Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

I will readily admit that Spaghetti Squash has never been a favorite. That’s probably an understatement – I couldn’t stand it. So, I wasn’t very excited to get two from our CSA – they hung out in my pantry for a few weeks as I pondered whether to try them or to give them away. Yes, yes, I know…shameful. In the end, I consulted with a few great cooks and decided to keep them and give them another try. I’m happy to report that this preparation changed my mind. This was a total hit with the family! I served it as a side dish alongside pork chops. You can change the herbs and the amounts for what you prefer but the sage was absolutely amazing.

Sautéed Spaghetti Squash

SAUTEED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
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2 sm-med. Spaghetti Squash
4 Tb. butter (you could sub olive oil if you are vegan)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-3 Tb. Fresh Sage
1-2 Tb. Fresh Parsley
1-2 tsp. Fresh Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut Spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a shallow baking sheet (like a bar pan or jelly roll pan). Add water to 1/2 inch. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes (I actually turned mine over). Scrape out seeds. In a separate bowl, scrape out the squash.

In a skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and herbs. Cook for a few minutes until garlic is softened and the herbs are aromatic. Add the squash and sauté for 5 minutes until heated through and combined with butter and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Rustic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Here is the second of my Valentine’s Day breakfast-in-bed recipes. These are a delicious and unexpected addition to a brunch or a wonderful side dish for any meal! We like these more than traditional breakfast potatoes. They are rustic because we scrubbed them and left the skin on but you can feel free to peel them if you prefer. The recipe can be adapted for however many people you are serving. You could also very easily add fresh herbs if you have them.

RUSTIC ROASTED SWEET POTATOES
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1 sweet potato per person (unless they are really big)
olive oil
butter, melted
seasoned salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thoroughly scrub the sweet potatoes and then dice them and put the in a bowl. Combine olive oil and butter and pour on the cut potatoes and toss to thoroughly coat (I used about 4 Tb. total for 4 large potatoes). Season generously with seasoned salt and lightly with fresh ground pepper.

Pour potatoes in a jelly roll pan or stone (jelly roll pans have about a 1 inch side). Bake for 15-25 minutes until tender and starting to carmelize/brown (I actually put mine back in the oven after the picture because I realized I wanted them done a little more). Stir every 5-10 minutes.

Classic Hummus

I always have such healthy eating goals after the sugary (and delicious!) excess of the holidays. So, I’ve started brainstorming some healthier snack options and decided to make hummus. Over the weekend, I made a double batch of it and we have been enjoying it! The kids even like it which is always a plus! I serve it with carrots, celery, and pretzels – the best compliment is our three-year-old proclaiming, “I loooove hummus.” Too cute!

Anyway, this is a quick, easy, and inexpensive snack or side dish. So yummy! You could easily add roasted red peppers or cilantro or other flavors to change it.

CLASSIC HUMMUS
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1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, half the liquid reserved
3 Tb. lemon juice
2 Tb. tahini
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
2 Tb. olive oil
parsely, chopped (opt.)

In a blender or food processor, pour garbanzo beans into blender with chopped garlic. Add lemon juice, tahini, chopped garlic and salt in blender. Blend until creamy and well mixed.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl or storage container. To serve, sprinkle with pepper and parsley, and drizzle olive oil over the top.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Cream

If you’re looking for a different, quick, and seasonal side dish to accompany your Christmas feast this year, I’d like to propose these Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Cream. And that proposition comes from one who is generally not a fan of Brussels sprouts. This is easy enough for a quick weeknight side, but special enough for a holiday table.

The other evening, my husband told me twice how much he enjoyed the Brussels sprouts I fixed for supper. Coming from him, that is a huge compliment! The idea for the recipe goes to The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day. But, as usual, I added my own twist.

These Brussels sprouts will definitely be gracing our dinner table again.

SAUTEED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH CREAM
(slightly adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook)
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1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 4 Tbsp heavy cream

Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts and cut length-wise into 1/4-inch-wide slices. Place in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes (do not overcook–you want the green color to sparkle). Drain, rinse under cold running water, and drain again.

Wipe the saucepan dry, and melt the butter with the olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté briefly, until nicely coated and just a little more tender, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle cream over the Brussels sprouts and gently toss to coat. Serve.

Grits Dressing

I saw this recipe in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit and was immediately intrigued – no bread in dressing? However, grits are one of my favorite things – I simply love them. Yes, I know I was born (and live) a little farther north than the normal grit suspects. 🙂 If you want a traditional, stuff-in-the bird dressing than this probably isn’t for you. If you want something new or want a unique and delicious side dish (maybe instead of corn?) than I definitely recommend  it.

As for me, I’m sitting in the kitchen hoarding the dish and wishing I hadn’t made only half of the recipe. Do I really have to share? The thing about this rich and creamy side is that I would actually make it for brunch or for a holiday side. While my waistline may not approve of frequent feasting on this dish, it is a wonderful treat. Mmmm, I love the holidays.   


GRITS DRESSING

(adapted very slightly from Bon Appetit, November 2011)
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Unsalted butter (for dish)
1 c. coarse stone-ground grits (I used Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Corn Grits)
1 c. (about 10 ounces) chopped bacon
6 large eggs
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 c. coarsely grated cheddar (about 8 ounces), divided
2 Tb. chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika (I only had smoky and since there was bacon in it, I went with it)
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Butter a 2-qt. baking dish. Bring 4 cups water (or chicken stock would be really great) to a simmer in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low; gently simmer, stirring often, until grits begin to thicken. Continue cooking, stirring often and adding water by 1/4 cupfuls it too thick, until tender and very thick* (about 5 cups), about 1 hour. (The amount of water and cooking time will vary depending on the type of grits used – mine took 1/2 hour or a little less.) Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5–7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk eggs and cream in a medium bowl; whisk into grits in 3 additions. Stir in 1 3/4 cups cheese, chives, paprika, and bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer grits mixture to prepared dish and smooth top with a spoon. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over.

