butternut squash pudding & a peony project dinner

i am kelly

A few weeks ago, my beautiful friend Natalie (from A Tiny Traveler) invited me and a few other girls to a Peony Project Dinner!  

When Natalie asked if anyone could contribute to the dinner, I offered to make a side dish. But as the day came closer, I still had no idea what I was going to make.

After an extensive Google search, I eventually stumbled upon a recipe on Martha Stewart’s website for Butternut Squash Pudding. (It just so happened that I had a butternut squash in my fridge. Naturally, I had to try it.)

I will preface the rest of this post by saying that it turned out really well. I’ve learned to judge the success of my cooking on the number of bowls that Caleb has, and I’m happy to say that he had two.

However, this dish was very time consuming & I used a lot of eggs.

I always seem to forget to read all the directions (like the time I made a custard & forgot to read the part about baking it), and had just enough time to make it before the dinner started.

Once I started, I couldn’t turn back, so my only choice was to press on & hope for the best.

Ingredients: 

(For the Squash): 

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

(For the Bechamel): 

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup Flour
  • Salt & Pepper
(For the Pudding):
  • 1 stick of butter, melted, plus more for dish
  • Italian Style Breadcrumbs, for dish
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese 
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

1. Cut the squash in half (I cut one of my halves in half), seed it, and coat it with olive oil & salt & pepper. Put the halves on a cookie sheet & bake them in the oven at 425 degrees for 45 minutes (or until tender).

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2. While the squash is cooking, prepare the Bechamel sauce.

Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bubbles start popping up around the edges.

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At the same time, in a larger saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.

Once it melts, whisk in the flour until it is mixed completely with the butter. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes more, and then whisk in the milk. Whisk the roux/milk mixture constantly for about 10 minutes until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

(I had some trouble with this because my pan was too hot, so the roux clumped up once I added the milk. I used a fork to break up the clumps as I whisked, and it eventually thickened)

Refrigerate until chilled.

3. Once your squash is done, scoop out the flesh & puree it in a food processor. (Our blender stopped working, so I used our Ninja)

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4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and make the pudding.

Butter a 9X13 baking pan, and coat with breadcrumbs.

Beat the pureed squash, melted butter, eggs, yolks, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg until smooth. Fold in the Bechamel sauce, and season with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the squash mixture into your prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Place in a larger dish and fill with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.

(I didn’t have a dish larger than 9×13, so I stacked the dish with the squash mixture on another 9X13 dish & put enough water in the bottom dish to touch the top baking dish)

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 30 minutes. (Or until the top is golden brown & the center is firm)

Let it stand before serving.

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Looking back, I would have made the Bechamel sauce & the pudding mix the day before. Maybe next time? Maybe…

The Peony Project Dinner in itself was perfect. Natalie, Jess, and Betsy did such a wonderful job decorating & getting things ready for their guests. Even though Natalie & Jess’ apartment is on the smaller side, they made it so welcoming & cozy.

Dessert was also a plus. Isn’t it always though?

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We had soup, chicken salad & croissants, and the butternut squash pudding.Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

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In this season of my life, I thrive on fellowship & friendship. Actually, I don’t think I will ever not thrive on these two things…

However, since getting married and moving off campus, I feel like I have lost a bit of connection with other girls my age This dinner made me feel like I was truly a part of something real and good again.

For more pictures, go visit Betsy’s blog! 🙂

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tuesday

Happy happy Tuesday.

I hope your day has been as great as this cover of “Stars Fell On Alabama,” by Daniela Andrade & Hanbyul Kang.

Daniela is one of my favorite singers in this whole wide world.

Her cover of “Creep” is also pretty rad.

Today I spent a day with some of my favorite littles, and I heated up our very first freezer meal!

Chunky Chili. I hate the name, but it sure is tasty.

I took it out this morning, and defrosted it in the fridge. When I got home from work, I put it in a pot, and it heated up in about 20 minutes!

It tasted great, and we were able to share it with our good friend Sam. Even better.

I leave you with “The Moon Song.” Another one of my favorites. 🙂

-K

Fabada

soup

 When Caleb and I first started dating, one thing we both agreed upon was our love for soup.

Soup is a beautiful thing.

During my first (and also last) semester at Elim Bible Institute, Thursday (or was it Tuesday…) was designated as “Soup Day.” Everyone would line up after chapel, grab a bowl, pick a soup, and choose a piece of stale, yet delicious, bread. I loved soup then, and I love it now.

Soup played a big part in our lives during our run in with the “Clean Diet.” That pesky little thing that took every good and perfect food out of our diet, and the other food that we were allowed to eat was made into soup.  Hearty soups became a thing of the past, and soup no longer gave me the joy it once did.  I almost lost hope in soup…almost.

However, there are times when you come across a soup recipe that is so delectable it makes you wish you had a never ending soup pot. Kind of like the pasta pot in Strega Nona, but one that doesn’t cover an entire town in pasta.

This was that soup.

When we made our freezer meals this past weekend, Caleb was unsure about how it would turn out so we only made it once. Now I wish we had doubled the recipe. Nay, tripled.

