Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Chili and October Snow

It snowed yesterday. Not much snow, just a dusting really- maybe a whole inch in the places it actually stuck to the ground. But the amount wasn't the crazy part. The crazy part is that it's still October! It just does not snow around here that early. I remember going up to my great-aunt's house (at a higher elevation) for Thanksgiving when I was little and being amazed that they had snow on the ground already- at the end of November! So having snow here a whole month earlier than that is pretty darn crazy!

I wasn't complaining though- a cold snowy day definitely provided the opportunity I was waiting for to make a batch of pumpkin chili I had my eye on. I am so glad I did, it was absolutely perfect for a blustery day :)

It wasn't very different from regular chili- the pumpkin taste isn't extremely strong. If you didn't know it was in there, you probably wouldn't be able to pick it up. But the pumpkin did provide a rich and just slightly sweet flavor that added a great "je ne sais quois" to the chili. And as most crock-pot dinners are, this is completely easy to prepare and smells amazing all day!

Pumpkin Chili

2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red (or yellow) bell pepper, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs. of ground turkey
1 (28 oz.) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juice
1 (14.5 oz) can (or 2 cups) of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can (or 2 cups) of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of frozen corn
1 (14.5 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 Tablespoons of chili powder
1/2 Tablespoon of cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
fresh cilantro
Cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream

Directions: Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, green bell pepper, red (or yellow) bell pepper, and garlic until tender, about 8 minutes. When they're done, transfer them to a slow cooker.

Using the same skillet, still over medium high heat, add the other Tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is heated, add the ground turkey, and stirring often to crumble, brown it for about 10 minutes. When it's done, transfer the turkey into slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, and pumpkin, stir to combine. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and stir to mix spices in. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6. Serve with shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Adapted from What's Cookin', Chicago? original recipe here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash

H and I have been eating a lot of acorn squash lately. We've received a lot of them from the CSA, and they have been tempting me in grocery store as well. I usually roast them with a bit of butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and brown sugar- which are delicious, but are getting a bit boring! So when I saw this recipe for a Moroccan-style stuffed acorn squash, it immediately went on the menu. It definitely sounded like a different and delicious thing to do with acorn squash!

We only used one acorn squash, rather than the two the recipe called for, so it definitely made more stuffing than needed, but it was great leftovers for lunch the next day. It is tasty, filling, healthy and easy to make. What else could you ask for?

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squashes, halved and seeded
2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can (or about 2 cups) of garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups of uncooked couscous

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. Rub one Tablespoon of olive oil on insides of squash and season with salt and pepper. Place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, flesh side up. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until mostly soft.

When there is about 15 minutes left on the squash, heat the other Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook for about 5 minutes. Mix in the garbanzo beans, raisins, cumin, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Pour the vegetable broth into the skillet, and mix in the couscous. Cover, and turn off the heat. 

Allow couscous to sit for about 5 minutes to absorb liquid. Remove cover, fluff with a fork, and stuff squash halves with the couscous. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, to get a slight crisp on top. Enjoy!

Adapted from, original recipe here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

I came across this recipe when I was looking for something different to do with tortillas. I was hoping for a roasted vegetable enchilada, but was intrigued (and a bit skeptical!) by this one. The only way to find out for sure though, is to try it of course!

The flavor was complex and interesting: it had the sweet from the sweet potato, the savory from the tomatoes, and the spicy from the poblano. They all blended together really well and it was a tasty, filling, and very healthy meal!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

2 large sweet potatoes
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 small poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (14.5 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 Tablespoon of chili powder
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups of salsa
8 large flour tortillas
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1/3 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions: Preheat oven to 425. Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and roast for about an hour, or until soft when poked with a fork. Unwrap, cut in half, and set aside.

Turn oven down to 350. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add minced garlic and chopped poblano, stirring frequently until fragrant. Add black beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Scoop out cooked sweet potatoes, add them to the skillet, and simmer mixture 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread enough salsa on the bottom of a 9x13" pan to cover. Place tortilla on a flat surface, fill with sweet potato mixture, and roll tightly. Place the enchilada in the pan. Continue with each tortilla shell, until all are filled. If there is any filling left over, spoon it on top of the enchiladas, then top with remaining salsa and sprinkle with onion and shredded cheddar.

