Thursday, November 29, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

This butternut squash soup is simple, makes the house smell wonderful and freezes great.  If you want to make it a bit more savory you can substitute chicken broth for the water (though reduce the salt by one tablespoon.)  Also, if you want more kick, add a bit more cayenne pepper!

2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 Tbls vegetable oil
2 Tbls salt
6-8 cups water
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 yellow onion diced
1/2 cup half & half
2 tsp black pepper

Preheat over to 375 degrees.  Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil and one tablespoon of salt.  Spread on baking sheet and place in oven.

Roast squash for 25-30 minutes until tender but not soft.  While squash is roasting, saute diced onion in the other tablespoon of oil in dutch oven.  Saute until onion is softened, about 8 minutes.  Add cayenne pepper and thyme.  Saute for one minute and turn off heat if squash is not ready.  Once squash is roasted, add to dutch oven and toss with onion and spices, saute for two minutes.

Add 6 cups water and other tablespoon of salt.  Simmer squash in water for about 15 minutes. Puree soup with immersion blender or transfer soup in two batches to blender and puree.  Over low heat, slowly stir in half & half to soup.  Salt and pepper to taste and add more water if soup is too thick.

You can garnish soup with grated parmesan, croutons or a dollop of greek yogurt.  Enjoy and don't forget to read up on new research grants and develops in AHC research at

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gary's Apple Pie

My dad has been making apple pies for years, and has picked up a few tricks along the way.  This year, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, he shared some of his secrets and shortcuts and together we made this beautiful and delicious pie.  

For the Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk

Pie Filling:

10-12 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 stick butter, cut into 10-15 chunks
4 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey

Wash for crust:
2 tbsp milk
 white sugar and cinnamon

This is by far the easiest pie crust I have ever made.  It did not need to be pre-baked and came out light and flaky, not soggy.  For the pie crust, measure out two cups of flour by using a fork to lift the flour from the bag to a large measuring cup.  Once you have two cups, dump into a mixing bowl.  Add oil and milk and combine with the fork.  Once dough has come together, knead with your hands 10-12 times and then separate into two balls.  Place one ball on a piece of wax paper and cover with another piece of wax paper.  Flatten dough with rolling pin or hands.  Then roll out dough under wax paper until you have a circle about 1-2 inches in diameter larger than your pie dish. (Using a glass pie dish is best so that you can see if the bottom of your pie has become golden brown).

Peel away top sheet of wax paper.  Lift crust with bottom sheet of wax paper and place crust side down in dish.  Peel wax paper off and press crust into dish. Prick crust all over with a fork.  Next, roll out other ball of dough the same size between two pieces of wax paper (you can use the same two pieces) and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine apple slices, cinnamon, brown sugar, honey and butter and mix well.  Pour into pie crust, with apples heaped up in the middle.  Peel the top piece of wax paper over prepared crust, and lay crust over filling, peel off bottom piece of wax paper. Pinch top pie crust with bottom crust to create a seal.  Cut five-six slits in top crust to vent pie.  Brush pie with milk, then sprinkle with light dusting of cinnamon and white sugar.

Place pie dish on baking sheet and place in 425 degree oven.  Bake for 20 minutes at 425, then turn temperature down to 375 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes.  Check pie for doneness by lifting pie dish and examining bottom of pie for golden tone of crust, or make sure filling is the consistency of thick maple syrup.  If pie is not done, bake for another 10-20 minutes, checking every five minutes.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Greens

This recipe has nothing for everyone.  What I mean is, it's dairy-free, gluten free and vegan.  Don't run away just yet though, because it is also delicious and a great balanced side dish that meets your veggie and protein needs.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup red or yellow lentils, rinsed well
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tsp minced fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 medium onion or 1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 cups cubed and peeled sweet potatoes
2 cups mustard greens, collard greens or kale, thick stems removed, roughly chopped
1/4 cup raisins (optional, but if you don't add them, I suggest adding a tablespoon of brown sugar in place)
salt to taste

Place  coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, garam masala and cayenne to spice grinder or mortar and pestle.  Grind spices and set aside. (Note - the only really necessary spices in this recipe are the cumin, cinnamon and salt - all other spices will help enhance the dish, but if you don't have them, don't let that prevent you from trying it out!)

Heat vegetable oil in medium dutch oven or sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes, add ginger and saute for 2 more minutes.  . Add spices to pot and stir for 30 seconds to one minute, until fragrant.  Add lentils, water and vegetable broth.  Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cover.  After 15 minutes, add cubed sweet potatoes.  After 10 more minutes, add greens and raisins, and gently stir in.  Add a bit more salt to taste.  Simmer for 5 more minutes uncovered, or until thickened.  (Note - the picture above shows the lentils a bit soupy - you want the final product a bit more thick than that.) 

Serve lentils with fish, chicken or on their own.  I served them the first night with Trader Joe's cod that was marinated in soy and ginger.

On night two, I reheated the lentils and served them with some yogurt, garlic and lemon juice marinated chicken breasts.  

Also, because I'm new at this, if you notice something confusing in the recipe, please let me know so I can correct it!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Green Potato Soup (or Potato & Greens Soup)

I wanted to make a potato soup that tastes rich (but isn't), but that also packs a nutritional punch  So while this soup has a little fat, it has no cream, has lots of greens and fiber, and still tastes like a treat.  If you wanted to up the "rich" factor, you could add half a cup of cream after pureeing the soup, or serve with a little shredded gruyere on top.

