Month: October 2013

tasty tuesday: fall stew with chorizo, kale, lentils, and acorn squash


Happy Halloween!  It’s Thursday, but this crazy week has me posting this week’s tasty tuesday on a Thursday.  I think that this one is well worth the wait, though.

Tuesday was the busiest day I’ve had at work in quite some time.  Everything I worked on was good and productive, but I was totally worn out by the end of the school day.  I even forgot to each lunch!  I know that, for some people, this happens all of the time, but let me tell you something: it takes a ridiculously busy day for me to forget to eat.  After a hectic day, I headed to Kroger with a tasty tuesday assignment looming with no idea what I would make.

Then, I saw an acorn squash.  She was right in the corner betwixt a butternut and a spaghetti when I snatched her up and decided I’d been inspired.  Next, I grabbed some trusty kale and thought, “What will I do with this? Pasta, perhaps?  A baked bread pudding, maybe?  Nah…I’m going to chop everything up in a pot, add some chicken stock, and let it simmer for good while.”

…and that’s precisely what I did.  I picked up a few stalks of celery, a carrot, and did a mental checklist for the herbs and spices I had at home.  Stew was on the horizon.  But what protein would round out this meal?  A less hungry head (and stomach) would have led me to a sensible ground turkey or lean ground beef, but instead, I found a package of chorizo.  Oh yeahhh.

On my way to the checkout, I spotted a can of crispy fried onions, the kind you find atop holiday green bean casserole.  YES, I thought.  This is the crunch factor that I’m looking for, plus it will get me in the mood for my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving.

So I went home, browned some meat, chopped some things, added some stock, brought it to a boil, turned it to simmer, then went to my Pure Barre class.  When I came back, Alex was drinking a pumpkin beer, so I dipped us up some soup, cracked open a pumpkin beer for myself, plopped down on the sofa, and sat still for the first time that day.  My my, how delightful and rewarding it was.

Fall Stew with Chorizo, Kale, and Acorn Squash

1 lb. chorizo

1 acorn squash

1 bunch of kale

2 celery stalks

1 carrot

5 cloves of garlic

2 containers of chicken stock (48 oz. each)

1/2 cup green lentils

1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds

1 tsp. crushed dry thyme

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

optional, but encouraged: crispy fried onions as a topper

In a large pot, brown the chorizo over medium-high heat.  While the chorizo is cooking, dice the celery and carrot, then put them in the pot.  Next, remove the skin from the acorn squash and cut into bite-size pieces, then add to the pot.  Smash the garlic cloves, give them a rough chop, then add them to the pot.  Add the chicken stock, herbs, and spices, then turn the heat to high.  Next, add the lentils to the pot. One leaf at a time, tear small pieces of kale off of each leaf and place them in the pot.  The pieces don’t have to be exact, but aim for a 1 inch by 1 inch square.  Bring the stew to a boil, then place the lid on the pot and let simmer for at least one hour.  Immediately before serving, top each bowl with about 1/4 cup of crispy fried onions.

lunchbox life: spaghetti squash with chicken and arugula pesto


I’m back!  After three weeks away, I’m giving you a new lunchbox delight for your work week.  The last two weeks have been jam-packed with meetings, a conference in Athens, and community events, and blogging just didn’t happen!  Luckily, this recipe should make up for the absences.

I’ve written before about my affinity for spaghetti squash before, so I’ll just reiterate here how great it is.  If you haven’t tried it, it’s super easy to make and works well with many different spices and flavors.  This weekend was full of social gatherings: Friday night in Athens for not one, but two parties with friends, the Run or Dye 5K Saturday morning, a rockin’ bachelorette party in Atlanta last night for my friend Brooke, then brunch in Atlanta this morning before we made our way back to Macon.  This next week is also busy, including Halloween in the neighborhood!

Here’s the take on this recipe: you’ve got to try arugula pesto.  If you like basil pesto (and who doesn’t?!), you’ll love this sharper, snappier version.  The peppery arugula mixed with the bright lemon juice is a great combination, and while it would be great with spaghetti, it’s also fantastic with its lower-GI friend–the spaghetti squash!

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Arugula Pesto

2 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise

olive oil

3 chicken breasts

3 cups arugula

5 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup almonds (I used Trader Joe’s marcona almonds with rosemary, but you could use any variety)

3 Tbsp. olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

2 tsp. garlic powder

red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Halve the squash lengthwise.  Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out of each half, drizzle lightly with olive oil, then massage it into the flesh of the squash to make sure that it’s covered.  Season with 1 tsp. garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then place flesh side up on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 45 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, spray the chicken breast with cooking spray, then season with the other tsp. of garlic powder, a dash of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Place in a baking dish and put in the oven; cook for about 30 minutes, then take out and let cool.  Chop into bite-size pieces.

