Friday, December 4, 2009

Is it December 8th yet?

Because I seriously can't wait for it any longer. On Tuesday, one of my favorite movies will be out on DVD. I saw Julie & Julia with a group of girlfriends in the theater and fell in love. I laughed, I cried and I laughed some more. Meryl Streep just shines in this film. I adore the love between her and Stanley Tucci, her charming personality and how the viewer gets to experience their life in France.

The best thing is that Dave hasn't seen this movie yet. On Tuesday night, we'll be parked in front of the TV and hopefully he'll love it as much as I already do. (But I wouldn't count on it!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A farewell to Mangino

After much speculation, Mark Mangino resigned as head coach of the University of Kansas football team this afternoon. Rumors of player mistreatment have been circulating for weeks and a formal investigation was launched prior to the end of the season. While I certainly don't condone any mental or physical abuse--I wonder what Division I football coach doesn't get in the faces of his players from time to time. I can't imagine that Mangiono is the worst of the millions of coaches out there.

I think that Lew Perkins and the KU athletic department are making a big mistake. Mangino brought more success and tradition to the football program in the past eight years than it had seen in the previous 10. Being an KU alumna myself, I remember going to football games my freshman year of college with hardly any KU supporters in attendance. When attending a game this fall against Southern Miss, the bleachers were full and you could feel the pride of the fans in the air, knowing that we were no longer just a basketball school.

Alumni, students and fans owe Mark Mangino a huge thank you, as he finally allowed us to know what it was like to have a winning football program. Coach--I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside...

Nothing makes me happier on a cold winter night than a hot, steamy bowl of soup. I love how it warms you from the inside out and provides a great sense of comfort. Two years ago when planning our Thanksgiving dinner menu, we found a delish Butternut Squash Chowder recipe from Williams Sonoma that we've been serving up ever since then. It's always met with rave reviews and is perfect for any occasion.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

2 large butternut squash
2 T butter, melted
4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus small sage leaves for garnish
4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice butternut squash in half, length-wise, and place all four pieces on a cookie sheet. Brush squash with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until roasted, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

While squash is roasting, cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towellined plate. Set aside.

Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bay leaf, chopped sage, the 4 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Add the wine and simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

After squash has cooled, remove the skin and puree in food processor. Add the puree and bacon to vegetable mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and garnish with sage leaves.