Easter Sunday was pretty mellow this year. My wife and I went to see and sniff the lilies at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, then came home to a lovely dinner of homemade pita bread and baba ganoush for an appetizer, followed by quinoa topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers. On the side were pan braised Brussel sprouts in garlic infused olive oil and a special Californian red wine to round it out.
After our fine dinner it seemed only natural to watch Julie and Julia- since I had recorded it on the dvr. I saw the movie only once when it came out, and it was the inspiration for my own food blog. What impressed me most about the movie is how Julia Child overcame such odds to get Mastering The Art of French Cooking, one of the most important cookbooks in America for the last hundred years, published! I was so impressed that she stuck with the project after all the problems with one of her two co-authors, and the disappointment that editors and publishers didn’t see the importance of this bold new book for American cooks. Lucky for Julia and for all of us that editor Judith Jones at Knopf saw the book for what it was worth!
Once this amazing cookbook was in their hands, American cooks confidently graduated from beef stew to Beef Bourguignon, and Raspberry Bavarian Cream took the place of raspberry pudding. Mastering the Art of French Cooking stepped up the game for home cooks and fostered an age of creativity in home and commercial kitchens.
I’m always learning new techniques and exploring new cuisines. Recently, I have been experimenting with potato-thickened soups. This can make a soup gluten-free, and it simplifies the time and effort it takes to make a homemade soup.
This week’s recipe shows off broccoli, one of my favorite vegetables. With asparagus season near, this could easily be cream of potato asparagus soup, too. Don’t be afraid to be creative and tweak it your way. I found the leftover soup to be excellent and topped with sautéed maitake mushrooms for a nice variation. White mushrooms would work well too since Maitake are not widely available. Either way I hope you try this cream of broccoli and potato soup and let me know how yours turned out.
As Julia would say,”Bon Appetite” and don’t forget to enter the giveaway from the good folks at Melissa’s. They will bestow upon one lucky reader a box of mixed produce from their 280,000 square foot warehouse in California.
Follow this link to enter by leaving your comment on my last post about Oven Roasted Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and good luck!
1 3/4 pounds fresh broccoli
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock*
1 3/4 cups 2% milk
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt, optional
Wash potatoes, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes. Hold potatoes in a bowl of cool water until ready to cook.
Wash and trim leaves off the broccoli.
Cut stems off below the crown.
Peel the stems and cut into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.
Cut the crown into golf ball sized florets then cut the floret stems into 1/2 inch slices.
Cut the florets into the size of a grape and set aside.
In a 3 quart pot add vegetable stock and potatoes. Cook on high, covered, until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cooking for 7 minutes.
Add broccoli, cover and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking for another 7-10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Remove from heat and add milk.
If using a tabletop blender put soup in blender in two batches mixing until it is smooth, about 1 minute.
If using an immersion blender you can keep the pot on the stove, turn heat to low, add milk and blend until smooth.
Add more milk to thin, if necessary.
Makes about 10 one cup servings.
* Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cubes can be used, instead of vegetable stock. Chicken stock would also work well.
On my morning dog walk today I saw several robins hopping about looking for worms and other avian culinary delights. I expect this is a sure sign that a long awaited spring is just around the corner. On the morning weather forecast I heard encouraging words I haven’t heard in a long time-“Highs in the lower sixties today and mostly sunny by the afternoon.” Such sweet music to my ears was this news that I feel compelled to start work on my veggie garden. I’ll sort my seeds and start planning my crops for the year. Somewhere on the internet is a site with tools where I can map, by square feet, my garden layout for the spring and summer. This is most helpful in designing a well laid out garden that takes advantage of my gardening space and sun fully. After all, I would not want my tall pea vines to block out the sun on my lettuce and herbs. With a well planned garden all the plants are arranged as if in a large family picture with the short ones up front, the mid-sized in the middle and the tall in the rear.
