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Archive for January, 2010

Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’m going to say this Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash is the best new recipe I made all fall and winter so far.  But I do want you to take that with a large grain of salt, because between travel, the holidays and feeling a little under-the-weather, there has NOT been the usual amount of fun-with-cooking going on at our house.  With that caveat, though, this is a wonderful recipe.  I found it in one of my autumn Martha Stewart Living magazines, which has provided me with a handful of my very favorite recipes over the years – before this one, my best recipe from her was a killer French Onion Soup.  But this great dish may rival that first place position.

Several things make this so good.  First, you can’t miss how cool the presentation is – this yummy meaty-veggie-herby-nutty mixture is cooked and served in roasted halves of acorn squash.  It looks super-fancy, though it’s actually easy and efficient, saving you cleaning up another dish. Secondly, there’s a fantastic blend of flavors going on here, as you might imagine from the fact it’s labeled Moroccan – such tantalizing blends of fruity and savory in that food cuisine! Ground beef is cooked with cinnamon and nutmeg, toasted rich pinenuts and small explosions of sweet currants are added, the roasted acorn ‘dish’ provides a sweet, fall-flavored, creamy base, and the parsley adds a tang. There’s a lot going on but it all works really well together.  Next, it’s easy – roast the squash while you cook up the stuffing mixture, then pop it all in the oven.  It takes a little bit of time but is not time-consuming, if you know what I mean.  Finally, it’s pretty healthy. The ingredients (minus the ground beef, though we use beef from a local farmer so we consider that fairly good for us if a bit fatty) are all vegetables, whole grains, nuts or fruit. This is probably not low-calorie, but it’s full of they types of foods that are GOOD for you, giving you lots of vitamins and nutrients in real-food and not pill form.

My only tip would be that the recipe has made a bit more of the stuffing mixture than I could manageably fit into the roasted acorn halves.  I really over-stuffed them the first time I made them, and it made a mess, plus I still had some leftover.  Since the leftover stuff was super-good reheated in a pot for lunch the next day, I don’t stuff this as full anymore and just enjoy the leftovers.

No good picture this time, sorry sportsfans – the bad light and our raging appetites the night we first cooked this made for poor food photography.  But you can see a decent picture in the link above.  Bon appetit!!

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Zucchini and Olive Pizza

Here’s a new pizza creation, conceived after I’d been having a craving for some veggies after all the heavy eating of the holidays.  I had some olive tapenade – a sort of dip with chopped olives – that I thought would provide some great salty flavor to a pizza.  I did a quick internet search for pizzas with olives and found a recipe with zucchini that sounded just right!  Somehow zucchini and olives on a pizza sounded very south-of-France to me, so I decided to add in plenty of Herbes de Provence as well.

By the time these pizzas come out, the light is always bad and we’re too hungry to take pictures, so here’s a shot of the layered, un-cooked pizza: dough brushed with olive oil, olive tapenade, thin slices of mozzarella, and zucchini sauteed with olive oil and Herbes de Provence.

One thing to keep in mind when cooking with zucchini: they have SO much water in them!  Much more than you think.  So the best way to use them (with the exception of zucchini bread where you want to keep all that moisture) is to either slice or shred it, then sprinkle with salt and let sit for a while.  The water will naturally be drawn out, and you can either wring the shredded zucchini out over the sink, or pat the slices dry.  I used slices, and then made sure they were lying flat in the pan to get a little browned before pulling them out to put on top of the pizza.

This pizza had amazing flavors and a real hint of Provence.  We loved it this weekend but I’m sure I’ll make it much more in the summer, when it would be a PERFECT dinner with a light salad and a glass of cool Rose – and when everyone has zucchini coming out their ears!

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Caramel Popcorn

I hope you all had a very happy holiday!  Ours was wonderful and full of great times with family…but back home in NC we’re in post-holiday recovery mode which has consisted of doing jack and squat.  Yes, my tree is still up; don’t judge!

I haven’t been cooking much either, though I’m enjoying going through a backlog of magazines and blog posts that I didn’t get to in December and picking out fun new recipes to try.  I wanted to share with you my favorite I found so far, which sounds sooooooooo delish – I haven’t tried it yet but I just couldn’t wait to tell you about it.

This Caramel Corn with Salted Peanuts recipe is from Orangette, and she never steers me wrong.  Doesn’t her description of this crunchy, salty, sweet caramel corn sound like something you should definitely make up on Saturday and munch on while watching some basketball games?!!  Right?

If you try it, let me know how it goes!

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