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.