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The pictures from this post and my last one really got me thinking about natural versus artificial lighting. Both pictures were taken fairly late in the day as the sunlight was waning, but the light was still strikingly better than anything that my kitchen lighting can produce.

I have toyed around with the idea of getting a light box for food pictures, but I don’t exactly want it hanging out in my kitchen. Ideally I could just make dinner before it gets dark, but it is very rare that it actually happens.

Maybe it is time to make room for a light box. Does anyone else have one?


A Duke’s House original.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into semi-circle rings
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp tamari (soy sauce would be fine if you can’t find tamari)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger root
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • After prepping squash, combine other ingredients in a sealable plastic bag or other container.
  • Add squash to sealable container and toss to coat with marinade.
  • Spray grill with olive oil, then grill squash over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender, turning halfway though.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 114, Fat ~ 1.4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 26.7 g, Protein ~ 2.6 g

Last fall I was lucky enough to get a free year subscription of Bon Apetit. I am always looking at cooking magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store, but I try not to buy them unless I see a really compelling recipe because I know that once I get them home it is quite unlikely that I will actually read them.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to read. I especially like magazines because they are low commitment. You know, unlike the two books that I have had in progress since last winter. But we have such a backlog of magazine reading to do that even these short reads seemed like a daunting task.

Finally, I broke down and decided to start whittling down the pile. On our way to the ski slopes last weekend, I decided to go through all of our cooking magazines and…

…wait for it…

 …menu plan.

Crazy concept around here. First up: Black Bean and Butternut Chili.

Adapted from Bon Apetit.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil spray
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves elephant garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2-14.5 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 lb. black beans, dry
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, diced (Optional, these are pretty spicy!)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 2.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • Sour cream and cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  • Lightly spray a heavy pot with olive oil spray, then cook onions over a medium-high heat until they begin to lightly brown.
  • Add garlic and cook for about one more minute.
  • Stir in chili powder and coriander and continue to cook for one more minute.
  • Add tomatoes with juice, beans, chipotles, oregano, and 10 cups of water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
  • Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about two hours or until beans have softened.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add butternut squash. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  • Serve with typical chili toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese, and cornbread (or better yet yeast-rised cornbread).

 Servings ~ 15 -1 cup servings
Calories ~ 162, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 30 g, Protein ~ 8 g

We got our first hint of snow last weekend.

Apparently snow doesn’t photograph very well at night. I’m not really surprised by that, but I am just a little bit disappointed that my super camera isn’t as super as I thought it was. Still way better than the point and shoot that I was using six months ago.

The snow didn’t hang around for long at all, it was back up into the 70’s in no time. Figures. There is this saying in Indiana about how if you don’t like the weather, you should wait a few hours. Case in point. Snow one night, wearing short sleeves the next day.

In spite of summer’s return, I decided on a warm, wintry, hearty side for dinner the other night. We had some leftovers that needed to be used up so I did my best to use what we had. The butternut squash gratin turned out awesome! We will have it again for sure.

I had about 1.5 cups of cheesy sauce leftover after toping our Corny Croque Madames with just 2 tbsp each. I also had nearly a whole thinly cut butternut squash sitting in my refrigerator thanks to my failed Korean squash pancakes. Obviously these random leftovers should be put together, no?

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of béchamel
  • 1 butternut squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Peel squash, slice in half, and remove seeds.
  • Cut squash into thin slices, I used my food processor for this.
  • Combine squash, onion, and béchamel into a large baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 247, Fat ~ 5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 47 g, Protein ~ 9 g

I am a bit behind in writing my posts, but the Squash ‘Hummus’ and Black Bean Burritos that I proposed last week were fantastic! Not all that surprising, I mean who has ever heard of a bad burrito?

Seriously though, I only made four of them and it was not even close to enough. Exercising careful restraint we were able to stretch them to last for two meals, but like their Sweet Potato and Black Bean counterparts, one is never enough.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Carefully mix the black beans into the squash hummus without smashing up the black beans too much.
  • Place about 1/2 cup of the black bean and squash mixture in each tortilla and fold up burrito style.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 209, Fat ~ 7 g, Carbohydrates ~ 37 g, Protein ~ 14 g

We are still on our grocery shopping hiatus, I did one of those “type a whole bunch of random ingredients into Google and see what recipes pop up”. That can yield amazing results…or be a complete disaster. It was risky-ish business for this meal because it was for one of our anniversary dinners. The pressure was lessened some though because we have two anniversaries. Yep, we got married twice. Not that exciting of a story. It sounds mysterious though. 

Anyway, we will get to repeat this ritual again next week. Hopefully after grocery shopping.

