roasted acorn squash soup

I very nearly destroyed dinner last night.
This happens to me sometimes when I forgot that I put something in the oven and it overcooks. In a big way.
Fortunately, I was cooking squash. And squash are redeemable. I mean, with a name like squash, they almost have to be, right?

They were going to be a side dish, but instead they became the main dish. And it was serendipity all around. —A happy accident. And also delicious. Worthy of sharing.
Enjoy!

ROASTED ACORN SQUASH SOUP

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2 medium-large acorn squash
32oz/1 qt chicken broth
1 15oz can of whole-fat coconut milk
1 tsp onion flakes
1 teaspoon fresh garlic
3/4 teaspoon of salt (moire or less, depending on taste preference)
2 tablespoons clarified butter

In a 400-degree oven roast the squash until the rinds are blackened. About an hour or more. —I simply pierce the rinds with a sharp knife so they can vent while cooking, and place them whole right on the rack (with tinfoil underneath to catch drips). I find they are easier to de-seed post roasting. I’m all about simplifying the process.

When they have finished cooking and the rinds are blackened, remove from the oven, allow to cool, then slice open, and scoop out the seeds. scoop the cooked squash from the blackened rind and set aside.

In a soup pot over med-high heat, melt clarified butter and simmer garlic and onion flakes until cartelized. Add the acorn squash, broth, and can of coconut milk. With an emulsion blender (or in a standard blender) emulsify until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with rosemary, or parmesan, or both!

 

 

cauliflower rice with fresh guac and cucumbers

Lunch is hard.

By lunch I’ve usually exhausted any energy my coffee addiction provided, the kids are clamoring for something super healthy like Kraft MacNCheese, chips, and bread, and all I can think about is eating something that will make the noise stop for just a few minutes. That, or a second to pee by myself.
Ahem.
Lunch is hard.

But sometimes, lunch can be less hard—and this usually happens when you thought to plan ahead, or when whatever you made for dinner last night can ride in on a sliver spoon, reimagined as something new and tasty.

And thusly lunch rode in today. It was quick, easy, whole30 friendly (!) and while it didn’t make any of the clamoring cease, it did give me a little extra energy where coffee failed. Winning. Happy lunching friends!

CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH FRESH GUACAMOLE AND CUCUMBER SLICES

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Cauliflower rice is a staple I try to have on hand all the time. It’s a great vegetarian base for almost any meal and it goes with everything. It’s a little odiferously strong, but the flavor is fantastic and it keeps in the fridge for about three to four days—though my batch rarely lasts that long.

CAULIFLOWER RICE:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons (or more as needed) Olive or Avocado oil
1 tablespoon Sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (+ additional to taste)

Chop a head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, and then in a food processor, pulse into rice-sized bits. I have a 7-cup processor and it takes several batches to get the whole head of cauliflower processed. This is the messy part of the recipe.

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In a large wok or deep skillet, heat olive (or avocado) oil on med heat. You’re not going to fry the cauliflower, you’re going to cook it, so make sure your pan isn’t too hot or it will splatter and burn. (Believe me, I learned this the hard way!) Add the cauliflower to the oil, sprinkle in salt, and mix thoroughly with a spatula. Feel free to taste and adjust salt as desired. Continue stirring occasionally until the rice begins to soften a bit and stick together. It will not be as sticky as actual rice, but it will clump a bit when moved around the pan. You don’t want it too soft or mushy (like a paste) so be careful not to overcook.

Once cooked through, remove the pan from heat and set aside. For this recipe, the rice can be served either hot or cold, your choice.

GUACAMOLE:
2 ripe avocados
3 tablespoons chunky salsa
1 teaspoon diced garlic
1 teaspoon diced onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients until combined but not soupy. You’ll want to be able to tell what the ingredients were, before they were combined. So, kinda chunky. (Good foodie terms there, I know).

In a bowl, spoon cauliflower rice (hot or cold) and top generously with fresh guac. Throw on handful of fresh cucumber slices (the baby ones are my fav!) for a nice fresh crunch and call it good. Good lunch.
Enjoy!

 

 

 

cucumbers and hummus

I need a shirt that says, “Sorry for what I ate when I was tired.”
Man, I make the worst food choices when I’m exhausted. Anyone else?

On that note, it seemed time for a post on snacks. A series of them actually. Healthy snacks. Because frankly, I’m tired all the time and I could use some snacking help. So let’s get started with this one. One of my top favs.

CUCUMBERS AND HUMMUS

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Seedless, or French cucumbers as they are also called, aren’t seedless actually, but their seeds are softer and smaller than traditional cucumbers. This makes them more palatable to kids too, so tuck that away for snacking hour!
Hummus is one of the easiest sauces/dips/garnishes I know how to make. And also the most versatile. You can throw just about any herb or spice in the mix to change up the flavor, but I think I like it best with the traditional shot of lemon juice and garlic.

Here’s what you’ll need to whirl up a batch of traditional hummus

1 15 oz can of Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas in water, drained.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh garlic
1 teaspoon tahini (sesame paste) —this last one is optional and I find that the flavor doesn’t change a great deal if it is omitted. It’s not a typical pantry staple, so no worries if you don’t have it on hand.

