Tag Archives: squash

It’s Autumntime!

It’s autumn or fall or that beautiful period where the weather is generally delightful between the heat of summer and the frost of winter. Leaves are changing colors. It’s my favorite season.

However, I feel like the world gets overtaken by pumpkin EVERYTHING. There are lots of great fall flavors besides pumpkin. Here are just some of the fruits and vegetables in season right now:

Acorn Squash
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Butter Lettuce
Butternut Squash
Cauliflower
Cranberries
Delicata Squash
Endive
Garlic
Ginger
Grapes
Jalapeños
Mushrooms
Pears
Pineapples
Pomegranate
Radicchio
Sweet Potato
Swiss Chard
Turnips

Here are some of my favorite fall recipes:

Spaghetti with Greens and Garlic
Apple Pancakes
Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie
Spaghetti Squash with Marinara
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
Pumpkin Dinner
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Sweet Potato Pancakes
White Chicken Chili
Veggie Sweet Potato Chili

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Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake

Christmas is coming. I hope you don’t feel like you are getting as fat as the proverbial goose. Treats and snacks and parties abound this time of year, which often leads to weight gain. While I don’t think you should go on a “diet” right now or work hard to lose eight, avoiding weight gain is a great goal. Trying to stay balanced is important. I posted last year about some great tips for eating at parties.

The holidays are full of family and friends being together. Food is usually an important part of these get togethers. I remember my mom always trying to avoid meals that required her to spend excessive time in the kitchen for cooking and for clean-up. This dish does require a bit of prep, but it can all be done well ahead of time. It isn’t difficult and will fill up any cold, hungry crowd. Enjoy!

Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake (Serves 6-8)

Kale and Butternut Pasta Bake

5 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces uncooked whole wheat short pasta (penne or ziti work well)
4 cups chopped kale
2 bacon slices
2 cups thinly sliced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 ounces fat free cream cheese
½ cup shredded smoked Gruyere cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine squash, oil, and black pepper in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until squash is tender.

3. Cook pasta one minute short of al dente directions on package. Add kale during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.

4. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble.

5. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

6. Bring 1¾ cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining ¼ cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and red pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese and ¼ cup Gruyere until melted and sauce is well combined.

7. Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13×9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with remaining Gruyere cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 311
Protein: 14 g
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 222 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use any pasta shape or dark leafy green you want. Regular Gruyere works, but I like how the smoky Gruyere accents the flavor of the bacon. If you can’t find Gruyere, you could substitute another type of Swiss cheese.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Curried Squash Soup

Back in college, I got to try recipes as part of one of my jobs. Butternut squash soup was the first recipe, and I loved it. Every autumn, I would make it again. And progressively, I liked it less and less and each time. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Then last October, I went to Panera for lunch one day and tried the Autumn Squash Soup. Light bulb!

All of that is to say, this recipe has evolved over time. I took my basic recipe and then edited it heavily with some copycat recipes I found online. The bad news is this is no longer a “one pot wonder” soup. The good news is that the flavor is a million times better. Enjoy!

Curried Squash Soup (Serves 8)

Curried Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 medium baking or yukon potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil, divided
½ teaspoon cinnamon, divided
¾ teaspoon curry powder, divided
pinch of salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 sweet apple (gala, red delicious, golden delicious), chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon garam masala
¾ teaspoon cumin
6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup orange juice
Chopped cilantro, optional garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Combine squash and both potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon curry powder (make them heaping if you’d like), and salt. Toss together to coat vegetables. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, until fork tender.

3. When vegetables are almost done, heat ½ tablespoon oil in a bottom of a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and apple. Saute 3-5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, ½ teaspoon curry powder, ginger, garam masala, cumin, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Saute 1-2 minutes, until fragrant and heated through. Do not let this burn.

4. Add roasted vegetables and broth. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are soft and flavors combined.

5. Remove from heat. Stir in orange juice. Blend soup until smooth. Add more juice or broth if needed to thin out the consistency. Serve warm, with cilantro if desired.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 124
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 22 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 449 mg

Recipe Notes: Adjust the level of curry based on your heat preference and the heat of your curry powder. I currently have pretty potent curry powder, so these might be low.