Fortunately the butternut squash was a winner! In fact, we both thought that it was quite possibly the best butternut squash dish that we had ever tried. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about cilantro and crystallized ginger together, but it turns out that they are fabulous together. They made for a very fresh tasting fall dish.

Adapted from Rachael Ray.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Spritz the squash with olive oil spray, then in a large bowl, toss the squash with the coriander, salt, and pepper.
  • On each of 2 large baking sheets, arrange the squash in a single layer and bake, turning occasionally, until tender and golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the squash to a serving bowl and toss with the crystallized ginger and cilantro.

Servings ~ 6

Calories ~ 186, Fat ~ 3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 44 g, Protein ~ 3 g

I used the last of my CSA zucchini and squash in this dish. On one hand, I’m bummed out that the CSA is over for the year. On the other hand, I’m relieved about being able to shop for and plan for meals more effectively.

Our CSA gave us the option of Wednesday or Saturday pickups, but it seems like neither one is a good option for us. We picked Wednesday because we didn’t want to miss Saturday pickups if we were out of town for the weekend. Wednesday didn’t really work out either because of our Saturday meal planning/grocery shopping cycle. I really would have preferred a Friday pick-up.

Last weekend my brother came to visit so we haven’t done any grocery shopping at all in over a week. (Sorry G, we should have bought food before you arrived at least!) Needless to say, we have been having some interesting meals lately. This “squash hummus” was one of the most tasty creations stemming from our grocery shopping laziness.

Look for Squash Hummus and Black Bean Burritos soon! (Well, if they’re any good anyway!)

From Branny Boils Over.

Ingredients:

  • 1 raw zucchini, peeled and chopped
  • 2 raw yellow summer squash, peeled and chopped
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves elephant garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 c raw tahini
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 roasted almonds

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth or to desired consistency.
  • Serve with veggies, crackers, or pita chips.

Servings ~ 8
Calories ~ 104, Fat ~ 8 g, Carbohydrates ~ 7 g, Protein ~ 4 g

This simple dish hit the spot on one of our last 90 degree August evenings. I liked that there was no actual cooking required and that since it is served cold I could actually stand to eat it outside.

In the last few weeks of summer, I have been trying to make a conscious effort to use our back porch more. We seem to gravitate indoors during June and July when the heat combined with the humidity can make it absolutely stifling to hang out outside. August has still been warm, but not especially humid.

The fresh flavor of this dish would work great with grilled chicken or grilled fish.

From Cate’s World Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Toss the zucchini with salt and let stand 5 minutes.
  • Drain off any liquid that accumulates in the bowl.
  • Add the lemon juice and mint, and let stand for about 20 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust lemon, mint, and salt, then top with walnuts to serve.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 70, Fat ~ 5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 5 g, Protein ~ 2 g

After work on Friday, I was on a mission to use the butternut squash from my CSA box for dinner.

It worked. Kind of.

What I initially had in mind was a complex dish that beautifully showcased the squash, or at the very least, our favorite dish from this winter, Mac and Cheese with Squash and Peas. But, as often happens at Duke’s House, I found myself standing in my kitchen, still in sweaty gym clothes, starving, and thinking “It is 7:30 now, by the time I actually shower, cook dinner, and eat it, I won’t have much of a Friday night left.”

Ultimately, I decided on a french fry dinner because I could slice them, then get them started baking while I showered.

There was once a time when I had fries for dinner quite regularly. I remember leaving Professor Modest’s Thermodynamics class at 4:30 on Fridays and heading straight for The Saloon with all of my friends for free dinner. The Saloon offered free french fries on Friday afternoons and more flavors of Monkey Boys than you can imagine.

What is a Monkey Boy you ask? It is a drink that only college kids could love and truly a Penn State Tradition.

Anyway, I had a throwback to my Penn State days and had fries for dinner on Friday. No Monkey Boy required. I thought Chris would want to enjoy the squash fries with me also, but he gave me a look that may have meant “You’re seriously going to stuff your face with a giant plate full of fries and call it dinner?”

Absolutely. They were awesome! I can’t wait for more squash from my CSA!

Note: This plate of fries is nowhere near the size of my squash fry dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil spray
  • salt

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Use the convection setting if you have one for quicker cooking.
  • Peel squash, then cut into several large chunks which will be easier to work with.
  • Remove the seeds from the squash and discard them.
  • Slice squash into “fries” about 1/2″ x 1/4″ x variable length.
  • Place squash “fries” on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt.
  • Mix them around with your hands until they are all coated and seasoned.
  • Spread the squash “fries” out so that there is only a single layer.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until they start to brown.
  • Flip the fries, then cook until desired texture is reached, about 20 more minutes.
  • Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, we used ketchup!

