butternut squash soup with parmesan cheese crisps

My counter is full of squash.  Acorn.  Butternut.  Spaghetti.  All rolling around and teeter-tottering about like vegetable weeble wobbles. Squash was not meant to lay about on a countertop.  I  fear that they will eventually end up cracked and splattered on the floor before I find the time and energy to create a dish that would be eatable …

I don’t mind the squash on my countertop as they are my  only fall decorations…I bet my CSA didn’t know they were providing a bedecking service once they started harvesting squash.  Perishable decorations however at some point in time need to be eaten.  I don’t have many dishes to hide squash in…and yes, I hide squash.  There is the ever so popular mac and cheese or the fancy schmancy butternut squash risotto, both of which claim to be crowd pleasers.  I am not sure about just eating it roasted because I have this misconception that it should be as sweet as a sweet potato, but it isn’t and it never will be.  And therefore,  I need to load up the vegetable with butter and brown sugar, and while I see very little wrong with this picture, I feel like I am pushing squash to be something it isn’t.  A sweet potato.  You see, they may have similar color…but no go on the level of sugar.  If the vegetable is bright orange, I have a level of sweetness that I inherently connect with it…sweet potatoes, sweet.  Carrots, sweet.  Yams, sweet.  Butternut squash, not sweet.  So upsetting!  So, over the years I have had quite a few of so-called failed dishes because they missed the flavor bullseye in my brain because I was hoping for a bit of sweetness when I should have been striving and expecting a savory end result…my mistake.  I am in the midst of reshaping my thinking.  Altering my taste buds.  Maturing if you will.

So, with this in mind…and more squash expected in this weeks CSA and a lack of any more counter space for fall decorations, and a craving for comfort in a bowl…I went in search of a decent soup recipe.  I knew going in, the basics of a butternut squash soup.  I knew how to roast the squash.  I knew how to saute my onion and garlic.  I knew how to add chicken stock and bring it to a boil.  I knew how to puree until smooth.  I knew to add cream at the end.  I knew to top with chopped chives and a dollop of crème fraîche.  I, however, needed help with the spices.  Deb of Smitten Kitchen to the rescue.   And come to find out…cumin, ginger, thyme, and sage are exactly what you need.  Que Simon and Garfunkel.  She is genius.  But I already knew that and I am betting you did too.

So with the right spices on board and a change in mind-set from sweet to savory…I made a bowl of roasted butternut squash soup that was quite enjoyable and necessary on Saturday as the cold rain fell and we curled up on the couch and settled in for a day of sweatpants and Netflix.

And seriously, the parmesan crisps are a must and take literally 6 minutes to whip up…maybe 8 if you are grating your own cheese, which huge props to you…I have a tendency to buy pre-shredded parmesan cheese because I abhor shredding cheese of any kind and plus I like to snack on parmesan cheese throughout the day…a pinch here and a pinch there…talk about salty goodness.

5.0 from 1 reviews
butternut squash soup with parmesan cheese crisps
 
Makes enough for 4 decent sized servings.
Ingredients
  • 1 Butternut Squash - medium in size
  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Sweet Onion, small dice
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2½ to 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon Sage finely chopped
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon Thyme finely chopped
  • 1+1/2 Teaspoon ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon ground Ginger
  • ¼ Cup Heavy Cream (or half and half)
  • chives (optional)
  • Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream (optional)
  • Parmesan Crisps
  • 2 Tablespoons Freshly grated Parmesan per crisp.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cut butternut squash and acorn squash in half, length wise. With a sturdy knife, slice off top of squash close to stem. Scoop out seeds and membranes. Lay face up on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and roast for about 30 to 45 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, scoop out the squash flesh and place in bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, saute until translucent. About 10 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, cooled squash flesh, sage, thyme, cumin, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Working in small batches, transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth, transferring pureed soup back into original pan. Once all the soup is pureed, stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste. (if the soup is too thick, stir in a bit more broth until desired consistency is reached...I like a thicker soup, so I used only 2 +1/2 cups) Bring soup to a simmer over low heat and prepare parmesan crisps.
  6. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Neatly mound 2 tablespoonfuls of grated parmesan cheese per crisp on lined baking sheet 3 inches apart. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until edges are browned and centers are bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool. These are best slightly warm or at room temperature.
  8. Serve soup with a dollop of creme fraiche, chopped chives, and a parmesan crisp or two.