Source: adapted from several sources online

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Roasted Butternut Squash

I’m back! I had my baby at the beginning of August, so all the posts since then were written pre-baby. But today, I’m back! Please pardon if posts aren’t as regular as before. Cooking and writing will be a work in progress.

I feel like the internet explodes with pumpkin recipes as soon as September hits. I like pumpkin well enough, but I actually prefer the other fall flavors – apples, pears, and SQUASH (butternut, acorn, spaghetti, oh my!). This roasted squash is an incredibly easy side dish that is sure to please. And if you don’t have adventurous eaters (like my 2 year old), you can lie and call it potatoes. She totally fell for it and probably ate more than any of the adults at the table. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash (Serves 4-6, depending on your squash)

Roasted Butternut Squash

1 large butternut squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Peel squash and remove seeds. Cut into ½” to 1″ cubes. Place on baking sheet.

3. Combine butter, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over squash. Stir lightly to coat.

4. Bake for 20-45 minutes, depending on how large you cut the squash. Squash will be fork tender. Toss in glaze before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 128
Protein: 1 g
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 201 mg

Recipe notes: You could sub canola oil for the butter, but it is a different flavor. You can really cut the squash to whatever size you want. Cutting it up is the hardest part, so I have done bigger chunks than pictured before. It just takes longer to cook. I’ve also tossed a little cinnamon in here before. This is tasty as well.

Source: family cookbook

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Better Green Bean Salad

Every summer, my dad’s work would have a company picnic. For years, it was a mostly potluck affair at a big park. And my dad ALWAYS made three bean salad to take. It was the only time my family ever made that salad. And I ALWAYS refused to eat any of it. Even since then, I usually see recipes for bean salad and run away.

However, I needed a veggie salad for a cookout recently and stumbled on this recipe. If you are still on the hunt for something different to round out your Fourth of July celebration, this is it. Easy to prepare whether you are hosting or just bringing a side. Simple, delicious flavors that surprise you. Enjoy!

Better Green Bean Salad (Makes 6-8 servings)

Better Green Bean Salad

½ lb green beans, trimmed and chopped into bite size pieces
1-2 yellow crookneck squash, sliced lengthwise
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ tablespoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dried herbs – savory blend or italian seasoning
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Place green beans on a piece of foil. Lightly coat green beans and squash with ½ tablespoon olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place foil with green beans and squash on the grill. Cook, covered, until green beans are beginning to soften and squash has lightly charred on both sides (flip the squash after about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool. Chop squash into bite size pieces.

3. In a large bowl, mix together vinegar, remaining olive oil, honey, mustard, and dried herbs. Add green beans, squash, tomatoes, and fresh basil to the bowl. Gently toss. Can serve immediately or chilled.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 67
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 117 mg

Recipe Notes: I only used one squash and it was on the smaller side. It could have used more, so I’d go for 1 big squash or 2 small ones. If you aren’t already grilling, you could either sauté the green beans and squash in a skillet or blanche them until just cooked in some boiling water. The goal is tender but not mushy vegetables. I like the “grilled” taste, though. This can be made a few hours in advance. However, the tomatoes especially get mushy the longer it sits. You could mix everything together except the tomatoes and basil well ahead of time, then add in the tomatoes and basil just before serving.

Source: adapted from Cuisine at Home

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Spaghetti Squash Primavera

A few weeks ago, I was visiting several family members who are following a low-carb diet to lose weight.  Some have lost 50+ pounds with the diet, so it is working for them.  They were nice and made carbs with the meals for me to eat.  And I got to feel like the pig when we went out and everyone else ordered a salad, except me.  I ordered the burger.  With fries.  Just rub those carbs in their faces, why don’t I?