Servings ~ Variable. Nutrition information assumes a serving size of 8 ounces of raw squash and 1 tsp olive oil.
Calories ~ 131, Fat ~ 5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 24 g, Protein ~ 2 g

This was my first ever attempt at making a frittata. I think it turned out very well, although I’m not sure if it counts since it was entirely baked. I was hoping to do it the “normal” way, but was disappointed to find out that we do not own a single frying pan that is oven safe!

Before last night, I did not have any idea why Chris was so interested in getting a set of fancy, expensive, pots and pans. Now I understand and I am totally onboard with it. Too bad I didn’t figure it out before we got married.

Fortunately my all-bake fritatta worked out. If you have a convection oven, I recommend baking the fritatta in convection mode since the bottom is not pre-cooked as it would be with the traditional stovetop to oven method.

Adapted from Branny Boils Over.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped
  • 1 clove elephant garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees (on convection if possible).
  • Chop veggies.
  • Saute onions and peppers for about 10 minutes until browned. 
  • Add garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms and cook 10 more minutes. 
  • Add thyme, salt, and pepper.
  • Beat together eggs, egg whites, milk, and cheese.
  • Spray a pie plate with olive oil spray.
  • Pour vegetables into pie plate.
  • Pour egg mixture over the veggies.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until eggs are fluffy.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 173, Fat ~ 9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 10 g, Protein ~ 16 g

It has been a while since I did a cooking post. The last few weeks have been crazy at Duke’s House and we are doing well to feed ourselves, let alone try cooking new things. I think our crazy schedule is about to settle down some, so I expect to be back in the cooking game!

As I have mentioned before, Chris loves Mexican food, so when I saw this recipe on Branny’s website I couldn’t wait to try it out. I knew that it would be tasty and healthy and it did not disappoint.

While I was preparing the enchiladas I told Chris, “Just to set your expectations, these are going to be veggie enchiladas. They don’t have any meat in them.”

He replied with, “Brit, most enchiladas are veggie.”

“Yeah, but not quite like these.”

He finally made his way into the kitchen to see what I meant. He had been envisioning gooey, cheese filled, enchilada bliss. What he saw, was a skillet full of squash.

He also saw that I was roasting tomatillos and garlic and making green sauce from scratch. “Brit, you know they sell cans of that stuff, right?”

Of course I know that, but what fun would that be?

The verdict, these were great. I will consider doubling or tripling the recipe for the green sauce next time. I will also consider incorporating queso fresco.

From: Branny Boils Over.

Ingredients (enchiladas):

  • 3 cups (cooked) black beans, about 210 g dry if cooking from dry beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 12-14 5″ corn tortillas
  • (optional) sour cream and hot sauce as a garnish

Ingredients (tomatillo sauce)*:

  • 6-8 tomatillos, husks removed and washed
  • 3 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • water as desired (I did not add any.)

*I will consider doubling or tripling this recipe next time. We like sauce a lot.

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. 
  • Place tomatillos and garlic in a pan for roasting, and spritz with olive oil spray. 
  • Cook 35-40 minutes, turned once or twice, until the vegetables soften.
  • Dice peppers, onion, zucchini, and squash. 
  • Saute vegetables over a medium heat in a pan sprayed with olive oil for several minutes, until the veggies soften.
  • Season with all chili powder, cumin, oregano, and lemon juice. 
  • Add black beans and cook 3-4 minutes longer. 
  • For the green sauce, combine tomatillos, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor. 
  • Process for a few seconds and check to see if water is needed. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency and continue processing until desired texture is achieved.
  • Place 1/3 of the sauce in a saucer or shallow.
  • Slightly warm the tortillas by placing them in the oven briefly.
  • After they are warm enough to be pliable, dip the first corn tortilla into the tomatillo sauce so that it is covered on both sides. 
  • Fill tortilla with several spoonfuls of the bean mixture. 
  • Fold over tightly and place seam side down in a baking pan that has been sprayed with olive oil spray. 
  • Repeat as needed until no filling remains. 
  • Spread the remaining 2/3 portion of the tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas and bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Servings ~ 4-5
Calories ~ Difficult to estimate. Branny estimated hers at about 94 calories per enchilada. I think 100 calories per enchilada is a fair ballpark figure, but it is hard to calculate because of varying zucchini and squash sizes, different brands of corn tortillas, different amounts of filling, etc. I would eat 2-3 enchiladas plus some sides for a reasonable dinner.