White Beans with Fennel

White Beans with Fennel.

White Beans with Fennel.

Since I’ve cut back sharply on the amount of carbohydrates we are eating, I’ve been leaning pretty heavily on vegetables.  We have 2 – 3 veggies at each main meal.  In this dish you get three vegetables all getting cozy together.  So if you are trying to make healthy choices, this dish might be a good thing to incorporate into your menu plan.  It has white beans to provide some protein and complex carbohydrates, fennel for flavor and fiber, and spinach for color, and vitamins.

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Lunch is often the most difficult meal for me to get right.  I wait until I’m starving, then head for the kitchen to grab what ever is quickest to fill that empty hole, and often that’s peanut butter on toast.  ( Oh no, I just revealed my secret vice.)  Oh well, it was bound to come out sometime, so now you know I’m not perfect.  But I could be if I had a bowl of white beans and fennel in my refrigerator to munch on when I get hungry.  Actually a bowl of anything that’s healthy is a very good thing to have on hand when lunch-time hungries strike.   Good, hearty, real food that isn’t scrambled eggs, that you can eat right from the fridge….if you’re into that sort of thing, and aren’t we all?  This tastes as good cold as it does hot!

All I’m saying is,  if you decide to make this dish, make enough so you’ll have some left over for that bowl of real healthy food to munch on whenever hunger strikes.

WHITE BEANS WITH FENNEL

Yield:  Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half vertically, core removedIMG_9290
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained (any white bean will do)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 450*F.  Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray.

2.  Slice fennel into 1/4-inch thick slices.  In a medium bowl, toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and minced garlic.

 

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Arrange on baking sheet and bake at 450*F. for 15 minutes or until it is beginning to brown.  Stir.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bake for 5 minutes more.

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3.  In a large skillet heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat.  Add the beans and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the fennel and baby spinach, plus 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Sauté beans then add fennel and spinach.

Sauté beans then add fennel and spinach.

Cook 2 minutes to heat through.  Add the splash of lemon juice and stir in.

Ready to serve.

Ready to serve.

 

Serve with salmon or other fillet of fish.  Add a salad and you will have a wonderful meal.

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SOURCE:    Unknown

 

 

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Loaded Cauliflower

Loaded Cauliflower

Loaded Cauliflower

Hi folks, welcome to a new week.  It’s Monday Funday, meatless Monday.  Are you getting tired of trying to come up with something new and delicious, but meatless?   Is your family groaning over the same old same old?  How many of you would be satisfied with a loaded baked potato?  You know, with sour cream, bacon bits, grated cheddar cheese, chives, etc, etc.  Oh, yeah, and all those calories……?

Suppose I told you  you can have all that without the extra calories and carbohydrate you get with a potato.  Just put all that good stuff on …..wait now…..cauliflower!   Cauliflower is the new potato, thus we have loaded cauliflower.   What’s not to love about that!!

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This recipe is rather unique, and a little off-beat, but when it comes to reducing our carbohydrate intake and calories,  off-beat is good.  And it’s a great way to add some zip to cauliflower.

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Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. dry Ranch Salad dressing mix
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion, green part only

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Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Lightly spray a 9-inch baking dish.

2.  Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer.  Bring water to a boil.  Add cauliflower, and steam until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Steam cauliflower till tender.

Steam cauliflower till tender.

Transfer to a bowl, break up into florets and drain any excess water.

I spread mine out in a baking dish.

I spread mine out in a baking dish.

3.  Mix cauliflower with sour cream, cheese, ranch dressing mix, onion and garlic powders.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Top with pieces of butter.

I mixed up the topping and spooned it over the cauliflower in the baking dish,

I mixed up the topping and spooned it over the cauliflower in the baking dish,

4.  Bake in the preheated oven until bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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Before serving, sprinkle with chopped green onions.  I added some fine unseasoned bread crumbs.

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This is so good.  Just like eating a baked potato with all your favorite toppings.

