Kitchen Adventures: Autumn in a nutshell

An acorn squash shell, to be exact.

My obsession with simply-cooked acorn squash has me buying them in multiples every time I go to the store.  Settling down to one for dinner (or as part of dinner) is the perfect way to end a blustery fall day.

All it takes is a small acorn squash, goat cheese, and brown sugar.  Start by cutting the squash in half, and scooping out the seeds and the pulp with a spoon.  Then put both halves of the squash cut-side down in a small microwave-safe casserole dish (mine is about 10″ across) with 1/2 inch or so of water in the bottom.  The goal is to give the squash enough water to steam, but not so much that it will take a long time to get hot.

Cook on high for 5 minutes, then poke the outside of the squash to see if it’s soft.  My small squash tonight took 15 minutes to cook fully, but it’s a good idea to check every 5 minutes and then just add more time to the clock if it needs more.  The inside should be bright orange-yellow and the outside should be tender when poked for it to be done to my standards.

Remove from the dish, top with goat cheese, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  And voila – you’ve got dinner!  This is also really good reheated the next day, but I’ve only made it that far once and have succumbed to eating the whole thing every other time.  If it’s all you eat for dinner, you might be hungry later – this dish is only worth 3 PointsPlus (aka super healthy).

What’s your favorite fall food?

Kitchen Adventures: Quinoa with Tofu and Basil

Or should I say basil with quinoa and tofu?  Basil is clearly the star of this dish, and the delivery of a massive amount of fresh basil from the Ward’s garden (thanks, Sarabeth!) inspired me to go this route in the first place.  This is by far the most complicated dish I’ve ever made without having to go to the store on the way home – a major accomplishment in my book, unlikely to be repeated anytime soon.

This dish is perfect for a summer night like last night – it’s refreshing, light, and doesn’t involve too much time over the stove.  And the way I portioned it, it makes six servings that will last me for lunch and dinner the rest of the week.  Less time cooking later, more time enjoying those late summer evenings!  What’s your go-to summer meal?  Here’s how mine came together (inspired by this post):

Quinoa with Tofu and Basil

  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 1 pack of tofu (I used Trader Joe’s Extra Firm High Protein kind – better than I expected!), chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange would work), cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 20 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  1. Start by cooking the quinoa – put 1 cup of uncooked quinoa along with 2 cups of water in a pot, and heat to a boil.  After boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  If quinoa doesn’t seem soft by that point, add a cup of water and continue to simmer until water is absorbed – repeat as needed.  When soft, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat oil over medium heat and then add tofu, stirring until lightly brown (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add onion and garlic to the pan with tofu – stir.  After about 2 minutes, add in peppers and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and basil to tofu and vegetables – then mix together with quinoa.

Serve it hot or cold, with grated Parmesan on top as desired.  (1 serving = 1/6 of the total = 7 PointsPlus)

You can adapt this to whatever you have around the house – tomatoes, squash, tempeh, etc. – the same basic recipe is a great start to any veggie and quinoa stir-fry.  Enjoy!

Want more quinoa?  Check out my quinoa and cheese recipe here!