How’s your burger?

Pesto chicken burger

Sigh.  Too bad the tomato falling off of it looks like a tongue.  :(

Sigh. Too bad the tomato falling off of it looks like a tongue. ūüė¶

This is yet another recipe where several liberties were taken, but it all ended up for the best.¬† First of all, ground chicken?¬† No.¬† Ground turkey was at Aldi so that is that.¬† Second, foccacia bread?¬† Anything I found was kinda skimpy and flat and didn’t seem like it would make much of a burger bun.¬† So I bought pretzel buns.¬† No regrets.¬† From there, I just followed the recipe.

I love that this recipe mixes in some spinach with the basil in the pesto and uses walnuts instead of pine nuts.  Anything to make things cheaper, but still taste good, is a good idea by me.

And this is just a tasty burger option.  The fresh mozzarella and the grilled tomato were all so squishy and wonderful.  The pesto gave it just enough bite.  The burger itself was earthy and pleasant.  D and I ate it out on our back porch and had a wonderful summer evening.

…Yes, that title is a Dumb and Dumber reference.¬† Once again, G dates herself almost to the second.

Stir fry for days

Shrimp and Scallion Stir Fry

over those pesky rice noodles

over those pesky rice noodles

Stir-fried noodles with eggplant and basil

eggplant and basil in the dead of winter.  decadent!

eggplant and basil in the dead of winter. decadent!

Stir-fried turkey in lettuce wraps

It has kind of a birth of Venus thing going on, doesn't it?

It has kind of a birth of Venus thing going on, doesn’t it?

So many stir fries in this issue.¬† If you add up the stir fry feature with the winter green sautees, that’s a whole lot of warm veggie glop on top of rice, pasta, or something.¬† These three are quite representative of all of the stir frying going on in issue #69 in that they are all ok, but not great, and all low calorie (until you start adding noodles and such…).

The Shrimp and Scallion Stir Fry can literally be summed up just by reading the name of the recipe.¬† See, there’s some shrimp and some scallions and you stir fry them.¬† Still with me?¬† Oh, and there’s garlic.¬† I served it over rice noodles because I’m still trying to get rid of those suckers.

The Stir-fried noodles with eggplant and basil was very good, if somewhat impractical.¬† I like to try and cook seasonally and Everyday Food usually supports that.¬† They’ve got a whole “in season” section and everything.¬† But then they have a chicken sandwich with zucchini on it and a stir fry with eggplant and basil in this issue.¬† Oh, and the chicken salad with basil too.¬† On one hand, I can’t complain.¬† It is definitely awesome to taste basil in the dead of winter.¬† It almost makes me believe that summer is coming, which it obviously isn’t.¬† It’s currently 28 degrees outside and it’s March 23rd.¬† There just won’t be an end to winter.¬† So buy some basil!

The Stir-fried turkey in lettuce wraps was good, but I still don’t care for lettuce wraps as a concept for the same reason that I don’t like hard shell tacos, too messy.¬† I know.¬† I know.¬† Polly Prissy Pants over here.¬† Also, when you make lettuce wraps, you have to spend so much time delicately removing each lettuce leaf carefully, carefully, so carefully….dang it!¬† It tore!¬† Then what do you do?¬† Make a very tiny lettuce wrap?¬† Give up and start over?¬† These are serious questions folks.¬† So the flavor of this recipe is quite good, but it’s not good enough to make me like lettuce wraps.¬† Oh, and yeah, that’s iceberg lettuce.¬† I know I’d get better results with a fancier lettuce, but I’d be angrier when the leaves tear because of the extra money.¬† So…kind of a catch 22.

In conclusion, if you need a stir fry, go to your EF collection and grab #69.  Whew!

Healthy Meat Lasagna! (Made even healthier!!)

Healthy Meat Lasagna

Mmm... So healthy...

Mmm… So healthy…

So I haven’t really mentioned this before, but I’m not a beef eater. ¬†When I was in 8th grade, I thought cows were pretty awesome (I also thought they tasted awesome at the time). ¬†Since I thought they were adorable, I started to feel bad about eating them. ¬†I then started to feel bad about eating pigs and chickens too, so I was full on vegetarian for a while. ¬†(My love of bacon ended that one‚Ķ). Anyway, after I started eating bacon, and ham, and pork chops, I also started eating chicken again. ¬†Somehow, I held out on the beef for years. ¬†Now, I have tried to add it back in but now I can’t stand the taste. ¬†The pure beefy-ness is too much. ¬†I’m going to continue my attempts to add it back in, but I’m not sure I’ll ever really love it again.

Needless to say, I did not make this with beef.  I made it with turkey. It was quite tasty.  I also think you could very easily make this without any meat by replacing the ground meat with nice meaty cremini mushrooms.

One thing that may be a little unrealistic about the recipe is the call for whole wheat lasagna noodles. ¬†I had to search three different stores, (including a health food store!) and ended up buying something that claimed to be a lower carb noodle which I took to mean had more whole grains. ¬†I don’t know if the search for the right noodles was really worth it. ¬†Isn’t the turkey and eggplant enough?

