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?

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Kitchen Adventures: Crustless Quiche

Yes, you read that right.

Pie crust is the latest casualty in my quest to get healthy and still enjoy delicious food.  Especially since I don’t have the patience to make my crust from scratch, it’s hardly ever worth the extra calories and I would rather have my pie/quiche/pudding naked than have half the slice I could if it included crust.  This week, I decided to reinvent my go-to food of quiche in this mindset, and the result was AMAZING.  The roomie and I will be enjoying it all week with more to freeze!  Here’s how this magical dish came together:

Crustless Cauliflower Quiche

Base – can be adapted for any crustless quiche!

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 egg whites (separated or from a carton)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Filling

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut and steamed (about 2-3 cups)
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash, cooked (I used frozen pieces, so easy!)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Get the cauliflower steaming and oven preheating to 375 degrees (F), then prep the rest of the vegetables.  Sauté the onion and mushrooms in a pan with olive oil – when cooked/brown, add the cauliflower, garlic, and butternut squash.  Stir in some salt and pepper as you go, to taste.
  2. In a bowl, beat eggs and egg whites.  Add milk, nutmeg, and then grated cheese, stirring well.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the heat and add them to the egg/milk mixture, stirring gently.  Pour into lightly greased pans (for me, this took one casserole dish and one medium-sized pie plate), top with extra cheese as desired, and cook for 35-40 minutes, until set.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly – then eat or freeze!

For me, this made 16 servings, each with a PointsPlus value of 4.  See what I mean about amazing?  This is going to be a delicious breakfast/lunch/snack for this week, a new standard meal in our little apartment, and a good option when I want to cook for my gluten-free friends.  Furthermore, it’s proof that you CAN enjoy good food without all the carbs – just kick them off the plate!

What do you like to put in your quiche?

Kitchen Adventures: Tahini Orange Squash and Tofu

Tahini and I have a thing going.  Once I open a jar, all I can think about is how I can mix it into whatever dish I’m preparing.  Eggs, pasta, spinach – you name it, I’ve tried to incorporate tahini into it.  I even have more than one muffin recipe that calls for it (weekend project!).

Cooking in progress!

Last night, I took that obsession to a new level when I ripped this 101 Cookbooks recipe for Miso Sesame Winter Squash apart so I could incorporate my favorite ingredient of the moment and keep from spending more than an hour in the kitchen.  The result was delicious (but I bet the original would be too, if I had any desire to buy molasses and if Boston was able to get more than four kinds of squash in February).


Tahini Orange Squash and Tofu

  • 2 pounds butternut squash (about 1 – I bought two halves already peeled and sliced at the grocery store!) halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 8 oz firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces (optional)
Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil – used it all in the sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tahini
  • juice from one orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • juice from half a lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 5 tablespoons water

Tofu and sauce

  1. Cut the tofu into large slices (4 pieces or so total) and press between cutting boards lined with paper towels (I usually throw a heavy pot on top for some pressure).  Let sit while you continue prepping.
  2. Slice the squash into small pieces and set it to steam above a pot of water – mine took about 20-30 minutes (our timer is broken, sorry!) until you can easily cut it with a fork.
  3. While that’s cooking, whisk together the sauce in a medium sized bowl.  Cut up the tofu into smaller chunks and add to the bowl as well, letting marinade for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Saute an onion in a large frying pan/wok with a little sesame oil.  (This was not part of the original recipe, but it worked really well to soak up the sauce, so I’m sticking with it!)
  5. When the onion is a bit translucent, add the tofu to the pan and cook on high, letting the sauce start to boil down. *If you want to put some quick rice, couscous, or quinoa on to cook, this is the time to do it!*
  6. After about 5 minutes, add the squash to the pan as well and cook together for another 5 minutes or so.  The tofu won’t have a crust or anything like that, but when it’s warm and you can’t stand the amazing smells anymore, it’s ready to eat!
Phew!  By the time I took this recipe and turned the entire thing on its head (sauce concept, type of squash, cooking technique), it was an hour later, but it was still super delicious and totally worth it.  The orange really came through in a surprising and tasty way.  This made enough that I had two servings last night, put two away for lunch, and packed another one away in the freezer for some later date.
What’s your latest cooking adventure, real or hoped for?

Dinner is served!