SOURCE:   AllRecipes.com

Winter Immunity Boost: Roast Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Honey-Mustard Glazed Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Honey-Mustard Glazed Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Flu season is upon us.  Am I going to get it?  Nope!  Not going to do that.  Cold season?   No, get outta here with that stuff.

Feeling achy?  Sniffles?  Congestion?  Don’t have time for it!

There’s no guarantee, of course, but I’m doing everything I can to keep the sickness ‘bugs” away from our door.  How, you might be asking?  I’m preparing as much healthy produce as I possibly can and shoving it into our mouths 2-3 times a day.

In the morning it could be a green smoothie,  for lunch a salad with both cooked and raw veggies, throw in some citrus for good measure; and for dinner at least two veggie side dishes per meal.   I haven’t  fallen in love with every combination I’ve put together, but there have been several that I will be making again.  This is one of them.

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Parsnips are a late fall vegetable, harvested after frosts have set in, as they need the cold weather to convert their starches into sugar.  They are not a vegetable that I cook with any frequency, since up until now, I hadn’t found a way to prepare them that was terribly appealing.  In this dish, however, the parsnips are combined with sweet potatoes;  two vegetables that each have their own kind of sweetness.  Roasting them concentrates and blends their flavors, and then just before serving you pour a simple glaze of honey and Dijon mustard over them and toss to coat.  Well, that sauce is the magic that makes this dish sing.

I went from “not sure I’m going to like this” to “Wow, I love these”.  As I write this, it’s two days since I made the original dish and this evening  I’m making it again.  That’s how much I loved these veggies.  And Mr. D. loved them too!!  So I know I’ve got a winner in this dish.  Won’t you try it and see if you agree?

HONEY-MUSTARD GLAZED PARSNIPS AND SWEET POTATOES

Yield:  Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 pounds parsnips  (about 3 large or 4 medium)IMG_8954
  • 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • chopped parsley (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

2.  Prepare the vegetables.  To cut parsnips:  Trim tops and bottoms; peel, and slice in half crosswise to separate thick and narrow parts.  Halve or quarter thick parts lengthwise, until all parsnip pieces are roughly the same size. Then cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.

Cut the narrow end from the thick end, then quarter the thick end.

Cut the narrow end from the thick end, then quarter the thick end.

 To cut sweet potatoes:  quarter them lengthwise so they are about the same thickness as the parsnips, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces.

3.  Put the parsnips and sweet potatoes in a large bowl, and add the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat evenly.  Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Spread seasoned veggies on a baking sheet.

Spread seasoned veggies on a baking sheet.

Roast until tender and golden, tossing once or twice, about 30 minutes.  Transfer into a serving bowl.

4.  In a small bowl, stir together honey and mustard.

Whisk together the honey and mustard.

Whisk together the honey and mustard.

Pour over vegetables, toss to coat.  Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.  Serve immediately.

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Isn’t this dish brightly colored and beautiful?   I mean… vitamin C,  vitamin A…..   There’s no way a cold is getting us down.   Knock on wood!

 

SOURCE:   Martha Stewart Living

 

 

Twice Baked Potatoes with Kale

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale

It’s the weekend after Christmas and we’ve been to three parties plus a family get-together this past week.  I’ve eaten so much rich food, appetizers and dips, cheese this and cheese that, not to mention all the desserts,  that I woke up this morning with the urge to eat pie for breakfast.  Is this where the holiday festivities have brought me?

No, no, and no way.  I will not succumb to any more temptation.  I will overcome the gravitational pull to the wrong foods and make wholesome choices once again.  Yet somewhere along this righteous path to eating kale salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I remembered that kale salad tastes absolutely nothing like pie, cheesecake, or chocolate thumbprint cookies, so that was the end of that.

However, my reasoning tells me that there must be a middle ground here.  By Sunday dinnertime I’d found that middle ground; a happy medium between total submersion in butter, cream and chocolate, and the kind of austerity measures that never quite make it past the 24 hour mark.  I give you the twice-baked potato, restuffed with not only the usual sour cream and cheese, but a whole lot of greens.   Greens make everything healthy,  don’t they?  Of course, we all know that!

