Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Eggplant

I spent my day working out of The Butcher Shop in the South End today. We had a big photo shoot in the morning of some giant cuts of meat (i.e. ribeye, 2-inch thick filet mignon, rack of lamb) for a brochure for Savenor’s market. I love days like today where I get work done but don’t have to sit in an office.

While sitting at the window at TBS, I looked outside and saw all sorts of beautiful, fresh produce at Siena Farms, which is just next door. There was a big box of acorn squash out there just starting me in the face. I had to buy some. And I did. What resulted was an easy dinner that looks way fancier than it actually is. Perfect for impressing that special person in your life. Or yourself. You’re special too.

Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Eggplant

Serves 2

  • 2 acorn squash, about 1 lb each
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 eggplant, small dice
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, small dice
  • Salt, pepper, herbs de provence
  • 3 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut top off each squash. The top should only be about an inch down from the top of the squash. You want the top to look like a little hat.
  3. Scoop out all of the seeds and threads and throw away.
  4. Place squash opening down on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. Having the squash opening down will allow it to steam itself.
  5. Melt butter and oil together. Saute onions over medium heat until translucent. Even longer if you want them to be more tender.
  6. Add eggplant to onions. Saute until eggplant is cooked through.
  7. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. I found this mix to be the best when a bit on the peppery side. It offsets the sweetness of the squash perfectly.
  8. In a medium sized bowl, mix cooked quinoa and eggplant/onion mixture.
  9. Take squash out of the oven, place on a place. Fill each squash with quinoa/eggplant/onion mixture.
  10. Serve with top of squash for effect (If that’s your kind of thing. It was mine. Squash Hat.)

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Chile Relleno with Zucchini and Mexican Rice

In the Mexico edition of Saveur, Diana Kennedy was described as being the “Julia Child of Mexico.” I received two of her cookbooks from my dad last Christmas, and finally decided to open them.

First I felt the need to make chiles rellenos (literally “stuffed chiles”). I decided to make a vegetarian chile relleno because I had zucchini and squash leftover in my fridge. They were delicious – spicy chiles filled with tender squash, salty cheese, and tangy onions.

And after reading Diana’s recipe for Mexican rice, I realized I was wrong on my previous Mexican rice blog post. While my made up version of Mexican rice is delicious, it’s not the traditional Mexican rice (which I have since realized is made with tomatoes). I must say, though, I am quite happy that I’ve realized the error of my ways. This rice is WAY better.

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Mother’s Day Quiches

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and although I couldn’t spend it with my own Mom (sad), I was able to spend it with Andrew’s Mom and family. One of our Mother’s Day gifts to Andrew’s Mom was making her brunch. Andrew offered for us to make half the brunch, which basically meant that I was making half of the brunch by myself (which I was more than happy to do). I ended up making two different types of quiche as my contribution. Dare I call them, a Duet of Quiche? I made up these recipes on a whim and they turned out great.

Each quiche requires the same basic steps: cook up the ingredients you want in them, add them to a base of eggs and cream, pour into a pie crust, and bake.

Asparagus, Shallot, and Shiitake Mushroom Quiche

asparagus, shallot, mushroom quiche

  • 1 small bunch asparagus, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 package shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 4 oz shredded Jarlsberg cheese
  • 3 oz shredded Mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 frozen pie crust in tin, defrosted
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, shallots, and mushrooms. Saute until shallots are translucent and asparagus is a deep green. Turn off heat. Pour mixture onto plate and spread into a thin layer to allow to cool. This step is VERY important. If you add the mixture to the eggs and it’s too hot, it will start to cook the eggs. Not good.
  3. Scramble eggs in a bowl. Add cream. Add cheese. Add COOLED mixture from saucepan.
  4. Pour everything into pie crust.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggs are set. Cover the crust alone with tin foil if it begins to burn during cooking.

