Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thank goodness for leftovers.

For me, this isn't sarcasm!!
Some days you just happen to find yourself working till 9, stressed out, behind on laundry, and two days late on your grocery store trip. On days like this, I am so thankful for a tiny bit of foresight, and my freezer.

Heating up a tasty home cooked meal is so much nicer than guilt inducing takeout. And is it possible that freezing makes something taste better? Because this was sooo yummy.

I hope that everyone had a nice, relaxing night! And if you didn't, I hope you had some yummy leftovers... and a glass of wine.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sweet Potatoes with Ginger Maple Syrup

I love the spiciness of fresh ginger
I think I've finally recovered from Thanksgiving (unfortunately ending up with a migraine today).  It was such a fun week, with my sister and her husband coming into town for Thanksgiving with friends here in DC on Thursday, and then all of us traveling up for a Turkey Day encore with family in New Jersey on Friday. 2 in a row - Woof.  A lot of great food, drink, family, friends and festivity - I just love this Holiday.

Our friends Alex & Elisa hosted at their new home on Thursday, where I had my first rotisserie turkey, and it was amazing. Flavorful, moist and tender. I've got to get their secret for it. Friday I was able to try my Grandmother's recipe for dressing (excellently prepared by my Aunt Keri) for the first time - sagey, sausagey, and oh so good.  Definitely going to be adding that to the mix the next time I make the Thanksgiving spread.

I didn't do anything fancy for either meal - on Thursday I contributed some canapés (one of the recipes here), and made three different versions of potatoes - mashed potatoes, savory sweet potatoes, and sweet sweet potatoes.  On Friday, it was an apple tart and my favorite pumpkin pie (recipe here).

The sweet sweet potatoes (i.e. candied yams, etc.) are a staple at a lot of thanksgiving tables, but never at mine growing up - we're more of a savory family. So, I decided to take a whack at making these sweet and delicious, but with a little something different. Here's what I cam up with.

Maple Syrup at the source
  • 1 1/2 cups of pure Grade A Vermont maple syrup
  • 1 4 inch length of ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  • Brown sugar
  • S&P
  • Candied pecans (my sister made these, so I'll have to get her recipe!)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

To start, prep the ginger, and put into a saucepan with the maple syrup. Turn the heat onto low and let the ginger steep in the syrup, stirring occasionally and making sure that it doesn't boil, approximately 15-20 minutes or until the syrup tastes nice and spicy

Meanwhile, prep the potatoes, and place into a large bowl.  When the syrup is ready, remove the ginger and discard, and pour it over the potatoes along with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon, S&P and toss to coat.  Pour into a buttered glass baking dish, large enough so that the potatoes aren't stacked too high.

Sprinkle with a little bit of brown sugar, and then bake until the potatoes are fork tender, and the sauce is beginning to caramelize. I can't remember how long this actually took - I'd start the timer at 15 minutes, and check every 5 minutes after that until done.

Serve with a sprinkle of chopped candied pecans on top.  Next time I make these, I'll probably get some of that yummy crystalized ginger, and sprinkle that on top too, to really kick up the ginger-ness of the dish. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving - Family & Food: What Could be Better?

The Original Eating Keatings!
Clockwise from top left: #1 Keri,
#2 Pat, #3 Maureen, #5 Kathleen,
#6 Laurie, #4 Nancy

As far as the modern definition goes, I have a big family. Blame it on the Catholics and the rhythm method. Blame it on the Irish. Blame it on the booze.  Or better yet, all of the above.  In any event, I LOVE my big family and wouldn't trade them for the world. My Dad is the oldest of seven awesome siblings, and my Mom is in the middle of six girls (they're the namesake Keatings).

Yes, six daughters!!  You might pity my grandfather for having so many girls, but you would be wrong.  Each and every one of them is a Daddy's girl, and he just LOVEs his girls. It's kind of crazy - they all look the same, sound the same, and are an amazing example of a true family unit. Sure, there are tiffs here and there, but when it comes down to it, they love each other, they love their husbands, their kids and/or pets, their parents, and they bring so many amazing things to the proverbial table (and the actual table, too).  

Grown Ups! L to R:#5, #3, #1,
(bride Liza), #2, #4, and #6
The next best thing about my amazing aunts, is my fantastic cousins. In a big family like ours, it's hard for outsiders to keep track of who's who.... so we use things like "I'm number three's number one" - translation: my mother is the third child, and I'm her oldest child. 

