Tag Archives: easy meals

Soup’s On!

I got tired of looking at Mr. Butternut. Like a house guest who had outstayed his welcome, the homely squash, purchased more than a week ago, no longer felt welcome in my kitchen.

It’s time for this vegetable to go bye-bye, I thought. So I turned the squash into soup.

I love soup for many reasons. On a cool September day, it’s the perfect thing to make for a side dish with dinner. For some reason, kids who push vegetables around on their plates feel differently about veggies when they are pureed and served in a bowl. My son, Jake, who’s 13, adores soup. I make it so he can get his vegetables and I can feel like a good mother.

I adapted the following recipe from the 2009 Thanksgiving issue of Good Housekeeping. I cut the recipe in half, substituted celery salt for celery and skipped the whole sage leaves which were used as garnishes. Really, who needs garnishes on Tuesday night? I also left out the croutons.

My immersion blender works like a charm when it comes to making soup. Give it a whirl if you happen to own one.

big pic of butternut squash
Immersion blender cuts down on clean up

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage

Makes 6 servings

1 medium butternut squash, cut lengthwise in half, seeds removed

2 tbsp olive oil

Celery salt

1 small to medium sized yellow onion, thinly sliced

½ medium carrot, chopped

Dried thyme

1 bay leaf

Dried sage

3 cups of chicken broth (I used three-quarters of a 32-ounce carton of broth)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a glass baking pan with foil. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in the pan and roast 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Let the squash halves cool off so they’re easy to handle. Scoop the squash from the shells and place in a large bowl. Dump the shells.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 5- to 6-quart saucepot, heat a tablespoon of oil on medium until hot. Add celery salt, onions and carrot. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in thyme, bay leaf, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Cook the mixture for two more minutes.
  3. Add broth and squash to the pot. Cover and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Discard the bay leaf. Whip out your immersion blender and blend the mixture until pureed. Or if using a standard blender, blend the mixture in batches. Serve hot and enjoy.

    soup in bowl
    Jake enjoyed a bowl

Go Ahead, Rub It In

When I’m looking for an idea for an easy meal, I often turn to spice rubs.

They are great for home cooks who don’t feel like chopping, dicing, slicing or any other serious knife activity. The only requirement is having a well-stocked supply of bottled herbs and spices, which I have.

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I keep plenty of herbs and spices on hand

The other day, I didn’t feel like shopping but I was short on protein. I had two salmon filets in the freezer and three mouths to feed. But there was a bag of frozen shrimp. If I made the filets with a couple handfuls of shrimp, I would have enough protein to feed the three of us.

I wanted to season the fish and shrimp the same way so I decided to try the spice rub used in Mark Bittman’s Four-Spice Salmon on my shrimp. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

This easy recipe, which mixes coriander and cloves with cumin and nutmeg, is a delicious way to season salmon. I had some leftover spice rub in a baggy in the fridge so I didn’t have to mix up a new batch. I sprinkled all the seasoning on the filets and shrimp and my husband, Tom, cooked it all in the same cast-iron skillet. In well under 10 minutes, the salmon and shrimp were ready to eat. Quite tasty.

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There was plenty of salmon and shrimp to go around

Not Your Mother’s Three-Bean Salad

It’s hard to get excited about three-bean salad. Just mentioning it makes you think of a side dish served at a diner or classic American picnic food. Boring, right?

Before you stop reading, consider the health benefits of beans. On top of being nutritious, they are also cheap.

There are ways to make three-bean salad interesting. Don’t worry. Even when you take this salad up a notch, it’s still quick and easy to make. In my version, there’s no cooking required. I used canned beans from my pantry. By the way, I try at all times to keep a variety of beans in the pantry to minimize last-minute trips to the store.

bean salad ingredients
Most ingredients were already in my pantry

I made this dish recently for lunch at a friend’s house. All five adults and my 13-year-old son, Jake, enjoyed it.

Lynne’s Three-Bean Salad

1 clove garlic

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (optional)

About 4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 15.5-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

Me chopping jalapeno
That’s me chopping jalapeno

Chop the garlic and jalapeno finely. Be careful not to handle the jalapeno too much with bare hands. (You may want to protect your hands by wearing gloves as you chop the chile.)

Add the jalapeno, garlic, dill, olive oil and vinegar to a large bowl. Add the beans and mix everything up so the bean mixture is well seasoned. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if you like, more vinegar. This salad is best when it’s chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Makes 6-8 servings

bean salad
My three-bean salad. Not at all boring.