It’s just the two of us now, and some nights it’s difficult to want to cook. All summer I could call my kids and tell them to start dinner. Now they’re both gone, we are tired , the pets need to be fed, and we don’t want to think about preparing a meal. I think sometimes it’s more difficult to cook for two; it’s easier to think about just skipping it and going for the ice cream. On the night my husband wasn’t home, I made myself an egg sandwich, but the next night I was determined to provide us with something delicious and nutritious and I wasn’t popping it into the microwave, Butternut Squash with a Maple Bourbon Glaze. I had butternut squash and I was going to use it, even if it was too big for two people, yay, we had leftovers too. I think maple and bourbon are very friendly flavors, and on the butternut with a little melted butter they were perfect.
- Butternut squash
- 2 tbs wild turkey bourbon
- 1 tbs maple syrup
- 1 tbs melted butter
Slice the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Whisk together the butter, the bourbon and the maple syrup. Brush the cut halves with the glaze and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven (we actually used the toaster oven) on 400 until you can poke it with a fork and it gives nicely, brushing every so often with the glaze.Diana
I still have butternut squash in my basement, but as the basement warms up, the squash will be in peril. I’m glad they lasted as long as they did, since this is the first year we tried basement storage. Last year we kept the winter squash upstairs, and they didn’t last as long. I’m going to make Butternut Squash Under a Swiss Cheese Crust for our family Easter gathering. I made it for dinner one night and my husband was really impressed, so impressed he wants me to make it again. I used curry in the dish to keep it from being too sweet, but also added nutmeg and cinnamon because I love the taste with butternut squash and I also added nutmeg to the cheese sauce. The swiss cheese was hand delivered from Wisconsin. A friend of my husband’s brought us back cheese from a recent trip. Isn’t it cool to have a friend like that? My favorite prep method for butternut squash is to slice it down the middle, scooping the seeds and pulp out, but leaving the meat behind. Then it is brushed with olive oil, and placed cut side down in a glass pan. It goes into the oven at about 350 and bakes until a knife slides in easily. Ingredients:
- 1 butternut squashed prepped(see above)
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 1 tsp curry
- 1 tsp nutmeg -grated
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 tbs flour
- 1 cup half & half
- 1 cup swiss cheese shredded
- 1 tsp nutmeg – grated
Bake butternut squash until soft. Cool and then scoop butternut squash out of the shell into a bowl. Use a mixer to combine the squash milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and curry. Place in a buttered casserole dish. In a small saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour. Slowly whisk in cold milk until smooth. Take off heat and whisk in the cheese. Spread cheese sauce over top of the squash (add more cheese if you need a thicker consistency). Bake in oven at 350 until cheese starts to brown and crusty.Buff
This is one of my favorite meals and I get to cook it only once or twice a year – once on St. Patrick’s Day [March 17th for those not in the know] and again when either the mood strikes me or I have special guests. Well, the other day we had special guests in and not only did I make this special dinner, we actually sat at the Dining Room table!
My husband picked up a Dry Aged Beef Tenderloin from Bluescreek Farm Meats this week and I knew it was the beef we could use for a special dinner. I was looking forward to trying out the tenderloin – which I’ve never cooked before. I love an opportunity to try out something new, but it can be a little scary trying out something new when you know if you mess up. That’s it, we’re eating it anyway because we spent the money already. This one though, this was a big winner.
I researched the best cooking methods, and there was a consensus that high heat quickly was the way to go. I couldn’t use salt, because my husband is on a low sodium diet and meat carries its own sodium, so I wanted a way to keep it moist and flavorful but without added sodium. I decided to try out my dehydrated mushroom powder on the tenderloin. Last year I took mushrooms, dehydrated them, and then pulverized them to make it into a powder. I think mushrooms in gravy compliment steak. I mixed up some garlic powder, paprika and the mushroom powder, and then smooshed it up with some softened butter. My steak had been sitting out coming to room temperature, which helps it to become soft and pliable. I took the butter paste and rubbed it all over the steak.
