Dear mom who is tired of eating microwaved frozen chicken nuggets off of her kid’s plate and calling it lunch, I feel your pain.
I have tried eating them with honey and hot sauce, but it really just doesn’t cut it. Without a nourishing and satisfying lunch, I inevitably snack all afternoon on things that add guilt to the cycle of over-indulging my “needs” and under-indulging my needs. For the mom that loves to go out for lunch with a girlfriend, but is in a current season where that is near impossible…this post is for you.
This is a super simple post about how I make Asian cafe quality lunches for myself or a friend (or even for my kids) when I’m craving something other than a sandwich…and when chicken nuggets just won’t do.
1) Always keep some frozen potstickers in the freezer. (I like Trader Joe’s chicken potstickers, and Ling Lings at Costco.)
Here’s how to have quick and perfectly pan-fried potstickers:
- Heat a tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet .
- Dip the “bottoms” of each potsticker in the oil and place around the entire skillet bottoms down. (Obviously pick a skillet that matches the quantity of potstickers you care to fix.)
- Heat the pan up to medium-high, and when the potstickers begin sizzling, add enough water to cover 3/4 of the way up the potstickers in pan.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until tops of potstickers are thoroughly steamed and cooked through. Then take lid off and let the water cook off.
- When water cooks off fully, let the bottoms brown, then turn off heat.
- Gently loosen edges of potstickers on the outer edge.
- Place large plate over skillet like a lid. Flip entire pan over with plate secured with your hand, and potstickers should come out bottoms up in your plate, ready to serve!
2) Keep soup starters on hand for individual bowls of Asian soups:
- Miso soup packets from Trader Joe’s
- Dry Thai Chili Paste from Trader Joe’s (use a few teaspoons in boiling water to taste)
- Better Than Boullion- chicken, beef, vegetable
3) Favorite add ins to soups:
- Frozen wontons (chicken-cilantro ones from Trader Joe’s are great)
- Leftover panfried potstickers
- bean sprouts
- handful fresh spinach
- cilantro, thai basil, lime
- rice noodles, bean starch vermicelli, udon noodles
- frozen shrimp (keep a bag in freezer just for this, and it will last you forever, but make ever bowl special)
- canned tuna
Not every day will call for a little something special or a little extra effort, but you and I both know: sometimes a soothing meal and mid-day break does so much for the soul.
Hope these ideas help!
Because of grace,
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This may sound strange, but I can ALWAYS eat soup. I don’t care what the temp is outside or what season we’re in, I’m always a fan of soup. I make my homemade tomato soup at least every other week– it’s so affordable, and it’s the kids’ favorite with grilled cheese. The other family favorite– Ugly Soup, which is pretty unsightly. Or butternut squash soup with ravioli and a drizzle of molasses? Yum. Then, there’s my family recipe for hot and sour soup, a menu must when making pot stickers. And, while we’re thinking globally, there’s the Moqueca (Brazillian fish stew) that I made my own. Goodness, I could go on and on.
So…naturally, after any summertime BBQ, leftover grilled corn on the cob gets turned into my favorite summertime salad…or this recipe I whipped up for corn chowder. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce adds amazing flavor, while heat can be adjusted based on how much or how little of the actual peppers you choose to use. I’ve made it with bacon or ham, and the addition of potatoes would be delicious…but, a simple corn chowder is pretty much perfect paired with an easy french bread or artisan loaf. You’ll never regret grilling up a few too many corn on the cobs again.
Chipotle Grilled Corn Chowder
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Total time: 35 mins
- 6 ears grilled corn
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 4 T. butter
- 1/2 c. flour
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp. garlic
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. salt and pepper
- 1 c. half and half
- 1 T. chopped chipotle pepper with adobo sauce (canned in the Mexican food aisle)
- Cut grilled corn off the cob and set aside.
- In a large pot heated to medium-high, melt the butter, and add diced onions and grilled corn. Stir and saute until onions are translucent.
- Sprinkle flour over corn and onions, and stir, forming a roux paste over the veggies.
- Add chicken broth and continue stirring until smooth and has a consistency of gravy. Add milk.
- Stir in dry spices and simmer for 5 minutes at medium heat, stirring regularly.
- Add half and half and chipotle + sauce. (1 T. of chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce is just the right amount of heat and flavor for our family. The kids taste a bit of heat, but still eat it and enjoy it!)
- Serve with fresh cilantro, a dash of smoked paprika, and a dollop of sour cream if you wish! Enjoy!
Mushrooms. You either love them or despise them. I happen to find them absolutely wonderful! I love all kinds of mushrooms–shitake, portabella, enoki, button, cremini. I love them in all forms: in stews, sauteed over steak or a burger, stuffed with sausage, as a burger substitute, sliced hot bacon spinach salad, marinated, skewered and grilled…did I cover all the bases?!? You see, I’m a fan of mushrooms. My family, on the other hand, is not. They will tolerate them in my ugly soup, stout stew, fricasee, and coq au vin. But, an all-out brothy, flavorful mushroom soup? Well…I think I may be the only one who appreciates such meals in this house. Thankfully, my recipe for such a soup is so simple and quick to fix, I can make a small batch for myself anytime the mood calls for it…which is always, usually. 🙂
*I’ll just warn you now…This is one of my unconventional non-technical recipes. You’ll need a pint size mason jar and some Beef Better Than Bouillon if you want to make it the way I did! (I love that Better Than Bouillon is organic and does not have MSG. I use the chicken version all the time now as well, in my tomato soup, because there’s no waste, and I can always use just the amount I need.):)
- 1 small yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
- 2-3 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 mason jars of water
- 1/2 half mason jar of pinot grigio
- 1 tsp. beef Better Than Bouillon
- dash or two of crushed dried thyme salt and plenty of cracked pepper
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and combine with onions and mushrooms. Saute on medium high heat until onions and mushrooms are cooked down and lots of liquid is released, about 8 minutes. Add two jar-fuls of water to the saucepan, and a teaspoon of the Better Than Bouillon.
