The Great 8: Valentine’s Day Recipes

Ready for Valentine’s day?
Or Galentine’s day! This year, my girlfriends and I are getting together for a potluck.  I plan on making some pizza and some goodies from the list below. So, if you’re getting together with your sweetie, friends, or it’s just you and and a glass bottle of wine, here’s a list of some of my favorite delicious in a dash recipes you can easily whip up this weekend.  Share your love with food!

Looking for a breakfast treat?

Peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins.jpgOr how about some homemade granola? My Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola is crunchy and makes a great topping for yogurt, oatmeal or just for great snacking.  It’s much healthier and tastier than anything you get in the store. (cheaper, too!)

Maple Pecan Quinoa GranolaEasy and Delicious Meals:

Tasty Vegetarian: Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash SoupEasy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup.jpg

A hearty sausage and pepper pasta – a perfect winter meal.  Especially enjoyed when eaten after shoveling feet of snow after successive Nor’easters.

20140318-081953.jpgDelicious Desserts:

No-Bake Butterscotch Oatmeal bars.  No oven needed – whip these up in no time at all!

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For the peanut butter lover:  The best peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, EVER

Super chewy and never flat.  You can make a few cookies and freeze the extra dough for later.

The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies.jpgFor the chocolate addicts in your life: Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies.  These are for chocolate lovers and must be accompanied by a big glass of milk.

Triple Chocolate cookie stackFinally, the top thing I am making this Valentine’s day is a favorite of my taller half – Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake bars.  They are made with pomegranate Greek yogurt – so no need to spend your time getting those pesky seeds out of the fruit.  (You can also sub strawberry yogurt if you can’t find pomegranate)Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake bars.jpgForget about the cards and the mediocre boxed candy.  Share your love with delicious food!  ❤

 

 

Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

A hearty kale salad with a 4-ingredient maple vinaigrette. This salad is simple, yet has many flavors and textures that will keep you satisfied until you’re ready to devour that Valentine’s Day candy. And why not eat that whole box? You just ate a salad!

20150130-204131-74491501.jpgI first discovered a version of this salad on Cookie and Kate, who adapted it from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I was looking for an easy, non-oven-using vegetable recipe to serve at my Mom’s Thanksgiving. She makes so many delicious dishes that I knew I couldn’t take up any oven space. I also needed to make most of it hours before so I wouldn’t get in the way and I would be free to help her. Kale seemed like a good choice, since it is such a hearty green, doesn’t wilt like lettuce or baby spinach and can be prepared hours before eating. The only potential issue with kale is that I knew I was taking a huge risk serving kale at my family’s Thanksgiving. I have a reputation of bringing food that isn’t traditional enough on Thanksgiving. A few years ago I brought my Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup and most of my family revolted against it. Some refused to even try it. They reacted to it as if I was I was asking: “would like to try this gum I scraped off the bottom of my shoe?” So you can imagine, I didn’t have high hopes for most of my family to even try the kale salad. But to my surprise, everyone LOVED it.  They said the maple vinaigrette was their favorite part! I was hoping for leftovers, but there were none left! What a compliment.

Winter Kale Salad with a maple vinaigrette

That’s right. You heard it. On Thanksgiving, where we have 3 types of stuffings, 20lbs of turkey, roasted crispy potatoes and about 10 other dishes, this very kale salad was eaten up. If that doesn’t convince you to make this, I don’t know what will.

dressing and apples2I’ve adapted this recipe slightly since Thanksgiving. Since it has been SO COLD in Boston (and we’re buried under 40 inches of snow, no biggie), I’ve taken to wilting the kale first. It warms it, and I feel like it’s much more fitting for winter now. You can make this raw or wilted. Whatever tickles your fancy.

before after kale

Left: Before wilting. Right: After wilting

Just in case you are not sold yet, let me briefly elaborate on why this salad is so great. The maple syrup in the vinaigrette brings a little sweetness that tempers the bitterness of the crunchy radishes and the toughness of the kale. The granny smith apple is tart and juicy while the goat cheese adds some creamy decadence. Finally the salad is finished off with toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and some protein. Bam. All the flavors you would ever want in a salad.

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Kale chips are overrated. Make a kale salad.

 

Winter Kale SaladRecipe: Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

 Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

Kale Salad

  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 4-6 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 Granny smith apple, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • Lots of goat cheese (2-3oz)

Maple Vinaigrette

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

1. Toast the walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool before adding to the salad. Walnuts can be toasted up to a week before. Store toasted, cooled walnuts in an airtight container.