The biggest hurdle to this perfect meal – was my husband didn’t know exactly what time he would be leaving work since he had to work on a project later than usual. His task was to call when he was leaving work. In the mean time, I put my cast iron grill pan into the oven and let it heat up at 450 degrees. As soon as he called, I put a few pats of butter in the pan and placed the tenderloin on top and put it into the oven. I set the timer for 17 minutes because I was going to check the internal temperature at that time to see what the internal temperature was. My creamed kale was ready in a glass dish so that it would be tossed into the oven while the beef was resting. I sliced shallots, mushrooms and a couple of green onions and set it aside.
When the timer dinged, I checked the beef tenderloin and it was 135 degrees. I have seen suggestions for 120, but my husband won’t eat rare meat or medium rare, medium is the lowest he would be happy with. I took the tenderloin out and stuck it on a separate plate with an aluminum tent over top. Then I added the chopped mushrooms and shallots and a couple of tablespoons of butter into the pan the beef was cooked in, on top of the stove over a low temp. The mushrooms and shallots were sauteed until soft, removed from pan and set aside. A cup of wine was added to the pan and simmered until reduced by half. When it was reduced by half, the mushrooms and shallots were added back in and sauteed for about a minute.
Place the Creamed Kale on the plate, slice the beef tenderloin on an angle, place on top, and spoon the mushroom wine reduction over top. My goodness this is good stuff. The beef was pink, soft, tender and delicious. Wow, that was good.
- 2 to 3 lb beef tenderloin
- 2 tsp dehydrated mushroom powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Pre-heat oven to 400.
- Let Beef tenderloin sit out to come to room temperature.
- A couple of softened pats of butter should be mixed in a small bowl with mushroom powder, paprika and garlic powder.
- Smoosh and mix the butter with the mushroom powder and spices until it is all mixed in as well as it can be.
- Take cast iron pan and melt 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil in the bottom of the pan.
- Rub the smooshed butter all over the tenderloin – massaging it well.
- Grind fresh black powder over top.
- Place the tenderloin in the cast iron pan and place into the oven uncovered.
- Set the timer for 15 minutes and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. If you like your beef rare – take it out when the internal temperature reaches 125.
- My husband likes it medium so, I took it out at 135.
- Remove the tenderloin to a plate and tent with foil.
- Slice mushrooms and shallots.
- Place the cast iron pan back on the stovetop and melt 2 tsp butter in the pan.
- Saute the mushrooms and shallots in the pan until soft and remove them from pan and set aside.
- Add 1 cup red wine, scrape the bits off the bottom and reduce the wine by half.
- Add the mushrooms and shallots to the wine and saute for a minute.
- Place the tenderloin over top of the creamed kale (or spinach, or polenta, or mashed potatoes) spoon the mushrooms, shallots and sauce over top.
- Grind a little more pepper over top.
Did you know that Turkey Wings have just enough meat for a soup or stew ? I buy whole turkeys portion the meat out into separate labeled containers or bags and use them for separate meals. The turkey wings were set aside together and tonight used in a really quick and delicious soup. I am a beef and lamb lover – I also love turkey and chicken, but I forget sometimes that poultry is my husband’s preference over red meat. He likes red meat a lot, but every so often he’ll whisper in my ear and let me know we haven’t had turkey or chicken lately. That happened this week, so I today I dug through the freezer found a couple of turkey wings and threw together a delicious stew. A little bit of meat, a bunch of veggies and red lentils that melt into a thick creamy broth.
Ever since my husband has been on a low sodium diet, we’ve given up the curry powder. We try to stay away from herb and spice blends that include salt as an ingredient and curry powder included salt. So instead, I’ve taken the list of ingredients and I throw some or all (minus the sodium) into my recipes. Ginger and Turmeric have become one of my favorite combinations along with cumin. Today I also threw in some dried green cardamon pods – which are oh my goodness tasty.
Because the red lentils cook and dissolve so easily – this is a quick cooking stew, easy enough for weeknight dinner.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 large turkey wings
- 1 onion diced
- 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
- 1 quart turkey broth
- 2 carrots sliced
- 1 parsnip sliced
- 1 sweet potato peeled and sliced
- 1 cup red lentils
- Sage leaves
- Ground Ginger
- 3 Cardamon Pods
- Heat oil in ceramic dutch oven or soup pot.
- Place turkey wings into hot oil on one side and after it crisps a little turn the wings over. Add in onion and garlic, saute lightly .
