Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tea Party Time

On the Menu
 
Angelique:  We have family in town and everyone wants to meet them.
Joyce:  So we're going to get all girlie and throw a tea party!
Angelique:  But we don't want any old bags there.
Joyce:  Angelique!  That is not nice.
Angelique:  Ma, I'm talking about tea bags.
Joyce:  Oh, right.  No.  We don't use tea bags.  We're recommending you stop by your local Teavana and test out some of their lovely loose teas.
Angelique: They'll let you taste them, usually have some fresh stuff brewed for you to test and they'll even show you how to whip up fresh tea without the bag.
Joyce:  What I appreciate most about Teavana is that the teas are organic, though not certified by the USDA.
Angelique:  But now let's get down to the food.  Do we really have to do those little sandwiches?
Joyce:  Yes, the cucumber sandwiches are a tradition.  It's a thin spread and they're quite tasty.
Angelique:  And wouldn't fill up a 4 year old.  How about we add a nice salmon finger sandwich too? Cause me and my friends like to eat.
Joyce:  Fine.  Now on to another tea time tradition - Scones!
Angelique:  Ma, you've never made a scone in your life.
Joyce:  No, but I've got a great recipe and we're going to try it.
Angelique:  Can't I just whip up some biscuits and jam?  Same thing.
Joyce:  Absolutely not!  You are not about to embarrass me.  But you can drive down to Trader Joe's and buy a few bags of their orange cranberry scones just in case.


Angelique & Joyce 
 
 Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwich

4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients
½ seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced very thin (32 slices)
¼ cup mint leaves, loosely packed
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup cream cheese, room temperature
16 slices white/wheat bread
Sea salt to taste

Notes:
·         Allow 4 – 6 cut sandwich servings per person.
·         Select the best quality white or wheat bread.
·         Freeze the bread before cutting.
·         Bread slices should be lightly buttered, no matter what filling you are using.
·         Always use unsalted butter
·         Cut crusts off the bread with a long, sharp knife after the sandwiches are filled.
·         Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then into fourths.

Method
Place cucumber slices between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Rinse mint leaves, blot dry with paper towels and chop fine.
In a small bowl, combine mint, butter and cream cheese.
Spread on one side of each slice of bread.
Lay cucumber slices onto the buttered side of 8 slices of bread.  Sprinkle lightly with salt if desired.  Top with the remaining slices of bread, buttered side down.
Cut the crusts off the bread with a long sharp knife.
Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then again into fourths.



Note: If making sandwiches ahead of time, cover them loosely with a sheet of wax paper and then place a damp towel over the wax paper.

 Salmon Pate Tea Sandwich


4 – 6 Servings
Ingredients
1 can salmon (7 ounce)
¼ cup red onion chopped, fine
¼ cup celery, chopped, fine
¼ cup dill, chopped, fine
¼ cup cucumber, chopped, fine
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
16 slices white/wheat bread
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Notes:
  • Allow 4 – 6 cut sandwich servings per person.
  • Select the best quality white or wheat bread.
  • Freeze the bread before cutting.
  • Always use unsalted butter
  • Bread slices should be lightly buttered, no matter what filling you are using.
  • Cut crusts off the bread with a long, sharp knife after the sandwiches are filled.
  • Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then into fourths.
Method
Drain salmon, remove any bones and skin.  Place salmon in a bowl, and mash with a fork.  Add all the remaining ingredients mix thoroughly then refrigerate while preparing the bread.
Spread butter lightly on one side of each slice of bread, then spread a thin layer of the salmon pate on 8 slices of bread. Top with the remaining 8 slices of bread, buttered side down.
Cut the crusts off the bread with a long sharp knife.
Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then again into fourths.

Note: If making sandwiches ahead of time, cover them loosely with a sheet of wax paper and then place a damp towel over the wax paper.

  Orange Cranberry Scones

12 Servings

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ Cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup cold butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


Method
 Preheat oven 400 degree F. 
In a bowl, thoroughly  combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Cut in butter till crumbly with a fork or pastry knife.
Gently stir in buttermilk just long enough to combine all ingredients.
Fold in cranberries and orange zest. Do not over work the dough.
Turn onto a floured surface and divide into two parts.
Cut each part into six pieces and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Brush scones with orange juice.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on the top of each scone.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

You can also cut them into circles with a round cookie cutter, but the baking time will be less if you place them on the baking sheet not touching each other.






Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwich


 Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwich

4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients
½ seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced very thin (32 slices)
¼ cup mint leaves, loosely packed
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup cream cheese, room temperature
16 slices white/wheat bread
Sea salt to taste

Notes:
·         Allow 4 – 6 cut sandwich servings per person.
·         Select the best quality white or wheat bread.
·         Freeze the bread before cutting.
·         Bread slices should be lightly buttered, no matter what filling you are using.
·         Always use unsalted butter
·         Cut crusts off the bread with a long, sharp knife after the sandwiches are filled.
·         Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then into fourths.

Method
Place cucumber slices between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Rinse mint leaves, blot dry with paper towels and chop fine.
In a small bowl, combine mint, butter and cream cheese.
Spread on one side of each slice of bread.
Lay cucumber slices onto the buttered side of 8 slices of bread.  Sprinkle lightly with salt if desired.  Top with the remaining slices of bread, buttered side down.
Cut the crusts off the bread with a long sharp knife.
Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then again into fourths.

Note: 
If making sandwiches ahead of time, cover them loosely with a sheet of wax paper and then place a damp towel over the wax paper.

Salmon Pate Tea Sandwich

 Salmon Pate Tea Sandwich

4 – 6 Servings
Ingredients
1 can salmon (7 ounce)
¼ cup red onion chopped, fine
¼ cup celery, chopped, fine
¼ cup dill, chopped, fine
¼ cup cucumber, chopped, fine
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
16 slices white/wheat bread
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Notes:
  • Allow 4 – 6 cut sandwich servings per person.
  • Select the best quality white or wheat bread.
  • Freeze the bread before cutting.
  • Always use unsalted butter
  • Bread slices should be lightly buttered, no matter what filling you are using.
  • Cut crusts off the bread with a long, sharp knife after the sandwiches are filled.
  • Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then into fourths.
Method
Drain salmon, remove any bones and skin.  Place salmon in a bowl, and mash with a fork.  Add all the remaining ingredients mix thoroughly then refrigerate while preparing the bread.
Spread butter lightly on one side of each slice of bread, then spread a thin layer of the salmon pate on 8 slices of bread. Top with the remaining 8 slices of bread, buttered side down.
Cut the crusts off the bread with a long sharp knife.
Cut sandwiches in half on the diagonal then again into fourths.

Note: If making sandwiches ahead of time, cover them loosely with a sheet of wax paper and then place a damp towel over the wax paper.

Orange Cranberry Scones

  Orange Cranberry Scones
12 Servings

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ Cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick cold butter, sliced
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup dried orange cranberries
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method
 Preheat oven 400 degree F. 
In a bowl, thoroughly  combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Cut in butter till crumbly with a fork or pastry knife.
Gently stir in buttermilk just long enough to combine all ingredients.
Fold in cranberries and orange zest. Do not over work the dough.
Turn onto a floured surface and divide into two parts.
Cut each part into six pieces and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Brush scones with orange juice.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on the top of each scone.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

You can also cut them into circles with a round cookie cutter, but the baking time will be less if you place them on the baking sheet not touching each other.


Monday, February 25, 2013

16 Tips to Looking & Feeling Great!



by: Jesse Cannone

Do you want to look and feel better than you have in years – maybe better than
you ever have before? Do you want to protect yourself from disease and injury?
And do you want to live a longer, more vital life? I’m confident that you answered YES! to each of those questions, just as the hundreds of individuals I’ve counseled, coached, and trained in my career as a Certified Personal Fitness
Trainer and Rehabilitation Specialist. I’m now going to reveal to you the 16 essential strategies that have enabled my clients to achieve the health and fitness goals they always wanted!

1. In the beginning, your fitness program should not be overly aggressive. One of the biggest problems people encounter when starting a fitness program is rapidly depleted motivation after only a few weeks due to an overly ambitious fitness program. Attempting to do too much too fast is worse than doing nothing at all! Because then you feel like exercise is too hard and it’s just not for you.

Start out slow, maybe just shooting for 1 or 2 workouts a week. Once you have successfully added that to your normal routine, then attempt to slowly add to your fitness program. Plus, most people don’t need to exercise more than 3-4 times a week. That doesn’t mean you can’t exercise more; it’s just not necessary.


2. Always have a detailed plan! In order to reach your health and fitness goals, you must have a road map to follow. I can’t stress this enough. If you are unsure of how to put together a fitness plan, or if you’re uncertain of the effectiveness of the one you have, I highly recommend you consult a professional fitness trainer. With a well thought out plan you are much more likely to be successful!

3. Set realistic, attainable goals. You must have tangible, quantifiable, short and long-term goals so you can measure and assess your progress. Too many people have totally unrealistic expectations of what to expect from an exercise and nutrition program. The best way for you to understand what is realistic and attainable is to talk with a fitness professional – not to buy into the “hype” of infomercials and diet and fitness products that are blatantly misleading.

