Quinoa and Kale Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

I hope you have all your dishes planned.

If you don’t (yikes!) run to the store and get all the ingredients for this truly amazing dish by An Edible Perspective. It’s an amazing blog, with amazing photos, and this amazing dish. For the complete recipe, click the link!

I made this as a vegetarian dinner for myself (with a salmon fillet for The Renaissance Man). PS, if you want to know how to cook the perfect salmon fillet here it is: just season it the way you want and stick it under the broiler for 7 minutes per inch. Ta da!

Back to the acorn squash.

IMG_0181Roast the squash with a delicious maple/coconut oil/cayenne pepper glaze.

IMG_0183Cook the quinoa with the squash is roasting. I like the tri-colored quinoa for this, but any color will do.

IMG_0191Saute the kale, stuff the squash, and drizzle on some decadent tahini-maple dressing. Whoa.

If you are aiming to impress guests this Thanksgiving, this squash is the way to go. It looks and tastes amazing.

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

The Wife

Spicy Sausage and Veggies

In my efforts to give everyone some good side dish options for Thanksgiving, I’ve got two more this week. This dish was actually a main dish dinner I made a few weeks ago, but smaller portions would make a lovely side to your Thanksgiving turkey.

And if you’re wondering why I never post turkey recipes here, it’s because I am not in charge of the turkey at our house. The Renaissance Man fries our turkey every year, and it’s so amazing that we’ll never try and roast one. Plus this way I can concentrate on the most important part of Thanksgiving: the dessert.

This dish uses wing sauce and cracked pepper dressing mixed together for a light sauce.

IMG_0151

 

I know it sounds weird, but just go with it. You won’t be sorry.

Spicy Sausage and Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb. andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 stalk brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/4 C. cracked pepper dressing
  • 1/4 C. wing sauce

Step 1: Put a little oil in a pan and cook the onion and red bell pepper until the onions are soft. Add the sliced sausage and cook until the sausage is slightly browned.  Remove everything from the pan to a bowl and set it aside.

Step 2: In the same pan, add the brussels sprouts and sweet potato with a little water (about 1/4 C.). Cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through (about 10 minutes).

IMG_0152Step 3: Once the potato is cooked through, add the onion and sausage mixture back to the pan. Pour the sauce over everything and toss it together well.

IMG_0154Eat alone as a main dish, or serve smaller portions as a side.

The Wife

Cauliflower Bake

I always have a hard time finding side dishes for Thanksgiving that aren’t just completely bad for you. I know it’s a day  to splurge, but really, if I’m gonna go crazy about a food, it’s gonna be dessert. So it’s nice to have some sides in my arsenal that won’t blow your entire month.

This side dish is really good, even when you use low-fat cream cheese. It is reminiscent of potatoes au gratin, without all the carbs. We ate the leftovers for lunch all weekend, it was that good.

Cauliflower Bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 2 C. shredded cheddar jack cheese
  • 1 block of low-fat cream cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 bunches of green onions, sliced
  • 3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Step 1: Cook the bacon and drain on paper towels. Crumble into small pieces once it has cooled. Set it aside.

Step 2: Cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets. Steam the cauliflower florets until tender, about ten minutes or so.

IMG_0155Step 3: While the cauliflower is steaming, mix together the softened cream cheese, 1 1/2 C. of the shredded cheese, milk, green onions, bacon, and garlic.

IMG_0156Step 4: Drain the steamed cauliflower, and mix it with the cheese mixture until everything is evenly coated. Pour into an 8×8″ baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 C. of cheese.

IMG_0157Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an addition 10, or until the cheese on top is bubbly and slightly browned.

I forgot to take a picture of the final product because it smelled so good, and I was hungry. So you’ll just have to imagine a browned top layer of cheese over creamy perfection. Yum.

You can also mash the cauliflower a bit while you’re mixing it with the cheese, but I left mine whole, since The Renaissance Man dislikes when I try to pass off a healthy food as something not-so-healthy. He’ll eat cauliflower as long as it looks like cauliflower, but try to pretend they’re mashed potatoes and suddenly I’m committing a crime. Do what feels right to you.

This is not the side I’m making for Thanksgiving, but now I kinda with I was…

The Wife

 

Chicken Fritters

I feel like deep frying things is a skill I should master. Even though it will probably lead to my weighing 300 pounds. But seriously, I live in the South, I got myself a good Southern husband, should’t I be deep frying more?

Probably not, if I care about our health, but it is definitely a skill that takes some practice. I have gotten pretty darned good at frying chicken and okra, but I wanted to try my hand at something different.

These fritters are originally from Lori’s Mississippi Kitchen. They appealed to me because, unlike most fritters, there is no seafood. Only chicken. So I can eat them instead of being grossed out.