- Pour the quart of broth into the pot and add in the rest of the vegetables.
- When the vegetables are softened add in the red lentils.
- While the lentils are cooking, pull the turkey wings out to cool.
- Remove all of the meat from the turkey wing, and then pull off the meat and return it to the pot and add in the herbs and spices.
- The lentils will get soft and start to melt.
- It’s ready.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with three ingredients and my cast iron pan. I like that I can stick the pan under the broiler and bake some eggs, after I’ve partially cooked the other ingredients on the stove top. Cast iron is really great for even heat and works well even on my glass top, too. Trying the same dish over and over in different ways should give you perfection sooner or later, but I’m always thinking what if I did this, or this, or this. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
This combination of sweet potatoes, greens and fresh eggs has become family favorite. These aren’t the only ingredients I’m using, because often I add luna burgers broken up and I also use onions, shallots or leeks. Fresh herbs are good to sprinkle over top, and a little bit of chevre and swiss ( two of the lowest sodium cheeses my husband can eat). The greens are whatever I have on hand, sometimes spinach or chard, but this week tatsoi was in the market bag. Tatsoi is similar in look to bok choy, but a little milder in taste. Reading about tatsoi, it seems to be pretty winter hardy and may be something to grow in my garden next year.
Sweet potatoes are the base. They are grated, and the water squeezed out in order to form a bottom crust . If you’d like softer potatoes, squeeze only some of the water or none depending on how crusty you want it. I added ginger and rosemary to the potatoes. If you use salt, add it to each layer; the potato layer, the greens layer and the egg layer. We left it out because of my husband’s diet but the herbs give the dish a really nice flavor.
I’ve also added winter squash to the greens layer before. My mother in law thought it was really pretty with the light orange in with the bright greens. The greens layer is on top of the sweet potato base, but is started in another pan first. Then using a finger or spoon make a well in the greens to add the eggs. If you don’t make the well, your eggs slide out of place and they might anyway as I found out. Try as I might the eggs never stay perfectly placed. Move something around and they just slide another way.
- 1 large sweet potato or 2 medium.
- ¼ cup onion divided
- 1 knob of ginger
- handful of rosemary minced
- olive or canola oil
- 2 bunches tatsoi
- 6 large eggs
- 2 ounces chevre
- 1 ounce of swiss cheese grated
- fresh thyme
- Grate sweet potato(es), onion and ginger together.
- Place in a dish towel and squeeze liquid out.
- Add two tablespoons of whole wheat flour and minced rosemary and mix ingredients together.
- Heat Cast Iron or other pan and add 4 tbs oil.
- When the oil is hot sprinkle the sweet potato mixture all around until it covers the bottom in a layer. (and leave it alone).
- In a separate smaller pan – non stick, heat up 1 tbs of oil.
- Large dice onions, and the stems of the tatsoi.
- Separately chop the tatsoi leaves.
- Saute the onions and stems until they start to turn translucent.
- Add the tatsoi leaves to the pan and let cook down – the leaves will wilt down like most greens.
- You may need to add a little oil to the sweet potatoes as they cook.
- When the potatoes seem like they’ve formed a crust on the bottom, using a plate, flip the potatoes over and slide it back into the pan on the other side.
- Pile the greens mixture on top of the sweet potatoes and using your fingers, or a spoon make little wells for eggs.
- Dollop chevre around the pan.
- Crack eggs and place them with the yolk in the center of the wells.
- With the oven on low broil, place the cast iron pan into the oven.
- The yolks will start to firm and the translucent whiltes will become opaque, you’ll have to watch to make sure that you get it out of the oven on time.
- Sprinkle the top with grated swiss cheese and herbs (thyme, parsley, etc.)
This is my way of dealing with my husband’s new low sodium diet – by coming up with new ways to eat without using salt or high sodium ingredients. Macaroni and cheese was out, because cheese has too much sodium unless it’s something a little on the bland side like lower sodium Swiss. So, I kicked it up with a Hot Sweet Pepper Relish and Kapow it was tasty without much sodium. This casserole had plenty of veggies, the creaminess of a good mac n cheese, and a nice kick to it. My husband had trouble backing away from the bowl even after eating two plates of it.
