Butternut Squash Soup

Every fall I make butternut squash soup and every year I say I am going to write it down. Today’s the day. Before we get to that, there have been some big changes in my life. After taking the summer off from working (that sounds a lil better than my contract ended and it took a few months to find something new), I started a fabulous job at DocuSign last Monday. I could not be more excited and am loving it so far. And Oliver just started Kindergarten too! It’s been an adjustment for us both, but such good stuff.

With the new gig, I am back in the office full time for the first time since 2010. This is a departure from the three days I was working from home these past few years. This affects some important parts of my life – working out and cooking. I managed to get five workouts in this week and I also made a big batch of Ina’s Italian Wedding Soup last Sunday, which I used for Oliver’s and my lunches this week. The Sunday cooking for easy leftover dinners and lunches is going to be key to my sanity.

So it’s Sunday and I’m cooking! Butternut squash soup and Smitten Kitchen’s oven-braised beef with garlic and tomatoes (holy shit is that one good and literally could not be easier). I’m particular about what I like in my butternut squash soup (no curry, no apple, no cream) and this recipe totally nails it.

Read More

Heirloom Tomato Soup

I love getting my monthly Metropolitan Market coupon in the mail. I get really excited when I actually remember to put it in my purse, use it and save myself some cash! This week’s offer was a free pound of heirloom tomatoes. This coincided with Marin Mama’s Weekly Dinner Menu for August 3rd. She posted a recipe for Heirloom Tomato Soup which she calls her family’s “FAVORITE soup ever!” OK, that’s some persuasive language. Coupon + rave recipe = my Heirloom Tomato Soup fate was sealed.

No joke, this soup is perfection, rave-worthy, and unlike most tomato soups, no cream necessary. Pretty and delish, this little gem would be a lovely starter for your summer dinner party. Heirloom tomatoes are in season from August until early October, so now is the perfect time to make yourself a big batch. I wish I would have doubled this and put some in the freezer (or just gone on a massive soup bender and eaten it all this week). I will definitely be making this again! Another brilliant creation from Marin Mama Jackie!

Heirloom Tomato Soup – courtesy of Marin Mama Cooks

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided – you will use 1/4 cup twice in the recipe
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh marjoram
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (Jackie’s recipe calls for the garlic microplaned, but it’s all being puréed, so I didn’t see the need for the microplaning)
  • 5 overripe heirloom tomatoes (any color), cored and large chunked
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

Prep all your ingredients.  Wash your herbs, chop up your onion and core and chop your tomatoes into large chunks.

Take your bunch of basil, your 4 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs of oregano or marjoram, and tie them up together with some kitchen twine.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil, the diced onion and herb bunch in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium low heat, until the onion is soft, tender and translucent, but not browned.  You’re basically sweating the onion here.

Stir in the garlic and quickly add the tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are broken down.  Make sure you occasionally stir the tomatoes.

Remove the herbs.  Stir in the 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and the in the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Turn off the heat.

Puree the soup either using a hand held immersion blender or a regular blender. If you’re using a blender, return the soup to the pot after your puree it. (Lynne’s Note – I used my immersion blender and found that it wasn’t quite smooth enough, so I threw it in the blender. This worked much better, but I had to do two batches.)

Keep warm until ready to serve.

I served with another seasonal fave, sautéed zucchini with garlic and red pepper flakes. A light, summer dinner, and it’s even vegan! A real shocker for this meat/dairy lover. So, so good.

Summer Dinner

Entry Level Leather – Faux is the Way To Go

Sometimes I go through periods of obsessing over an item of clothing. Scouring websites, taking trips over to Bellevue Square on my lunch break to hunt for said item. Last year around this time, it was leather pants. I really wanted some leather pants. The only leather pants I found that I liked were way out of my price range. I loved the Vince cropped legging (which were $1150. Um, no) and the Alice and Olivia leather legging (they were $798, but I had JUST gotten my new job). I did the justification self-talk and threw down.  I put them on a few times and just couldn’t wear them. I felt silly.  I live in Seattle, where it rains all the time. As lovely as they were, I’m not rich and they just weren’t practical. At all. They went back and I got myself a nice (and much less expensive) pair of black coated denim Citizens. That seemed to do the trick and gave me my fix, but I made the mistake of putting them in the wash (and hanging to dry) and they just didn’t look the same. Shouldn’t you be able to wash jeans?!?!

I was at Nordstrom last Friday perusing the new Savvy, not looking for anything in particular, just killing time before my haircut, when I stumbled across these little beauties.  My dreams had been realized. They look JUST like leather, but they are faux and more importantly, under $100! BlankNYC Vegan Leather Skinny Pants (really? do they need to be called vegan?). I have a few pairs of BlankNYC denim from last year and like the way they fit, so I gave them a try and they were perfect. The (p)leather pants I had always wanted!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wore them out that night and didn’t feel silly in the slightest! Somehow knowing they weren’t real made me feel better. Now I just need to learn to keep it to myself when I get a compliment before telling everyone they’re fake.

There is so much good faux leather out there right now. Pants, skirts, tops, jackets. Now you don’t have to make a crazy investment to enjoy the leather trend. Fake it til you make it!