Saturday, November 30, 2013


Recently I attended my first advisory meeting at the local food magazine where I am going to be a regular contributor. It was sort of a potluck luncheon, and the food was amazing! (Leave it to food writers to bring on the gourmet.) After we ate, all the staffers and editors and writers crammed around a big board room table and pitched ideas for issue themes and articles and discussed and debated what makes a food magazine sell, and I felt like Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30--a bit out of my element, but loving the collaborative creativity!

As I said, there were many fancy dishes for us to enjoy at the advisory luncheon, but my favorite thing served--and the thing that seem to make everyone "ooh" and "ahh" the most--was this ridiculously easy cracker-based candy that my friend, Justine, brought and affectionately refers to as "Crackies," due to their addictive quality. It's not unlike the awesome matzoh toffee that I have made before, but this doesn't have a chocolate topping. It's the vanilla version, if you will. (And I certainly will!)

Of course, I had to run right home and make some for myself and my roommate to share, and then I made a second batch to take to a fabulous game night party at my friend Joanna's tonight. I was amused when I kept hearing people say to one another, "You have to try this!" And the other person would respond, "What is it?" Then the first person would say, "I don't know, but it's great! Just try it!" And them I heard groans of pleasure. Tee hee.

I have two tips to make this simple treat even better. Although I don't usually like coconut, I like it in this, but only if it's toasted first, which makes it all the nuttier and yummier. Also, I highly recommend using reduced fat crackers for this, as the full-fat crackers yield a greasier result once you pour on all that butter. Having said that, here's the rest of the very complex methodology:

Lay out a half-sheet of (reduced fat) Club Crackers on a Silpat, then sprinkle on some slivered almonds and toasted coconut (most recipes just call for untoasted coconut, but screw that). Then make a light caramel of sorts by bringing a cup of butter and a half cup of sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat, and then add a teaspoon of vanilla. Pour this mess as evenly as you can over the cracker stuff and bake for ten minutes at 350. That's it, and the people will go wild and call your name wonderful and marvelous!

Thursday, November 28, 2013


HAPPY THANKSGIVUKKAH! For the first and only time in any of our lifetimes, the first day of Hanukkah falls on the same day as Thanksgiving, and this convergence will not happen again for 70,000 years! I suppose the right thing to do would be to create a Thanksgiving menu infused with kosher touches, and I did consider it. But it ended up being just me and my roomie celebrating at home this year, so I just went with traditional Thanksgiving dishes with a few new (non-kosher) twists. This year's menu included:

Apple Cider-Brined Turkey
Sausage and Sage Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes and Turkey Gravy
Cranberry Strumpet
Creamed Succotash
Spicy Vinaigrette Green Beans
Marbled Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie
Maple Rye Pecan Pie

This year's turkey was definitely the best brined bird I've ever done! I loved the sweetness from the apple cider and orange juice. And between the brining and roasting it breast-side down, it was perfectly moist and juicy. WINNER!

Apple Cider Brined Turkey
(Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman

3 cups fresh apple cider
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 gallons (6 quarts) cold water
big handful of whatever's left in the herb garden--thyme, rosemary, tarragon, sage
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled but whacked with a knife
1 cup canning salt
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons peppercorns
5 whole bay leaves
two lemons, washed and quartered
1 large onion, quartered

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover. Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside. Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method. (I just slather the bird in a stick of butter and sprinkle it liberally with black pepper then roast it--breast-side down--at 325 until the thigh meat reaches 180F.)

I don't really have a recipe per se for the creamed succotash. I melted about a half stick of butter in a large skillet and sauteed a diced onion with mild chili pepper (Cubanelle), seeded and diced. Then I added a box of frozen bicolor corn and a box of frozen baby lima beans and cooked them risotto-style, adding turkey stock by the ladle-full until the veggies were tender and the last addition of liquid was absorbed. Then I finished the dish with salt, pepper, and maybe a half cup of cream. I might have added a teaspoon of dried thyme in there as well, as is often my way. Simple and delish!

The other vegetable I prepared was French-style green beans with almonds. As I was getting ready to cook the beans, I spied an easy, tasty-sounding recipe on the back of the package, and on a whim, gave it a try. It was yummy! The only thing I did was to add about a half cup of slivered almonds at the end. Oh, and I steamed the beans in the microwave instead of boiling them on the stove.

Spicy Vinaigrette Green Beans 
(Source: adapted from Pictsweet Recipes)

4 cups frozen French-cut green beans
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds, optional

Place frozen beans in a saucepan and cover with water. Place on a stove top and bring to a boil. Boil three minutes and drain. (Or microwave with a half cup of water added, covered, for five minutes.) In a small mixing bowl, combine garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk oil into garlic mixture. Pour mixture over cooked beans. Add about a half cup of slivered almonds to finish (optional).