This is a much lower calorie version since we can’t use a lot of cheese, and it’s not as thick as a lot of other macaroni and cheese recipes. I like to add a veggie to my mac and cheese too, so this one had sauteed cabbage and leeks. I found a low sodium brown rice bread. The bread was too dry and bland for a sandwich, but toasted, ground up and sauteed in a little butter and sprinkled on top of the macaroni and cheese, it added a nice texture and bit of crunch to the top. Believe me, bread crumbs was a much better use of the bread than in a sandwich. The photo doesn’t show the bread crumbs, but the next time I did this – I used the bread crumbs and liked it better. So that’s how I do it now.
- Cheese Sauce:
- 2 tbs unsalted butter
- 2 tbs flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 ounces chevre
- 4-6 ounces low sodium Swiss Cheese
- 2 tbs zesty pepper relish
- 1 tsp stoneground mustard
- Casserole ingredients:
- ½ lb macaroni prepared according to box directions
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 leek
- ¼ cabbage
- 1 medium red pepper
- 1lb ground lamb
- Crumb Topping:
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- 2 tbs butter
- Cook ground lamb, pour off grease and let drain on paper towel.
- Cut the cabbage into 1 in X 1 in pieces.
- Dice red pepper.
- Dice the white part of the leek, removing the green stem and root.
- Saute the leek, red pepper and cabbage in olive oil, in a non-stick pan.
- When soft and translucent, remove to a bowl, wipe out pan and use for cheese sauce.
- In non-stick pan melt butter, add in the flour and combine.
- Add in milk and chevre whisking as it thickens.
- Chop swiss cheese and add to the sauce mixture, stir in zesty pepper relish, mustard, cumin and paprika.
- Whisk it all together.
- Add together the lamb/cabbage mixture, the drained pasta and the sauce and toss.
- Pour into a casserole dish.
- Melt butter and stir in bread crumbs.
- Sprinkle over top of the mac and cheese.
- Bake at 400 for 20 min or until crust is browned nicely.
This recipe is a great way to use up greens – any kind of greens for your Holiday dinner. My market bag not only has greens in the form of collards, kale, chard, spinach, but there was bok choy last week and we even have greens on root vegetables – beet, turnip and radish. What to do with all of those greens. Cream them up. When we were little my grandmother made creamed spinach with the frozen spinach and mushroom soup. This is my version – using all different types of steamed greens, and leeks. As a plus I took the bok choy – the greens were steamed and the more sturdy white part was sauteed in the oil along with the leeks for extra flavor. My version uses a roux and also chevre instead of cream of mushroom soup.
My husband said he never had creamed greens or spinach, usually he had the canned spinach. I never liked canned, and frozen is okay, but nothing is as good as fresh, even if you are cooking it up. However, if you are creaming your greens, you can use frozen – stay away from canned. It’s just not nice at all.
It takes a lot of greens to make a casserole dish of creamy greens, so what ever you have, it’s not enough. I used 1 bok choy, a big bunch of turnip leaves minus most of the stems, beet greens minus most of the stems, and a small bag of spinach greens for this one . Last night we had this with steak and brussels sprouts. Steak and creamed greens were leftover, so I used them a second day for a leftover second meal. Instead of steak, chicken would work just as well for Thanksgiving leftovers. My husband and son gobbled it up both days.
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 whole leek
- Greens – enough to fill a soup pot
- 2 oz chevre
- 2 cups milk
- all spice
- 2 tbs flour
- Pull stems off of the greens.
- For Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Kale – those with thicker stems, aside to saute with the leeks.
- In a large pot, steam the greens.
- In a Frying pan add the oil and heat.
- Slice up the onions and stems to about 2 in in length.
- Add the onions and the stems to the hot oil and let caramelize.
- When the greens are steamed, drain let cool so that you can squeeze the liquid out without burning yourself.
- After the onions and the stems are soft and caramelized, add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt.
- Add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk.
- If it seems thin, add another tbs of flour slowly.
- Whisk in 2 ounces chevre.
- Add in slowly the two cups of milk.
- Grate nutmeg and all spice into the sauce.
- After squeezing the water out of the spinach, chop the spinach up to bite size portions.
