Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kale and Sausage-Stuffed Squash

Mom had the day off yesterday and wasn’t able to pick up her veggie co-op delivery, so her coworker brought it to me at my office. 

And I had first dibs.  Open-mouthed smile

One of the most enticing offerings was a big ol’ bunch of kale which I decided I wanted to cook down and stuff into a sweet winter squash.

kale

Last time I roasted an acorn squash, I severely undercooked it (trying to impress the boyfriend’s stepdad, no less) – a mistake I was sure not to repeat.  I cooked the halves face-down for about 30 minutes at 400° after spraying them with oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper.

roasted acorn squash

In a sauté pan, I browned some low-fat sausage and then sautéed some garlic and onions along with chopped zucchini.

onion, garlic, zucchini

Once these veggies had cooked down a little, I added the chopped kale followed by a couple of chopped plum tomatoes and some kosher salt.

veggie stuffing mixture

It may sound crazy, but I thought some sweetness would do well with the squash, sausage, and bitter kale, so I added some maple syrup before piling it all in the upturned squash and baking about 15 minutes more.

kale and sausage-stuffed acorn squash

At first I thought I’d be able to evenly distribute the stuffing and squash with each bite, but I had a feeling I’d finish the innards before the squashards, so I scooped it all out and ate it in one ugly mash (spared y’all the picture of that).

stuffed squash

This was an AMAZING combination!  I think it’d be good with some parmesan or mild cheese like mozzarella, but it was perfect enough without!  What “thrown together” dishes turned out better than you’d hoped?  Any weird-sounding combinations that surprised you?  Any that didn’t work out so well?  I once added a nut brown ale to shrimp and grits and served it to tailgate guests….don’t ask what possessed me to try it – I’m sure you can guess how that turned out.  Embarrassed smile

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall Foods

My mom and I went to a class last week at Providence Hospital geared toward breaking down barriers to eating healthy foods.  They served us a meal made from antioxidant-rich foods and gave a presentation on nutrition and healthy cooking.  Not much of the information was new to us, but we enjoyed trying a few new dishes!

The first course served at the class was Ellie Krieger’s Curried Butternut Squash Soup which I duplicated the other night for Jason.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

We had a couple of cooler-weather days that got me in the mood to make some autumnal dishes, and that butternut squash soup was right up my alley.  I didn’t have any Greek yogurt, so I substituted some sour cream (not as good) and added a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar.  Amazing.

I also roasted a couple pork tenderloins on a bed of onions and apples.  Over that I poured a mixture of apple cider, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, a touch of maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, thyme, and salt and pepper.  Then I slathered a little of the whole grain mustard on top of the roast before covering the dish in foil and baking it for about 25 minutes at 375°.  Then I removed the foil and baked it for another 25-30 minutes.  The pork turned out super moist.

Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

A wonderful fall meal without too much effort!

Butternut Squash Soup and Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

What kind of dishes get you in the mood for fall?  I’m craving some CHILI with cornbread and cheese…

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Taste of Charleston

I’ve just come from a long weekend in Charleston, full of food, beer, and laziness…my idea of heaven.  Jason and I hit up quite a few local places and also went to the Southern Living Taste of Charleston Food Festival on Sunday where we stuffed ourselves silly. 

The festival was held at Boone Hall Plantation – incidentally the same place Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds were married not long ago.  I want to go back and tour it another day!

Boone Hall Plantation

2012 Taste of Charleston Ice Sculpture

Next time we do this event, we’ll bring a couple more people – we came away feeling stuffed, and it cost a little more than we had bargained for.  Especially when we really only wanted a taste of a bunch of things, we could definitely spread the cost and tastes with friends!

First thing we had was Fried Pimento Cheese Sticks with Pepper Jam from the Boone Hall Farm’s Market Café.  Fried cheese?  And pimiento, at that?  Yep.

Fried pimento cheese sticks with pepper jam

Next from Poogan’s Porch, we tried a Pimento Cheese Deviled Egg and Confit Fried Chicken.  I didn’t dislike it, but it wasn’t my favorite. 

Pimento Cheese Deviled Egg and Confit Fried Chicken

Cuban sandwiches are a fave of mine, so I had to sample the one from 82 Queen.  Hell yes.

Cuban Sandwich

From Pearlz, we had the Pumpkin Cobbler.  Not bad, but it would’ve been a much better base for some kind of ice cream as opposed to the standalone star.

Pumpkin Cobbler

My favorite dish by far was the Tomato Pie from Carpentier’s Wine and Dine Deli.  I licked the pan…er, at least nibbled off the baked-on cheesy bits.  No regrets.

