Cleaning House

We’re gearing up for next weekend’s Chopped Challenge. The votes are rolling in and last I checked we had some pretty good neck-to-neck races. Don’t worry though, there’s still time to get your votes in before Friday. It’s going to be so much fun. There’s definite anticipation in the house – a mix of nerves and excitement. So don’t forget, vote early and often. ;)

In the meantime, what better way to start of the New Year than by getting rid of the clutter. So we’ve spent the last few weekends cleaning house. Every drawer, closet and nook and cranny in this house has been cleaned and purged. Baby toys are all packed up and the kids’ new toys all have organized new homes. If we’re being realistic, we know that won’t last long, but it sure feels good for a few minutes anyway. Sleepy Sack

I have to admit though, we’ve all had our moments with this clean-up. For Mike and I, it was the packing up and donating of the little sleepy sacks. It just doesn’t seem that long ago we were wrapping our little babies up safe and warm in their crib. Mr. N had a hard time packing up some of the baby books even though I promised him we were saving all the well-worn favorites. Our compromise, I return to the nightly reading of “Goodnight Moon.” I literally read this book to Mr. N every night from his birth through the time he was about 18 months old. Even if he had fallen asleep in my arms with his bedtime bottle, his little eyes would flutter open and a smile would flit across his lips at the sounds of, “In the great green room…” While I doubt he remembers me actually reading to him back then, there must still be something about it he finds familiar and comforting. As for Miss A, well in true girl fashion, she was trying on old shoes (boots, Mary Jane’s, etc.) insisting that they still fit and that she would still wear them; despite the fact they were several sizes too small. I didn’t realize that kids could feel just as nostalgic as us grown-ups. Good Night Mr. N

When all was said and done, we were exhausted and ready for a good warm, comforting meal. We also wanted to use up some of the random ingredients we had lying around. Then I remembered a recipe from a recent Cooking Light magazine for a Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart. Done deal! I have been wanting a savory tart all winter, and no time like the present. So we got to work. Then it hit me – we need something to go with the tart and I’ve been craving a French Onion soup after having my first bite this year. No joke – in all of my 35 years I have never once had French onion soup. Well, needless to say, after one bite, you can be sure I’ll be having it again and again. So we added Charles’ French Onion soup to our dinner menu. French Onion Soup-Five Euro Food

The tart came together pretty easily. Now, I’m no stranger to making a homemade crust. I love making them – butter crusts, shortening crusts, pies, cobblers, tarts, etc. This one was new to me though. It combined the usual flour with salt, but then we added pepper and baking powder. I’m still a little confused about the baking powder for this recipe. I don’t think it brings much to the table. Then in place of butter or shortening, the recipe called for olive oil and water. You also don’t roll out this crust, but rather press it into your pie pan. That actually worked out pretty well. savory tart crust

The crust bakes for about 10 minutes while the oven preheats and the tart ingredients are prepared. Squash is sautéed with onions, then combined with a mixture Gruyère cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Once the cheesy squash is added to the pie pan it bakes for about nine minutes at 425F. In the meantime, pancetta and shiitake mushrooms are browned in a skillet and then placed evenly over the cooked tart. butternut squash tart

The tart is then topped with a bit more Gruyère and tossed back in the oven for a few more minutes. It all cooked up easily and was ready to serve in no time. Now I’ll tell you off the bat, the kids did not like this tart. I believe I’ve mentioned Mr. N’s disdain of butternut squash before, and neither one of the kids likes mushrooms. Mr. N did say the crust was good though. So he scraped off all the ingredients and ate the crust. Miss A did the opposite and only ate the cheese off the top. Not to worry though, they were happy with Charles’ soup and especially the cheese bread that went along with it. As for spoons, it was 2 for Mr. N (the crust kept it from the bottom rating for him) and a 1 for Miss A. Mushroom and squash tart