- Stir the spinach into the pan with the sauce. If it seems too thick, add in some milk.
- Put the spinach and sauce into a casserole dish and place in oven at 350 for about ten minutes.
Sprinkling the top with parmesan cheese would be a great touch (but at 1000 mg of sodium per tsp out of our range).
The second night, I sliced up the steak into thin bite size portions – you could easily substitute turkey. I used the leftover greens, but added more sauce and put it all over some pasta, macaroni tonight, because it’s what I had. Flat noodles would go well too.
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 tbs flour
- 2 cups milk warmed
- leftover greens
- leftover meat
- In a saute pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir well. Add in the milk and warm.
- Slice the meat into 2 in by 1 inch by 1 in slices. Add the creamed greens and the meat. Warm through, let thicken and if it is too thick add milk until it is the right consistency to pour over pasta.
- Cook pasta according to directions, drain.
- Place pasta in a Serving dish, pour the creamy greens mixture over top and serve.
Sprinkle parmesan or toasted pine nuts over top right before serving.
This is low fat brussels sprouts because it does not have any bacon or any type of fat. I’ve found that brussels sprouts are the best when prepared simply without much other than a little olive oil for roasting. If you are looking for a great side that doesn’t require a lot of prep or messing around, this is it and truthfully, my son could do this one, no problem. It takes ten minutes at most to throw together, stick it in the oven and it is ready in about 20 minutes. My kids used to tell me that they didn’t want brussels sprouts because I bought the frozen boxes and heated it up. No, more. I buy fresh and give it a little roast with some olive oil.
Thanksgiving is coming and it’s good to have some dishes with sauces and then have some simpler dishes for those who don’t like it complicated. While you are making the dishes with many steps, the kids or your spouse could make this, easily.
- 1 cup brussel sprouts
- 4 medium small potatoes
- ⅛ cup pine nuts
- olive oil
- Slice off the stem end of the brussels sprout, then slice in half lengthwise.
- Clean potato of any bad spots and dirt and cut into pieces about the same size as the brussels sprouts.
- Place the potatoes and the brussel sprouts in a baking dish, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss.
- Bake at 325 for about 20 min,flipping halfway.
This soup is easy, semi fast and very seasonal. I made this on vacation with a microwave, a bowl, and one pot on an electric burner. The kitchen was a small not even efficiency size kitchen. One microwave, a dorm fridge, a two burner cooktop and a small sink with a tiny counter made up the kitchen. I have trouble with how small my small kitchen is and I could live with this little efficiency for the one week we were staying in Duck, North Carolina – but I think one week is the limit.
While the recipe made four bowls of soup, my husband and I both ate two bowls each for dinner. It was a vegetarian dish for us, you can add sausage to it, or chicken and it would go well. Also, you could serve it as a soup course along with a sandwich. While spelt berries were cooking in broth, the microwave was used to partially cook the pumpkin – after slicing in into pieces and cleaning out the seeds and pulp. Only one soup/stew pot was used along with one glass bowl for microwaving the pumpkin. You can easily use your oven to bake the pumpkin, or peel and cook in broth to soften it. I used a quart of chicken broth that cost me nothing because I used leftover bones to make the broth last winter. The chard melts down quite a bit, so you throw the leaves in at the end, but the stems can be thrown in with the onion in the beginning for extra veggie goodness. I used canned beans – but if you want to really make it a project you can soak the beans twice, rinse it and then simmer it on the stove for hours until they are soft.
This makes up a great hearty soup with chewy spelt, white beans, seasonal pumpkin and chard. Yummmmmmm!
- 1 cup spelt berries
- 1 quart Broth (vegetarian or chicken)
- 1 can white beans
- 1 small pumpkin
- ¼ cup diced onion
- big handful of chard
- ⅛ tsp allspice
- In the bottom of a soup pot, heat oil and saute diced onion.
- Add 2 cups of broth and cook spelt berries until they are the right chewiness.
- While the berries are cooking, slice the pumpkin open, scoop out the seeds, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until the pumpkin will come away from the skin.
- Remove skin and dice.
- Add to soup pot. Large dice the swiss chard leaves and throw into the soup pot.
- Rinse beans and add to the soup pot along with salt, pepper and allspice.
- Heat and serve in bowls.