Posts tagged ‘fall foods’

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 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! 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

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

Fish Chowder

I love fish chowder.

When I was a kid, it was my favorite dish that my mom’s cooking. I even found my old diary from elementary school, and in the beginning it had a fill in the blank section where you listed your favorite things, and for favorite food I wrote, “Mom’s fish chowder”. Incidentally, one of my brother’s hated this soup as a kid, but only because he hated carrots (he still hates carrots as a matter of fact…).

It’s a a very simple soup, but really good. The secret is the seasoning. You use one package of the Ranch Buttermilk Salad Dressing spice mix as the seasoning of the soup. If this sounds odd, trust me, it’s not. It doesn’t make the soup taste like ranch dressing either. It just gives it great flavor.

And it goes great with plain scones (made the same as my dark chocolate chip walnut scones, just without the chocolate and walnuts) with honey and butter on them. That’s how my mom always served it. Ah, memories!

To start, chop up a whole onion, a few carrots, and a few potatoes, and saute them in some butter or olive oil in a large pot for about 8 – 10 minutes.

Add as much fish as you want, but on average use 15 – 16 oz. boneless skinless white fish fillets. Saute them in a skillet with some butter or olive oil until slightly browned, then flip them and cook them on the other side until cooked through and flaky.

Add two cups of water and the fish to the vegetables. Break up the fish into chunks with your spoon, and turn up the heat. Bring the soup to a boil then turn down the heat so it’s just simmering, cover the pot, and let it summer until the vegetables are tender, about 5 – 8 minutes.

Whisk together two cups of milk (or 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup cream or half and half) with the contents of one package of Ranch Buttermilk Dressing mix. Pour the mixture into the soup, mix well, adjust the seasoning to taste, and then heat the soup through before serving.


Fish Chowder

(serves 4 – 6)

  • 3 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large russet potatoes, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • About 16 oz. boneless skinless white fish fillets
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 c. milk (or substitute 1/2 c. of the milk with cream or half and half)
  • 1 package Ranch Buttermilk Dressing mix
  1. Saute onion, potatoes, and carrots with 2 Tbsp. butter in a large pot over medium heat for 8 – 10 minutes.
  2. Saute fish fillets with 1 Tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat until fish has slightly browned on one side. Flip the fillets and cook on the other side until cooked through and flaky.
  3. Add water and fish fillets to the pot with the vegetables and turn up the heat. When mixture starts to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, 5 – 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk together milk (and cream/half and half if using) and dressing mix in a small bowl. Pour mixture into the soup, mixing evenly, and then return soup to heat and cook until heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve.

October 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Pumpkin Flan

Do you like flan?

It’s super popular in Japan (they call it “pudding” though, not flan), but it seems like you don’t see it all that often in the U.S. Of course you can buy flan, and I’ve seen mixes for it, but it’s not really on the same level as things like chocolate chip cookies, cake, or brownies here.

That’s too bad, because it really is delicious. My husband loves flan. It’s one of his favorite desserts. Sometimes we had it in Japan at restaurants and such, but I’d never actually made it myself before.

If you’ve been reading my posts the past couple of weeks, then you know I’ve been on a pumpkin kick. Well, in an attempt to make some new pumpkin dishes, I decided to make pumpkin flan, and it was definitely a success.

I found a recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, and decided to try it out. I halved the recipe and adjusted a few things for my version though.

One thing I should have done was bake it in a smaller dish. I used a square 2-quart baking dish, which was a little too big for the amount I made, so my flan was a tad on the thin side. Because of that I recommend either using a smaller baking dish or doubling the recipe.

Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 c. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and a dash of salt. Stir in 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, and mix well (not pictured).
In another bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, and 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream.


Pour the egg/cream mixture into the pumpkin mixture, and mix until smooth.


Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar to a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.


When it turns a rich brown color, and starts bubbling, remove it from the heat, pour it into the baking dish, and very quickly spread it around the bottom of the dish evenly. You have to be really quick with this, because as soon as it’s off the heat, it’ll start turning hard.


Pour the custard into the baking dish over the caramel. Set the baking dish into a deep roasting pan, and fill up the pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
Bake until the custard sets, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool, then place in the refrigerator to cool.