I made two pies this year, a pumpkin pie swirled with a cheesecake filling that I've done before (but in a regular pie shell instead of a cookie crust), and then a new pecan pie recipe made with rye whiskey that I saw in The New York Times. My roommate has been on a rye kick lately, and we have a bottle, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. My twist was to swap out the molasses (too strong a flavor for my tastes) for local maple syrup. I also cut back on the rye to balance the flavors with the lighter-tasting sweetener, and it was still plenty boozy. Also, I only used whole pecans all mixed into the filling, which is how I prefer to do it. You can artfully arrange them on top if you like, but they always scorch that way, in my experience. Anyway, my version came out beautiful and scrumptious, if I do say so myself!

Maple Rye Pie
(Source: adapted from The New York Times)

5 eggs
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar 
6 tablespoons butter, melted 
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup 
1/3 cup light corn syrup 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
2 tablespoons rye or bourbon, not more than 90 proof 
2 cups pecan halves 
whipped cream (better yet, ice cream!) for serving 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prick bottom of dough with a fork. Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper in pan, then a piece of aluminum foil. Fill foil lining with dried beans to top of pan. Bake 15 to 25 minutes, until the sides of the crust have set and turned a light golden brown. Remove from oven and lift out the beans, foil and parchment. Patch any holes with reserved dough, pressing firmly. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until golden brown. Let cool at least 30 minutes before filling.

Lower oven heat to 325 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, melted butter.* maple syrup, corn syrup, vanilla, salt and rye or bourbon. Gently mix in the pecans.* Place baked pie shell, still in the pan, on a sheet pan. Gently pour in the filling. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, just until filling is firm and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into center. (Tent with foil or a pie shield if the top starts to get too dark.) Let cool completely. Carefully remove outer ring of pan. Slice with a large, very sharp knife and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Yield: About 12 servings. 

*A tip that takes pecan pie over the top: As you're melting the butter, add your pecans and toast them in the butter until it all starts to smell, well, nutty, and the butter starts to brown. Let this cool a bit before adding to the rest of the filling ingredients to avoid scrambling the eggs.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Delicious Memories of the Crescent H Ranch

After my freshman and sophomore years of college during the summers, I worked at guest ranch called the Crescent H in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (and also its sister ranch, The Firehole, in West Yellowstone, Montana). I somehow cajoled many of my college friends to join me, and we had some great times. It's also where I got some professional cooking experience, first as a prep cook, and later doing breakfast and lunch on my own.

That's me, top left, at the tender age of 19, pictured with Bruno and Wayne, the two head chefs, and Kris, the pastry chef, on the right. Fun fact: Bruno and Kris fell in love while working together at the ranch and have been married for about 26 years now, I'd guess. They have two grown kids, and they still cook at the Firehole Ranch in Montana! And in the picture below, I am in the raspberry polka-dotted sweater, middle left, acting as Vanna White, highlighting a couple of celebrity interlopers in our group photo. Why Ackroyd and Hanks joined us, who knows?

The summer after my junior year of college, I decided to switch things up and work at a salmon cannery in Cordova, Alaska, which is a whole other Oprah show. But some of my college buddies, including my friend, Todd, stayed on at the ranch as a waiter, working with another chef called Ken.

Apparently, one of Ken's specialties was a mushroom-Brie soup that everyone loved, and somehow Todd managed to wheedle the recipe out of him, but only if he promised never to share it. All these years later, Todd has kept his promise, much to my frustration and annoyance. But I searched online until I found a similar recipe that looked ideal. I never had Chef Ken's signature dish so I can't compare, but I can attest that this version is delicious!

Then last night when I got home after choir practice, it was already 9:30pm. So I stopped for a carton of steamed rice at No.1 Chinese, and then reheated the leftover soup (which had thickened in the fridge overnight), added some fresh spinach for color and a little extra nutrition, and a small hunk of leftover pot roast that I diced up to form a stroganoff of sorts served over rice. Am I not culinarily creative and clever?! Who needs Chef Ken and his secrets? Good food is meant to be shared!

Wild Mushroom-Brie Soup
(Source: adapted from FoodSwoon)

1 1/2 pounds wild mushrooms, sliced (I used a mix of oyster, shitake, and Baby Bella)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup sherry (I used cream sherry)
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Brie cheese, crumbled in pieces (white rind removed)
Pinch of cayenne (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper
Optional garnish: green onions or chopped fresh parsley

Add a tablespoon of butter to a skillet and cook the mushrooms until brown on each side, being careful not to crowd them. Remove mushrooms, set aside. Add another tablespoon of butter and cook in batches until the remaining mushrooms are browned.