One of them mentioned how she had rediscovered spaghetti squash while on this diet, which inspired me to get in the kitchen.  This has been one of my favorite meals in a long time.  The veggie-packed sauce is super creamy and delicious, but doesn’t have a ton of fat in it.  If you aren’t wanting to low-carb, this is also yummy over pasta, potatoes, bread, rice…pretty much any carb.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Primavera (Serves 4)

IMG_6456label

½ tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup green beans, chopped into bite size pieces
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cups spinach
¾ cup low fat or fat free cottage cheese
2 ounces fat free cream cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 spaghetti squash (see here for cooking instructions)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion; sauté for 3-5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute more. Add squash, zucchini, carrots, and green beans. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until veggies are beginning to soften. Add tomatoes; cook for 3 minutes more. Add spinach.

2. While veggies are cooking, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, and Italian seasoning in a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Add cottage cheese mixture to pan once spinach has wilted. Stir to combine well. Cook until the cheese is melted and a creamy sauce forms.

4. Scrape spaghetti squash onto plates or into bowls. Scoop veggies and sauce over each portion. Top each portion with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 203
Protein: 15 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 553 mg

Recipe Notes: You could really mix up the veggies with whatever you like and have available. Chopped up asparagus would also be yummy. I wouldn’t skip on the tomatoes, though. The juice from the tomatoes helps make the sauce.

Source: adapted from online

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Lemony Vegetable Risotto

Spring is a lovely time. Not only is the weather nicer, but some of my favorite vegetables are in season. Asparagus, peas, sugar snap peas, and artichokes are all delicious, and so much more affordable this time of year. The season is brief, so you have to eat them up while you can.

This risotto would be great with a medley of your favorite vegetables. The lemon brightens the whole dish up. Risotto is so creamy and delicious. It is so easy, too. I was intimidated by it the first time I made it. I still panic about halfway through every time, because it doesn’t seem to be thickening up. Then, it just magically goes from rice and broth in a pot to creamy, delicious risotto.

Lemony Vegetable Risotto (serves 4)

IMG_5256labeled

1 cup medium grain brown rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
8 ounces sugar snap peas
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 small onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Boil rice for 15-20 minutes, until it is beginning to soften. Drain rice. If rice finishes before you are ready for it in the subsequent steps, spread it out on a baking sheet to cool.

2. Bring broth and water to boil. Reduce heat so liquid is barely simmering.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add asparagus, peas, and red pepper. Saute 7-10 minutes, until vegetables are mostly tender. Remove to a plate.

3. Add zucchini and squash to skillet. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until mostly tender. Remove and add to other vegetables.

4. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to skillet. Add onion and saute until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic powder and saute for 1 minute more.

5. Add brown rice from step 1. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1/4 cup of broth. Cook until the liquid is absorbed/evaporated, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly and scraping the pan.

6. Add 1 cup of broth. Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed, stirring constantly. When there appears to be hardly any liquid left in the pan, add 1/2 cup more broth. Continue stirring and adding 1/2 cup broth when previous addition is absorbed. (It should take about 5 minutes after you add the first cup for the liquid to absorb; each 1/2 cup after that should take about 3 minutes.) After about 20-22 minutes, mixture will start to look creamy and liquid will be thickened in pan.

7. Stir in vegetables. Cook until reheated.

8. Remove from heat. Stir in parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. If you have any remaining broth, you can stir in 1/4 cup if the mixture has thickened up too much.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving)

Calories: 353
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 11 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 689 mg

Recipe Notes: I have made this using brown rice as above and traditional arborio rice. Both are delicious. If you use arborio rice, you can skip step 1 and just add the raw rice after the onions and garlic powder. As I mentioned above, you can experiment with vegetables that are in season and according to your preferences. For the liquids added to the risotto, you traditionally would add 1/4 cup white wine first, rather than broth. I don’t usually have any wine handy, so I use broth instead. Also, you would stir in straight broth instead of diluting it. I prefer to dilute the broth to keep the sodium down. You can also use low sodium broth instead. I’ve just been having a hard time finding low sodium broth that I like. Also, I prefer the milder flavor; too much broth adds too many outside flavors to the rice. I like to taste the vegetables and the lemon, not just the chicken broth.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Low iodine adjustment:  Use salt-free broth or homemade broth made with non-iodized salt.  Eliminate the parmesan cheese in the cooking;  allow others to add it to individual portions.

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