4. Keep a journal! This is one of the most important things you can do. If you’re not tracking what you’re doing, how will you know what worked? There are quite a few great exercise and nutrition logs I’ve come across. You should keep track of all your exercise and also each day’s food intake. There’s a company called NutraBiotics that makes a great 90-day journal that can be used to track strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and daily nutrition. If you would like more information on this journal, please feel free to call me at 240-731-3724.


5. You must be accountable! Set exercise appointments with yourself if you’re not working with a personal fitness trainer. Use your appointment book to set aside times for exercise, just like you do for meetings or events. Don’t let things get in the way. Nothing is more important than your health! If you don’t have your health you can’t effectively do anything. I often have mothers tell me that they can’t find time to exercise because they have to take care of their children. I have 4 daughters myself, and a baby on the way, so I know exactly how hard it is. Whatever your situation is, making the commitment to exercise and your health IS possible, and very important. Plus, it sets a great example for the children!

6. Remember the benefits of exercise. Being physically fit affects every aspect of your life: you sleep better, eat better, love better, overcome stress better, work better, communicate better, and live better! Remember how good it feels to finish a workout, and how great it feels to meet your goals!

7. Exercise safely and correctly. So much time is wasted doing, at best, unproductive exercise, or at worst, dangerous exercise. Educate yourself on how to exercise correctly. The best way to do that is to hire a personal fitness trainer. It could be for just a few sessions to learn the basics, or it could be for a few months to learn everything. It’s completely up to you. But statistics prove that those who understand how to exercise correctly get better, faster results. And that’s what you want, right?

8. Enjoy your exercise! For example, if you hate doing strength training, try to find ways to make it more enjoyable. Circuit training might be a more fun and exciting way to fit this important part of fitness into your program. The key is you should enjoy it, and if you don’t you need to look for other exercises or activities to replace whatever it is you don’t enjoy.
If you don’t enjoy it, how do you expect to stick with it?

9. Make time to stretch! It has so much benefit and takes very little time. So many people suffer from various aches and pains of which most can be eliminated by basic stretches! Try to spend at least 5 minutes after each workout stretching. For more information on stretching and how it eliminates aches and pains, please call 240-731-3724 to request a FREE copy of my special report “No More Back Pain”.



10. Don’t think you need to exercise 5 days a week! I touched on this earlier. Many people feel they’re getting fat because they’re not exercising. Totally not the case! Exercise is not the answer! It’s all in your eating habits. However, exercise can aid in burning body fat, plus there are numerous health benefits. Think of exercise as a bonus. How many people do you know who exercise 3-5 times per week, but still fail to meet their weight loss and fitness goals? I’ve met hundreds!

First look at your eating habits, such as: when you eat, what you eat, how much you eat, where you eat, and how often you eat.

11. Never skip breakfast, or any meal! If you want to maximize your fitness or fat-loss efforts you’ve got to eat breakfast! So many people skip breakfast, and it’s the worst thing you could ever do when it comes to fat-loss. Skipping meals throws your blood sugar all out of whack and it sets you up to store your next meal as fat, almost guaranteed!

12. Eat fat to lose fat. Healthy fats are necessary to your body for numerous reasons: regulating hormonal production, improving immune function, lowering total cholesterol, and providing the basics for healthy hair, nails, and skin.


13. Drink plenty of fresh, clean water. Yes, I know that you have probably heard this one over and over again. But there’s a reason for that – it’s that important! The recommended daily intake of water is 8 glasses, or 64 oz. You should even be drinking even more if you are active or exercise regularly.

And no, soda, juice, coffee, and tea DON’T count! Nearly every chemical process place in your body, takes place in water! Proper blood flow and digestion are both affected by how much water you drink, and poor blood flow and digestion can be linked to numerous health conditions.

14. Stabilize your blood sugar! If you want to burn fat and prevent your body from putting it back on, you must stabilize your blood sugar. In order to do this you need to eat small, balanced meals or snacks every 2-3 hours.


 Fasting, skipping meals, and overly restrictive diets will enable you to lose weight – in the short run. The weight you lose is primarily water weight and muscle tissue, and in the long run has opposite effect of what you want. When you restrict your diet, your body instinctively thinks it’s being starved and shifts into a protective mode by slowing down the metabolism and storing nearly all calories as body fat. Plus, losing muscle tissue is the last thing you want to do. Muscle burns calories, even while you sleep. You should be focused on increasing, or at least maintaining muscle tissue.

