What we’re {still} eating

So, I’ve been on a cooking kick lately.

<—Not like a literal kick…

{That’s my little bro and his adorable girlfriend. We got to see them cheer at their college game this week! Mad skills…}

This new culinary dedication is partially due to the fact that after being away for the holidays I missed my kitchen.

Partially because we decided to make a concerted effort to stay in a focus on our home, and home cooking this month.

And partially because Pinterest is taking over the universe.

And so, we now have a freezer that looks like this:

Lovely, yet dangerous at the same time. A TON of quick leftover meals, and a TON of ways to get hit in the head by a falling rubbermaid containers while fishing for something in the fridge. It happens.

At any rate, we’ve lucked out and hit the jackpot with some AWESOME new recipe finds. They were too good to keep to ourselves. And to our freezer. And so, here is my list of things you’ve just gotta try…

  • Eggplant Lasagna: I added a single layer of mashed sweet potatoes mixed with Italian herbs and spices. Perfect addition. Try it!
  • Tempeh Tamale Pie: The Husband was NOT a fan of the vegan cheese I used as the topping (should have done half and half) but couldn’t tell that the filing wasn’t ground turkey. Perfection with a few chips and Greek yogurt. Yum!
  • Turkey Sloppy Joe’s: This was delish, but for the sauce I ended up pretty much squirting in a mix of every bbq-esque sauce we had in the fridge until it tasted good. Whatever floats your boat!
  • Kale Chips: The BEST way to eat this slightly-scary veggie… perfect with a sandwich (love that c.r.u.n.c.h.)
Drum roll…
Best of the Best….
This:
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Tiki Masala: Best. Thing. We’ve. Eaten. In Months. I substituted a mix of Tofutti cream cheese and plain almond milk for the cream at the end – you couldn’t tell! The dish was so rich and delicious and creamy and decadent. A total MUST.

And, here’s a deep, dark secret.

I also made this….

{A box of cake mix, plain yogurt and fat free cool whip: So bad. So good.}

In my defense, it was for a “Trailer Trash Tragedy” Murder Mystery party….

See, it totally fit in. Cheese puffs on a toothpick, Funyuns, spray cheese, dirt pudding…

My dip was practically a health food.

But truthfully, I just wanted to eat gobs of it on an off-brand Nilla Wafer.

Yep. Did that.

Enjoy!

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Retro Squash {Truffles}

First off, these really aren’t truffles. Sorry to disappoint, but I just didn’t want the name of my post to be “Squash Balls”.

Umm… doesn’t exactly inspire cozy, happy, holiday thoughts. So, because these little treats are round and have somewhat of a crispy, sweet coating… truffles they became.

I found the inspiration for this recipe in a April issue of Family Circle from 1955 (one of my grandmother’s magazines). “Crispy Sweet-Potato Balls” – They are little funky-retro, and a lot fun to eat.

Unlike Mrs. Eisenhower’s Apple Pie, I did make some modifications to this recipe.

With the biggest eating day of the year looming close, I wanted to be sure I could pound some stuffing, mashed potatoes and Black-Friday-Power-Shopping-Frappuccinos without overwhelming guilt.

Don’t worry. The “yummier” PG-13 version is below also… Worth a shot if butter and zweiback crumbs are your thing. I’ll let you choose for yourself ; )

Retro Squash Truffles

Makes about 10 larger-than-golf-ball-sized truffles

Squash Mixture:

  • 2 Cups of roasted squash (I used a Kabocha, but Butternut or Sweet Dumpling would work well also, or even Sweet Potatoes like the original recipe suggests.)
  • 1 T Earth Balance (or butter), melted
  • 1 t Brown sugar (May need to vary based on the sweetness of your squash)
  • 1/2 t lemon juice
  • Dash of Nutmeg and Pepper (to taste)

Coating Mixture:

  • 2/3 Cups of Panko Breadcrumbs (graham crackers or a few crushed pecans would be great additions, too)
  • 2 t Earth Balance (or butter), melted
  • 1/8 t Cinnamon and Nutmeg and Salt

Directions:

  • Mash squash in a large bowl; add remaining squash-mixture ingredients; beat until fluffy; form into balls truffles.
  • Combine coating-mixture ingredients in a pie-plate; roll truffles in the mixture until coated well, place in a shallow baking pan.
  • Bake in slow oven (325) for about 35 minutes, or until truffles are heated-through and coating is crisp.

Garnish these little spheres of sweet-fluffy-mashed-potato-like goodness with a drizzle of real maple syrup, or….

…yep, I went there.

Add half of a marshmallow for the last five minutes of baking time for a gooey treat. Perfect nestled next to a turkey, and fun to make (and eat) with kids.

That is, unless you get TOO into the retro thing, and make the whole family dress alike…

Just. Don’t. Do it. They won’t appreciate that when they’re older. And, therapy is expensive.

Enjoy!

For all of you adventurers out there, here is the original recipe, as printed:

Crispy Sweet-Potato Balls

Makes 8 large Potato Balls

Potato Mixture

  • 2 Cans (1lb, 2oz each) of vacuum packed sweet potatoes
  • 4 T (1/2 Stick) of melted butter or margarine
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 1t Salt
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 1/8 t Pepper
  • 1 t Lemon juice

Coating Mixture

  • 3/4 Cup coarse zwieback crumbs (About 6 slices)
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 2T Melted Butter or Margarine
  • 1/8 t Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Salt

Directions: Same as above, but bake for 40 minutes.

Harvest Salad with {Apple Cider} Vinaigrette

Yes, there is squash involved. Avert your eyes now if you can’t handle another bite. But really… you’d regret it.