2. Wilt the Kale: Rip off the leaves from the ribs. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces (or however large you like them) and rinse well with water. With the kale leaves still wet from the water, add them to a large pot with a lid. Wilt the kale leaves with a pinch of salt on medium heat. Stir the kale about every 1-2 minutes to wilt all the leaves evenly and leaving the top on the pot when not stirring. I usually wilt the kale for about 3-4 minutes or until kale has become a bright green color and has become fragrant (See picture in the post). Time and amount of water will depend on how much kale you are wilting and how big the pot is.  The small amount of kale I have in the picture only took 1 minute to wilt (2 handfuls of kale leaves) and no extra water except what was on the kale to rinse. You may need to add a little more water if it dries up before your kale is wilted.  Be careful not to add too much water or cook it too long, or your kale will be super chewy.  After kale is wilted, drain any extra water and squeeze the kale to remove excess water before adding kale to a large bowl and set aside.*

3. Make the dressing: In a small bowl add olive oil, maple syrup, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Whisk with a fork until well combined.

4. Put it all together: Dress the salad and let the leaves soak up the dressing about 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with radishes, apples goat cheese and walnuts.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, if desired.

*Another way I have also cooked the kale for this salad is to saute with a little bit oil (olive or vegetable) in a non-stick skillet for a few minutes until it has softened a bit (3-4 minutes).  The original recipe serves the kale salad raw. I have made this raw and it is delicious! Head over to Cookie and Kate to get good tips on how to prep raw kale.

Recipe sources: Maple Vinaigrette deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Kale salad adapted from Cookie and Kate

Looking for some more great vegetarian recipes?

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

Egg Apple and cheese sandwichMy taller half and I eat this sandwich at least once a week.

Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

Spanish TortillaA delicious egg and potato dish.  A spin on the traditional Spanish Tortilla.

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dip

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dipMy favorite dip.  Perfect for watching movies and trashy tv shoes when you’re snowed in.  It’s made with vegetables and Greek yogurt – so it’s totally good for you.

Strawberry-Glazed Salmon

Sweet, juicy and baked with berry goodness! A healthy and delicious dinner that is on the table in 30 minutes.  Delicious dinner in a Dash!

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Are you ready for a strawberry treat that you can eat for dinner?  If you have eaten salmon before, you may have had maple-glazed salmon, orange-glazed salmon or honey-glazed salmon.  Allow me to introduce you to their sweet, juicy, slightly spicy, delicious and much better looking cousin, Strawberry-glazed salmon. 

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This salmon is made with a quick homemade strawberry glaze that is studded with garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and a touch of salt. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes (the cooking time may vary depending on how thick the salmon is) and enjoy!

This summer has been packed with fun.  I’ve been to two beautiful, fun weddings, vacationed with my family + adorable nieces and nephew on Cape Cod (Happy was there!) and moved in with my Taller-half!  One thing I didn’t get to do this summer was go strawberry picking. But I made up for it by buying strawberries by the 3lbs and made this strawberry-glazed salmon 3 TIMES in two weeks.  Yeah, it’s that good.

I also made a strawberry cucumber salad with a balsamic lime vinaigrette to go along with it. (recipe coming soon!)

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Did you miss all the strawberries this season?  No worries, you can use frozen berries for this too! Never cooked fish before?  This is the time to start! This recipe is perfect for beginners and can be enjoyed by all.

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This simple recipe starts by preparing the glaze. This glaze is easy and quick and makes all the difference! In a small saucepan, add sliced strawberries, water, sugar, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook this on low heat for about 10 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved.  I used raw sugar, but you can use white sugar or even brown sugar.

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Place salmon in a baking dish and carefully pour the hot strawberry glaze over the salmon. Note: The baking dish I used below (9×13 inch) here is too big and the glaze will burn a bit – this can be avoided by adding a little water to the pan halfway through baking. Two pieces of salmon (~5-7oz each) fit nicely in a square 8×8 inch pan.

Strawberrry glazed salmon.jpgBake salmon for 20 minutes, or until salmon is flaky.  If you are not sure you can use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the thickest portion.  It should read 140F/60C

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Serve with a salad and enjoy!  Strawberry goodness.  Healthy and light.  It’s the perfect end of summer meal.

Recipe: Strawberry-glazed salmon

Serves: 2 (This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled…)

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of raw sugar (white granulated sugar or brown sugar can  be substituted)
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets (5-8 oz each)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside

Make the Strawberry Glaze:
In a small saucepan, add the strawberries, sugar, water, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook on low heat, stirring frequently until all the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries are soft, about 10 minutes.  This mixture can burn easily, so be sure to keep an eye on it.

Place salmon in prepared baking dish.  Carefully add hot strawberry glaze over the salmon. Using a spoon, gently spread and press the glaze on the salmon.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes** (time will depend on the size and thickness of the fillets) or until salmon is opaque throughout and flaky.  You can also use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the thickest part of the fish.  The temperature should be 140F or 60C.