In a day and age when you hardly ever know what goes into your food it is important to grow what you can in your own yard, community garden, or patio. Even when I lived in a rental town home before moving to my current house I had Earth Box container planters on my deck and grew tomatoes, herbs and peppers in a small space with good results. With just a few hours per week you can take control of some or most of your produce needs. It is so gratifying to provide for yourself and family fresh grown tomatoes, peppers, herbs and more. With a bit of luck you might even have a surplus to share with neighbors and food banks. I have had bumper crops for the last three years and wander the neighborhood looking for someone at home to gift my excess crops to. It is a wonderful thing to share that which we have brought about using our own two hands.
Speaking of sharing, today I have one of my favorite very fast and quite healthy recipes to give to you. Blackened fish, whether it be catfish, salmon, halibut, redfish, or tilapia is an excellent choice for those in a hurry wanting to eat healthy. This blackened tilapia recipe uses very little oil on lean pieces of fish and takes less than ten minutes to prepare, and cook. It goes well with fried rice, Spanish rice, or steamed rice. Add a side salad, steamed green beans or broccoli to round it out as a full meal.
When the weather gets a bit warmer and drier I like to use my charcoal grill to cook it on outside.
With just three ingredients this is about as simple as a main dish gets and is bursting with spicy good flavors of chilies, cumin, garlic, herbs and black pepper. Give it a try with tilapia, the “aquatic chicken” of aquaculture. Easily grown in controlled fish farms tilapia has exploded on the American food scene over the last fifteen years. It is healthy, tasty and relatively easy on the environment, as well as reasonably priced. With a wide presence you should be able to find it in your grocery store. If you can’t find tilapia try this recipe with catfish or salmon. Please share with family and friends and leave your comments to help me continue improving my website and recipes.
1 6-8 ounce piece of tilapia per person
1 1/2 tablespoons of high heat tolerant oil, see note
1 tablespoon of blackening spice per piece of fish
Dry of fish with a paper towel then dust with blackening spice on both sides.
Heat heavy skillet and oil, cast iron is preferred, using high heat. When oil just starts to smoke add fish and cover with splatter guard.
Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip and cook for 3 more minutes. Hold in a warm oven if necessary to finish additional pieces.
I use avocado oil or refined peanut oil that can handle heat over 400 degrees. Some light olive oils can take heat over 400 degrees too but don’t use extra virgin.
You can use just about any commercially available blackening spice blend sold in grocery stores. If not available here is a simple recipe to make your own:
1 T salt
1 t dried oregano
1 T paprika
1-2 t cayenne pepper
1 T granulated garlic
1 t onion powder
1 t dried thyme
2 t ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together and you have your very own blackening spice.
With a busy schedule that has me out of town one or more days for each the next five weeks I don’t want to spend any more time than needed in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong. I still love to come home from a trip and cook, but it has to be quick and healthy like this Portabella Pasta dish. When I’m on the road I get to eat at some great restaurants. Take for instance the Wicked Spoon in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Casino last week. The food was amazing and they have a bottomless glass of wine special too. When you order a glass of wine the waiter will ask, “Would you like our bottomless glass of wine for just $4 more?” to which I said, “Hell yeah!”. The catch is you have to get your wine drinking done within two hours. That is not a problem for most of us, certainly not me. After three tasty glasses of Prosecco I had enough food and wine for the day and was off to enjoy the sunshine.
Once I get home I look forward to cooking in my own kitchen again. I might have even picked up some ideas from dinning out on the road. This week I went up to Phillip’s Mushrooms in Kennett Square and picked up a load of portabellas, shitake and maitake mushrooms to use in my test kitchen. I had some ports leftover and decided to share this recipe that I wrote two years ago but had lingered on the back burner awaiting a final test. I learned this type of cooking while visiting Ostuni, Italy. That region of Italy is known for simple dishes made with just a few ingredients. Their thumbprint pasta called “ orecchiette” is found often and usually served with some sort of tomato product, and maybe some fresh herbs. We loved every dish we tasted with orecchiette in it and I have used it occasionally since that visit.
In your kitchen you can substitute orecchiette with bow tie pasta or a gluten-free pasta and I suspect it will still turn out quite well. Use the best canned or fresh tomatoes you can get your hands on for best taste. If you want to make it a meaty entree just add Italian sausage in it or on the side and you will have the full meal deal. Pair it with a nice Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner Italian style. It beats Spaghetti O’s any day! Please leave your comments so the world knows I have a gazillion readers/followers. Until next time, eat well and drink well my friends.
