Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It wasn’t until my latest CSA pickup that I finally embraced fall. There were still remnants of summer in the haul, such as eggplant and peppers. However, it was also very fall-friendly in that it featured apples, butternut squash, and cabbage. I was very much inspired by the aforementioned ingredients, allowing me to let go of summer at last.

When I hear the words “butternut squash,” I automatically dream of delectable soup, and with it I made just that. While I love butternut squash soup, I enjoy it significantly more if there is an element of texture in the mix. As such, I added CSA cabbage and swiss chard, as well as cannellini beans. Further, I love adding spice to all things squash because it contributes warmth and intense depth of flavor. To this particular soup, I added chipotle pepper. All of the components that I mentioned made for an extremely delicious fall soup. Although it is filling, you can feel good about eating it as it is both vegan and gluten-free.

Note: Recipe yields four servings.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 small or 1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer (I used Calfia’s half almond milk/half coconut milk, which I adore!)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 tsp. finely ground Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat the oven to 375*F; meanwhile; place the prepped butternut squash onto a baking sheet, face up; generously spray with coconut oil
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour; once 1 hour has elapsed, scoop the flesh into a blender
  • Add the broth, creamer, and garlic cloves to a blender; blend until smooth and set aside
  • Next, add the grape seed oil to a large pot and warm over medium-low heat for approximately 2 minutes
  • Once 2 minutes have elapsed, add the Swiss chard and cabbage; sautée for approximately 5 minutes, or until tender
  • Add the butternut squash mixture to the pot, along with the Himalayan salt and chipotle pepper; allow to simmer for approximately 5 minutes
  • Finally, add the cannellini beans and allow to simmer for an additional 5 minutes

New England Road Trip, Part 3: Bar Harbor, ME

If you missed the intro post to this blog series, be sure to check it out here.

Our stay in Bar Harbor was my favorite leg of our trip. Bar Harbor itself is a lovely town with tons to do. Of course, Acadia itself was breathtaking and lived up to its reputation. We stayed at Bar Harbor Manor, which is perfectly situated. It is a quick walk to all of the action in Bar Harbor and a quick drive to the entrance of Acadia.

Day 5

We were super bummed to learn that the whale watching tour that we had booked for our first night in Bar Harbor was cancelled due to fog. Unfortunately, that was our only night to participate in the tour, so we didn’t get to see any whales while we were there. If anyone is interested, the company that we booked our tour with was Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., which has phenomenal reviews.

On our way into Bar Harbor, we made an unplanned stop at C-Ray Lobster get our lobster roll fix, and they were nothing short of amazing. Even better, it was a no-frills joint in which the cashier was also the owner and fisherman. We enjoyed our lobster rolls, made with lobster caught early that morning, at picnic tables outside of the lobster shack.

Next, we settled into our hotel and decided to walk downtown. I was blown away by how lively the town was. There was no shortage of charming shops and eateries – many of which were waterfront. We stumbled upon the Shore Path, which we walked along briefly. We admired the beautiful waterfront homes and inns, but our ability to take in the scenery was limited due to the intense fog.

After walking around town a bit more, we decided to get some grub at Finback Alehouse, which has delicious cocktails and pub food. Soon after, we headed back to our hotel. We ended up calling it an early night in anticipation of our busy day ahead.

Day 6

Knowing that we had one full day in Acadia National Park, we woke up early so that we could experience as much as possible. Unlike many national parks, Acadia is doable in a day. Simply follow Park Loop Road, which is a 27-mile loop around the park. However, much of the loop is one-way, so be sure to look at a map and strategically plan your destinations beforehand.

We began our day by hiking Cadillac Mountain. We opted to hike the North Ridge Trail, which is of moderate difficulty and is 4.4 miles from start to finish. If, once you reach the summit, you prefer to take a break after soaking in the breathtaking views, there are restrooms, refreshments, and a gift shop available.

After our morning hike, we briefly visited the Wild Gardens of Acadia located at Sieur de Monts. If, like me, you are drawn to wildflowers and love to learn their names, this stop is a must. These gardens hold all of the flowers and foliage of Acadia, making it a very educational stop.