In a food processor, combine the arugula, parmesan, almonds, garlic cloves, and some salt and pepper.  Pulse until mixture is evenly chopped, then while the processor is on, slowly add about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil.

When the squash is done, use a fork to scrape the strands into a mixing bowl.  Add the juice of the two lemons, salt, and pepper.

In five separate containers, evenly distribute the spaghetti squash, chicken, and pesto.  When you’re ready to eat, reheat the bowl in the microwave and stir to combine the pesto and chicken with the squash.

wild card wednesday: sesame crusted tuna salad with teriyaki wasabi dressing

Not your normal Tuna salad

Not your normal Tuna salad

Man, have y’all ever had the Tuna appetizer at Downtown Grill? How about Circa? Have you ever had Tuna that didn’t come from a can? If the answer to any of these questions is no, it is time to ameliorate the situation and make it happen. If you want to have something similar to the dishes made by the places above, this salad is a great way to go and have a nice well balanced meal while you’re at it.

The Salad:

2 7 oz tuna steaks
2 oz sesame seeds
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cracked pepper
Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
1/2 cup pistachios
4 oz cucumber, sliced
1 cup snow peas in shell

Toast shelled pistachios in a pan over medium heat for about 7 minutes or until browned and they smell toasty- the should be a little bit softer.

While thats going, combine the seeds, garlic and pepper is a shallow pan. Roll each steak in the mixture until coated on all sides. Remove the pistachios and add olive oil to the pan. Sear the tuna steaks about 2 minutes on all sides until the outsides are done. Remove from heat.

While that it cooking, slice lettuce and arranged on plates in bed. Add the peas, pistachios and cucumbers. Slice the tuna in thin strips and top the steak.


2 tsp wasabi paste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard

Whisk ingredients together, adjust to taste. Add to salad.

This is a very light, satisfying meal. It is also very quick and quite easy. I hope everyone enjoys!


tasty tuesday: ground lamb ragu with roasted spaghetti squash


This dish may look like your typical spaghetti and meat sauce, but it has a few twists along the way.

I’m a huge fan of lamb as a protein.  It’s a red meat with game-y taste, and anytime I see lamb on a menu, I’m going to order it.  When I was abroad at Oxford, lamb was the red meat of choice at most pubs, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  If you’ve been wanting to try it out, this is a great “gateway” recipe–you’ve probably had ground beef or turkey before, so you’ll be used to the texture.

Spaghetti squash is a wonderful thing.  For the record, it doesn’t taste like spaghetti, but it’s a great substitute is pasta dishes as long as you accept the fact that you’re not eating pasta.  Basically, pick a really great sauce, top the spaghetti squash with it, eat to your heart’s content, and be smug and delighted at the end of your meal when you’re not stuffed with carbs and uncomfortably full.

A word on carbs: I love them.  Too much.  I will eat them forever and ever (so deal with it, carb police).  I’m not a paleo person, a low-carb person, or one of those people who thinks that eating bacon and sausage for three meals a day will make you skinny (it might, but your arteries will hate you).  With all of that said, I do recognize that when I eat too much of them, I don’t feel so great, so I reserve carb-heavy meals for a few nights a week.  Spaghetti squash is a great alternative, especially when paired with rich tomato and lamb ragu like this one.

Why not just call it a sauce?  A ragu is more meat-based than tomato/stock/broth based (that would be a sauce).  There, now you know!

Ground Lamb Ragu with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Serves two, but you’ll have a lot of sauce leftover

1 spaghetti squash

2 tsp. olive oil

garlic powder

1 lb. ground lamb

1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, small diced

1 carrot, small diced

1 celery stalk, small diced

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1 and 1/4 cups chicken stock

1 Tbsp. ground fennel seeds

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. chopped rosemary

1 tsp. chopped thyme

salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce: heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy medium pot.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for about five minutes.  Next, add the lamb, spices, and salt and pepper.  Cook the lamb until browned, then add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.  Next, add the wine and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock, stir to combine, and let simmer for at least 35 minutes.  The longer the better!


