Roast Butternut Soup

I know, I know. ANOTHER butternut squash recipe? I should be getting some kind of commission from the Butternut Council of America. I am so googling to see if that exists after I finish this post.

So, you know what they say. Soup: it’s what’s for dinner. Or at least, that’s what my poor, long-suffering husband says every time there’s a grey sky. Besides – Costco had two packs of these bad boys. On a cold day, this is a win/win, people.


Roasting concentrates the flavor and brings out the sweetness of the veg. Add some earthiness with the celery and the thyme, and the tartness from the apple, and this is simple goodness all around. Shall we?

Roast Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
½ large (or one small) white onion, large dice
1 small green apple, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp. dried thyme
S&P
1 ½ to 2 quarts chicken (or veg) stock.

Toss together everything but the stock on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast 375* for about an hour
The last twenty minutes, bring one quart of the stock to boil, then reduce to simmer to keep it hot. When the squash et al are done (fork tender, nicely caramelized), toss it all in the pot. The stock should just cover everything (add more if needed). Take a stick blender to it, puree, consume. Add more stock if you’d like a thinner soup.

Or – keep the squash in the fridge, and bring to boil and puree later when you’re ready to eat. It’ll keep in the fridge for several days (as will the soup once it’s done.) If you freeze this one, expect some water separation at the thaw. You can do it, I just wouldn’t recommend it.


I garnished mine with a little greek yogurt and some toasted walnut – butter would also be delish.

P. S. That Butternut Council of America does not exist. I must confess to being disappointed, although another smartass food blogger had the same idea back in 2013. So there’s that.

Chopped Satay Salad

Chopped Satay Salad
Salad with Satay Sauce
If you are like me, and when you go out for a specific kind of food – you order the same baseline item to gauge if you’ll like the rest: Chips and salsa, eggs benedict, fried rice, fish taco. When we go out for Vietnamese or Thai food, we always get the rice paper rolls and peanut sauce. Oh, that sauce. When it is good, I just want ask for a bowl of it and a spoon.
chopped salad with satay

It dawned on me this weekend that (duh!), there is probably a good recipe for it online. And there is – I made this recipe from SheSimmers.com, and it is AMAZEBALLS. Instead of just eating it with a spoon (and believe me, I can neither confirm nor deny that happened), I thought I’d get out the rice paper and make some spring rolls with tofu. Then as I was slicing the jalapeno and the cilantro, I got lazy and said ah, hell. I’m just going to make a chopped salad and dress it in the satay.
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Holy Peanut Sauce, y’all. This is yum. Just so much yum.
Make the sauce – it takes all of five minutes and you will be SO HAPPY.

Mix together:
1 c. chopped green cabbage
1 c. diced extra firm sprouted tofu
½ c. chopped broccoli
½ c. celery
½ c. diced jicama
½ c. diced cucumber
¼ c. diced red pepper
¼ c. chopped cilantro
2 radishes, sliced thin
¼ jalapeno, sliced thin
1/8 sweet onion, sliced thin
½ c. satay sauce
Toss it, serve with lime wedges and the sauce and some sesame seeds if you feel fancy.

If you don’t like tofu, do chicken. Or grilled fish or shrimp. Or,a add some cold rice vermicelli as a base. That would be delicious, too.

Tacos de Camotes (Sweet Potato Tacos)

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I toyed with some pretentious hipster title for this puppy – caramelized sweet potato tacos in a chipotle garlic emulsion. But, nah. This are simple and good – so tacos de camotes is much better. I want to try it with pumpkin, too. One day….. Anyway, if you get tired of turkey day leftovers in a couple of weeks, or want to use up that leftover sweet potato on the counter, or hell! Make an awesome first course to Thanksgiving dinner, these are ready to roll. Fast, easy and yummy. I can’t really say ‘no pica’, but the heat isn’t bad.
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These are crunchy and soft, tangy, sweet and spicy. Truly lovely.
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This is enough for two people as a main dish, or four for a side.