I'm getting ready for a mini-reunion with some family - my Sister and her husband are coming up from Georgia early next week, and then we're all heading up to south Jersey to meet up with Keating daughter #1, Keri, and her family - which includes Favorite Uncle, Jay,  my three awesome cousins Eliza, Margot, & Sarah (Eliza - pictured at her wedding on the right - just welcomed a new baby boy into the family!!!) and their guys. We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving a day late together, and I can't wait, especially to meet the new baby!  I'm still trying to decide on what to bring food-wise..... that will likely take some serious brainstorming this weekend. 

Come home soon, Ryan!
Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday.  I really appreciate the fact that this is a holiday that has been relatively uncorrupted by materialism, and that it stays true to its roots of appreciation, and gathering with those you love.  The awesome spread of food is a definite bonus though.  While this year will be great, I'll be missing my parents and littlest sister back home, as well as my west-coast family that I normally spend the holiday with.  Perhaps most importantly, our whole family will be missing my little sister's husband, Ryan, who is in the Army and currently deployed in Afghanistan.  I'll definitely be keeping all of our troops who are far from loved ones in my thoughts, but will be keeping Ryan especially in mind.  Come home safe, and soon, Ryan!!  

Mediterranean Quinoa Burgers

Clockwise starting with the pita bread, cuke loaded tzatziki,
roasted red pepper hummus, sriracha mayo (sauces sprinkled
with smoked paprika) greek olives, quinoa burger topped with
tomato and baby greens.
The husband has informed me has informed me that this is one of his favorite dinners, and it always results in lots of "MMMmm!!" grunts while he's eating.  I guess I'll take that as a compliment.  These vegetarian 'burgers' are kind of falafel-ish, and like falafel, the fun part is topping them with whatever floats your boat.  Tonight, we had cuke loaded tzatziki, roasted red pepper hummus, Sriracha mayo, sliced tomato, baby greens, and olives, and served them bun-less with some pita bread on the side.

There are so many other awesome things you can put on them. Some of our other favorites are roasted eggplant, garlic roasted tomatoes, sliced cucumber, cabbage slaw, tapenade, roasted red peppers, and taboule. Also, I'd stay away from serving these on a hamburger bun, but if you want to make a sandwich, go with a toasted english muffin or some ciabatta bread - both are really tasty!

There's one variable in this recipe, and it is the moisture content.  It directly effects how mushy the patties are, so make sure your ingredients are always as dry as they can be when you add them, make sure you don't over process the mix, and know that you might need to adjust the amount of flour (add a little more if it's too wet).

Burger Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans - drained, rinsed, and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 1 big handful of parsley, stems removed
  • 1 packed cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 T ground coriander 
  • 2 T ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp dried ginger powder
  • 1 cup carrots, rough chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, rough chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup wheat flour
  • EVOO
  • S&P (be generous!)
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs 
Start by cooking your quinoa.  To make one cup, you'll need to boil 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa, stir well, turn heat down to medium, cover, and let cook for 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Fluff with fork, remove from heat, and set aside to cool.

While the quinoa is cooking..... In a large sauté pan, heat small amount of EVOO over medium high heat.  Add the carrots and onion, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic, and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the carrots just being to soften.  Add the coriander, cumin, mint, ginger, and a generous amount of S&P and cook for one more minute.  Remove from heat, and let cool.

In a food processor, add the garbanzo beans, egg, parsley, cooled quinoa, and cooled carrot/onion/spice mixture, flour, and a generous amount of S&P.  Pulse in short bursts just until the ingredients combine.  Don't over process, or the mixture will get pasty.  Remove the blade, and set the container on your counter next to a plate with the breadcrumbs on it.

Put a large saute pan over medium, medium high heat (like a 6 out of 10) and add enough EVOO to just coat the bottom of the pan.  With your hands, create a ball of the burger mixture, approximately an inch and a half in diameter (think honkin' meatball). Roll the ball in the breadcrumbs to coat, and then gently flatten it into a patty in your hands. Add the patty to the pan and cook without flipping until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Flip, and cook until the other side is golden brown.  You can cook several patties at once, and you'll need to add and heat oil as you go. Once pan fried, I like to keep them hot on a foil lined baking sheet in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.