You are sort of getting this recipe third-hand: This dish was inspired by Steph, who was inspired by this dish from The Daily Garnish. The genius that she is (that’s a math teacher for you!), Steph substituted apple cider for orange juice in the millet recipe. As I was licking my fork after sitting down to dinner with her and her husband a few weeks ago, It dawned on me that it would make a delicious salad dressing. Boy, was I right! (Thanks girls!)

P.S. Little known secret fact about Steph: She loves Honda mini-vans. Shhhhh.

This salad is packed with everything I love about this season: Salty-sweet roasted squash, tangy Gorgonzola cheese, crunchy toasted pecans, tart dried cranberries and melt-in-your-mouth pan-fried cinnamon apples. I declare these match(es) made in heaven.

A perfect accompaniment to any meal (Like Thanksgiving…), but this delightful concoction could be great as a main dish as well. Add chicken, toast a crunchy baguette, and you’re set. (Or, you could have it at 9:00p.m. with leftover quinoa loaf and BBQ sauce like we did. Super classy.)

Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 4 (ish) as a side dish

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the Salad:

  • One squash, thickly sliced – I used a Sweet Dumpling, but Acorn or even butternut would work as well (you would just need to peel and cube the butternut)
  • One to two apples, sliced – Depends on size
  • 1/3 cup of pecans, toasted and chopped- Can use without toasting, but they are more flavorful after a just a little bit of time in a dry skillet!
  • 1/3 cup Gorgonzola crumbles – Any strong cheese will work, and even Feta in a pinch.
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • About 6 cups of spinach or mixed baby greens
  • 1 T Earth Balance, or olive oil (or butter) for sauteing
  • A few dashes of cinnamon

Directions:

  • Slice squash, and bake on a foil-covered baking sheet with olive oil and salt at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until it starts to get a little brown and caramelized. You will probably have leftovers… never a bad thing.
  • While squash is baking, combine the dressing ingredients, and whisk. You will have plenty for a crowd, or just to save in the fridge for another day.
  • Toss the sliced apples into a skillet with the Earth Balance or olive oil, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Let them cook until tender (they will smell soooo delicious!), about 15 20 minutes minutes on medium heat. Note: These apples are wonderful on freshly baked biscuits with honey (like my mama makes)…or almost anything for that matter.

  • Arrange cooked squash, apples and other toppings over a bed of greens, and serve! I like to have my dressing on the side, but feel free to toss a little in with the finished salad if you like.

When you eat this salad, it’s like the entirety of the month of November is having a party in your mouth. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that, would you?!

So, slip on your comfy PJ’s best party dress, grab some leftovers baguettes, and enjoy…

Spaghetti Squash {your new best friend}

I love great food, and I love eating a lot of it.

While I have developed a more delicate appreciation for new dishes and fancy preparation, at any time I could still eat an ice cream sundae as big as your head. And like it.

I have never been told I eat “like a bird”, and I’ve never been one of those people who just take one dessert at a potluck. I’m pretty convinced that I could eat the Husband under the table at every meal if I wanted to. But, that wouldn’t be very lady like, and eating massive quantities of ice cream isn’t good for my girlish figure…or my mood when I wake up on Monday and my pants don’t zip.

Been there, done that. Not pretty.

I am perfectly fine handling my portion control most of the time, but there are some days (maybe when it has been a little chilly in your office all day long, and puddles have eaten the bottom of your pants so you feel soggy, and when you had a lame-o lunch that you packed in a rush this morning) that you want to just feel all warm and fuzzy and full. Like, a loaf of bread and butter and a huge bowl of pasta full. BUT, you also know that you can’t do that every cold night October – March without dire consequences…

So, what’s a healthy hearty eater to do? Two words: Spaghetti. Squash.You might be a little familiar with this lovely veggie, but I think WAY too many people are in the dark regarding its delicious potential. I think it might just be one of the best kept secrets at the super market… You might be skeptical, but don’t hate until you try it. Trust me. It’s worth it.

Picture a HUGE bowl of spaghetti goodness with marinara, your favorite veggies, a little cheese sprinkled on top and a slice of toasty bread. All for a fraction of the calories and carbs of your usual go-to pasta! This dream can become a reality tonight.

Directions

Serves 2-3

{You can find spaghetti squash at most regular grocery stores – If the Kroger in my little Ohio town has it, I bet yours does also!}

  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • Carefully cut squash in half length-wise (this is tough – take your time and watch those digits!)
  • Scoop out the seeds
  • Lay face-down on a baking sheet lined with foil (makes clean-up a breeze!)
  • Poke holes in the skin (like a baked potato)
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife slides easily through the skin (time varies depending on size and ripeness of the squash)
  • Use a fork to scoop and scrape out the insides of the squash – It will come out in strands just like spaghetti!

At this point, you can season with olive oil or butter and a little salt and pepper and call it a day (or a great side dish). BUT, if you want the true pasta effect, take a few more steps…

Chop your favorite vegetables, even toss in the meat of your choice, and add marinara for a well-rounded healthy meal (that you can each a bunch of with zero pasta-fuled-guilt-trips).

I used mushrooms, broccoli, red pepper, onion and spinach, and added about a 1/4 lb of browned ground turkey. This dish is also GREAT with these turkey meatballs (just keep a batch of them in the freezer and pop them in the oven whenever you want!).

So, grab a squash, a bowl, the nearest green things and a jar of sauce, and get ready for a healthy, hearty meal that will leave your belly full, and your skinny jeans in your repertoire ; )

Enjoy!