All in all, it did taste really good.  I think I need to end this post so I can go warm it up for lunch!

Nothing Says November Like‚Ķ Acorn Squash

That’s right! ¬†We are officially onto blogging about November! ¬†And it’s still November! ¬†This is a major accomplishment. ¬†Be proud, be very proud. ¬†We did this for you. ¬†We want you to hear about glorious Christmas cookies and Holiday feasts in a timely manner. ¬†You are welcome!

And now I am going to tell you all about acorn squash.  Acorn squash was the In Season highlight for the issue we chose, November 2007, no. 47.  I may have previously mentioned that I have a half bushel of acorn squash in my coat-closet-turned-pantry so this issue was an obvious selection for us.  The good news is that the rest of the issue is pretty awesome as well.

I started with Garlic-Crusted Pork Loin with Mashed Acorn Squash. I couldn’t find the recipe online so if you have the magazine, you can find it on pg. 34.

No, that is not a pork loin… It's another freakishly large pork chop.

No, that is not a pork loin‚Ķ It’s another freakishly large pork chop.

So here’s the gist if you don’t have the magazine.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

4 garlic cloves

Pork loin roast (about 1 3/4 lbs) or as you see in the picture above a couple of decent sized pork chops

2 acorn squash

1/4 cup sour cream (the recipe calls for reduced-fat, but I try to go for the real thing where dairy is concerned unless it’s milk)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

The idea in the original recipe is to cook everything at the same time in a 450 deg. oven. ¬†Since I was using pork chops I assumed they wouldn’t take quite as long to cook because they aren’t as thick so I actually used to pans. ¬†Prep the squash by cutting them in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds (if you are a fan of roasted pumpkin seeds you can use these the same way). ¬†Prep the meat by finely chopping the garlic. ¬†If you have a garlic press, it makes this job much easier. Once the garlic is well chopped, sprinkle it with coarse salt and smear it with the side of a chefs knife until it forms a paste. ¬†Then smear that paste along with some olive oil, salt and pepper on whatever meat you choose. ¬†If you are doing the loin put that in the center of a baking sheet and arrange the squash cut side down around it. ¬†Pop that into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Since I did chops I started those on the stove on a medium heat while I put the squash in the oven.  After getting some color on both sides of the chop I added that to the oven as well and used a meat thermometer to make sure it was cooked through.  I timed it so the pork went in the oven when there was about 20 minutes left on the squash and the timing worked out pretty well that they both came out at the same time.

Once the squash is out you scoop it into a bowl with the sour cream and brown sugar and mash it all up.  Then you are ready to go!

This was an incredibly flavorful meal.  The garlic rub was incredible.  I am definitely going to use that method again.  The mashed acorn squash was subtle but really delicious as well.  I was thrilled with how these went together and I was so satisfied by the end of the meal.

I also made the Acorn Squash Bisque.

And of course, served it with grilled cheese!

And of course, served it with grilled cheese!

This was not only really simple, but so so so so so (imagine about 5 more so’s) good! ¬†It’s like liquid autumn. ¬†It tastes incredible. ¬†The thyme goes so well with the squash. ¬†It is also rich but not so rich that you can’t easily have seconds. ¬†I highly recommend this one to anyone with a blender or food processor!

The only squash recipe that I wasn’t thrilled with was the Chili-Roasted Acorn Squash. When I say “wasn’t thrilled”, I mean “wasn’t blown away by”. ¬†This recipe was still good, just not my style as much as the other two.

IMG_0826

The magazine claims that once the skin is roasted it becomes “soft and tasty”. ¬†It does become soft. ¬†And yes, it was edible. ¬†I think “tasty” was a bit of a reach. ¬†I didn’t love it. ¬†There wasn’t much flavor overall, but it was faintly bitter. ¬†Also the texture of the skin was a little annoying. ¬†It wasn’t pleasant to chew through. ¬†Unfortunately, since the squash was cut so small, it was difficult/messy to eat if you didn’t want to eat the skin. ¬†It meant pealing each little piece before eating. ¬†Not worth the effort. ¬†I think if I want to achieve this flavor in the future, I would just leave the pieces as halves or quarters and scoop the flesh out of the skin as I went rather than take the time to cut into small pieces.

Now G is going to tell you about Wild Rice Stuffed Squash!

Yeah, I am!  G here, and here is my beautiful friend:

You can't tell me that doesn't look like November

You can’t tell me that doesn’t look like November

As the recipe is written, this is a vegetarian main dish. ¬†But….you know me, I had to substitute. ¬†In fact, there are a couple substitutions with this recipe. ¬†The first is the wild rice mix. ¬†I know what they meant. ¬†They meant one of those boxed mixes with some brown rice, some white, some wild. ¬†The recipe says this mixture will all cook together in 25 minutes on the stove. ¬†Well, I only found this at the store:

insert rice gone wild joke here

insert rice gone wild joke here

That’s Minnesota “wild” rice. ¬†Just the long, black grains. ¬†The bag said it would take just under an hour to cook on the stove. ¬†Shoot. ¬†I had waited until there was about 25 minutes left for the squash to roast in the oven before starting the rice. ¬†No time to wait for this stuff to cook. ¬†So I followed the microwave directions and cooked my “wild” rice in 1 cup low sodium chicken broth and 1/2 cup water. ¬†It took roughly a half hour to cook that way. ¬†That’s yet another substitution. ¬†I cooked the rice in a broth and water mixture because I wanted to add more flavor.