For the spaghetti squash: Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise.  Place each piece on a cookie sheet skin side down.  Drizzle each half with 1 tsp. of olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Roast for 1 hour and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Using a fork, simply scoop out the flesh of the squash and, ta-da!, you’ll see why it’s called spaghetti squash.  Here’s a before and after:


All that’s left to do is assemble, so scoop out one half per serving, top with the ragu, sprinkle with some parmesan, and you’ve got a hearty meal with no tummyache at the end.  Bon appetit!

tasty tuesday: fried chicken thigh sandwich, roasted potatoes and brussels

Chicken Sammich

This post is a little late and out of sequence, but the meal was still tasty! This was a quick supper due to a late night and late meetings, but it was a good way to get something tasty that wasn’t enormously taxing… my meals lately have been more endeavors than breezy tasks. Continuing my penchant for fried foods and a desire to somewhat recreate a wonderful lunch at HUSK Charleston led me to this delicious sammy.

Fried Chicken Thigh Sammich

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 pack of hot country pork sausage
Sourdough Bread
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp sriracha
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 lime
1 tsp olive oil
Flour and spices for dredging, in two pans
1 egg
Oil for frying

Ok, so you want to start by getting the sausage browning in a skillet. Nothing fancy here.

Once that is started, pound the thighs with a tenderizing mallet until slightly thinner and are about the size of your bread slices. Dredge each in spiced flour (I used salt, pepper, red pepper, paprika), then an egg bath, then flour again. Fry in oil in a hot pan about 4 mins per side, until golden brown and crispy.

While frying, microwave the butter and honey together in a small bowl. Brush onto bread and grill, butter side down, on a stovetop grill pan. About 2-3 mins should be enough for decent browning.

Build the sandwich with sausage on the bottom, then chicken. Add lettuce. Mix the sriracha, lime, vinegar, and oil together with a whisk and spoon over lettuce. Add tomato and any condiment of your choosing and gobble up! Super easy, bold, spicy sammich.

For a side I took red new potatoes and cut them into bite size bits and brussels with the ends chopped and halved and tossed them in olive oil, salt, and hot pepper. Roasted for about 25 minutes at 425. This mix worked really well together!

Hope you enjoy!

wild card wednesday: smoked salmon flatbread with caramelized red onion, capers, and whipped dill cream cheese


New month, new challenge!  This month’s challenge is fish, and Alex has clarified that shellfish does not count.  This has me both excited and nervous; I love fish and order it frequently at restaurants, but I worry about overcooking it at home.  Tonight I cheated because I used already smoked salmon, but in my defense, I had a community meeting this evening.  Either way, I was very pleased with the outcome!  Tonight’s dish is a dressed up version of the classic Jewish bagel breakfast of lox and cream cheese with red onion and capers.  I don’t care for raw red onions, so I caramelized them (a new obsession).  I used whipped cream cheese (Philadelphia brand) instead of its thicker cousin.  I could have used creme fraiche, but I didn’t have all of the time in the world.

I used Publix pizza dough–another fantastic shortcut!  I think this dish would also be great cut into smaller pieces as a savory and tart addition to your hors d’oeuvres table.

Smoked Salmon Flatbread with Caramelized Red Onion, Capers, and Whipped Dill Cream Cheese

1 Publix refrigerated pizza dough

1 Tbsp. cornmeal

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 red onion, halved and sliced

2 Tbsp. butter

8 oz. nova smoked salmon, torn into pieces

4 oz. whipped cream cheese

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

2 Tbsp. capers

Ahead of time, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the sliced red onion.  Over about an hour’s time, stir the onions every 10 or so minutes.  Set aside.

Stir the dill and cream cheese together, then set aside.

Heat the oven to 500 degrees.  Roll out the pizza dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle with cornmeal, then place the flat dough on top.  Brush with olive oil and top evenly with parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 7 minutes or until it begins to brown.

Take pizza out of the oven and top with salmon and capers.  Dot the pizza with lumps of the dill cream cheese.  Place back in the oven for about 4 more minutes.  Take out, slice, and eat!

lunchbox life: burrito bowls


Whoops!  It’s Wednesday and I’m just now posting my lunches for the week.  This week’s lunch is super simple, yet very healthful, complete, and will keep you full throughout the afternoon.  Imagine you’re in Moe’s (or if you’re a Maconite, the superior Caliente’s) and you order a burrito bowl (basically everything except the tortilla).  Now imagine it’s just as tasty, but much better for you.  Here you go!

Burrito Bowls

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pkg. Trader Joe’s taco seasoning (all natural and very tasty)

1 zucchini, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 pkg. mushrooms, sliced

1 14 oz. can pinto beans

1 cup reduced fat Mexican cheese

Saute the onion and olive oil for about about 4 minutes on medium-high heat.  Add the ground turkey and taco seasoning and cook until turkey is done.  Next, add the veggies, stir to combine, and cover for about five minutes.  Take off the cover, stir again, then stir in the beans.  Turn off the heat, divide into bowl, and top each bowl with about 1/4 cup cheese.