Ode to the Squash

Tis the squash season right? I see squash recipes everywhere, Pinterest, Blogs, Instagram; the squash praises are being sung.

When G was in town she treated me to a little squash dish, one I just had to recreate.

However I admit, I bought a different type of squash. It was in the carton labeled squash, I just grabbed…. and this one took like an hour in the oven…

And I know I did not follow her recipe, as my mind has been inundated with squash!

photo (123)

Cutting these suckers in half leads to grabbing my largest, sharpest knife; stabbing the middle and inevitably pounding them onto the counter…

Which I’m sure the new neighbors loved.. the ugly new counter just fell victim to my squash technique… sorry new landlord, not sorry.

Spooning out what I lovingly refer to as the GUTS is the worst part…. that texture… reminds me why I was never a big pumpkin fan.

I know, I just admitted to the worst fall sin; I don’t get pumpkins. (cue Halloween Shriek)

For the most simple squash dish ever:

Brown Italian Sausage, then sauté in some kale and a few cloves of garlic.

Where the GUTS once lived, spoon in the sausage/kale mixture and top with shredded Jarlsberg cheese and bread crumbs.

Voila!

photo (124)

Now go enjoy some squash!

What is on your menu this week?

Veggie Pursuit

In pursuit of the veggie…

I do not know how long this will last or whether this is just a one week phase, as my coworkers say…

But I have not craved, wanted, or missed meat in four days… except when my neighbor made bacon the other night! Really?  You would.

This is most likely just an attempt to add more meatless days into my routine  or perhaps a system cleanse.  Whatever it is, it has been delicious!

Cue the homemade asparagus pistachio pesto.

photo (110)

I just used the same process here

Added a bushel (correct word??) of asparagus.  First I cooked the asparagus in a pot of water for about 7 minutes, chopped it up and added it to the food processor.

photo (111)

I really could just lick the food processor clean 🙂

Experimenting….

Because chicken gets old.  Really old, when you eat it as much as I do.  And lately I’ve been able to find really cheap chicken, lots of it.  And it happens to be antibiotic free, so yes, I bought lots. Which means I’m eating even more chicken than normal.  Chicken overload is real.

So what is one to do with chicken overload? Experiment.

Cue the bottle of prepared horseradish I bought in lieu of starting my at home Bloody Mary bar…. (which still has yet to happen)… baby steps…

If you like food with a kick, keep reading… If not, meh, not sorry.

photo (29)

Disclosure: (Again) I do not measure:

A clove of garlic chopped

Around 3 tablespoons of Horseradish

A few squirts of brown/Dijon mustard

A swirl of olive oil

Salt to taste

I massaged this lovely sauce over the chicken and let marinate for about 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for around 25-30 minutes. And you have chicken with quite a kick. Something different. Something to cure chicken overload.  I would think you could use this for salmon or steak sauce too….

What is your favorite chicken experiment?

Adventures in Scrounging around the Fridge

So, it is suppose to be the start of spring. (well not technically)  The first week of March is here and we are getting pummeled with snow.  This day last year was 60 degrees. 🙁

You know you’ve got a lot of snow when the dog cannot even get over the snow mound to go potty.  It is a pathetic jumping/stumbling attempt that leads us back upstairs to the potty pad.  Poor baby.

I just want the beach.  Please.  or even a lake boating day.  or even just warm enough temps to sit on my patio.

I do not want to venture out in this storm for food.  So that means scrounging around the fridge for dinner.  So scrounging plus craving spring means I hope to come up with something light and “springy”.

I found:

photo (41)

Grape Tomatoes, Frozen Sweet Peas and Feta.

photo (42)

Add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

photo (43)

Boom.  Light and “springy” is what I came up with. I think its a perfect side dish or light “salad” for lunch?  So ready for the farmers markets.  What do you come up with while scrounging around the fridge?

Adventures in Cooking for One: Redemption Risotto

You may recall my risotto disaster of prior months.  I had wanted to celebrate a year in this new city, and attempt something new. And it was a big fat failure.  However, Friend Who Makes Me Risotto, (FWMMR for future reference), driven by utter disgust of my first attempt, emailed me her recipe and directions.  Strict instructions I must say.

Hence, the theme of this post will be FWMMR’s strict instructions:

WOODEN SPOON

MEDIUM HEAT ALWAYS MEDIUM

STIR LIKE CRAZY!

(FWMMR sent this to me in all caps.)

I pledge to follow these to a T.  Wooden Spoon, check!  Medium Heat, always medium, check! Stir like crazy, (good, I don’t have to do an arm workout today), check!

photo (36)

Yes this is what I do after work.  Grate fresh Parm.  Highly recommend this as a stress reliever, just watch your fingers….. and you may want to avoid that glass of wine until grating completion.

