Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Month: October 2015

Fall Harvest Soup

I love it when food captures the color and feeling of a season.  This fall harvest soup does just that.  It is warm and nourishing, and its color is a beautiful combination of deep orange and gold, much like the leaves that are falling off of the trees.  With butternut squash, potatoes, and carrots being the main ingredients, it if full of necessary vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to help us stay strong as the weather turns cold and damp.  Curry, ginger, and nutmeg give this soup a subtle flavor, along with a generous amount of ground peppercorns.  Because it is pureed in the blender or food processor, the texture is smooth and creamy, and you can serve it either in bowls or little glasses.  The garnish possibilities are endless, including chopped walnuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, shredded cheese, or sour cream.

fall harvest soup on purple benchThough I have made some changes, the recipe for this soup is based on one I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, simply called “Autumn,” by Susan Branch.  My cousin gave me this cookbook a few years ago, and I have enjoyed many of the recipes in it, along with beautiful illustrations and quotes.  This cousin is actually more like a sister to me, since she and I both grew up with three brothers and no sisters.  We are so different, yet so alike in many ways.  Food has the power to connect people, and every time I use a recipe from that cookbook she gave me, I think of her.  We live far apart now (the Atlantic Ocean is between us), yet we are able to stay connected.  She recently called me to wish me a happy birthday, and along with catching up about our families and our career accomplishments and aspirations, she told me about her latest favorite way to make butternut squash (which I want to try soon). The love of food is something we have shared for a long time, a love rooted in our shared past and our shared ancestors, and our shared favorite recipes.

fall harvest soup on railing 1No matter how much modern life seems to isolate us, or how much our busy schedules threaten to overtake our souls, food can bring us back to earth and connect us to those we love.  A humble vegetable like squash can make us feel like we have crossed continents.  Allowing time for washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables gives us time to think, to reminisce, or to talk with whomever is in the kitchen.  Homemade soup cannot be rushed.  Somehow soup that is not rushed tastes the best to me.  This soup is delicious–in its taste, in its color, and with all the associations it brings.  Wishing you all the beauty of fall.fall harvest soup on front porch 2 chopped vegetablesNick sniffing the walnutsfall grasses

Fall Harvest Soup

  • Servings: 8-10
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Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes or 4-5 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • about 5 cups of butternut squash (one medium-sized squash or about 2 and 1/2 pounds), peeled and cubed, with seeds cut away
  • 6 cups of chicken broth or stock (I like the Better than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 teaspoon of curry
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped walnuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, shredded cheese, or sour cream for garnish

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Over medium heat, saute the onion and carrot until soft, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the potatoes and squash.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 40 minutes.  Add the curry, nutmeg, and ginger.  Let the soup cool for a few minutes.  In a food processor or blender, puree the soup in batches.  Return the soup to the pot and add salt and pepper to your taste.  Adjust the other seasonings if you wish.  Serve in bowls with spoons, or in little glasses to sip.  Enjoy!

Chocolate and Chia Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are moist, rich in flavor, and full of good things like oats, chia seeds, chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla.  They somehow bridge that gap between healthy and luxurious, and they always disappear quickly at my house.

The weather has definitely turned in the past few days, and it feels more and more like fall and less and less like a lingering summer.  The blustery wind is blowing leaves off the trees, and the trees themselves are becoming so colorful, seemingly overnight.  The sunsets have been stunning and dramatic lately, and they are occurring earlier and earlier.  Now I get to watch the sunsets as I am walking with my soccer-mom walking buddies, and our kids end up practicing soccer in the twilight, not stopping until dark.  Last night’s sky was especially dramatic, with windswept clouds turning from gray to dark orange, making the colorful leaves look even more vibrant in the glowing light.  There is something cozy about spending time with friends outside in the dark, while our kids run and chase and laugh.

oatmeal cookies with chips 7Chilly days and nights call for jackets, hats, gloves, and cookies!  This cookie recipe is a favorite of mine, because the cookies turn out so delicious, and there are some healthy ingredients in there too.  It is based on a recipe I found on the inside of the lid to my Quaker oats container, though I have made a few changes, including adding chia seeds and chocolate chips.  I have noticed an improvement in the taste and texture of my baked goods since I have been using butter from grass-fed cows (I have mentioned this before), and the nutritional value of such butter is improved.  The oat and whole wheat flour provide fiber, vitamins and minerals, while the chia seeds contain vitamins and minerals, protein, antioxidants, and Omega-3 (good) fatty acids.

