I am so in the mood to cook, something that happens as soon as the air starts cooling and the sun starts setting earlier each day. I love the fall, and adore my days when I am firmly ensconced in my kitchen. The first recipe has been in my files forever; the next two are from Weight Watchers.
What follows are a few terrific seasonal recipes, all of which are too good not to pass on.
6 medium thinly sliced leeks
2 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 14-oz. cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1/2 tsp.n each salt and white pepper
1 quart buttermilk
8 oz. light or fat-free sour cream
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
* Wash leeks well. Place olive oil in a Dutch oven, add leeks, and cook until tender. Remove a little less than half of the leeks and transfer to a small container; cover and chill until an hour before serving.
* Add potatoes, chicken broth, lemon peel, and salt and white pepper to the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly.
In a blender or food processor, process mixture in small batches until smooth and transfer to a large container. Stir in 1 quart buttermilk. Cover and chill for 8 to 48 hours. Bring to room temperature.
Just before serving, ladle into cups or bowls.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream and lemon juice; drop a small spoonful of the mixture onto each serving of soup. Top with the reserved chilled leek slices. Makes 16 servings.
MOROCCAN CHICKEN WITH APRICOTS AND SQUASH
1 tsp. table salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (four 4-oz. pieces)
3 sprays cooking spray
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large Vidalia onion., chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into1/2-inch cubes (about 3/4 lb.)
3/4 cups uncooked jasmine rice, or basmati rice, rinsed
3/4 cup(s) dried apricot halves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups canned chicken broth, or more if needed
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, minced
* Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
* Rub salt and pepper all over chicken; set aside.
* Coat a large oven-proof pot with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add oil; heat until it begins to shimmer. Add cumin, coriander and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, stirring, about 30 second to 1 minute. Add chicken; cook until lightly browned, flipping once, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate; set aside.
* Add onion and squash to pot, scraping down sides and bottom of pot to incorporate pan drippings. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions start to turn translucent and squash begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add rice and apricots; place browned chicken on top. Pour in broth; bring to a boil for 1 minute.
* Cover pot and bake in oven until rice and squash are tender and chicken is cooked through, checking half way through to see if more broth is needed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving. Yields about 2 cups (including a piece of chicken) per serving 4 servings, 8 POINTS per serving.
SAGE AND ORANGE-SCENTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
2 spray(s) cooking spray
9 cups butternut squash, cut into large cubes*
1 Tblsp. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. fresh sage, minced
3/4 tsp. orange zest, finely grated
* Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat two large baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
* In a large bowl, thoroughly toss squash with oil and salt; spread onto prepared baking sheets, leaving room between squash cubes.
* Roast squash, stirring after 15 minutes, and rotating baking sheets to promote even browning, until squash is tender and well-browned, about 30 to 40 minutes.
* Transfer squash to a serving bowl; toss gently with sage and orange zest. Yields 6 servings, about 3/4 heaping cup per serving. 2 POINTS per serving.
* A medium sized, 2 pound squash will yield approximately 3 1/2 cups of diced squash cubes so you’ll need 5 pounds whole squash for this recipe.
* Peel a whole butternut squash with a sturdy vegetable peeler. Trim the ends and cut it in half lengthwise. Use an ice cream scoop or melon baller to easily scoop seeds and membrane from each half.
* Precut butternut squash is widely available in supermarkets and is a great shortcut for time-pressed cooks. Be sure to trim down the pieces to small, even-sized cubes or slices before roasting to allow for better browning.
* If you have one, a microplane grater makes quick work of finely grating citrus zest.