Roasted Kabocha with Maple Syrup and Ginger

3 pounds kabocha squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
6 thyme sprigs, plus thyme leaves for garnish
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash wedges with the maple syrup, olive oil, ginger, thyme sprigs and salt. Arrange the squash in a single layer and roast for 15 minutes. Flip and roast for 15 minutes longer, until golden and tender. Discard the thyme sprigs. Transfer the squash to a serving platter and garnish with thyme leaves.

The squash can be made up to 6 hours ahead.

Baked Beans with Maple-Glazed Bacon

3 1/2 cups dried yellow eye or cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 2 hours and drained
Kosher salt
9 thick slices of bacon (10 ounces), 1 slice cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar 1/4 cup dark unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

In a large pot, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 2 hours; add water as needed to keep the beans covered by 2 inches. Season the beans with salt and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 4 cups of the cooking liquid. Transfer the beans to a large, deep baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, cook the bacon strips over moderate heat until the fat has rendered, 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 minutes. Stir in the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, crushed red pepper, black pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt and simmer for 1 minute, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the bacon-onion mixture over the beans and stir in the reserved bean cooking liquid. Cover the beans with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the maple syrup with the red wine vinegar and mustard. Arrange the remaining 8 bacon slices on a rimmed baking sheet, and generously brush them with the maple syrup mixture. Bake the bacon in the same oven as the beans for about 15 minutes, basting 3 times and turning the bacon twice, until richly glazed. Transfer the bacon to a plate.

Carefully pour 1/3 cup of water onto the baking sheet and return it to the oven for about 3 minutes to dissolve the caramelized syrup. Uncover the beans and carefully stir in the syrup. Bake the beans, uncovered, for about 20 minutes longer, until the liquid has reduced by about one-fourth.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Top the beans with the glazed bacon and bake until browned, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead

The beans can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat, covered, in a 350° oven before proceeding.

Maple Baked Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes (3 pounds), peeled and sliced 1-1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, cover the sweet potato slices with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

Arrange the sweet potatoes in a large gratin dish. Season with the salt and pepper, then dot with the butter pieces. Drizzle the maple syrup over the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with the water and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the sweet potatoes over and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until they’re tender and lightly browned. If necessary, broil the sweet potatoes for a minute or two before serving.

Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 overripe banana, mashed
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a deep, 2-quart baking or soufflé dish, melt the butter in the microwave. Whisk in the superfine sugar and banana, mashing until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the egg and milk.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk into the baking dish until combined (the batter will be pretty loose).

In a microwave-safe cup, heat the maple syrup, light brown sugar and 1/2 cup of hot water at high power until hot, 1 minute. Add the bourbon. Drizzle the syrup mixture over the batter; it will seep to the bottom. Do not stir. Scatter the pecans on top.

Set the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until the cake is golden. Let cool for 5 minutes, then scoop into bowls and serve with ice cream.

Orange Chili Pork

1 pork tenderloin,trimmed and sliced into thin slices
6-8 baby bok choy or shanghai choy
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce, sambal oelek or siracha (1 tsp. for moderate spice or 2 tsp. for spicy-lovers. Can omit if you don’t want heat)
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Garnish:
Toasted sesame seeds
1-2 green onions, sliced
Small red pepper, thinly sliced

Remove silverskin and trim any fat from pork tenderloin and cut into thin slices. Set aside. (*Tip: to easily remove silver-skin, make a slice into it with a sharp knife and them use a paper towel to pull it off. Repeat until it’s all removed). Remove ends from bok choy and wash. Chop, if desired or leave in whole stalks. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until no pink remains. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Scatter bok choy over top and continue cooking, tossing, until bok choy is tender, but still a nice, bright green. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, red pepper slices (if usinand sliced green onions.

Serve as is, or over rice.

Sheet Pan Thai Chicken Salad with Red Curry Butternut Squash

For the roasted butternut squash and chicken:
1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1/4-inch chunks (feel free to substitute sweet potato or any other kind of winter squash like kabocha, acorn, etc.)
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
About half of a 4-ounce can of Thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
About 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper to sprinkle over the squash and the chicken

For the salad:
1 handful torn mint
1 handful torn cilantro
Baby kale and baby mesclun greens
1 small red onion, sliced very thinly
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable, canola, or light olive oil
Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spread the butternut squash on the pan, leaving space for 2 chicken breasts in the center.
Mix 2 ounces of Thai red curry paste with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Spoon a little less than half over the chicken breasts and spread evenly all over the chicken. Pour the rest over the butternut squash and toss to coat.
Roast the butternut squash for 30 min. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Place the marinated chicken breasts on the pan with the squash and continue to roast for 35 min (the internal temperature should read 165F).
When the cooking time is almost complete, assemble the salad. Toss some torn mint, cilantro, and your preferred salad mix into a bowl with 1 small thinly sliced red onion.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 minced garlic clove, and ? cup mild-flavored oil until it’s emulsified into a salad dressing. Season with salt to taste.
Shred the chicken, and toss it with butternut squash, greens, and dressing for a warm Thai chicken salad.
You can also simply enjoy the butternut squash and chicken with some hearty sauteed fall greens like kale or collards on the side!

