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Slice of Life

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Local author’s recipe easy, hearty

With snowmageddon, I felt like I needed to batten down the proverbial hatches and start cooking something hearty for the menfolk. I thought after they finished shoveling and snow blowing and repeating as necessary, they might feel the need for some nourishment.

I had received a great new cookbook (by local author Cynthia Presser) called “Cooking with a Brazilian Twist” a few weeks ago and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try out a recipe or three.

I’m really impressed with the depth and breadth of the recipes, and the few that I tried were not just perfect for warming up after clearing the driveway for the third time, but they were also easy and delicious enough to make anytime I wanted to serve something different.

I was inspired to offer a few one-pot, hearty and healthy dishes that everyone can make for the shovelers in your life. The butternut squash recipe from Cynthia’s book is my new favorite “wow” chicken dish, and I’m sure it will be yours as well.

Butternut Squash Quibebe with Chicken and Coconut Milk

2 tablespoons coconut oil (I didn’t have any on hand, so I used olive oil)

Salt and pepper

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 tablespoon chili pepper paste

1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar

2 cups (one small or half large) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 can unsweetened coconut milk (14 ounces)

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup scallions or green onions, finely chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)

In a large skillet, heat oil over a high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet and sear for about one minute, without stirring. Cook for 2 additional minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is fully cooked but still moist inside. Remove the chicken from skillet and set it aside, but don’t clean the pan.

Reduce the heat. Add onions to the skillet. Cook until soft and slightly browned, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger, chili pepper and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional minute.

Reduce the heat to medium and add butternut squash and coconut milk. Bring to a low simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butternut squash is soft, 10 to 13 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in chicken, parsley and scallions. Season with more salt if needed. Serve immediately over a bed of jasmine rice, garnished with more scallions.

– Modified slightly from “Cooking with a Brazilian Twist” by Cynthia Presser;

Black Bean and Rice Soup

1 large onion, chopped finely

4 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained

2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with chilies

1 (11 ounce) can corn, drained

2 cups water

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup instant rice

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley

Sour cream (optional)

Cheddar cheese (optional)

Corn chips (optional)

In stock pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, red pepper and jalapeno pepper in the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are soft 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn, water, broth and spices. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Add the instant rice, mix to combine, and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until rice is tender.

Serve topped with chopped parsley, cilantro, sour cream, cheddar cheese and with crumbled corn chips. Serves 6 to 8.

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.