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The basis for this recipe came from Healthy Eating food blog, but I ended up veering a bit off the recipe, using less cheese (I know, I can’t believe it either) and sour cream, adding a softly cooked onion, and then, although kale was supposed to be the green used, I actually used a combination of baby kale that I had on hand, and some baby spinach.   What that means is that you, too, can take liberties with this recipe:  any green of your choice such as Swiss chard, or all spinach.  For the cheese you could use parmesan, goat cheese or cream cheese instead of the traditional cheddar.  If you’ve got a surplus of scallions, shallots or leeks you could use them where I used a small onion.

I really hope you make these potatoes, because I can’t emphasis loudly enough how much they hit the spot—toasty and a little decadent, but green enough that I didn’t even feel the need to make a salad on the side.  I served this with sautéd asparagus and it was the perfect light dinner to cap off a week of heavy eating.

TWICE-BAKED POTATOES WITH KALE

Yield:  Serves 6 as a side dish,  3 as a hearty main

Ingredients:IMG_8813

  • 3 russet potatoes ( mine were 8 to 9 oz. each)
  • 1 bundle lacinato kale or swiss chard or spinach
  • coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely grated cheddar,  or 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan, or 1/2 to 2/3 cup cream cheese, or goat cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.  Cook potatoes the first time.  Gently scrub potatoes but do not peel.  Pierce all over with a fork so steam can escape.  Bake about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced in center with a skewer.  Remove potatoes, but leave oven on.

2.  While potatoes bake, prepare your filling:  Tear kale, chard or spinach leaves from stems.  Plunge into cold water to remove any dirt or grit.  No need to dry them.   Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add greens and a pinch of salt. Cook them in the pan with just the water clinging to the leaves until they wilt and collapse.  Transfer to a colander and when cool enough to handle, wring out any extra moisture in small fistfuls.  On a cutting board, finely chop greens.  You will have about a cup of wrung-out, well chopped greens;  a little more or less won’t matter.

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3.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add butter and oil.  Once both are warm, add onion and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  Try not to let it brown.  Add chopped greens into the skillet and warm up with the onion, 1 minute.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.

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4.  Prepare the potatoes:  When potatoes are cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise and scoop out all but the last 1/4-inch thickness, so you are leaving a shell inside for stability.

A melon-baller is a good tool for scooping out the potato.

A melon-baller is a good tool for scooping out the potato.

Add potato filling to the bowl with the greens.

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Arrange the potato shells on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish.  Mash potatoes, with onions and greens until smooth.  Stir in sour cream, 3/4 of cheese and more salt and pepper that you think you need.

Potato filling and greens mixed with sour cream and cheese.

Potato filling and greens mixed with sour cream and cheese.

Heap the filling into the potato shells.  Sprinkle with remaining  1/4 of cheese.

Fill potato shells with the filling.

Fill potato shells with the filling.

5.  Bake potatoes a second time:  for 20 to 30 minutes, until bronze and crisp on top.

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A light meal to cap off a week of eating too many rich foods.

A light meal to cap off a week of eating too many rich foods.

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut Squash Gratin

Butternut squash has got to be just about my favorite winter vegetable.  For the longest time the only way I ever had it was when it had been boiled till tender, then mashed with butter, and served as a puree.   WOW! I didn’t realize how many different and interesting ways there are to prepare it…..and they’re all so good!

We’ve grown to like it best when it’s left in chunks and there is some “chew” left to it.

This recipe is very easy to make.  Don’t let the name of the dish make it seem like a big deal.  All “gratin” means is a baked dish that has a  crumb topping.    So with that in mind let’s get started making this side dish that goes with so many entrees.  We particularly like it with roast chicken or turkey, but it’s also a great accompaniment to baked ham, or meatloaf.

All that’s required for this dish in addition to the squash, is some melted butter, a little garlic, and crumbs made from Panko and Parmesan cheese.  If you prefer to use a different winter squash in place of the butternut, I’m sure it would work out as well, since many of them are interchangeable.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH GRATIN

Yield:   Makes  4 servingsIMG_8608

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch rounds, or crescents
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.   Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Baking dish size needs to be about 8 x 11, or 9 x 13-inches.

