Posts tagged ‘cream’

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

Scalloped Potatoes With Onions

If you’re cooking dinner for a crowd, or want something classic and delicious that everyone will like to take to a potluck dinner; you can’t go wrong with scalloped potatoes with onions.

I made this for Easter to go with our Easter ham, and they were soooo good.

It’s hard to go wrong with potatoes, onions, cheese, and cream though.

Everyone loves potatoes, and it’s a fact of the universe that cheese and cream make everything better.

Don’t question it. Just accept it.

Feel the balance of the universe aligning as you accept this universal truth…



Scalloped Potatoes with Onions

(serves 8)

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 3 lb. russet potatoes, peeled, washed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 c. shredded cheese (I used a cheddar jack mix, but use whatever you like)
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9 x 11 in. baking dish.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent, 4 – 5 minutes.
  3. Layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the baking dish, slightly overlapping slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then 1/2 the nutmeg. Add 1/2 the onions followed by 1 c. of the shredded cheese.
  4. Repeat with 1/3 of the potato slices, salt and pepper, the remaining 1/2 of the nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 of the onions, and 1 c. shredded cheese.
  5. Finish with the last 1/3 of the potato slices, this time arranging them in a spiral (if you want to be fancy). Sprinkle the last 1 c. of cheese on top.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the cream and chicken broth. Pour on top of the cheese and potatoes.
  7. Cover baking dish with parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Increase temperature to 425° F. Remove parchment paper and foil, and cook for another 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender.
  9. Let rest for 15 – 20 minutes before serving.


April 19, 2012 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Roasted Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

This morning Hisa and I went to the pool to swim laps. After finishing, I went back into the ladies’ locker room and realized they had music playing for once (they don’t usually play music in the morning). Unfortunately, it was country western music.

Now, except for a brief period in my early elementary school years when my best friend tricked me into thinking I liked country music (I was young and gullible), I’ve always disliked country music. Actually ‘dislike’ is a bit ambiguous. I’ve always hated country music vehemently.
When I started listening to the song playing in the ladies’ locker room, however, I felt that it was actually a pretty good song. It had a nice melody, and was a very happy and uplifting song. I realized, I was actually enjoying the song!

Maybe I’m learning to like country music, I thought to myself. That would an amazing step for me! Being able to accept and enjoy all forms of music; even country western music!

As I was reveling in this profound moment, the next song started playing. I started listening to it to see if I would be able to accept and enjoy this country song as well.

It was a song about a guy who painted his Chevy (and everything else) in camo.

It was then I realized that, no, I probably won’t ever enjoy country western music.

It was pretty cold out here yesterday, so it was a great day for hot soup and fresh bread. I wanted to make a creamy squash soup, but I wanted it to have some natural sweetness. In Japan, I would always make kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) soup, which is a naturally sweet squash (much more so than butternut or acorn squash), so I didn’t need to add anything extra.

In the end, I decided to use roasted acorn squash and sweet potatoes. Let me just say, the result was fabulous, and the combination of roasted squash and sweet potatoes somehow tasted like everything a warm winter soup should.

First, cut two acorn squashes in half, scoop out the seeds, and place them face down (do squashes have faces?) in a sprayed baking dish. Bake them at 375° F (190° C) for about 45 minutes, then take them out, and let them cool.


Meanwhile, add a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil and 2 Tbsp. of butter to a large pot over medium heat. In your food processor, whiz one medium onion, two stalks of celery, and two large sweet potatoes (or you can dice it all up). Add it all to the pot, and let it saute slowly for about 10 minutes. I used garnet sweet potatoes, which, if you’ve never had, are wonderful. They’re very sweet and delicious! I recommend them. 🙂


Scoop out the flesh of the roasted acorn squash, and add it to the pot.


Add one 32 oz. container (4 cups) of chicken broth, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, and 1/8 tsp. allspice. Mix well and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.


Use either an immersion blender (I used my new immersion blender that I got for Christmas. Love it!), or a blender to blend the soup in batches and return it to the pot.
Add 1 c. whole milk, half & half, or cream; season with salt and pepper to taste; and serve with fresh homemade bread.

Yum. That Smart Balance margarine is my parents’ by the way. Hisa and I use butter. 😉

Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

(serves 5 – 7)

  • 2 acorn squash
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 32 oz. (4 c.) chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1 c. whole milk, half & half, or cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F (190° C).
  2. Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out seeds, and place face down in two, sprayed baking dishes. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remover from oven and let cool.
  3. Add olive oil and butter to a large pot over medium heat. In a food processor, process onion, celery, and sweet potatoes (or finely chop with a knife), and add to pot. Saute gently for 10 minutes.
  4. Scoop out flesh of acorn squash and add it to pot.
  5. Add chicken broth, thyme, and allspice. Mix well and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
  6. Use an immersion blender, or blend soup in a blender in batches before returning to pot.
  7. Add milk and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste, heat soup through, and serve.





January 27, 2012 at 3:29 am Leave a comment

Italian Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

I had realization the other day.

I say certain things that kids today probably would thing are weird.