Once all patties are cooked, serve them as you like with whatever toppings sound good to you! My tzatziki recipe is below.

Cuke Loaded Tzatziki

  • 1 T very finely chopped parsley
  • 1 T very finely chopped dill
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 inch length of English Cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of Greek Yogurt (I like Fage)
  • S&P to taste

Mix all ingredients well, and let rest for at least 15 minute to allow flavors to marry.  Serve. Good for up to 1 week if left wrapped in the fridge.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Asian Style Pulled Chicken with Tatsoi Salad

I finally found the way to use the Tatsoi that I found at the Farmer's Market on Saturday, and it was awesome!  This green can be cooked or served raw (think Spinach, or baby bok choy).  The leaves have have a nice crunch and the flavor is fantastic, kind of spicy and earthy, but without any bitter notes. I'm definitely a fan of Tatsoi and am going to add this to my list of things to snatch up when they're in season.

After reading a lot about Tatsoi on the good ole interwebs, I decided that I wanted to do simple raw preparation of it, so I made a basic garden salad, and topped it with my ginger soy vinaigrette, a generous portion of sliced avocado, and some pulled chicken.  Having just returned from a business trip in North Carolina, I had pulled meat on my mind.  I decided to reinterpret pulled chicken and make it with an Asian flavor profile, and it was really tasty!  The hubs loved it and I'll definitely make it again (I think the chicken would be really great leftover and put into a wrap sandwich with lots of veggies).

All in all, the active prep time for this meal is pretty low, and it's a good 'man' salad when you add a big scoop of pulled chicken to the top. Hope you like it!

It's purdy, too
Asian Style Pulled Chicken:

  • 2 T roasted peanut oil
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • Pinch of red pepper flake (optional)
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 3 T Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Aji Mirin Sweet Rice Wine
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh ground black pepper
In a medium size sauce pan, add two chicken breasts (trimmed of fat and any ickiness) and cover with water.  Set over medium high heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and easily breaks apart with a fork.  Remove from water, and let cool slightly.

Once cool, use your fingers and a fork to shred the chicken.  Set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the peanut oil over medium high heat.  Add the sesame seeds, garlic, and red pepper flake and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant but not browned, stirring frequently. Add the ginger, and cook for 1 more minute.  Next, add the shredded chicken.  Immediately add the soy sauce and both wines.  Stir well to combine and turn heat to medium low.  Cover and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the cover, and turn heat to medium.  Let it cook until the majority of the liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (you might want to add a little more soy sauce). When done, remove from heat.  Set aside so that it cools enough that won't wilt your salad when added to the top.  It's going to be sweet and savory and oh-so-tasty, with a good crunch from the sesame seeds.

Ginger Soy Vinaigrette dressing:

  • 1/4 cup roasted peanut oil
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 3 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Put all ingredients in a jar and shake well until combined (if you don't have a jar handy, you could easily whisk this up in a bowl).  Let rest for at 15 minutes to let flavors marry, and shake well before dressing your salad.  This is great to make ahead.

For the Salad:

  • 1 head of Tatsoi, leaves removed and large ones ripped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 handful of baby spring mix or baby sinach
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/4 red onion, shaved
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 1 avocado, sliced (I like to add this to the top of the salad once tossed and dressed)
I don't really need to put directions here - ya'll know how to make a salad I hope!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Farfalle with Broccolini and the Ingredient "who shall not be named"

Tasty new spin on weeknight pasta
Okay, let's get right to it.  What is this unnamed ingredient?  It must be revolting to not even warrant a spot in the title!  Well, the truth is, this magic ingredient is everything but revolting, unfortunately it is tarnished with a nasty reputation.  I'm talking about Anchovies.  These greasy, briny, tiny little bony fish filets in a pull tab can have such a bad rap, and they really don't deserve it!  When used the right way, they are simple magic.  They add a depth and flavor to your food that you would not get any other way.  Major, major umami.   I urge you, I beg you, try the little suckers out with this recipe.  They really make the dish.  I promise that they do not make the dish taste fishy, and I guarantee you won't even know they're in there in the end!

This is a recipe that I adapted from a recipe of Giada's - just kicked it up a bit to be a little more complex. It's fast, easy, and oh so tasty.  I hope you give it a whirl and become an anchovy convert like me!