Mike and I, unlike the kids, really enjoyed the savory tart. Mike had no complaints. It hit all the right flavors for him – sweetness, saltiness, peppery. It was a solid 3 spoons, teetering on 4 spoons. I too really didn’t have many complaints, just one. The crust. This was not my favorite crust. I think it was the pepper. Overall though, the rest of the tart was delicious. The squash was sweet and the mushrooms and pancetta were a great salty balance. Not to mention the Gruyère – yum! It was 3 spoons for me too. I will say, the crust did taste better as leftovers to me the next day. Still, I’ll be making a more traditional tart crust next time – no pepper, no baking powder. savory tart

Now we’re going to make sure we rest-up this week. We’ll also pop some extra vitamins so as not to catch the flu from Mike (thankfully this started after the massive clean-up and appears to be on its way out just as fast as it came on), and gear up for the big cook-off next Sunday. We may even get outside and enjoy some spring-like weather too. We’re due to hit 60 this week! Then we’ll drop back down to the teens. It’s no wonder this is one of the worst flu seasons ever!

So, until next time…here’s the polls so you can vote once again, or if you haven’t yet voted sneak it in before the deadline! Have a great week!

Print this recipe: Butternut Squash Tart

24 comments on “Cleaning House

  1. We were busy cleaning up too. My daughter decided to take over her dad’s study and turn it into a room all her own. We started with a room and ended up doing the whole house. My daughter did the exact same thing Miss A did with shoes and dresses. I have to say I have had a few moment when I did not want to let go of this or that.
    It is hard to admit that they are all grown up
    I too have never had french onion soup. It has been on my must try forever..I need to change that

  2. helene dsouza says:

    hm I could never throw out or give away things from my childhood. My mother never threw away things, in fact she left them so that we could use them later on for our kids (that hasn’t happened yet). I understand your kids were sentimental, I would be too. =) but sometimes its good to clean out and get rid of things we don’t use before they get completely spoiled. Maybe somebody else will find good use for the things. =)

    Glad I wasn’t too late to vote! =P

  3. Eva Taylor says:

    I was certain I left a comment here, sorry about that. I try do a closet cleaning once or twice a year, but then certain areas of the house tend to get ignored (like the basement storage area) and the crap piles up. I’ve got so many things down there that could be either sold or donated. Thanks for the reminder.
    This savory tart sounds and looks delicious, then again, what wouldn’t with gruyère on it?

  4. Courtney says:

    Not sure if this would be the dish for me right now… but I’m glad it worked for you and Mike. :) I remember cleaning out all the boys things and feeling so good about it… until this little surprise showed up. ;) Starting from scratch again has been an adventure, but at least I have an excuse to actually get pink stuff. Hope you’re having a lovely week.

  5. Karen says:

    That kind of house cleaning has its good and bad. You hate to get rid of things that hold memories but having everything neat and in its place is nice as well.

  6. oh i bet sunday at your house is going to be killer amazing! I can see it now- the food the sweat the tears! LOL! I cant’ wait!

  7. I know about this kind of clean up..
    So many memories are attached with almost every little piece for parents and kids as well.. You know more than my kids its me who cannot keep their baby stuff away, so now you can very well imagine how hard it will be when I will finally do it…
    I was late in voting but phew… I did it!
    Both the dishes look awesome.. specially the french onion soup!

  8. I love the look of that tart! Anything with butternut squash (or butternut pumpkin as we call it in Oz). I did my voting too :) I love the voting part of your blog, and really hope I get to see the “Espresso, Oats, Bananas, Greek Yogurt” – YUM!

  9. rsmacaalay says:

    3 and 4 stars I got to try them.
    We too are doing some house work but more on the yard its summer and were making most of the sun.

  10. Such cute picks of them when they were so little! Love it! And this tart does sound and look so earthy and full of goodness. I will try a different crust though. Thanks for the heads up. Happy Tuesday!

