Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Soup

Has it really been over two weeks since I’ve last posted? Argh!

I admit, between Thanksgiving, getting ready for finals, work, and getting ready for Christmas, I’ve been a bit…busy.

Who hasn’t though, right? It’s the busiest time of the year for many of us.

I love it though! OK, the finals, maybe not so much, but Thanksgiving, getting ready for Christmas, etc. I just love the Christmas season, no matter how busy it is! Bring it on! I’ll fly through it all with Johnny Mathis Christmas music playing and a ginger bread latte in hand! And maybe a cookie…or two.

Anyway, I made this weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting it.

I love making kabocha soup in the fall/winter months. Albeit it’s still in the high 70’s here, but it’s the spirit of winter that counts! I think…

Kabocha is one of the sweetest kinds of squash out there. It’s dark green on the outside, and bright orange on the inside. It’s delicious! Plus, unlike many squashes, the rind (peel? skin?) of kabocha is edible, and really tastes no different from the orange inside. That means that while you can peel it if you want, it isn’t necessary. Kinda like potatoes. I usually peel off any rough spots, but the rest I leave on. I’m all about simplifying things, you know?

This is a very simple soup. It’s all about the delicious sweet flavor of the kabocha. It’s just kabocha, onion, chicken broth, cream (or milk or half and half), and salt and pepper. Simple. Easy. Delicious.

Kabocha Soup

(serves 4 – 6)

  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium kabocha, washed, de-seeded, and cubed (5 – 6 cups) (peeling the kabocha is optional)
  • 1 medium-small onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 c. chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian)
  • 1 c. cream, half and half, or milk
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and kabocha and saute gently about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add broth and raise heat until boiling. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to simmer until kabocha is tender, about 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat. Uncover, and use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow soup to cool until no longer scalding hot, then process in batches in a blender until smooth, and return to pot.
  4. Add cream, mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

December 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Menu Plan Monay for November 19 – 23

Thanksgiving week is here!

I can’t wait to see all my family! Well, my immediate family that is. We don’t really do Thanksgiving with all the relatives in my family, because we all simply live too far away.

We’re all meeting up in Austin this year. My parents will be driving down from Oklahoma, and Hisa and I will be driving there from Houston. We’re going to head over there on Wednesday, and we’ll come back home on Sunday, so we have a whole four and a half days to spend with my family. I’m pumped!

Because of that, however, I don’t have much of a menu plan this week. I’m just cooking Monday and Tuesday, and then we’re all in charge of fixing something for Thanksgiving dinner. I certainly don’t mind the break though! It’s nice every now and then.

So without further ado, here’s this week’s (short) menu plan!

Menu Plan for Nov. 19 – 23:

Mon: Spinach quiche and roasted acorn squash and sweet potato soup

Tues: Smoked ham, roasted asparagus, and scalloped potatoes

Wed: No idea! Dinner in Austin!

Thur: Thanksgiving dinner – Roast turkey, cranberry sauce, biscuit and cornbread dressing, roasted maple sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pea salad, brussels sprouts, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie.

Fri: Dinner in Austin

November 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew

I love stews.

Stew is a relative term though. It’s basically just a chunky, hearty soup, right?

Okay, I just checked. According to Dictionary.com a stew is, “a preparation of meat, fish, or other food cooked by stewing, especially a mixture of meat and vegetables.”.

Something cooked by stewing…yeah, I guess I left that part out.

Evidently, a stew is also a brothel, and “stews” is a neighborhood occupied mainly by brothels. Who knew, right?! Thanks Dictionary.com! What would we do without you?

Now that it’s no longer in the 80’s here (it’s even been getting into the 40’s at night!), I no longer have to pretend it’s cool out when I make fall food, and I actually feel a need for warmer foods. It’s great. I admit, I have a terrible fear it’s going to get back into the 80’s, but I won’t go into that…

This stew is hearty, filling, and (drum roll please) healthy! But tasty-healthy, not meh-healthy.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, who found it on Cookin’ Canuck, and I honestly have no idea where it originated from. Isn’t the internet great?