Next, we had planned on exploring the tidepools at Anemone Cave located at Schooner Overlook. Although we strategically planned this stop according to low tide, we missed it and were not able to turn around due to the road being one-way. Instead, we went to Sand Beach in hopes of discovering some tidepools there. Unfortunately, it was not the tidepooling experience that we expected. Regardless, Sand Beach is worth the stop. If we had more time in Acadia, I would have loved to spend a day of beach bumming there.

Our next stop was Thunder Hole. It was brief, because it wasn’t until we were there that we learned that the magic that is Thunder Hole only occurs during high tide. Thus, if you time it correctly, the waves hit the rocks in a way that makes the water soar as high as 40 feet in the air! If and when I return to Acadia, I would love to see it for myself.

Next stop: Otter Cliff. Otter Cliff offers stunning views and is extremely peaceful. My mom is an avid bird watcher and was able to capture many beautiful shots at this site. Her Instagram handle is @jns5 if you’re interested in checking them out! After taking in the views, we took a short but sweet walk along Ocean Path.

Then, we stopped by Jordan Pond, which is also very peaceful. The reflections of the clouds and trees on the pond were magnificent! This is due to the water being so clear. So clear, in fact, that Jordan Pond serves as a major source of drinking water for Seal Harbor. We spent some time walking along the Shore Trail, which was both picturesque and relaxing. By the this time we had worked up an appetite and decided to grab a bite to eat at the Jordan Pond House, which is the only full-service restaurant in the park. Their fresh blueberry mojitos were to die for!

We ended our day in Acadia how we started it – on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. This time, instead of taking in early morning views, we experienced an incredible sunset. Being that it was at the end of the day and at the end of our trip, it was a really special moment. Then, feeling completely exhausted, yet completely fulfilled, we headed back to our hotel.

Day 7

Anticipating a long drive home, we checked out of our hotel early. However, before heading home we drove to Tremont, ME to check out Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Be sure to take the trail to the left, as it offers much better photo opps than the trail to the right. After snapping some photos, we hit the road.

…Next stop, home sweet home!

New England Road Trip, Part 2: Portland, ME


If you missed the intro post to this blog series, be sure to check it out here.

We had an excellent stay in Portland. With no shortage of first-rate restaurants and bars, it is the perfect destination for food and beverage lovers. Portland is also an extremely walkable city. There isn’t an overwhelming number of things to do, making it relatively simple to get a feel for in a couple of days.

Day 3

We began the Portland, ME leg of our trip by visiting Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, ME to check out Portland Head Lighthouse. It was a picture perfect day; the sky was blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We had hoped to get lobster rolls from Bite into Maine, a food truck situated in the park, but they were unfortunately closed the day that we were there. Bite into Maine has an impressive 5-star rating on Yelp, so I’d love to hear what you think if you’ve experienced their lobster rolls for yourself.

Afterward, we headed to Allagash Brewing Co. for a tour. This stop comes highly recommended. It was unlike any other brewery tour that I’ve been on in that they allow you to sip on free samples throughout the tour. Being that Allagash is one of my favorite craft breweries, I loved to learn about its history.

As the evening approached, we headed to our Airbnb to unwind. Soon after, we decided to take a walk downtown. First, we headed to Duckfat to try their infamous poutine fries. Afterward, we ended our action-packed day by indulging in delicious craft cocktails and locally-sourced oysters at Eventide Oyster Co.

Day 4

As you can imagine, we spent the following morning sleeping in and eating a leisurely breakfast. We then took a relatively short drive to Higgins Beach in Scarborough, ME. Most of our afternoon was spent beach bumming and exploring.

After a day of R&R, we headed back to our Airbnb to get ready for the evening. First, we strolled down to Old Port to capture some photos near the water. I must say, Love Locks Bridge is an excellent photo opp! For all of you lovebirds out there: be sure to bring a lock engraved with your initials to add to the collection.

Then, we went to Street and Co. for dinner. We split their famous Lobster Diavolo and it was divine! The service was also top-notch. Afterward, we headed to Church for drinks. Yes, you read that correctly. Aptly named, Church is a stunning restaurant and bar that functioned as a church once upon a time. Their craft cocktails were incredible! Lastly, we hit up Novare Res, which had an abundance of local, craft beer on tap.