  • 1 box farfalle (bowtie) pasta
  • 3 T butter
  • EVOO
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 anchovy filets, minced (don't skip these!!!)
  • 1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 scant tsp dried oregano
  • Approximately 3/4 cup seeded and diced fresh tomato
  • 1 large zucchini cut into thin crescents
  • 1 bunch broccolini, florets and top of stocks only (could substitute with 1 head's worth of broccolli florets)
  • Grated parmesan
  • S&P
  • little bit of flat leaf Italian parlsey, chopped.
Try them, you'll like them!

Set up your pasta pot with water and bring to a boil.

Melt the butter in some EVOO over medium, medium-low heat. Add the garlic and anchovies and sauté for awhile, till anchovies 'melt' but garlic does not brown. Then, add red pepper flakes to taste, oregano, black pepper and a little bit of salt (anchovies and butter already have salt, and Parmesan is salty, so don't over do it)

Then, add the zucchini and sauté for a few minutes. Next, add tomato, and turn temperature down to medium low. I let all of these ingredients cook down till kind of mushy lumpy sauce is created. Perhaps this isn't the most gourmet way to serve the zucchini, but I like it when it falls apart and can help the sauce stick to the pasta. 

While your sauté cooks down, cook your pasta in salted water. When there are 5 minutes to go till al dente is reached, add your broccolini florets and cook along with pasta for remaining time. When done, drain the pasta and florets, and immediatly add the pasta and florets to your sauté pan. Reserve 1 ladle full of pasta water. Mix well and continue stirring and cooking over medium low for 2-3 minutes so that sauce permeates pasta. Add pasta water if you want it a little saucier.

Serve with a little fresh chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese on top.

Butternut & Acorn Squash Lasagna

Squashy goodness
I'll admit it - I'm having a full blow love affair with fall foods, particularly winter squash.  I didn't do any blogging this summer, but I assure you that I was crushing on summer squash and zucchini nearly as much during that whole season.  Now that the temperatures have dropped, those hard skinned, awkwardly shaped gourds are all over my kitchen (as well as some decorative ones around the house, too.)

This lasagna has been inspired by a couple different recipes - one from Giada and one from Martha, but it ended up being my version.  Most of those versions were leaning too much on the sweet side of things for my taste.  So here's a more savory version that is sure to please.

Squash Filling:
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, 2 acorn squash - seeded, halved, rubbed with EVOO, sprinkled with S&P, and roasted at 400 degrees until fork tender.
  • 2 medium sweet onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper 
  • S&P to taste
Remove the squash from it's skins after cooking.  Mash with a fork until smooth. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and sauté the onions over medium-medium high heat until they just begin to color, approximately 15 minutes.  Turn heat to medium low, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until they reach a light caramel-y color.  Add the garlic, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Next, add the sage, cayenne, and S&P.  Turn heat off, and add the mashed squash.  Mash and stir well until all ingredients are well combined.  Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Cheese Filling:
  • One 2lb container of Ricotta (either party skim or whole milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Scant 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • S&P to taste
Mix all ingredients very well, and refrigerate covered until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Béchamel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, warmed.
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh finely chopped basil
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • S&P to taste
In a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Once melted, sprinkle in the flour. Whisk the mixture vigorously until smooth.  Let cook over medium heat, whisking very frequently, until the mixture starts to release a nutty smell and just starts to darken in color.  At that point, begin to add the milk in a small, steady stream, whisking furiously.  Make sure that all lumps are whisked out as you go.  Once the mixture reaches a thick liquid stage, you can add the rest of the milk more quickly, but you must continue to stir it.  Let the mixture continue to heat until it reaches a low simmer and thickens, about 5-7 minutes.  You want it to have a nice, thick, saucy consistency. Then, add the nutmeg, basil, S&P.  Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna. 

For a quick video tutorial on making a béchamel sauce, look here

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 box of no-boil lasagna noodles (I prefer Barilla brand. The no-boil noodles save a ton of time and turn out great!)
  • 1 lb of shredded mozzarella cheese (I like Sargento brand)

To assemble the lasagna:
In a large glass baking dish, spoon enough sauce into the bottom of the pan to coat the entire bottom.  Next, add the lasagna noodles, with a very slight overlap between them. Top with a layer of the squash mixture, then more sauce on top of that.  Add the next layer of noodles, then a layer of the cheese filling, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, and then with more sauce on top of that.  Keep alternating layers until you reach near the top of of the dish.  Finish with a layer of noodles with the béchamel sauce on top, sprinkled with shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan.