 

Tomato Corn Chowder

I am a chowder girl.  All the way.

OR chowda…if we are to be saying it correctly.  Which I think we should be, even if we are in Ohio and a good days drive from any New England accent…which is sad, because I could listen to them talk for days.  And driving 8+ hours to hear an accent might be a bit crazy.  But what if I added chowda’ eating and lobsta roll gorging?  The thought of driving for all three of those things; accents, chowda, and lobsta rolls….well, I am thinking it might be doable.  Insane, perhaps…but totally worth it.

Did someone mention coffee ice cream?

OK, all dreaming of a New England fall vacation aside…

Do you have an insane amount of tomatoes sitting on your counter?  And a few cherry tomatoes too… that perhaps your cat is swatting off the counter?  No?   My CSA and fellow co-workers have been supplying my humble abode with tomatoes faster than I can eat or Stan can swat.  Such a tough situation, right? Too many tomatoes…womp, womp…

Besides canning or making salsa – both great ways to enjoy a tomato…I didn’t have enough to go through the whole canning process and I can’t be trusted with salsa and a bag of tortilla chips….So, I always turn to making some sort of soup/stew or in this instance, a chowda when I have more tomatoes than I can eat on sandwiches or in salads.

Lets gather some ingredients.

Skinned yellow tomatoes…and all their glorious juices.  Super easy…the darn oven does all the work – you just have to wait and allow them to cool or wind up nursing burnt fingertips.  I swear, I pray for patience.  Daily.

You will need some sweet corn.  And leave it under the broiler longer than I did.  Read about my patience above.

 

Handy dandy way of trimming off the kernels without them flying all over your kitchen…Game changer.

Is there anything more satisfying than eating a chunk of corn kernels?  No, there isn’t.  Sorry, I didn’t give you a chance to answer.  So. darn. satisfying.

What is chowda without bacon and onions?  I don’t even want to think about it.  Get bacon.  Find an onion. Dice.

 

Potatoes.  Keep the skin on.  It is easier.  Why new potatoes rock.

 

 

Eat.

With crusty bread.

And a spoon.

And friends.

A cold beer wouldn’t be bad either…

Tomato Corn Chowder
 
Makes about 4 large servings
Ingredients
  • 3 Large Yellow Tomatoes, ripe (or 4 medium)
  • 4 Ears Fresh Corn, in husk
  • 6 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon, Diced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme (use 1 Tablespoon if you have fresh)
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 5 Small New Potatoes, washed and large dice - I used Yukon Gold
  • 1 Cup Half and Half.
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Roast tomatoes and corn. Turn boiler on high. Place tomatoes and corn (in husk) on separate tinfoil-lined rimmed baking sheets and place under broiler. Broil tomatoes until the skin has blackened - turning every so often. Broil the corn until the husks begin to brown. Remove trays from oven and let cool until they can be handled. Remove skins from tomatoes and remove husk and silk from corn. Roughly chop the tomatoes, reserving any and all liquid. Slice the corn kernels off of the corn husks. Set tomatoes and corn kernels aside.
  2. Place a large pot over medium heat and add diced bacon to pan. Cook bacon until crispy.
  3. Stir in the onions and thyme and cook until onions are softened and translucent, do not let them brown (about 5 to 7 minutes, if they begin to brown, turn down heat).
  4. Add tomatoes and corn and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth and potatoes and bring to a simmer, cook until potatoes are fork tender (about 8 to 10 minutes).
  6. Stir in half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Store in fridge.

 

 

Shrimp Curry

 

I made myself a legit dinner.

There was no cereal.  No avocado egg sandwich.  No popcorn.  No cookie dough or brownies.  No ‘big salad’ (can they bring Seinfeld back?)  No frozen soup from the depths of my freezer.  Multiple popsicles?  Nah.

