Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Ancho Butternut Squash Soup

This butternut squash soup recipe arose largely from one of my many aimless meanderings through the grocery store. I generally grab the first vegetable that looks good, and build a meal around it.

It turned out to be a perfect fall recipe, as well as a perfect soft food for this insane diet my doctor put me on to help heal my TMJ. I just try not to think of it as adult baby food. Ancho chili paste adds a wonderful smokiness to the soup, and just a little bit of spice to accent the squash's sweetnesss.

The benefit of buzzing down a soup into a smooth consistency is that you can include a bunch of vegetables besides the ones creating the main flavors of the dish. I added fresh green beans and tofu, and couldn't tell the difference. You could even add spinach or kale for some extra vitamins.

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 2 yellow potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1/3 of a sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 head fennel or anise, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cups roughly chopped green beans
  • 1 package silken tofu, cut into
  • 4 vegetable bullion cubes
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • 4 dried ancho chilies, stems pulled off
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • optional garnish, crumbled Gorgonzolla
  1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot. When it starts to glisten, add fennel, onion, and garlic. Cook until onions start to turn translucent. Be careful not to let garlic burn or brown. About five minutes.
  2. Add 1/3 of the can of vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot and stir to incorporate any caramelized bits.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and let them cook down. About eight minutes.
  4. Add squash, carrots, potatoes, broth, and bullion. Pour in water until it comes to an inch from the top of the vegetables. The amount of water will depend on how much juicy the tomatoes are.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring lower vegetables to the top of the pot occasionally. Let cook for 30-40 minutes, or until carrots and squash are very soft.
  6. While vegetables are boiling, microwave the 1 1/2 cups water in a wide bowl for two minutes. Set the chili pods in the bowl for about 10 minutes, until reconstituted.
  7. Buzz chili pods and water in a blender or food processor until they become a paste.
  8. When vegetables are soft, transfer contents of the pot into a blender or food processor, and buzz down to a smooth conistency. Add a little of the sour cream and tofu to each batch so they don't cool down the soup too much.
  9. Serve immediately with garlic bread or crumbled Gorgonzola as a garnish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Tandoori Find

No idea where it came from, but it saved me from having to make a sandwich again today. Once again the food gnomes have left lunch out for me on the kitchen counter. Indian today.

I swear, sometimes it's like the ghost of my still-alive mother is protecting me from before the grave.

Tandoori chicken (spicy yum), basmati rice (eh), dahl soup (smooth yum), saag paneer (ick)

Again, no idea where it did come from but I'll take the chance to promote a great Indian spot nearby that has been fantastic every time we've been there: Lal Mirch.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My Catch Up (hold the ketchup and catsup)

Heh. Uh ... hi.

You may not remember me. I'm the blogger who writes My Cubicle Lunch.

I've been really busy lately. No, really. I've had lots of work, and classes, and dance parties, and season 5 of Smallville on DVD. It's just so much!

I just kind of haven't been ... blogging. But I have been photographing what I've made and/or reheated!

So here it is, folks, my list of recent cubicle meals for your mild voyeuristic amusement:

My Southwest Bean and Basil Salad

  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh Santa Monica Farmers (SMF) Market basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh SMF green beans (they're really sweet when fresh), broken in halves or chopped
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup sliced red grapes
  • parmesan or cotija cheese to taste
  • crumbled tostaditas for texture, and to make the neat little spire on top
My Basil-Tofu Open Faced Sandwich

  • 2 slices oat bread (lots of fiber, with a little sweetness)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole-seed dijon mustard (great texture)
  • 1 small vine-ripened tomato
  • 1/3 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh SMF basil (yeah, still trying to use it up)
  • 1 patty firm tofu, drained and sliced horizontally
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/8 cup black beans
  • pickle slices to garnish
My Doctored-Up Pad Thai Leftovers

From Original Thai. I just microwaved and added some un-cooked, sliced zucchini to get more veggies in it. I also like the crisp contrast of texture it adds.

My Empty Pockets

Broke, out of money, destitute, hungry. At least I have a few slices of bread and a jar of peanut butter left in my desk's nether realms. Also, I get to take the new plate I bought over the weekend for a test lunch.

Please use non-disposable plates, cups and silverware at work. What you save in plastic and paper could be the earth's future.

(*step down from soapbox*)

My Paycheck Hasn't Gotten Here Yet

Another day of peanut butter toast for lunch, but at least I dressed it up with apricot preserves and banana slices. If I could only fry it, Elvis would be proud.

Thankfully, my coworker ordered too much at lunch (or saw me losing weight), and brought me her Original Thai salad role. She's such a good friend, I don't have the heart to tell her that I don't think these things are all that. But beggars and choosers, etc.

My Fatty Payback for a Month of Healthful Eating

1 carne asada burrito with a ginormous horchata (no ice -- it's a waste of valuable horchata space)

I've been craving a good burrito all week. This was not it. Casita Taco al Carbon may be a convenient taco shop for my office, but it's far from a great one. The meat was mediocre and laced with too much un-chewable gristle, the tortilla was certainly not made on the premises, the rice and beans did not run consistently through the length of the burrito, and the cardinal sin of all: the salsa sucks (though their verde is pretty decent). The horchata is pretty rockin', though. It's a bummer about their salsa, because their chips are always great. However, it's the fountain variety, which is hard to mess up. I will say that the burrito was far from bad, but it's just not up to the quality that is so easy to find in most San Diegan establishments.

While musing over the differences between my beloved San Diego's Mexican food and what I am so often disappointed by in LA, I found what is possibly the coolest food-related website EVER ESTABLISHED (besides MyCubicleLunch). It's user-generated Burritophile, a guide to the nation's best and worst in the tightly wrapped world of burrito joints. They cover most of the great spots in San Diego and LA, as well as the far reaches of Mexican cuisine's influence, like Wisconson. My only complaint is that some people are far too generous in their ratings. Case in point.