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Chicken and Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup Under Pressure

1 Dec

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I love soup! The warmth and comfort you can get from a bowl of soup is unsurpassed. Making soup for a crowd is a great way of showing the love too! This is a super easy brothy flavor packed meal. If you have a pressure cooker then you know the ease and speed at which you can pump out meals. If you are making this on the stove top is will be just as easy but takes a bit longer. Either way, enjoy.

Chicken and Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup Under Pressure

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 very large ripe tomato, diced
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn
6 cups chicken broth (homemade is best)
2 tsp. chili powder more to taste
2 tsp. ground cumin more to taste
2 tbs oregano
1 bay leaf
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cups diced peeled butternut squash
Limes

To serve:
Crushed tortilla chips
fresh cilantro
Green onion
Fresh avocado
fresh lime juice
Lactose free sour cream

Instructions:
Add broth and all ingredients to pressure cooker except the beans. Cover Pressure cooker and set to sealing position. Select Soup Mode and manually adjust the time to 15 minutes.
Do natural release when soup is finished.

Remove the chicken breasts to a plate cut in half and and use two forks to shred the meat apart. Return the shredded chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Add the drained beans. Check for seasoning, add more chili powder or salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, and the crisp tortilla and avocado.
(To cook on the stove top, follow directions, cover and simmer on medium low for 45 minutes.)

School Lunch Flashback

11 Aug

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I’m bringing back this article I wrote for Edible Marin Wine country in 2012. This continues to be an easy fun lunch for my kiddo!

If you have a rice cooker, set it the night before to cook fresh rice in the morning before you get up. Use whatever is on hand, leftovers, nuts, veggies , chicken, steak, whatever you have on hand.

We are all getting ready for school and being prepared for lunch making is a real time saver. Good luck!

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By Jennifer Carden / Photographed by Matthew Carden

If it’s day one of 200 or so school days to come and you’re already out of ideas, you are not alone. It feels like kids’ school lunches have been the same since the ’50s. Does this sound familiar: PB&J with the crust cut off, an apple and juice? My own mom used those waxed bags that never quite closed, so one side of the sandwich was dried out by the time lunch rolled around. I almost never ate them. Sorry, Mom.

I consulted with my daughter when I was writing this piece and she provided some useful food for thought on why kids don’t finish their lunch at school. “I like to get through my lunch fast so we can go out to recess,” she divulged. I think that’s pretty universal. So give this sleight of hand a try to spice up your child’s lunchtime with a game of handball… sushi, that is!

Temarizushi is Japanese for “hand ball,” and these small jewel-like rice balls, formed by hand, are traditionally served in the spring for young children’s parties. They are actually great year-round, changing the toppings with the seasons, and a perfect way to use the leftovers in your refrigerator. Three rice balls that include a protein have around the equivalent nutritional value of most lunchbox sandwiches, making them the right kind of fuel for all that playing and learning. The balls are easy and fun for kids to make the night before school.

TO PREPARE HAND BALL SUSHI:

Tear or cut a dozen 4- by 4-inch squares of plastic wrap and set aside on a clean, dry work surface. (Note: If you lay them down with half extending over the edge of the counter it makes them easy to grab when you need them.) Place a small amount of your chosen ingredient on a sheet of the plastic wrap. Drop approximately 2 teaspoons of room-temperature sushi rice on top of your *Toppings of choice. If it is sticky, dampen your hands with a bit of water.

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*Toppings of your choice such as: toasted sesame seeds; nori (toasted seaweed), cut out with a hole punch or cut into shapes; carrot, zucchini or cucumber ribbons; cooked fresh pumpkin; corn; sliced black olives; tofu, cut into animal shapes with small cookie cutters; leftover chicken, salmon or scrambled eggs; edible flowers; or thinly sliced deli meats like turkey or ham For a sweet option, add cinnamon sugar to the rice and top with thinly sliced apples.

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Gather the plastic wrap up around the rice ball, then twist the plastic wrap tightly, firmly pressing the rice into a ball shape. Continue with new ingredients until you have used up all the rice. Wait at least 15 minutes to unwrap the balls and serve. If you make these ahead of time, leave in the wrap and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to serve. For lunch boxes, leave them wrapped for safekeeping and your child will have fun unwrapping them at lunchtime.

How to make perfect sushi rice every time.

Ingredients for Perfect Sushi Rice

2 cups sushi rice

2 cups water

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons mirin

2 teaspoons salt

Ingredients

Toppings of your choice* (examples below)

Instructions

TO PREPARE PERFECT SUSHI RICE:

Do not follow the directions on the bag of rice! Rinse the rice only 3–4 times— the water does NOT have to run clear as it will instruct on the bag. Allow rice to drain thoroughly.

While rice is draining, combine vinegar, sugar, salt and mirin in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Add the rice and water to a pan and bring quickly to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes before removing the pot from the heat, keeping the lid CLOSED. Abso- lutely no stirring or sneaking a peek!

Let rice rest for 10 minutes, then remove the cover.

