Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup

My poor mom had some dental work done this week and has been feeling under the weather.  So in an effort to get her back in tip-top shape, or at least eating again, I created this soup for her.  It’s a quick soup, but tastes great:  creamy and comforting, just what you need when you’re not feeling your best.

Butternut and Sweet Potato SoupButternut and Sweet Potato Soup (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large cast iron pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sautee for a few minutes until tender.  Add garlic, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and sautee for an additional 2 minutes, season with salt.  Add vegetable broth and thyme.  Cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes and squash are fork tender.  Remove thyme stems from the pot.  Turn heat off and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Egg and Veggie Scramble

We all know we should eat more veggies, so here’s an easy way to start the day’s veggie count early.  This is also a great way to use up some of the veggies in your crisper.  Since this was served for breakfast on the last day at the beach house, we were eager to use up some of the leftover veggies and eggs.  Served with Easy Homefries and a fruit salad, this was the perfect last meal at the beach.

Egg and Veggie ScrambleEgg and Veggie Scramble (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 5

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • dill, to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until beginning to soften.  Add zucchini and bell pepper, cook for a few minutes until beginning to brown (try not to stir it too frequently so it has a chance to crisp up on the bottom).  Add spinach (in batches if necessary), and carefully fold in with veggies until beginning to wilt.  Pour in the eggs and stir together until eggs are no longer runny, season with salt, pepper and dill.  Serve immediately.


Easy Homefries

So after making baked potatoes to go with the delicious Santiago Bean Dip, we had a couple left over.  So on our last morning at the beach, it was time to use up the leftovers.  These homefries were the perfect thing.  Everyone loved these and they’re a cinch to make when you already have a cooked potato.  If you don’t have a baked potato on hand, scrub your raw potato, stab it with a fork, and wrap in a damp paper towel; then microwave for about 6 minutes.  The potato should be fork-tender when done.  Allow to cool enough to chop before proceeding with the recipe below.

Easy HomefriesEasy Homefries (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 2

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 baked potato, diced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a skillet (I used a cast iron one), heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sautee until translucent.  Add diced potato and cook for about 5-10 more minutes.  Try not to mix the potatoes too much so they have a chance to get crispy and browned.  Add more butter if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Holy Trinity Salmon Cakes

These salmon cakes were fantastic.  The name comes from the addition of onion, celery and bell peppers, referred to as the “holy trinity” in Cajun/Creole cooking because it’s such a fundamental part of recipes.  I love adding extra veggies, it adds great flavor and texture.  While these totally taste like beach food (from the Old Bay), they’re still fresh tasting from the veggies, and with a little spritz of lemon juice, they’re absolute perfection.  Next time I might try baking them instead of frying (I’d try 375°F for about 30-40 minutes) just because it’s easier (and a little healthier).

Holy Trinity Salmon CakesHoly Trinity Salmon Cakes (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 8 (makes about 16 – 20 patties)

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 7 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • 3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning (or crab boil seasoning)
  • 1/2 cup (light) mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 18 oz (3 6oz cans) boneless, skinless salmon
  • 1 1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
  • olive oil and butter for frying (a couple Tbsp should suffice)

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add diced onion and sauté for a minute.  Add the diced celery and bell peppers and sauté for a few minutes, until tender.   Add capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Old Bay and mix well.  Remove from pan and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, and salmon.  Gentle fold in the bread crumbs and the cooled vegetables, until well mixed.

Heat olive oil (and butter, if using) over medium high heat, when the pan is hot, add a scoop of the salmon mixture and press down on the top to form a patty.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  Keep patties warm in the oven at 250°F while you cook the rest.  Serve hot with a lemon wedge.

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers

This is the perfect summer entree.  The fresh lemon flavors make this bright and summery!  You can cook this on the grill or use a grill pan to get that nice smokey grill flavor.  The lemon and spring onions add a complexity to the chicken that really elevates this from just another boring chicken dish.  I think red onion would be great too if you have some on hand.  Grilling the onion brings out the sweetness, which contrasts nicely with the tart lemon.  This will definitely become a summer staple!

I served this with bruschetta, grilled bell peppers and zucchini, and Israeli couscous with scallions and chopped dried apricots.  This would also be great with a large salad, served with rice (and beans), or could easily be served with simple crudites with dips like hummus or a Greek yogurt dip.

Grilled Lemon Chicken SkewersGrilled Lemon Chicken Skewers (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 8-10 skewers

Adapted from Foodie Crush

  • 1 pkg chicken tenders, about 1 1/2 lbs
  • 4 lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dired oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces

Cut chicken tenders into thirds and set aside.  In a large bowl, add the zest and juice of two lemons.  Whisk in the garlic, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add the chicken and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes (no longer than an hour).

Before grilling, soak wooden skewers for about 10 minutes prior.  While the skewers are soaking, thinly slice the last 2 lemons into rounds, then slice the rounds in half.  Once the skewers are ready, thread a folded slice of lemon, then chicken, then about 3 pieces of scallion onto the skewer, repeating two or three times.

Heat the grill and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Once the grill is hot (medium-high heat if using a grill pan), cook the skewers for about 10 minutes, rotating every 3-4 minutes, until cooked through.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is a great light and fresh salsa.  It’s not very spicy, and has a fresh vibrant taste from the fresh tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro.  This is great for a light dip with chips,  would go great over grilled chicken, or is a wonderful topping for beans and rice.  However you serve it, it’s simple to make and is perfect for this time of year as the tomatoes are ripe and flavorful.

Pico de Gallo

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

  • 4 Roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped*
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt, to taste

Cut tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Finely chop the tomatoes and add to a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients,  cover and let sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

*If you don’t like raw onion, chop the onion first and let sit in cold water while you assemble the remaining ingredients.  Drain and add the the bowl when ready.  The water bath helps lessen the bite that onions can have.