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook until soft, approximately five to seven minutes. Add the thyme, flour and pinch of cayenne. Stir constantly until a light roux forms, approximately three minutes. Add the sherry, increase the heat to medium-high and let the mixture come to a boil. Add the stock and half-and-half and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for ten minutes.  

With an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Or, let the soup cool and blend it in batches in a blender before returning to the pot. Add mushrooms and let soup come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the brie and whisk to incorporate. Add the cream and simmer for ten minutes. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with green onions or fresh chopped parsley.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ender's Game Brunch

The most recent selection that my book club read was the sci-fi classic, Ender's Game. And we planned it so that we could finish reading it just in time for the major motion picture release. Before attending the movie matinee, we met at our host's house (my friend, Janice), for a wonderful book and space-themed brunch. Here are a few pics for your enjoyment...

This is the tablescape, complete with a space mobile dangling from the chandelier! (I was assigned to bring a quiche, pictured on the lower right, closest to the camera.)

There was a birthday cake for Ender (tee hee). And can you just see the packet of freeze-dried astronaut ice cream next to it? (It was gawd-awful, but amusing as table decor.)

And brunch was served on cafeteria-style trays, just like in battle school. Ha!

Pictured clockwise from the top left: Breakfast potatoes, strata with potatoes and red peppers, cornbread casserole with sausage, apples and maple syrup, the quiche I made with Cajun turkey, Swiss chard, onion, and three cheeses, and a ham and cheese croissant from some fancy bakery in Syracuse, I believe. There was also a lovely fruit salad for "dessert" (not pictured).

As for my contribution to the affair, I didn't make anything space-themed or even related to the book. It was brunch, and Janice wanted to serve quiche, but she was going to be out of town until the day of the party. So I volunteered to make one. I chose the following recipe from my favorite pie guru, Ken Haedrich, but I substituted some Cajun turkey from the deli, because that's what I had on hand. I will definitely try it with the sausage next time. Obviously, this is a dish that can--and should--be adapted in many ways.

Swiss Chard and Smoked Turkey Sausage Quiche
(Source: adapted from The Pie Academy)

Basic pie dough, refrigerated (I cheated and used a refrigerator roll-out crust)

1/2 to 3/4 pound Swiss chard, stems removed
8 ounces smoked turkey sausage (or diced Cajun-spiced turkey from the deli)
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups half-and-half or light cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 cup each of 2 or 3 cheeses, including Swiss, Fontina, or Feta plus Parmesan

On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the pastry into a 13" circle. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2" - 10" quiche pan or tart pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, then pinch the edge into an upstanding rim. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°. Tear off a 16" long sheet of aluminum foil and press it into the firmed shell so it fits like a glove. To prevent the pie shell from puffing as it bakes, fill the foil about 3/4 full with dried beans, banking them up the sides. Bake on the center oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°. Remove the shell from the oven, then carefully lift out the foil and beans. Using a fork, poke the bottom pastry 6 or 7 times; the holes will keep the pastry from puffing. Put the shell back in the oven and bake another 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack. (Plug the holes with dabs of cream cheese, or put shavings of cheese over the holes and let it melt there, so the filling doesn't run out.)

Reset the oven to 375°. Rinse the chard, remove the ribs (and discard), then coarsely chop the leaves (you don't have to dry them) and set aside. Dice about a quarter of the sausage; set aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet or saute pan and stir in the onion. Saute over medium heat for five minutes, then stir in only the diced sausage and garlic. Saute another two minutes, stirring, then add the chard. Cover and saute/steam for five to eight minutes, stirring often, until the chard is soft and cooked down. Remove from the heat and leave uncovered. While that cools, slice the remaining turkey sauce into 1/4"-thick rounds. Set aside. Whisk the eggs in a medium-size bowl until evenly blended. Whisk in the half-and-half, mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Set aside.

To assemble the quiche, sprinkle one of the cheeses over the bottom of the tart shell (but save the Parmesan for the top.) Using a large fork - which will give you good control - place half of the chard here and there in the shell. Add half of the sausage. If you're using three cheeses, sprinkle on another one now; otherwise wait. Slowly ladle about half of the custard over the filling. Repeat with the remaining chard, sausage, and custard. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake the quiche on the center oven rack for about 40 minutes, until the top is light golden brown and the filling is somewhat puffy. Transfer to a rack and cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Makes ten or more servings.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Cooking...without really cooking.

