Category: Veggies


I kept seeing this recipe pop up on Pinterest. I like spaghetti squash and I love cheese, so I thought I should try it!

Spaghetti Squash au GratinIf you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, you should. I normally don’t care for squash, but I think it’s mostly a texture thing. I kept hearing spaghetti squash was different. That it was “just like spaghetti” and could be used in recipes in place of spaghetti.

Not wanting to make a whole squash in case I didn’t like it, I saw it on the menu at a restaurant one day. I ordered it, and my friend and I both gave it a try. We were both happy to find we liked it, and it’s now something we both cook in our homes.

Usually I rub the inside with garlic, salt and pepper before baking it and then eat it with just a bit of butter. I didn’t season the squash for this dish because it looked like there were enough seasonings once it was all put together, and I was right.

You can add more or less seasoning to match your tastes and desire for heat. You can also change out the cheeses to use what you like best. I used a sharp white cheddar for flavor and a mild colby jack cheese for melting. If you click on the “dandy dishes” link and read the comments, you’ll see some other ideas from people who’ve tried it.

I wouldn’t say spaghetti squash is the same as eating a noodle. And I wouldn’t say this recipe was just like hash brown casserole that some people said it was. But it’s good in its own way, and I’d make it again. The Pretty One didn’t care for it, but at least he tried it. I shared it with the resident veggie lover on our team at work. She declared it YUMMMYYYYY and said she especially liked the pepperiness of it.

If you’re interested in trying something new, try this. If you’re already a fan of spaghetti squash, try this! I think you’ll enjoy the dish.

Spaghetti Squash au Gratin

Adapted from dandy dishes

Stuff you need:
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese [Use whatever combination of cheeses you like.]
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Now what?
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place cut-side down in a glass dish with 1/4 inch water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, garlic, red pepper or cayenne and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and add to the skillet. Add the sour cream and 3/4 cup shredded cheese, and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining shredded cheese and sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake at 375F 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top and hot inside.

Sweet Potato Hummus? I couldn’t decide if that sounded good to me or not. I only like sweet potatoes once in a while, and only in small quantities. And I’m picky about my hummus. So I’m not sure why I had to try this recipe.

Sweet Potato HummusIn fact, when I tried it the first time, I wasn’t sure I liked it and I gave away probably 2/3 of it. And then a couple of weeks later I had to make it again. But this time, I only gave away a little bit and kept the rest for myself. I think my body was screaming for beta carotene, and this was a good way to get it.

The recipe calls for using a food processor but since I killed mine last year making peanut butter balls for Sensei Peterbilt and haven’t replaced it yet, I used my mixer. The second time I made it, I put the chick peas in a zipperbag and smooshed them with my hands before I put them in the mixer with the rest of the ingredients. This method doesn’t produce the super-silky, smooth version but I didn’t mind!

You can use your choice of oils for this. I used walnut oil and I think it adds a slightly nutty flavor. The original blogger suggests replacing the oil with OJ or a splash of soy milk if you want to reduce the fat.

In terms of spices, I used a couple teaspoons of blackened Cajun spice and maybe 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. I like sweet & spicy combinations, and I think the combination of these spices plus the sweet potato and maple syrup work well together. Adjust the spice if you like more or less seasoning.

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Slightly adapted from Lunchboxbunch.com

Makes about 3 cups

Stuff you need:

1 cup oven-baked sweet potato, skin removed [I won't tell if you microwave your potato!]
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons tahini
4 Tablespoons oil (olive oil, walnut oil, etc.)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup or 1-2 tsp agave [I used maple syrup -pure, not the fake stuff]
Optional: 1/4 cup orange juice – for a zesty sweet accent of flavor!
Salt and spice to taste*

* I used about 2 teaspoons blackened Cajun seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and a pinch of salt
* Add more oil/vinegar for silkier hummus – if desired.
Now what?

1. Add all the ingredients to a Vitamix or Food Processor.
2. Pulse or blend until smooth. For chunkier hummus – pulse the mixture and keep a few of the beans half-chopped instead of pureed. I went with a full on puree for creamier hummus.

Mixer Method:

If you don’t have a food processor, smoosh the beans in a zipperbag, then beat them with an electric mixer until they’re fairly smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

Scoop up with sliced apples, carrots, bagel chips, jicama, or whatever appeals to you.

Classic Chicken & Biscuits“This chicken thing is amazing”

Does it need any endorsement besides that? This was my first try at chicken and biscuits, and based on that text, The Pretty One liked it as much as I did!

