Butternut Squash and Hearty Grains Salad

December 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Butternut squash oooh what I’d do with you. Soups, stews, risottos, salads, just plain roasted… talk about versatility. This time, I mixed it up with a blend of hearty grains from Trader Joe’s, some ricotta salata cheese and onions. I started out aiming for this recipe from Smitten Kitchen but wound up with some substitutes that undoubtedly changed the results. This salad tastes just like fall with the sweet, roasted squash, salty cheese and some sauteed onions.

Ingredients (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  •  1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 cup grain of choice (Trader Joe’s blend includes Israeli couscous, baby garbanzo beans, red quinoa and orzo)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta salata crumbled or coarsely grated
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (original recipe calls for a red)

First step is roasting the squash. Preheat the oven to 375° and then get to peeling. Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Below are the tools you’ll need.

Peeled SquashThen cut the squash into about 1/2 inch pieces. Coat a baking sheet with 2 tbsp. olive oil,turn the squash to coat then season with salt and pepper to taste. Pop them in the oven for about 30-45 minutes turning occasionally. Once it’s done (soft to pierce) set aside to cool.

Roasted Butternut SquashWhen the squash is in the oven, it’s time to cook your grains. Mine only needed 10 minutes to cook but the farro in Smitten Kitchen needed a half an hour. Cook your grain according to the package instructions.

Cooked GrainsWhile the grain is going on the stove top, saute your onions and whisk together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, water, sugar and salt until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Translucent Onions

The original recipe uses a pickled red onion instead which I’m sure adds a really great bite. I can’t wait to try it that way.

When the onions are translucent, stir them into the vinaigrette.

SauceThen it’s time to put it all together. Pour the grains and the squash into a large bowl then add the cheese and the onion sauce to taste. Enjoy!

DinnerI had this as a side with some roasted pork loin and greens but I am very much looking forward to leftovers tomorrow for lunch! This is also great when entertaining since it doesn’t need to be served piping hot.






Brussels Sprouts Salad

November 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ever since this dinner, at Sunda in Chicago, my eyes have been opened to a world of raw brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts that are delicious without being roasted or smothered in sauce or topped with bacon. Of course all of those preparations are delicious but there is a sea of brussels sprouts salad recipes out there so I picked this one since it seemed simple and light enough plus the ingredients are things you’ll most likely have on hand.

Ingredients adapted from Shutterbean

  • about 14 oz Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1/2 cup ParmigianoReggiano, finely grated
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, in pieces
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cinder vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper

A heaping teaspoon of brown sugar and a 1/4 tbsp. butter doesn’t hurt when toasting up the walnuts. Medium heat for about 8 minutes

Set the nuts aside to cool and start prepping the brussels sprouts. After rinsing, cut off the hard ends and chop thinly. If you have a mandolin that gets the job done well.

Place the sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Add the walnuts and shaved cheese.

Whisk the olive oil, cider, mustard and salt and pepper together. Combine with the sprouts, walnuts and cheese mixture.

Mix it all up and serve!

Chipotle Orange Chicken with Black Bean Quinoa Salad

October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I did some good pinning this week and was excited to try the recipes from Eatingwell.com after a few weeks of overindulgence. First up was their Grilled Chicken with Chipotle-Orange Glaze which seemed really flavorful but super lean. I wanted to pair it with quinoa and found a recipe with black beans and corn that completed the southwestern meal.

Chipotle-Orange Chicken (adapted from EatingWell.com)
2 tablespoon orange marmalade
3 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1/4 teaspoon salt
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad (from AllRecipes.com)
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Step 1. Toss the chopped onions and garlic into a pan with heated vegetable oil. Stir until lightly browned.

Step 2. Add quinoa to pan and top with vegetable broth, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

The directions call for a medium saucepan but I only had a large skillet but the timing still worked out.

Step 3. While the quinoa is simmering, start on the chicken. Preheat the grill or broiler. Whisk together orange marmalade, chiles, vinegar, brown sugar and mustard.

Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapenos packed in a flavorful sauce. You can find the chiles with the Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Mine were not chopped so I did that on my own.

Step 4. Season chicken with salt and grill or broil for 2 minutes. Turn the chicken and brush with glaze. Cook for 4 minutes occasionally brushing with more glaze. Turn the chicken again, brush with glaze and cook until no longer pink in the middle.

