Back In The Game – Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I haven’t really been cooking anything NEW recently. I’ve been cooking a lot but really just the same ol’, same ol’. Like cauliflower purée for a party, or beef stew for dinner, or baked chicken with roasted veggies. Great food…just nothing new.

And then my amazing friend Wes gave me an instant pot. And I’m experimenting. Tonight I made butternut squash soup.

It’s been raining for days and more than half of our house is sick…what is better than a rich, satisfying, warm soup? 


I’m not going to into too many details about cooking with the instant pot but instead I’ll tell you the ingredients. 

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs peeled and cubes butternut squash
  • 2 gala apples cubed (peel on)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2″ of fresh ginger
  • 2 tsps of nutmeg
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of chicken stock 
  • A few strips of thick cut back cut into one inch pieces or lardons if available
  • Handful of spinach per person

I sautéed in olive oil the onions with the sage, salt and pepper, and half of the ginger. When soft I added in the butternut squash and the apples, the nutmeg and the rest of the ginger and let that cook for a bit to brown. I then added the stock and mixed it all up before pressure cooking the soup for 10 minutes. Once releasing the steam, I put in the lemon zest and juice and puréed the mixture with my immersion blender. It tastes outstanding. But to make it more of a meal, I cooked some bacon to put on top after pouring the soup over the spinach. Majorly delish and so quick with the instant pot. 

Pineapple Basil Chicken Over Cauliflower Rice in Lettuce Boats

It has been hot hot hot where we live in the recent weeks and I have been craving the fresh, juicy and a little bit spicy tastes of summer. 

Last night I made pineapple basil chicken lettuce boats and they were…amazing. Light and refreshing but also totally filling. I will be making this a LOT this summer.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in 3/4″ cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • half of a large vidalia onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • large handful of basil
  • 6 large romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 lemon

For the terayaki-ish marinade:

  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • ginger
  • lemon
  • brown sugar
  • mirin
  • rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil

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The chicken cooks quickly so I prepared everything in advance while the chicken sat in the marinade for about an hour…but could be as little as twenty minutes. 

Cube the chicken and then prepare the marinade. I tend to eye and taste this to make it to my liking before adding the chicken so the measurements aren’t exact. About 1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce, a few squirts of fish sauce, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of mirin, a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, the zest and juice of one lemon, a one inch knob of ginger grated, and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix it all up and add the chicken.

While that marinates, rice the cauliflower (buzz it in the food processor for a bit), slice the pineapple, cut the onion, slice the red pepper and finely dice the skin of one jalapeno pepper (and unless you are brave, avoid the seeds). I also wash the lettuce at this point, too.

When you are ready to cook, divide the cut onion into two batches (for cooking chicken and for cooking “rice”). You will need two pans for this part. I suggest a high sided pan for the rice and a saute pan for the chicken. Add oil to both pans and, once hot, add the onion. Let it cook until translucent. In one pan, add the rice with salt and pepper. In the other, add the chicken, reserving the marinade for later. Cook one side of the chicken until browned and then flip the chicken. It will cook quickly so don’t go too far. Pour in half of the marinade and discard the rest. When the chicken is almost cooked through, add the rest of the ingredients to the chicken and cook until the pineapple begins to brown. The rice will take about the same amount of time to warm through.

To plate, fill the lettuce boats with cauliflower rice and then top with the chicken mixture. Serve and enjoy!

 

Tuna, chickpea, persian cucumber, lemon salad (with leftover cauliflower puree)

Hubs said nay to my idea of coffee yogurt with chia seeds for lunch. He wanted something more hearty and I had just seen this recipe on theKitchn which sounded delicious.

But I was being pulled towards tuna and didn’t have red onion. SO! I made it up with that Kitchn salad as my inspiration. The original was surprisingly persian in influence so I had a lot of those ingredients on hand.

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Ingredients:

  • One can of chickpeas
  • One can of tuna
  • Two tablespoons of leftover cauliflower puree
  • Four persian cucumbers
  • Half of a lemon
  • Half of sweet white onion, thinly sliced
  • Balsamic
  • One tablespoon of sumac
  • Half teaspoon of chili powder
  • One tablespoon of pomegranate syrup

In a bowl, put the drained and rinsed chickpeas, the drained tuna, the leftover cauliflower puree, the cut-into-discs cucumber and some salt and pepper.

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Put the thinly sliced onion in a saute pan with half a teaspoon of olive oil and cook on medium low until soft. When soft, add a splash of balsamic and turn the heat down to let them caramelize.

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Once the onions are ready, add in the ingredients that were already mixed and then put in the lemon juice, the sumac, the chili powder and the pomegranate syrup. Mix thoroughly and warm over medium heat to taste. This was REALLY good. Thumbs up from the hubs. Easy to make and healthy!

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Ginger lime chicken with leeks and broccolini

M was out with some buddies for dinner the other night and the girls were out with some friends so I was home cooking for myself. I didn’t feel like doing TOO much but felt like I wanted a little zing with a lot of veg. 

Chicken:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • the juice of 1 large lime
  • about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • a dash of olive oil (you can add a bit of sesame oil, too, if you’d like)
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped

In a glass bowl I put the soy sauce, honey, lime juice, salt and pepper, and olive oil. I pulled my knob of ginger out of the freezer where I keep it in a zip lock and grate a knob over the marinade. I whisk it for a second, separate and reserve two tablespoons of the mixture and then let it sit while I prepare the leek. I chopped off the green ends and the bottom portion of the leek, left only with the whites, and cut them into thin, long strips. I then placed those strips and the tenders in the marinade while I prepared the broccolini.

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I rinsed the broccolini and then put it in a bamboo steamer to steam on low heat until bright green.

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When the broccolini was finished, I turned off the heat and let them sit, uncovered, on the stovetop while I cooked the chicken. It goes pretty quickly so do this maybe 10 minutes before you want to eat. This is best served quickly and warm because of the saucey, caramelized bits.

In a heavy bottomed saute pan over med-high heat, warm a teaspoon of olive oil. Once glistening, add the onions and cook for a minute until they are starting to become translucent. Push them to the side of the pan and, using tongs, add the chicken and leeks to the pan.  

Once the chicken is browning slightly, flip the chicken and pour on the reserved marinade. Make sure to mix the onions and leeks into the marinade as well. Using a insta-read thermometer, pull them off the heat at 160ish as they will continue to cook once you take them off the heat. Mix the pieces together on the bottom of the pan as the marinade will have caramelized and is DEVIIIINE.

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Squeeze a lemon over the broccolini and add a few thinly sliced pats of butter (more like a shave). I also shook a tiny bit of parm over the veg. Then put two tenders on a place with the leeks and onions on top. Et voila! The chicken was SPECTACULAR. Succulent, savory, a bit of zing from the ginger and a little smidge of sweet, too. The broccolini was hearty and yummy. Quite a good meal for a lady on her own 🙂

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