Saturday, October 24, 2015

Food Friday - Fall Fare

from Kris B.

As you read earlier in the week, for Tracey and me both, fall is a favorite season.  Though there are lots of wonderful things about this time of year, it also brings with it memories of tough times for both of us since she lost her mom and I lost my dad during the fall  So, we have both had our share of nostalgic moments recently, both those that bring tears and those that bring smiles.  Life is all about finding that balancebetween the tears and the smiles; that is where we find ourselves right now, trying to find and maintain that healthy balance.

On one of my visits back to check on my dad during the summer of 2014, my aunt, his sister, brought over some sweet potato biscuits for him as they were a favorite.  As he was offering me one at dinner that night, I realized that despite the breadaholic that I am, I had never had a sweet potato biscuit.  Being that I am a sweet potato lover as well as a breadaholic, I suspected that sweet potato biscuits would be a win-win for me.  I was right.  These things were amazing...if of course you like biscuits and sweet potatoes.

Last Thanksgiving, for the first time ever, I was not at home with my girls.  I went to Delaware over that week to begin the process of settling my dad's affairs.  Weber and I spent Thanksgiving with my aunt, the sweet potato biscuit maker, and my cousins...and a big batch of sweet potato biscuits!  I missed being at home, but I loved having the biscuits, both because they tasted good, and they reminded me of my dad.

I begged for the recipe and my aunt graciously shared it with me.  Now I can have them any time that Id like.  Well, maybe not any time, because that would be all the time! Lol.  As I was baking this batch, my daughter, Brooke,  and I were talking about our Thanksgiving menu for this year.  At my request the sweet potato biscuits are on it!

2 Cups mashed sweet potatoes
3/4 Cup sugar
3 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Cup shortening

Preheat oven to 425

I am going to share the instructions exactly how they were given to me.

"Mix the mashed sweet potatoes and sugar.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and cut in shortening.  Add dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture.  I use both hands here and it gets kind of messy.  You might need to add flour in small amounts until the dough "feels right.'  I usually spray my hands with Pam and roll dough into balls about 1 1/2" in diameter.  Bake on a baking sheet for 12-15 minutes."

Any of you who have recipes that have been passed down from several generations will understand the part about "until the dough feels right."  Also, most biscuits are usually rolled and cut.  I have not tried that with these  because...well, because this is the way I want to remember them.  Also, this is easier; but, if you want to roll (and re-roll) and cut these, I suspect it will work just as well.

And here is my ah-ha moment of the day...Brooke and I were having a lovely conversation about lots of things while I was baking, something we both enjoy when we share our days off. In a manner that I'm sure felt totally random to hBrooke, I asked her where the term "baker's dozen" originated.  She is a trained pastry chef; she should know such things.  She didn't.  My question arose as I was putting the biscuits on the baking sheet.

When spaced using this fairly common layout on a standard baking sheet,  you end up with thirteen items.  I didn't take the time to research the real reason that we have a baker's dozen.  I'm sticking with my newly realized explanation because it makes sense to me. LOL!  

This same ridiculous way of thinking led my then six year old daughter to exclaim with total conviction, "Mama!  I know why Thanksgiving is always on Thursday...they both begin with TH.  That's why!"  Yep.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in our family....except that she was six when she had her great epiphany and I am 53.  

by Tracey G.

I am relatively new to the world of squash, lol. I'd say just the last 7 years or so, I discovered they're pretty yummy! As I kid I wouldn't even try them - maybe the name turned me off, I'm not sure. And it's not like they weren't around the house, my mom loved squash of all sorts, so it wasn't a stranger to me at all. And to be honest, it wasn't until about 10 years ago I discovered I loved sweet potatoes and still kick myself for not trying them sooner! But anyway, I am a big fan these days of pumpkin and butternut squash. This soup uses butternut and it's really yummy. I have been searching for a good squash soup/bisque recipe for awhile, I love the stuff and have never made it at home! So, this was the perfect excuse to try my hand at it. :-) I researched and this is kind of my own creation from a few recipes, it's simple and easy - and best of all, good!

When it came to the pureeing, I used my blender. Most recipes called for using food processor, but I didn't see why I couldn't just use my blender and buzz it up in almost one fell swoop. For today's recipe, I made a half batch of what I came up with, so I was able to get it all in the blender, but if I made the full batch, it would likely need to be done in two batches in it. I imagine my immersion blender could have been used too - I always forget about that thing! LOL

Here's the recipe (full batch), and I think it would be good with pumpkin as well...

Butternut Squash Bisque

3 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 c sliced carrots
1/2 c chopped shallots
1 medium tart apple, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 c chicken broth
1 1/4 c half and half
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
 1-2 tbsp chives, optional
Sour cream for garnish, optional

1) In a large bowl, toss the squash, carrots, apple and shallot in the olive oil until coated. Spread onto a large baking sheet in a single layer - if necessary you may need to use two so that they're in a single layer.

2) Bake at 400 for about an hour or until browned and tender, stirring a couple times. Cool slightly and place in a food processor, cover and process until almost smooth.

3) In a Dutch oven, add the pureed vegetables, broth, half and half, salt and cayenne, heat through - do not boil. If using, stir in chives. Garnish servings with sour cream if desired.

As I said above, I used my blender for the pureeing - I added the broth and vegetables and blended until smooth. I then transferred it to the pan and added the cream, salt and cayenne. Worked pretty well, and tasted darn good! :-D

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