2 cup orecchiette pasta, or bow tie pasta
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
5-6 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil
1 portabella mushroom sliced in 3/8 inch slices
2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped,optional
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat to boiling 8-10 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt.
While water is heating sauté portabella slices in a sauté pan on medium heat until lightly browned. It may take two rounds as the portabella slices should not be touching. After browning set aside in a warm oven.
Cook pasta when water boils.
Use same sauté pan to heat tomatoes and herbs to a simmer.
When pasta is done cooking, drain and toss with tomatoes.
Add chopped parsley and arrange on individual plates.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Top with sautéed portabellas, and parmesan.
Serves 2 as an entree or four as a side dish, but easily doubles to serve more.
Once upon a time there was chili and chili was good. Back then chili was always made with beef or pork for the meat component, and it was good. For many years all the people in the land ate of the usual beef and pork chili and all was well. Then one cold day came strangers to the world of chili and proclaimed that there are other meats that are good in it. These strange people put ground turkey in their chili much to the surprise of the beef and pork chili eaters. As if that wasn’t enough strangeness they would also use bison instead of the age old method of beef and pork to make matters more unsettling. The “old school” beef and pork chili eaters were upset by this oddness and said, “woe is thee who eateth the turkey or bison chili” and they refused to eat it. This did not bother the “new school” turkey and bison chili eaters, and they blended in as best as they could in the world of the “old school” crowd.
Many years passed and the “old school” chili eaters had children who grew up alongside the children of the “new school” chili folk and in time they became friendly towards each other. It was bound to happen that one day the child of an old school chili eater was visiting his friend who’s parents were of the “new school”. It was cold and nasty outside and the “old school” child was invited to stay for dinner. Lo and behold the family served nothing for dinner but turkey chili. The “old school” child thought it was better to eat of the strange turkey chili than go hungry and upset his hosts so he bravely tried this new chili. What a surprise to his taste buds this milder flavored meat had! It was delicious in a most agreeable manner and he ate much of this warm and satisfying bowl of hot red goodness. He couldn’t wait to go home and tell his parents about what was once thought of as sacrilege amongst chili eaters, was indeed quite tasty. He asked his hosts for the recipe to take to his parents so they too could sample this new chili. When he arrived home with chili smeared on his happy little face he told his parents of the wondrous chili at the “new school” chili eater’s home. He presented them with the recipe and the parents tried it and liked it. Soon all the land was rejoicing in the bliss of two new chili recipes and all was well in the land.
Today I share with you that amazing turkey chili recipe that brought peace and harmony to the land of chili eaters. May it keep you warm and happy.
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of kidney beans
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a 6-8 quart pot add olive oil, onions and garlic, and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring often.
Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes stirring often.
Add ground turkey, turn heat up to med-hi and cook for 5 minutes stirring every 30 seconds until turkey is no longer pink.
Add rest of the ingredients, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook at a slow simmer for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Chili is ready to eat after 20 minutes, but improves if cooked for 45 minutes, the last 25 minutes should be with the cover off. Like most chili recipes this one improves the next day.
Spinach and Feta Cheese Tostadas
Here we are in the first week of the New Year and I bet everyone is eating healthier thanks to resolutions made on New Year’s Day. If you are a little late to the health food party no worries as I have a delicious and easy recipe for you to try. I keep corn tortillas in the freezer most of the year because they are so versatile,quick and yummy. As long as you fry them in a healthy oil I think they are a great choice for eating better without much prep time. With the right ingredients you can make a full meal deal with them. I usually go vegetarian, but have been known to add a bit of leftover chicken on them if I have it on hand.
In this latest creation of tostada magic I had some feta cheese in the fridge and a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto just waiting to appear on the table. I figured spinach would be a great choice of greens to complete the circle and into the kitchen I went for lunch. It took all of about fifteen minutes to make these spinach and feta tostadas and was deee-lish! Three of these cheesy circles of mouthwatering joy, with a side of avocado, were enough to satisfy my hunger. I probably could have eaten another but after all the high calorie goodness I had during the holidays I was glad to show some restraint.