I had a chicken pot pie last weekend that was pretty tasty and thought about making one at home. But somehow my mind switched over to chicken and biscuits. Why? I have no idea because I don’t think I’ve had the dish before. Anyway, I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I was off on a search for a good recipe that didn’t require canned condensed soup.

I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website. I admit I cheated because I didn’t make homemade biscuits. I was lazy.  :) But I made the sauce from scratch, so instead of an A for effort, I’d say I get a B for effort – and an A for flavor!

This isn’t a difficult recipe, and the from-scratch sauce is definitely worth the effort! You can cook the chicken in advance or purchase a rotisserie chicken. I baked my chicken the night before and seasoned it fairly well with garlic powder and a spicy chicken blend. Be sure to use spices that compliment the basil and thyme in the sauce. And speaking of the sauce, it’s mild and creamy and allows the flavor of the chicken, vegetables, and basil to shine through.

This is family-friendly comfort food I think you’ll enjoy. I know we did!

Chicken and Biscuits

Adapted from Taste of Home

Stuff you need:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 package (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 can biscuits OR recipe below

BISCUITS:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fat-free milk
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Now what?

In a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.
Stir in the flour, basil, thyme and pepper until blended.
Gradually stir in milk and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and STIR [so it doesn't scorch] for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Stir in the vegetables, chicken and cheese; reduce heat to low. [If using canned biscuits, cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.]

If using canned biscuits, cut 5 or 6 biscuits in half. You won’t need the full package, so bake up the rest separately following package directions.

OR

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine the milk, oil and parsley; stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

Transfer hot chicken mixture to a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish.
Top with biscuit halves or drop biscuit batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto chicken mixture.
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30-40 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned. Yield: 6 servings.

I made this soup in response to cravings for a hearty vegetable soup. I know I’m not usually a veggie advocate, but I do like a good vegetable-based soup.

The flavor of this soup was just what I was looking for – hearty, tomato based, and well-balanced with the spices in it. I made this while I was trying to cut my meat consumption, so I cut the meat in half and doubled the beans. You could easily add more vegetables such as green beans for even more veggie goodness. Click for recipe.

A sprinkling of parmesan cheese tops this off nicely. Serve it with some crusty bread from the bakery department at the grocery store, and it’s a nice, hearty meal on a chilly day!

I mashed up a white vegetable…

I’ve never been a fan of cauliflower, so I have no idea what possessed me to buy a head of that white stuff.

After staring at it for several days, and it not cooking itself, I decided to cook it up. I keep hearing mashed cauliflower tastes just like mashed potatoes, but I’m not a believer. I decided to check it out.

I put the cut cauliflower florets into a pan, covered them with water, and added some chicken base for flavor. I boiled it, then boiled it some more. I lost track of how long it took, but I think it was about 10 minutes. When I could easily smoosh the cauliflower with a fork and tongs, I removed it from the heat. (Click for the recipe.)

Now the point of me eating mashed cauliflower instead of glorious mashed potatoes is to eat fewer calories and pretend I’m being healthy. At least I think that’s what I was thinking when I bought the thing. So here’s where the “healthy” part comes in.

I used the tongs to transfer the cauli to my mixing bowl. I added 1/4 cup of the cooking water (remember, it has chicken flavor in it) and put the mixer on low. As the steam rose from the bowl, I caught a whiff — and remembered one of the reasons I don’t eat cauliflower. It stinks! I knew if I was going to actually EAT the finished product, it would require some seasoning.

I have some Penzey’s spice mixes in my pantry that were just perfect. I added some Garden Salad Seasoning and some Fox Point Seasoning and kept mixing. Both seasonings are fairly mild, but would provide some great flavor to the cauli, as well as help mask that bitter smell. To make it a bit creamier, I added a little bit of butter. That’s it. No milk or cream, no excess of butter, very little fat. Nice and simple.

Since I was serving the cauliflower with well-seasoned Italian Chicken Bundles (recipe to come), I only wanted to lightly season it. If I was serving this with something less robust, I would probably kick the spices up a notch or three.

I realize not everyone has these particular spice mixes in their pantry, and that’s OK. You might have some other combination spice mixes that would work well with the cauliflower. Open your jars and take a sniff. If they seem like a good match, then add in a teaspoon or two. Start easy – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out! I’d also recommend adding a couple tablespoons of parmesan cheese, because cheese makes everything better!

The finished product wasn’t as smooth as mashed potatoes, but might have been if I’d used my food processor. And in my opinion, it doesn’t taste “just like mashed potatoes”, but it was definitely edible. Score one for healthy eating!

Now… what am I going to do with that crown of fresh broccoli?

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