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.Diana
Eggs are a lovely protein, don’t you think? We often turn to eggs when we want something quick and delicious for breakfast or dinner. I made this frittata the other day using eggs, farm market veggies and a vegetarian burger(okay, it’s a Luna Burger – anything tastes good with a Luna Burger in it) crumbled up, plus some cheese. My husband took a bite and told me it wasn’t right, because his eggs don’t taste this good, and aren’t this filling when he makes them. The end of summer is bittersweet because the fresh locally grown veggie supply starts to wane, but at the same time they have their best flavor. Get’em while their fresh.
- 5 eggs
- 1 small onion
- 1 small green pepper
- 2 baby eggplant
- ¼ cup crookneck squash
- vegetarian or grain sausage patty
- 4 small cherry tomatoes
- shredded cheddar
- 4 oz goat cheese
- Scramble eggs with 1 tbs water, and set aside.
- Dice and saute in warm pan with olive oil – onions and green pepper.
- I used baby eggplant but didn’t peel, just sliced little circles.
- The squash was peeled and sliced to about the same size.
- When the onion is almost translucent and soft, add the squash and eggplant to the onion and pepper.
- When the eggplant starts to soften, place the veggies in a bowl and set aside temporarily.
- Add a little oil to the pan and warm the vegetarian burger. Remove, break into a little smaller than bite size pieces and set aside.
- Swish lightly with oil, pour the eggs into the pan, let start to cook.
- Add in the sauteed veggies, and the tomatoes.
- Dollop the goat cheese into the eggs and place the pieces of vegetarian sausage in under the egg.
- Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
- Place pan in oven under a low broil until egg is firm and cheese is melted.
- Serve slices on plate and grate a little more cheese over top.
Are you a seasonal cook – trying to use the fresh ingredients in the season in which they are their best? Summer is such a great fresh vegetable season and the farm markets are full of great local vegetables that ripened on the vine or stalk and were picked at the right stage for freshness. I try to stay local and seasonal when there are fresh ingredients being grown nearby to take advantage of, and it’s so easy to come up with great dishes. I made this roasted lasagna in a smaller portion for my husband an son, and then made a bigger version to bring to my mother in law’s for a family gathering. It’s deceitful, you think there’s meat and pasta, but there isn’t. The eggplant replaces the pasta, holding up really well and the crumbled goat cheese mixed with herbs almost give you the texture of crumbled meat and the creaminess of ricotta (which you could use instead) at the same time. Filling in with roasted tomatoes, onions and red peppers in between the layers bumps up the flavor.
Everything in this dish came from either the farm market, or the Market Bag that we get once a week. Even the sauce is local, because it’s my homemade sauce from last years farm market vegetables. I have a couple of jars left over from last year that we didn’t use up ( I hate emptying jars that I just put up, it feels as though my efforts to stock up were in vain when they disappear to early). I will warn you that the dish isn’t pretty when you cut into it because eggplant turns a brown color when heated. Eggplant can take the place of meat almost like a mushroom is able to or tofu can. It is very mild in taste and can take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in (or with).
When I was cooking in the square glass pan, I slice the eggplant across the width, but when I used a long ceramic pan, I sliced the eggplant down the length. Both times I scraped the skin off, because eggplant skin can be tough compared to the meat of the vegetable and I used a mandolin in order to get slices of uniform length and width. I brushed the eggplant slices with olive oil and placed on a cookie sheet to roast. I also sliced cherry tomatoes and other small tomatoes in half , de-seeded red peppers and threw slices of onion on other cookie sheets, brushed with oil and roasted them. Fresh herbs and garlic scapes were mixed together with fresh chevre and sprinkled on top, the cheese layer also had fresh mozzarella. You can use any sauce you like, but use lightly because veggies add a lot of liquid. If after you get the layers assembled you notice too much liquid around the edges, hold the layers in the pan and tip to let some out. That happened to me when I didn’t roast the veggies long enough, but didn’t harm the lasagna at all. Roasting the vegetables and then draining them before putting them in the lasagna pan will help.
So, no meat, no pasta, no frying – but pretty darn tasty. I received compliments and an empty pan as thanks for a good grub.