Spicy Sausage & Bean Soup / “Fabada” (modified)

  • 8 cups Chicken Stock 
  • 1 can Lima Beans
  • 1 can Cannellini Beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 4 ounces Polska Kielbasa, sliced
  • 4 Spicy Italian Sausages, sliced
  • 8 Bacon Strips, diced
  • Pinch of dried thyme 
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • A couple handfuls of Orzo Pasta

1. Dice the bacon strips, and cook them in a large stock pot until crispy.

2. Remove the bacon from the stock pot, and add the Italian Sausage. Cook until brown & remove from pot.

3.  Add the onion and kielbasa, sprinkle with thyme, salt & pepper, and cook until the onions are soft.

4. Pour in the stock, beans, bacon pieces, and Italian Sausage. Bring to a boil, add the Orzo pasta, and lower the heat & simmer for half an hour – forty five minutes. 

5. Add more salt & pepper to taste.

Because the soup ended up being a little too watery, we also made a roux, and added it to the soup. We let it simmer on low for an extra 20 minutes, and the soup thickened up.

Because we used canned lima beans and cannellini beans, we were able to significantly reduce the cooking time, and since the kielbasa was already cooked, we cooked it just until it was crispy. The italian sausage gave the soup the spicy kick it needed, and was balanced out by the salty kielbasa. The bacon, of course, needs no explanation.

Caleb added the Orzo Pasta, which was also a great addition. You can add more or less pasta, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling that day.

I have never enjoyed cold soups, and while this would probably be labeled as a “winter soup,” it was perfect for a sleepy Sunday afternoon.

So, live a little. Go enjoy some soup.

xo

-Kelly

that time we made all the dinners

Because we’ve been so busy this summer with work and traveling, we were somehow able to put off buying groceries for a whole month. That’s right, a month. We’ve saved money, but this past week, things got a little desperate.

On Tuesday, I used the last pound of venison that was in our freezer, the rest of the potatoes that were shriveling up in the bottom drawer, and the two lonely eggs hanging out in their carton. Wednesday, we came home, sat on our couch, and after a few too many episodes of Family Ties, realized we hadn’t eaten dinner, and it was almost 9 p.m. I ate cereal. Caleb ate the last piece of meatloaf drenched in ketchup.

After a burger and fries from Sonic, I decided that we needed a change. Not only did we need to buy groceries, but I needed to find the motivation to cook. It’s easy to say that I’ll make time to prep crock pot meals before we leave for work in the morning, but let’s be real – waking up a half hour early is easier said than done. It’s awesome to think that I’ll want to cook something other than eggs and toast when we get home from work, but the only thing I want to do is curl up next to Milo and talk about his day.

That being said, we decided to try freezer meals.

Usually, if I want to know how to do something related to the home/kitchen, I start with Google and/or Pinterest. So that’s what I did. I discovered the Happy Money Saver Blog, and her post about making 50 freezer meals in one day. I could totally do thisI thought. So I did. *Correction* We did. Caleb did all of the dishes. 🙂

We started by picking a few recipes that we wanted to try, including a couple that blogger Karrie listed in her post.

Recipes: 

– Honey Lime Chicken (3)

– Honey Glazed Pork Chops (2)

– Corn & Zucchini Queso Chowder (1)

– Chunky Chili (2)

Spicy Sausage & Bean Soup (1)

After a trip to Aldi, a broken burner, and three hours of cooking later, we cooked enough for at least a week of meals. We usually have leftovers because we don’t eat as much as a family of four would, so they will most likely last us a bit longer, or at least provide us with some lunches. The number next to each recipe signifies how many times we multiplied the recipe. Caleb was unsure about the Corn & Zucchini Queso Chowder and the Spicy Sausage & Bean Soup, so we only made each soup once. This is what our freezer currently looks like:

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While we didn’t make fifty meals (I thought it might be a bit much for our first try), I’m really happy that we tried it, and that “making dinner” will be as easy as picking out a meal, and defrosting it/putting it in the slow cooker.

Hopefully the Corn & Zucchini Queso Chowder keeps well, and tastes good once we defrost it. Someone commented that freezing a milk based soup turns out grainy, and just didn’t work.

Ultimately, I think this is definitely something that I want to do again; especially once classes start up again, and I have even less time and energy. Three hours, of what is essentially prep work on a Saturday afternoon, is nothing compared to having to do the same prep work after a long day at work. It’s totally and completely worth it. It also helps to have a hardworking husband that is willing to follow you around with a sponge, and clean up spilled flour and dirty dishes.

If any of you have tried freezing meals – – – did it work for you?

What are some of your favorite recipes?

Party Planning, Shmarty Planning: Continued

I wrote a few weeks ago about my party planning battle, and I am here to say: it’s over. Yesterday came and went, and it went beautifully. Here are a few pictures to prove it:

Table Centerpieces

Food Table #1

Food Table #1

Food Table #2

Food Table #2

Lemon Mousse & Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

Lemon Mousse & Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

BRIDAL SHOWER 3

Party Favors

Party Favors

Gifts!

