous at first, especially me, I DO NOT LIKE spicy things…  But I tried it….it was spicy and sweet and complex and it got my blood moving. which is exactly what it’s designed to do!

As soon as I figured out just how easy it is to make, I set out to make my own.  I make it differently every time I do it, although there are some *must have* ingredients in there…I’ll get to that. 🙂

The recipe is based on a number of recipes handed down potentially since the days of the Black Plague, but it’s been perfected and titled by Rosemary Gladstar, a matriarch of the modern herbal community.

It’s an immune booster, a digestive aid, a blood stimulant, a winter warmer, a cold chaser.  It’s a great thing to have around and SUPER easy to make.  You can drink it straight, mix it into juice, put it on a salad, mix it with hot water and honey like a tea (you can also inhale the steam to get your sinuses moving).  It’s pretty magical stuff.

You can watch Rosemary make it and talk about it here:

There are tons of variations on this recipe, but the key ingredients are garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger, cayenne, apple cider vinegar and honey.  You can add other varieties of pepper, peppercorns, turmeric, cinnamon, rose hip, other members of the allium family, citrus, fennel, thyme, lavender, echinacea, parsley…basically if it makes you think: immune boosting, full of vitamin c, warming, blood stirring, or digestive….you can throw it in there.

Today as I was repeatedly strolling the farmer’s market (it was a glorious day here…and anyone who follows me on Instagram saw my silly vintage cape ensemble that I was strolling in)….I kept noticing the brightly colored peppers on all the stalls.  I don’t like spicy food, so I only ever use peppers for fire cider.  I also knew I had ginger at home because of my recent ginger soda endeavors…so I decided to make my first batch of fire cider for the year.



Current Batch of Fire Cider Includes:

  • 2 small local vidalia onions
  • 1 heirloom cayenne pepper
  • 1 peach habanero pepper
  • a big chunk of horseradish (probably about a half a cup of chopped root)
  • about 6 little chunks of turmeric root (about 1/4 cup of root bits)
  • an orange
  • most of a lemon
  • a 6 inch piece of ginger root
  • about a quarter cup of scallion tops (I had them lying around)
  • two full heads of garlic (pressed)
  • a big chunk of rosemary from the garden
  • an entire bottle of Braggs apple cider vinegar

It’s all chopped up and chucked into a half gallon mason jar.  I’m actually using one of my super vintage ones because it has a glass lid – vinegar tends to corrode the metal ones, which isn’t so nice.  If you’re using one with a metal lid, everyone says to stick a piece of waxed or parchment paper between the lid and the jar.


Once it’s macerated for 4-6 weeks (and shake that baby occasionally, it does really help), I’ll strain out all the veggie matter and mix in honey to taste.  I actually have a rosebush in my yard that’s going to hip nicely…so I might make a honey/rosehip syrup and mix that in.  The fun part is that you don’t have to adhere to any recipe strictly.  You can make it differently every single time if you want to.

I keep the big bottle in the fridge, but I have a small bottle on my bathroom counter with an eyedropper and I take it if I’m feeling like I’m starting to get sick, if my stomach is upset, or if I’m really cold….or sometimes just for fun.  If I feel like I need a big dose, I mix it into OJ.  I also like to keep a small bottle in my travel bag and take it while I’m traveling…I think it’s better than Airborne.

If you want to read about the current (and really appalling) trademark controversy over fire cider (essentially a corporation has placed a trademark on a folk remedy that isn’t theirs to trademark and has been sending nasty letters to herbalists all over the country to have them change the name of their product), please go here: http://freefirecider.com/  – also consider signing the petition here to revoke this trademark.

Traditions not trademarks!