Butternut squash and apple casserole with dijon cider chicken

I always want to make butternut squash but become intimidated and end up doing something easy like roasting them. I ran across this recipe and knew I had to tackle the beast.

Recipe adapted.

Butternut squash casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash(2-2.5 pounds)
  • 2 tart apples
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed

Preheat oven to 350F.

Peel, seed and cut squash into small cubes. Core apples and pear and dice into cubes. Toss squash, apples and pears together in a 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over the squash, apple and pear mix.

Cover tightly with lid or aluminum foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until squash is tender.

While squash is baking, make the dijon cider chicken.

Dijon cider chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of apple cider mix
  • 2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • oil, salt and pepper

Mix mustard, cider packet, water and tarragon together in a bowl.

Heat skillet over medium heat on stove top. Spray pan with non-stick spray or lightly oil chicken breasts. Salt and pepper to taste. Brush chicken breasts with cider wash and place in skillet.

Cook 7-10 minutes on each side or until chicken no longer pink in the middle. Brush chicken 2-3 times on each side with cider was as it cooks.

On a plate, place 1/2 to 3/4 cup of butternut squash bake on a plate and top with a cooked dijon cider chicken breast. The slightly tangy of the dijon on the chicken really compliments the sweet of the casserole. Next time I might use slightly less brown sugar on the squash as it was a little more sweet than I wanted, but the chicken balanced it out pretty well. Just the squash casserole would be a great side for any dinner party or holiday.

Sweet and savory spaghetti squash

Leafing through the latest edition of Everyday with Rachael Ray, I saw a recipe for sweet and savory spaghetti squash. I’m a big fan of spaghetti squash. It’s a warm and filling comfort food that won’t weigh you down. It’s a great way of sneaking in vegetables instead of carbs, too.

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray:

Preheat oven to 450F. Take one medium (2-3 pound) spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and discard seeds.  In a large casserole or roasting pan, pour in 1 cup of water, vegetable broth or chicken broth. Place spaghetti squash in pan with cut side facing up towards you.

For sweet squash:

In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place ingredients into hollow center of spaghetti squash.

For savory squash:

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper to taste. Place ingredients in hollow center of other squash half.

Cover entire dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until tender. Scrape strands in the shell.

Drizzle the sweet half with 1 teaspoon honey.

Sprinkle the savory half with another tablespoon grated parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning.

All melty and delicious:

Brian had the sweet half and I ate the savory. Mine was absolutely delicious(and much prettier). Brian like his as well, but I think my half was the winner. The sweet half kind of tasted like a cinnamon roll with a weird consistency(my opinion), but it must have been pretty good because Brian ate it all. The savory tasted like buttered noodles with seasoning and cheese. So easy and healthy. Will be making again, soon.

Roasted red pepper hummus

The grocery store was out of my favorite roasted red pepper hummus when I went the other day. What’s a girl to do? Make my own.

In a food processor, combine(all approximates):

  • 1 teaspoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper(I used a jarred one as opposed to roasting my own)
  • 1 can butter beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper(optional)

Blend until smooth.

Use as a dip for vegetables or a spread on a sandwich. Tasty!

Dad’s chili

My dad makes good chili(and soups in general). This is a basic, filling chili that can easily be changed up a little to suit anyone’s specific taste. I like my chili a little spicier, so I added some jalapeno to his recipe. And I always recommend serving chili with hot cornbread.

Dad’s chili(with daughter’s changes):

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey(my dad uses beef)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 32 oz canned tomatoes, diced(do not drain), I used chili style
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce(I used Ragu veggie lovers)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can chili beans, do not drain
  • 7 slices of pickled jalapeno
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan cook ground beef, onion, and green pepper. 
 
 
 
Drain when meat is brown.  Stir in undrained tomatoes,  all 3 beans and  the seasonings.
 
 
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer at least 20 minutes.  Makes many servings and can be frozen.
 
 
This is one hearty bowl of chili. It doesn’t take much of this chili to fill you up and warm you to the core. This recipe makes enough to feed the whole neighborhood. Definitely a keeper as it is so versatile and can be easily adjusted. Good work, dad.

Spinach tortelini en brodo

I am in soup mode! On Friday I adapted  Skinnytaste’s spinach tortelini en brodo recipe and made a large pot of chili. Just the perfect things to heat and eat on a chilly fall day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoon butter
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup, condensed
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 9 oz spinach cheese tortelini
  • 1/2 teaspoon s ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • salt to taste
  • grated parmesan cheese(optional)

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. When melted, add in celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until veggies start to soften.

When vegetable start to soften, add in condensed soup, broth and water.

Increase head to medium-high and bring pot to a boil. When broth boils add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir combine. Reduce heat to low and add tortelini. Simmer until tortelini cooks to al dente.

Once cooked, stir in spinach.

Top with grated parmesan when serving.

This soup is restaurant-quality soup. I absolutely love it and it’s a great alternative to the standard chicken noodle and the flavors are impressive enough to serve at a dinner party. It can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetarian broth instead of chicken. The orignal recipe called for double the amount of tortelini. With 9 oz of tortelini, there are about 4-5 individual tortelini in each 1 1/2 cup serving size. So if you want 8-10 tortelini per serving use the 18 oz, but I personally think that is a little obscene…and why not save the calories?

Asado coffee

When I find something good, I like to share.

Asado coffee.

They are located on Irving Park between Ashland and Southport. They use all fair trade beans that they roast daily. No bean you are served is ever roasted more than 24 hours before it is served to you. All of thier coffee is drip coffee and each cup they serve is made with fresh water and grounds.

I stopped in for my first cup on the way to the grocery store on Saturday morning and stopped there on the way back to pick up a cup to take home to Brian.

It’s a great small business to support. The barista’s are very patient, knowledgeable and friendly. So, if you are in the Chicago area, stop in a get a cup today.

 

Pumpkin banana muffins

This was a bread recipe that I changed into a muffin recipe. How did I work that magic? Well, I put them in muffin tins instead of a loaf pan. Pretty impressive…not. What is impressive though is how moist these muffins are and they don’t contain oil.

Adapted from Skinnytaste:

Ingredients:

  • non-stick baking spray
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 very ripe medium bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer.  Add egg, egg white, bananas, pumpkin and vanilla. Beat at a medium speed until combined and thick. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add flour and mix at a low-speed until just combined. Make sure not to over mix. Scoop into muffin tins. Fill each muffin hole until 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes.

These are awesome and super healthy. Unfortunately, I did snap any pictures of them, but trust me that they are delicious and make them.

Mashed cauliflower: take two

My original attempt at the healthier version of mashed potatoes was met with “eh’s” and “it’s alright”. I think the problem was that my food processor left little chunks of cauliflower in the mix, making it taste almost grainy.

My second attempt using my Ninja made fluffy mashed cauliflower that could pass for mashed potatoes. Brian exclaimed, “These really do taste like potatoes”. I used a little too much liquid, so they weren’t quite as firm as I wanted, but they were delicious.

I boiled one head of cauliflower(cut up into chunks) until able to be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the cauliflower and put in blender or food processor. Add a little butter, salt, pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of milk, cream or cooking liquid. Blend until smooth. Top with 1 tablespoon butter. Serve hot.