Category Archives: lunch

butternut squash & apple soup du jour

seriously, how can it be November? we’ve officially come face to face with blustery cold days and frequent rain storms. on my regular trip to the market, i find butternut squash on sale for just $0.99/lbs! without a recipe in mind, i decided to pick one up.

the lonely squash stared at me from the counter for some 9 days as the search for an appetizing meal played on. and then suddenly, déjà vu. this time, last year, butternut squash, counter. i recalled last year trying out a butternut squash soup recipe on some friends, which was given a mediocre review of a bit too thick for soup and more resemblant of a baby food.

how gross, i thought. but i’m sure i can do better. so this time around, i decided to axe up the recipe by replacing sauteed apples with apple sauce and a touch of apple juice, and one additional cup of chicken stock.

the result was dreamy. the perfect creamy soup, hold the cream. a healthy take on fall with a warm cup of butternut squash & apple soup, finished with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

butternut squash soup

one butternut squash (2 1/2 lbs or so)

2 cups of water

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp butter

1 cup applesauce

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 c apple juice

2  1/4 c chicken stock

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp coriander

preheat oven to 400°. slice squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. place sliced side down into baking pan with two cups of water. bake at 400° for 45-50 minutes, or until the squash is tender. remove from oven and allow to cool, until the pulp can be easily removed from the skins. this should give you approximately 3c of pulp.

saute diced onions in butter until translucent (5 mins). add applesauce and minced garlic. simmer for another 5 minutes. add chicken stock, apple juice, squash pulp, salt, pepper, and spices. whisk ingredients together and bring to a boil. lower heat to medium and reduce for about 10 minutes.

puree the soup in your food processor or food mill. keep warm over low heat and serve immediately. top with creme fraiche and cinnamon for a special treat. enjoy!

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, leftovers, lunch, recipe.index, recipes, sauces

halibut cheek sliders; cherry compote

for anyone who hasn’t had the luxury of indulging in halibut cheeks, i’m sorry. they aren’t easy to come by, but when you stumble across them they are a must have. this mild white fish cheek compares favorably against lobster tail, without the added work.

the halibut cheeks can be sautéed in a white wine, lemon, garlic, and butter pan for about 5-7 minutes – until thoroughly cooked. the texture is much different from a fillet with the shape and density resembling miniature lobster tails.

i served my sliders with mustard greens, red onion, cheeks, and cherry compote – though the dish would also complement well with garlicky aioli. the delicious juicy bing cherries were irresistible at the market. in fact, i used the remaining cherries to whip up an unforgettable cherry almond scone (coming soon…).

 

halibut cheek sliders

3/4 lbs of halibut cheek

1 lemon

3 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 c white wine (dry)

2tbsp butter

salt/pepper

slider buns (recommended: brioche rolls)

mustard greens

saute garlic and butter, add juice from one lemon and 1/2 c white wine. lightly salt and pepper your cheeks. simmer the sauce and add the cheeks, cooking for about 5-7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. slice red onion and rinse mustard greens. serve cheeks on toasted slider buns with greens, onion, and a dollop of cherry compote.

cherry compote

1 c. pitted bing cherries

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 c minced onion

1/4 balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 c water and 1/4 c sugar dissolved

saute minced onion with olive oil and fine lemon zest. add the sugar-water, cherries, balsamic and a squeeze of lemon juice. simmer to a reduction.

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asian chicken lettuce wraps

halfway through july and I’m beginning to worry summer may pass us by this year in Seattle. i keep waiting for a sunny day — particularly one that merits firing up some coals on the barbecue. since that day has yet to arrive, we dabbled with recipes to conjure up a refreshing summer meal despite the rain.

we settled on chicken lettuce wraps, inspired by none other than the world-wide web. these turned out just as we’d hoped  — light, refreshing, delicious.

of course what really makes these guys tasty is the ‘special’ sauce, a blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, sugar, hot asian mustard, red chili paste, sesame oil, and ginger. what is great about this sauce is that each can spice up their own ramekin of sauce as desired.  the chicken breasts are first pan seared and thereafter cooled for mincing.

the meat is minced with a mixture of onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and garlic — and then stir fried over medium high with a soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar sauce.

finally scoop a dollop of meat mixture into each iceberg lettuce leaf. load up with the sauce of your choice and fold it up like a taco. scrumptious!

alongside our lettuce wraps we indulged in a fresh asian chicken sesame salad (recipe below).

chicken lettuce wraps

2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast

oil for cooking

1 can water chestnuts – minced

1/2 c crimini mushrooms – minced

1/2 c yellow onion – chopped

2 garlic cloves

head of iceberg lettuce

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp rice vinegar

‘special sauce’ 

1/4 c sugar

1/3 c water

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1/4 tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp chili oil

2 tsp chili paste

hot mustard to taste

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp tomato paste

pan sear the chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side. allow to cool. while cooling, mince water chestnuts, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. set aside. once the chicken has cooled, mince the chicken and add to the other minced ingredients. combine 2 tablespoons of soy sauce with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar. this is your stir fry sauce, set aside.

put all special sauce ingredients except for the hot mustard and chili paste into the food processor. blend until combined. refrigerate until eating. add chili paste (2 tsp) and hot mustard to taste right before serving.

stir fry chicken mixture with soy mixture for 5-7 minutes on medium. while this is cooking, wash, clean, and separate your iceberg lettuce leaves. spread on a plate and serve alongside the meat mixture. add about 1/4 cup of meat mixture to each lettuce wrap, add sauce to taste, and enjoy!

asian chicken salad 

1/2 package of chinese egg noodles

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1-2 tbsp of minced jarred ginger (such as the ginger people’s minced ginger)

2 tbsp Sriracha or chili paste

1 c thinly sliced carrots

one pan seared chicken breast, sliced

1 cup diced green onions

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1/2 c chicken broth

cook egg noodles according to packaging. during the last 2-3 minutes, add the carrots to the boiling water. drain and rinse under cold water. combined peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, srirarcha, and chicken broth in a food processor. blend until combined. add green onions, sauce, sesame seeds, and diced chicken to the pasta. cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. enjoy!