For example:

“Roll the windows up/down.”

When I was a little kid, it was before automatic windows in cars were available, so we literally had to roll the windows up and down in our car. Even after we got a car with automatic windows when I was in middle school, we would still say, “roll the windows,” and to this day I still say it. My husband loves to makes fun of me for it.

Another example:


If I want to record a show or something on TV, I still say “videotape” or just “tape”, as in, “I want to videotape that show tonight”. When I stopped and thought about it, it doesn’t really make since as we no longer use VHS tapes anymore to record things, so there is no “tape” involved in the process.

I also say “videotape” instead film. Hisa and I got this really nice video camera last year before we left Japan. It’s tiny, incredibly lite, and takes amazingly high quality HD videos. It’s awesome. But I still say “videotape” or “tape” even though there’s no tape involved. Remember those huge video cameras from the 90’s that had VHS tapes in them? Ah, memories!

Which leads me to this:

10 Things 90’s Kids Will Have To Explain To Their Children

If you were a kid in the 90’s, you will understand this, laugh hilariously, and love it.

This recipe is my own copy cat version of the Zuppa Toscana soup from the Olive Garden. Come on, you know the one I mean. Everyone and their dog loves that soup. I think the first time I ever ate kale when I was a kid was when I first had that soup. Back in the 90’s when we rolled our car windows up and down. Respect y’all.

First, wash one bunch of kale, and tear it into small pieces. Set aside. Add a few lugs of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add one chopped red onion and saute for a couple minutes.


Add one pound of turkey sausage, and continue cooking until the onion becomes tender, and the sausage is completely browned. [Note: If you use real Italian sausage, brown the sausage by itself first, drain the fat, and then add the onion to cook.]


Add one diced carrot (the real Zuppa Toscana doesn’t have carrot in it, but I like adding more veggies to things where I can), four medium russet potatoes, sliced thinly, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or cayenne), and 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes.


Add 3 (14 oz.) cans of chicken broth, and raise temperature to high until it starts to boil. Lower the temperature to low and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.


Add one cup of milk, one cup of half and half or cream, and the kale. Continue simmering for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.


Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Italian Sausage, Kale, and Potato Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

(serves 5 – 6)

  • 1 bunch kale
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. turkey sausage (or Italian sausage)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. half and half or cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Wash kale, tear into small pieces. Set aside.
  2. Add a few lugs of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add turkey sausage and cook until browned.
  3. Add carrot, potatoes, red pepper, and oregano, and continue to saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, raise heat to high until boiling, then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  5. Add milk, half and half (or cream), and kale, and continue simmering for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh bread.


January 12, 2012 at 2:16 am Leave a comment

Pasta with Vodka Sauce

I had a dream last night that I was “The One” (I tend to have a lot of these…), and I was traveling with Gandalf, who was leading us through the wilderness to my destiny. I’m still not sure what my destiny actually was, but it involved a lot of traveling. In the first part of my dream we traveled through the arctic wilderness, complete with mass amounts of snow and glaciers. We then made it back “home” temporarily, home being some kind of large school, where we met up with my husband and one of Gandalf’s wizard comrades, before the four of us embarked on the second part of our quest. Thinking that we would be heading back out into the arctic, I packed all my winter gear, but when Hisa and I met up with Gandalf and his wizard buddy, I found them in Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses, and discovered we were headed to the West Indies. By this time, we were already on a boat, so it was too late to go back and get the proper clothing, so instead I got really mad at Gandalf and chewed him out about it, telling him that he was SUCH a guy, because only a GUY wouldn’t think to tell me what kind of clothing I would need for our trip!

A few minutes after that I woke up.

Just sayin.

*ahem* Moving on, I made pasta with vodka sauce the other night for dinner. If you’ve never had it, it’s a delicious tomato cream sauce. I love it. The alcohol in the vodka cooks off, so no, it’s not alcoholic (I can just hear some of you cursing under your breath right now). The vodka gives it a lovely flavor, and if you don’t have any vodka lying around, you can always substitute white wine. It’ll still be really good.

I’m told that this recipe is originally from Cooks Illustrated. There have been various versions circulating food blogs, but here’s my adaptation of the recipe. 🙂

Pasta with Vodka Sauce

  • 16 oz. dried pasta (any kind will do)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or 1/2 red chili, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (18 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (18 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 c. vodka (can substitute white wine)
  • 1/2 c. cream (can substitute milk, but will need to thicken sauce with flour or corn starch)
  • 1 lb shrimp (can substitute chicken, or leave out altogether)
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. chopped basil leaves
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and boil pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, salt, tomato sauce, and vodka, and mix well. Simmer for about 8 – 10 minutes (this is when the alcohol cooks off).
  4. Add the shrimp (if using), and stir until cooked through.
  5. Turn off heat and gradually add the cream.
  6. Add the cooked pasta and basil, and mix well. Serve.

We enjoyed our pasta with a lettuce, asparagus, and toasted walnut salad with vinaigrette dressing, and a lovely rose wine.

June 9, 2011 at 10:07 am 2 comments

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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