- 1 large eggplant or two smaller – peeled
- 2 large red peppers
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 16 oz chevre
- 1 tbs minced parsley
- 1 tbs minced basil
- 1 tbs minced garlic scapes
- 8 – 12 oz fresh mozzarella
- Spaghetti sauce
- Grated Parmesan
- Using a mandolin – slice wide strips down the length of the eggplant. Layer on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, flip over and brush the other side.
- Core the red peppers and slice open so that it lays flat. Brush both sides with olive oil and lay flat on another baking sheet.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and lay on baking sheet. Slice the onion and throw it on to the same pan with the tomatoes to roast.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and roast in a 250 oven until they seem tender and golden.
- Combine the herbs and cheese together evenly.
- Peel the skin off the pepper and slice the pepper into strips. Drain the tomatoes.
- Eggplant slices
- Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions in an even layer together
- Sprinkle the Herbed Chevre and a layer of Mozzarella.
- Grated Parmesan
- Repeat. (if you have enough ingredients repeat twice)
- The last layer should be:
- Roasted Veggies
- Herbed Chevre and Mozzarella
- Grate Parmesan over the top.
- Bake @375 for 20 -30 min pulling it out of the oven when it’s hot and bubbling with a nice melted cheese crust on top.
Squash in general is long storing, and can make it through to the beginning of the next summer, though when they get iffy, just throw them into the composter. If you have any left in your kitchen or storage cellar, use it soon because it’s probably going to be quickly on it’s way out. Check the skin to make sure it isn’t moldy, bruised or broken before using. Spaghetti squash should be halved, the seeds scooped out and then drizzled with a little olive oil. You can use the microwave, the toaster oven or the oven to cook the spaghetti squash. I use a glass pan, which works out perfectly.
Spaghetti squash is really tasty, but I’ve figured out lately that cold spaghetti squash makes a nice base for a salad. After cooking, scrape the squash out of the skin, throw in a few more fresh chopped up veggies, a little vinaigrette and put in the fridge to cool down. Any squash leftover can be frozen in serving size portions for another day. I’ve even used my spaghetti squash as an ingredient in a green salad.
In this salad, I used my Sea Bean Salad (or Salicornia) plus some fresh sugar snap peas. Sugar snaps have a really sweet pod, so you can eat them whole, or in this case slice them in half or thirds and toss with the salad. I used lime and olive oil as a dressing along with a little smashed garlic, salt and pepper. In the photo it looks like mostly squash, but the beans and peas kept dropping to the bottom of the bowl. On the plate however, they were better situated and very tasty.
- 1 smashed/chopped garlic
- Juice of one lime plus zest
- 2 tbs olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 smashed/chopped garlic
- Juice of one lime plus zest
- 2 tbs olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 spaghetti squash seeded
- 1 lb of sea beans rinsed
- 1 cup sugar snap peas
- Cook the spaghetti squash – in the microwave until it scrapes easily or roast in the oven, but don’t over cook.
- Drop the sea beans in to a small pot of boiling water and simmer for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Rinse and clip the rough ends off the sugar snap peas and slice into half or thirds.
- Scrape the “spaghetti” into a serving bowl.
- Rinse the sea beans and add to the serving bowl along with the sugar snap peas.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad in the serving bowl and toss.
Yeah, Yeah, I know, the name is too darn long, but what should I leave out? Look at the photo, the whole thing is pretty and leaving anyone of those things out would make a not so interesting meal – visually and tastefully (flavorfully?). I still have spaghetti squash in my cold basement, but I fear it won’t last long since it’s been so warm and we need to work it in to our recipes since winter is quickly coming to an end. Chard has been regularly showing up in our Weekly Market Bag along with mushrooms less frequently. I thought this meal, stacked and then drizzled with a maple basalmic vinaigrette would be really delicious, and it was. The maple sweetness took the bite off the vinaigrette and the vinegar cut the sweetness a little.
I had plenty of spaghetti squash leftover, as well as chicken and chard (that I hadn’t covered in vinaigrette). My second meal of the week I added pasta and pesto and my third meal of the week I took the pasta dish and placed a cheese sauce over top and baked it – plus added a few more veggies like tomatoes and peppers. No photos of those, but I have to say it was a applewood cheese sauce and it was terrific. When there are only three of you, leftovers can go a long way.