oatmeal cookies with flowers 3Just like with everyone, there is a lot going on right now, a lot of balls in the air, so to speak, and sometimes I find myself worrying about things I cannot control.  Although I know I am not supposed to do that, sometimes I do it before I realize I am doing it.  That’s when it’s important to be aware of my thoughts, take a step back, and get some perspective.  We all have different ways of gaining perspective.  For me it helps to go outside and exercise, bake, talk to a trusted person, or read.  And this dramatic weather is really something that can make a person feel emotional. It is sometimes essential to just drop everything and get out into the gorgeous autumn and be in the present moment.  There is nothing like the present moment to give a person some healthy perspective.    red mapleI always turn to one of my favorite poems at this time of year to put this feeling into words, and I know I shared this excerpt last year in October.  But I will share it once again, because I love it so much, and it is so fitting right now.  It is the third stanza of “A Vagabond Song” by Bliss Carman:  “There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;/We must rise and follow her,/ when from every hill of flame/ she calls and calls each vagabond by name.”  I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and that you get a chance to get out and experience the beauty of October, along with the comforts of warm cookies and a cup of your favorite drink.oatmeal cookes with flowers and chipsoatmeal cookies with flowers and chips overviewI am sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Effie at Food Daydreaming and Lindy at Lindy Mechefske.

Oatmeal Cookies With Chocolate and Chia

  • Servings: about 4 dozen cookies
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) plus 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour (you can also use whole wheat pastry flour if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, mix (I like to mix them by hand, but you can use an electric mixer if you like) the butter and the sugars until smooth and creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and stir vigorously, until well-combined.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and chia seeds.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the butter mixture.  Stir until well-combined.  Then stir in the oats.  Mix again until the oats are incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips, until well-combined.

Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets.  Bake in your 350-degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.  Let them cool 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, store them tightly covered.  Enjoy!

Apple and Pear Mini Galettes

Apples and pears are so delicious and abundant this time of year.  These little galettes are full of the quintessential fall flavors of succulent baked apples and pears, surrounded by tender pastry.  Because they are mini, they are just the right size for one person, and great for dessert, a snack, or even breakfast. Because the fruit is so fresh and flavorful, these galettes do not need a lot of ingredients.

At the height of autumn, there is so much beauty and bounty from nature.  And there are people who love the bounty and want to share it.  My daughter and I were at a farmers market in a nearby town recently, where we encountered a farm stand I had never seen before at this market.  The woman there had piles of pumpkins and squash, and baskets heaped with red, ripe tomatoes and beautiful pears.  Her prices were so low, she was almost giving the produce away, and I could tell she really wanted people to use and enjoy her fruits and vegetables.  I bought a basket of ripe, golden pears from her, though the price was so low it truly felt like a gift.  A couple of days later, my mother brought us a bag of apples from the iconic cider mill in the town where I grew up.  I have so many memories of going to that cider mill as a kid, of sitting along the river and drinking that fresh cider from paper cups and eating doughnuts from a paper bag.

apple and pear galettes on baking sheet with fruitAnyway, I knew I had to do something with this fruit to honor its goodness and the generous spirit in which it was given.  Since I am slightly obsessed with galettes this year, I wanted to try these two archetypal fall fruits in galettes.  I am so glad I did, because they tasted wonderful, and my kitchen smelled amazingly good while they were baking.  Also, since galettes are considered rustic, I don’t feel a lot of pressure to make them look perfect.  The taste is of paramount importance though, and the fruit stands out nicely.   My family smiled and ate them up.  Good thing I captured them in photographs before anyone else got home!

pear galetteI hope you are enjoying the abundance of fall and the joy of generosity.  Small acts of kindness can make someone’s day.  A beautiful basket of pears, a bag of fresh apples, a pear or apple galette, or even just a smile.  It makes me think of that bumper sticker that says, “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” or something close to that.  Receive graciously. Pass it on.  I hope you all have a beautiful weekend!

pearsI am sharing these seasonal galettes with the lovely bloggers at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #89, co-hosted today by Mila @ Milk and Bun  and Kaila @ GF Life 24/7. raw apple and pear galettesapple and pear galettes with fruit and coffeeapple and pear galettes on purple bench 1heart rock

Apple and Pear Mini Galettes

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients:

For the apple filling:

  • 2 cups of apple, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (or to taste)

For the pear filling:

  • 2 cups of pear, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of flour

For the crusts:

  • 2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2/3 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 to 7 tablespoon of cold water

For the egg wash:

  • one egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Directions:

Wash, peel, and thinly slice the apples.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and flour.  Wash, peel, and thinly slice the pears.  In another small mixing bowl, combine the pears, sugar, and flour.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt.  Gradually cut in the butter with a fork or a pastry cutter, combining until the mixture has the consistency of peas.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cold water over the dough, and gently toss with a fork.  Repeat until the dough is moistened, but not so wet that it is slimy.  If you add too much water, add a little flour.  Work the water through just until the dough is a nice, soft texture, but don’t over-work it.  Divide the dough in half, forming two balls.  Set one ball aside.  Divide the other ball into four smaller balls of about equal size.  On a lightly floured surface, flatten a small ball with the palm of your hand.  Then roll the dough from the center to the edges, forming a circle of about 6 inches in diameter.  Do the same thing with the remaining 3 small balls of dough.  When you have four 6-inch circles of dough, spoon the apple mixture onto the center of the circles, distributing it evenly and leaving about a 2-inch border of dough around the circles.  Gently fold the edges of the dough around the fruit, pleating all the way around the edges.  Transfer the galettes to one of the baking sheets.