15. Focus on increasing muscle tissue. As I mentioned previously, muscle burns calories, so if you want to increase your metabolism, you have to  increase your muscle. The best way to do that is with progressive strength training. That doesn’t mean you have to join a gym, buy expensive fitness equipment, or follow some bodybuilding workout program; it simply means you need to challenge your muscles! You can do that at home in just 15-20 minutes, 2-3 
times a week.

 
16. Get the help of an expert! Obviously, meeting your health and fitness goals is important to you, so why not eliminate the guesswork and start seeing the results you have always wanted? With the help of a qualified professional you can!

If your car breaks down, where do you take it? Mechanic, right? How about if you have a cavity? Dentist. So why is it that so many people attempt to solve their health and fitness problems without consulting an expert? I don’t know exactly, but I encourage you to make the investment in yourself- in your life- by hiring a professional to educate you and help you meet your goals.

So there you have it. The 16 essential strategies for an effective weight loss and fitness program that will have you looking and feeling great!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sunday Dinner February 24, 2013

On the Menu

Savory Pot Roast Potatoes & Carrots
6 - 8 Servings
Ingredients 
5 to 6 pound pot roast (rump)
salt to taste
Savory Spice Rub – Recipe to follow
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cup vegetable stock
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds potatoes peeled and diced
1 pound carrots, sliced – about the same thickness as the potatoes

Savory Spice Rub
2 tablespoons of mixed whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
½  tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Method 
Season the roast with salt and sit aside. 
Place the peppercorns, coriander, cumin and onion flakes in a coffee/spice grinder, grind until seeds are cracked add the remaining spices and sugar and grind until they are well mixed.
Place the spices in a large dish or bowl and roll roast in spices until well coated.  Wrap roast in plastic wrap or foil and let marinate over night. 
Heat a large pot on high, add the oil, once the oil is heated, add the roast and brown on all sides.  Lower the heat and add the vegetable stock, onions and garlic.  Cover with a tightly fitting lid and let simmer.
After 1 hour of cooking, turn roast with tongs (do not pierce with a fork because you will release the juices), cook another 30 minutes and turn again.  After 1½   hours of cooking, add the potatoes and carrots, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until potatoes are fork tender. 

Plating:  On a very large platter, place the roast and surround it with the vegetables.  
A nice little twist is to use sweet potatoes or yams instead of white potatoes.

Winter Squash and Apple Soup
6–8 Servings

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon dry
2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 teaspoon dry
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 acorn squash (about 1¾ lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into ½″ cubes
   or any hard winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, spaghetti, etc.)
2 Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into ½″ cubes
1 ½ teaspoon sea salt  
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Method
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat add onion, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Add ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add curry powder, squash, apples, salt and pepper, and cook about 2 minutes. 
Add stock, and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until squash and apples are tender, stirring occasionally.
Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup and then return it to the pot. Stir in the lime juice, cover and keep warm.

Note:  Soup can be cooked 2 days in advance, just reheat and puree prior to serving.

 Asparagus and Arugula Spring Salad
6 - 8 Servings

Ingredients
1 pound slender asparagus, tough ends trimmed
10 ounces arugula
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
1 ½ ounces shaved Parmesan cheese
For the Vinaigrette Dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon granulated garlic

Method
Preheat oven to 400°F
Whisk the dressing ingredients in small bowl to blend, cover and refrigerate.
Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes and re-whisk before using.
Place asparagus spears on a baking sheet. Drizzle ¼ cup vinaigrette over and turn to coat, then spread in single layer.  
Roast asparagus until just crisp/tender, about 8 - 12 minutes, depending on size.
Cut asparagus in thirds on the bias.
Combine arugula, asparagus and sun dried tomatoes in large bowl.
Add remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Transfer salad to platter; add shaved cheese.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Avoid Packing On Winter Weight!

On the Menu

Angelique:  I love this time of year because we all curl up in front of the TV and eat like pigs.
Joyce:  Yes, even in health conscious LA where it's 75 degrees today, we indulge in winter comfort foods.
Angelique:  There's nothing wrong with it until Spring comes and you realize the only thing you can fit are your fat clothes hanging waay in the back of the closet.
Joyce:  We've got a remedy for that.  It's called soup and salad.   A nice healthy soup and salad will help you control your appetite and eat less when the steak and potatoes come.
Angelique: "Why would I want to eat a lot of salad and not have room to eat all my steak?"
Joyce:  Well because if you're at a restaurant, the portion size they're serving you is probably 2 or maybe 3 meals worth of food anyway.  Split it up and eat the rest later.
Angelique: Then at the next meal you eat your healthy salad, soup and a little more of the steak and potatoes.
Joyce:  By the end of the day, you've gotten in lots of vegetables.  And you've taken 1 big meal and split it into 2 or 3.  Which means by the end of winter, you'll be wearing your skinny clothes.
Angelique:  Even Progresso is touting that soup makes you lose weight.  Though we would not recommend any of those salt-filled, processed soups.
Joyce:  We've got all kinds of great recipes for soup.  Make a few pots and freeze them for the winter.
Angelique:  And don't forget if you're piling on the cheese, meat and ranch, you're missing the point of the salad.  It's supposed to be healthy and light.
Joyce 
And while you're sitting on the sofa watching your shows pick up hand weights or cans during commercials and work out those arms.
Angelique
yeah, mom's going to have arms like Angela Basset as much as she watches TV. 