I roasted the spaghetti squash with a little olive oil, sauteed the chard with onions and a little garlic – chop the stems and throw them in also, it’s all good. I sauteed the mushrooms and (leftover) roasted chicken in a little butter to soften and then topped the whole thing with a Maple Basalmic Vinaigrette. The sauce was soooooo good.
- Spaghetti Squash
- Olive Oil
- small handful of Swiss Chard
- ½ onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tbs butter
- Crimini Mushrooms
- Roasted chicken
- ½ cup Basalmic vinegar
- Maple Syrup
- Split spaghetti squash, and scoop out, drizzle half with olive oil and roast in oven until squash comes off easily with a fork in spaghetti like strands.
- Chop chard, onions, galic and chard stems and saute in two tbs of olive oil until onions are translucent.
- In a separate pan, melt butter, then saute mushrooms and chicken until mushrooms soften.
- For vinaigrette:
- Melt 2 tbs butter in small pot or pan, add vinegar and stir, then slowly drizzle in maple syrup just until the vinegar bite is mellowed.
- Stack the chard mixture, the spaghetti squash and the mushrooms and Chicken on plate and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Oh No Bad Spots!
I buy a good amount of fresh winter squash and small pumpkins in the fall and put it on shelves in the basement. The basement is unheated and offers a great winter storage most years. This year however, the temperatures keep rising and so my cold storage hasn’t been great. Every year though, we lose some of the squash because it gets soft or develops bad spots. If you see a small bad spot developing, then you need to do something with the squash right now!
Getting Ready For The Holidays.
The holiday season is another time you might want to make a puree from your winter squash. You can use this puree in your pies, cakes, cookies, etc just as you would your canned puree that you get from the store. If you have time after work, you can do the puree in the evening, and put it into containers in the fridge to use a couple of days later, shortening your cooking time when you are feeling overwhelmed with preparations.
The squash I used for this post had little spots I had to remove. I also had some butternut squash that we grew in our garden, but it had areas where it grew too fast and started to split. Those need to be processed, and not kept in cold storage because they won’t last. It’s also Thanksgiving week, so the right time to use up this winter squash.
Prep the Squash
- You will need a sharp knife. Remove the stem, then slice the squash down from the top through to the bottom. Most squash won’t need more than one slice through the center, top to bottom. Larger squash will need more pieces.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. If you like pumpkin seeds, put them aside for toasting later.
- Because the squash was being pureed plain, I placed a silicon sheet on the cookie sheet without any oil or butter. If you don’t have a non-stick cookie sheet, or a silicon sheet, you may need to lightly oil the cookie sheet to keep the squash from carmelizing on the pan and sticking.
- Place in the oven @ 400 degrees. Test the squash every so often to see if it’s soft. When all of the pieces are soft, pull the cookie sheet out of the oven and let cool.
Puree the Pulp.
- Peel the skin off the back of the squash. I found that rather than use a spoon, I used my fingers sliding it along between the skin and the squash pulp. I placed all of the pulp into a bowl.
- Using a food processor, or blender, puree the pulp in batches putting the processed puree into a separate bowl. As you are pouring the puree from the processor into the bowl, run your fingers through the pulp to make sure you don’t have any bigger unprocessed bits.
- After all of the pumpkin is pureed, separate into 1 cup, 2 cup, 1/2 cup portions in plastic bowls. You can put in the fridge to be used within 5 days, or freeze to use at a later time.
- You can also try freezing in batches in a cup cake pan and then when you have frozen cupcake portions, you can freeze in a freezer bag that you suction the air out of.
You can use the puree in all different ways, cakes, pies, breads, soups and if you are clever crow pizza – in pizza. Yum!
For pumpkin seeds – Clean the seeds and dry them on a tea towel. Toss with oil and salt and toast in oven turning over seeds part way. My husband loves this part of the processing.
Staying with my mom while she recovers from her surgery, I made Chicken & Fall Vegetable soup for dinner. Soup makes you feel good when you are sluggish and don’t want something heavy, especially if your throat is a little sore too. My mom is a fan of almost all vegetables, and since the fall vegetables are in season, this is the perfect time to make this soup. It is easy to prepare but will take longer than 30 minutes because it takes a while for the carrots and butternut squash to soften. The soup was served in a bowl over warmed wild rice. The rice would absorb the stock from the soup so we precooked the rice separately and then put a couple of tablespoons in the bowl and ladle the soup over top. The leftovers were stored as single servings in the freezer for meals on busy evenings after I left to go back to my family and home.