After the Better Bouillon is dissolved, add the thyme, salt and cracked pepper to taste. Add the wine, and simmer for 10 minutes on low. Serve with crusty bread or a salad dressed with lemon and olive oil. That’s it! Wasn’t that simple?
Fall–in all her rustling leaves, crisp morning air, and warm, inviting aromas and flavors– is really like a familiar friend. She’s a welcomed friend, one you hope will come over early and stay long over a a warm cup of cider, or a bowl of steamy harvest soup. Serve her this one. I created this recipe by following my cravings…and you simply can’t argue with a pregnant woman’s cravings. Enjoy!
Roasted Acorn Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 1 hour | Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
The perfect slightly sweet and savory soup showcasing autumn flavors.
- 2 large acorn squash
- 5 pieces bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 small granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- salt to taste
- cracked pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and spray with cooking oil spray.
- Cut acorn squash lengthwise and remove seeds and fibers. Place cut side down onto prepared cookie sheet. Roast squash for 30-40 minutes, or until flesh and outer skin is soft and just carmelized.
- When squash is roasted, carefully scoop out flesh and place in a blender and puree. You should have about 4-5 cups pureed acorn squash. Set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon on medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add diced onion and apples to the bacon fat in the pot. Stir and cook on medium high heat until onions are translucent and apples are tender.
- Add pureed acorn squash, chicken stock, and apple cider. Stir gently until combined.
- Add spices, and salt to taste. Simmer on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until well incorporated and heated thoroughly.
- Serve hot soup with a sprinkling of reserved bacon and plenty of cracked pepper.
As much as I love me a whirl in the kitchen with fancy-schmancy culinary terms like “deglaze,” “au gratin,” and “carmelize,” there’s really nothing quite as satisfying as a good slow-cooker dinner made in the first 5 minutes of your day. You might be discouraged to read further if I told you I came up with this recipe after making a big batch, sans spices, for Mancub Number 5. Yup, reinvented baby food. 🙂 He loved it, The Preacher loved it…we all loved it enough to eat it for dinner a few weeks ago. So, I played with the flavors a bit, and came up with what our family considers a winner. Let me know what you think if you try it! (My recipe is for a super large batch that feeds my family and dinner guests. You could easily cut this recipe in half to make it more manageable!)
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 lbs. red lentils
- 3 1/2 quarts water or chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 3 tsp. yellow curry powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garam masala
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- To garnish:
- plain yogurt
- olive oil
Combine all ingredients (excluding garnishes) in the order listed in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. With two forks, gently shred the chicken when fully cooked. The lentils should be mushy and easily pureed with a fork. Stir before serving.
Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of paprika and parsley. Lightly pan-toasted flat bread is great for scooping up the thick soup! Enjoy.
There’s not much introduction needed here. If you saw yesterday’s post about the baby shower I threw over the weekend, and if your mouth was watering, then you are a Fall-flavors kindred spirit. Butternut squash is quintessential Fall. You’ve seen it in that amazing quinoa pie recipe, and now you can have this hearty gourd as a main course soup…Fall is here…savor it!
Butternut Squash Soup with Ravioli
- 2-3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into quarters
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter pinch ginger pinch cumin pinch nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 package frozen cheese ravioli (2-4 ravioli per person/serving) salt and pepper to taste molasses for serving (optional)
In a large pot, cook quartered squash, broth, and cayenne pepper, covered over medium high heat for 20-30 minutes, or until squash is very tender. Carefully ladle small amounts of squash and broth mixture into a blender, and puree until smooth. Set aside in a large container. Repeat in small batches until all squash and broth mixture is blended. Return entire mixture back into large pot, and add butter, additional spices, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on medium heat and add heavy whipping cream, stirring constantly. Simmer on low until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, prepare the ravioli according to package directions. Drain. Ladle hot squash mixture into bowls. Divide cooked ravioli among bowls. If desired, drizzle with molasses. I personally think molasses is NOT optional. 🙂
A stew in the summertime may seem counter-intuitive, but then again, Brazillians should know something about warm weather fare. With simple ingredients, most of which you may have on hand, this fast and easy meal may be just the ticket to get you out of the BBQ rut and into the tropics. Ahhh…pass the pina colada.
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets, cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. garlic, minced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 large bell peppers or red bell peppers, sliced
- 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 (16 ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Stir together the lime juice, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large ziploc bag or bowl. Add the tilapia and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes, up to 24 hours.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Quickly fry the onions, garlic and ginger in the oil 1 to 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the bell pepper and diced tomatoes to the pot. Pour the coconut milk and chicken broth over the mixture, and stir.
Add the tilapia. Cover the pot and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the cilantro and continue cooking until the tilapia is completely cooked through, another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve. Welcome to Brazil!