2.  Arrange the squash rounds or crescents in rows in the baking dish.

3.  Melt the 4 Tbsp. butter with the minced garlic, in the microwave.

Melt butter with garlic;  mix Panko with cheese for crumbs.

Melt butter with garlic; mix Panko with cheese for crumbs.

4.  Combine the Panko crumbs and the grated Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.  Add 1 Tbsp. melted butter and toss to blend into crumbs.

5.  Brush the remaining butter and garlic mixture on the squash slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6.  Sprinkle the crumbs all over the top of the squash.

Top with the crumb mixture.

Top with the crumb mixture.

7.  Bake at 375*F.  uncovered, for 30 – 40 minutes till tender.  Crumbs should be nice and brown.  If not, run under the broiler for about 5 minutes to brown them up, being careful not to burn them.

Toasty, fragrant crumbs, jazz up this winter squash dish.

Toasty, fragrant crumbs, jazz up this winter squash dish.

 

SOURCE:   Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce

I think that cranberries are one of the best things about this time of year.  They appear on the scene as fresh fruit at just the right time.  All the color outside has just about disappeared and everything is looking very “gray”.   That probably won’t last long as we have a forecast for snow starting tomorrow.  (I so hope the forecasters are wrong!)  Anyway, cranberries show up with their perfect red color and suddenly things are looking up.

At one time way back when, I was very neutral toward cranberries.  Like,  “Oh, yeah, cranberry sauce with turkey..that’s nice”; and that’s all I thought they were good for.  But now-a-days, because they freeze so easily, we can cook and bake with the little jewels all year long.  But somehow they seem most welcome in the fall and through the Holidays.  I really think it’s because of their wonderful color when everything else around us is so drab.  They’re bright and cheerful, make you smile, and they’re a very flattering shade of red.

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Oh, you are SO gorgeous !

 

Now their flavor is something else!!  Most people are scared of a cranberry.  My goodness, how do you sweeten it up?  Try eating just one…..raw.    That little baby has major pucker power.  They are so tart they make an average lemon seem like a wimp.  But you know, that’s really the best part.  Cranberries provide a contrast.  Think about your favorite foods, aren’t there contrasts involved?  Savory against sweet; sweet decadent desserts with a little salt;  a crunchy topping on a smooth custardy base;  and cranberries—all twisted up with something sweet really get to shine.

Well cranberry sauce is like that.   A contrast in and all by itself.   It’s sweet, but it’s tart.  It can be smooth and jellied, or chunky and rough.   It’s satisfying and flavorful on its own, and it gets even better when other fruits are added to it.  Citrus fruits pair with cranberries very well, especially oranges, so I add some zest and some juice.  I also add some lime, the zest and juice, to deepen that layer of citrus you detect.   Making my own fresh cranberry sauce is so fun and this recipe can be dressed up with additional fruits like chopped apples, or pears and some raisins to turn it into a chutney.  Think of it as a garnish to go with whatever you may be serving and have some fun with it.  Cranberry with pineapple and ham, anyone?

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WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE

Yield:   about 12 servings, or 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked overIMG_8614
  • 2 cups granulated sugar  ( I use about 1  3/4 cups, as we like it less sweet)
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp. grated lime peel
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water

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Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.   Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until the berries pop.

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Skim off any large amount of foam that may form on the surface.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

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2.  This sauce will thicken nicely as it cools because of the high level of pectin in the cranberries.  Store in the refrigerator in a covered container.  Serve with chicken or turkey, or any other entree of your choice.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a day that revolves around family and food;  a time to think about all the blessings in our lives and to remember all the things for which we are thankful.  The menu that gets served for Thanksgiving dinner is pretty traditional.  Although I like to get creative, Thanksgiving is not the time when I want to have dishes on the table that contain unrecognizable ingredients.

