Category Archives: Love at First Bite

Matu Munchies: Coconut Butternut Squash Soup


In Mozambique, people only acknowledge two seasons: summer and winter.

Because I love Fall more than any other season, I kind of refuse to accept that it is not recognized and, therefore, would like to declare that it is Fall in Mozambique. We are in that space between the hottest days and the coldest days. And that is Fall!

It does not look or feel the same here, although I did find a type of tree whose leaves are golden yellow on the underside so I can go beneath those trees and pretend it’s Fall any time of year. The leaves of the mango trees are turning yellow and falling, getting crispy and blowing in the breeze. It’s even pumpkin season in the north of Moz (but not here…). And sometimes the newly fresh morning breeze will blow just right as I am making coffee and it feels and smells just like a calm Fall morning.

With all of these southern hemisphere Fall feelings, I was quick to splurge on two butternut squashes a couple of weeks ago at the South African import supermarket in Vilanculos. We hadn’t seen any other kind of squash or pumpkin in our area…save for some unfamiliar thing that they call a squash but that tasted like dirty potatoes, so it was well worth it

So much happiness at the sight of a squash!

We first made wraps with butternut squash and couve (like kale). Then there were tostadas with black beans and butternut squash, which was then repurposed into black bean butternut squash pasta salad. Next were mashed butternut squash and green apple pancakes with honey on top. And the toss up for my two favorite creations was between butternut squash bread and coconut butternut squash soup.

The bread was delicious and satisfied any Fall flavor cravings, with a good cup of tea to go with it. If you want to give it a go, use your favorite pumpkin bread recipe and sub boiled and mashed butternut squash for pumpkin! I topped it with oats and raisins.


Here’s what I used for a thick, creamy, Fall soup:

The milk of 1 coconut, about 2 cans

3 cups of boiled, cubed butternut squash. If pumpkin is more readily available to you, sub pumpkin here!

1/2 of a yellow onion

1 tsp. cinnamon

Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste


Here’s how I did it:

 If you are using a fresh coconut, shave it and milk it. To get milk from freshly-shaved coconut, pour about 1/4 cup hot water over the top of the shavings, squeeze or press the coconut to get the milk out, pour it all into a strainer over another bowl and press the coconut again to release any more liquid. Set this first milk aside; it is the richest and is best added at the end of a recipe for flavor and thickness. Repeat this milking process two more times.

If you are not using fresh coconut, your first step is to chop and sauté your onion. When the onion becomes translucent, add your cubed butternut squash and sauté for about 3 minutes, adding the cinnamon and the first round of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I went light on the red pepper flakes, as I wanted a sweeter finished product, but it is up to you!

Next, add your 2nd and 3rd coconut milkings if fresh, or 2/3 of your coconut milk if canned. Bring to a boil and let it boil for about 3 minutes, just to get the butternut squash nice and soft.

Because I have that fancy immersion blender that I told you about in the Pineapple Salsa recipe, my next step was to immersion blenderize (yes) my soup until it was smooth. If you don’t have such a thing, you can blend it in a normal blender.

If you still don’t have such a thing, here’s what I would recommend: mash your boiled and cubed butternut squash, sauté your onions, add coconut milk and mashed squash to the saucepan, let liquid boil off until the soup reaches a thick consistency, stirring well all the while.

Finally, whether your soup was blended or mashed, add your 1st and richest coconut milking, or the rest of your coconut milk. Mix this well by hand, and add additional salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.

To complete the meal, we made a garlic flatbread for dipping.

Whether you’re pretending it’s Moz Fall or snuggling up in Denver’s Spring blizzard this weekend, this simple soup will satisfy!

Happy cooking, and happy eating.


When life gives you mangoes


It’s not snowing and none of our family is around. Still, it’s the holiday season. Something in my internal wiring must know so. It’s baking season. I had the urge to make a cake.

Here in Mozambique, it’s also mango season. I think I have been looking forward to mango season since long before we even arrived here. I had an offer of free mangoes for the taking. And I had a recipe from the Peace Corps Tanzania cookbook given to us by our bff.

So I made a cake. A mango cake.


I mixed the following:

3 and 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

Approx 5 tablespoons baking powder. Use 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp baking soda if you have both…we only have baking powder here and mae advised me on how much a cake usually needs 🙂

2 eggs

1/3 cup (ish) oil

2 cups water. You can use milk, coconut milk, or juice too

3 cups cubed mangoes, or however much you please


*optional add-ins include cashews, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, toasted coconut topper, or icing. I might just try all varieties throughout this mango season!

Now, I poured this fluffy batter into a bundt pan and cooked in maes electric oven for…until mae said it was done. Perhaps an hour. But if you have a regular oven, you can cook this beauty at 350 for 50 minutes.


We are hosting Christmas in Mapinhane for other volunteers in our area, and I can’t wait to make this for Christmas morning. The only thing making our lack of snow okay is our abundance of mangoes 🙂


A green mango is still a ripe mango.


Winnie hangin’ around outside the house.


Photo creds to Alex Romanyshyn


Love at First Bite: Turkey Apple Grilled Cheese

Turkey Apple Grilled Cheese. Photo courtesy of Alex Romanyshyn.

Turkey Apple Grilled Cheese. Photo courtesy of Alex Romanyshyn.

I first discovered this delectable combination of ingredients when Alex and I were in Vermont on our honeymoon in October. Ever since, this sandwich has been a go-to for an easy, filling weeknight dinner. And every time I bite into this crunchy creation, it tastes like honeymooning in Vermont; I picture the lake we stayed on, the cute little studio, the orange leaves. Heaven, basically. It’s strange how taste and smell can bring back a place just like that, but lucky for us this one’s a taste worth bringing back again and again.


4 slices of your favorite grilled cheese bread, we love sourdough for this one!

6 slices of deli turkey

8 slices of Vermont white cheddar cheese

1/4 of a Granny Smith apple, sliced as thin as you can get it

2 tbsp butter

Makes 2 grilled cheese sandwiches

Just in case you’ve never made a grilled cheese sandwich, here’s what ya do:

Step 1: Butter one side of each piece of bread.

Step 2: Place one slice of bread in a frying pan with butter side down, and assemble the ingredients on top in this order: 2 slices of cheese, 3 slices of turkey (folding them in half makes them fit better), half of your apple slices, 2 slices of cheese.

Step 3: Place the other piece of buttered bread on top, butter side up.

Step 4: Cook the sandwich over medium heat until the down-facing side is golden brown. Flip the sandwich to the other side, being careful not to spill the goods out of the middle, and cook that side until golden brown.

Step 5: Repeat for sandwich number 2!

Love at First Bite (or sip!) : Berry Chocolate Smoothie


I just wanted to write a quick post to share this amazing treat smoothie! It’s healthy for the body and healthy for the soul, made with a mix of berries and chocolate almond milk. This is a great mid-morning pick-me-up on, say, a Monday…or any day!


1/4 cup strawberries

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup blackberries

1/2 cup almond milk

Makes 1 serving

Mix all ingredients and blend until smooth! Yum Yum!