Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Paninis

So this meal felt totally gourmet, totally healthy, and so delicious!  I love Skinnytaste.com.  She has so many great ideas, and when the recipe for this panini was featured, she had me sold with the title and the picture alone.  Here is the link: Asparagus Prosciutto Panini

Here is the picture:

copied and pasted from Skinnytaste.com (Her pictures are always so perfect.)

I am a sucker for new soup recipes and a sucker for great sandwiches.  I LOVE asparagus, and I LOVE ciabatta (we can buy fresh ciabatta every day here, and it is my favorite).  Recently, my awesome vegetable vender (you know, the one that can get jalapeños in a place where no one has even heard of them) got in a huge batch of butternut squash (also unheard of in this city).  This is the second time I have made this soup, and my family loves it.

I searched for recipes.  I realize you can really fancy this one up, but this is simple and I cannot get over how good a vegetable tastes by not adding a whole lot to it.  Here is the recipe I came up with after looking through several:

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 medium butternut squash
  • 2 liters of chicken broth
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 diced onion

1.  Cut the squash in halves, place on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for 1 hour (this is for high altitude).  After allowing them to cool, scoop the seeds out and separate the squash meat from the peel.  Set aside.

2.  While squash is baking, dice the onion and saute in oil until translucent.

3.  In a blender, blend squash, onion, and chicken broth in batches until you have a creamy consistency.  (if you want your squash a little thicker, add less broth obviously)

4.  Add the mixture to the original pot that you used for the onion and heat all the way through, stirring often.

(I have also made it a little thicker and added evaporated milk at the end to make it creamier–also delish.  And I am sure heavy cream with some butter to cook the onions would make this superbly good.)

Now for the delicious sandwich part, which my husband said, “These are really good!”  When I have Greg’s “really good” approval, I feel like a cooking champ.  🙂

Megan’s Grilled Chicken with Asparagus Paninis

  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts (which are huge here.  After cutting them into pieces I can make 10 of these sandwiches)
  • olive oil and your favorite meat seasoning (We LOVE Tex-Joy)
  • one bunch of asparagus (I layered three spears on each sandwich and still had some left to munch on)
  • mayo
  • 10 mozzarella slices
  • 10 ciabatta sandwich rolls or any other fresh bread that “smooshes” well)

1.  Cut chicken breasts into pieces, roll in olive oil and season.  Cook on grill for about 5 minutes on both sides (the thinner the pieces the better).

2.  Remove chicken to a warming platter, and grill asparagus (that has been rolled in olive oil and seasonings) for about 4-5 minutes (until crisp tender).  Hold off on eating those babies before assembling the sandwiches because they are soooo good!

3.  Make your garlic mayo (see Skinnytaste.com recipe) OR if you discover you are out of fresh garlic and garlic powder, just go with plain mayo.

4.  Assemble the sandwiches: bread bottom, chicken, mayo, asparagus, cheese, bread top.

5.  Press in your awesome panini maker (which I do not have) OR (if you are like me) grill them and place a heavy pot on top or use a large cookie sheet with heavy cans pressing down as hard as you can.  When cheese has melted, flip them and press down again.  Serve immediately.

Yummy. I could have stopped right here and just had grilled chicken and asparagus for lunch.
assembling the sandwiches

Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the final product.  To be honest, I was so hungry and they looked so good, I could not wait to dig in.  These were inspired by Skinnytaste.com but became my own.  Absolutely heavenly.  Maybe I should invest in a panini press.  😉

I wanted to add this last picture of Maggie to document that she LOVES this bowl my Granny sent her.  It has a straw as part of the plastic bowl.  Here she is slurping up that delicious squash…

So, does anyone have a butternut squash soup recipe that will rock our socks off?  I am up to buying it every other week, we like it so much.  Share in the comments, please!

Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Paninis

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

this will definitely be made again in our home

I love barbecue.  I come from the South where pork barbecue rules, and I come from an area where it is normal to put a big helping of slaw on your sandwich.  So when I saw this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, BARBECUE CHICKEN SANDWICHES, I had to try it.  I can’t find good pulled pork here in Arequipa, and I just so happened to buy fresh jalapeños from my awesome vegetable vendor (they are rare to find here).

simmering the whole chicken pieces with whole garlic cloves, onion, and sauce
it was impossible to not cheat and eat a little before serving them on the rolls
cilantro and jalapeño greatly compliment the flavor of the barbecue
good, tasty wheat roll, generous heap of chicken, and slaw

If you like barbecue, and you can take a little heat, try this one out.  It seems like a fun summer meal (even though we are in our winter season).

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

CT—13 months

This is definitely a little late, but I wanted to get a snapshot of Cohen in this month.  I will keep it short…

still not walking, but seems to be so close.  He loves to cruise, and he has just started standing alone for short times.  He is strong enough to walk, but doesn’t seem to be too interested.

He calls out for “Nana.”  Ana loves that he says her name.

All of my kids are a “momma’s baby,” but Cohen has been the most affectionate toward Greg at this age.  He says, “Da-dee.”

In this month Cohen had his first trip to the US.  He was his momma’s lap child for the entire trip. I hope to never do that again.  🙂  But on this trip he met two great-grandmothers.  That is impressive if you ask me.

One of my FAVORITE things he started doing this month happens in the morning.  I usually wake up to his little voice calling from his crib, “Momma-Da-dee.  Momma, Momma, MoMAH, DaDEE!”  It is quite precious.

Here are some shots of Cohen from earlier this month when we visited the US and this evening:

Cohen with his Great-Granddad and Great-Granny. I LOVE that my Granny is looking up at her great-grandson in this photo.
It is not everyday that you get a four-generation picture. We met with Great-Grandmother before heading to the airport on the way home.

CT—13 months

Resolution in Practice: Angola

I’m a big fan of the Angola Mission Team.  Those guys rock.

When I look at the hunger map, there is one section that screams at me.  It is actually a stunning pattern, when you step back from it, that strip of maroon running right down the middle of Africa.

Right there in the mix is Angola.  Read the short history to understand why.  Forty years of war is hard to fathom.

Pray for them.

Resolution in Practice: Angola

My Mother’s Day 2012

On Friday evening, two of the sweetest little girls in the world had a Mother’s Day performance.  Ana performed a Russian dance (which cracks me up that she was among all Peruvians dancing to a Russian song).  Maggie danced (or should I say, shook her skirt) to “Rock Around the Clock.”  They were adorable.  To add icing to the cake, they drew Maggie’s name out of the three-year-old class pot, and I won a gift basket!  I absolutely LOVE this picture of me with the girls.  Greg captured this moment, and I couldn’t ask for a more perfect genuine smile from each of my daughters.

Saturday, Greg told the kids they were taking Momma out for lunch.  Unfortunately, my little Cohenator had gotten worse over the course of the day.  We took him to see Judith and she saw that he had an ear infection.  Bummer.  He was a world-class traveler on our whirlwind trip to the states to see Granny Bills.  I am so thankful the sickness hit after we returned.  He is doing much better now (still on his antibiotic), but that 20 hours of traveling wore his little body out.  Here he is before we headed to the Nashville airport.  You would never HGH know that he would feel like he did on Saturday by the look of this picture.  Oh, and we ended up doing the Chili’s takeout.  This momma didn’t mind that.  🙂

with his Gram

On the actual day, our house church decided to meet later (4 pm instead of 2 pm) to just have dessert together instead of lunch.  We ate Peruvian pound cake with whipped cream and strawberries.  Two other moms are in our group, Anita and Etelvina.  Both of their daughters have become some of my good friends here.  It was a fun time, and Greg bought the three moms in our group bouquets of flowers (what a sweet husband he is!).  I attempted to get a photo with all three kids.  Miraculously, there is one with all three looking.  We had to give Cohen a Kit-Kat candy bar to not constantly squirm while sitting in my lap (that would explain why his fist is in his mouth).

So here I am Mother’s Day 2012 with my sweet McKinzie Three.  Ana is 5, Maggie is 2 months from turning 3, and Cohen is 13 months.  My cup overflows…

a miracle pic captured by their Daddy
My Mother’s Day 2012