For the Taco filling:
2 large sweet potatoes, diced*
1/2 white onion, diced
1 Tbps. olive oil
garlic salt
For the chipotle emulsion:
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 whole chipotle peppers en adobo
2 Tbsp wine/cider/sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp olive olive
(A little water mixed with some adobo if needed)
And…..
Soft corn tortillas

*(diced means 1/2” cubes, people)
Preheat oven to 375*. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. spread out evenly the sweet potato and onion, drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic salt.
Roast about 20-30 minutes, until really nicely caramelized.
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While that’s roasting, put the dressing ingredients in the blender and puree. You may need to add a little water/adobo sauce mix to get enough liquid to blend. Transfer to a bowl large enough to hold all the potato/onion mix when it comes out of the oven.
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When the potato/onion mix is done, remove from the oven and set aside just for a few minutes. (This lets the outside crust on the sweet potato cubes develop just a tidge more). Heat your tortillas and get your serving plate. Toss the hot sweet potato/onion mix in the chipotle emulsion, fill the tortillas and consume immediately.

These would be awesome with a smoked fontina cheese. Or avocado slices. Or even with some scrambled egg for an amazeballs breakfast taco. Or hell, underneath some poached eggs for that matter.

** This would also work with kabucha squash.
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Bon apétit

Herbed White Bean Tomato Stew

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It finally happened. Stepping outside in the morning one day last week, I could feel it. The air was cool(er?). Summer is leaving. Then, we had a rainy day. And as Himself will tell you, I’ll use that as an excuse to make soup every time. Even if it’s 85*. But, c’mon – after 104*, the eighties are practically cold. It’s all relative, man.
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Every time I start to make soup, two thoughts come to me. The first is Joan Cusak’s character Marcella in Grosse Pointe Blank, trying to explain a recipe to a friend on the phone, “No, I, it’s not going to be a boring soup! It just, that’s just the base! Carrots and celery are just a base of a soup!”
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The other is that genius Beth over at Budget Bytes, who taught me whenever I’m making a mirepoix for a soup to double it and freeze half so the next time it’s like a little time-saving gift waiting for you in the freezer.

This was quick and yummy. Drizzle it with a little balsamic vinegar before serving.
Bon apétit.

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Herbed White Bean Tomato Stew
Ingredients
5 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced for soup
½ white onion, diced
A fingerwidth of fresh thyme with a couple sprigs of parsley tied in a bouquet garni
1 28oz can diced San Marzano tomatoes
2 cans drained low-sodium cannelini beans
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 quart chicken broth (or veg if you don’t do the meat stuff)
¼ c good olive oil
1 cup dry red wine

In a large soup pot, sweat the celery, onion, and carrots in the olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, plus half a tomato can of water. Raise heat to medium and simmer for half an hour. (Remove the garni before consuming.)

And, btw, the fresh thyme and the San Marzano’s are really essential. Spring for the toms, for this and your pasta sauce. You will be glad. Safeway has them under their house label, so they’re not insanely expensive. They really do make a difference.

Melon Cucumber Basil Salad

Oh, that you could taste this right now. Icy cold, crisp, slightly sweet – with accent of fresh basil leaves and lemon and the slightest drizzle of honey. I am in heaven.
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I absolutely love those yellow melons at Costco – I think they’re called sunshine? They’re amazing – the flesh is mostly like a honeydew. If they are not super ripe, they are crisp and still sweet. When they are ripe, they are a dripping juicy mass of honey sweetness. It’s a win/win.
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Dammit, I love summer. Make this – you will be so happy.
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There isn’t really a recipe, per se. Just this:
Cube or ball as much melon as you’ d like to use.
Peel and dice an equal volume of English cucumber. (If you use the normal kind, I’d seed it.)
Toss in a bowl.
Rinse and chiffonade a couple of basil leaves (more or less to your taste).
Zest some lemon on to the mix, and then squeeze in a little lemon juice.
Drizzle with some honey.
Toss and eat.

Green Tamale Soup

Pretty simple set of ingredients
Pretty simple set of ingredients

We took a staycation the last week of the year, and I got a wild hair to make our own corn tortillas. “How hard could it be,” I thought. Turns out, fairly hard. As in, what are these? Frisbees? This left us with a five pound bag of masa in the pantry. What to do, what to do. Turns out it makes totally delicious corn bread, which is almost cakey in texture. It is also what is often used to thicken chicken tortilla soup – that ubiquitious, obstenisibly Mexican but really more of a gringo dish. Then I saw the bags of frozen roasted and peeled Hatch green chili in the freezer at Trader Joe’s , and a diabolical plot was born.
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I made a pot of this, and took some to work. A co-worker took a taste and said, “Hey! That tastes like green corn tamales!” Yeah, my work here is done.