Sweet potato generally is not a vegetable that my family serves, although once in a while we do have a small bowl of them mashed.  This year however, I am making a baked casserole in the Southern tradition.  I auditioned it in advance to see how it would come out before springing it on my family.   It passed the test big time!!   Mr. D. pronounced it “fantastic”.   This is not the usual sweet potato casserole with marshmallows melted and toasty on top.  This one has a crumb topping with pecans in it.  It is so yummy, I would be happy eating it for dessert.  I think this dish is about to become one of our new traditions…..

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Please note:  in the pictures that follow, the quantities you see are reduced from the recipe as I made a smaller version using only 2 large sweet potatoes.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

Yield:   Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 – 5 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
.

.

Directions:

1.  Put sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain and mash with a potato masher.  Add 4 Tablespoons butter to hot potatoes and allow it to melt while you prepare the egg mixture.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish ( or similar size) with cooking spray and set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together white sugar, eggs, salt,  milk, and vanilla until smooth.

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Add to mashed sweet potatoes and stir well to blend smooth.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared baking dish.

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4.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives until mixture looks like coarse sand.  Stir in pecan pieces.

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Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Note:  if you are making this ahead, cover it with foil and put in the fridge at this point.  Then uncover it, put it in the oven, and bake it on Thanksgiving day.  Or you can bake it in advance and just reheat it when you want to serve it.

5.  Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until mixture is heated through and  topping is lightly browned.

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SOURCE:   All Recipes Magazine

 

Maple-Glazed Delicata Squash

Maple- Maple-Glazed Delicata Squash


Maple-Glazed Delicata Squash

Does anyone else besides me wonder how come maple sap flows and is turned into maple syrup in the spring, but seems to team up so well with fall fruits and vegetables?   Just wondering!!

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean.   One of the early fall squashes to arrive is this delicata squash.  Its name says it all….delicate.   The outer skin is tender so there’s no need to peel it.  Plus the stripes add a colorful accent.   The flesh is a pale yellow and has a mild flavor.  However, it needs to have some enhancements to spice it up and give it some UMPH!   Maple syrup is its sole-mate.  The syrup adds just the right amount of sweetness, and sage contributes the savory note.  Together they really dress up this squash.   If you are planning to roast a cut of meat or poultry, try this squash as a side dish for a perfect pairing.

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I recently roasted a loin of pork, and made this squash casserole as a side dish.  Oven browned baby potatoes, and crisp coleslaw rounded out the meal.  Let me also state for the record that I made half the recipe (just 2 of us, you know), and used dried sage as fresh sage was not available at the time.

MAPLE-GLAZED DELICATA SQUASH

Yield:   Serves 6

Ingredients:IMG_8117

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh sage leaves,  or 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 2 medium (about 2.5 pounds) delicata squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.  Prepare the squash:   trim the ends, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Then slice into 1-inch half moons.

Remove seeds, and slice cross-wise into half moons, or chunks.

Remove seeds, and slice cross-wise into half moons, or chunks.

2.  Preheat heat oven to 400*F.  In a small lidded pot, combine maple syrup and sage.  Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low, cover and cook 15 minutes.  Set aside, covered.

3.  Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss squash slices with olive oil and salt.  Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer;  bake at 400*F for 20 minutes.

Toss with olive oil and salt and bake for 20 minutes.

Toss with olive oil and salt and bake for 20 minutes.

Pour maple syrup-sage mixture evenly on top of squash.  Bake 20 minutes more until squash is browned and tender, stirring once or twice so all slices get glazed with the syrup.

Syrup and sage mixture.

Syrup and sage mixture.

Pour syrup mixture over squash and continue baking another 20 minutes.

Pour syrup mixture over squash and continue baking another 20 minutes.

Fragrant and golden.

Fragrant and golden.

 

Perfection!

 

SOURCE:    Family Circle Magazine.

 

Grilled Green Beans

Grilled Green Beans

Grilled Green Beans

Sometimes I wish there was a kind of Willy Wonka-style candy factory that produced chocolate covered vegetables instead of candy 🙂    OK, call me crazy, but don’t you think that sort of factory would be totally AMAZING?   Be honest now….you want it.   There’s no shame in that.