Spread the rice in a wide glass or ceramic dish to cool and lightly fan the rice while adding the vinegar mixture. Mix rice gently, being careful not to break or mash it.

Cook’s note: If you have a rice cooker, follow the directions for “sushi rice” and add the vinegar and other seasonings after cooking.

Yields 4 cups of rice.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Pumpkin Pie

27 Nov

It’s time….pie time! Here is a cute little info graphic all about pie. Have a wonderful holiday season!

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Raw Kale Salad

14 Jul

Raw Kale Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing
This is my favorite most filling meal, kids think it’s yummy too because it has apples and a bit of honey for sweetness. You can save it for leftovers because kale is hearty and won’t get limp like lettuce after it has been dressed.

You can adjust the sweetness in this recipe to your liking. I like my dressing a bit sweeter when it is on raw kale, it cuts the harshness of the kale.

Dressing
Makes 1 1/2 cups dressing enough for a few salads

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup XVOO
2 Tbs rice vinegar
Salt/pepper
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs honey

Add to a blender and blend to emulsify.
A hand or stick blender works well too!

Raw Kale Salad
Makes two large servings

To break up nuts, put in a baggie and smash with a pan or meat tenderizer
Curly or Red Russian Kale is best for this salad

1 head raw kale, washed, de-stemmed, dried and torn in small pieces or cut with scissors
1/2 cup of raw almonds chopped or broken
1 hard apple, Fuji or Granny Smith, diced
Sliced red onion, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and dress to your liking.
Let sit for about 1/2 hour to meld the flavors. Serve.

Acorn Squash, Cutting Cooking Time in “Half” with a Little Help from OrAngie

12 Nov

I knew I wanted to share this idea with you but I was holding off for some reason. Maybe it’s because I recently posted about squash, but we LOVE squash!!
I’m super excited to be a part of the Paint Chip Pals Rainbow-Tastic Holiday blog hop which supports a fun and exciting Kickstarter campaign.  The Paint Chip Pals plush dolls – a colorful set of characters saving the world from blah one color at a time! Learn more about this exciting campaign and the creators Andrea and Cliff Currie (whom you may recognize from Hand Make My Day and Craft Wars) here!

I love all the Paint Chip Pals for their bright hues and unique personalities I naturally honed in on the chef OrAngie as the inspiration for this squashie project because I like her fireyness and off the hook kitchen skills. When I was contacted recently by The Paint Chip Pals to do a blog post, I knew this was the one for them.  I saw OrAngie the cute Paint Chip chef who loves making Orangie cupcakes and mini yam sandwiches and fell in love! We try to be as creative as we can over here and the Paint Chip Pals fall right into our category for fun!

“How can squash be fun?” you ask. Well first off when I was looking at the photos of this pretty Orange Acorn squash my first thought was it looks a bit like OrAngie! It’s orange, and has a pretty little scalloped edge. If it had arms it would probably reach out for a hug, it’s like a little baby OrAngie. See how cute she is, do you see a resemblance?

If you have never made Acorn Squash before it is the easiest side dish to make and is sure to impress your guests! Don’t you want some Ohhh’s and Ahhh’s at the table once in a while? (You know you do) Now I didn’t learn to make this at culinary school or on a cooking show, this is just how mom used to make it, simple, comforting, buttery and sweet. I did however come up with this brilliant microwave steaming method to cut cooking time…all by myself! Now go to the store and buy some acorn squash, when you get back I will tell you what to do with this prehistoric looking food.

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Nothing Special :

Dam Good Old Fashioned Acorn Squash Recipe

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2 similar sized acorn squash

1/2 cup water

4 Tbs butter, coconut oil or Earth Balance

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

pinch salt

Preheat oven to 425˚F

Wash squash with water, dry.

Place a towel on a cutting board, put squash down stem side horizontal to board. Wrap towel around base of squash like a snake, to secure it in place while you cut through it. Slice a tiny amount off the stem side and bottom so when the squash is sitting upright it won’t wobble. Using a sharp knife* cut through the equator (the fat middle) of the squash. (see photo)

Scoop all the seeds and pulp out of the center. Pour 1/2 the water into the bottom half of each squash, place top of squash back on top. (see photo) Place the squash in the microwave for 5 minutes on high. It is now steaming, when you remove it use caution not to get a steam burn. The squash should be tender when poked with a knife. If it is not, return it to the microwave.

Dump out any remaining water; place the squash on a baking sheet. Add 1 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs brown sugar, 1 Tbs maple syrup and a pinch of salt to the flesh of each squash. Lightly poke each one with a fork a few times to let the butter and sugar sink in.

Cook for 15 minutes or until bubbly and tender, let cool 5 minutes, serve.

* sharp knife – If the squash is too tough to cut through or you are afraid of slipping place it in the microwave for 2 minutes to soften.