On to the bigger substitution. ¬†I added a 1/2 lb ground turkey, browned, to the stuffing. ¬†I browned it in the skillet immediately after the “shallot” (I¬†substituted¬†red onion…shoot! ¬†That’s another substitution!), garlic, and sage were done¬†saut√©ing. ¬†I also added¬†grated parmesan cheese to the top of the heap and browned it all together in a 350 degree oven for five minutes at the very end of cooking to bring the flavors together and the melt cheese. ¬†I still think the stuffing flavor could have oozed down into the squash a little more. ¬†The next time I make this, would undercook the squash a little and let it finish cooking with the stuffing inside it. ¬†I think this recipe was more like squash with the side dish heaped inside than something truly stuffed.

One more substitution: I used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries. ¬†Why? ¬†Because I’m cheap and craisins are delicious.

This winds up being a very filling and delicious recipe, but I have a hard time imagining it without the turkey.¬† It really adds a lot.¬† Perfectly appropriate for a main dish once you make these changes. ¬†I think otherwise it’s a side dish. ¬†Sorry vegetarians!

Oh, and if you’re at all curious whether this is appropriate for a baby, I made one of the squash halves just for J. ¬†I omitted the wild rice and the cranberries because they both seemed like potential choking hazards. ¬†He really enjoyed this one.

J's is the top left

J’s is the top left

 

Italian for “why am I buying these?”

Pasta with turkey meatballs and bocconcini

The best pasta is shiny pasta

The best pasta is shiny pasta

This recipe is delicious.  It is such a great comfort food choice.  It has the turkey meatballs that are tasty without being so rich and heavy as meatballs made with pork.  It has grape tomatoes, which really do take on a nice flavor when you heat them.  It has pasta.  It has butter.  It has cheese.  Sold.

Let’s talk about the cheese. ¬†This recipe is a “have you tried” recipe. ¬†So I felt compelled to follow the instructions and use bocconcini. ¬†Well, I think for this one I used one of the other sizes of tiny mozzarella balls. ¬†I think maybe it started with “C.” ¬†Like I said in my last post about the mini pizzas, I just can’t see why you couldn’t cut fresh mozzarella into cubes to use in these recipes. ¬†Even the introductory information in the magazine says that these are just small pieces of fresh mozzarella. ¬†Yeah, they’re cute, but so what?

Another substitution note: ¬†The recipe calls for orecchiette or other short pasta. ¬†They had pipe rigate at Aldi (or at least I think I remember that’s what it was. ¬†This website seems to confirm it. ¬†How much fun is a pasta shapes dictionary, by the way?). ¬†B called them “little snails.” ¬†They were very good with the recipe. ¬†The one drawback was really my fault. ¬†I like to test pasta by taking pieces out of the boiling water and eating them. ¬†Well, these little guys, like a lot of tubular pastas, hold a fair amount of water. ¬†I scalded my tongue a couple times. ¬†Oops. ¬†I think shells would have been fine too. ¬†I’d be hesitant to go much smaller with the pieces of pasta, like macaroni or something, because I think you’d wind up chasing a lot of little pieces around the plate. ¬†This pipe rigate or the orecchiette snuggle in nicely with the meatballs and tomatoes. ¬†Nothing beats a nice snuggly pasta.

Turkey Sloppy Joe’s

www.marthastewart.com/315018/turkey-sloppy-joes

September 2007, pg. 36

Let me just tell you, I agonized over my first post. To launch a blog, the recipe had to be special! It had to be beautiful and picturesque and delicious! So what did I choose? Turkey Sloppy Joe’s.

Why did I choose Sloppy Joe’s? I realized I was being silly. This is an Everyday Food tribute blog! It is a magazine that provides recipes not for special occasions, but for EVERYDAY! It helps the average home cook add a little variety to their everyday meals. And what is more everyday than a sloppy joe?

This was my first time making this recipe and here is why I adore it:

image

Carrots! Do you see all those beautiful, sweet, orange carrots?! It calls for two full cups of them. I think they are the real reason the recipe is considered an Eat Smart Upgrade, forget the ground turkey.

My previous go to sloppy joe recipe was from Ellie Krieger and while her’s had lovely peppers and beans in it, it was completely lacking in carrots and I always had to remember to add them myself. If you’ve never had a sloppy joe with carrots you really must try it. It adds a sweet complexity that I personally don’t think you can get any other way.

The recipe also calls for the typical Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar that makes a sloppy joe so deliciously savory.

image

The outcome is delicious. Being the cheese lover that I am I chose to serve mine with some wickedly sharp cheddar. We have lots of that in Vermont!

image

I can honestly say this is probably my new go to recipe. The carrots won me over big time, and there was enough left over for lunch the next day (this is a struggle in my house – I live with a bear).

Up next from me: Sausages with Kale and White Beans