Give it a try and see if you think this is a worthy recipe for you family and friends. Why you could even serve them for NFL playoff snacks if you wanted to, and if your teams wins they will taste even better!
Spinach and Feta Cheese Tostadas
4 cups fresh spinach 2-3 corn tortillas
6 corn or flour tortillas
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil, or regular olive oil
3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto, or tomato salsa
2/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Fry the tortillas in a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon oil on medium high for about 1 1/2 minutes each side then drain on paper towels. You don’t need to brown them much.
In the same sauté pan, or a bigger one wilt the spinach in 1 teaspoon oil stirring often for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add a bit of salt and pepper if you like.
Spread the sun-dried tomato pesto on the flour tortillas, about 1 1/2 teaspoon each.
Top with spinach, then feta cheese.
Bake for 5 minutes on a rack.
Serve with a side of sliced avocado and a bit of the pesto, or salsa.
Serves two but is easily doubled.
Are We There Yet?
Each year many of us find ourselves just about done with the feasting and drinking scene that dominates our American culture this time of year. Starting with Thanksgiving we pig out in the name of tradition and it is good! Then comes the Christmas parties, and family gatherings before Christmas where we indulge some more. When Christmas rolls around we get food gifts of hams and chocolate, scotch and champagne and who knows what else. The Christmas feast is a lovely affair of roast goose, baked ham, prime rib or some other very special food with all the trimmings we don’t eat often. Don’t forget the amazing dessert this time of year! Pecan pie is a favorite, as well as pumpkin pie. A side of whipped cream is a must with either of the aforementioned delicious desserts. Maybe just a taste of eggnog splashed with a spot of brandy wouldn’t hurt? You get the picture. We eat well in this country and outdo ourselves during the Thanksgiving to New Years Days stretch. With New Year’s Eve comes the big drinking fest for many of us. Finally we stretch out in front of the tv to rest on New Year’s Day now that we are at the end of the holiday splurge and feeling stuffed like a tick on a fat hound dog.
Come January second we need a break from all of this good stuff! Bring on the gym memberships and the New Year’s resolutions, Get off the couch and take the dog or kids for a walk to burn off some of the seasons excesses. It’s all for naught if you don’t eat healthy for a while, and that is where I come in. You need healthy, easy to prepare recipes that don’t interfere with all that exercise you are going to be engaged in for the rest of the year, according to your resolution.
To start, here is a tasty dish that should take you no more than twenty minutes to prepare using non-processed whole foods. To top it off if you email me with the types of foods you like and want recipes for I’ll send you five custom choices to get your New Year off to a good start. Let me know if you lean towards gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low fat or low sugar and I’ll send you a list of five original recipes to help you make healthy choices for the New Year free of charge for the first ten readers. Also let me know how many minutes of prep time and cook time you want to stay within and chances are I can find recipes that fit the bill from my database of almost two hundred FastandFuriousCook.com originals. After all, life is short enough. Why make it shorter by eating and drinking too much unhealthy food and drinks?
Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Sherry
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic sliced thin
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/4 cup diced yellow or white onion
1 skinless chicken breast
8 oz white mushrooms sliced
2 tablespoon sliced green onions
2 teaspoons Spike seasoning salt
8-12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1- 2 tablespoons sherry
Cut the chicken breast across in thin slices and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in sauté pan and add garlic, bell peppers and yellow onion. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring often.
Add mushrooms and continue cooking until most of the moisture is cooked out of mushrooms, about 8-10 minutes stirring every minute or less. Set mushroom mix aside.
Add remaining olive oil to the sauté pan and cook the chicken breast on medium high heat for 2 minutes then flip each piece and cook for two more minutes.
Add mushroom mix, Spike, green onions and tomatoes cooking for 3 more minutes. Add sherry and serve.
Goes well with mashed sweet potatoes and steamed green beans.
Serves two, but is easily doubled.
Make sure the chicken is dried off with a paper towel to prevent splattering and sticking while sautéing.
