The gloomy weather we’ve been having lately made me really want some warm comfort food so I made one of my favorite meals. Fall is also the season for one of my favorite foods in the world – butternut squash! The first time I had a butternut squash and garbanzo bean (or “chickpea” if you want to use the sexier word for it) stew like this was at Nook Bistro a couple of years ago. I fell in love with it and absolutely had to make it at home. After trying out a couple different recipes, I found one that was similar enough and really healthy. I made this a few years ago prior to starting my blog, so I thought I’d give it the shoutout it deserves!
Note: If you decide to make this at home, I would recommend buying pre-cut butternut squash because the rind is not easy to cut through.
A few people have asked what is with the sudden burst in posts. I love to eat, sleep, and breathe food so naturally, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen with the new found free time I’ve acquired in the last month. However, it seems like this is slowly turning into a cooking/baking blog, so I’ll change it up in the next couple of weeks with something inedible to share!
Mixing it up, and adding a post about the dinner I made with my brother’s help the other night. My dad is diabetic and can’t have carbs at night, so he tends to lean towards meat and vegetables for dinner. However, my brother has inherited ghastly high cholesterol, so he has to stay away from most meat and stick with vegetables and carbs all meals of the day. Neither of them are fish fans, so I decided to make one of my favorite lean dishes – turkey-and-quinoa meatballs with whole wheat pasta and chunky vegetable sauce. My dad could stick with the meatballs and chunky veggie sauce, and my brother could have a lean meatball or two, and then veggie-and-carb load.
I found the recipe for the meatballs a couple of years ago on WholeFoods.com, and loved that the moisture that the extra vegetables and quinoa provided along with the healthnut “brownie” points. The recipe calls for beef, but the meatballs have tasted like meatloaf instead of meatballs the times I’ve made this with beef so I usually use turkey instead.
The meatballs have diced onions, garlic, quinoa, grated carrot and zucchini, and traditional herbs and spices. If you plan on making the meatballs at home, it’s definitely not a weeknight type of meal because of all the time that goes into prep in mincing/grating vegetables. Alone, the meal altogether takes me 2-3 hours to make.
The sauce is composed of just a bunch of chopped vegetables cooked til tender in some EVOO, mixed and heated together with some Prego, and then throw over some whole wheat pasta. Easy!
I somehow managed to get sick AGAIN last week, thus the surge in posts (2 posts within a week is a lot!). It all started on Valentine’s Day – the day I was planning to surprise Kevin with a new cheesecake recipe I came across back in January. However, we miraculously must have channeled the germ gods at the same time because we both ended up feeling fatigued and sniffly by the end of the day. After almost a week straight of feeling congested, unquenchably dehydrated, and tired, I finally regained my energy over President’s Day weekend – enough energy to cook-up a storm.
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, or so the cliché goes. However, the object of my affection has a bottomless pit for a stomach and peculiar taste preferences, so I’ve really had to change up my game in the last few months. While my food staples are quinoa, fresh produce, and lean proteins, Kevin’s are Party Pizza, Carl’s Jr. western bacon cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, and hot sauce. While I like to think I’ve always been a decent cook (considering my parents don’t cook so I pretty much figured it out on my own), it’s been a challenge to meet halfway between an “obsessively healthy” cooking style to cuisine that has a lot of flavor additives. The man even said STEAK doesn’t have enough flavor…to which I replied, “That’s because you haven’t had mine yet”. Challenge accepted. I said I was going to make steaks for dinner.
After an hour’s worth of time at Ralphs and Trader Joe’s followed by a 3-hour (yes, THREE HOUR) stint in the kitchen, I’m glad to share with you my well-rounded (albeit not calorie-friendly) dinner featuring a dinner salad, my favorite homemade steak, mac and cheese (Kevin’s pick), and raspberry mini cheesecakes. The raspberry cheesecakes really are the main event to this post, but I was taking tons of photos for the cheesecakes anyway so I figured why not do the same for the meal as a whole.
Who can resist a medium-rare filet mignon rubbed with a little fresh ground pepper and kosher salt? I topped it with some fried garlic and grilled onions on the side. Nom.
Next up, we have baked mac and cheese, utilizing a recipe I borrowed from Alton Brown.
Last but not least, sweets for my sweet. I made a raspberry puree sauce with my “hand-y” food processor. That is, I don’t own a food processor so I mashed a container of raspberries with a fork and separated the seeds from the fruit. I didn’t need the raspberry seeds/guts for this recipe, but it made a nice pseudo-jam for my almond butter sandwich the next morning.
The hardest part about making these guys was dealing with the water bath situation. I drowned one or two mini cheesecakes in water every time I took a batch out of the oven. The other difficult step was drawing the hearts, while taking a photo in one hand and keeping my other hand steady while doing the heart. I didn’t have any toothpicks handy, so I improvised by using an uncooked soba noodle to draw the hearts.
I thoroughly enjoyed this particular recipe… dare I say even better than the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes I made for his birthday in August. As fluffy as I thought those were, these were much more delicate and light, but still had a velvety rich taste to them. Voilà!