Fun Foods

I’ve been experimenting with some butternut squash soups because I want to make a really good one for Thanksgiving. The one below I made a few weeks ago and it was very well-recieved. Bonus: It even freezes well!


1 whole garlic head
4 teaspoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
4 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 medium)
2 cups water
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic, squash, 2 cups water, broth, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is tender. Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture.



It was a big surprise for me to see butternut squashes at the farmers market this weekend. I had to buy one as it had been since February since I’d enjoyed the sweet vegetable. I concocted (with the help of “The New Basics” cookbook) a great recipe that might just become my new staple for guests. It looks fancy because it is presented in little ramekins, but its super easy and fast too!


Serves 4

Note: A timbale is a large thimble or cone-shaped mold used for various sorts of food. In our case, we’re using 5-ounce ramekins. If you don’t have ramekins, you can use coffee mugs filled half-way.


½ butternut squash
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped scallions
¼ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Ground black pepper to taste

Spray the ramekins with Pam or cooking spray so that the butternut mixture doesn’t stick.

Peel, seed and shred the squash. I used my food processor but you can easily use a box grater – it just might take longer.

Combine the squash with all the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Divide the mixture among the four ramekins.

Cook at full power in the microwave (yes, microwave) about 6 minutes. If the tops don’t feel firm to the touch, add an additional 30 seconds. Let the timbales sit for 1 minute. Run a knife around the edge and unmold.

Bon appetit!


Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings

1. Preheat oven to 425
2. cut up stale bread into small cubes – place in large bowl
3. douse bread in EVOO and a little bit of garlic powder
4. chop up fresh herbs – I used parsley and thyme (a lot)
5. combine bread and herbs, mixing until the bread is coated with herbs and evoo
6. place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
7. bake in oven for 10-15 mins (don’t burn them!)


These were really great. Take the extra time to make the homemade tzaziki sauce – you won’t regret it!

I toasted up some pita bread and served these burgers with lettuce and tomato. We had enough for lunch the next day!

Greek Lamb Burgers
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pound lean ground lamb
3/4 pound ground turkey breast
Cooking spray
3 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half

Prepare grill.
Combine first 8 ingredients. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Place patties on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes.

Tzaziki Sauce

3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons grated peeled seeded cucumber
1 1/2 teaspoons minced onion
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Today’s issue includes two sauces that I’ve made this week! I’ve really been loving our new (and illegal) gas grill and have resolved to grill this entire week! So far, we’ve made grilled romaine (with this blue cheese dressing), grilled salmon (with the lime butter) and greek-style lamb burgers. Tonight, I’m grilling shrimp!



Stir together the following ingredients and serve it on a salad, steak, chicken or anything you can think of! If used sparingly, it can add lots of flavor with little guilt!

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons water
1 garlic clove, minced


This one isn’t the healthiest, but again, if used sparingly, it can be a great treat. Puree in a blender 1 clove of chopped garlic and 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. Melt 1 stick of butter and add it to the lime/garlic mixture through the hole at the top of the blender, so it mixes thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with roasted fish, corn-on-the-cob or even grilled veggies!

Note: If the butter started to harden (ew, I know) put it in the microwave for 10 seconds, give it a stir and it will be as good as new!

Hope you enjoyed these great sauce/dressing recipes!

Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings


After another brief hiatus, I’m coming back to you with two wonderful recipes from my favorite source, Cooking Light! I made these two earlier this week and they were both hits. Mr. Hillman’s Helpings has even requested the bass recipe for next week!

I’ve just planted my herb garden – this year I have basil, rosemary, flat leaf parsley, thyme and chives! Chives are a new addition to my garden – I hope to create some wonderful recipes using them this summer.

Happy Eating!


I used Chilean sea bass for this recipe but regular bass, snapper or rainbow trout would work also.

2 teaspoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 skinned bass fillets
2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped green onions
¼ cup water
1.4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over fish. Add fish to pan; cook 2.5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily. Remove fish from pan; cover and keep warm.

Add mushrooms and sesame oil to the pan and sauté 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add the green inions and remaining ingredients to pan and sauté 2 minutes. Serve the sauce with the fish. I served this with sautéed baby bok choy. It’d also be good with soba noodles!

Serves 4

1/4 cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray

Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl; add chicken, tossing to coat. Marinate 30 minutes. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes. Turn chicken over; cook 6 minutes or until done.


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings

This dish was so great – the recipe was brought to my attention by my BF Jamie! 🙂

Chicken and Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Serves 5

5 ounces uncooked Japanese curly noodles (chucka soba)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 pound chicken breast tenders
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper strips
1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped green onions, divided

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

Combine broth and next 5 ingredients (broth through crushed red pepper) in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; sauté 4 minutes. Add bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine chicken mixture and noodles in a large bowl.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 15 seconds. Stir in broth mixture; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the broth mixture and 1/4 cup green onions to noodle mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup green onions.

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