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Filed under chicken, dinner, food photography, international, leftovers, lunch, recipe.index, sauces

shrimp scampi & linguine

with warmer days finally sprinkling in around seattle’s tiresome gray hues, it hit me like a brick. oh dear – summer. you know, that short-lived 6-week season when short shorts, tank tops, and summer dresses come out to play haunt all of us with our pasty legs and bloated winter bellies.

ugh, I must start eating lighter meals and researching this year’s best streak-free sunless tanner. seattle’s summer slogan ought to be warning: don’t blink or you might miss it. what I find most unusual is the volume of high end speed boats and convertibles that seem to rise from the dead just long enough to get their annual tune-up.

the joys of shrimp scampi were calling to me – a dish that I first made with the help of a good friend, and would proceed to make many of times thereafter. citrusy lemons and garlic galore, sub parsley for what some would refer to as ‘you love it or you hate it’, cilantro. this dish is quick, easy, and light.

 shrimp scampi

1 lbs shrimp – veined and peeled

1/4 c butter

1/2 c chopped cilantro

2 shallots

2 lemons, for juice and peel

4-6 garlic cloves

1 c white wine

linguine

boil 2 quarts of water for linguine. cook per package instructions. 

sauté shrimp for about 1 minute in steaming water until just cooked. remove from pan and set aside. melt butter until foaming, add garlic and shallots. sauté 3 minutes until shallots become translucent. add white wine and lemon juice from two small/medium lemons, continue simmer. add 1/2 tablespoon of grated lemon peel. add cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. add back the shrimp to reheat over medium heat for 2 minutes.

combine shrimp and sauce with strained linguine noodles. serve and enjoy with a delicious crusty bread or side salad!

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, fish, food photography, leftovers, lunch, recipe.index, recipes, sauces, seafood, shrimp

strawberry freezer jam

finally! strawberry season has come. i was surprised to see plump red juicy berries at the market for $2 a pint already, so i had to give it a go. Seattle weather has been pretty sub-par this spring, and the temperatures have been burrrrzy cold.

that said, i wasn’t shocked to find out after biting into the first berry that they were barely ripe and actually rather bitter. ok, ok, so nobody is drooling at the thought of bitter berries exploding on their tongue. but we shall NOT give up too soon. this, in fact is the perfect berry to whip up some simple strawberry jam.

Jeti sheepishly standing around the corner, giving me the, ‘dammit mom, where is the meat in this one? hellllloooo, i’m a dog! i don’t like fruit! this is bullshit…’ stare.

the best things about fresh strawberry freezer jam:

1) can it, wrap a bow around it, and pass it out to all of your friends.

2) use it on pancakes, toast, pb&j, cake fillings, ice cream… anywhere.

3) it never goes bad.

strawberry freezer jam

1 pint fresh strawberries

1 c sugar

1 lemon wedge

2 tsp cornstarch

wash thoroughly and remove greens from strawberries. coarsely chop. toss the strawberries into your food processor and pulse 3-5 times. transport the strawberries into a sauce pan and heat on medium. add sugar, juice from one lemon wedge, and cornstarch. mix thoroughly. continue to cook stirring frequently for 5 minutes. once the consistency becomes soupy, remove from heat. allow to cool at room temperature before storing. store in jars, and place in the fridge or freezer until use.

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chicken bacon panini; basil aioli

why can’t the weekend be longer? it always seems to be just a hair too short to get everything you planned on getting done wrapped up. well, here we are again. sunday night with too much to do and not enough time to do it. i thought i’d better make something for dinner tonight, lunch for tomorrow [and Tuesday, and Wednesday…] to conserve time.

the most important ingredients: the butter & the sauce. with the right aioli, hummus, or dressing and the appropriate amount of butter slathering, you can pack your panini with just about anything and have everyone drooling at the result.

 

chicken panini

2 poached chicken breasts, sliced thinly

spinach

cracked pepper cheese [i used Marco Polo by Beecher’s]

4 slices of bacon

thinly sliced red onion [to taste]

3 tbsp butter

rustic baguette

 

basil aioli

8 leaves of fresh basil chopped

6 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tbsp lemon or lime juice

1 minced garlic clove

1 chopped shallot

cracked pepper

 

make the aioli in your food processor or blender. toss all of the ingredients in and blend until smooth. refrigerate until use.

heat your griddle or a saute pan. slice bread for panini, butter outsides of slices. slather with aioli and layer on your ingredients. grill on the stove for 3 minutes each side on medium low, or until golden brown. enjoy!

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Filed under bread, chicken, comfort food, food photography, leftovers, lunch, recipe.index, recipes, sauces