Bake your lasagna according to the package instructions for the noodles - the Barilla brand goes into a 375 degree oven, covered with foil for 50-60 minutes, or until bubbly. Then, uncover and finish baking just until the cheese is melted and bubbly on top.

Let rest until it's warm, and serve. It's quite rich, so a small slice should probably do the trick. The hubs and I enjoyed it with a simple arugula salad on the side.

What's For Dinner?

Meal planning is an important part of my weekend.  When life get's busy with work, volunteering, social activities, and housework, it's easy to bump a good dinner to the bottom of the priority list.  I've found that just a small amount of planning on a Sunday afternoon  pays off in dividends throughout the rest of the week - having a tasty dinner is a nice way to spend some time with my husband, and having leftovers around for lunches and freezing for the really busy days, helps out a lot.

I like to check the farmer's market on Saturday to see what they have in season and new, and then spend some time perusing some of my favorite food blogs and websites for inspiration, and then putting together a list of meals that will keep us going for the week. I try to keep in mind which days are busier than others, as well as figure out which ingredients can work for more than one recipe.  Also, for my husband and me, we like to eat vegetarian a few nights a week, and also like to have something spicy and ethnic at least once a week.  Here's what I'm planning for the next seven days:

Sunday (tonight!): Vegetarian lasagna with Roasted Squash (Butternut & Acorn from the farmer's market - I'm semi obsessed with roasted squash right now, if you can't tell from the recent recipes!).  Fresh bread from the farmers market, arugula salad. The hubby is studying for a bit microbiology test, so I'm making something that tastes good after sitting around for awhile and reheated, in case he's home late.  This one will also make for some major leftovers.

Monday: Black Bean Chili with ground beef (the one night this week where we'll have red meat), corn bread. I'm always low on fresh ingredients the day before a grocery shop, and most of the ingredients for this meal come out of my pantry and freezer.

Tatsoi - my latest farmers
market discovery! the size
of a dinner plate, and very flat.
Can't wait to try it out!
Tuesday - Grocery Shopping Day:  Asian Chicken Salad with Totsoi - this cool new Asian green that I discovered at the farmers market yesterday - read more here - , I can't wait to try it out!).

Wednesday: Mediterranean Quinoa Burgers. These are fast, yummy, and vegetarian.  I top them with whatever I have in the fridge - usually that means, hummus, slices of tomato, baby spinach, cucumber, Greek yogurt, and Sriracha spicy aioli. I serve them bun-less, on an english muffin, or mushed into a pita pocket a la falafel style.

Thursday:  Thai Panang curry with tofu and shrimp, jasmine rice.

Friday: Italian Tuna Bean Salad - a no cook favorite in my family, perfect for a Friday when I'm exhausted from the work week.

Saturday:  Homemade Ravioli with squash, Marscapone and sage with brown butter sauce and parmesan. Spinach Salad.  Homemade pasta is always a bit time consuming so it's a fun meal to make on a Saturday. To save time, I'm saving some of the squash I'm roasting for the lasagna for this meal.

What are you eating this week?

Chipotle Chili with Chicken & Butternut Squash

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and this is one such recipe.  I had some leftovers that I needed to use up, in this case, some roasted butternut squash and some shredded chicken breast, so I decided to make them into a chili. The squash acts as a thickener for the chili, but could be skipped.  If you don't have shredded chicken on hand, you could easily sauté some chicken before you start your onions, remove and then add in before the simmering process, or skip completely and up the beans to 2 cans for a meat free version. This is a really simple, satisfying, and spicy chili - the hubs and I really enjoyed it over wild rice. I hope you like it too!