Transfer baking dish to oven and bake until puffed, golden, and just set in the middle, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*When they say VERY THICK, they really mean it. Mine were not thick enough – I did not need to smooth the top with a spoon (it was thin enough to settle out on it’s own). 🙂 They still worked out great!

Sage Squash

Squash is such a fall speciality. It is featured in recipes and in decorations. It evokes feeling of fall, warmth, and comfort and there are SO many varieties. As Steph and I wandered through the farmer’s market, we admired many squash and finally settled on a buttercup squash. It was a new one for both of us. While I prefer delicata and perhaps butternut squast over the buttercup, I did really enjoy this recipe. You could successfully substitute your favorite squash in this recipe.

If you are looking for a new side dish or a different way of preparing squash, then you will surely enjoy this. It is simple but delicious and certainly fancy enough for your holiday feasting.

SAGE SQUASH
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1 Squash of your choice (about 3 -4 cups cubed)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter, melted
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tb. butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp. fresh sage
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and cube the squash. Toss with olive oil, 1 tsp. melted butter, salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper). Roast until tender about 15-20 minutes.

Melt 2 Tb. butter in a sauté pan. Add onion and cook until tender. Add sage and rosemary and a little more butter if needed and sauté until fragrant and onion is lightly browned. Add roasted squash and gently toss to coat with butter onion mixture. Garnish with more sage if desired.

 

Roasted Radishes

I would not characterize myself as a big fan of radishes. Sometimes I enjoy them, sometimes I find them too strong. I have mostly (maybe always?!) eaten them raw. Radishes grow best in cooler weather (early spring or fall) and the tops are edible also. They are easy to store and there are a number of varieties. We’ve grown them in our garden and I have used them in salads or on a crudites tray with dip.

When I saw a recipe for roasted radishes, I knew I had to try them. It was easy and best of all, I really couldn’t stop eating them. They were delicious! I tried them with and without a squeeze of lemon juice and never did decide which I preferred. They were good hot from the oven and still good at room temperature. These would be such a unique addition to your holiday table. The colors are gorgeous and so festive!

ROASTED RADISHES
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1 bunch of radishes
1 Tb. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh lemon juice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 1/4 or 1/8th the radishes depending on their size. Toss the radishes with the butter, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Squeeze lemon over all if desired.

On the Side: Mashed Cauliflower

I’m on a continual quest to add more vegetables to our diet. I love veggies, but Jeremy’s not as crazy about them. So, I like to experiment with new dishes that highlight veggies.

The other night I was making a sauté of mushrooms, asparagus, onions, cherry tomatoes, and diced chicken sausage and wanted something to serve alongside. The head of cauliflower in the fridge became my ingredient inspiration and thus the mashed cauliflower recipe was found. I thought it was quite delicious; Jeremy liked the veggie sausage sauté over the cauliflower.

So, if you’re looking for a new veggie dish to try, or a lower carb option to replace mashed potatoes, I suggest you give mashed cauliflower a try. I know I’ll be making it again.

MASHED CAULIFLOWER
(based on a recipe from EatingWell)
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8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4-1/3 cup buttermilk
1-2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
snipped fresh chives, for garnish

Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 15-20 minutes.

Place cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper; pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Add more buttermilk or yogurt until desired consistency. Garnish with chives and serve hot.

Baker’s Delight: Kazakh Cheese Pastries

These savory pastries would be perfect for brunch or a snack or a dinner or any time. They are seriously delicious! They were a hit with children and adults alike. The buttery, flaky crust with the creamy cheese filling was pretty much perfect. I’m think these may be added to the Easter brunch menu this year.

KAZAKH CHEESE PASTRIES
adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2
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Pastry:
1 ½ c. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cream of tartar
8 Tb. butter
¼ c. ice water

Place flour, salt, cream of tartar, and butter in a food processor, Blend until texture is coarse and add water. Blend just until the mixture is combined and begins to mass together (add more water if needed). Place on plastic wrap, flatten to disk and wrap airtight. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll dough on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out 24 circles with 3 inch water glass or biscuit cutter. Pleat edges of circles and fit in bottom of muffin tins. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cheese filling:
1 egg
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp & 3-cheese blend)
3 T. grated parmesan cheese
2 Tb. parsley, chopped
2 T. chives, chopped

Beat egg in bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Spoon 2-3 tsp. filling in each pastry shell; spread level. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the filling is golden brown. Cool on rack and serve warm.

*These could be made ahead, refrigerated and warmed in the oven.

Market Fresh: Russian Zucchini Dill Casserole

This is another Kazakh/Russian dish. My husband didn’t love this one as much as I did. I liked the flavors and textures together a lot! It is healthy and hearty. Dill is such a big part of many of the Kazakh dishes I’ve enjoyed. I will be growing it in my garden this year for sure!

RUSSIAN ZUCCHINI DILL CASSEROLE
adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2
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6 zucchini, sliced
3 med. carrots, peeled & chopped
2 c. onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 Tb. tomato paste
 3 T. fresh parsley, chopped
 2 Tb. fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 c. tomato juice
¾ tsp. sugar
1 ½ Tb. cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet or dutch oven, sauté carrots in water or vegetable stock over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and zucchini and sauté, stirring, until all the vegetables are starting to tenderize.

Stir in the tomato paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and dill. Mix the tomato juice with the sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir this mixture in as well and just bring to a boil. Pour the mixture into a flat-bottomed heatproof casserole that will accommodate the entire amount. Bake in the oven until tender – about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving if desired.