sautéed butternut squash + spinach pasta.

I purchased a butternut squash about a week ago and it is the gift that keeps on giving!

IMG_4910

First I used it for butternut squash congee. Then I used some of the grated leftovers for butternut squash polenta when I had friends over for dinner. And I still had some leftover! Not one to let food to go waste, I knew I had to find a way to use up the last cup or so. It was already grated, so the classic roasting was out. I wanted something healthy yet comforting, so vegetable-heavy pasta it is!

IMG_4887

I sautéed the squash in a little mixture of butter and olive oil, seasoned with garlic, crushed red pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the baby spinach until slightly wilted, and then toss with the hot cooked pasta. I do recommend whole wheat here; the nuttiness of it is an ideal accompaniment to the squash and spinach. You can top with grated parmesan if desired, but I left it sweet and simple (and dairy free!).

IMG_4888

butternut squash + spinach pasta. 

ingredients
4-5 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, linguine, or long pasta
sea salt for pasta water
2 tablespoons grassfed butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1.5 cups shredded butternut squash
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2-3 handfuls baby spinach
1/3 cup pasta water

directions
Heat a pot of water to boiling with a big pinch of sea salt, and add the pasta, cooking according to package directions for al dente.

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is melted and the fats are lightly sizzling, add the garlic cloves and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly golden but not burnt. Add the butternut squash, nutmeg, cayenne, sea salt and pepper and saute, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, or until the squash is lightly golden and tender and add the baby spinach. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan with the squash/spinach mixture, and the 1/3 cup of reserved pasta water. Toss well for 1 minute, or until the spinach is just beginning to wilt.

Season with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Serves 2. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

Advertisements

butternut squash congee with fried ginger.

This is congee dressed up in its autumnal finest. We’ve had our fair share of Indian summer weather here in NY, with temperatures in the high 80s for the majority of the past week. Luckily, the weekend has brought relief, by way of temperatures in the low 60s with a gentle breeze. PERFECT for this incredibly simple yet warming congee turned soup.

IMG_4858

Have you had congee? It is essentially a rice porridge that is commonplace in East and Southeast Asian cuisine. On it’s own, it is typically served as a side dish, dressed up with vegetables, meat or seafood, and it’s transformed into a main dish entree. This is very simple to make, and you’ll be amazed at how the simple ingredients transform into a finished dish that is nuanced, fragrant and complex. The shredded squash will melt into the dish during the long, slow simmer. Finished with some brightness and freshness with the basil, cilantro and fried ginger and served with crusty bread on the side, this dish is perfect when you want cozy, comfort food that you can feel so good about.

IMG_4859

The pulsed rice will help release some of the starches and it will thicken the congee; the consistency is very similar to oatmeal once it’s finished.

butternut squash + ginger congee.
from cooking light magazine.

ingredients
12 ounces (weight) butternut squash, peeled and grated
1/3 cup long grain white rice
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 teaspoons fish sauce
1 inch piece fresh ginger, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

directions
Add the rice to a small bowl and cover with water. Let stand for ten minutes and then drain. Add the rice to a food processor and pulse until the rice is in small granules.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the rice and the grated butternut squash and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sea salt, stock and water. Increase heat to high until the mixture starts to boil. Stir, reduce heat to low and partially cover. Let the mixture simmer for 75-90 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and creamy.

When the mixture is almost done, heat a small skillet over medium high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add the ginger slices and fry for 3-4 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Turn the heat off and add the sugar and pepper to the congee. Split the congee amongst four bowls, and top with fried ginger, basil and cilantro. Serve with crusty bread if desired.

Makes four 1 cup servings. *Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

 

 

 

 

 

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.

Hi there! Are your Thanksgiving plans and preparation in full swing? Whether you are hosting, cooking, or tasked with bringing a dish, I have something for you today that definitely deserves a spot on your holiday table. This salad is rich yet healthy, and it’s remarkably simple to make!

img_2747

Now, I can probably guess what you’re thinking: a salad… really? It’s Thanksgiving! Turkey, potatoes, stuffing… it’s a meat and potato lovers dream meal! That may be true, but I love vegetables, so I’m always very excited when I’m asked to bring something vegetal and green to the table. This is bright and punchy, which is a refreshing contrast to all the heavy dishes. The roasted pears help add richness and make this salad feel holiday special.

img_2749

Arugula is spicy, and is complemented nicely by the bright pomegranates and my favorite lemon dressing. I used a raw sheep’s milk cheese, but crumbled goat cheese would be lovely in this salad. This will be on my holiday table, and I hope it’ll make on yours, too!