This is a chicken broth based soup with pieces of chicken breast, chunks of butternut squash, spinach, tomatoes, and cooked brown rice in it. It’s very tasty, very filling, and the butternut squash adds a lovely sweetness to it.

 

Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew

(serves 6)

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
  • Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 c. cooked brown rice
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Spread out cubed squash on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat squash. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  2. In a large pot, heat 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken, onion, garlic, oregano, and sage, and cook gently 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add broth and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.
  4. Add squash, spinach, and rice. Cook until heated through and spinach wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

November 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

Broccoli and Potato Pesto Fettuccine

When I make pasta for dinner at home, I have a tendency, like many people I think, to make tomato, cream, or tomato-cream pasta sauces. I’m not sure why this is. I guess I just like tomato-based sauces. Marinara sauce, meat sauce, vodka sauce (a tomato-cream sauce), etc. I love cream sauce, but I try not to make them too often, because, well, they’re cream sauces.

I really should experiment with more sauces, and there’s a lot of great non-tomato pasta sauces out there. Pesto, for example, is a classic, non-tomato sauce, and it’s about as easy as it gets. Cook pasta, drain pasta, and pesto, mix, serve. Bam. Even making pasta is really easy. You just throw all the ingredients in a food processor, whiz it up, and you’re done.

I realized recently that I hadn’t made any kind of pasta in pesto sauce in a long time, so when I found a recipe in one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks for pasta in pesto sauce with broccoli and potato, I thought I would try it out. Plus potato with pasta sounds interesting, don’t you think? I’ve had pasta with meat sauce and potato before in Japan, but never with pesto.

This is about as easy as it gets. You boil the pasta, broccoli, and potato all together, then drain it and mix it up with the pesto, some chopped fresh basil leaves, and some grated parmesan cheese. Bam. It’s really good too! And the potato goes well with it! This is a great quick dinner. Bam.
How many times do you think I can say that in this post?
Bam.

I’ll stop now.

 

Broccoli and Potato Pesto Fettuccine

(serves 4 – 5)

  • 1 medium potato, peeled
  • 1 head broccoli
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. dried fettuccine
  • 1/3 c. green pesto
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  1. Grate the potato into thin shavings with a vegetable peeler. Peel and slice the large stalk of the broccoli, then cut the large florets into smaller ones.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tbsp. salt. Add the fettuccine and sliced broccoli stalk. 2 minutes before the fettuccine is done cooking, add the potato.
  3. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water, and return to the pot. Add the pesto, basil leaves, and parmesan. Toss everything well. If sauce too thick, and a little of the cooking water. Serve.

recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Broccoli and Pesto Tagliatelle

November 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Menu Plan Monday for November 12 – 16

My brother and sister-in-law came to visit us in Houston last Thursday evening and stayed through Sunday. We had a great time showing them around and taking them to the sites they wanted to visit. We went to The Museum of Natural Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, The Rothko Chapel, The Museum of Printing History, the beach closest to our place, our favorite German restaurant, our favorite Japanese restaurant, and our favorite Thai restaurant. I have museum overload right now.

They had a lot of other places they wanted to visit, but there’s only so much you can do in three days. It just leaves something to look forward to doing on future visits though.

I was hoping they would want to go to the Renaissance Festival so I could go again, but they were more interested in the museums this time. Darn! Maybe next year.
It was really great having them here though. Fortunately, we’ll see them and the rest of my family in a couple weeks when we go to Austin for Thanksgiving. Yaaay! My first Thanksgiving with family in five years! Yaaaaay! I can’t wait! Bring on the turkey!