Can be tossed with your favorite pasta too.
Cut olive oil to just two teaspoons if you want it low fat.
East Meets West
I love salmon rice bowls! On my most recent trip to Japan I paid extra attention to the food. From the restaurants, cafes, street foods, and even on the ANA Airline flight home I took mental notes of Japanese cuisine at its best. Japanese food is significantly healthier than American food overall. On the flight back from Tokyo to Chicago at lunch I noticed the calorie difference in our two choices of entree. The American style lunch featured braised beef with sides, and the Japanese style lunch featured grilled fish on rice with sides. The American lunch came in at about 1,250 calories while the Japanese lunch came in around 670.
I’ve been to Japan many times and have seen few fat people. They do have more incidences of stomach cancer, but overall their health is better than Americans. They eat less meat and fat than we do and get more exercise. I decided I would come up with some Japanese American fusion type recipes to share with those of you looking to eat lighter, or those who would like to explore Japanese foods.
In my first two or three trips to Japan I had a hard time eating the breakfast that typical locals ate. We usually stayed at hotels, hot springs resorts, and with my wife’s family there. The typical breakfast offered steamed rice, grilled or baked fish, steamed dumplings, shredded cabbage, several types of Japanese pickles, undercooked eggs(yuk!), miso soup, some sort of bread, and fruit.
I started taking granola on trips to Japan so I knew I’d have something I could eat for breakfast. On this trip something strange happened. We ate at restaurants or hotel buffets and I found I liked quite a few of the foods on the breakfast buffets unlike previous trips. Especially the fish and rice with strange vegetable side dishes. Remember the song “I think I’m turning Japanese”? I wondered after eating and liking so many of the dishes I usually wouldn’t have eaten at breakfast if I was. After eating fish on rice at three different places I decided to conjure up my own fish and rice bowl to share with you, my dear readers. This would be a lunch bowl, not breakfast. I’ve been cooking Asian dishes for over forty years. Some authentic, some blended East meets West style. Today I share with you my love of salmon, and brown rice. This simple, and very healthy dish takes no more than ten minutes to make, and uses ingredients that are easily found. If you have a rice maker get your rice cooking an hour or more before lunch time as this is one fast dish, but rice is not. Unless you do the microwave rice thing. Does anyone really buy that crap?
With the holidays upon us why not try this healthy salmon rice bowl before the new year resolution period? This salmon bowl is good hot or cold. If you have access to a good Asian grocery store, you can buy Bonito flakes, and rice sprinkles to enhance the flavor of the rice. If you can find unagi sauce(eel sauce) all the better. I tested it with Kikkoman BBQ Sauce brushed on, which worked well. I was figuring it is easy to find, but have used unagi sauce for years on salmon with better results. If you have the time you can even marinate the salmon in my recipe:http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/teryaki-salmon-skewers-on-brown-rice/, for about forty-five minutes. This rice bowl goes well with a side of Asian style salad, or green salad with Asian sesame dressing. So here’s to eating better and healthier before and after the New Year.
Salmon Rice Bowl
1 pound salmon filet, preferably Alaska salmon
1/4 cup thin sliced green onion rings, the green part
1/4 cup unagi sauce or Kikkoman BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 350
Sliced the salmon horizontally at an angle in 1/2 inch pieces
Rub with oil, or use a spray oil to prevent sticking
Place on rack near the top of oven and change heat to broil.
Cook for three minutes then remove from oven to brush topside with sauce.
Broil two to three more minutes.
Remove from oven and brush both sides.
Arrange salmon on top of rice and sprinkle with green onions.
I like to have soy sauce at the table ready to add as needed.
There are several type of rice toppings available in most grocery store Asian sections. I like several of them including bonito flakes, seaweed and sesame seed combinations, and Nori Komi Furikake.
Serve with an Asian salad like my Asian Broccoli and Bell Pepper Salad:
One person’s idea of fast meal preparation is different from another’s. Many of you use your microwave oven often and I use mine about once a year. Without the use of a microwave to speed things up fast meal prep is a bit more difficult but doable. For example, take the humble crockpot. Many recipes for a crockpot meal take less than ten minutes to prep and when you get home just like magic you have a house that smells like mom has been in the kitchen cooking all day and it is ready to eat!
