End of Vacation…Beginning of a New Week

This has been the best Christmas vacation ever for me. I went on a wonderful vacation before Christmas, had a nice Christmas week with family, and then had a week to myself. That’s just about perfect! Does anyone ever really want to go back to work? I know that I don’t. I can come up with project after project to keep myself busy.

I feel good about going back to work. My house is clean and I have meals planned and groceries bought for the week. I haven’t seen my students in almost three weeks! I should have gone to work on Friday to get caught up and get organized for the week, but it was a lot more fun to play tennis with my friends and then go to lunch. I figure that I’ll just wing it. Actually, my plans are ready and it won’t take long to get my desk cleared off. (I missed the last four days of school to go on vacation.)

I made an awesome Butternut Squash soup tonight from Cooking Light Magazine that I want to share. It is super easy and delicious. My friend Julie kept talking about this soup and how good it is and then I realized that I had clipped the recipe to try. It looks like baby food, but I promise you that it is delicious and healthy, too!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup

Spicy fresh ginger complements the sweet roasted winter squash and shallots in this easy recipe. Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich for a simple supper.

6 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup soup and 1 teaspoon chives)

4 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large shallots, peeled and halved
1 (1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons (1-inch) slices fresh chives
Cracked black pepper (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a roasting pan or jelly-roll pan; toss well. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool 10 minutes.

3. Place half of squash mixture and half of broth in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture and broth. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with chives and pepper, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories:112 (20% from fat)
Fat:2.5g (sat 0.4g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.3g)
Mark Scarbrough, Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2008

My photo:

My sister in law gave me this cookbook for Christmas:

The recipes are divided into sections: Cajuns, Cattlemen, Catholics, Cowboys, and Californians. I tried “Dirty Rice” from the Cajun section on Saturday. It got rave reviews from Mr. SP and his dad. One of the ingredients is chicken livers, but you could leave those out and the recipe would still be terrific. Am I the only chicken liver lover in blogland??

Dirty Rice

2 onions, chopped fine (I used one)
4 celery stalks, chopped fine
1 green pepper, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T light olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 tsp Lousiana hot sauce (Trappy’s or Red Devil) (I used a dash or two of Texas Pete.)
3 tsp cayenne pepper (I used one)
1 1/2 T Hungarian Paprika
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
3 T butter (I omitted)
4 cups pork or chicken broth
1 pound chicken liver, chopped (Leave them out if you think they are gross!)
2 cups long grained rice
1 bay leaf

Using a large heavy skillet with lid over medium-high heat, saute the onions, celery, and bell pepper, and garlic in 1 T of the oil until soft but not browned; remove mixture from pan and set aside. Add the pork and the other T of the oil to the pan and fry until well browned. Add the sauteed onion mixture. Then add the hot sauce and spices. Stir thoroughly, scraping bottom of the pan well. Add the butter and stir in until fully melted. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 8 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of the pan as you go. Add the stock and deglaze the pan by stirring well until any mixture sticking to the pan bottom comes loose. Add the chicken livers, rice, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove bay leaf, stir well, and serve immediately.

Serves 8 to 10.

Do you do a meal plan for the week? I try to, but it is difficult because of our tennis schedules and Mr. SP’s weekly banjo lesson (one hour away).

Here’s what I have planned:
Sunday: Crescent Lasagna and roasted cauliflower
Monday: Butternut Squash Soup served with bbq sandwiches
Tuesday: I’m meeting a friend for dinner. Mr. SP eats leftovers.
Wednesday: Veggie Stir fry with Chinese 5 spice sauce
Thursday: Split Pea with ham soup
Friday: Leftovers (I hope) or frozen pizza
Saturday: Tennis social with dinner afterwards at the club

Have a good week!


  1. I hope you have a great school day tomorrow. Your menu sounds yummy. Please tell me about the roasted cauliflower. We love it, but I’ve never tried roasting it.


  2. I just found your blog. I love finding new blogs to add to my daily reads. I love your blog backround. It totally just cheered me up.

    I was also feeling the monday blues this morning knowing all the work I was going to have when I walked in, but so far it’s been good.

    Hope you have a good day!


  3. I hope today went well for you. It was a tough start in the morning for everyone in this house!

    I wing my weekly menus more than plan. I would like to plan more in the future. I will definitely try the recipes you posted!

    The dirty rice…is it a main course? I need some ideas for vegetable sides. I’m interested in the roasted cauliflower. I never make anything with cauliflower.

    Have a great week!

  4. I was soo not ready to go back to work! We painted over the break and I will have to finish up this weekend. I could stand to be off another two weeks for sure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.