All the good stuff
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash, fork mashed
  • 1-2 cups shredded chicken breast
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped (1 full pepper makes for a very spicy stew, scale back if you're not into fiery foods, but the smokiness of the pepper is important for the flavor, so don't skip it entirely)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (again, scale back or omit for less spice)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1  tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • Few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (Lee & Perrins is my preferred brand)
  • 8-10 Campari sweet tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 can Habicheulas Blancas (small white beans), drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp "better than bouillon" chicken
Garnish with:
  • Avocado slices
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Non-fat plain Greek Yogurt (less guilt than sour cream, and all the taste!)
  • Lime Wedge
  • Serve over rice of your liking - I used long grain wild rice

Start by roasting your peppers and tomatoes.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rub the peppers and tomatoes with some EVOO, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast on the top shelf of the oven until the skin of the peppers is blackened and the tomatoes are collapsed and beginning to caramelize, approximately 20 minutes.  When you remove them from the oven, immediately take the peppers and put them in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  The steam will help them "sweat" their skins off.  While the peppers are cooling, rough chop the tomatoes and set aside.  When the peppers are cool, use a knife to scrape the skins off.  Discard skin, and rough chop the pepper flesh.  Set aside.

How the bell pepper and
tomatoes look when ready
to remove from the oven
In a dutch oven, sauté the red onion over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.  Next, turn your heat to medium low and add the chipotle, red pepper flake, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, black pepper, salt, and Mexican oregano.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, and then add the better than bouillon (kicks the flavor up a notch).  Let that dissolve into the mixture, and then add your chicken broth.  Stir well and be sure to scrape up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan.

Next, add the honey and a few dashes of Worcestershire.  Add the butternut squash, shredded chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, and Habichuelas Blancas. Turn heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

While the chili is simmering, cook your rice (if you wish to serve it over rice) according to package directions, and prepare the other garnishes.

When 20 minutes is up, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve over rice with some slices of avocado, fresh cilantro, greek yogurt, and a squeeze of lime juice to brighten the flavor profile.  Enjoy!

Pasta with Roasted Acorn Squash and Marscapone

Squash and tomatoes, ready to roast!
I'm convinced that nearly everything tastes better roasted.  Roasted garlic, roasted tomatoes,  and roasted squash are the stars of this show.  The roasting process both intensifies and sweetens the flavors of the veggies, and when combined with the creamy Marscapone cheese and the woodsy tarragon and earthy sage, makes a delicious, rich and satisfying sauce.   It's almost mac & cheese-ish with how creamy it turns out, but with far fewer calories!


  • 2 acorn squash, cut into eighths (quartered and halved again) and seeded
  • 1 heaping cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 scant tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 dollops Marscapone cheese
  • 1 T chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 T chopped fresh sage
  • 1 lb tube style pasta, such as Cellentani or Penne 
  • EVOO
  • Coarse Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Cloves exposed, rubbed
with EVOO, ready to wrap
and roast!
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  While it heats, prepare your veggies for roasting.  Rub the squash with EVOO and sprinkle with S&P.  Toss the tomatoes with a little bit of EVOO, S&P. For the garlic, cut the top off so that the tops of the cloves are exposed. Rub the entire head with EVOO and then wrap in a piece of aluminum foil.  Place the squash cut side up in a glass backing dish, and sprinkle the tomatoes on top of the squash.  Place the foil wrapped garlic in a corner of the dish.  Put in the oven and roast for 30-35 minutes.  Check the garlic, the cloves should be soft.  Check the squash, it should be fork tender.  The tomatoes are done whenever the squash is done. 

While the veggies are roasting, take your chopped onion and sauté in large sauce pan (large enough to hold the pasta later on) over medium low heat in EVOO with a little bit of salt and pepper until it just starts to caramelize, approximately 20 minutes. If it starts to burn at all, turn the heat down lower.

Bring your pasta water to a boil.

When veggies are done, add tomatoes to the pan with the onion, and scoop the squash from the rinds and fork mash in a bowl.  Remove 5 cloves of the roasted garlic (save the rest wrapped in foil in the fridge to use for another recipe or delicious garlic bread), and rough chop it and add to pan with onion.  Sauté all together for 2-3 minutes, then deglaze with the white wine, making sure you scrape up all the good caramelized bits from the pan.

Add the fork mashed squash to the pan, and season with nutmeg and S&P.  Add enough chicken broth to make the squash and veggies form a thick sauce.  Turn the heat to low and let simmer.

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al-dente pasta.

Rich, thick & creamy!
When the pasta is almost done cooking, add the dollops of Marscapone and the chopped herbs to the sauce.  Mix well, and continue to simmer.

When pasta is done, drain and do not rinse.  Add into pan with sauce, and let cook on low for 2-3 minutes to allow flavors to marry and permeate the pasta. Serve with a bit of parmesan on top.