Put some cubes of colby or mild cheddar in the bottom of the bowl and ladle this on top, and you will be in heaven. Even better, serve it with a cheese crisp. Just remember to taste your chiles – hot chiles mean spicy soup. If you are lucky enough to live near a Mexican supermarket that roasts green chiles in the late summer, they would be even better. I’d avoid the canned variety for this – the central flavor of this soup is the chile, and the canned varieties are so mild they would render a pot of tastelessness.
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This is super fast – start to slurp in under 40 minutes. Give it a try, you ‘ll be glad you did.

Green Tamale Soup
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
¾ c. masa harina (instant corn masa)
3 celery stalks, chopped for soup
3 carrots, peeled & chopped for soup
1 fat zucchini, chopped for soup
½ medium white onion, diced
1 c. roasted and peeled Hatch green chili (fresh or frozen. NOT canned.)
1 c. frozen corn.
1 tsp. sugar (optional)

In a bowl, mix the masa with about a cup and half of the stock to make a paste (or a thick slurry.)
In a large soup pot, dump all the other ingredients. Turn the stove on high. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat to medium low and whisk in the masa slurry.
Simmer about 20-30 minutes, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Don’t put the heat too high or the masa will burn on the bottom of the pan. The longer cook time just means softer veg.
This is even better the next day. And, you could absolutely add some diced cooked chicken breast to this, if you wanted to boost the protein quotient.
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serves 4
calories 189
fat 1.1g
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 1214mg
carbs 34.9g
-fiber 4.6g
-sugars 7.3g
protein 11.5g

Orange Vinaigrette … …. and figs

This dressing! I want to drink it! Those figs! They’re like candy!

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Is this post about the dressing, or the figs? I honestly cannot decide so we’re going to say it is about summer.

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Trader Joe’s had these fun striped figs last night, so of course we had to get them. Because cute food.  When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about a spinach salad I had planned for the blog, one with an orange vinaigrette, and those figs just matched perfectly.

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This dressing is saturated in orange flavor goodness. It is delightful, and would be good on any spring green salad, or grilled chicken, or asparagus, or…well you get the idea. Make this. It’s delicious.  It’ll easily keep in the fridge up to a week. I wouldn’t go longer because of the parsley.

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Can you find the special treat I did when I sat down to lunch after taking the pictures? Oy.

My goodness, but this was delicious.
Ingredients
zest of an entire navel orange (about 1Tb)
juice of the orange (about 1/4c)
¼ c. cider or rice vinegar (or enough to bring juice up to ½ c)
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp minced shallot
2 Tbsp minced parsley
2/3 – 1 c. mild oil (canola, light olive, etc.)
Instructions
Whisk together everything but the oil. Then, slowly drizzle in the oil while still whisking until it emulsifies.
Add or subtract honey depending on your preference. Use the rice vinegar if you like things a little less zippy.
Notes
Need to see the whisk/emulsify technique? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdhpIZqUAJ4
By Karen Maginnis
serves 14
calories 114
fat 11g
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 6mg
carbs 5g
-fiber 0g
-sugars 4g
protein 0g

Posole’s Pork-Free Cousin

I want posole. But It’s hot.  I don’t want to have the oven on for six hours to roast a pork shoulder.  Plus, pork sounds so heavy. But I want posole.  I wonder how it would be w/o the meat? …..

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Answer: fucking delicious. And, as a bonus, totally crockpot-able. Hells to the yeah!

What makes this posole-esque is the puréed chile and the hominy in the broth, then serving it with the crushed red pepper and mexican oregano, shredded cabbage, lime, radish and tortilla strips.  Plus we added some avocado (because avocado!). 

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With all those lovely condiments, this is just scrumptious!  I used chicken broth, but use veg broth if you want to go 100% vegetarian.

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Please make this. You will be so happy!