Serve the salmon warm.  Salt and pepper the salmon, to taste.

**About halfway through cooking, check on the fish.  If the pan is too large, the glaze will burn.  If this is happening, just add a little water to the dish, enough to make a very thin layer on the bottom.  This will prevent burning and de-glaze the dish.  

*** The salmon can be served with more glaze on top.  Just double the glaze recipe and upon serving,  top with more warm glaze.

5 Ingredient Toasted Pearl Couscous

A tasty dish filled with veggies and done in 30 minutes using a whole grain that looks like little pearls. So cute.

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Sorry for those of you who received the teaser email last night with an incomplete post.  My butterfingers hit “Publish” instead of “Save”  and emails automatically went out (a bloggers nightmare) Ahh!  

Today I’m sharing a recipe using pearl couscous.  If you don’t know what this is, it is also known as Israeli couscous and are small balls of wheat or semolina flour.   They have a slightly chewy texture – and when toasted, like I do for this dish, they have a subtle nutty flavor.  It’s a nice alternative to rice or pasta.  It can be found near the rice in most grocery stores.  Or if you’re lucky, you can buy it from the bulk bins.  This dish can be used as a side dish or a light main dish (feel free to toss in beans or your protein of your choice) – perfect for all you Meatless Monday folks!

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Grape Tomatoes were on sale last week. $0.88 a pint!! That’s CRAZY! So, naturally, I went crazy and bought 4 pints of grape tomatoes. After inhaling two pints raw, I wanted to enjoy the others cooked. My favorite way to cook grape tomatoes is to roast them. It makes them even sweeter, and doesn’t require you to do much to them. I just plop some chopped garlic in the baking dish, sprinkle some olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes and TADA!  EVEN SWEETER grape tomatoes. Yum.  This is also a great way to use grape tomatoes that are starting to wrinkle and not look so “salad fresh”.

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While your grape tomatoes are roasting, you can toast and cook the couscous.  Toasting really brings out a nutty flavor and is a small extra step that is totally worth it.  To toast the pearls, simply saute them with olive oil in a saucepan on low-medium heat, while stirring for about 5-10 minutes until the couscous is lightly browned. Then add your liquid and frozen vegetable of choice ( I threw in some frozen spinach) and simmer for 10 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Add the roasted grape tomatoes and their juices to the cooked cousous. Then add a little water to the baking dish to deglaze it (which will get all the roasty deliciousness out) and add it to the cooked couscous and dinner’s ready!

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In 30 minutes and 5 ingredients (not including olive oil and salt pepper) you have a delicious vegetable filled side dish that is nutty and full of grape tomato sweetness.

 

Recipe: 5 Ingredient Toasted Pearl Couscous 20140519-065127.jpg

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a light main dish (this recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced or roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup Pearl Couscous (Israeli Couscous)
  • 1 1/4 cup of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach (or frozen veggie of your choice)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  In a oven safe baking dish, toss grape tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes start to caramelize.
  2. Add the remaining oil to a medium saucepan.  Over low to medium heat, add the couscous and cook, stirring for about 5-10 minutes, until light golden brown.  Add the broth and frozen spinach and bring to a boil.  Immediately, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add cooked grape tomatoes plus their juices to the cooked couscous. You may remove the garlic or smash up and add to the couscous (depending on how much garlic flavor you like) De-glaze the baking dish with a tablespoon or 2 of water and add to the couscous. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with a sprinkle of cheese.

* Garbanzo or cannellini beans go really well with this dish if you are looking to serve as a main dish and want some extra protein. Just toss in after the couscous is done cooking.

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Want more quick veggie dishes? Click on the Vegetarian Link on the top menu or try one of my favorites below!

Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad Orzo Parsley Salad.jpgSpicy Avocado Egg SaladSpicy Avocado Egg Salad.jpgSpanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell PepperSpanish Tortilla.jpg

Simple Sausage and Peppers

Are you ready to get your Italian on?

20140318-081627.jpgI’ve had this food blog for almost a year and I really haven’t shared many Italian recipes. For SHAME. But today I am fixing this with a simple, savory, meaty and veggie dish: My Simple Sausage and Peppers

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I like this recipe because it is easy, quick and delicious! And look how colorful it is! This was definitely one of my favorite dishes to photograph! Such a beauty!