That being said, where is winter? Or even fall for that matter!
Every time we have a cool front come through I think, maybe this time it will stay cool and be fall, but then it warms back up to the 80’s. I assume it will cool off and stay cool eventually, but heck, it’s already November people! Cool down already! I guess this is just typical Houston, but I’m soooo not used to it. It seems unnatural to me. I want to stop wearing t-shirts and flip flops and wear sweaters and boots. And I want my hair to stop frizzing from the humidity, but that’s another problem altogether…

I suppose I’ll get used to it eventually…maybe…

 

 

Menu Plan for November 12 – 16:

Mon: Japanese tofu hamburger steak, chestnut rice, miso soup, and sesame green beans (I ended up not making this last week, as we went out with my brother and sister-in-law instead)

Tues: Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) soup and fresh bread

Wed:  leftovers

Thurs: Walnut crusted dijon salmon, baked sweet potatoes, and green beans almondine

Fri: Pasta with meat sauce and tossed salad

November 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Spanish Chorizo and Chickpea Stew

It’s November!
That means soup and stew season is on!

Of course, here in Houston it’s still in the 80’s and everyone is wearing shorts and t-shirts/tank tops….

But it’s the spirit of the season that’s important!!
Heck, if all else fails, I can still turn my air conditioner way down and pretend it’s cold outside, so I can make hot soups and stews. That’s just the kind of commitment I have as a food blogger. Electric bill be damned!

So if you’re ready to get on the ball with fall/winter soups and stews, and want to warm your bones on those chilly fall evenings (or at least pretend you need to) here’s a great one to try out.

I found this in my Jamie Olive cookbook, Jamie’s Dinners. It’s a hardy stew full of sausage, tomatoes, spinach, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), a little ham, diced onion, celery, and garlic all in chicken stock. The interesting addition to this stew, however, is crumbled hard-boiled egg. It sounds strange, but it really goes well in the soup.

Spanish Chorizo and Chickpea Stew

(serves 4 – 6)

  • 2 Tbsp.  extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 1/2 oz. chorizo sausage, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. diced ham
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and crumbled
  1. Add oil and sausage to a large pot over medium heat. Cook until sausage starts to brown, 3 – 4 minutes.
  2. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover the pot, and let it gently cook without coloring for about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove lid and add spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for about 40  minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and stir in ham and crumbled boiled egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

November 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Menu Plan Monday for November 5 – 9

I forgot about the time change yesterday.

They don’t do daylight savings time in Japan, so I haven’t really had to worry about changing my clocks in four years.

That’s my excuse for forgetting at least, hehe.

So although I thought I was waking up at 7 am Sunday morning, I actually woke up at 6 am. Too early.
I’m actually excited about this time change though, as I think it will make getting up at 6:15 am on the weekdays easier. Anything that makes getting up that early easier is worth getting excited about. At least I think so.

By the way, how was everyone’s Halloween? Hisa and I stayed home and watched Mel Brook’s “Dracula Dead and Loving It” with Leslie Nielsen. I’ve loved that movie ever since I was a kid. It’s funny as it is, but if you’ve seen the old black and white Dracula movie (which it makes fun of) it’s absolutely hilarious. I recommend it.

As for trick-or-treaters, we got a total of two the whole evening. I bought this big bag of candy and everything. Now I have, well, still a big bag of candy that I’m trying to figure out what to do with besides eat (although the temptation is there, which is why I must figure out what to do with it before I succumb to temptation…).

It’s been unusually warm, even for Houston (according the news weather guys at least), the past week, so I’m really hoping it cools off soon. Temperatures in the 80’s in November is just weird and abnormal. It’s not right I tell you!
So here’s hoping it cools off a little this week!

 

 

 

Menu Plan for November 4 – 9:

Mon: White Chicken Chili and cornbread

Tues: Puff Pastry Pie

Wed: Either leftovers or quiche

Thurs: Grilled fish tacos with avocado cilantro cream sauce

Fri: Japanese tofu hamburger steaks with grated daikon, steamed rice, miso soup, and sesame asparagus

November 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

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About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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