Butternut Squash Soup

I don’t often admit this, but I was a picky eater as a child and young adult. For some reason, I did not like soup (I think it was the texture?).

What are the foods you did not like as a kid, that you now enjoy? I’d love to hear about the transition from dislike to like ๐Ÿ˜€

I created this soup last fall, when I had a surplus of butternut squash on hand. I decided to roast the squash before pureeing to enhance the sweet notes of the squash. By roasting the squash whole, you don’t have to peel it or dice it first!ย 

amandas plate butter nut squash soup

This soup doubles nicely and can be kept in the freezer in an airtight container (stores up to 2 months), for those busy, cold weeknights!

While this recipe is vegetarian, it can also be made vegan, by omitting the heavy cream. You can substitute the cream for more vegetable broth. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 


butternut squash soup

There are a number of toppings you can add to this soup! My favorites are fried sage, as it adds a deep, earthy flavor and homemade croutons!ย 


Butternut Squash Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 large butternut squash (3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Croutons, fried sage, pomegranate arils, olive oil, goat cheese (all optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut butternut squash length wise and remove the seeds. Drizzle each half with olive oil. Place the squash flesh side down and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
  3. After the squash has roasted for 20 minutes, place the onion, red bell pepper and garlic cloves on the baking pan. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
  4. When the squash is tender and the onion, bell pepper and garlic are cooked thru, remove from the oven. Peel the skin off the squash.
  5. If using a blender, as I did, place the squash, onion, pepper, garlic, vegetable broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper in the blender and puree until smooth. Lastly, add the heavy cream and blend until evenly incorporated.
  6. Transfer the soup into a pot and heat thru.
  7. Serve with fried sage, goat cheese, croutons, a drizzle of oil and pomegranate.
  8. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Note: if using an emersion blender, place the vegetable stock, cream, squash, onions and garlic in a pot. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and blend until smooth.ย 

Make this dish? I’d love to see! Tag me @AmandasPlate or using #CreateAmandasPlate





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Candied Pecans

candied nuts, holiday nuts

Is it just me or did this year fly by?

I mean, 2015 will be over in just a few short weeks!

But before we can celebrate the new year, we need to gift our friends and neighbors these delicious candied pecans!

candied pecans, candied nuts

Who doesn’t love a sweet, nutty, candied nut? And as a gift? The best ๐Ÿ™‚


I’ve made several batches of these pecans and they are always gone in the blink of an eye! Seriously, they’re that good.

And the good news is, they’re really simple and easy to make.



Candied Pecans
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 cups
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 16 ounces pecans (about 4 cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg white, water and vanilla until it stiffens slightly.
  3. Stir in sugar, cinnamon.
  4. Add the pecans to the bowl and mix until the pecans are coated in the cinnamon and sugar.
  5. Spread pecans evenly on a baking sheet and place into the oven.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden.
  7. Allow to cool completely
  8. Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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Butternut Squash and Arugula Pasta

fall pasta dish, butternut squash pasta, butternut squash and arugula pasta

One of my favorite things about fall are all the different varieties of squash.Short, tall, round, flat, the colors, the sizes, the shapes are mesmerizing.

Growing up, my family ran a small produce market and I absolutely loved when we got in the first pumpkins of the season.

My sister, Deana and I would help arrange the vibrant, orange squash on hay stacks. We would carefully place heirloom Indian corn in between the pumpkins and then stand back and admire our work. We then spent the rest of the time running around the store and munching on treats.

Fast forward fifteen years, and I am no longer running around our store. I am in my kitchen with Hussein. The time spent in the store learning about the different fruits and vegetables we carried would sure come in handy.

Hussein and I love making homemade pasta. It is best made with a companion, as you need some extra hands to help crank it out.

We came about this recipe a few years ago at Sur La Table. On most days, we don’t have the time to make homemade pasta, so we made some modifications which make this recipe weeknight friendly!

The most time consuming aspect is peeling, cubing and roasting the butternut squash which takes about forty-five minutes from start to finish.

butternut squash, how to cook butternut squash, how to peel butternut squash IMG_4099 IMG_4106 IMG_4108

Here is my recipe:

Butternut Squash and Arugula Pasta
Serves 6
A delicious pasta dish with beautiful, sweet, oven roasted butternut squash
Write a review
Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
370 calories
33 g
7 g
23 g
10 g
4 g
111 g
530 g
3 g
0 g
17 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 370
Calories from Fat 199
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 23g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 13g
Cholesterol 7mg
Sodium 530mg
Total Carbohydrates 33g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 10g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed about 5 cups
  2. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  3. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
  1. 1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
  2. 6 cups fresh baby arugula
  3. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  4. 3/4 cup chopped onion
  5. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  6. 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  7. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
For the butternut squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and fresh sage
  3. Spread onto a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once, until squash is tender and golden. Set aside
  4. Cook pasta until al dente
  5. In a large pan, heat olive oil and add in garlic and onions. Mix in the arugula until wilted and stir in the cooked spaghetti noodles
  6. Add the butternut squash, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese
  7. Toss until all noodles are evenly coated
  8. Sprinkle on more Parmesan, if desired
  9. Place in serving dish and enjoy!
Amanda's Plate http://amandasplate.com/



I hope you have noticed my more in depth, story telling approach to blogging now! I am trying to apply some of the writing tips I learned at the International Food Blogger Conference. 