20140313-223046.jpgBecause I usually cook for myself and a 6’4″ man with a super fast metabolism (Love you, taller half!), I usually make this sausage and peppers with pasta. But if you aren’t cooking to feed a small village you could use this as a pizza topping or just eat it alone with some fresh bread (or not-so-fresh bread) to sop up all the juices. Mmmm

20140313-223056.jpgThe main ingredients you need:

  1. Onion
  2. Garlic
  3. Sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
  4. Bell Peppers
  5. Diced tomatoes
  6. Dried spices (oregano, parsley, basil)

You can use any sausage you like, but this dish ALWAYS tastes better with the non-precooked sausage.  I recommend Shady Brook Farms Hot Italian Turkey Sausage or any other sausage that is not precooked. The dish will have more flavor if you start with uncooked sausage.

20140313-223121.jpgStart by slicing the peppers while the sausage cooks in the skillet.

20140313-223138.jpgAfter the sausage is cooked, add the peppers.

20140313-223148.jpgThen add the diced tomatoes and the spices. Stir to combine and then cover and cook on low-medium heat until the peppers are the desired softness (I cook for about 5-8 minutes)

Toss with some cooked pasta or enjoy with some fresh bread.

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Mangia!

Recipe: Simple Sausage and Peppers

Yield: 4-6 servings (when made with pasta)

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4-6 hot Italian sausages (1lb), casing removed and chopped (Shady Brook Farms Hot Italian turkey sausage is my favorite – but you can use your favorite)**
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced (I used 1 green and 1 red)
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes with the juice (not drained)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet add the onion, garlic and oil.  Cook on medium heat until the onions start to soften 5 minutes.  Then add the chopped sausage to the pan (if you are using very lean chicken sausage you may need to add a little more oil).  Cook on medium heat until onions are translucent and sausage is fully cooked.
  2. Add the sliced bell peppers and diced tomatoes with the juice to the pan.  Add all the spices and stir to combine everything.  Cover the skillet and cook on low-medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until the peppers are a little tender (or a lot tender – depending how you like it)
  3. If you are pouring over pasta – Add the entire pan of sausage and peppers to the pot of drained pasta -stir to coat the pasta. (I make 3/4 -1lb of pasta)
  4. Serve with shredded Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

Mangia!

** If you use precooked chicken sausage (or any sausage with a very low fat content), you will need to add some extra oil to the pan to cook the sausages. For full pork sausage, you may need to drain some of the fat that cooks off.  I usually use uncooked turkey sausage (Shady Brook Farms Hot Italian) and I do not drain any fat that cooks off – because there is very little.

Half Meat Half Veggie Chili

Looking for a delicious, easy and good-for-your recipe that will feed 20 gazillion people at your Super Bowl party? Look no further my hungry friends.

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Make some chili. Specifically THIS chili. I call this my half-and-half chili. Half meat, half veggies! This is the perfect winter meal. It is hearty AND healthy. It will warm AND fill you up without filling you out. 🙂 And it will feed a hoard of people.

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Along with ground beef this chili has an assortment of vegetables including hearty mushrooms, red and green bell peppers, meaty potatoes, zucchini, carrots and tasty corn. This recipe makes a TON. So you will have many meals and can even freeze some. You can use the same veggies or use your a mixture of favorites!

20140112-184935.jpgMy Taller Half LOVES this chili so much he is always happy to help chop all the vegetables. Even if you’re not that into veggies, try this, I think your relationship with them will change.

20140112-185000.jpgNow, I realize the amount of ingredients in this recipe totally goes against my mantra of “around 5-ish” ingredients. But it is done in 5 easy steps. And this is a “cook once, eat for a whole week” meal.

The chili should simmer for a few hours to let the flavors fully develop (although you can dig into it after only 30 minutes). I usually make it the night before and think about dinner ALL day.

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How could you not think about this all day???

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and then I eat it for leftovers for a week.

OR be a good person a share: Have a Super Bowl party for 20 people and serve this!

Plus, with all these veggies, you can top this with extra cheese and eat some extra chips and not feel guilty. You earned it by eating your vegetables.

20140112-185116.jpgYUM! Look at that close up! Meat, veggies and CHEESE!?! I’m in heaven.

20140112-185240.jpgRecipe: Half Meat Half Veggie Chili

Yield: A ton. (~32 cups)

Ingredients:

Step 1 – sauté the aromatics

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

Step 2 – add the meat

  • ~1 lb ground beef (use any meat you like- turkey, pork, buffalo)

Step 3 – add the veggies

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 potato (sweet or russet), scrubbed clean and chopped (I usually leave the russet unpeeled – but I will always peel the sweet potato)
  • 8oz of mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bella)
  • 1 zucchini, chopped

Step 4 – add the canned/frozen stuff

  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 28 oz can tomato puree
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 15 oz cans of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (you can mix it up with black beans if you like)
  • 1 cup of frozen corn

Step 5 – add the spices

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Cheddar cheese, sour cream and chips for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a very large pot (~8-12 quarts) add step 1 ingredients and sauté on medium heat until onions are soft – about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef (step 2) and cook until no longer pink
  3. Add all the veggies (step 3) and canned/frozen (step 4). Then add the spices (step 5) and stir to mix everything well. Simmer the chili for at least 30 minutes, but 1-2 hours lets the flavors develop. Tip: I usually make this the day before and simmer for 1-2 hours and then let the large pot cool before I place it in the fridge. The next day I take it right out of the fridge and let the pot come to room temp and then simmer to warm it up and then serve. This is a great make ahead meal.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and enjoy with chips or corn bread!

