Hello from Virginia! Tim, Kelsey’s dad, and I are settling into our new home in Arlington, VA quite nicely. I am so looking forward to making meals again as eating out every day was getting boring and adding to our waistlines. The best features of our new condo are the fabulous kitchen and the great terrace for the BBQ, both essential for our cooking style. So I hope you enjoy some recipes coming your way from the older K!
The weather in Virginia has been incredible this fall! I do not remember from our first time living in the area that fall is this beautiful. Yesterday was the prefect day to jump in the car with the top down and head out the Loudoun County to check out some wineries and the fall color. Since I knew I would be gone for the whole afternoon, I picked a quick and easy recipe for dinner. I wanted one that reflected the season so decided on this Sesame Chicken in Acorn Squash from Celebrate the Rain. The only thing I needed for it was the Acorn Squash, which I was sure to find in the countryside market along our travels.
The afternoon was prefect, with rolling hills, horse farms and beautiful colors in the hillside. The only winery stop was at the Chrysalis Winery in Middleburg and the location was lovely, but the tasting experience was not quite what we are used to. Tim was able to get some great pictures, but we left without buying any wine. Next stop was the town of Middleburg. It was charming, with cute shops and lots of places to grab lunch or a beer. One shop called Crème de la Crème was delightful, with great kitchen and home and garden items. I bought a beautiful table runner that is the backdrop of the photo today. I also got the organic acorn squash to complete my ingredients for dinner from the local market.
This recipe was easy to make (start to finish only 1 hour) and proved to quite tasty. I thought the acorn squash was mainly for show but the sweetness of the squash offset the tangy vinegar taste of the marinade. I agree with the description in the cookbook that “lovely, rich fall colors make this a particularly striking entrée” and it is a dish worthy of guests!
Sesame Chicken in Acorn Squash
Recipe from Junior League of Seattle cookbook, Celebrate the Rain
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut diagonally into ¾ inch strips
Soy Sesame Marinade
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1-teaspoon chili powder
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
2 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
3 carrots cut into ¼ inch slices
20 snow peas
1-cup small broccoli florets
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sesame seeds
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the marinade, whisk all ingredients together and pour into a Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and gently mix to evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight, turning bag occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the squash halves, cut side down, in an oiled baking pan. Add ½ inch water to the pan and bake until the squash is tender, 30 or 40 minutes.
While the squash is baking, bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Blanch carrots until color bright and the carrots are tender approximately 5 minutes. Scoop out and place them in bowl. Next add the snow peas and blanch them for 2 minutes until they are bright and tender. Repeat the process with the broccoli florets, blanching for 2 minutes. Set the vegetables aside. The vegetables could be blanched earlier and refrigerated until needed.
Combine the flour and sesame seeds in a shallow dish. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving ¼ cup of marinade. Roll chicken strips in the flour mixture and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches so that the skillet is not overcrowded, sauté the chicken until golden on all sides and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes total. Take the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Pour off excess butter and crumbs. Strain the reserved marinade and add it to the skillet. Bring the marinade to a boil, scraping up any browned bits; add the blanched vegetables, stirring gently, just enough to reheat them. Add the chicken strips and toss well.
Set the acorn halves on individual plates and spoon the chicken and vegetable mixture into the acorn, allowing the mixture to spill out over sides.
Note: I actually made only 2 chicken breasts with 1 acorn squash but kept the other ingredients the same. You could make the dish without the squash but I would add some sugar to the marinade if I did this. Hope you enjoy this fall treat!