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.
adapted from Wegmans Menu Magazine, Fall 2016.

img_2748

ingredients
5 ounces (weight) baby arugula
2 large red pears, cored and quartered
2 ounces pomegranate seeds
2 ounces toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

lemon dressing 
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
few dashes of white wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon wildflower honey
scant 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 small shallot, chopped
salt and pepper
dash dried thyme
* you will have leftover dressing; will keep up to 10 days

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss pear quarters with tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper (1/4 teaspoon each, give or take). Toss well and spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once halfway through. Once lightly caramelized and tender but not soft, remove from oven and let cool completely.

While pears are cooking, add all the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil into the blender. While the blender is on, slowly stream in the oil to emulsify.

In a large bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, walnuts, cheese and arugula. Add 1/4-1/3 of the dressing and toss gently to combine. Plate onto a serving platter and top with roasted pears. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Easily doubled or tripled.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.

The cider love continues! This dinner is super fast and perfect for a weeknight. In my overzealous fall shopping, I picked up a gallon of local apple cider. Turns out, I don’t really drink all that much apple cider, so after a week or so, I still had over half of the gallon left. Cider makes a delicious pan sauce, and this one is so simple. Just cider, dijon, salt, pepper and finished with a pat of butter. So much flavor with very little effort!

img_2643

I used a whisk to break up the mustard and smoothly incorporate it into the apple cider. This will bubble, and you’ll want to stir and/or whisk it often while it thickens. No cornstarch necessary here! Butter at the end makes the sauce oh-so silky and rich. Perfect for the chicken, although this would be equally delicious with pork chops or tenderloin. This sauce is SO. DELICIOUS. I loved the bitter greens agains the sweet sauce, but pick your favorite veggie if swiss chard isn’t for you.

img_2644

This comes together in under 20 minutes, making it a super fast and elegant weeknight dish that will make the return of short days that much easier!

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.
adapted from cooking light. 

img_2645

ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (4)*
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter

swiss chard:
1 bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
pinch of sea salt
splash (1 teaspoon-ish) red wine or cider vinegar

directions
Heat butter and olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to remove all browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add remaining salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes while sauce is bubbling until thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat, and swirl in tablespoon of butter. Pour over chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat heat. Add minced garlic clove, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add swiss chard to pan, and add crushed red pepper and sea salt. Toss together for one minute, and add in slash of red wine vinegar. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, until the swiss chard begins to wilt. If finished before the pan sauce, remove from heat and cover.

Serves 4.

*I typically buy a pound chicken breasts, which yields two breasts in a package. I cut each breast in half, and pound to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness with a meat mallet.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

bourbon apple cider + ginger cocktail.

Tis’ the season for all things apple. I was reading an article on Buzzfeed recently (my lunchtime mindless guilty pleasure reading for sure), I happened upon a quiz titled “are you more apple spice or pumpkin spice?”. Well, I don’t need a quiz to tell me that I am squarely in the apple spice camp. Full disclosure: I one hundred percent took the quiz and was relieved when it confirmed that yes, I was in fact apple spice. Whew. 

img_2587

It’s not that I don’t love pumpkin flavored goodies. I do! My previous recipe can attest!  It’s just, I love apple. All things. My very first scented candle obsession was with apple cinnamon. I like that tart/sweet combination, and the slightly spicy notes… just yum. So what does that have to do with cocktails? Well, not very much actually. As promised in the last post, this cocktail is the perfect accompaniment. This drink is simple, oh so perfect for fall, and strikes a great balance between sweet, spicy and bitter.

img_2585

Do you like bourbon? I never used to, but over the years I’ve developed quite the taste for it, especially from bourbon-based cocktails. This one is oddly refreshing, which is a word I usually reserve for warm weather recipes. We’re going to combine bourbon (I like Knob Creek for this) with gorgeous, cloudy apple cider, a twist of orange and topped with spicy ginger beer. Make sure to get good, strong ginger beer for this: I used Trader Joe’s triple ginger brew… it has quite the kick!

img_2586

Shake and pour over ice for a delicious cocktail that tastes just like the cool days of fall. The original recipe had a cinnamon and sugar rimmed glass, but I tried it with and without and found I liked it much better without.