You see, on most evenings, I don’t make dinner.  Nor do I want to, unless it is cookie dough, then I am totally there!  Rarely is there meat and potatoes.  Or a side dish alongside an entree.  I don’t even do take-out or take advantage of the pizza delivery system.  Nope.  I pour a bowl of cereal with a splash of almond milk or toast a pita round, slather it with smashed up avocado, and top with an egg.  …it is the easy way out and leaves me with no leftovers.  Total win win.  Wives and mothers out there…how do you serve a meal each and every night?  Dear future husband…Please don’t expect a full blown meal each night…you will be extremely disappointed when cereal is on the menu.  Just a heads up.  Dessert though, that will always happen…

Now don’t fret, there are some nights when I actually get my game together and whip up an actual complete meal.  It is never planned and generally follows an overly ambitious grocery trip.  Like when I find myself putting groceries away (worst part, right?) and wonder who put all this actual food in my cart…chicken thighs?  Shrimp?  You really bought ground beef?  Who were you in the grocery?  It is like I don’t even know you/me!  Did you even buy more cereal?  We need more cereal not a whole freakin’ chicken!  Yeah, this happens.

And this is how I came upon making and then thoroughly enjoying a shrimp curry over basmati rice.  Months ago I bought curry paste and it has been sitting in my cupboard staring at me and finding its way to the front, no matter how many times I hide it behind cans of broth and tuna.  See, my off the wall grocery excursions taunt me months after they occur.  But that curry paste… had I just waited to purchase it until when I randomly bought a pound of shrimp, this whole meal would have looked like it was planned.  Ha!  Someday.  Can we pretend?

Shrimp Curry
 
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Curry Paste
  • 8 oz. Clam Juice
  • 1 Can Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 Large Handful Cilantro, rough chop
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Basmati Rice for serving
Instructions
  1. Place curry paste in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Begin to cook until paste becomes fragrant, several minutes.
  2. Add coconut milk and clam juice and whisk until paste is dissolved. Bring sauce to a boil and cook until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping off. This should take 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add slices of red bell pepper and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until bell peppers are softened.
  4. Add shrimp to sauce and cook until shrimp turn pink, an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve over rice and enjoy!

 

 

Summer Squash Stuffed Boats

I was standing in the middle of a parking lot, shoulder to shoulder with strangers on one side and gossiping/people watching with Mel on the other, just rows from the stage,  preparing for what would be one of the best concerts I have ever been to, when my mind wandered to my hydrator and its contents within.  And what would be added to it come Wednesday, when yet another load of CSA goodies would be picked up.  Ideas have a tendency to pop into my head at the most random times.  Moments away from Mumford and Sons walking onto the stage and I am thinking about summer squash and typing a few quick notes into my Droid.

 Stuffed summer squash with sausage and cheese and oh, mushrooms.  Totally mushrooms.  Chicken, pork, or turkey sausage?  I wonder what is in the freezer?  Oh, that needs cleaned out….before September, make that a goal in life.  There is a loaf of frozen soda bread that needs to become baked french toast or bread pudding…write that down and don’t throw the bread away.  I could add tomatoes to the stuffed squash…I think I remember zucchini boats with tomato sauce somewhere at some point in time.  The boats could kinda float.  Man those nachos earlier were scrumptious and I can’t believe parking was only 5 bucks…unheard of!  I really hope when Mumford and Sons come out that the crowd doesn’t lunge forward…I would hate to be trampled.  Mozzarella cheese on the boats…and a lot of it.   I love the twinkle lights strung across the stage…twinkle lights make the world better.  I need twinkle lights on my patio.  Next summer.  I should write that down too.  And on it went…