Day 5

We woke up relatively early so that we could check out of our Airbnb and hit the road.

…Next (and last) stop, Bar Harbor!

New England Road Trip, Part 1: Cape Cod, MA

If you missed the intro post to this blog series, be sure to check it out here.

After stopping by Newport, we headed to Cape Cod. We stayed in the centrally-located town of Harwich, which is sandwiched between Yarmouth and Chatham. The only other time that I visited the Cape was when I was too young to remember. As such, it felt like my first visit. Harwich is a sleepy, yet lovely town. Although we didn’t plan it that way, it was great that Harwich was the first stop of our trip considering that it forced us to unwind early on. I was so relaxed, in fact, that I took very few photos during this portion of our trip.

When I return to Cape Cod, I’ll be sure to check out Provincetown (also known as P-Town), notorious for its lively atmosphere. Our plan was to check it out during our stay, but it wasn’t doable in the short time that we were there. As it turns out, the Cape is huge! The 45 minute drive from Harwich to Provincetown was more than we anticipated.


Day 1

We arrived to our charming Airbnb in the late evening. Our rental was an apartment situated on a picturesque property strewn with wildflowers. Because we were pretty exhausted from the drive, we decided to stay in. We ordered delicious, thin crust pizza from a nearby restaurant called Red’s. I also made delicious gin cocktails using my Grapefruit and Lavender Lemonade. Ultimately, we called it an early night so that we would be refreshed for the next day.

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Day 2

After sleeping in, we spent the day at Red River Beach, which was a short drive from our Airbnb. The beach was absolutely beautiful. While I’m typically not one to collect rocks or shells, the rocks there were so beautifully colored that I couldn’t help myself. I hope to make a terrarium with them in the near future!

Anyway, after the beach, I went for a short, but hilly run. Although the steep hills and strong sun made my three mile run relatively challenging, it proved to be a great means to soak in the quaint neighborhoods of Harwich. There was no shortage Cape Cod style homes to appreciate, and the landscaping was quite beautiful.

We ended the second day of our trip by heading to Viera for dinner. The food, drinks, and service were phenomenal! It was here that my little brother finally admitted that he likes lobster better than crab. Needed to say, the lobster was delectable, as were the scallops. On the way back, we stopped at Sundae School for for a sweet treat.

Day 3

Checkout was pretty early, so we enjoyed the property that we stayed on one last time and hit the road. Prior to our drive, we picked up some cold brew from Perks Coffee Shop. That gave us the fuel that we needed to get to the next leg of our trip.

…Next stop, Portland!

New England Road Trip: The Intro

Cliff Walk – Newport, RI

Better late than never, I’m recapping the week-long, New England road trip that I took with my mom and brother at the end of July. We wanted something drivable and agreed that New England, while within reach, was an under-explored destination for all of us. Also, since my goal is to see all of the U.S. National Parks in my lifetime, I loved that a New England road trip warranted a visit to beautiful Acadia National Park. It ended up being super relaxing, despite being action-packed, and it went a little something like this:

Philadelphia, PA

5 hour drive

Lunch in Newport, RI

2 hour drive

Cape Cod, MA
Duration: three days, two nights
Shelter: Airbnb

3 hour drive

Portland, ME
Duration: three days, two nights
Shelter: Airbnb

3 hour drive

Bar Harbor, ME
Duration: three days, two nights
Shelter: hotel

10 hour drive

Philadelphia, PA

Cliff Walk – Newport, RI

As you can see, we decided to stop in Newport on the way to Cape Cod. For starters, we wanted to break up the long drive. More importantly, while we initially wanted to spend two nights in Newport, we found the prices of accommodations to be very pricey during peak season. As such, we ultimately got our fix by making it a pitstop on our journey. First, we ate lunch at The Mooring, which has outdoor, waterfront seating and offers fresh, local seafood. It was a great way to kick off our vacation! After lunch, we moseyed over to Bowen’s Wharf to soak in the atmosphere. Finally, we ended our brief visit to Newport by walking along its infamous Cliff Walk. It was nice to stretch our legs while taking in the stunning oceanfront and historic mansions of Newport.

…Next stop, Cape Cod!

Cliff Walk – Newport, RI