Chili can be stored in airtight container the refrigerator for 1 week or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Adapted from How Sweet It Is Easy 5 Step Chili

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Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Happy New Year! Time to celebrate with some fancy soup!

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Although this may look super fancy, this is hands down the most flavorful and easiest soup I have ever made. And by the end of this post, I am going to convince you of that.  It is creamy, spicy and slightly sweet and you even get to top it with a little toasted coconut.  Fancy.  If you love Thai flavors, you will LOVE this soup.  Coconut milk makes the soup creamy, butternut squash makes it healthy to eat all that coconut milk AND red Thai curry paste makes it spicy! Add a little apple for some sweetness and you have THE BEST SOUP.  I even made it as a Christmas present for my Aunts upon request!

20131223-092437.jpgI know there are tons of butternut squash soup recipes out there. So, you’re probably wondering: “what makes this soup so damn special?”   Well, my recipe calls for ingredients that most people usually have.  It only requires 1 fancy-ish ingredient – Red Thai Curry paste – and this can be kept in your fridge for a long time. So you buy it once and can use it throughout the year.  The only additional fresh ingredients (besides the squash) you need you probably already have in your kitchen: onion, garlic and apple.  Everything else keeps, so you can make this soup whenever you buy a butternut squash!

What is the secret to the super flavor in this easy soup?  Freshly roasted butternut squash!

Before I started making this soup last year, I was TERRIFIED of roasting my own squash.  Those big, hunky vegetables look so intimidating in the grocery store, don’t they?  FEAR NOT my friend.  I am here to tell you – YOU CAN DO IT!

And I’m showing you exactly how.

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Steps for roasting your butternut squash. 1. Slice open. 2. scoop out seeds 3.Brush oil and place cut side down on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup). The 4th photo is what the squash looks like when it is done roasting!

Slice the butternut squash in half, lengthwise on a cutting board (carefully!).  I usually start to cut at the fat end, since it is easier to cut through the part where the seeds are. Once halved, scoop out the seeds and save them for later!  (You can roast the seeds and salt them -they are delicious!) After your squash is cleaned out, brush a tablespoon of oil (canola, olive, or vegetable – whatever) on the flesh of each half and place flesh side down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup!). Bake at 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  There.  Done.  That’s roasting your own squash.  Easy, right? You can do this days in advance and then making the soup will only take 20 minutes!

If you are roasting the squash and making the soup the same day, then while the squash is roasting, get started on the rest of the soup.  Add some oil, garlic, onion and peeled and chopped apple to the pot. Saute for a few minutes then add the ginger and the red curry paste. Saute for a few minutes  Then add the liquids and the roasted squash – simmer for at least 10 minutes, puree with an immersion blender or blend in batches and done!

20131223-092408.jpgYUM! Sweet, Savory, Coconut-y goodness!

20131223-092420.jpgWarms you and fills you up!

20131223-092430.jpgGo make some right now!!!

20131223-092514.jpgRecipe: Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Makes about 10 cups (Ten 8oz servings)

Squash roasting time: 45 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Soup cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons of oil, divided (olive, vegetable, or canola)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small apple, peeled and chopped (I used Macintosh but any soft, sweet apple will do.  Don’t use granny smith – too tart)
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of Thai red curry paste (more or less depending on your spice preference)
  • 32oz chicken broth (or vegetable broth – to make it vegan/vegetarian)
  • 1 can (14-ounce) coconut milk (I usually use light coconut milk)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Toasted sweetened shredded coconut, for serving – optional (but highly recommended!)

Instructions:

  • Roast the Butternut Squash (This can be done days in advance)                            Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Halve squash lengthwise and scrape out all the seeds and stringy stuff (Save seeds for roasting later).  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, brush the cut flesh with about 1 tablespoon of oil, and place flesh side down on foil. Roast squash until it is very soft – depending on the size about 45 minutes to an hour.  Allow Squash to cool for about 10 minutes and then scoop flesh out of the peel into a bowl.  Use immediately in soup, or place into a sealed container and refrigerate for about a week or freeze up to 2 months.
  • Make the Soup. (While the squash is roasting-if doing this in one day)                    In a large pot, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, onion, garlic and peeled apple and sauté on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until onions are soft.  Add Thai red curry paste and ginger and stir briskly for about 30 seconds.  Next add the broth, coconut milk and the roasted squash and simmer for at least 10 minutes.  If I have the time I like to simmer for 30 minutes and even more if I get busy and forget about it. 