 
Soup
2 celery stalks, in soupy size chunks
½ white onion in ½’ dice
1 carrot, in ½” dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 fat zucchini, in 1“ dice
5 or six button mushrooms, quarted
1 can no salt diced tomatoes
1 can hominy, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. mexican oregano leaves
2 chile california or guajillo, seeded, soaked and puréed in the blender
2 quarts chicken broth
Garnish
tortilla strips
radish slices
cabbage shreds
lime wedges
cilantro
mexican oregano
red pepper flakes
olive oil
avocado slices
Instructions
Plug in the crockpot.
In a big microwave safe bowl, bring 2 c. of the stock to boil. Toss in the seeded chile pods and let them soak a half hour.
Chop all your veg, throw them and the rest of the soup ingredients (except the soaking chiles) in the crockpot.
Throw the chile and liquid in the blender and puree. Mine takes about 2 minutes.
Strain the chile puree in to the soup.
Set on high for 2-3 hours, or low for 4-ish.
Serve with the selection of garnishes.

6 Servings; 194 calories, 7g fat, 881 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 10 g proteinn

Salads! Asian Flavors Cucumber Salad

So….I may or may not have purchased one of those spiral slicers. 

This week it’s another cucumber salad, this time with salty sesame flavor. Yum! 

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It’s ok to make the sauce ahead of time, but you should really toss it together and then eat it right away. It’s best when the cukes are super crisp as opposed to marinated. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but it’s not super hard: some rice vineger, mirin, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil along with some minced ginger, a dash of white miso and some black and white sesame seeds. 

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Garnish with some pickled (unsweetened) ginger, and away we rock and roll.

I thought this would actually be awesome with some cubed avocados and some tuna, but haven’t played with that yet.

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Hope you enjoy it!
For the sauce
1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp. mirin
1 tsp. minced ginger (I used a Dorot cube)
1/2 tsp. white miso
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. each white and black sesame seeds
For the salad
1/2 english cucumber, sliced on a spiral slicer**
For the garnish
Pickled, unsweetened ginger (those red sticks)
Instructions
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce.
Pour the sauce over the cucumber.
Garnish with the red ginger.
Inhale.
Notes
**If you don’t do the spiral bit, 1/8″ thick half-moons will do just dandy.
Servings 4
Calories 47
Fat 4 g
Sodium 103 mg
Carbs 2 g
Protein 1 g

Summer summer summer salads!! Gurkensalat.

My father’s family is from a tiny, tiny town in Ohio. Often in the summer, we would go “back east” to visit. My paternal grandparents were wound pretty tight; I never felt comfortable when I was there. But my Grandmother Charlotte always made two things that stuck in my mind: cucumber salad, and huge soft lemon sugar cookies.  Those are my favorite memories of those trips; well, those and fireflies. Being from the desert, fireflies have always fascinated me.  As far as the victuals, to this day I’ve not found the equivalent for the cookies but I have for the cukes!  Thank you, interwebs.
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This is simple. And quick. And so very yummy and cool, and great with summery foods like picnics and barbecues.  It pays to make a big batch; it will keep in the fridge for at least a week. Unless you live with me; then it’s two days, tops.

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The only thing is, you really do need a mandoline for this. Unless you’ve been to chef school and have the mad knife skills to slice a cucumber in to wafer thin slices.

 

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I really hope you try this one. It’s tangy, sweet, savory and crunchy.
For the marinade
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. white vinegar
For the salad
1/2 English cucumber, washed and sliced wafer-thin on a mandoline
1/4 Sweet white onion like a Vidalia or a Maui Sweet, sliced wafer-thin on a mandoline
1 Tbsp. dried dill weed, or 2 Tbsp. minced fresh.
Instructions
Put the marinade ingredients in a sauce pan or in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring to an almost boil, until the sugar is dissolved and set aside to cool.
While the marinade is cooling, wash and slice the veg.
In a tall, wide-mouthed container, put a single layer of cukes, a single layer of onion and sprinkle of dill.
Continue until all the stuff is in the jar.
By this time, the marinade should be about room temp. Pour it over the ingredients in the jar.
Refrigerate.
If you can contain yourself, these are best eaten after a day.
Notes
You can also make this with crème fraîche instead of the marinade. Just mix it all together. Nerms.

Servings 4
Calories 114
Fat 0 g
Sodium 5 mg
Carbs 28 g
Protein 0 g