spicy butternut squash + carrot soup + spooning tips

This is my go-to crowd pleaser butternut squash soup. Very easy to make, versatile and packs so much delicious goodness. My secret is adding in a TON of ginger to make the soup really pop with flavor and spiciness. 

spicy butternut squash soup

I generally always like to keep a butternut squash around. Besides the beautiful big yellow gourd always staring me down, frankly a squash nearby just makes me feel comfortable.  I know people can get hung up on squash because it does take a couple of steps to get to usable chopped segments. However I would say, it is worth it every time, and after a little concerted practice, the peeling de-seeding and chopping can speed up significantly. I recommend a strong vegetable peeler, a sturdy spoon to scrape the inside contents, and a sharp large knife for chopping. 

spooning tip

Do you find it hard to slow down during a meal? Put your spoon down in between bites! Use this pause to help you slow down and finish savoring and tasting your last bite. You can also use this little pause to take a moment to take a deep breath and re-focus on the present moment and your experience of eating. 

butternut squash soup with carrots and ginger

Ingredients
-1 small-medium butternut squash
-1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
- 2 -3 medium carrots
- 3 (or more) tablespoons of finely chopped ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 6 cups vegetable soup stock

Garnish
-blue cheese, sesame seeds, red pepper chili flakes

Instructions
in a large pot simmer the ginger and oil on low heat for 3 minutes, then add the chopped carrots and butternut squash. Let all the ingredients simmer on medium heat for about 30mins or until soft. Make sure the soup stock level is at or slightly above the vegetable pieces. Use an immersion blender to  mix all the ingredients.  Garnish and enjoy!

 

ginger carrot cupcakes + wedding love

 

The best thing about carrot cake is how moist and creamy they turn out compared to other cakes. These little treats have amazing flavor depth and a little texture to keep it interesting. The roasted pecans, take this creation to another level. I've said it before and I'll say it again, roast your nuts friends, it makes all the difference in the world.  

I made for my dear friends' wedding last summer. The test runs all spring kept my friends happy, and my fiance in a near-diabetes state. This was the most professional baking situation I've ever gotten myself into. It turns out that baking 200 cupcakes takes a really long time. My saving grace was that I ended up with an amazing army of helpers that helped me enormously. (I need to give a shout out to the mother of the groom who let me destroy her kitchen for an afternoon)  

Photo Credits: Meg Haley (http://www.meghaleyweddings.com)  You should check out this amazing photographer!  

ginger carrot cupcakes

Serving: makes 25 cupcakes (I'll spare you the 200 serving version)

ingredients
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon (i go heavy)
- 1 tablespoon of very finely shredded ginger (or ground)
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup roasted pecans (mix with a little sugar before roasting for 5 min)
optional: golden raisins

frosting
- 8oz butter
- 8oz cream cheese
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- a little milk to thin if needed

instructions
1. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices into one bowl. Then mix the sugars, oil and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Then add in the carrots to the sugar mix, then add in the dry mix one half at a time.  
2. Transfer the cupcake mix to greased cupcake tins or use cupcake liners. Bake at 350F for 20-25 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
3. Combine all the frosting ingredients, use a little milk if you'd like to thin out the frosting a little. An electric mixer helps here!  Make sure the cupcakes are absolutely, completely, 100% cool before you frost these puppies. My trick is to pop them in the freezer to speed up the process.

design notes: I used an inexpensive frosting bag and tips (you can get these from most big grocery stores) to create the frosting swirls. Also I added little orange food coloring to some of the frosting, and chopped some extra pecans for the garnish!