Sunday, October 3, 2010

My favorite time of year!

October is absolutely my favorite month of the year. The smell of the damp earth, the cool air, beautiful leaves, football games, cardigan sweaters, the food - good grief- I could go on and on.  I'll spare you the rambling though and get on to the best part. The food! It's the perfect time of year to finally turn on the oven and do some baking (actually, for Jay to do some baking). I really love a good soup/stew/chili too. Here are two new favorites to start off October with. First, the ridiculously easy (and healthy!) zucchini soup.

Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 lbs zucchini (about 3 or 4 zucchinis), roughly chopped
3 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock to keep this vegetarian)
3/4  – 1 cup loose basil leaves
1 Parmesan cheese rind
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Toasted pine nuts, for garnish

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Saute the onion for 3-4 minutes and then add the garlic. Cook for an additional minute. (Savor the aroma and think about how great you're going to smell when you exercise later!)

2. Add the zucchini and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock and cheese rind and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Remove the Parmesan rind. Puree the soup in a food processor with the basil.

5. Serve garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.

6. Slurp 'til your heart's content.

And the perfect fall treat- Pumpkin Pie Bars

1-1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup  granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup  (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/2 cup  chopped walnuts (optional)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 Tbsp.  pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with parchment, with ends extending over sides.

2. Mix flour, 1/4 granulated sugar and brown sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and nuts (optional).

3. RESERVE 1 cup of the oat mixture and press remaining mix onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.

4. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and spice with mixer until well blended. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture

5. BAKE 25 min.; cool 10 min. Use parchment to transfer dessert from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Pumpkin Pie Bars recipe

Hope everyone enjoys their day! I'm off to pretend I live in a state in which autumn actually exists!

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