Self Care - Guest Blog from L.G.

Introducing a special guest post from my bestie Leah!

When it comes to food, Leah loves to make, bake, cook, and feed people. One question she asks me when I'm in the thick of it is, if I have eaten. It's a question I don't often remember to look after for myself - life is always busy. Feels like sometimes the day flies past and all of a sudden it's supper time! Where did the day go? I consider Leah to be an authority on many different things - I often consult her for things like, "This is something needs to be pressure canned right? Have you ever made this? What do you think about this recipe? Do you have a recipe for ...." etc. And she never lets me down.

Can I just take a moment to tell you something really special that Leah did for me one year for my birthday? She has what she calls her, "Kitchen Bible." It has ALL of the things in there. Like everything from everything that has to do with food at all. It's thick. It's thicker than my old psychology text books. One year I opened up a parcel to find a massive, heavy book! Complete with sticky notes and bookmarks. She had sent me my very own kitchen bible just like hers, and it was incredibly thoughtful with all these little tips and tricks. Knowing that she took the time to do that, made my heart so very happy. 

So when I asked Leah if she would guest blog for this series, she immediately knew what we all needed to get through this weird season where Fall and Winter seem to be meddling! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. My absolute favourite soup of all time, is a roasted tomato soup and I was very excited to try Leah's spin on it. It did not disappoint! 

Comfort Foods during this cozy season – Self Care foods for the Soul

Fall is well upon us and winter is looming just around the corner. After a summer spent soaking up the sun and enjoying the fun and adventures that the season brings, life has resumed back to its’ “normal” chaos of work, school, sports and household chores.  

 While this season can feel a lot like the beginning of the arduous, long, cold and dark; it brings with it the promise of cozy nights at home, the fresh tang of fall air, the first gentle flakes of snow to grace the ground and my personal favorite; warm cozy foods! 

Ayla’s blog this season has been focusing on simple and fun ways to practice some DIY self-care at home. And this week I have the very distinct pleasure of being a guest blogger and sharing some of my favorite fall recipes to give your spirit the comfort food it craves.  

Pumpkin Pecan Cream Cheese Rolls 

First up is a creamy, sweet and delicately spiced Pumpkin Pecan Cream Cheese rolls. These fluffy cinnamon bun style rolls capture the flavor of all that is fall. While these buns appear to have a lot of steps, I promise they are worth every bit of effort! You can also make the rolls ahead and chill in the fridge to bake the next morning.  

Dough Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1/2 cup warm milk 
  • 1/4 cup melted butter 
  • 2 tbsp white sugar 
  • 3 cups flour 
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast 

Combine pumpkin, milk, butter, egg and sugar in a stand mixer or large bowl and mix well. Add remaining dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Switch to a dough hook or pour out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 more minutes until the dough is soft and not sticky. Add more flour or milk if needed. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a greased bowl in a warm spot until doubled (about half an hour to one hour). Turn out onto a floured or parchment lined or floured surface and roll out the dough into a 1/4" thick rectangle. 

Cream cheese filling: 

  • 1/4 cup softened butter 
  • 1/2 brick of soft cream cheese 
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 tbsp flour 

Combine the filling into a paste and spread across the rectangle and roll into a log. Slice into roughly 2" thick rounds and place in a well-greased baking pan and prepare the crumble. 

Crumble topping 

  • 1/2 cup melted butter 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 

Mix the topping ingredients until just combined and crumbly. Gently press the crumble on top of each bun. Allow the Buns to rise another 20 minutes. 

Bake at 350F until golden brown and cool slightly. 

Icing ingredients: 

  • Remaining half brick of cream cheese 
  • 1/4 cup melted butter 
  • Approx. 1 cup icing sugar 

Combine hot melted butter, cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth. Add additional sugar to create a thicker glaze if desired.  Drizzle over slightly cooked buns and enjoy! 

Self-Care Soup 

With the bounty of the garden ready to be harvested a cozy fall soup is the perfect self-care food. It’s also a great meal to generate leftovers for the freezer for busy nights, and a great way to help stretch your grocery budget.  

This year I overzealously planted tomatoes and the literal fruits of my labor quickly took over my garden and later on, my kitchen. In an effort to use up this bounty, we have all practically eaten our respective weights in tomatoes!  

One of my favorite meals I made was a Smoked Tomato Basil Bisque. We served this soup topped with a drizzle of cream and gooey grilled cheese sandwiches made with sharp cheddar cheese and fresh, homemade bread.  

Side note: This recipe can easily be adapted for those without a smoker or who may not want the smoky flavors by simply using oven roasted tomatoes instead of smoked.  

Smoked Tomato Basil Bisque – Serves approx. 4.  

  • 3 lbs fresh tomatoes, washed and quartered 
  • 2 Red peppers, de-seeded and halved 
  • 2 Cups Vegetable Stock 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp pepper 
  • 1 large onion – Diced 
  • 3 Cloves garlic (or more as your heart desires) 
  • Handful of fresh basil (or 1 tbsp dried) 
  • 1tsp dried Oregano 
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, cubed and cooked. 
  • ¼ cup heavy cream + more for garnish. 

Place tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves and peppers in a foil roasting pan in your smoker at 250-300F for approximately 1-2 hours. If no smoke flavor is desired, an oven at 300F for 2-3 hours will suffice as well.  

Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients to a blender in batches OR place in a large pot and puree with an immersion blender until smooth and combined.  

Heat the soup over medium-high heat until bubbling and warm throughout.  

Serve topped with a drizzle of heavy cream and a sprinkling of fresh basil if desired. 

Enjoy and stay cozy! 

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