real life test kitchen: perfect squash soup


The truth is that this soup was a complete accident. I wanted to serve roasted squash for Thanksgiving. So, I sliced up a kabocha and an acorn squash I found at the farmer’s market, added parsnips and cippolini onions to the mix, concocted a vinaigrette to drizzle over the top, and tossed the whole thing on a platter. And it was a huge hit. After dinner, I wrapped up the leftovers, and no one touched them. So, after 3 days, rather than pitching the lot, I thought I’d just see what happened if I tried to turn the mix into soup. I added some stock we’d made from the turkey, threw it all in the blender, and…well, it was the best squash soup I’d ever tasted. The roasting gave the squash this wonderful, full flavor, and the sweet onions worked their magic too. The parsnips kept the flavor of the squash from being too monotonous, and the vinaigrette I’d whipped up at the last minute just made it magic. Really, how could you go wrong with sage fried in butter, with balsamic vinegar?

If I’d only known how good the leftovers were going to be, I’d have served the soup at Thanksgiving! –Becki S.
Click for more squash soup perfection, after the jump!

From our partners

help! what should I do with all of these lemons?


Of course the obvious choice would be lemonade, which, trust me, I’ve considered. But I’ve got 32 juicy lemons to work through. How did I end up with such a fine cache of citrus? A dear friend and recent Arizona transplant had to strip her tree to avert the impending frost, so a big priority box of fragrant desert sunshine arrived on my doorstep! I’ve been entertaining quite a few options: homemade Limoncello, for one, has been appealing to me; but I’m not patient enough to wait the month-plus it requires. I could whip up a monster batch of Lisa’s rosemary lemon simple syrup and make cocktails and sodas; but I’m really looking for something more substantial, maybe something savory. Readers, what should I make? The best suggestion just may end up featured here as a future real life test kitchen… — Megan B.

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turnin’ up the heat: the sriracha cookbook

Sriracha Cookbook

Sick of Valentine’s Day’s signature saccharine sweet treats? Spice things up with a hot recipe from the Sriracha Cookbook, $10, slated for release today on Amazon. With 50 recipes designed to highlight the flavor of the cult favorite “Rooster Sauce”, the book may be the perfect way to turn up the heat with the fire chaser on your love list. –Sarah C.

From our partners

making espresso on the stove

stove top espresso

Now that I’ve been working from home more these past few months, I missed picking up an occasional espresso drink on my way into the office. I have a 15+ year old Krups coffee maker that does a decent job making drip coffee, but it’s nothing compared to a really good latte. I used to have a countertop espresso maker, but I gave it to a friend because I hated dealing with dragging it out and cleaning it. This holiday season, my sister brought espresso back into my home life by bequeathing me her Bialetti Musa stovetop espresso maker. I will admit, I was intimidated to use it, but after my first try, I’m sold! Here’s how I did it:

1. Fill the lower chamber of the espresso maker with water. Be sure not to cover the brass colored safety release valve.

2. Insert the metal filter basket into the lower boiler chamber.

3. Scoop coffee ground for espresso into the filter basket and lightly push down the grounds with the back of a spoon. (I’ve read several opinions about tamping the grounds – some say that tamping can clog the filter, other say it’s the only way to go. I decided to shoot for the middle.)

4. Place the rubber gasket on top of the filter basket, then the filter plate on top of the gasket.

5. Tightly crew the upper chamber onto the lower chamber.

6. Place the entire espresso maker onto a burner. Heat to boiling.

7. Once the water begins to boil, and you’ll hear it, let the upper chamber fill with brewed espresso (about a 45 seconds) and take it off the burner.

8. Finally, pour the brewed espresso into a cup and add milk and sugar, if you like.

Enjoy! – Rebecca F.

my awesome espresso machine rancilio silvia
how do you get your coffee fix?

Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik

From our partners

real life test kitchen: chocolate pecan flapjacks


Pancakes these aren’t. I’m talking about British flapjacks : oaty, buttery, sweet bars of delight that are the perfect packable snack or breakfast on the go. Reminiscent of a granola bar, flapjacks are a traditional UK breakfast treat made with butter, oats, sugar and golden syrup, a jar of which I just received as a gift from an English-born co-worker. Making them is terribly simple, but keeping them around is difficult — which is why this is my second batch in less than a week! I have a feeling that jar of syrup will be gone quick… — Megan B.
click for the recipe after the jump!

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