Stir fried meals are quick and easy if you buy your veggies and meats already cut up and ready for the wok. You would also have to have leftover rice to make this method fast or, god forbid use microwaved heat-and-eat rice. Overall a stir fry meal is healthy and fast.
You can take a steak or chicken breast that has been pounded out real thin and it cooks in five to six minutes on the grill or in a frying pan. With some steamed fresh or frozen veggies and a salad you have a winning combination that if seasoned right should taste great. Blackened catfish, salmon or tilapia also cook very fast due to the high heat used in the blackening method.
All of these should take about ten minutes which I believe most of us would consider a fast meal.
With all these types of fast cooking I believe you can eat well without going to the aid of frozen dinners, or eating too many canned foods. Life is too short to eat crap food! With that in mind I’ll share a fairly quick breakfast meal that even though it takes about twenty minutes it’s delicious and healthy. No recipe needed on this one that I’ll call Southwestern Sweet Potato Hash.
Just get about one sweet potato per two persons peeling and cutting it into bite sized bits. Put it into a pot and cover with water. Add a bit of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until just about tender. While it’s simmering cut up bell peppers(or jalapeños if you like it hot), and onions. Sauté them in a bit of olive oil on low while the spuds are cooking.
If the onions and peppers are soft before the potatoes remove them to a plate. When the spuds are done drain them and add to the pan the onions and peppers were in with a bit more oil. Cook for about eight minutes stirring/flipping every three or so minutes. About five minutes into this add back to the pan the onion and green peppers. If you like add a few tablespoons of cooked and drained black beans. At this time add some ground cumin, paprika, and Lawrey’s Seasoning salt. Just before serving adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Your breakfast is just about ready now and if you want you can cook up some over easy or scrambled eggs to go with it. You might even want to add some grated cheese on top of the hash. Serve with a side of avocado slices and salsa. This filling and healthy breakfast was made from scratch by you in less than twenty minutes and is better than just about any breakfast joint’s food. Give it a try and let me know how your version turned out in the comments section. If I get more than ten comments on this one I’ll give away a $50 Whole Foods gift card to a winner chosen at random. If you don’t have a Whole Foods nearby I’ll change it to a local grocery store gift card.
I love fall in North America! The weather is great and all sorts of seasonal veggies and fruits crowd farm stands across our nation. Butternut squash is abundant now and is getting almost as popular as kale. Butternut squash is versatile as well as delicious. It’s weird looking back on my life as a confirmed squash hater. That is until just about ten years ago. Part of that affliction was from not finding or trying many a tasty recipe for this wonderful food. There are so many recipes available for this funny looking squash variety. With butternut squash you can make a lovely salad with walnuts and kale, mash it like mashed potatoes, or make many great tasting soups with it.
Peeling a butternut squash is not for just anyone. It’s about as easy as giving a cat a bath and just as dangerous. Luckily most grocery stores sell peeled and cubed butternut squash. This no doubt will save many a home cook a visit to the emergency room. When you buy it already peeled and cubed you can make a soup like this one in minutes! You can also tweak it in many ways to suit your taste. You can add carrots, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, or your choice of herbs to make this personalized. You could also make it with the simple healthy ingredients listed here and have a great soup made from scratch.
Give this fall soup a try soon and see if you agree with me that it’s a keeper. To celebrate fall harvest I am giving a way to two lucky readers some of my heirloom Strawberry Popcorn. This yummy little corn was grown organically with no chemicals or sprays of any kind and produced over a hundred cute little red ears. I have already tested a batch on my stove and pronounce it yummy. To enter this giveaway leave a comment on what your favorite way to season popcorn is and good luck to all who enter.
Simply Delicious Butternut Squash Soup
4 cups butternut squash cut into about one inch cubes, about 19 ounces
1 teaspoon better than bouillon chicken base, see note
1 cup milk, either coconut or cows milk
salt and pepper to taste
Cover squash with water in a 2 quart pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and add chicken base.
Cook for ten minutes or until soft.