Bacon, Cheddar, and Spinach Quiche

bacon, cheddar, spinach quiche

  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 6 oz cheddar cheese (whatever kind you like)
  • 1 package baby spinach
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 frozen pie crust in tin, defrosted
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat saucepan on medium-high heat. Cook bacon in saucepan until crispy. Remove from pan, dry off, chop, set aside.
  3. Melt butter in saucepan over medium high heat. Add spinach. Cook spinach down until very dark green and wilty. It won’t look like much, but it’ll be enough. Lay out spinach in thin layer on a plate, and cool thoroughly. Same as above quiche.
  4. Scramble eggs in a bowl. Add cream. Add cheese. Add COOLED mixture from saucepan.
  5. Pour everything into pie crust.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggs are set. Cover the crust alone with tin foil if it begins to burn during cooking.

 

Clean the Fridge Pizza

Looking in my fridge, I realized I had some food items that were about to go bad, namely ground beef and shiitake mushrooms. So I put on my thinking cap and realized I had Trader Joe’s pizza dough (yum), Trader Joe’s light mozz cheese (double yum), and the best thing ever invented, a pizza stone, so I decided to make a pizza. Seems to be the obvious choice based on what I had. And we all know that everything’s good on pizza, so why not? If you don’t have a pizza stone, don’t worry – a baking sheet will work just fine. The pizza stone just gives the crust an extra crisp. I added a shallot and a touch of garlic and viola, yummy easy pizza. And I didn’t even have to throw away any groceries. It’s the small victories…

Clean the Fridge Pizza

  • 2 oz Trader Joe’s garlic and herb pizza dough
  • 2 oz Trader Joe’s light mozzarella cheese (which melts AMAZINGLY for a reduced-fat cheese)
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • A couple fresh shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (or crushed garlic if you have that on hand)
  1. Preheat oven to 375. If you have a pizza stone, allow the stone to preheat in the oven.
  2. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat. Spray a touch of cooking spray or a spray of olive oil (if you have a Misto, like I do)
  3. Add shallots and mushrooms to skillet. Cook for one minute. Add ground beef. Cook until ground beef is no longer pink. Remove from heat.
  4. Roll out your pizza dough so it’s a thickness to your liking. (I prefer my pizza on the thinner side, but if you like yours thick, do your thing.)
  5. If you’re using a baking sheet, put the dough on the sheet, spread the garlic and olive oil on the dough and load it up with the ground beef mixture and cheese.
  6. If you’re using a pizza stone, place dough alone onto your pizza stone that’s in the oven. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the dough has taken just enough firmness to be handled.
  7. Slide dough out of the oven and place on cutting board. Spread the garlic and olive oil on the dough and load it up with the ground beef mixture and cheese. Put back into the oven.
  8. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until all your toppings are hot, your cheese is melted and your crust is the crispiness you like.

plus red pepper flakes. i like spicy.

 

Chocolate Chili

I made this chili recipe a few months ago and totally forgot about it until I started poking through pictures on my phone this morning. As a result, it’s back, and I’m excited to be able to share it with you. This recipe is fairly simple and it creates a chili with a really deep flavor. I’ve adapted it a bit from the cookbook (Well Fed) because I don’t like how much chocolate was used in the original recipe. But if you ask Andrew, he’d double the chocolate in the recipe. And that’s why I don’t ask him. Well, sometimes I do, but not this time.

Chocolate Chili

Adapted from Well Fed

  • 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 vidalia onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (90/10 or leaner)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground chipotle peppers
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) chopped tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  1. Heat a large stock pot  over medium high heat. Add onions and let cook dry for 30 seconds. Add 2 tbsp of vegetable broth as a time to let the onions cook. The broth will evaporate within a minute or two, and every time it does, continue to add 2 tbsp until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic and stir in with onions. After about 30 seconds, crumble the ground beef into the pan and mix to combine with the onions and garlic.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, allspice, and salt. Add spice mixture to pot.
  4. Add tomato paste to pot, and stir until combined.
  5. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the water to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the chili simmers. Allow to simmer for no less than 2 hours. The longer the chili simmers, the more complex the flavors become.

