6 Ingredient Carrot Squash Soup

I am struck by fall every year. 

fall

Let's face it, the beauty of fall is complex and emotional, and perhaps that's part of it's allure. The whole notion of finding and appreciating such breathtaking beauty amid decay is complicated. The mood is such a departure from the carefree days of summer. 

farmers market squash

The food is also so different. Fall's harvest has such a different look and flavor profile from the bounty of produce that we pick in summer. Think of a delicate raspberry side by side with a hearty pumpkin. So when I stroll through the farmer's market and see long tables of squash and gourds, it officially hits me that summer is gone and it's time to usher in the new season. 

Nothing says fall like a flavorful soup made from root veggies, so that's exactly what I decided to make recently. But I don't want fall soups that put me into a winter hibernation. We're not there yet. I don't want fall soups that are too heavy or creamy. They should provide comfort to take the slight edge off of the newly chilly air. They also need to be easy and fast, because let's face it: with the general chaos of a new school year, there just isn't time for anything complicated. Carrot squash soup to the rescue!

carrots for soup

This soup has just 6 ingredients, it can be prepped and served in under an hour and though I made the most recent batch with chicken stock, this recipe can be made completely vegetarian.

carrot squash soup

6 Ingredient Carrot Squash Soup

Here's what you'll need:  
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 pound of butternut squash chunks (from one medium butternut squash, or from a package of already prepped chunks)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
32 ounces of stock (chicken or vegetable) 
2 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish: fresh sage and croutons

Here's what to do: 
In a soup pot on medium high heat, add the olive oil. After a few moments add the onions and reduce heat to medium. Stir until the onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the carrots, squash and stock. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft (about 25 minutes). Add the sage. Using a stick blender, puree the soup right in the pot. If you don't have a stick blender, you can puree this soup using a traditional blender, working in batches. Add salt and pepper to taste if you'd like. 

Carrot Squash Soup

Back To School Lunches

So here we are at the end of September. I don't know about you, but for me, September is always a nightmare. Here's something that I hear all the time: "the kids are back to school, we're getting into a routine, things feel a little easier but omg. I can't believe I have to pack lunches every.single.day." 

Yeah, I get it. Lunches don't pack themselves, and it can feel like a chore. I designed the LaLa Lunchbox app to make that chore easier for parents (more about that here) but I also understand that some parents don't want to get kids involved in the lunch packing process. Handing over the reins doesn't mean you let your kid choose from everything under the sun. With the app, there's still division of responsibility; parents control what's available and kids choose from that selection. But of course, there isn't one way to pack school lunch and the world is big enough for all of us. 

Over on The feedfeed, I'm curating the school lunch feed designed to inspire all types of lunch packers. Below is a little sneak peak of what's new there... Hop on over, check it out and share with your fellow lunch packers! We're all in this together. 

Don't forget to follow along on Instagram where I share lunches and other food adventures daily. 

Leftover Pancakes

Leftover Pancakes

Antipasto from @happykidlunches

Antipasto from @happykidlunches

Deconstructed Taco from @onmykidsplate

Deconstructed Taco from @onmykidsplate

Pasta with Eggs

Between work and the early evening shuffling to tae kwon do, gymnastics or whatever else, getting a healthy dinner on the table quickly feels overwhelming at times. You too? One of my go-to weeknight dinners when I'm short on time has just four ingredients, takes less than 30 minutes to pull together and is really affordable. Here's my favorite part: all five of my family members love it! 

Spinach noodles with egg

Spinach noodles with egg

eggs

Pasta with Eggs came about one night when I started making carbonara and realized that I didn't have bacon. The process to make it is nearly identical, but this version has neither bacon nor cheese. Since that evening, this has become a staple in my house and my kids love to take the leftovers for lunch. Eggs are versatile, delicious, and nutritionally dense. One large egg has a satisfying 6 grams of protein and is high in vitamin B2 so even when I'm serving what seems like plain pasta for dinner, it is anything but plain. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that eggs are dear to my heart. (also, collecting them with my daughter on a recent farmstay was seriously cool!)

But back to the pasta... the four ingredients you'll need are pasta, eggs, butter and salt. I'm sharing my recipe with you now and hope that it serves you as well as it has served me for years. You can make it completely dairy free by substituting oil for butter. 