You can read more about my experience here: IFBC overview

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MasterChef Season 6 Finale

Wow! I cannot believe this season is over! It has been an incredible summer of watching the best cooking competition on TV!

Before I continue, if you have not watched the finale, please stop here! Go watch the finale and come back and read this ๐Ÿ™‚


The finale was incredible. The top 20 of us were brought back to watch Derrick and Claudia battle it out for the title of Masterchef, the trophy, $250,000 and their very own cook book!

Claudiaย and Derrick are both incredible home cooks turned chefs! They have very different culinary points of view, both bring their own flare and style!

The battle began with the appetizer round. Claudia created a beautiful, truly elevated tamale and Derrick a pork belly with watermelon three ways. From my view point (on the balcony and later my couch), both dishes were elegant, beautifully plated and something I could imagine seeing come out of a restaurant kitchen.

Their creativity, flare, refinement, technique and personalities continued to the entree course! I remember being completely blown away by Derricks puff pastry cage!

Dessert is where things got most interesting. Claudia made a beautiful hibiscus poached pear that was the most beautiful shade of red! She then initialed the plate! ๐Ÿ˜€

Derricks matcha cake gave him some trouble and I remember thinking “that’s it, there’s no way he can do it” and he did!

After a neck to neck battle, Claudia brought home the win. I couldn’t be more happy for her, her daughter and her family. I know what this win means for her and what a difference it will make in her and her daughters life.

Masterchef contestants, amanda and clauda, Claudia winner of Masterchef

Claudia won the title, but she is not the only winner. Each and every contestant is a winner.ย Derrick,ย ย Stephen, Nick, Katrina,ย Hetal, Tommy,ย Olivia,ย Shelly, Christopher,ย Sara, Kerry, Charlie, Jesse, Veronica, Ailsa, Dan, Justin,ย Darah, Briana,ย Mateo and every one else who battled for an apron, who made it to the top 100, and who auditioned; you took a risk, put yourself in unfamiliar territory, followed your passion and tried something new.. for that you win!

Life is about taking chances, making sacrifices and embracing every part of the journey on your way to fulfilling your dreams! I truly believe that with God, patience and a strong support system, you can do ANYTHING!

So go do it! ๐Ÿ˜€



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First Mystery Box!

Again.. spoiler alert if you have not yet watched the second episode of MasterChef Season 6. Watch here: MasterChef on Fox


Our first Mystery Box challenge included ingredients we all had in our respective refrigerators at home. I was absolutely ecstatic to lift up that wooden box and find turmeric, sumac, fennel, lentils, capers, kalamata olives, goat cheese, feta cheese, Greek yogurt, dates, and sea bass.

We had one hour and I really got ahead of myself. I attempted to do too much but this lesson was learned: 60 minutes in the MasterChef kitchen is not equal to 60 minutes at home. You are running around gathering the equipment you need, talking to the judges, and I mean the PRESSURE of cooking on such an incredible platform.

What I did end up making was a turmeric and date cake with a goat cheese icing and a balsamic and date reduction. My plating was off as I ran out of time so it was no surprise that I was not in the top 3. Did you see the top 3 dishes? They were beautiful and sounded delicious!

Dan’s savory eclairs (so creative) won and he was given a H U G E advantage! Not only was he not required to cook in the first elimination challenge, he was also able to save others from baking an apple pie.

Dan saved me! I was never so excited to see a Granny Smith apple in my life.. lol!

Unfortunately, things were not as easy as pie… not even pie itself and we had to say goodbye to the sweet Brianna and the incredible Mateo!

Be sure to watch next Wednesday June 3rd at 8pm (EST/PST) on Fox as we head into our FIRST team challenge!!! Let me just say, I have never been more shocked than I was that day!!





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OMG! MasterChef Battles!

If you have not watched the season premiere of MasterChef season six be warned; there are spoilers in this post. You can watch it here and then return: http://www.fox.com/masterchef


For the first time ever, there were MasterChef Battles! The top 40 contestants went head to head for the highly coveted white aprons! I was in the “Battle of The Lamb”. Whose lambs were silenced?

I prepared a lamb kefta with jalapeno dusted potato and sumac aioli. In the 4 way battle, I was up against some great competitors! We only had 30 minutes to complete the whole dish and boy did it feel like only 5 minutes.

And guess what?


Did you see the twist? After all the aprons were won, 6 of those who did not receive one would get a chance at just 2 more aprons! Shelly and Steven won the second chance aprons and joined the group on the balcony!

I was so fortunate to watch the premiere with my family and friends in Michigan. What a wonderful premiere party it was! Over 200 people joined us and we collected over 400 non-perishable food items for a local food bank.

donations for the food bank!
donations for the food bank!

It could not have been possible without my husband Hussein, my mom Hala, my sisters Deana and Mona, and my brother in law Mohammed. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! <3

My lovely family watching the MasterChef Battles!
My lovely family watching the MasterChef Battles!

I want to send a heartfelt thank you to you all. Thank you for reading my blog, believing in me and supporting me on my MasterChef journey! God has blessed me with the best support system of all and I could not do any of this without all the love and support that is surrounding me!


More pics from the party:

My husband Hussein and I!
My husband Hussein and I!
The dessert table! Milk bar cookies, shatila cake, pana cotta and cupcake by me!
Foodie friends!
Foodie friends!
My mom and her bestie (my second mom)
My Grandma and I :D
My Grandma and I ๐Ÿ˜€


My awesome family!
My awesome family!





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