Step 5. Stir frozen corn into the quinoa mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in rinsed black beans and chopped cilantro.

FINI! Enjoy. I found this salad to be delicious at any temperature and even though I thoroughly enjoyed it now, I bet it would be a gread side to bring to a summer potluck. 

Spaghetti Squash

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Kindled by my City House experience, I ran out the very next day to purchase, cook and consume my very own spaghetti squash. It was eye-opening—who knew a vegetable could so utterly transform with just a little heat? I decided to bake mine because even though the cook time was longer than microwaving, most of the time was hands-off.

This is what your squash will look like

Preheat your oven to 375° while you take some time hacking this thing open.

Cut lengthwise. Pierce the squash with a knife and pop in the microwave for a minute to soften the squash before you cut.

Once you scoop out the flesh and seeds inside, brush with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for an hour at 375°

While that’s baking, why not separate some of the squash seeds and sautee with salt and pepper in a little bit of butter?

I personally prefer pumpkin seeds but these will certainly suffice as a salty crunchy snack while the real deal is still going in the oven

Now this is the really cool part. After about 50 minutes to an hour, the flesh will be very tender to the touch and fall away easily from the skin. When you rake your fork down it literally shreds it into perfect spaghetti-like strings!


If you are cooking for one, this squash yields a lot of “spaghetti”. Like dinner and lunch and then dinner and lunch again. So you may want to mix-up the way you serve it.

Tossed with garlic, olive oil, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese

Now your mouth knows this is not real pasta, the texture is tough and the taste is nutty and sweet. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable with traditional spaghetti accompaniments but I preferred the Moroccan spices inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

Tossed with garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne browned in butter and tossed with fresh chopped cilantro.




The Easiest Summer Salad… And It Includes Everybody’s Favorite Food Group

July 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

I made promises yesterday of fried cheese and that is one food group I do not kid around about, so here you are. This salad is so versatile–use it as a base to add in whatever your palette prefers or it is simply delicious as is. I start out with just a baby spring mix and add in whatever veggies I have on hand.

Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumber. I love forgoing the tomatoes and doing a thinly sliced radish for an extra bite.

Next, prepare the fried goat cheese. If you pop the log into the freezer for 15 minutes or so, it will be easier to slice. Once you have your slices of goat cheese, dust them with flour, dip them in whisked eggs and cover in breadcrumbs (I used store-bought panko and added a little dried parsley).

Frying Station: Cutting board, Flour, Egg, Bread Crumbs, Foil Plate

They’ll look something like this:

Then, toss them in a pan with heated oil on medium and flip so each side browns evenly.

Sigh. So pretty

Once the cheese slices (patties?) are nice and crispy and brown, set them on a paper towel while you prepare the dressing.

This is the BEST, lightest, simplest dressing out there. I virtually stopped buying bottled dressing because I use this all the time.

3 parts e.v.o.o to 1 part red wine vinegar (for two servings, I use 3:1 tbsp.) + pinch salt + pinch pepper + pinch parsley. This is really great with a squirt of lemon juice too to brighten it up.

Whisk together with a fork and once you assemble your salad and toppings, add the dressing and top with fried goat cheese.

Oh hey Indoor Summer Corn from Yesterday

Bon Apetite!

Indoor Summer Corn

July 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

So… how ’bout this rain. All I can say is thank God for keratin treatments because when you walk outside it either feels like someone slapped you with a wet towel or it is actually torrential downpouring. BUT I just got this amazing summer corn that I was dying to try so I decided to grill inside–and it was totally delectable and super-duper easy. Plus I have a new trick for you so lend me your ears (HA).

Step 1: Start with the largest, fattest ears you can find. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove corn husks and silk and wash corn.

Step 2: The trick – fill a large pot with water and at least 1 c. milk, add salt & pepper (and possibly some chili pepper?) and soak corn for 20 minutes.

Even though this pot is on the oven, it is NOT turned on. Otherwise this would be a “boiled corn” recipe I guess.

Step 3: Remove corn from milk bath and put into a foil cut-out. Add a little more salt and pepper with a pad of butter (or two) and wrap corn in individual foil towel.

Step 4: Cook for 30 minutes at 350°. Be careful when removing to allow steam to escape without scorching.

That’s it! You’re done. Enjoy with summer salad and grilled chicken for a healthy weeknight meal.

I know you’re eyeing that fried goat cheese. Come back for the recipe this week!

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