And this was my train of thought.  Somewhere in there, I started a recipe or at least the beginning of one.  And this is how ideas pop into my head.  They’re generally among other arbitrary thoughts and if I am listening, I can pluck them out and if I am being diligent, I will jot a quick note down.  Between my phone, a small notebook, scrap paper, and the back of random receipts…I am able to keep track of ideas.  Is it organized in any way?  No.  However, I wouldn’t exactly consider myself an organized person.  I mean, I have a months worth of mail sitting on my deep freezer in the garage.  And while I try to keep cooking utensils in one drawer and baking materials in another, at a glance you would think there was no rhyme or reason.  I am not one to situate my closet according to season.  It is just not in my design to be organized…so why would note taking be any different?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Stuffed Summer Squash
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Medium Summer Squash
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ Yellow Onion, small dice
  • 1 Cubanelle Pepper, halved and sliced into rounds
  • 1 Cup Sliced Mushrooms ( I used Baby Portabella)
  • 4 to 6 ounces Sausage ( I used precooked Jalapeño Chicken Sausages)
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 + ½ to 2 Cups Marinara Sauce
  • ½ Teaspoon Dry Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, and cubanelle pepper and cook until they are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add sausage and cook until sausage is cooked through ( if using precooked sausage, then just cook until heated through).
  4. Stir in cherry tomatoes, dried oregano, and ½ cup of marinara sauce and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and prepare squashes.
  5. Cut squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out seeds leaving about inch border around the edges.
  6. Pour remaining amount of marinara sauce ( about 1 cup) into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Place squash halves in pan and generously fill each squash half with prepared filling. Top with shredded cheese and place in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until cheese is bubbly and squash is fork tender.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

Soba Noodles w/ Chicken + Ginger Peanut Sauce

Happy Monday y’all!  I hope your weekend was rejuvenating or successful or so jam-packed full of crazy going-ons that going back to work is a sort of relief.  That is a sign of an awesome weekend!   Mine was great.  Thanks for asking :)  I worked, and ran, and listened to baseball, and mowed, and trimmed, and baked, and ….well I never did get to that laundry.  OK, now that we are over the pleasantries…can we talk noodles?  Yes, noodles.

I like, no scratch that, I LOVE a good noodle.

I grew up on chicken and noodles.  Beef and noodles.  Homemade noodles at church functions, with grandma always bringing home the leftovers in a Cool-Whip container – because once you reach the age of 60, you begin to save every plastic container with a lid and store leftovers in them.   It is normal, we recycle, our parents reduce, grandmas reuse…and eat a lot of Cool-Whip.

Before children, my mom made noodles from scratch.  We are a noodle eatin’ family.  Minus my younger brother, something happened to him in the womb.  He hates noodles.  And my older brother hates syrup…Sometimes I feel like I don’t even know them…

The noodles were/are always egg noodles.  Wide or thin, it didn’t matter.  But soba noodles, those were never served in Cairo (like the syrup not the Egyptian city).  Mainly, because we didn’t eat a lot of Japanese themed dishes.  Also, I don’t think small town Ohio was/is known for its Japanese cuisine.

Soba noodles are a buckwheat noodle (for those of you not in the know…).  Actually, are you ready for this fun fact?  Soba means buckwheat in Japanese.  So…we are talking Japanese spaghetti like noodles.  With me on this?  Good.

This recipe came to me from the motivating pages of Runner’s World.  I had a package of soba noodles staring at me from the depths of my cupboard and a knob of ginger, just waiting to be grated.  This dish was meant to be made in my kitchen.  After a long run.  The great thing about this dish?  It is a cinch to whip up and takes approximately 15 minutes from start to finish.  Which is a good thing, because after my looooooonnnngggg run last weekend, the last thing my knees and hamstrings wanted was to be standing in front of the stove.  So, before I knew it, I was resting comfortably on the couch, with a plateful of carbs…and my knees and hamstrings, they were as happy as my stomach!

 Soba Noodles with Chicken + Peanut Ginger Sauce

Serves 2 (smallish portions) or 1 (largish portion)

adapted from Runners World

Ingredient

  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Nut Butter, I used almond
  • 4 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Freshly Grated Ginger
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 3 Ounces Soba Noodles, dry (if bundled, one bundle)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Cooked Chicken, shredded. Warm or room temperature ( rotisserie chicken from grocery to the rescue)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Peanuts, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  While waiting for water to boil, whisk together sauce.  In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, nut butter, white wine vinegar, grated ginger, and garlic.  Set aside.

Once water is boiling, add soba noodles and cook according to package directions, which is to boil for about 5 minutes.  (they cook faster than regular pasta)  During the last minute or two of cooking, add peas.  Drain soba noodles and peas and rinse with hot water until the water runs clear.  Do not skip this because your noodles will become a clump if left unrinsed.  Drain again.

In a serving dish, combine noodles, peas, shredded chicken, and sauce.  Toss to combine.  Garnish with chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.

This is excellent warm or cold the next day, once the flavors have really had time to settle in.