Makes 8 Servings
45 minutes to prepare

4 potatoes, (peel two, leave skin on the other two), chopped into one inch pieces
2 onions, chopped, divided
4 slices bacon, chopped
4 cups kale, mustard greens or spinach, or combination, thick stems removed and chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups vegetable stock, divided
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
half teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups or so of water

Get out a big dutch over or soup pot.  At medium heat, saute bacon and one chopped onion  for approximately 10-15 minutes until onions are translucent and a bit golden, and bacon has started to crisp a bit.  Remove bacon and onion from pan with slotted spoon. Set aside.

Add two tablespoons of butter to pot and melt, add second onion and saute for 5 or so minutes.  Then add red pepper flakes and bay leaf.  Saute for one minute.  Add garlic and thyme and saute for 30 seconds-one minute, until garlic is fragrant (but don't burn it!).  Add the potatoes and stir to combine until potatoes are coated with thyme, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add 2-3 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock, making sure that potatoes are covered.  Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Add greens, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until potatoes begin to fall apart. You may need a few more minutes on the potatoes if you've been simmering at the low end of the spectrum.

At this point, if much of water has been absorbed, add another half cup of stock.  Use an immersion blender and puree soup, or transfer to blender in two batches and puree. Return to pot.  Stir in reserved bacon and onion pieces and salt and pepper to taste. (I go heavy on the pepper here.)  If soup is too thick, add either water or stock, depending on taste.

You're ready to eat.  Serve soup with croutons, shredded gruyere or a little fresh baby spinacy on top.  You could also drizzle a little cream on top of each bowl to serve.  Since we're a household of two, I immediately transferred half the soup to a plastic container to freeze.  We've enjoyed the the rest for lunch for the past two days.

Please let me know if you make and like (or don't) the recipe!  If it becomes a keeper in your kitchen repertoire, please consider donating a dollar or two to the AHC Foundation!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

So Much!

So much has happened since my last blog post.  Remember that Chase grant that we worked so hard to get? Well, the research it funded resulted in doctors identifying a genetic mutation that causes AHC!  I will link to the post from the AHC page that explains what this means if you'd like to take a read:

Del has already been tested for the gene and does in have the genetic mutation that causes AHC.  What we hope is that now that researchers have identified this mutation, they can study it and attempt to develop medication that will be more effective at treating AHC.

Of course, this means that additional research needs to be funded.  Over the last year or so I haven't been able to formulate any cohesive plan for raising more money for AHC.  I donate each month to the foundation and attended the AHC Walk in Lake Zurich in September.  Part of the reason I've been so hesitant to come out with a new plan for fundraising is that our friends and family have already been so generous and I hate to ask for more.  (Or at least I hate to ask for more without giving something in exchange).  I'm not sure that people just want to connect to this blog to see me logging my miles by running and while I really enjoyed the cookie baking, I think I sent cookies to everyone who had an immediate want for those and it seemed to come to a natural end on its own.

I have a new idea though, and I don't think there's any harm in trying out a new idea if it raises even one more dollar for AHC research. So here it goes:

Those who know me know I love to cook.  I mean, I would spend every Friday night at the grocery store if I could, I like it that much. Over the years, as I've gotten more comfortable in the kitchen, rather than following a recipe by the book, I generally just read a couple recipes from a couple cookbooks or online, and then improvise.  Some of those recipes turn out to be worth sharing. (Or at least I think so).

What I propose to do is put up the "keeper" recipes on this website as they happen.  This may be once a week, twice a week or twice a month.  If you decide to try and like the recipe (or even just pick up a cooking tip from one of the recipes I've posted), please consider donating a $1 or more to AHC. (Just see the link on the sidebar).  Easy as that.  While this may not be the most ambitious fundraiser, I hope it brings value to anyone who decides to donate.  (I also will try to be more vigilant about updating the blog with any progress in AHC research and other fundraisers for AHC).  It also marries two of the things I love most, cooking and Del.

My first test recipe is on the stove now, and with any luck, I'll post it here tomorrow!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vivant Challenge!

Vivint Gives Back contest. Win Grant Money for AHCF!!

Hello AHCF Families and Friends,

Starting Tuesday June 14th, 2011 we need your help to vote every day in the Vivint contest to win $250,000.00 to further research into AHC, develop treatments and trial medications, teach the public and professionals about AHC and ultimately find a cure! You have to be on Facebook to participate.

It’s easy!!

1) Go to

2) “like” Vivint on Facebook, (login)

3) Vote for Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood Foundation, ONE VOTE EVERYDAY UNTIL AUGUST 27TH.

We will need thousands and thousands of votes to win and are up against some tough competition so please SEND A MESSAGE to each and every Friend you have on Facebook, ask them to mark the date, then vote and post it to their wall and better yet, help by messaging all of their friends too!

4) Remind your friends daily to vote and recruit as many new Facebook groups as you can to help ie… Alumni associations, churches, support groups, sports teams etc…

We’ve been victorious before, we can do it again! It takes millions of dollars to find a cure and the AHC kids are counting on us

Top prize is $250,000.00. Top Charity in each region wins $100,00.00. We are in the Eastern region.

Matching Gifts from Vivint during contest

Want to make a donation to AHCF? Vivint will match donations made by the public on a one-to-one basis, up to $2,500 per finalist charity.

All gifts must be made through the Vivint Gives Back website during the matching period to be eligible. For a public donation to qualify for a match through the Vivint Gives Back Project, the donation must be a charitable contribution. These contributions are deductible on your federal income tax return.

Vivint Gives Back will match up to a maximum of $50 for each individual donor. Vivint Gives Back will match public donations up to $2,500 for each finalist charity.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bring It On!

As I noted in my last post, instead of requiring people wait to until the first of the month to order cookies, you can now order cookies at any time for the next month during the proceeding month.  For example, if you'd like some May cookies, just email me at by April 30th and let me know you'd like some for May.  Please specify if you'd like chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter or sugar and we'll fill the order some time in May!  So, what are you waiting for?