Iron Chef: Butternut Squash Edition

Let it be known, I am just about the least “crunchy,” granola person alive.

Contrary my fellow guest blogger Chelsea’s philosophies, my own lean more towards western medicine, convenience, and the love of all things fried. In my baby album, there is a photo titled “Lauren’s First Whataburger.” My nurture and nature both gravitate towards frozen pizza and the belief that a little BPA never hurt anybody.

But I try, I honestly do. I’d like to be more healthy – for myself, for nine-month-old human life I am now responsible for, for the too-small clothes that have been hanging in my closet untouched for far too long. Which is why I recently (after a three year hiatus) rejoined our local Bountiful Baskets fruit and veggie co-op. (Thank you to both Chelsea and Shauna for inspiring me!)

It’s a fantastic deal: You get about $50 worth of fruits and veggies for $15, and all you have to do is volunteer occasionally to help keep the thing running.

My two most recent hauls:

Note: In the second picture, I chose an “add on” with more fruit, so it’s more than the standard amount you usually receive.

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ASIDE:  It occurred to me only recently why I like this co-op concept: Volunteering. Getting more for less money. A shared common group working together for the common good. Sound familiar? Oh yeah, I work for one of those. 😉

 

(A note from my boss, Mr. Mansur: “The food co-op program is exceedingly similar to a credit union. Credit unions are a cooperative; not-for-profit but for service, volunteers commit to help make it work; with their only compensation being the satisfaction of helping fellow friends. Credit unions help people get money at a lower cost than they would at the traditional financial institution-bank. The BB and a credit union have many common features that make each one successful.”)

 

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

The only downside?

 

I am NOT a chef. I’ve never really liked cooking, and introducing foreign healthy objects has become a challenge. Luckily, my husband is far more skilled in this area, and has involved me in our own version of Iron Chef to use up all this fantastic produce.

 

Our best creation so far: Butternut Squash Soup, topped with bacon, goat cheese and chives (NOM).
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Recipe (originally found here):

Ingredients:

    • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 slices bacon, diced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Soupt:
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, or more, to taste
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  • Place butternut squash, onion, bell pepper and bacon in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
  • Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender, stirring at halftime.*
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add butternut squash mixture and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chicken stock and puree with an immersion blender.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with bacon, goat cheese and chives, if desired.

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