Here's what you'll need: 
1 pound of pasta (fresh or dry will work) 
3 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of coarse salt

Here's how to do it:
1. Cook the pasta as directed, reserve 1/8 cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Drain the rest of the pasta and set it aside as well. Here I'm using fresh spinach noodles, but really, anything will do. I've also made this with gluten free, bean pasta and it's delicious!

cooked and drained pasta.jpg

2. Add the butter to the pot that you used to cook the pasta and turn the heat on medium low. 

melt butter

3. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir to combine the melted butter. Add the reserved cooking water and then slowly add the eggs. 

adding eggs to pasta

4. When you've added the whole eggs and the egg yolk, stir with a wooden spoon to break the yolks, add the salt and combine into the pasta. 

raw eggs in the pasta

5. With the heat still on medium low, keep stirring until the eggs just cook. It will form a rich, creamy sauce. Taste it to determine whether you'd like to add more salt (or add pepper). You might have some small egg clumps. That's okay. They're still delicious! Check to make sure the temperature on your stove isn't too high. 

Stirring Pasta with Eggs

6. Have patience. It takes about 7-10 minutes of low heat for the sauce to set. These are best eaten immediately, but my kids also love them cold for lunch the next day. 

Enjoy! 

Pasta with Egg

Strata, Your New Best Friend

Eggs

If there's one thing all 5 of us always agree on, it's eggs. Strata is basically a frittata with bread and I love it because I can make it ahead of time and just reheat for dinner and I can also pop it into the lunchboxes! Score! 

I've made strata with spinach and with broccoli. I've made it with cheddar cheese and goat cheese. I've made it with olives and chick peas. But the version I keep coming back to has just tomatoes, basil and cheese. It's like having an egg and tomato sandwich with cheese, only better. Way better. Here's another thing I love about strata: it's a great way to use up bread that's getting stale. (here's another use for that)

Strata

Here's what you'll need: 
10 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of crusty bread, cut into one inch cubes
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Optional: 1/2 cup shredded cheese or goat cheese

Strata slice

Here's what to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt
3. Add the bread and combine so that the bread is totally soaked in. You can pop this in the refrigerator for 2+ hours or proceed from here. 
4. Add the tomatoes, basil (and cheese, if using) to the bowl. Combine thoroughly. 
5. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat. Swirl the oil to coat the bottom and the sides. 
6. Pour the mixture into the skillet, and make sure everything is evenly spread. 
7. Bake until the eggs are completely set and the edges are golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. 
8. Let the Strata cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.
9. Use a spatula to flip it out of the pan onto a board and serve. 

Back to School (again!)

shutterstock_302176205.jpg

September kicks my butt every year. And though every August I try to will it away and tell myself that this year will be different, it never seems to work out that way. 

The fact is, everything is a struggle in September. It stinks to get back into a routine, and it's hard work to figure out who has to be where and when on which day. On my crankiest days, I even have a problem adjusting to the weather change — and I love fall. 

Its underatandable, then, that just a month or so into a new school year, parents are already over packing school lunch.

Listen, I'm totally with you. I'm over here trying to get my work done, showing up for curriculum night, returning long overdue library books and remembering to buy sneakers in the right size for each kid (how on earth do feet grow so quickly in summer?!). I might have three brain cells left to dedicate to lunch packing. 

I definitely don't have all of the answers, but I have some tips up my sleeve to share with you, and I promise, they don't require more than three brain cells to process.  If you're looking for some lunchbox inspiration, head over to Instagram, where I share loads of lunches regularly. If you're looking for allergy friendly ideas, I've got you covered

Produce Prep

1. Cut your fruit and veggies in advance. Just do it. If setting aside the time is hard, I understand. It's probably not the best thing to do on, say, a Monday morning before school and work. How about at some point on the weekend though? Buy your produce during the week and set up shop with your cutting board and your knife for 20 minutes on the weekend. Your future self will be incredibly grateful. I love produce prep not only because it makes my lunchpacking and cooking easier, but also because it's quiet solo time for me. I take it where I can get it, so I'm calling it a win-win. 

Packed Lunch

2. Stop reinventing the wheel. You really don't need to come up with something new and interesting for lunch all the time. Your kids can do all of that heavy lifting for you. If it's a busy week ahead for me, I let my kids know what's available for them to choose based on what I know I'll have time to pack. Sometimes that's yogurt, fruit, veggies and frozen waffles. Sometimes it's more elaborate. My kids use the LaLa Lunchbox app, but however you hand over the reigns to your brood, make it a system that works for you. 

Using LaLa Lunchbox

3. Meal Plan. The LaLa Lunchbox meal planning app is the only one that involves kids in the process of choosing what's for lunch. It's a fun, simple and interactive platform that engages kids, empowering them to make better choices when it comes to the food they eat. For parents, it generates an easy-to-use grocery list to help them stay organized and on top of their lunch game. The best part is, it's free to download (only available right now on iOS). Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

School lunch can be challenging, but we're in this together. However you handle it at your house, I'm wishing you the best.