Purée soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor) – and serve!

For serving: Optional (but highly recommended) — Top soup with toasted sweetened shredded coconut (toast shredded coconut on a baking sheet in oven at 400F for 2 minutes (be sure to watch so it doesn’t burn!) Or toast the shredded coconut it in your microwave!

This soup makes great leftovers!  It tastes even better the next day.  Keep leftover soup in a sealed container in the fridge for a week(ish).

Seriously, go make some right now!!

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Curried Apple Tuna Salad

How about an apple and some tuna for lunch?

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How about we put them together.  On a sandwich. With some spice. Yum!

I’m constantly on the look out for new lunch recipes.  I ALWAYS bring my lunch to work because I hate buying lunch. It’s expensive, usually less healthy and I’m super indecisive, so it takes me forever to decide where to buy lunch.  But mostly, I am cheap and buying lunch is not.   In the past year, I have bought lunch at work 3 times.  THREE times.   Yeah, I’m wicked frugal.  So this is a great salad/sandwich to add to your lunch rotation!

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What else is so great about this Curried apple tuna salad?  It is delicious and healthy and perfect for using up some of those apples you still have.  Also, it is so full of flavor, you won’t realize it is healthy.  Really. And this is no wussy salad – it is FULL of protein. Tuna and Greek yogurt pack a pretty good protein punch that will make sure your tummy stays full at least until your 3pm chocolate break.  Wait, you don’t have a 3pm chocolate break?  What?!  Well, you should. Bonus: it is SUPER easy to whip up!  1 step.  There is only 1 step to make this salad.

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What is in this salad?

1. Tuna (I use chunk light, packed in water)

2. Plain Greek yogurt

3. Apple

4. Dijon mustard

5. Curry powder

6. Crunchy veggie of your choice

This is another recipe for you MAYO HATERS>>> There is NO mayo in this tuna salad!

20131028-205908.jpgThe warm curry flavor pairs perfectly with the crunchy, sweet apple.

20131028-205916.jpgAnd it all goes so well to make a creamy, crunchy, warmly spicy and slightly sweet tuna salad

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Mmmm.  Delicious in a Dash.  Seriously fast and scrumptious!

Recipe: Curried Apple Tuna Salad 20131028-205936.jpg

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 5oz canned tuna, drained (I like chunk-light tuna packed in water)
  • 1/2 of a medium sized apple, chopped (I like crunchy, slightly tart apples)
  • 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder (depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 cup of your veggie of choice, chopped (I really like celery because it adds a nice crunch.  I used cucumber because that is what I had in the house – but I recommend celery)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients and stir until combined.

Serve on your favorite bread, lined with spinach leaves or lettuce or just eat it right from the bowl!

Enjoy!

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce

Check out this tasty sauce….

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I never liked BBQ sauce.  That’s right.  I was a BBQ sauce hater.  HATED it.  That is, until I tasted homemade BBQ sauce.  Wow.  Sweet and Spicy. MMMmm  So finger licking good. So good, that I licked the bowl. Seriously. I did. I’m not embarrassed to admit it – I hope this stuff makes you do the same!

I first came across homemade BBQ sauce on the blog Simply Scratch.  This blog is AMAZING.  It has delicious recipes as well as step-by-step photo instructions.  Go check it out. Seriously. Go.  Then come back here. 🙂

20130628-091036.jpgLet me tell you why you NEED to make this BBQ sauce. It’s sweet and delicious and SO MUCH BETTER than bottled sauce.  It is super EASY to make and uses mostly ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.  Oh, and did I mention it goes on EVERYTHING. yes. EVE-RY-THIN-G. Chicken, Pork, Burgers, Fries, Veggies, Chickpeas. Spoons. MMmm.

So lets talk about what we’re doing with this sweet and spicy BBQ sauce today. I made some oven BBQ pulled chicken and all I had in the house were corn tortillas, so they became BBQ pulled chicken tacos!  🙂  I’m so clever.

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This recipe is PERFECT for Fall Sundays.  This being a blog that focuses on fast and easy recipes – I understand that this takes time, but I LOVE these types of recipes for fall and winter: recipes that do all the work while I do other things. Cleaning, working (watching football) and your delicious dinner is slowly baking away in your oven (or crock-pot).  Since I don’t have a crock-pot, I just baked the chicken in my oven.  I’ve made this recipe with both boneless, skinless chicken breasts and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. These pictures are of pulled breast meat, but the dark meat looked and tasted sooo much better.  So much so, that there weren’t any leftovers for me to take pictures of the next morning.