Toss all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, whirl on high until smooth. scrape down sides and whirl again.
Serve with cut up veggies of any kind or pretzels, pita bread, or other firm cracker.

Enjoy!

coconut-cream sweet potatoes and sausage with spinach pesto

I gave this dish a skeptical eye the first time I made it. It was one of those, “Well, the flavors all work together, technically” situations.  Sweet potatoes, salty meat, cool and refreshing pesto. Match made in . . . I don’t know . . . Candyland?
But you guys. You. Guys.
This tastes so much more amazing than I ever planed.
For real. I need to figure out a better presentation, perhaps. Something molded or towering. Because the pile-on-a-plate just doesn’t do this thing justice.

“What are you calling this?” my husband asked, mowing down his second helping.
“Don’t know,” I said. He nodded.
“Maybe go with something more descriptive than that?”
“Suggestions?”
“Candy.” He said. And he heaped another plate.
And there you go.
Enjoy!

COCONUT-CREAM SWEET POTATOES AND SAUSAGE WITH SPINICH PESTO

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*Note: This is another one of those two-for-one recipes. I’ve linked the pesto recipe here.

2 large sweet potatoes
¼ coconut cream
a dash of salt
1 lb mild Italian sausage
4 tablespoons lemon-balsamic spinach pesto

Scrub 2 sweet potatoes and pierce skin with a sharp knife, allowing them to breathe while baking (so much better than exploding inside your oven). Place potatoes directly on the rack of a 400-degree preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Make sure the burner is lined with foil as the potatoes will drip while baking.

In a flat bottom pan, cook 1 pound of mild Italian sausage until browned and crumbly. Drain and set aside.

Mix up a batch of lemon-balsamic spinach pesto.

When the potatoes are finished baking, allow them to cool, and then slice lengthwise and scoop out the baked interiors into a mixing bowl. Dispose of the peels. Add coconut cream and a dash of salt to the potatoes, and then with a hand mixer, blend until will incorporated and smooth.

Plate up in layers—potatoes on the bottom with Italian sausage spooned generously over top, and finished with the pesto.

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spinach quiche with sweet-potato crust

Don’t you just love when you can make a breakfast meal that doubles as dinner? Two birds, one stone. Best thing ever. And this quiche is exactly that. Save, no birds die. Speaking figuratively is hard.
This quiche boasts a tiny bit of spice, courtesy of the salsa, but it’s mellowed by the eggs and spinach, transforming it into a savory dish more than heated one. The ‘crust,’ such as it is, can be either crispy or soft —a similar consistency as the filling, depending on how long you bake it before adding the filling. It’s your choice. Breakfast? Dinner? Crispy? Soft? Whatevs. It’s all delicious. Enjoy!

SPINACH QUICHE WITH SWEET-POTATO CRUST

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Crust:
2 sweet potatoes, baked
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt

Quiche Filling:
8 eggs
1/2 cup water
½ pint jar of salsa, strained and liquid drained away
2 cups organic greens like spinach/arugula/kale/spring greens
salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

Crust:
Scrub 2 sweet potatoes and pierce skin with a sharp knife, allowing them to breathe while baking (so much better than exploding inside your oven). Place potatoes directly on the rack of a 400-degree preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Make sure the burner is lined with foil as the potatoes will drip while baking.

Slice baked and cooled potatoes lengthwise down the middle. Scoop potato into a mixing bowl and discard the skin. Add one egg and salt. Mix using a hand-mixer and then spread into the bottom of a greased baking dish or pie plate.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until spongy. Add a few minutes if you prefer a more crispy crust. Set aside while you mix up the filling.

Quiche filling:
In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, water, strained salsa, salt, pepper, and seasoning. Mix with a hand mixer until well incorporated. Add in greens and mix again on low. Pour contents over baked sweet potato crust.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until egg is baked through and lightly browned on top.

Note: This recipe makes enough crust and quiche for two 9” pie plates. Freeze one if you like!

balsamic-lemon spinach pesto

Pesto. That flash of green. That earthy sweetness. Summer encapsulated. I love the stuff. On pasta, eggs, fish, in my coffee . . .
Ha.
Just checking to make sure you’re awake.

I brought two gorgeous basil plants inside from the garden when the weather turned cold. “Surely I can save these!” I thought.
Nope.
I tried.
They died.
There goes pesto.

However, today I whipped up a ‘pesto’ with a base of spinach instead of basil. And yaknow what? It’s almost good enough to drink in your coffee.
Enjoy!

BALSAMIC-LEMON SPINICH PESTO

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• Notes:
This recipe is a two-for-one deal. I use my lemon-balsamic dressing in this in place of straight olive oil.

Balsamic-Lemon Salad Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette
½ teaspoon fresh pressed garlic

a dash of salt

3 cups of organic baby spinach—washed
2 tablespoons Lemon-Balsamic salad dressing
1 tablespoon roasted pine-nuts

In a food processor or blender, pack the spinach down nice and firm, drizzle the dressing over top and sprinkle in pine nuts. Pulse/whirl a couple of times and then remove the cover and scrape down the sides with a soft spatula. Evaluate the consistency at this point. If the pesto seems a little dry add a little more dressing. Too wet? Add more spinach. Whirl again until smooth. Store in an air-tight container.

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