Butternut Squash

Sky Castle Gastro Lounge Review

Looking for a casual restaurant, with an upbeat vibe, and upscale, but affordable food? Look no further than Lakeview’s newest Foodie Haven… Sky Castle Gastro Lounge!  Chef Haller Magee has upgraded Lakeview’s culinary offerings in an innovative way that is guaranteed to be a neighborhood favorite!

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What Did I Sample?

For Snacks our table devoured the Roasted Cauliflower and Radish Toast!  Both are highly recommended!  The snacks added enough flavor to wet my appetite while leaving room for my entrée!

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As for main dishes, it was all about the red meat!  The Sky Castle Burger could be up for awards in the near future!  And that’s saying a lot since Birmingham is home to some pretty fine burgers!  The homemade bread and butter pickles paired nicely with the tomato jam, caramelized onions, and smoked cheddar cheese! It’s a triple threat guaranteed to give you flavor explosion!

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I can also personally vouch for the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs that were served with a butternut squash puree and charred brussels sprouts! The short ribs were packed with flavor and seasoned with perfection! Well done Sky Castle!!!

What a great environment to watch your favorite sports team, catch up with good friends, and celebrate good food!  Great memories will be had at Sky Castle Gastro Lounge! This establishment adds new personality to the Birmingham food scene!

Recipe Recommendation - Golden Winter Soup!

A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday, the weather was brisk and I was extremely tired from the previous week, so I was in the mood for a warm, comforting meal.  I was in the mood for potato soup, but when I was looking for a new recipe to try, a recipe named “Golden Winter Soup” caught my eye!

Butternut squash has an odd shape, a cream-colored outer shell, and a highly nutritious, pumpkin-like center.  Butternut squash is considered a starchy vegetable because 90% of its total calories are derived from the carbohydrate family.  One serving of butternut squash provides the body with 298% of your daily recommended value of vitamin A, 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, and 3 grams (11%) of fiber in every serving.  The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components of butternut squash put it in the spotlight for cancer prevention & treatment.

Butternut squash also provides the body with certain minerals.  One serving contains 14% of daily recommended value of manganese, a mineral that is important in metabolizing proteins and fat.  Other minerals that are present include, potassium, which supports muscle action, and magnesium which plays a role in cell formation.

Let the cooking process began:

After cubing the butternut squash, I peeled and cubed the russet potatoes and melted butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

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Once butter was melted I added the butternut squash, russet potatoes, salt, and pepper to the dutch over and sautéed for approximately 3 minutes.

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While the mixture was on the stove, I added 1 chopped leek and sautéed for another minute before stirring in 4 cups vegetable broth.  The recipe calls for chicken broth (which I had also purchased) so to be honest, using vegetable broth was by mistake! I just wasn't paying attention when I pulled the broth out of the cabinet! Once broth was added, it was brought to a boil and simmered for 20 minutes.

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The recipe instructs you to place half of the potato mixture in a blender.  To make the process easier, I removed the soup from the stove, and used my Hand-held Blender.  This drastically reduced the time and effort needed to pull of this soup.

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I submerged the blender in the dutch oven and puréed the soup until it had a smooth consistency.  The consistency is also a place in this recipe that you can make adjustments according to your preferences.  I like my soups to have a little texture to them so I left a few pieces in small chunks.

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And finally, I stir in 1 cup of half-and-half until mixed well. Cover to keep soup warm until served! I served this soup with a slice of Havarti cheese bread for ease, but you could also pair this soup with baked potato, salad, or half of a sandwich or panini!

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This recipe leaves room for you to be creative in how you serve it!   Great for a dinner party because it is easy to make and makes a large portion. Mike and I had a large bowl for a total of 3 meals and I still had to throw some of the soup out! But since we both loved the soup so much, we "filed" it in our favorite column to have again soon!

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Golden Winter Soup

Recipe by: Cooking Light

2 tablespoons butter 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds) 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium) 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 1 cup half-and-half 12 ounces baguette, cut into 16 slices 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese 3 tablespoons chopped chives Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatter). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.

Recipe Review: Quick Fall Minestrone Soup

With the temperature slowly dropping and the holidays are around the corner, my desire for comfort food is evident.  Comfort food means different things to different people, but to me, comfort food means a dish is warm, satisfying, inviting, and hearty.  This week’s recipe caught my attention because of the variety of hearty ingredients, ease of preparing, and the warmth that soup brings to a table. This week’s recipe review is a “Quick Fall Minestrone” soup from Cooking Light.  The preparation for this dish was extremely easy because it mainly consisted of chopping vegetables and opening a can of beans!  The most time consuming part of the prep work was cutting the butternut squash and taking the skin off the potato.

I really liked the fact that this soup incorporated BUTTERNUT SQUASH. Unfortunately, a lot of individuals steer clear of butternut squash because of its odd shape that can be intimidating. But don’t let that keep you away from incorporating this fall favorite into your meals. A few simple steps and you will have cubed butternut squash in no time!  Connect to the following link for easy to follow instructions:

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_cut_a_butternut_squash/

The other star ingredient in this recipe is KALE!  Kale is a leafy, green vegetable that belongs to a family of veggies that include collards, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.  Kale can be spotted at your local grocery throughout the year, however, it is more widely available, and at its peak, from late fall through the beginning of spring.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and is a cruciferous veggie you should consider eating up to 4-5 times per week, with an average serving size of 2 cups.  Kale can provide a significant source of vitamin K which is the key nutrient in lowering your risk of chronic inflammation.  Recent research indicated that 45 different antioxidant flavonoids are found in measurable amounts of kale which is the key that makes kale rank high on the list of cancer-preventative foods.

If you are considering picking up kale on your next grocery trip, it is important to know what to look for when choosing this vegetable.  Fresh kale will have firm, smaller-sized, deeply colored leaves, hardy stems that are moist, no signs of wilting leaves, and free from browning, yellowing, or small holes.  Kale should be displayed in a cool environment to prevent warmer temperatures from negatively affecting the flavor.

Improper storage can bring out a bitter flavor in kale.  To properly store this vegetable, place unwashed kale in a plastic storage bag and remove as much trapped air as possible.  Avoid washing kale before storing to prevent spoilage.  Kale will typically keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

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Recipe Review Summary: This soup was over-the-top DELICIOUS! I must say, it ranks on the top of my list of recipes I’ve recently reviewed!  It is a broth based soup, but due to the starch in the potatoes, butternut squash, and orzo, the broth had a creamy texture.  The kale added next text and a fresh flavor.  I served the soup with a Tomato, Bacon, and Havarti Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Mike and I each enjoyed a bowl, as well as, I’ve packed us each a bowl for lunch and put 3 bowls worth in the freezer for a later date so this recipe would make plenty for a large family with no problem!

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Quick Fall Minestrone Soup

www.cookinglight.com

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups soup and 1 tablespoon cheese)

Ingredients

  • 1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 6  cups  vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2  cups  (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 1/2  cups  (3/4-inch) cubed peeled baking potato
  • 1  cup  (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/4 pound)
  • 1/2  cup  diced carrot
  • 1  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  cups  chopped kale
  • 1/2  cup  uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1  (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 1/2 minutes or until tender. Add broth and the next 7 ingredients (broth through salt); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Add kale, orzo, and beans; cook 5 minutes or until orzo is done and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with cheese.