Red Curry Chicken with Pineapple

1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces (or start with about 2 cups of leftover cooked and cubed chicken )
1 medium carrot cut into matchsticks
1 medium red pepper cored and cut into matchsticks
1/2 small onion cut into thin slices
1/4 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 heaping Tbsp red curry paste
14 oz can full fat coconut milk – about 1 3/4 cups
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce, for vegetarian
1/3 cup canned bamboo shoots cut into matchsticks
1/3 cup canned pineapple chunks each chunk cut into 2 or 3 pieces
2 cups baby spinach or other greens such as chopped baby bok choy leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: Chopped basil or cilantro leaves and lime quarters, for juicing over finished dish

Start your rice cooking.

(Skip if you are starting with pre-cooked chicken) Heat 1/2 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add uncooked chicken pieces and cook, stirring, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables and bamboo shoots, cutting all into matchsticks of equal length (about 2-inches long). Assemble your other ingredients.

When the chicken is cooked, remove to a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in skillet and raise heat to medium high. Add carrots first, and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.

Add red peppers and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, but carrots and red peppers are just tender crisp.

Add the ginger, red curry paste and a tablespoon of the cream from the top of the coconut milk to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the rest of the can of coconut milk, the lime juice, brown sugar and fish sauce.

Return the cooked chicken to the pan (or add cooked chicken, if you are starting with pre-cooked chicken).

Add the bamboo shoots and pineapple. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on medium-low heat, until chicken is heated through and carrots are softened a bit more, about 3-5 minutes.

*Note: Thai curries have a sauce that’s very soup-like, so the sauce won’t be thick. The curry is typically served in bowls, to be spooned over hot rice.

Taste sauce and season with a bit of salt and pepper, as needed. You can also add a bit more curry paste at this point, if you feel it needs more.

Remove skillet from heat. Scatter spinach (or other chopped greens) overtop. Let stand 30 seconds, then stir in to curry until greens have wilted.

Serve with jasmine or basmati rice, garnished with chopped basil or cilantro and lime wedges for drizzling.

Orange Chicken

1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast cut into small chunks (about 3 large breasts)
2 tsp oil

Sauce:
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice (or use 1/4 cup more orange juice, if you don’t have lemons on hand)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbsp finely diced orange peel DIVIDED (*see note below)
3/4 cup brown sugar packed
1 tsp minced fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp. powdered ginger)
1 Tbsp Asian Chili Garlic Sauce (or more, to taste)

To thicken sauce: (mix the add in increments at end, as needed)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp water

Start rice cooking.

* Using a vegetable peeler, peel a couple of thin strips from the side of the orange. (Using a vegetable peeler allows you to just take the peel and none of the bitter pith). Finely dice peel (about 1/8-inch squareuntil you have about 1 1/2 Tbsp. Add 1 Tbsp. of the diced orange peel to your sauce. Reserve the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. to stir fry with your chicken.

Prepare sauce by combining sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.

Heat oil in skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken and reserved diced orange peel and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through. If using additional vegetables, add them after chicken is partially cooked. Add sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer while your rice/veg cooks (5-10 minutes).

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Add about half of it to simmering sauce and cook, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens. If not thick enough, add more, as needed, until sauce is as thick as you’d like. Serve over rice.

If you’d like to try velveting your chicken, combine the following ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour over cut, raw chicken chunks. Stir, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. veg oil
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. salt

After 30 minutes, drain. Heat 4 inches of water to boiling in a medium/large saucepan. Once boiling, add drained chicken chunks and cook until opaque, about 1 minute. Remove to a plate, then proceed with recipe.

Kung Pao Chicken (or Pork or Shrimp)

Marinade:
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 medium)

Sauce:
3 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch

For Stir fry:
2 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
6-8 fresh small, thin red chili peppers, whole (Thai)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried crushed chili flakes
3 green onions white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
Black or yellow sesame seeds for garnish

In a medium bowl, stir together the marinade ingredients. Add chicken cubes and toss to coat. Let sit on the counter while you prepare the sauce.

In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and stir well until smooth. Set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add fresh red peppers and cook, stirring, until they start to brown in spots. Add red pepper flakes, white part of green onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until onion softens, about 45-60 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring regularly, until chicken is just cooked through and no longer pink. Stir sauce and then add to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens. Add peanuts and 1/2 of the green part of the green onion. Stir to combine.

The red peppers aren’t intended to be eaten, as they are extremely hot, even after cooking. Their role is to infuse the heat in to the dish only. You can eat around them or simply discard before serving.

Serve over noodles or rice, if you like, with vegetables on the side. Garnish with remaining green onion and sesame seeds.