Meatloaf Bolognese

Up until a few weeks ago, I hated meatloaf. Unrefined. Heavy. Covered in ketchup. Gross. Not my thing.

Then, along came Cooking Light, a magazine I’ve begun to subscribe to, and a recipe for meatloaf. I scoured the ingredients looking for ketchup so that I could turn the page and forget this recipe ever existed. But ketchup was nowhere to be found. So I kept reading. I was intrigued. I made. I devoured. This recipe has a complexity and depth of flavor that I wasn’t expecting. The three types of meat give it its complexity, the red wine gives it a nice tang, while the cremini mushroom sauce is the perfect complement to all of the above. This picture doesn’t do this meatloaf justice, but with how delicious it is, I’ll be sure to keep making it.

Meatloaf Bolognese

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

The Loaf:

  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 red wine
  • 1/4 2% milk
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 lb lean ground beef (90/10 or leaner)
  • 1/3 lb ground pork (lean if possible)
  • 1/3 lb ground veal

The Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter (I don’t usually use butter – but definitely worth using here)
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms, finely chopped (you can find these at Whole Foods if you’re having trouble finding them)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 1 cup lower-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tbsp 2% milk
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pancetta and saute for 2 minutes. Add shallots and carrots, and saute for another 8-ish minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add tomato paste; cook for 1 minute. Add wine; cook until liquid is almost entirely evaporated (around 2 minutes).
  4. Remove pan from heat and let cool at least 5 minutes. It is important to cool this mixture before combining with other ingredients because if it is not cool, it will begin to cook the meat, egg, etc. Save the pan for making the sauce. Do not clean the pan or discard any of the crumblies that stick to the bottom of the pan. These will make your sauce better, I promise.
  5. Combine breadcrumbs, pancetta mixture, milk, salt, pepper, egg, and all three meats. Mix gently until all combined.
  6. Transfer mixture into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan coated (heavily) with cooking spray. Not using the cooking spray will make you sad when it’s time to clean up. Do not pack the mixture in, but rather just spread it out so that it’s even.
  7. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
  8. When there is about 10 minutes left until the meatloaf comes out of the oven, go ahead and begin your sauce.
  9. To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in the same saucepan as you sauteed your pancetta, carrots, and shallots in earlier. Add the mushrooms and shallots set aside for the sauce. Saute for around 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour and cook for 1 minute.
  10. Add 1 cup of beef broth and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 2% milk, salt, and pepper. Cook for another minute. Serve with meatloaf.

Flax Pizza Crust

Flax. I see it everywhere and have no idea what to do with it. The only time I tried to put it on something was because I heard it was “the healthy thing to do” and I put it on yogurt and it was gross. Almost as gross as that one dinner I made a few months back.

Recently, though, I was looking for a low-carb pizza crust recipe and I came across a recipe for a flax seed pizza crust. It seemed intriguing, and I felt like I was ready to give flax another chance. So I did a little research on flax and its health benefits. Turns out there is a LOT of info on why it’s is so good for you, so I went ahead and made the crust last night. If you go into this recipe thinking the crust is going to taste the same as regular pizza crust, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead, the flax has its own unique texture and flavor that suits pizza toppings very nicely. I did load up my pizza a liiiitle too much and the crust got soggy as a result, but if you put the normal amount of toppings (i.e. sauce, cheese, maybe one other thing), you should be fine.

Low-Carb Flax Meal Pizza Dough

(Adapted from About.com)

Serves: 8

  • 1.5 C flax seed meal (same as ground flax seed or milled flax seed)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp oil (I used unsweetened apple sauce – worked fine)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 C water
  • Toppings for pizza
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together
  3. Add wet ingredients and mix well
  4. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken
  5. Spread on baking sheet (I covered mine in tin foil with non-stick spray)
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked through and crispy looking
  7. Add toppings and put back in the oven until toppings are ready