And do not worry FWMMR, I was chopping these realllllllll FINE.

photo (37)

Proof I was stirring like crazy! With wooden spoon I might add…

photo (38)

After killing my arm, sweating, and adding about eight cups of chicken stock; I did it.

photo (39)

It “blobbed”!(Blobbed: an extremely technical description of final product texture)  Success.  While it is still not perfect, I achieved redemption.  Risotto Redemption.  Thank you FWMMR for your strict instructions and encouragement!

Remember, WOODEN SPOON, MEDIUM HEAT ALWAYS MEDIUM HEAT, STIR LIKE CRAZY.

What is your biggest challenge in the kitchen?

A Flurry of Flour

I miss Neapolitan style pizza.  Nothing will beat living in Florence and devouring a true Margherita pizza to yourself.  Its conceivable that I could take down two.  Stranger things have happened; like a post birthday trip to Wendy’s, involving multiple sandwich orders, a side of fries and perhaps a frosty…..)

Back home, there are quite a few options. My two favorites happened to be within 1 minute walking distance of my condo.  (Dangerous.)

Here, not so much.  My homesick pangs this week stem from missing this pie. While I do not have a brick oven or wood fire stove with 80 plus years of flavor seeped in; I can still make homemade pizza.  I can buy similar ingredients and attempt to soften the blow….  Ordinary crust will just have to do.

photo

Please note I am using the recently purchased wooden spoon.  (acquired due to friendly chiding)  However this process requires a rolling pin.  How do I not own a rolling pin?

O yeah, most likely due to the fact I am a horrible baker.  This horrible baker status was confirmed in recent weeks by the horrendous goat cheese muffin disaster of December 2012.

After a flurry of flour and a friend to the rescue with a rolling pin:

photo (1)

A two minute sauce in the processor:

photo (2)

Fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and cracked red pepper.  Yes I spooned some of this directly into my mouth…. I mean, I had to taste test and you know i’m kinda obsessed with tomatoes.

We ended up with this:

photo (3)

While it could have been prettier, it could not have tasted any better.  Exactly what I wanted.  Mozzarella, basil, prosciutto.  Fresh Crust.  I got hints of Florence and hints of home; successfully satisfied my craving. (Next time I’ll work on my presentation)

Any flurries of flour for you lately?

 

 

Adventures in Cooking for One: Risotto

I have always feared the Risotto.  Have never attempted it.  And making Risotto for one seams ridiculous.  This adventure goes against my budget, waist line and portion control issues.  This will completely contradict the points in my Adventures in Cooking for One: Fish post, but I’m going to do it anyway.

I love Risotto and could eat the entire pan.  And I have actually eaten it directly out of the pan.  Massive quantities, straight out of the pan.  I have witnesses.  I have had it for dinner, then again late night after multiple drinks.  Massive quantities in one night.  I have even requested a friend ship me leftovers, multiple times.  I’m sure by now she dreads my texts regarding her risotto.

If the prior statements have not yet proved my love for risotto, nothing will.

So on my one year anniversary of living in this new city, I decided to attempt it.  Call it a mini celebration for myself or just another example of my pledge to try something new.

Attempt it I did.  Conquer it, I did not….

I really do not think there is a smell in the world that can hold a candle to garlic, onions and olive oil over some heat..

All ingredients were purchased at Gloriosos Italian Market.  A market I love, spend too much time at and would work at just to stare at their products..

And my disaster in a small white bowl:

I blame the chef.  The ingredients were perfect.  My technique, not so much….  and I’ve already been chided for not using a wooden spoon…

Any advice or helpful tips would be much appreciated.  While my adventure in Risotto was unsuccessful, at least I was trying something new 🙂

 

Adventures in Cooking for One

Moving to a new city meant for me, learning to cook for one.  Previously I cooked for roommates, family, friends or boyfriends.  Cooking for others meant large meals, hence now my portion sizes are out of control!  And as much as I love exploring new restaurants, in a new city this can truly add to your waistline while at the same time depleting your checking account.

So begins my adventures in learning to cook for one… And what is better, easier or healthier than fish? Apparently the grocery store has cheap, decently appropriate portion sizes available, who knew?  The Metro Market must know I am beginning my adventures in cooking for one 😉  So the adventure begins with FISH:

Tilapia…. seasoned with Cajun spice and baked for about 20 minutes, served over sauteed green beans, pancetta, garlic and red onions.  Don’t ask me for specifics, I never measure…

Salmon…  marinated in a bit of soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and honey, served over brown rice.  O and a little green garnish for some color.

Conclusion: My taste buds, waistline and checking account are pretty pleased. What is your favorite adventure in FISH??