We are heading into the roughest part of the semester, and it seems like I have commitments almost every weekend lately, too. So today, I am thankful just to be at home and to have no plans. I need a break! But a gal's gotta eat, so I made a simple yet innovative lunch that I thought I'd share with you. Ladies and gentlemen, the Grilled Kimcheese Sandwich! I used both sharp and smoked cheddars, my homemade kimchi, and a fried egg. (Carnivores may wish to add ham, but I found it unnecessary.) SO DELICIOUS! This "recipe" is a keeper, for sure.

Since I was just enjoying my lazy Saturday, I had no intentions of baking anything. But one of my friends on Facebook posted something about making a "Watergate Cake" for her boyfriend, and I was intrigued. It's basically just a pistachio cake, but the moniker is an homage to President Nixon. According to, "After the Watergate scandal broke, there was a surge of interest in all things Richard Nixon. Turns out, pistachio was a favorite flavor of Nixon’s, and so all sorts of pistachio-flavored treats proliferated and were dubbed 'Watergate.' This cake is one of the more enduring examples, possibly because of its clever topping: 'cover up' icing." Ha ha! Not only is the name of this cake interesting, it's a cinch to make, because it's made with a boxed cake mix and instant pudding. The food purists may balk, but it was pretty tasty. I like it best once it chills in the fridge.

A couple of notes: Many recipes that you find online call for chopped pecans, but I think a pistachio cake should have, well, pistachios! Most recipes also call for powdered Dream Whip in the topping, but Cool Whip saves you a step and holds up longer in the fridge. Lastly, many recipes call for shredded coconut either in the cake or the topping or both, but I personally can't abide it. But you do as you like. In the words of Nadia G, "It doesn't affect me." (Tee hee.)

Watergate Cake with Cover-Up Icing
(Sources: cobbled together from a number of similar recipes on the interwebs)


1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup lemon-lime seltzer
1 cup finely chopped roasted pistachios
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix

Cover-Up Icing:
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 (3 1/2 ounce) packages instant pistachio pudding mix
1 regular tub (9 oz.) Cool Whip
1/2 cup chopped roasted pistachios

Cake: Mix all of the cake ingredients together. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until a tester comes out with just moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool completely.
Icing: Beat the milk and the pudding mix together, then fold in the Cool Whip. Spread on top of cooled cake. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours untl well-chilled. 

Store leftover cake covered in the refrigerator.

Friday, November 08, 2013

My first real writing gig!

So...I have some exciting news. I was featured in an issue of our local food magazine, Strictly Food for Thought, last January, which was very flattering. Since then, one of my wonderful former students has become the editor of that fine publication, and she has asked me to become a regular staff writer. Isn't that cool? Though I wasn't supposed to start until after the next advisory meeting on the 18th, she contacted me earlier this week to ask if I could throw something together at the last minute for their holiday issue, so I wrote an article about Christmas cookie swaps. I think it came out well. Let's hope so, as it will be my (semi-) professional writing debut! Next stop, the Food Network and a national cookbook tour! Ha ha.

Before I let the dreams of my future fame and glory go to my head, I'd like to share a simple, but simply delicious recipe from a friend of mine who also writes for SFFT. This is Anne Waling's Mushroom Saute, and it is quick, easy, hearty, savory, and perfect for a Meatless Monday, or in this case, a lovely Friday night meal that sure beats takeout!

Mushroom Saute
(Source: Anne Waling, Strictly Food for Thought)

2 tablespoons butter/olive oil (depending on your diet and the non-stick factor of pan)
1 tablespoon garlic or shallots, chopped (per cup of mushrooms)
1-2 cups mushrooms, slice (mix of baby brown, white, wild)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
worcestershire sauce
red wine
thyme, fresh or dried
red pepper flakes
parsley, fresh, chopped
truffle oil, salt, pepper, shaved parmesan 

Œ1.) With pan on low heat, add oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and softening but not brown.
2.) Turn up heat and add butter, and when it is hot add sliced mushrooms. (This recipe is not meant for them to be crispy, so feel free to crowd the pan and let them release their juices.)
Ž3.) When the mushrooms are hot, add a couple of tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar and a dash of Worcestershire sauce; stir.
4.) Sprinkle in a little thyme (chop it if it is fresh, crush it in your hand if it is dried).
5.) Crush up a few red pepper flakes and throw those in too. I actually put a lot of these because I like the heat.
6.) Add a half cup of red wine, more or less, depending on quantity of mushrooms you have used. Simmer this to let the sauce reduce a bit, add the chopped parsley and finish with a good bit of truffle oil, salt and pepper.