Drain off about one cup of the liquid and reserve it.
Add the milk and blend with either a table top blender or immersion blender until smooth.
Add some of the reserved cooking liquid if needed for a thinner soup.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with a sprinkle of sweet Hungarian paprika.
If you want a vegan style soup use a vegetable bullion cube in place of the chicken base.
Curry powder( one teaspoon) is a nice spice blend to add to this soup for an exotic flavor.
I’ve been a known hater of microwave ovens for years. Why you might ask? It’s because I have seen many a food item destroyed in the microwave, and they are over used in many homes and some restaurants. As for the argument they change the molecular properties of foods and make those foods harmful to our bodies, I’m not a scientist so who really knows? What I do know is I may not be quite as fast in preparing meals without a microwave, but I’m sure the quality and health benefits are better with my conventional way of cooking. If you can’t part with your microwave that’s fine with me, but consider other fast options here on my blog because I believe your food will taste better if spared the micro-zapping torture.
I’m a busy guy at home with many responsibilities like most of you. It’s very important to me that we eat well, and that I spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. It helps that I worked in over thirty restaurants in my chef career where I learned many ways of preparing foods in an environment where time is of the essence. It wasn’t until I walked away from professional cooking that I truly started to develop ways to speed things up in my home kitchen to share with you. My idea of a quick dinner is total prep/cooking time of twenty minutes or less. Almost all of the meals I cook at home are twenty to thirty minutes or less and I use very few convenience items.
Today I want to give an example of a meal you can do in about twenty minutes that tastes great and uses whole natural foods. This chicken recipe cooks quick due to the thickness of the chicken breast and if you time things right the other two items will be done at the same time. Here are the dishes and how it flows:
succotash (lima beans and corn)
chicken breast with shallots
Start the lima beans cooking in enough salted water to cover plus an inch more. If you don’t like lima beans go with steamed green beans and toss them with a few cherry tomatoes cut in half during the last minute of cooking.
Start the sliced mushrooms sautéing on medium heat, if using onions start them first and add mushrooms two minutes later. If these get done way before the rest just turn off the heat until the other dishes catch up, then reheat for a minute or two.
Follow the recipe in this post for the chicken breast starting it after the mushrooms and lima beans are cooking.
Twelve minutes or so after the lima beans have been cooking add as much corn as lima beans to the pot. At this point it only takes two-three minutes to finish cooking and it can wait up to five minutes for the other two dishes to be done without hurting it a bit.
By now the chicken breast has been flipped and is almost done.
Get your platters if serving family style ready, or get dinner plates ready for dishing up.
Plate up the finished items and garnish with sliced fresh tomatoes.
All this should be easily done in twenty minutes, and you have an attractive healthy meal that tastes great. If you don’t want to use chicken the recipe works well with pork loin too. You could substitute beef, omit the thyme and use Lawrey’s Seasoning Salt instead with good results. The options are many, but I hope you get the picture of a quick healthy meal without taking up too much of your precious time at home. Please feel free to comment on, and share this recipe.
Sautéed Chicken Breast with Shallots
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Using a meat tenderizing hammer pound out the chicken breast to a thickness of one half inch or less.
Sprinkle thyme, salt and pepper on the chicken then dredge in the flour.
In a sauté pan on medium heat add half the oil and cook the shallots for three minutes, stirring often.
Remove shallots from pan and set aside.
Turn the heat up to medium and add the rest of the olive oil and chicken breast.
Cook for six minutes then flip and cook for five minutes or until chicken reads 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Add shallots to the hot sauté pan and cook for a minute or two then top the chicken breast with them.
Serves two but is easily doubled or tripled to serve more.
Not all chicken breast are the same thickness. Modern intensive raised chicken breast are twice the size of traditionally raised chickens and require a bit more pounding with the meat tenderizing hammer. I prefer the smaller traditional chickens.
To speed things up a bit I’ll take a piece of aluminum foil and set it on top of the sauté pan loosely to reflect the heat. Don’t use a tight fitting lid as that would trap in steam and make the chicken breast tough.
This dish goes well with sautéed mushrooms and succotash for side dishes.