Since there’s no fantasy-land vegetable candy factory (not yet, anyway), I’ve had to settle for roasting a big ole batch of green beans with shallots and garlic and then tossing them with some soy sauce and sesame oil.  They weren’t chocolate covered, but we ate them like candy.  What’s with me going on about candy?—-enough, already.

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Haven’t you ever considered grilling green beans?   This is a fantastic approach, giving the vegetables a little smoky char.  A grill basket or similar grill-top devise exposes all the surfaces to the flame, but if you don’t have a grill basket,  grill them on a piece of heavy-duty foil.  Be sure you don’t skip the step of covering them and letting the mixture stand, so it all steams to perfect doneness during that time.

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The flavor of these beans is extraordinary. Kind of like something you expect to get in a fine restaurant.   We loved them and I think you will too. So while fresh green beans are still available at the market, give them a try.

GRILLED GREAN BEANS

Yield:   Serves 6

Ingredients:IMG_8096

  • 3 large shallots or 1 small red onion, vertically sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed ( I used a mixture of green beans and wax beans)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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Directions:

1.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2.  Place a grill basket on hot grill; preheat for 5 minutes.

3.  Place shallots, garlic, and green beans in a large bowl.  Drizzle with canola oil; toss well to coat.

Toss vegetables with olive oil.

Toss vegetables with canola oil.

Arrange mixture in hot grill basket; cover grill, and cook 7 minutes or until beans are lightly charred, tossing occasionally.

Toss occasionally for even cooking and browning.

Toss occasionally for even cooking and browning.

Place bean mixture in a large bowl; cover and let stand 5 minutes.  Add soy sauce and remaining ingredients; toss to combine.  Serve hot.

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SOURCE:   COOKING LIGHT

Orzo, Spinach and Tomatoes

Orzo with tomatoes, (but not the spinach).

Orzo with tomatoes, (but not the spinach).

Every once in a while you need a dinner that’s especially man-pleasing without going the whole steak and potatoes route.  This is it!

Grilled steak and green  beans with orzo mixture.

Grilled steak and green beans with orzo mixture.

If you’re queen in your kitchen, as I am,  give yourself the smaller steak and load up on the orzo mixture and green beans.  Everyone will be well pleased.  Guaranteed!!   And if there should be any leftover steak,  slice it up and and serve it over the remains of this orzo side dish for the next day’s lunch or a deja-vue dinner.

I’m well-known for making a big pot of something-or-other and eating it (sometimes begrudgingly) for several days.   Usually it’s soups—they’re always good for on-going consumption, especially if you keep adding a little something like an extra pat of butter or a few left over veggies after each reheating.  Soups can get more delicious the longer they last.  Did you know this?

Since Monday is staring us in the face, I thought I’d start off the week with this last-all-week staple.  Something savory and healthy to help us get through the week with a smiley face.    This dish will taste best if the spinach and tomatoes are on sale!!!

 

ORZO, SPINACH AND TOMATOES

Please note:   I decided to make this dish without the spinach this timeIMG_8113

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound orzo, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach, or larger-leafed spinach, torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In a large sauce pan, melt the butter.  Add the shallot and sauté to soften.  Add the tomatoes and continue to sauté them until they start to release their liquid, and they soften.

Saute the shallots and tomatoes till they soften.

Saute the shallots and tomatoes till they soften.

2.  Add the cooked orzo to the pan along with the spinach, and toss to coat and integrate all the ingredients.   Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the cooked orzo and stir to combine.

Add the cooked orzo and stir to combine.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and minced garlic, plus salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the orzo mixture and stir to mix well.  Crumble the feta cheese over the top.

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TIP:   Double the batch of orzo and serve as a cold side dish later in the week.  Just toss with a little additional olive oil before storing in the refrigerator in an airtight container.   Adding some chopped kalamata olives really perks up this dish also.   This is delicious hot or cold.

SOURCE:   Week Night Grilling with the BBQ Queens