Butternut Squash Apple Soup

This recipe is based on a delicious soup I had at Whole Foods. Smooth, creamy, comforting—perfect for a rainy day! 

3 pounds butternut squash
2 apples, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream (coconut cream may also work)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds and pulp. Place squash halves facedown in a 9 x 13 glass pan. Pour 1 inch of water into the pan. Roast at 375° for about 1 hour, until tender.

Mix the apples, onion, garlic, and ginger in a 9 x 13 glass pan with enough olive oil to coat. Bake with the squash in the oven 45-60 minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are tender.

Scoop cooled squash into the blender, add the apple mixture and chicken broth and blend until smooth. Add the cream and blend again, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.*

When soup is smooth, transfer to a soup pot to warm up on low until ready to serve.

* You may wish to add some of the liquid when you transfer the soup to the pot instead, as the blender will be very full!

Variations on a Russian Teacake

As you can probably tell from the picture, these are not your ordinary Russian teacakes. What they may lack in snowy whiteness, however, they make up for in delicious flavor and gluten-free, naturally-sweetened goodness! The luscious, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth flavor is like a cross between a pecan sandie and a Russian teacake. These were such a big hit at Christmas, I decided they could qualify as a winter cookie, at least until Valentine’s! 😉

On another note, that lovely quilted and embroidered snowflake table decoration was made by someone very special who just opened her very own Etsy store! In fact, every one of the beautiful napkins and other decor in the background of my blog were all made by the fabulous and talented Elaine. Please visit her store, Anna Katherine Styles, to find your own lovely table runners, mug rugs, and specialty fabric purses. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can place an order and have it made specially for you!

And…here’s the recipe.

Russian Teacakes
revised from the original Betty Crocker recipe 

1 cup butter, softened*
1/2 cup powdered coconut sugar**
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup white rice flour 
3/4-1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup arrowroot 
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts and pecans 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered coconut sugar for rolling (about 1/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 400º. 
Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered coconut sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. 
Stir in flours, nuts, and salt until dough holds together (add more brown rice flour if dough is too sticky). 
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
Roll cooled cookies in powdered coconut sugar and place on serving plate. 

* If you’re like me, you don’t want to wait hours for the butter to soften! If you choose to melt the butter in a saucepan instead, refrigerate the dough about 10 minutes before attempting to roll into balls. The temperature of the butter is the key to a workable dough. If the butter is too warm, the dough will just fall apart and leave butter all over your hands. If you leave the dough in the fridge too long, it will be hard as a rock and you’ll need to let it sit out to soften the butter again!

 ** To make powdered coconut sugar, whirl regular coconut sugar in the blender until fine as dust. To minimize sugar dust in your kitchen, place a towel over the blender lid while blending and wait 5 to 10 minutes after blending before opening lid. 

Brown Rice Pancakes

Here are the pancakes to go with the previous post, Turkey Apple Breakfast Sausage. These have a tendency to crumble, but are so delicious it’s worth the trouble! Be sure to fry on medium-low, so they will cook through without burning.

Brown Rice Pancakes

2 cups brown rice flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder*
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon coconut oil
Olive oil or butter for frying

Mix all ingredients together, then oil a nonstick skillet and set to medium-low. When skillet is warm, spoon in the batter. Fry the pancakes till they bubble (they will begin to look less wet on top too), then flip them over and cook a few more minutes. When done, move pancakes onto a plate in the oven to keep warm (set at 200°). Repeat the process until batter is used up, oiling the pan between batches. Serve warm.

*If you prefer to avoid cornstarch, you can make your own baking powder using 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda. Mix up small batches, as it tends to clump over time.


Tahini Honey Bonbons

A long time ago I found a recipe for halvah in a Jewish recipe book at the library. It became one of my favorites since I was a teenager. When I could no longer eat grains or carob (and was also avoiding chocolate at the time), I modified the recipe to come up with this. The result was surprisingly delicious!

1 cup tahini
1/3 cup honey
1 1/3 cup unsweetened desiccated shredded coconut
1/2 cup cashew pieces
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together, roll into balls, and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Makes about 26 bonbons.