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Posts tagged as “sauces”

Spicing-up take out: Chinese

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What's that one thing you really crave when a food craving hits? Pick your poison: savory or sweet. Maybe it's a really decadent chocolate dessert? Or a fresh, piping hot pizza with all of your favorite toppings?

You know that feeling of having a craving that just needs to be satisfied. A desire for something, you can practically taste whatever it is. Sometimes, the end result is amazing. Other times?

One of the worst food-related things that can probably happen in my opinion is having a craving for something, finally eating it, and having it be an epic fail. Talk about a letdown!

This happened to me recently with Chinese food. Dave and I try not to get take-out food too often, since it's expensive and not always the healthiest. But one night recently, neither of us felt like turning on a stove, firing up the grill, cutting seemingly endless amounts of produce, or doing anything for dinner other than picking up a fork (or chopsticks) and calling it a day. I ordered shrimp with broccoli, no sauce, and I couldn't wait to eat it after not having it in a while.  

Granted, it came without sauce, but on the first bite... something wasn't right. It didn't taste bad, i.e. spoiled, but it didn't hit the spot. Added a little soy—still not right. 

Then, the lightbulb went off in my head: make a quick sauce. Soy sauce needed some help from its friends ginger and garlic if there was any hope to save this dish.

Butternut Squash and Carrot Puree

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By this time in the Fall, butternut squash and carrots tend to be "surplus" items in my pantry. They are two of my favorite root vegetables that I love to dice up to add to a vegetable soup, roast with herbs and olive oil for a side dish, or puree after roasting to create a versatile base that can be transformed into several dishes.

When packaged in smaller containers or zip-top bags, this butternut-carrot puree can be thawed a little at a time to use as a quick sauce, soup, or side dish. The portions are flexible, so it's perfect to use up whatever you have on hand.

Here are three quick ways to use butternut squash and carrot puree:

As a healthier side dish alternative to mashed potatoes: Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream into 1 cup puree. Serves 2.

As a quick sauce for pasta: Combine 1 cup puree, 1/2 cup vegetable stock, and 1/2 cup light cream in a saucepan. Heat through, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with 2 cups cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese. Serves 3-4.

As a vegetarian or vegan soup: Combine 2 cups puree with 3 cups vegetable stock in a saucepan. Heat through and finish with 1/4 cup heavy cream. Serve topped with a drizzle of a flavored oil or sour cream, chives, and roasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds. Serves 3-4. Omit any suggested dairy to make a vegan soup.