With the start of November brings along the coziness of autumn with a whiff of smoke rising from fireplaces and leaves blowing in the wind. The official start of autumn isn’t for a few more weeks, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to celebrate it on the first weekend of November. Today’s extra hour thanks to daylight savings has inspired a day of lounging in our pajamas and snoozing to whatever sports game is on TV (soccer, in our case).
And it has also inspired a day of preparing a batch of homemade butternut squash soup and homemade oatmeal bread.
Of course, I planned out our meal yesterday when I created our full meal plan. But this autumn dinner for a lazy Sunday evening was just what we needed on a day when we recover from time changes and a kicking our ass work week. It was also perfect for a Sunday at home because, while fairly easy to create, I’ve been cooking and baking for several hours.
The soup is not my own recipe, so I’ll link to it from here. It’s by Hank Shaw who blogs over at honest-food.net all of his food adventures that include hunting, gathering, angling, and cooking. It’s like the manliest food blog you could come across. He also just came out with a pretty kickass cookbook with all the recipes he’s blogged about along with some pretty snazzy photos. He always comes up with something droolworthy that has me wishing I could be close enough to smell his kitchen, maybe even taste a few dishes. So when he posted a Squash Soup recipe on his blog that called for bacon to give it a bit of fatty pizazz, I was sold.
Plus, it gave me a chance to try out my new immersion blender, something I asked for on my wedding registry and was one of the items I hoped to get above everything else. The blender didn’t disappoint, and neither did the soup. Find the recipe HERE, and start making some of your own.
The bread is from my most used cookbook in my whole cookbook library, the Better Homes & Garden cookbook, you know, the one with the red and white checkered cover. Almost every kitchen I’ve been in has this book, and if you don’t, you should stop what you’re doing right now and order it. Mine is so well used it has food sticking the pages together, and you can totally tell which pages are my most used recipes. It has the best selection of no-frills, cook it like you say it, recipes. It’s the perfect gift for your kid who’s leaving for college, or for the family just starting out on their own. And it has every average recipe you need that comes out tasting exactly as you want it too, from meat loaf to apple pie and everything in between.
This afternoon I made Oatmeal Bread, one of my favorites when it comes to homemade yeast breads. Something about it reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom used to bake us bread. This was the bread she made often, and the one I couldn’t get enough of. I’m not sure if this is the same recipe she used, but you can’t really go wrong with Oatmeal Bread recipes. They don’t have a ton of ingredients, and the majority of the time spent on making bread is in the rising time alone. If you’ve ever been afraid to try making yeast breads from scratch, don’t be. They’re really easy, and you’ll feel like Susie Homemaker when you’re done. Plus, your kitchen will smell amazing!
Note: This recipe skips proofing your yeast, which is totally fine by me. After all, if your yeast isn’t past its expiration date and has been stored in a cool, dry place, it shouldn’t require proofing.
found in the Better Homes & Garden cookbook
3-3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 ¾ cup water
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbl butter
1 ¼ tsp salt
2 cups rolled oats
1. In large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour and yeast, set aside. IN a medium saucepan heat and stir water, brown sugar, butter, and salt till just warm (120-130 degrees F) and butter almost melts. Add water mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixture on low-medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in oats and as much of the remaining flour as you can.
2. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl (use Crisco), turning once to grease surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled in size, about 1- 1 ½ hours. (I generally turn on the oven while making the bread, then turn it off an place the rising bread on top of the oven-warmed stove (not in!) to keep it warm.
3. Punch dough down. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface, divide in half. Cover, let rest for 10 minutes. Grease two 8X4X2 inch loaf pans.
4. Shape each portion of dough into a loaf patting into a loaf shape and tucking edges underneath.
5. Place shaped dough in prepared pans. Cover and let rise in warm place till nearly doubled in size (45-60 minutes).
6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or till bread sounds hollow when tapped on top with your fingers. You may need to cover loosely with foil in the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent it from getting too brown. Immediately remove bread from pans. Cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves (32 servings).