When it comes to chicken or turkey, I go to to the dark side. I’m a dark meat loving lady. There is a misconception that dark meat is bad for you, but the difference in both calories and fat are minimal.  Per ounce, boneless, skinless white meat has 46 calories and 1 gram of fat and dark meat has 50 calories and about 2 grams of fat. Yes, dark meat has more saturated fat, but it also has more iron, zinc, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12 than white meat. *(I’m not a registered dietician, just rambling off some nutrition facts)  So don’t shy away from the dark side!

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Steps for how to make pulled chicken-before it goes in the oven 1. BBQ sauce 2. Saute onions and garlic 3. Add chicken, salt and pepper. 4. Cover with BBQ Sauce.

Recipe: Pulled Chicken Tacos with Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce

Servings: 8

Ingredients for Honey BBQ Sauce (slightly adapted from Simply Scratch)

  • 1 cup of Honey
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water (use less if you want a thicker sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 and1/2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Oven Pulled Chicken

  • 2 lbs of Boneless, skinless chicken (Breast, thigh or mixture of both – I prefer thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of BBQ Sauce (or enough to cover all your chicken)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra BBQ sauce for serving

Instructions:

  1. First, make the BBQ sauce. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir until well combined.  Use immediately or store covered in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  3. In an heavy, oven safe pot* with a lid add olive oil, onions and garlic.  Cook on medium heat until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and a pinch of salt and pepper to each piece of chicken as you put them in the pot.
  4. Cover chicken fully with BBQ Sauce
  5. Cover the pot – either with a lid or aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven at 325F for about 90 min. or until chicken shreds easily with 2 forks.
  6. Shred chicken using two forks to pull apart.  Serve on corn tortillas with extra BBQ sauce some avocado and pickles – or your favorite toppings!

*If you don’t have an oven safe pot, you can do step 3 in a pan and then transfer everything to a baking dish before covering in BBQ sauce.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil before placing in oven.

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Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

20130523-231516.jpgI’m really excited to share today’s recipe with you! Why? Well, I’m talking about food, so this always makes me excited, woo! But, if I had to pick a favorite vegetable, it would be spinach, which is the star of this recipe. Why spinach? I’m sure many of you have memories growing up being forced to eat spinach. Not me. I would gladly suck spinach down like Popeye. When I started cooking for myself, I started to realize the culinary super power of spinach. It is a super nutritious leafy green vegetable that you can have by itself or add to just about anything: pasta, pizza, casseroles, eggs, soups, and even smoothies! Today I’m pairing my favorite vegetable, spinach, with my favorite protein, eggs.

20130523-231132.jpgInstead of using baby spinach to make a salad, I decided to get a little creative and use it to make one of the most common dishes served in Spain known as the tortilla de patatas, or the Spanish tortilla (Spanish potato omelet) . One of the great things about this dish is that it is perfect for any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner or as an appetizer and can be served hot or cold. I like mine warm, but it is traditionally served at room temperature.

Keeping with my simple recipe philosophy, this tortilla only has 6 ingredients: Spinach, bell pepper, eggs, potato, milk, and onion. Also, in line with in a DASH, this recipe is adapted to be pretty speedy, and can be made in under 30 minutes!

20130523-231432.jpgYou already know how much I LOVE eggs, especially frittatas. Well, the Tortilla de Patatas is the Spanish cousin to the Italian frittata. The major difference is that the frittata is baked, while the Tortilla is flipped in the pan and only cooked on the stove top – perfect for summertime when you don’t want to heat up your oven! Besides eggs, the other main component of the tortilla is potatoes. Delicious, starchy, thinly sliced, layered potatoes. YUM.

In my version of the Spanish tortilla, I decided to add baby spinach and red bell pepper. This way, you get some extra veggie in and still enjoy this decadent Spanish dish!

Big SPanish tort

The other great thing about what I did here is that I slimmed down the recipe a bit. Most Spanish tortilla recipes use a TON of olive oil. I have minimized the amount of oil needed for this dish, so you can enjoy this Spanish delight and keep your waistline! Less oil makes the tortilla a little thinner, but it still has the texture and taste of a real Spanish Tortilla. I promise.

Let’s make this tortilla in a DASH!

First peel and slice the potato very thin. I don’t have a fancy slicer or food processor, so I just sliced them thin with a knife. Cut and chop about a quarter of an onion and set aside.