Tomato Pie

From J.Paul’z, we tried a Smoked Brisket Slider with Blue Cheese Cole Slaw and Truffled Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Smoked Brisket Slider with Blue Cheese Cole Slaw and Truffled Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I think this was from Cork? Apple Bread Pudding.

Apple Bread Pudding

Tsunami had sushi

Sushi

…and crab wontons

Crab Wontons

And as we were walking back to the car, we happened upon a gentleman giving away little chocolate cupcakes with a dollop of chocolate and mint frosting.  Forgot where they were from…

Chocolate cupcakes

Did I mention there was beer?  Because there was.  My favorite sample was Blue Moon’s Caramel Apple beer…so good!

Beer

Later that evening, we met up for dinner and drinks with some girlfriends of mine and their significant others.  While we waited for a table, we had drinks at Closed For Business – I loved the atmosphere here!  His (some kind of fancy bourbon) and hers (Peach Porch Lounger by New Belgium):

Bourbon 'n' beer

Dinner was next door at Monza – voted one of the best pizzas in the nation.  I had the Count Louis pizza

Count Louis Pizza

…and Jason had the Carbonara pasta.

Carbonara Pasta

I came away feeling gluttonous, but I had a fabulous time!  I literally lost 5 pounds on the scale on Tuesday because of all the water I was retaining…yikes. Now to get rid of the other 3 or so I didn’t pee out…

What food festivals have you been to lately?  What’s your favorite Southern fare?  Shrimp and grits is definitely a fave of mine!  I had it a couple of times but was kinda lazy with the camera this weekend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Random Gourmet

It starts with a craving for scallops and access to Pinterest and ends with two recipes (Scallops with Orange Caramel Sauce and Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops) and a bowl full of collards.
collard greens
Oh and some wedges of roasted acorn squash.
scallops and acorn squash and cat
With a side of needy cat.
Brooks begging for scallops
I had almost forgotten how much fun it was to dirty up all my dishes!  Thank goodness for Pinterest – all I had to do was search for scallop recipes and I found two relatively simple ones with a touch of fanciness.  We prepared half the scallops with the sweet caramel glaze and half with the Cajun rub and prosciutto wrap.  Awesome.
Rounding out the meal was something sweet – good old roasted acorn squash with cinnamon and Splenda brown guar – and some bold collard greens with prosciutto, onion, and balsamic vinegar.  Such a random assortment with such well-balanced flavors!
What was the last craving you used as a recipe search term?  What else did you make to go alongside your dish?  Was it random or did it all mesh pretty well?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

To new beginnings

I’ve began this post in my head a hundred times, and there’s no right way to start it.  So, I’ll just fill you in on some highlights since my last post (in COUGH **JANUARY** COUGH) and hit the ground running.  Sound good?  Good.

For my 28th birthday in February, I finally had the Oscar party I always wanted.  I think I’m going to make this a yearly tradition – it was so much fun to sit around and talk about the fashion! (Pretty much couldn’t care less about the movies)

Oscar Birthday Party

Mom was honored with a pretty fab award in April and I got to see my parents all gussied up.

Kat and parents

I’ve had some wonderful times with some very dear friends of mine and their daughter Miss G…

G's painting adventure

…and we celebrated her first birthday in early August!

G's 1st Birthday

I’m so thankful my friends have been there for me through thick and thin; they mean the world to me.

Friends on the lake

And within the past few months, I’ve fallen for this guy who seems to have been made for me:

Jason and Kat

Jason and I are working together to improve our health and both love experimenting in the kitchen.  He’s part of the reason I’ve got a renewed interest in reviving the blog, so expect to see more of the two of us here (he has strict instructions to make me post at least once a week…hopefully more). 

So now that we’re pretty much caught up to speed, here’s where we hit the ground running. 

My co-worker gave me some home-grown pears last week, so I developed a craving for the “classic” balsamic-pear-blue cheese combo.  And thus, we made a salad out of it.  Jason seared some flank steaks

Pear, steak, blue cheese, balsamic salad

…while I whipped up some quick candied pecans (melted some butter and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend over medium heat before adding pecans and some kosher salt).

Candied pecans

For some added sass, we used applewood smoked blue cheese – effectively bacon-flavored blue cheese.  Wow.