Gifts!

Orange Gift-Opening Couch

Orange Gift-Opening Couch

  I honestly don’t know how everything came together. I overslept & woke up at 8 (it’s a sad day when waking up at 8 is considered oversleeping), and realized I forgot to buy napkins and thumb tacks, and the favor boxes were yet to be filled. The room where the party was being held was set up like a classroom, and it took me an unnecessary amount of time to move too many heavy tables in one very short stripy dress. Ultimately, the only reason why this day was a success is because finally, at 11 a.m., the bride’s family and one of the other bridesmaids swooped in and helped bring all the ideas that were floating inside my head to life. And that’s the key to planning: Help. I hate help. I hate relying on other people. I hate asking people to spend/donate money. But you know what? Today I am grateful that I was able to delegate, and trust that somehow, other people would be able to see my vision. I suppose that’s how it needs to be with most things. To celebrate this party planning victory, Caleb & I took a trip to H Mart, a Korean market that we have been wanting to explore. It was definitely worth the 40 minute drive, and we came home with these treasure finds: H MART Pajeon was also had, and there was great rejoicing in the Anderson household. If you’re wondering what Pajeon is, go HERE: (http://www.eatyourkimchi.com/how-to-make-pajeon/)

Pajeon in the making

Pajeon in the making

Watch out, South Korea.

 

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Pizza

That’s how the saying goes, right?

Last night I caved in. I was tired from my first day of classes and an afternoon of four-year-olds, and didn’t feel like cooking. I simply wanted to watch another episode of Call The Midwife, and eat pizza. So that’s what I did.

Afterwards, I felt terrible.

I sat at the kitchen table and cried over the fact that I had just consumed four delicious, cheese and mushroom filled pieces of pizza. I must also mention that only a few minutes before eating the pizza, I was also locked out of the online test I had to take and got an automatic zero. Test on the first day of class? What? Oh, yes.

BUT: today is a brand new day. And I’ve learned a bit from this pizza fiasco.

  1.  The past four days have been difficult – two liquid meals and one solid meal a day is just as bad as it sounds, and it has been getting harder and harder to consume liquid vegetables. However, I have to remind myself that I am not alone. I bet there are a lot of people on the Clean diet that snuck in a piece four pieces of pizza. This is so important for me to remember, because I like to do things all on my own. I have never liked group projects- the pressure of relying on other people is overwhelming. I have a hard time asking for help, which most likely explains my inability to do mental math, word problems, and long division. Even during this cleanse, I can rally support from those around me, and I must remember that in my darkest pizza-craving hour.
  2. Not everything is going to be perfect. Last night Caleb called me a Perfectionist. Me? A Perfectionist? Yes. Just writing this small post has taken me almost the whole day. Over Christmas break my mother-in-law said to me, “if you can’t do the best, do the best that you can.” If my body cannot handle two liquid meals in a day, I can still stick to the Clean food list, and eat four pieces of delicious venison steak.
  3. Pizza is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I cannot wait to eat more after the cleanse.

As I type, a Wendy’s burger commercial is playing on Spotify.

I WAS LISTENING TO BON IVER, SPOTIFY. How rude.

Nonetheless, it has been a fantastic week so far. I’m excited to take more classes that actually have to do with my major (Early Childhood Education), and next week I start Field Experience! Yay! I am most excited to wear all of my new “teacher clothes” that I got for Christmas. Thanks, mom!

-Kelly

So long, Elimination Diet.

Yesterday was our last day on the Elimination Diet. Hallelujah!

We made it through one week, which proves that we can do this for three more. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I’m glad that we did the Elimination Diet before starting the Cleanse because it gave us a chance to try out shakes, soups, and other Clean recipes. We figured out what worked, and what we will never ever try ever again.

I also made a celebratory chocolate mousse, that ended up being so rich that I could only eat one bite. A celebratory chocolate mousse bite.

This morning we went to the Phoenixville Farmer’s Market, which turned out to be the lamest farmer’s market I’ve ever been to. In my mind I had pictured finding middle-aged women in overalls and sun hats, standing behind long tables filled with bountiful crates of fruits and vegetables.

Not even close.

It was under a bridge, it was raining, and old men were selling pre-packaged buffalo meat at $15/pound.

What is life.

They had some vegetables, but not much, so we left and found our vegetable utopia: Produce Junction.

Produce Junction is unlike any other place I’ve been to. There were mountains and mountains of fruits and vegetables at amazingly low prices. Might I add, all locally grown? What we didn’t realize is that you shop and stand in line simultaneously, paying for vegetables in one line, and fruits in another. However, after looking like Produce Junction newbies, we were able to buy all the produce we needed for the week (which is a lot), and only paid $30.

After finishing the Elimination Diet, I’ll be honest and say that I don’t really feel like much has changed, besides the fact that I have to pee every 20 minutes thanks to the 8 cups of water I now drink every day. I’m not looking to lose weight, but I hope that by the end of the next three weeks I’ll feel more energized, and will have better overall health. In the words of Outkast, I will be “So fresh and so clean clean.”

Peace & Love.

-Kelly