Bake until casserole is hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Adapted from Care2/Greenliving, original recipe here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Fifteen

Last week in our basket, we received a kohlrabi, two bunches of red kale, a bunch of radishes, a large head of romaine, two green peppers, one red pepper, four red ripe tomatoes, five heirloom tomatoes, a spaghetti squash, a delicata squash, a pint of cherry tomatoes, and a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Classic Meatloaf

I sometimes feel like meatloaf gets a bad rap. It's something that people tend to make fun of, as if it's something that no one really wants to eat. That it's dry, boring, and bad. I don't think so! It's something I loved as a kid, but didn't actually have my own recipe for. I was excited to try this one, and when you need something to make with your macaroni and cheese (as I did), meatloaf is a classic choice!

H declared this "the best meatloaf ever" so it has to be doing something right! It was moist and flavorful and very easy to throw together. It will definitely be put on the rotation around here!

Classic Meatloaf
(serves 4)

1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 tablespoons of ketchup, divided in half
1/2 cup of panko 
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 pound ground sirloin
1 egg, beaten

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion to pan and cook for about 6 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Combine the onion, 3 Tablespoons of ketchup, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and mix with your hands until just combined.

Coat a 8x8" pan with a bit of olive oil. Shape meat into a loaf, place in the pan, and brush the top with the remaining ketchup. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 160. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Adapted from Cooking Light, original recipe here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

CSA Basket- Week Fourteen

There was a bit of a delay in our CSA baskets. Because it was such a rainy August and September, the fall-ier (is that a word?) crops were behind schedule. So we had a few weeks off, and it started back up again this past week.

We received two bunches of green leaf lettuce, an acorn squash, a butternut squash, a spaghetti squash, two white peppers, a red pepper, three heirloom tomatoes, three red ripe tomatoes, a pint of cherry tomatoes, and a pint of cherry heirloom tomatoes. I am so glad that there were more tomatoes to be had! The ones at the grocery store and even the ones from our tomato plants were starting to get that mealy, wintery taste. I'm loving fall in that pumpkin and apple way, but I'm not ready to give up these tomatoes!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Creamy, Lighter Macaroni and Cheese

There is nothing more delicious and comforting than my mom's homemade macaroni and cheese. Now I know a lot of people make that very same claim, but I doubt most of them have ever tried my mom's recipe! I'm kidding, kidding, of course...

But while there are a hundred wonderful things that can be said about my mom's macaroni and cheese, "healthy" is just not one of them. So when I saw this recipe for Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese in the September issue of Cooking Light, I was skeptical, to say the least. I may have even scoffed at it a bit- "Really? Butternut squash? Macaroni and cheese is no place for pureed vegetables!"

But nevertheless, it had me intrigued, and I kept going back to it. I finally had to make it just to see if it could measure up. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised! It definitely held up to the claim of "creamy," which is something I have found difficult to achieve in macaroni and cheese without using Velveeta (which is something I try to avoid, since non-refrigerated cheese kind of icks me out!). The original recipe called for Gruyere and since I am not a huge fan, I replaced the Gruyere in the original recipe with a smoked Gouda. The flavor was incredible!

It didn't take two weeks for this one to reappear on the meal plan!

Creamy, Lighter Macaroni and Cheese
(serves 8)

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 1/4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups of skim milk
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup of fat-free plain Greek yogurt
6 oz. of Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. of Gouda, shredded
1 teaspoon of dried mustard
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 pound of uncooked pasta (cavatappi, shells, or some other kind that grabs the sauce)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 oz. of Parmesan, shredded
1/2 cup of panko

Directions: Place the cubed butternut squash, broth, milk, garlic cloves, salt and pepper in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the squash is soft.

After the 25 minutes, preheat the oven to 375. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

Remove the squash mixture from the heat, and add the Greek yogurt. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender, use a regular blender with the center part of the lid removed to allow steam to escape. Cover with a clean towel to avoid splatter, and pour back into the stock pot.)

Add the cheddar, Gouda, dried mustard, and paprika. Stir until cheese is melted and all is well combined. When pasta is done, combine cheese mixture and drained pasta. Stir to cover the pasta in the sauce.

Grease a 9x13 pan with a bit of olive oil. Pour the pasta and cheese mixture in. Top with the panko and Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Enjoy!

Adapted from Cooking Light, original recipe here.