Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Copycat Panera Bread Autumn Squash Soup

I just made plans with a good friend to meet for lunch at Panera Bread; her next statement was, "I hope they still have the Autumn Squash Soup!"  I asked if it were good, she couldn't believe I hadn't heard about it. Well, I had missed this.  I used to frequent Panera on in-service days, but gave up the extended lunch  to catch up on my work.  The next thing I knew as I was scrolling through social media I saw a video of someone trying to make a copycat version.

I took this as a sign to find a recipe and try to make it. A quick search uncovered 10 such recipes.  I looked through them for similarities and differences. Some used red peppers; some didn't; some used apple juice; some used apple cider.  I mixed up the recipes to fit what I had at home as I was waiting for the furnace technician to come.  The spices and honey make a huge difference in flavor so don't skip them (I tried prior to adding them because I was cold).

The result was an amazing soup!  It was perfect for lunch on that cold, rainy October day. My husband enjoyed it as well...he can be picky about how I prepare squash.  This is defiantly worth the peeling and cutting of the butternut squash; if you are pressed for time, you can get your squash peeled and cubed already in the produce section of many grocery stores. 

  • butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks.
  • onion, diced
  • red pepper
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 t curry powder
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • pumpkin seeds, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. Peel and seed squash.  Cut into chunks. Peel and dice onion.  Dice red pepper.
  3. Place squash, onion, red pepper on a baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with 1 T olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Puree roasted veggies in blender.  (I use a Vitamix)
  5. In a large soup pot, combine squash puree, pumpkin, vegetable broth, and apple cider.  Bring to a low boil.
  6. Whisk in cream.  Bring back to boil.
  7. Add honey and spices. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. 
  8. Garnish with pumpkin seeds. 

The salad and half sandwich make me feel like I am at Panera! 

TIME: 30 minutes prep (lots of veggies to cut and roast); 45 minutes cooking time
SOURCE: a hodgepodge of internet recipes 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Butternut Squash Casserole

It's time for the "parade of squash" as my husband calls it.  Fall is when my CSA pick-ups are filled with squash of different shapes, sizes, and colors.  I love squash and all its nutritional benefits. Filled with Vitamin A, B6, and C, as well as fiber and potassium, butternut squash provides a healthy punch in a small package.

I usually make soup from the butternut squash, but I wanted to try something different. This creamy casserole appeared to be a great side for  a big holiday feast.  After trying it, I know it will be a great sweet addition to our Thanksgiving table in the same way that the baked pineapple has become a Christmas staple.

The original recipe I found recommended peeling and cubing the squash; then, boiling it for about 15 minutes.  I don't have time to cube that squash so I'll be halving it and roasting it with a bit of water until it's tender. Roasting will take longer, but I can do other work as it bakes.  Additionally, I cut the sugar amount from 1/2 cup since I know how sweet butternut squash can be.  Another option would be to trade sugar for maple syrup to change the flavor.
A few other recipes included toppings of Rice Krispies mixed with butter or Nilla Wafers mixed with butter and browned to add a finished look for the table. When I reheated too long in the microwave (oops!), I added some applesauce which was delicious too.


  • 1 large butternut squash, roasted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 t nutmeg, ground
  • 1 cup pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Scoop inside of roasted squash.
  3. Add to bowl, beat.
  4. Add other ingredients.  Mix well.
  5. Place in prepared dish. Bake for 35 minutes. 
Yum-reheating in the microwave with some apple sauce was awesome!

TIME: 45 minutes prep (includes roasting), 35 minutes baking time
SOURCE: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/creamy-butternut-squash-casserole

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Jiffy Hands Pear Bread

In my real life, I teach second graders.  The first day of fall means a whole new set of books on display in my classroom.  Without hesitation, I will read Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears by Cynthia Rylant. I love Mr. Putter, his fine cat Tabby, busy Mrs. Teaberry, and Zeke the dog! When my children are through with Mr. Putter, I will have to find a way to continue reading them to anyone who will listen.

The Pick the Pears book finds Mr. Putter unable to pick pears because of some "cranky knees," but he does have some "jiffy hands" to get rid of the pears littering the ground. The book ends with Mr. Putter being surprised by wonderful, fall baked goods.

As I picked up my CSA box with 4 not-so-ripe looking pears, I thought, "What can I do with these overripe pears?"  A quick Google search of those exact words showed me tons of ideas, but the bread seemed best for our family.  It will be a great treat as we enjoyed reading and listening to the adventures of Mr. Putter.

Those pears have seen better days!

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  •  1 t salt
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 pears
  • 1 t vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. 
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  3. Peel and core the pears.  Grate them. Set aside.
  4. Combine butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and pears.  Mix well.
  5. Add pear mixture to dry mixture.  Combine well.  Add nuts. Mix.
  6. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes; until a toothpick come out clean.
  7. Cool bread on wire rack. 

TIME: 20 minute prep time; 60 minutes baking time
SOURCE: My search led me here: http://www.thekitchn.com/falls-other-fruit-8-things-to-131549