>Butternut is the New Pumpkin

>‘Tis the Season.

Oregon does cold,wet weather really, really well. And what better way to heat up this holiday season than steamy concoctions coming from the kitchen, and in true PNW fashion, from the garden.

Long after the last tomatoes and peppers are pulled from the garden and stashed in the form of salsas and sauces, the squash stands alone outside amidst plant skeletons. In my corner of the woods where I’ve been residing this fall butternut has burst its way into my home, and in turn, my heart. With its tawny golden color, smooth texture and sweet flavor, it quickly has surpassed pumpkin as the winner this season for hot ‘n tasty treats.

*Both of these recipes use a hand blender, which makes otherwise effort-heavy kitchen

maneuvers way too much fun. Miss Ali calls this contraption a ”wand” because – duh – it makes magic happen. Cuisinart and KitchenAid both make quality and affordable models that would make a great gift for anyone who spends time in the kitchen.

Super Simple Butter[Pea]nut Soup

1 butternut squash
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 T crunchy peanut butter
In a large soup pan sauté onions and garlic in butter until golden.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds (save for roasting) and cube into small chunks.
Add butternut into the soup pan and cover the squash with water.
Bring water to a boil and then let simmer until the squash is soft.
Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender until it has reached a uniform smooth consistency.
Add soy sauce (to taste) and peanut butter. Blend again.
BOOM. Super delicious creamy peanutbutterynut soup.
Variations on Toppings:
1. Clean off the saved seeds from the squash and coat with olive oil and soy sauce. Roast in the oven or in a frying pan and top the soup with them before serving.
2. Chop up peanuts finely and roast in a pan on the stove quickly before sprinkling on soup.
(walnuts or pine nuts would be pretty delicious too)
3. Lightly steam green beans. Finish in a frying pan with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add to soup before devouring.
And now for dessert…

Pie is one of my all-time loves. It is how I celebrate, show affection and my ultimate form of cooking self-expression. The labor going into it is the process of making love edible and a pie is intrinsically shareable – no pie stands alone. It nearly always screams family and friends and warmth and being well-fed and loved… I actually broke up with someone once for dissing my pie crust. True story.
This pie is a brand new creation borne from my two newfound taste bud loves: butternut squash and bacon. Thats right, somehow I missed that bacon is the food of the gods until this fall. But no worries – I’ve more than been making up for lost time.

Butternut Bacon Pie

Pie Crust
(this recipe makes one pie crust)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup ice water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 /2 teaspoon salt
Mix dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter (still chilled from fridge) into the flour mixture until there is a uniform meal-like consistency. Add water slowly while working the dough (with clean hands) until it forms a ball. Chill in the fridge until filling is ready.
Butternut Pie Filling
2 cups butternut squash puree
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup cream cheese
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 tablespoon finely gated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
12 slices of bacon (or however many come in a package)
Halve the butternut and cook facedown on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until easily pierced with a fork. Scrape out the pulp with a spoon and puree using a hand blender. Add two cups to a mixing bowl. (I cooked the whole thing and used the rest to make another dish).
Add cream cheese, half and half, maple syrup and sugar, then mix.
Whisk eggs in a separate bowl, then add to mixture.
Add spices and mix.
Now, fry up one package of bacon and after it has slightly cooled crumble it into bacon bits. Set aside four strips’ worth to garnish the top add the rest to the filling.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface using a floured rolling pin. Place the pie crust into a pie pan by draping it over the rolling pin and then cut off excess dough around the edges using a paring knife. Pour the filling into the pie shell. To crimp the edges of the pie crust place your thumb and forefinger on the outside of the shell, and the pointer finger of your other hand on the inside, pressing it into the middle of your other fingers to make an indentation. Repeat all the way around the edge.
Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
Lower oven to 375 degrees and bake pie for 30 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Chill completely before serving with fresh whipped cream.
A sweet and savory delight. Enjoy by sharing.