20130523-231117.jpgAdd your potatoes to a heated pan with olive oil. Immediately after adding potatoes, reduce the heat. Your potatoes will NOT be in one layer, and this is ok. You want this. There will be a temptation to crisp up and brown your potatoes, but that is not what we’re trying to do here. We are cooking them to be just soft, not crisping them. Stir the potatoes occasionally as you cook them. After about 5 minutes, add the onion and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

20130523-231143.jpgRemove potatoes and onions and a pinch of salt and set aside. Reduce heat to low and add the red bell pepper and spinach to pan and stir. This is just to warm and soften the veggies. We don’t want to wilt the spinach and we want to keep the peppers crispy for some texture.

20130523-231154.jpgYum! Next scramble up your eggs, milk, salt and pepper. After allowing the potatoes and veggies to cool for about 5 minutes, add them to the eggs and stir. Let this stand for a few minutes. I know it looks like there is not enough egg here for all the stuff, but trust me, the potatoes will make up the bulk of the dish, with the spinach being the STAR, of course.

20130523-231207.jpgHeat up the remainder of the olive oil in the pan and add the egg/veggie mixture. Gently pat the potatoes and veggies down to form even-ish layers and reduce the heat.

20130523-231228.jpgI know you are looking at this saying: “how the HECK is that going to hold together to flip it? That looks like a hot mess” I promise you, it does, and it may look like a hot mess now, but soon it will be fully cooked, and be in your belly.

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This tortilla is ready to be flipped!

When the edges start to pull away, run a rubber spatula along the edges to loosen up the egg. Run it around and around and scrape a little on the bottom all around so you know nothing is sticking and you can easily flip it. When the top is wet, but not runny, lift up the tortilla slightly and take a peak at the bottom – when it is lightly browned, it is ready to be flipped!

To easily flip, carefully place a large plate on top of the pan and flip the pan over so that the tortilla falls out. Next, Slide the tortilla back in the pan so that uncooked side of the tortilla is in the pan and the cooked side is up. Sorry that I didn’t have someone else around to photograph me doing this, but luckily, the internet is a educational place – check out this YouTube video that gives multiple ways to flip a tortilla. Don’t be intimidated by the flip.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, flip one more time to warm and you’re done!

20130523-231243.jpgAdd some salt and pepper to taste, slice up and ENJOY!

20130523-231331.jpgTender, layered potatoes, crunchy, sweet bell pepper and bold baby spinach. SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!

20130523-231343.jpg I ate this for breakfast and then again for dinner. I was a little disappointed when I finished it and didn’t have any left over for lunch the next day. 🙂

Recipe: Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

Serves 220130523-231602.jpg

Total time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 russet potato, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup of onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion, but you can use white or yellow)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 2 oz of Fresh Baby Spinach, rinsed and dried (about 2 cups, not packed)*
  • ½ of red bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Slice potato very thin, about 1/8 inch (I don’t have a fancy slicer so I used a knife. You don’t need to be exact – not cooking for the queen)
  2. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a non-stick pan and heat until hot on medium high (I used a shallow 8inch pan – you can also you a 6inch as long as it is deep).
  3. Add potato slices to pan and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Stir potatoes occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add sliced onion to potatoes and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft. Remove potatoes/onion from pan, add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool before adding to eggs.**
  5. Add chopped bell pepper and spinach to the pan on low heat and warm to soften peppers and spinach for about 1 minute. Remove and set aside to cool slightly before adding to the eggs
  6. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whip eggs with a fork to scramble. Add relatively cooled potatoes/onion, baby spinach and bell pepper and stir till combined.
  7. Warm the remaining olive oil in the pan on medium high heat until it is hot. Add the egg mixture to the pan and pat down with a rubber spatula to even out the layers. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 2-3 minutes. To ensure that the egg doesn’t stick, run a rubber spatula around the edges of the egg and under the egg.
  8. The tortilla is ready to be flipped when the top is wet, but not runny, and the sides are firm (see pic above). To easily flip, carefully place a large plate on top of the pan and flip the pan over so that the tortilla falls out. Next, Slide the tortilla back in the pan so that uncooked side of the tortilla is face down in the pan and the cooked side is up. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  9. Flip the tortilla one more time, and warm the first cooked side for another minute.
  10. Invert the tortilla on a serving dish and add some salt and pepper
  11. ENJOY

*Note that because the tortilla is cooking so quickly in the pan, the baby spinach just wilts slightly. If you wish to substitute mature spinach, be sure to cook and drain first. Mature spinach may release a lot of water that can mess up your tortilla.

**I stress cooling the potatoes and the veggies to prevent premature cooking of the eggs in the bowl.

Recipe Source: Deliciousinadash.wordpress.com