Soulful Eating!

Angelique & Joyce


 
 Kale and Romaine Salad
4 – 6 Servings
Ingredients
1 bunch kale
1 bunch romaine lettuce
2 mandarin oranges
½ red bell pepper, sliced thin
½ yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method
Combine all vegetables and fruit in a large bowl.
Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined and dressing thickens.
Pour over salad, and let it marinate for an hour before serving.
Toss again before serving.
 
 
Red Leaf Lettuce with Mandarin Oranges
4 Servings
Ingredients
1 head red leaf lettuce
½ red bell pepper, sliced thin
3 mandarin oranges, segmented
1 orange juiced, ½ cup
½ lemon, juiced, 1 tablespoon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon crushed red chili peppers

Method
Place lettuce, pepper and orange segments in a medium bowl.
Whisk together the orange and lemon juice, olive oil, salt, garlic and chili peppers.
Pour over salad just prior to serving. 
 
 
Israeli Salad
4 - 6 Servings
Ingredients
1 English cucumber, seeded, diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded, diced
¼ cup red onions, diced
 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil  
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method
Place all vegetables and dill in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice olive oil and sea salt until dressing thickens.   Pour dressing over salad and add some fresh ground pepper.  Mix thoroughly and let it marinate in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving.
 
Ethiopian Lentil Stew Yield: 6 – 8 servings
Note: Traditionally this stew is made with red lentils, I just didn't have any.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 medium chopped red onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 ½ tablespoons Berbere spice
4 cups water
2 cups dried lentils
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Hot cooked brown basmati rice

Method
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan and cook 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Add ginger and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in tomatoes and Berbere spice, cook 1 minute, stirring to combine.
Gradually add water, and whisk until blended. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a simmer.
Rinse lentils until cold water and drain. Add lentils and salt to pot and simmer, partially covered, 45 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
Once lentils are done, stir in the cilantro and remove from heat.
Serve over brown basmati rice.
 
Split Pea Soup
Yield 6 - 8 Servings
Ingredients                                               
3 quarts water
1 large bay leaf
1 pound split peas
1 large potato, peeled, quartered
1 large carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ground fennel (cumin or rosemary)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method
Roughly cut potatoes and carrots because they will be pureed
In a large stockpot, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low and cover. 
Cook for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until everything is soft; when soup is done, remove the bay leaf.
Remove pot from the heat; if you have an immersion blender (hand wand) puree soup in the pot.
If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender and puree, then return soup to the pot. 
Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Continue cooking uncovered an additional 15 minutes or until the soup reaches the desired thickness.  Keep in mind that once the soup sets, it will become twice as thick.
 
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Yields 8 - 10 servings

Ingredients 4 pounds butternut squash
1 jumbo sweet potato
1 tablespoon sea salt – Divided
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup olive oil – Divided
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice mix
1 gallon vegetable broth – recipe to follow Preparation
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Slice squash lengthwise and remove seeds  Wash sweet potato and cut in half lengthwise Brush the inside of the potato & squash lightly with olive oil then sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Bake in oven 45 minutes or until tender.  The potato will get done before the squash, so remove it when it’s done.  Once they are cool enough to handle, remove skin from the potato and scoop the squash out of its skin with a tablespoon.  Mash both the potato and squash with a potato masher. Add vegetable broth to a large stockpot and place over medium heat.  Add mashed vegetables to the broth.  Sprinkle in the remaining salt, coriander and pumpkin spice then mix thoroughly.  Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Cook uncovered 30 - 45 minutes or until soup thickens, stirring occasionally.  If you have an immersion blender (hand blender), puree the soup in the pot.  If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender and puree; then return it to the pot.  Check for seasoning and add pumpkin spice/salt – ½ teaspoon at a time if needed.  Bring the soup back up to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Continue cooking uncovered an additional 15 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness.  Keep in mind that once the soup sets, it will become twice as thick.