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Monthly Archives: November 2013

  • Butternut Squash Beef Soup

    Today I learned Butternut Squash is technically a fruit because it has seeds.  Butternut squash is low in fat, rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, high in potassium, vitamin B6 and folate.  While we usually roast it at home, I decided to add it to our beef soup recipe and the results were fantastic.


    To pick a good butternut squash, look for a hard, light-tan, unblemished one that feels heavy for its size.  If the outside rind looks too shiny, then it probably was picked too early and won't be as sweet as a full grown squash.  To store and keep fresh, store whole in a cool, dry place, outside of the refrigerator.  Butternut squash will keep for 3 months.

    Butternut Squash


    Butternut Squash Beef Soup
    Recipe Type: Soup
    Author: Xiomara Meeks
    Prep time:
    Cook time:
    Total time:
    Serves: 4
    • 6 cups water
    • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
    • 2 lbs chuck short ribs
    • 2 mild Italian sausage links
    • 1 tbsp recaito (recipe to follow or store bought in the frozen section)
    • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1 can chick peas, liquid drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 tbsp flour
    • 1/2 tbsp butter, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup red lentils
    • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
    • 2 tbsp Olive oil
    1. Removed meat from bones. Set bones aside. Using a heavy pot or dutch oven, brown meat on medium-high heat with Olive Oil.
    2. Add sausage, meat bones and water to pot and boil for 40 minutes.
    3. Add recaito, squash, garlic, chickpeas. Boil for 30 minutes.
    4. Mix flour with butter before adding it to pot. Add red lentils and cook for about 30 minutes.
    5. Serve in bowls and top with shredded cabbage.

    To make the recaito, you need a blender or a food processor.  Add four garlic cloves, a couple of culantro leaves, a cup of cilantro, one chopped green bell pepper and half of a medium sized onion.  There are many ways to make it, if you can't find culantro, you may double the cilantro.  Pulse in the blender or food processor until pureed.  Season with salt and keep refrigerated.  Enjoy!

  • Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

    As a mom of two little ones, we spend about 30 minutes after school going through their homework packets during the week.  In addition, I've purchased extra booklets to practice math and reading skills for both girls.  After watching this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

    about Changing Education Paradigms, I was inspired to bring math learning to a different level at home without pen and paper.  So instead, we used spoons and cup measurements to do our math.  I figured the reward of cupcakes would keep the girls entertained.

    pumpkin spice cupcakes

    Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
    Recipe Type: Baking
    Cuisine: Cupcakes
    Author: Xiomara Meeks
    Prep time:
    Cook time:
    Total time:
    Serves: 24
    Recipe from WomansDay November 2011
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp ground ginger
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 15-oz can pure pumpkin
    • 1/2 cup molasses
    • For frosting:
    • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    1. Heat oven to 350F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cloves. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter and the granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the pumpkin and the molasses. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.
    3. Divide the batter amount the muffin cups (about 1/4 cup each) and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to cool completely.
    4. To make frosting: Mix the whipping cream, sugar, salt and vanilla until frosting consistency. Frost the cupcakes and add any decorative sprinkles you like!


    After everything was baked and frosted, the kitchen was a mess and I still need to mop the floor, but the best part of having the girls help in making the cupcakes was seeing their reactions when tasting the mixes at different times.  They both thought the pumpkin puree was gross.  They enjoyed licking the sticky molasses off the measuring cups with their fingers.

    I'm not sure which part they liked best, the cupcake mixture or the whipped cream cheese frosting.  But I'm definitively glad they liked the cupcakes once they were all done.  While I could barely taste the ginger in the cupcakes, Piper was the first one to deem the cupcakes too spicy.  However, once she got the cupcake with the frosting, it no longer tasted spicy.

    I'm not going to lie.  Having the girls help in the kitchen is definitively something new to me.  It was a little more troublesome than it would have been if I had done it myself.  But in retrospect, I think this is something I'm going to try to incorporate to our family routine.  I got them to think about math in real life situations and not just on paper and they ate pumpkin!



  • Whistle Stop Chili

    We've had the Whistle Stop Chili at the market for a few years now.  A while back I brought a box home to try, but never got around to it.  While searching the kitchen cabinet, I found the box and finally decided to give it a go.  When I told my husband I was making chili at 5 o'clock, he instantly got a look on his face.  He also told me it was impossible to make good chili in such a short amount of time.  Little did he know, I had the Whistle Stop Chili starter.

    chili starter

    This dish dates back to the 1880s as a "poor people's food" and it all started in San Antonio, TX.  It was said the dish had as much pepper as chunks of meat.  Interestingly enough, chili is mostly served as an appetizer or side dish in today's restaurants.

    I followed the recipe on the back and cut it by half for the amount of meat I had.  I don't like red kidney beans, so I used Cannellini beans instead.  Cannellini beans are white kidney beans and I find them to be a bit creamier than their red kidney bean relative.  They are great in soups, stews and even in salads.  If you've never tried them, click here for 12 different ways to cook Cannellini beans.


    We had some roasted butternut squash leftovers, so I added it to our bowls and topped with cheddar cheese.  For the girls, I mashed the butternut squash in their bowls first, then added the chili.  They didn't even notice!  They enjoyed eating their meal and even asked for seconds.  Enjoy!


    Do you sneak veggies in your children's plates?

    How do you make your chili?

    Do you have a favorite bean?

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