Quick Lunch Idea

19 Oct

Are you skipping lunch AGAIN? I know, you are so busy, little kids are home and won’t nap. Big kids are coming home soon and you still have to run out to do some errands. We all deal with it, whether you are a work at home mommy or work in an office mommy. Are you putting yourself first or are you having a latte for lunch again?  I work at home and so does my husband, most of the time we need to eat lunch at home but it is hard to stop what we are doing to eat. So tailor this to your liking and remember to eat!

Here is a really easy way to feed yourself and the other people at home with you during lunch. Add the greens for the kid, get them used to having sandwiches with veggies on them.

I love recycling leftovers, by now you know that! This is a very easy wrap using leftover roasted chicken but you could use anything. How about squash, potato, broccoli, steak, turkey burger??  Do you have tortillas, do you have cheese, spinach or lettuce?

It is nice keep ingredients on hand like  some pesto, humus or my favorite balsamic glaze on hand for quick lunches.

Trader Joe’s has a balsamic glaze that is delicious, it lasts forever too. Look around the store for interesting condiments to keep around for just such an occasion.

Here are two really easy versions of a wrap, one gluten free and dairy free, one cheesy with a regular tortilla.

Chicken Balsamic Wrap

(Normal folks version)

1 Flour tortilla

a handful of fresh spinach

shredded chicken or leftovers

A slice of cheese

balsamic glaze

mayonnaise

Warm tortilla on the flame of a gas stove for 5 seconds, flip over for five seconds more. You can also warm it in a dry pan on the stove for about 30 seconds.

add cheese, mayonnaise, spinach, chicken, salt, pepper and balsamic glaze. Roll and eat!

Chicken Balsamic Wrap

Gluten and Dairy Free Version

1 Gluten free tortilla ( like Rudi’s the best)

a handful of fresh spinach

shredded chicken or leftovers

balsamic glaze

mayonnaise

Warm tortilla on the flame of a gas stove for 5 seconds, flip over for five seconds more. You can also warm it in a dry pan on the stove for about 30 seconds.

Add mayonnaise, spinach, chicken, salt, pepper and balsamic glaze. Roll and eat!

My Little Food Stylist and Butterfly Dumplings

23 Jul

Easy soup with a twist

“Soup…mom I want soup for dinner tonight.” “Honey it’s 4:45, dinner is in one hour, I’d have to go to the store, blah, blah, blah…”  Once I get fixated on something to make nothing will stop me, so off to Trader Joe’s I ran (biked)….whoosh…

I grabbed a bag of frozen wontons and just like that…whoosh…I was back. I tossed together a very quick and “Semi Homemade” soup. I was lucky enough to have some good chicken stock on hand in the freezer, dried mushrooms and fresh spinach. I followed the directions on the bag for making the wontons, tossed in some onion and garlic, ginger, and let it simmer. It was very fast and created a warm light dinner. We can’t all be Super Mom or Super Chef every day and it’s ok, we shouldn’t have to be.

I was busy, getting the rest of our meal together and kidlet was restless so I came up with having her “style” her dinner. She loves tofu, the marinated kind, so I handed her some cookie cutters and tofu and walked away. When I turned back around she had placed the butterfly shapes so perfectly in the soup, I was shocked! She sees me working all the time, she even helps out occasionally on my food styling jobs.  I know she has the ability to decorate her food and make it beautiful, now if she would just start making entire meals for us!  I’m pretty convinced by now that if they cook it they eat it or in our case, if you decorate it, you eat it.

It helps to have some ingredients on hand for quick dinners these are things I love to keep around:
peeled ginger in the freezer, you can add it to soups,
Cooked marinated tofu
Chicken stock, homemade or boxed
Dried mushroom assortment
Green onions, sliced frozen

Wonton Soup with Tofu Butterflies

I realize that not everyone has a Trader Joe’s market across the street. This recipe is so flexible that you can use just about anything in it. If you can’t get wontons, try Gyoza or just ramen style noodles and cooked chicken. Make this to taste, if your kids need more flavor, add more soy sauce and sesame.  Water chestnuts are crunchy and take on the flavor of the dish they are in, try them. Try dried reconstituted mushrooms, they can add great flavor to lots of dishes.

1 Bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen mini chicken wontons
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 coins of ginger, peeled
1-2 green onions, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms 
2 Tbs soy sauce
4 cups of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 can of  sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 tsp sesame oil
Handful of spinach, fresh or frozen
Teriyaki marinated cooked tofu
Salt/Pepper
Optional
2 eggs, beaten (see below)
Follow directions on the bag of wontons, when cooked, remove and set aside. They should be browned on the bottom and cooked through.
In the same pan, add a tablespoon of oil (peanut, or vegetable) sauté garlic, ginger, green onions and mushrooms until dry.  Turn heat to medium and add the soy sauce and stir to incorporate.  Add chicken broth, and water chestnuts and  simmer.   Add the mini wontons back, to warm through, add sesame oil  serve. Salt and pepper to taste.
If adding the beaten egg for and egg drop style soup, add just before the wontons.
Slowly stream in the beaten eggs to simmering (not boiling) soup mixture, let simmer untouched 2 minutes. Continue with finishing the recipe.
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