Run a knife around the edges of the baking dish. Place a large serving dish wrong-side up on top of the baking dish. Carefully hold both the serving and baking dish and flip them so that the flan comes out onto the serving plate.
Cut it into pieces and serve.

You can serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, but it’s great just by itself.


Pumpkin Flan

(serves 4)

  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and salt. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and mix well.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and cream. Pour the egg/cream mixture into the pumpkin mixture, and mix until smooth.
  4. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar to a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Cook until it melts and turns a rich brown color, and starts bubbling. Remove from heat, pour it into the baking dish, and very quickly spread around the bottom of the dish evenly.
  5. Pour custard into the baking dish over the caramel. Set the baking dish into a deep roasting pan, and fill up the pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until the custard sets, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool, then place in the refrigerator to cool.
  6. Run a knife around the edges of the baking dish. Place a large serving dish wrong-side up on top of the baking dish. Carefully hold both the serving and baking dish and flip them so that the flan comes out onto the serving plate. Cut it into pieces and serve.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

October 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Pumpkin Lasagna

I’m on a roll with the pumpkin recipes this season.

I’ve made some yearly favorites (pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin French toast, etc.), and I’ve also made some new favorites, namely pumpkin lasagna and pumpkin flan. I’m saving my pumpkin cheesecake for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I also have a few more pumpkin foods I want to try making. I’m thinking pumpkin scones, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread pudding, and maybe some pumpkin granola…

Poor apples. They’re being so looked over by me this fall. Don’t worry my pretty apples, I will soon turn my attention to you as well.

Anyway, I really wanted to make something savory with pumpkin, other than pumpkin soup, and I decided pumpkin lasagna sounded pretty awesome. I couldn’t find a recipe online that I liked though, so I ended up making my own with very satisfying results.

Instead of pumpkin puree, I wanted to you slices of roasted pumpkin, so I turned to my absolute favorite pumpkin, kabocha. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but kabocha is also known as Japanese pumpkin. It looks similar to acorn squash, but with more of a small pumpkin shape with a green outer skin and bright orange flesh on the inside. It’s one of sweetest types of squash out there and very delicious. You can usually find it at Asian grocery stores and places like Whole Foods and Central Market. If you can’t find any, feel free to use acorn squash or butternut squash, but I encourage you to try out kabocha. It really is tasty.

The kabocha I sliced and baked on a baking sheet with some olive oil, dried sage, and salt and pepper until tender. You don’t have to peel kabocha (the outer peeling, more like a rind really, is edible, and tastes the same as the orange inside)

For the sauce, I made a bechamel, or white sauce. Basically just butter, flour, and milk. I cooked the butter until it browned, however, and then added some dried sage (sage goes great with most winter squashes and sweet potatoes) before adding the flour and milk.

For the cheeses, I used large curd cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese (it doesn’t really matter which you use though), grated Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (the last is amazing with sweet winter squashes and sweet potatoes). Yes, I used four kinds of cheese in this lasagna. That’s how awesome it is.

I used oven ready lasagna noodles, because they just make life so much simpler, and I topped off the lasagna with some pumpkin seeds/pepitas.

This is a vegetarian dish, but not really what I would call a “light” dish. It’s a nice change from regular lasagna though, and a delicious treat for welcoming the Fall/Winter seasons. And it has four kinds of cheeses in it. Come on, you can’t go wrong with that. You know I’m right.


Pumpkin Lasagna

(serves 5 – 6)

  • 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles (you won’t use the entire box)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 whole kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 container large curd cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1  tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  • plain pepitos (pumpkin seeds) for sprinkling on top
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Scoop the seeds out of the kabocha. Cut off any brown, rough spots on the outside of the squash. Thinly slice the kabocha about 1/2 centimeter in thickness, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add 1 tsp. dried sage, and add dash of salt and pepper on top. Toss the slices to coat them. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and egg. Mix everything until well combined.
  3. In a skillet or saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 1 tsp. dried sage and continue cooking the butter just until it starts to brown. Sprinkle in the flour, mix until a paste forms, and continue cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes (you want to cook the flour, but you don’t want it to brown). Gradually pour in the milk, a little at a time, while whisking vigorously. Raise the temperature to med-high, and continue whisking until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. Remove from heat, and season with salt to taste.
  4. In a deep, 2 quart casserole dish, add a little bit of the sauce, and spread it around the bottom of the dish evenly. On top of that, layer lasagna noodles, half of the kabocha slices, half of the cottage cheese mixture, 2/3 c. of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 c. of the Gorgonzola cheese. Repeat with noodles, sauce, the remaining kabocha slices, the remaining cottage cheese mixture, 2/3 c. mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c. Gorgonzola cheese, noodles, the last of the sauce, the last 2/3 c. mozzarella cheese, and then sprinkle with pepitos.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400° F for 20 – 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 – 20 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes before serving.