These are great for a crowd… you could make a big batch of the bourbon/orange/cider mix, and then top with the ginger beer when ready to serve, to ensure the cocktail stays bubbly and festive. Enjoy you guys!

apple cider +ginger bourbon cocktail. 

img_2584

ingredients
4 ounces bourbon (I like Knob Creek or Buffalo Trace for this)
8 ounces cloudy apple cider
1 ounce fresh orange juice
4 ounces ginger beer

directions
Juice an orange. Add juice, apple cider, bourbon to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well.

Strain into cocktail glasses filled with ice. Top evenly with ginger beer. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 very generous cocktails. Makes 4 regular sized cocktails.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

brown rice + pumpkin “risotto”.

Oh, hi there! How are you? Sorry for my unexpected silence; life got in the way and I ended using my kitchen for incredibly uninspiring food: lots of egg white omelettes, toast, grilled chicken topped salads and copious amounts of hummus were consumed. In a nutshell: life has had me pretty exhausted. And it seems that fall has arrived while I’ve been quiet! Hello, chilled evenings and early mornings. Hello to the Harvest Moon and the incredibly vast, clear black sky. And hello to you, grey, dreary, rainy days. I’ve missed you, too. Yes, I know I’m probably the only one, but I love grey, rainy days. Rain is cleansing, evocative, romantic, even.  To usher this cool weather in, I have a super seasonal recipe that is a fun play on risotto, without the near constant stirring of hot broth into the rice: pumpkin risotto with sage. We’re using brown arborio rice to up the nutrition of this meatless main dish. The brand I use can be found here, and I can usually find it in my main grocery store.

img_2571

This risotto recipe was calling my name; although it’s a lengthy recipe, much of the time is inactive! You can just a pop a lid on the pot, set a timer, and go about your business for 35-40 minutes, and then come back to finish it off.

img_2570

Pumpkin and sage are quintessentially autumnal, and the former provides such a rich creaminess to the dish. I garnished the finished dish with some local, raw gruyere-like cheese that I picked up a festival a few weeks ago, but you can use any hard cheese that you like: pecorino, parmesan, you name it! You can also just leave it off for a dairy free and vegan friendly dish.

Enjoy friends; I loved this. The ideal cocktail for this dish is coming up next. 🙂

pumpkin + brown rice risotto.
adapted from healthy seasonal recipes. 

img_2569

ingredients
1.5 cups brown arborio rice
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium/medium-large sweet onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I like an oaky Chardonnay, but any dry, crisp white will do)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2-3 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped, plus additional whole leaves for garnish
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup hard cheese, grated (optional)

directions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and garlic. Saute the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and fragrant.

Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice becomes slightly toasted and translucent in spots on the grains of rice. Add the wine and let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often until almost all of the wine has evaporated. Add in vegetable broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 35-40 minutes.

Remove lid, stir and add in pumpkin, cinnamon, and sage leaves. Stirring often, increase heat to medium and let cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring often to let thicken and the flavors combine and to let the rice continue to soften. Once the rice is soft and everything is well combined, taste and add in additional salt and pepper if desired (I added more of both).

Divide amongst four bowls, garnish with cheese and whole sage leaves and serve immediately.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

whole berry cranberry sauce with orange + ginger.

I know what you’re thinking. Who in their right mind posts a recipe for cranberry sauce the day AFTER Thanksgiving?? I’m a rebel. And I think cranberry sauce is the unsung hero of the Thanksgiving Day table, and its tartness shouldn’t regulated to just one day of the year. In fact, cranberry sauce is the perfect spread to slather on those leftover turkey and stuffing sandwiches, and the perfect thing to smear on your leftover biscuits or rolls.

cranberry sauce

I actually really enjoy it because its tart and sometimes bitter flavor can be a welcome reprieve from the wonderfully rich and decadent food. I’ve never been a gravy girl (I know, I know), so I love it slathered on my turkey.

Speaking of turkey and Thanksgiving, how was your holiday? Did you eat early to rush out to the crazy sales? If so, you’re braver than I. I’ve only ever partaken in the Black Friday madness once, and I hesitate to even qualify my experience, as my mom and I went to a department store at 11:00am on Friday to purchase a chaise at a discounted price. But the middle of the night madness? No thank you. I have enough trouble in crowds as it is, so frantic shoppers who may be hungover (from the food or the cocktails!), makes me avoid the retailers like mad.