Chicken Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 C. buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 2 tsp. creole seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp. liquid crab boil
  • 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 C. chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 1/2 C. cooked, shredded chicken
  • canola oil

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. Add the egg yolks, buttermilk, butter, hot sauce, creole seasoning, and crab boil. Add the onion, bell peppers, red pepper flakes, and chicken.

chicken fritters (3)Step 2: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

chicken fritters (4)Step 3: Pour enough oil in the bottom of a dutch oven for the fritters to float (about 3 inches). Heat the oil to about 375 degrees (I did this step first because it takes forever for my stove to heat anything). Once the oil is hot enough, drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls, or scoopfuls (I used a 1/4 C. measuring cup, because the batter is pretty runny) into the hot oil, 5 or 6 at a time. Let them cook until browned, about 3 minutes, turning once.

chicken fritters (8)Step 4: drain them on a paper towel. Serve them hot, with your favorite dipping sauce. I served ours with sour cream that I stirred a little garlic and creole seasoning into. Perfect! I also served them with some wilted kale, just so I could pretend that this was a healthy dinner…

chicken fritters (10)The Wife

Pumpkin Spinach Pasta

Just like the rest of  the world, The Renaissance Man and I go pumpkin-crazy every October. I have learned not to fight it, and to make my own pumpkin puree.

Pinterest also has gone nuts over pumpkins. I found this recipe there, but it was originally here. I didn’t change much; what would I change? I love pumpkin, spinach, and cheese!

Pumpkin Spinach Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb. whole wheat penne
  • 29 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 15 oz. container of part-skim ricotta
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 C. pumpkin ale (Shock top has one that I used)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • 1/2 Lb. shredded fontina cheese
  • 1 1/2 C. shredded mozzarella
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 C. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Cook the pasta according to the package until it’s just under al dente. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: Saute the spinach and garlic in the butter in a large pot over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant. Add the sage and cook for a minute. Stir in the nutmeg, pumpkin puree, beer, 1/2 C. mozzarella, and ricotta. Reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes.

pumpkin spinach pastaStep 3:  Stir in the cooked pasta, and pour everything into a 9×13″ baking dish. Then top with the remaining mozzarella and fontina.

pumpkin spinach pasta (5)Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. You can also refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake it. If you refrigerate it first, I suggest baking it covered for 15 minutes, then uncovered for another 15.

pumpkin spinach pasta (7)

The Wife


Southwest Chicken Burgers

As soon as I am done typing this post, I will be headed to the kitchen to make these for dinner. They are that good.

Since these burgers are chicken-based, the grillmaster doesn’t care if I make them. Which is good, because firing up the grill takes time. I’d rather just throw these onto my indoor grill pan and be done with it. These burgers are also stuffed with all kinds of delicious things. And, as a burger purist, the grillmaster won’t make them. He will, however, eat them, and love them, because they are delicious.

 

Southwest Chicken Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb. ground chicken
  • 1/4 C. chopped onion
  • 1/4 C. chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 a jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 C. shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure everything is mixed together well; you don’t want a bite of nothing but jalapenos!

Step 2: Form into four patties. Preheat your grill or grill pan, then lay the patties on it, turning once. I cooked mine for about 10 minutes per side.

chicken jalapeno burgers (1)Step 3: Once the patties are cooked through, serve them on a toasted bun with sour cream and romaine lettuce. If you feel a little crazy you can even add more cheese on top!

Oven fries work great as a side with these burgers.

The Wife

Fall is Here!

Fall has officially arrived, even if it’s not reflected in the weather. Yet.

Even though it’s still pretty darned hot, my weekly menus start to shift to more comfort food about this time of year. I also switch the bed sheets to flannel and sweat it out until the cool weather rolls in, but I don’t suggest you do the same.

My menus and fall-back meals tend to change pretty frequently, based on new recipes I’ve tried, or whether or not I’ve looked up the calorie content for a meal (depressing, nine times out of ten).

So here’s what’s cooking on a regular basis this Fall here on the mini-farm:

Kale Stroganoff

IMG_9724I don’t know how many times I have made this pasta since the first time I posted it. I can tell you, that it has been a lot. At least once a month, probably more. And it makes the perfect fall comfort food with the earthy mushrooms and smoked paprika.

Spicy Pork Sandwich

finished sandwich 1I make this sandwich any time we have leftover pork. And sometimes I cook some pork chops and leave them in the fridge for a few days so I can pretend we have leftover pork, so I can make this sandwich. It’s an easy weeknight meal, and so spicy it’ll warm you up, even on the coldest night.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

blog 006Once the pumpkins show up at the grocery store, all bets are off. I use homemade pumpkin puree for these babies, and have some in the oven every few weeks, all Fall long.

Nachos

toppedThis really should say “Mexican Food” instead of just nachos. It is so easy to make a delicious meal when you make Mexican food. Tacos (soft and crunchy), fajitas, nachos, enchiladas, all these things are made regularly at our house.

Apple Pie “Moonshine”

apple pie in jars 3This recipe went crazy on Pinterest last year, and for good reason. Apple Pie Moonshine is the best Fall adult beverage around. It also is easy to make and would be a great gift. We keep some on hand all Fall.

 

So what is in your menu rotation this Fall? Do you change things up every year, or do you keep things the same?

The Wife