  11. ChgoJohn says:

    I don’t envy you the housecleaning. With 2 growing SousChefs, it must be done to accommodate their growing wardrobes but, still, it’s never an easy task deciding which items are keepsakes and which have to go. Not an easy task at all.
    Your squash tart sounds delicious, Kristy. The mix of sweet and salty always “gets” me. And French onion soup is such a great soup. I’ve not made one in ages and I need to do something about that!

  12. Norma Chang says:

    I started to declutter but did not get too far, could not bear to get rid of many items, set them aside and created a pile in a different area of the house, accomplished nothing. Will try again in a couple weeks, got to get this done before the gardening season begins.
    Panccetta and shiitake on top of cheesy butternut squash sounds heavenly.

  13. You’re so brave undertaking a decluttering initiative with the kids in tow – that would never work in this house ;-) and I’m so envious of your home organizing initiative… it may not be spring yet but do I ever need to put some order into this house…yikes! You’re inspiring me Kristy. Goodnight Moon… ah, just reading that adorable passage brought back a flush of mommy memories… remember Pat the Bunny? That was a big one here…All of this wonderful content plus a delicious looking tart and yes, the oh so good and utterly addicting, French onion soup. Does that not hit all the spots in January?! (say, a bit better than green ice cream? ;-)).

  14. This is a great tart, Kristy! I would love this. I haven’t really perfected my crusts, but I keep trying! :-) I admire the dedication and emotional pull it takes to organize and be realistic about what you should save. I have even had trouble recently cleaning out the room the little girls share when they come to visit! I think I struggle with admitting that time is passing–and quickly! :-) So looking forward to your big day next weekend. You’re good to be getting prepared! oxo

  15. Oh you reminded me of two things, the first is how much I love French onion soup ( I haven’t made it in ages) and how messy my daughters bedroom is at the moment… we need a BIG clean up!

  16. How to vote for one when everything looks so delicious :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  17. Mary says:

    French onion soup is my all time fav! I can relate to Mr N – I have a difficult time passing on my girls baby books!
    Mary x

  18. sallybr says:

    Beautiful post, loved the photos, and the realization that kids can also be nostalgic… So true!

    Onion soup is a delicacy indeed – unfortunately onions and Phil do not agree, so I could never make this at home, but sometimes I order in restaurants for me. Not sure if for the onion or the big slice of bread with melting cheese on top ;-)

  19. hotlyspiced says:

    I’ve done those kind of house cleans and they can be quite traumatic. So many mixed feelings about those sentimental items that you’d really like to hold on to for no good reason except they bring back such wonderful memories. But it must be great to have everything in order for the start of a new year xx

  20. Charles says:

    Hi Kristy – thanks for the shout out – glad the soup went down well :) The tart sounds great… you know I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash but the pancetta sounds like it would have been a good offset for the sweetness, and it evidently worked quite well!

    I remember I clung on to a great number of my toys and books from when I was a kid… I’m sure I still have them somewhere in a bag in my parent’s garage or something actually, haha :). We had to take a sleep sack out of “service recently” – I couldn’t believe how big it was when we bought it, and yet already it’s too small… sigh, “little” William – already bigger than most 10-12 month old babies here :D

  21. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Aww I know how you feel about the sleep sacks and all. It’s amazing how they used to fit in those small clothes and they could fit in my arms! And it’s only like several years ago! I get carried away cleaning up… too many memories! But I usually put away right after they stop wearing/using these days to save some space in my house. And you are right, kids do get nostalgic and it’s getting harder to let go some stuff because they will put them back… lol. I voted again. So excited! Both dishes look delicious and so comforting after major cleanup work! :)

  22. I have all of our favorite bedtime books.. I can’t wait for grandbabies to read them to some day! Well.. I can wait, maybe in 10 years, lol! The food looks wonderful.. it’s a great combination. That’s a very unusual crust, the preparation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And any of Charles’ recipes.. they’re always a winner for me.. so both of your recipes together in one meal.. awesome:D

  23. Dawn says:

    Wow – both those dishes look amazing!! I just love a great French onion soup – oh, and I love a Good Night Moon as well :).

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