*I served this over miniature three-cheese ravioli, but a crusty loaf of bread to soak up the delicious pan juices would also be a fine pairing.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

What does Mississippi have to do with pot roast?

I tried a recipe for Sunday supper tonight that I have seen on Pinterest and Facebook enigmatically called Mississippi Pot Roast. I have no idea what Mississippi has to do with it, but it is a very simple way to make a pot your crock pot! I don't even know who to credit for the recipe, but I will explain the very simple methodology.

Start with a three-pound beef chuck roast, or whatever will fit in your slow cooker. None of the versions of the recipe that I found called for searing the roast first, but I think it's an important step. It ultimately makes the meat look and taste better! So brown the roast on both sides in a little olive oil in a large skillet over high heat, then transfer it to the crock pot. Sprinkle one dry ranch dressing packet and one dry au jus mix packet over the seared roast. Place a stick of butter on top of all that, and lastly, add five to seven whole pepperoncini peppers. Cook on low for five to seven hours, or until the roast is fork-tender.

After the meat was done cooking, I used a bulb baster to transfer all of the liquid from the crock pot into a gravy strainer (there will be a lot of fat that you will want to separate). I served the pot roast over a big pile of mashed potatoes drizzled with the savory gravy from the pot.

Now, for the big question: Would I make pot roast this way again? I must confess that the "recipe" is super-simple, and that part is appealing. And it is tasty. BUT as I suspected, with the two sodium-bomb seasoning packets, the resulting dish is very salty. So unless I could find lower-sodium versions of those packets, I would probably just use my own combination of seasonings to be able to control the salt. Also, why do we need a whole stick of butter? A chuck roast is very fatty anyway, and is basically self-basting, producing a rich, tender result when cooked low and slow. So I would prefer to use a different cooking liquid, like beef stock or red wine or even Coca-Cola, and eliminate the additional fat. But you make your own decision--you're grown! ;-)

P.S. Whether or not I return to this particular pot roast recipe, I will DEFINITELY make the salad we had tonight again and again. I used fresh, local baby spinach, Castello blue cheese (hand-crumbled), Honey Crisp apple chunks, toasted pepitas, slivered shallots, all dressed with a blue cheese vinaigrette and a good grinding of black pepper. SO YUMMY!

Friday, November 01, 2013

A Tasty Twist on the Pumpkin Spice Craze

I confess, on Friday night at the end of a long week of work and extracurricular commitments, my roommate and I often go out to eat, or if even that seems like too much effort, we order a pizza or Chinese to be delivered. But tonight, I had just enough energy left to prepare something fairly quick and easy, something that I saw recently on Facebook on Aida Mollenkamp's page, called Pumpkin Almond Butter Red Curry Noodle Tangle. Yes, that title is a mouthful, but once you get a mouthful of this stuff, it will become your new favorite kind of "pumpkin spice."

Notes: I didn't have any broccoli on hand, so I used extra chard (from my garden--in November!), and I also threw in some of the pickled garlic scapes that I made in the spring. And I added a squirt ot two of sriracha to give it a little kick.

Pumpkin Almond Butter Red Curry Noodle Tangle
(Source: Aida Mollenkamp)
8 ounces whole wheat or quinoa spaghetti (I used regular linguini)
8 ounces baby broccoli, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and ends discarded
3 ounces baby spinach, kale, or chard (about 3 packed cups)
2/3 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree
1/3 cup natural creamy almond butter (I used maple almond butter which was a little chunky)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (next time, I might try rice vinegar)
2 to 3 tablespoons red curry paste
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup hot water
6 green onions (aka scallions), thinly sliced and ends discarded
12 ounces cooked chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces (I used half a deli rotisserie chicken)
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds  
  1. Bring a medium pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook 2 minutes short of the suggested cooking time. Add the baby broccoli to the noodles and cook until noodles are tender and broccoli is bright green and knife tender, about 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, place the baby greens in a colander then drain the noodles and broccoli into the colander (so that you pour the water over the noodles and you flash blanch the greens).
  2. Meanwhile make the pumpkin-almond curry sauce: whisk together the pumpkin puree, almond butter, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the curry paste, garlic, and honey. Add the hot water (you could use some of the noodle cooking water here) and whisk until everything is evenly combined and smooth (you should have a pourable sauce that is about as thick as a whole milk). Taste, and add more salt or curry paste if desired.
  3. Combine the noodles and broccoli mixture with the scallions, chicken, and the sauce in a large bowl and toss well, making sure all the noodles get coated. Garnish with toasted almonds and serve.