Clean any residual dough off the floured surface, and sprinkle more flour on it.  Take the second large ball of dough and repeat the above process, making 4 six-inch circles of dough.  Spoon the pear mixture onto these four circles.  There may be a lot of pear juice at the bottom of the bowl, so try to spoon out the fruit, leaving as much juice as possible in the bowl.  Repeat the folding and pleating process and transfer the pear galettes to the other baking sheet.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and add a tablespoon of water.  With a pastry brush, brush the edges of the galette crusts with the egg wash.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the crusts are lightly golden and the fruit is bubbly.  Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired. Enjoy! 

Apple Pie with a Hint of Plum

This delicious pie showcases seasonal apples with a touch of extra sweetness from plums.  It is now the month of October and prime apple season here, as well as the very tail end of plum season.  I like to use apples in as many ways as possible at this time of year, and making pies is one of my favorite ways.  Apple pies are such an iconic part of celebrating fall.  I have a few juicy plums lingering in my kitchen from the end of summer, so I added a cup of sliced plums to the apple pie filling, to jazz it up a little.  It was a great combination, with the plums just adding a hint of a slightly different type of sweetness.  Too many plums, and the crust may have gotten soggy, but this was just the right amount.

apple plum pie with pie plate 3Pies symbolize so many different things to different people, but to me they symbolize celebration and comfort.  There were (and still are) always pies around at big family gatherings, and lots of the women in my family were and are great pie-makers, from my grandma, my great aunt and my husband’s grandma, to my mother and aunt, who still make incredible pies.

apple pie with plums 4Some people may think of making pies as old-fashioned, or overly domestic, but to me it is empowering to be able to make something that others love so much, and to be able to use fruit that grows so close to home, wrap it in a delicious pastry, and be able to nourish people in such a healthy, natural, and beautiful way.  While cherry pie was my father’s favorite, and my mother, my brothers, my kids, and I like pretty much every kind of pie, apple pie is my husband’s all-time favorite.  He loved the bit of plums in this pie as well.

raw pie crustPie crust can be a bit of a challenge, but it is a worthy challenge.  The recipe I am sharing below is one that works well for me.  Although it turns out slightly different every time, and some crusts are prettier than others, it always tastes wonderful.  I like to use unsalted butter from grass-fed cows for my pie crust.  I also sometimes make it with canola oil, which is good too.  If I use some whole wheat flour (which I like to do sometimes), the crust does not hold together as well, but it still tastes good.  If I want the crust to look extra-pretty, I use unbleached all-purpose flour.

apples and plums in bowlI hope you are all enjoying the beautiful fall weather, and the fruits and vegetables of fall too. This is such an incredible time of year!  “Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling, give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard.” ~Walt Whitman

Have a great weekend!

apples and plums in bowlpeeled applesapple plum pie in pie plateapple plum pie against blueThis week, Angie’s Fiesta Friday is co-hosted by Julie @ Hostess at Heart and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, & Spoons. I look forward to checking out some inspiration there! 

Apple Pie with a Hint of Plum

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients:

For the Filling

  • 5 cups of apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of plums, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

For the Pie Crust

  • 2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2/3 cup of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6-7 tablespoons of cold water

Directions:

Wash, peel, and slice the fruit, and place it in a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar, flour, and cinnamon, and stir to combine.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  In another large mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt.  With a fork or pastry cutter, cut in the butter and combine, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs about the size of peas.  Gradually add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork to combine. Add water and toss with fork until all the dough is uniformly moistened. Divide the dough into two equal-sized balls. On a lightly floured surface (I often flour a large sheet of waxed paper on my counter and roll the dough out on it–the dough doesn’t stick to it as much), press one of the dough balls down with the palm of your hand. Then roll it into a circle, from the center to the edges, about 12 inches in diameter.  Roll the dough onto a floured rolling pin and gently unroll it into a 9-inch pie baking plate.  Try not to stretch the dough too much.  If it tears, patch it with more dough.  Then roll out the second ball of dough, the same way as the first one.  Pour the fruit filling into the pie plate.  Ease that second 12-inch circle of dough from the floured rolling pin to the top of the fruit filling.  Gently fold the top crust under the bottom crust, all the way around the plate.  Then flute the edges as best you can.  Patch any tears with extra dough.  With a fork, poke several tiny holes in the top of the crust to allow air to come through. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.

Cover the edges of the pie crust with foil, to avoid over-browning. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil, and then bake another 18-25 minutes, or until the crust is just golden and fruit is tender.  Allow to cool before slicing.  Enjoy!