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October 6: Midday Fix - Candice Kumai

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Candace Kumai

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Creamy Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 5 cups)
2 apples (like Fuji), halved, cored, and roughly chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice plus extra for serving
Nonfat Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)

Directions:
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they're caramelized, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the squash and apples and cook until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Pour in 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the apples and squash are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring often to make sure the squash doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Transfer some of the soup to a blender (don't fill the blender more than 2/3 full with hot soup, otherwise the steam will force the lid off and you'll have a butternut mess on you walls!), add 1/4 of the almond milk, the maple syrup, and pie spices. Pulse to release some heat, and then blend until smooth. Pour the soup into a clean pot and repeat with the remaining soup and remaining almond milk, dividing it into 2 batches (so you don't overfill the blender) if necessary. If the soup looks too thick, add up to 1/2 cup of additional chicken broth. Heat the soup until warmed through and serve -- I love it with a dollop of yogurt and extra pie spice sprinkled over the top.
The versatility of this soup is amazing! Serve it as soup, a sauce for ravioli, a dipping sauce for grilled cheese, or in mini portions as an appetizer topped with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt and a dash of fresh-grated nutmeg on top.

Roasted Fig + Proscuitto Flatbreads
Serves 8, appetizer portion

Ingredients:
8 fresh figs, tough stem removed and halved
1 Tablespoon honey
2 cups + 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 store-bought whole wheat pizza dough
4 ounces fresh goat cheese (Chevre)
1 cup arugula
6 slices prosciutto

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425F. Toss the figs in a baking dish or sheet tray with 1 Tablespoon honey and 1 Tablespoon balsamic. Roast for about 15-20 minutes until softened. Cool. Heat the remaining 2 cups balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the balsamic is reduced to 3/4 cup, and has the consistency of maple syrup, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Roll out the pizza dough and place on a large sheet tray. Bake at 425F for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Transfer flatbread to a large platter and brush with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Top with the caramelized onions, figs, goat cheese, arugula and prosciutto Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and cut into 16 pieces.

Homemade Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts

Ingredients:
For the donuts:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup organic pumpkin puree
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/3 teaspoons each nutmeg, ginger + cinnamon)
1 can low-fat evaporated milk
vegetable oil for deep-frying

For the Maple Frosting:
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons almond milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar and butter. Add pumpkin puree, mix in well. For the dry ingredients, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin spice. Begin to marry the pumpkin batter and alternate with the evaporated milk, folding in gently. Refrigerate the batter to firm for approx 1 1/2 hours. Turn onto a lightly floured work-surface; knead 5-6 times. Roll to 3/8-in. thickness. Cut with a 2-1/2-inch doughnut cutter. Or be DIY and cut with a small rim to any glass jar or cup and use a small bottle to cut out the hole. Fry doughnuts, and doughnut holes, a few at a time, until golden, approximately 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove using a slotted spoon or a spider and allow the excess oil to drip on paper towels. For the icing, whisk together all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Spread over cooled doughnuts with a teaspoon (place on a wire rack over a sheet tray if desired).

Cranberry Orange Sparkling Punch

Ingredients:
1 Bottle of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Sparking extra dry wine, chilled
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced (horizontally round, so a star appears with the seeds)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup cranberry juice, white or regular, chilled
1 Tablespoon of honey, optional
garnish with 1 teaspoon orange zest (use a fancy zester for a beautiful touch)

Directions:
In a large pitcher, mix the apples, dried cranberries, cranberry juice, and honey (muddle lightly with a wooden spoon). Allow the mixture to set for approximately 15 minutes. Add in the sparkling wine, give it a whirl just before service. Top with orange zest or a few thin apple slices to top!

*Serve alongside the prosciutto flatbread for a perfect fall pairing!

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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