Applewood smoked blue cheese

And I doused the whole thing in balsamic vinegar before inhaling it.  It definitely hit the spot!

pear, steak, blue cheese, balsamic salad

I may have some more pears coming my way in the near future – what’s your favorite thing to do with them?  Preferably something on the savory side?  Fill me in on your biggest news since I dropped off the face of the blogosphere (yet again)!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Treating myself differently

I’ve had an somewhat out-of-the-ordinary week where I’ve been semi-stressed at work, and yesterday was particularly trying.  A few weeks ago, I could’ve seen myself getting off work and going to buy a DiGiorno pizza and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and “unwinding,” but last night I decided to treat myself in a healthier way.  I haven’t had salmon in awhile and was craving it, so I stopped and got one piece:

salmon for one

I had bought this brown sugar & pecan mustard at a local gift shop to include in a Christmas present for someone, but I had forgotten about it and found it last week.  So I kept it.  I’m a bad person.

 brown sugar & pecan mustard

But hey, it was fantastic on the salmon! 

salmon & acorn squash

I’ve always disliked guacamole, but I had an AMAZING batch at a local restaurant a few weeks ago, so I’ve been stuck on it ever since.  I grabbed a container last night that is nowhere near as good as the local stuff, but it’s not bad.  I thought the little label under the lid was cute:

Guacamole: "I'm chunky and proud of it!"

Do you “treat yourself” by cooking something nice after a crazy day or grab something quick from the store or a restaurant?  It’s so easy and tempting to grab something quick and comforting!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Organizational Bug and Pondering about Bingeing

This cute blue stone crock I just got from World Market makes everything taste better, not that my gumbo needed it, in my humble opinion. 

World Market Crock

Sunday was spent taking down Christmas decorations and packing them all away.  I’ve been bitten by the organizational bug lately, for better or worse, and am committed to getting rid of clutter and finding an appropriate place for everything.  It felt good to take 4 giant boxes of stuff to Goodwill and finally get them out from under my nose – I’ve been working on those boxes for weeks!

My eating habits were stellar last week, which makes my actions this past weekend all the more troubling.  I pretty much binged on chocolate and ice cream Sunday evening – a rebound effect from eating sensibly during the week?  A cry for help due to self-pity and loneliness?  I have no idea, but I’ve journaled about it and hope to nip it in the bud next time I see myself headed in that direction.  I did have wine Saturday night at a friend’s house and ended up eating dessert there…wondering if eating sweets made me crave them again?

Have you cut out sweets only to find that you no longer crave them?  Have you ever successfully pinpointed the reason for wanting to binge and stopped the action in its tracks?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weekend Ritual

I might be bummed sometimes about being single and lonely, but when I think about it, I’ve developed some weekend morning rituals and enjoy not having someone get in the way of them.  Either on Saturday or Sunday (sometimes both) I’ll wake up and make an omelette or frittata with tons of veggies.

onion, pepper, mushroom frittata

Then I usually sprinkle it with cheese and smother it with Texas Pete and eat while watching Fashion Police.  I love my little ritual.  Smile

 

frittata with cheese and hot sauce

After brunch has settled, Maddy and I usually hit the trails for a nice long hike/walk.  Today, however, we made a pitstop by PetSmart for a new leash.  She’s got a bad habit of pulling on her leash (yeah, it’s mostly my fault for not keeping up with obedience training), but this new shorter leash really helps, and it’s got padded handles and a loop very close to her harness/collar for when I need to keep her closer (passing people on a trail, keeping her from jumping into icky muddy water, etc.).

Maddy's new leash

Incidentally, does anyone have a favorite tried and true dog training book/method?

Now to bathe and gather some stuff to take to Goodwill before coming home to watch a movie and pack away Christmas stuff. Do you have any weekend rituals you really look forward to?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dinner and a Movie

I stayed up late last night watching the Orange Bowl, and no…I don’t want to talk about it.

Point is, I’m about to paaaassssss ouuuutttt but I wanted to share an amazing recipe I just tried.  I was prepared to have a few guests over for dinner but sadly plans had to change last-minute.  My mom, however, gladly made the trek to the other side of town for an awesome homecooked meal and a movie – Bridesmaids!

I made Anne Burrell’s Roasted Pork Loin with Apple Cider and Chunky Applesauce and it turned out PERFECTLY.  I forgot how much I liked cooking and trying out different recipes – definitely want to keep this up!

 Roasted Pork Loin with Apple Cider and Chunky Applesauce

So a few days into gluten-free, my tummy is already less mad at me.  Looking forward to seeing how long it’ll take before a bunch of other troubling symptoms clear up.  If you’ve gone gluten-free, how long before you started seeing big differences in various symptoms?  And on that note, I’m about to fall asleep.