Anyway, back the sauce. I like a cranberry sauce with some body and texture, so I like to leave some of the berries whole or just burst. We’re using a scant one cup of coconut palm sugar and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to add in a depth of flavor, and the juice and zest of one orange from our liquid. Citrus and cranberries are best of friends, and using the juice allows for a bright finished sauce. I also added in a ½ inch piece of grated fresh ginger, because, well, why not? It’s spicy, plays well with both cranberries and orange, and adds a fragrance that cannot be beat. Simply cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved and berries have softened and burst. Let cool and serve. I highly recommend for all kinds of roasted meats – pork tenderloin, a roast chicken, duck… all very good candidates for this sauce. Me? I’ll be spooning mine on some puff pastry, topping with a bit of leftover brie, folding over and baking. Mmmmmmmmmm. A recipe for another time.

cranberry sauce with orange + ginger.

sauce 2.jpg

12 oz. fresh cranberries, rinsed.
1 medium navel orange, zested and juiced
½ inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
scant one cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional, can use additional white or coconut sugar)
sea salt and pepper to taste

directions

Heat a small saucepan over low heat. Add sugar and orange juice and stir together until sugars have mostly dissolved. Add in cranberries, ginger and orange zest and stir together, making sure to coat the cranberries well. Let cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the berries soften and begin to burst, thickening the sauce.

Allow to cook until the sauce has reached your desired texture. I find that 15 minutes is the sweet spot for a thick sauce/relish that retains a good amount of burst berries that mostly retain their shape.

Makes about 3 cups worth.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

carrot pound cake with olive oil + cider.

I’ve said it before, but I’m not one for desserts. I like a good sweet bread, maybe a slice of pie here and there, but that’s pretty much it. You’ll rarely if ever see me joining in on the office birthday cake or ice cream. Just not my thing. However, I love pound cake. It’s like this delicious cross between bread and a cake, and can be made with just about anything. They are also pretty hard to screw up, if you use the classic ratio of 1:1:1 (eggs, flour, butter). As tempting as that classic recipe is, I still want to fit into my clothes, so lucky for me there are tons of recipes out there that lighten up the pound cake. This particular recipe turns carrot cake on its head and make it a pound/loaf cake. Carrot cake reminds me of my mom; there is bakery here in town, Cheesy Eddie’s that makes the most fantastically decadent carrot cake EVER. She used to buy me a small, personal sized one for holidays – a little heart shaped cake for my birthday or for Valentine’s Day. That cake is so moist, perfectly spiced, not too sweet, and that tangy cream cheese frosting… I am salivating just thinking about it! Of course I can go there whenever I’d like, but my waistline and purse would hate me for it.

image

Enter this alternative. This recipe enticed me because it’s devoid of the ‘extras’ that many people put in their carrot cakes: raisins, walnuts, pineapple (in carrot cake?? shudder.) and the like. I like carrots and spices, thank you very much. I was also intrigued because this cake replaces the butter or neutral cooking oil with olive oil and uses only brown sugar. Of course, I have so much apple cider in my house (I really went wild with the fall/apple activities this year!) that any recipe with ‘cider’ is going to capture my attention.

This recipe is courtesy of Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe archives are ridiculous, both in their thoroughness and their organization. She had a link to it one of her recent recipes, and it sounded so good, I just knew I had to make it. Thankfully, I was NOT disappointed. It is chock full of carrots and the combination of cider, cinnamon and olive oil provide a slightly sweet and moist cake. I upped the amount of cinnamon the second time I made it and the change is reflected in the recipe below. This is definitely a dessert that is best enjoyed the day after baking; it allows the flavors time to meld and intensify. I like it plain, but toasted with butter and honey? FORGET ABOUT IT.

image

carrot pound cake with olive oil + cider.
barely adapted from smitten kitchen. 

image

ingredients

2 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup cloudy apple cider
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray or olive oil. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir together until well blended.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with olive oil, cider, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in grated carrots. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing together until just combined and no flour bits remain.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let rest in the pan for 20 minutes after baking. Remove from pan, and cool on a cooling rack until room temperature. Wrap in foil and keep in a plastic bag. Will keep for a few days, freezes well.

Serve plain or with honey and butter.

Notes: This bakes for about 60-70 minutes, so I like to make it on the lower rack in my oven to prevent too much browning on the top.