October 12, 2012 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

Apple Butter

If there’s one thing I love in the fall and winter, it’s apple butter. I love having it on toast (or muffins, or quick breads, or oatmeal, or biscuits, or pancakes, etc.) for breakfast. It epitomizes the taste of fall for me. And it’s really yummy.

But if there’s one thing that takes quite a long time to make, it’s apple butter. It’s not the peeling, coring, and chopping of the apples that’s so time consuming. It’s the standing over the pot and stirring it almost constantly so it doesn’t burn that takes up so much time.

This is why I can’t wait to get a crock pot/slow cooker when I get back to the States. It makes making apple butter a breeze. No standing over a pot for hours on end necessary. Just get it mixed and blended, leave it in the slow cooker all day, and bam! Apple butter. Brilliant.

I couldn’t resist making a batch of apple butter before we move out of our apartment though, so a few days ago I cooked some up. It so perfect and wonderful for breakfast on a crisp fall morning!

I used about six large apples (Japanese apples are huge), so you might want to use 8 apples if using American apples. Make sure they’re the sweetest apples you can get. I like Fuji apples, but Gala are also nice and sweet.

Add the chopped apples, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 cup of apple juice to a large pot and bring it to a boil.

When the apples are soft, reduce to a simmer and add 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. ground clove, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, a dash of salt, and 1/3 c. sugar.
[update: I’ve since tried this with unsweetened apple sauce, and it’s not nearly as sweet as fresh, sweet apples, so I ended up having to add quite a bit more sugar. If you use apple sauce, once you’ve blended the apple butter, add sugar until it’s the sweetness you want.]

Using a potato masher (or an immersion blender if you’re blessed with having one) mash up the apples until they look something like this. This step isn’t absolutely necessary if you’re going to blend it all in a blender or food processor (next step), but this usually makes things a little easier on my blender. Once somewhat mashed up, blend it all in a blender or food processor, and either put it in your slow cooker (if you have one) or return it to the pot.

Blurry shot! Ah! At this point, if you’re using a slow cooker, turn it to low heat, cover it, and let it do it’s thing all day or all night, and after about 10 – 12 hours (guessing here) you’ll have lovely apple butter ready to be put into jars or eaten immediately (I recommend the later).

If you’re using a regular pot on the stove, you’ll need to cook it over low heat, stirring almost constantly (or every 30 seconds to 1 minute) until it cooks down to the desired consistency (this will probably take at least an hour, unless you don’t mind a more liquidy, apple sauce-like apple butter). I find this process to be a bit less maddening if I’m cooking something else in the kitchen while I make the apple butter. Then I’m not just standing over the stove falling into a stupor. This time, I worked on making monster fingers while I cooked the apple butter.

I forgot to measure it out (opps), but the finished apple butter filled one large jar (maybe about 5 – 6 cups). If you want to make more for canning, just double, triple, or quadruple the recipe as needed.

Apple Butter

(enough for one large jar, or several small jars)

  • 1 – 1.5 kilos apples (around 3 lbs), peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 c. apple juice
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/3 c. sugar (more if using apple sauce)
  • dash of salt
  1. Add apples, lemon juice, spices, sugar, and salt to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until apples become soft.
  2. Mash apples into smaller pieces, then blend with a blender or food processor.
  3. For cooking in slow cooker: Add to slow cooker and cook, covered, for about 10 hours (or until desired consistency). Adjust spices and sweetness to taste. Add to jars, can, or eat immediately.
  4. For cooking on stove-top: Return apple butter to pot, and cook on low heat, stirring almost constantly, until liquid reduces to desired consistency (about an hour). Adjust spices and sweetness to taste. Add to jars, can, or eat immediately.

November 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm 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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