Mom can’t eat onions or tomatoes; acidic vegetables and fruit upset her tummy. If you feel it could use a few more vegetables, feel free to go ahead and add them. Mushrooms might be nice added to this also.
- Olive Oil
- 3 stalks of celery diced
- 2 large chicken breasts
- Small Butternut Squash – scooped out and peeled
- 4 carrots peeled
- 1 quart of chicken stock or broth
- 1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 bunch of kale leaves stripped off stems
- ground thyme
- ground sage
In a stock pot heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute diced celery and whole chicken breasts. Pull the chicken out of the stock pot, and add in the quart of chicken broth and heat. Dice carrots and butternut squash and add to stock. Tear chicken into bite size pieces. When the carrots have softened but are still firm, add the chicken back in along with the chickpeas. Tear kale leaves and stir it into the stock along with ground sage, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowl over warm wild rice.Diana
Tonight’s dinner – had a side of grilled veggies and bulgur. This side dish is a really fast and easy side that packs in a good deal of nutrients. This side can also be served as a vegetarian main and can be eaten cold or hot. So double up and bring it to lunch the next day or a repeat dinner. It’s a little scorched on the edges, but still very tasty. A quick grill with olive oil and then after you combine the veggies and bulgur, give it a quick toss with some chopped fresh basil and a little bit of olive oil.
I have a grill grate that I place over the grill top because I worry that the vegetables will fall through. I sprayed the grate with a little oil first to make sure the veggies wouldn’t stick and I used a sweet onion along with some summer squash, and red peppers.
- 1 red pepper
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 small to med zucchini
- 1 similar sized yellow squash
- 1 cup dried bulgur cooked according to directions
- 2 tbs olive oil
- olive oil spray
Core, de-stem and slice pepper lengthwise. Slice onions into similar size. Slice zucchini down lengthwise into fourths, and divide into thirds so that you end up with rectangles of squash. Do the same with the yellow squash. Spray grill grate with oil, and also the vegetables. Sprinkle with dried basil, salt and pepper. Place on the grill and if you can flip – a couple of minutes on each side.
Cook the bulgur according to directions. Chop fresh basil up and toss in a serving bowl along with some olive oil, salt, pepper, the bulgur and the grilled veggies. That’s it, on the table in twenty minutes at the most.
My son’s specialty is now making spaghetti with sauce. The most difficult part was NOT overcooking the pasta, believe it or not. He’s not too keen on figuring out portions, which is why he just makes a whole box (pound) of pasta every time. While this could cause some problems with waste, I’ve found a way to take the leftover pasta and make another meal with it using farm market and garden veggies. Saute a few veggies, add in the pasta, a little more oil and white whine, toss until heated along with some herbs from the garden and voila you have a great dish. We served this topped with a luna burger. I had the garden thyme, my husband had a barbecue . My daughter said she wanted real meat, but my son crumbled the burger up and mixed it in with the pasta. My husband and I just broke off pieces with the fork then grabbed up some pasta and veggies on the same fork and ate it that way. Let me tell you, it was super delicious.
- 1/2 lb leftover cooked spaghetti
- 1/2 shallot (more if your husband’s not a whiner)
- 1/2 straight neck squash
- 1/3 zucchini (about the same amount as the straight neck)
- 1 med tomato diced
- lemon thyme
- Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup white wine (chardonnay)
Dice Shallot. Chop the rest of the veggies to about finger width and 1/2 finger length. Saute shallots in olive oil, when they are soft and translucent, add in carrots and soften. Throw in squash and when that is softened add tomato and herbs.
Chop spaghetti, and throw in with veggies, toss with olive oil. Pour wine over top and scrap bottom of bits. Keep tossing, when heated through, serve.
You can substitute any of your veggies and change up the pasta. Though I wish my son would think ahead to portion size and preparation, I love that I don’t have to heat up another full pot of water for another batch of spaghetti. What do you do when you make too much?