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Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts tagged ‘budget’

This is how my Mom prepared acorn squash growing up.

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

Serves 2 – 4 (2 halves or 4 quarters).

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Directions:

Rinse the entire squash and place it in a baking dish, resting in about 1 inch of water.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Insert knife into squash to make sure it is cooked (knife should slide in easily).  Remove squash from oven and let cool slightly on a cutting board.  Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and toss.  Top the acorn squash halves (or quarters) with butter and brown sugar.  Serve immediately.

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This is one of my favorite Ina Garten recipes (and that’s saying a lot!)  It’s so versatile – you can serve to kids for a casual, weeknight dinner or with a fancier meal if you are entertaining.  You can also make them ahead and reheat them in the oven if you need to.  I don’t know about you, but our family can’t get enough of sweet potatoes, so this is a fun way to mix it up.  Note: I slice my sweet potatoes a little thinner than Ina and I always double the recipe!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Level: Easy
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt (if needed) and serve hot.

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My mother-in-law “Cille” made this for our family when she was visiting and we loved it.  It’s healthy and tasty, it’s a meal in and of itself, it doesn’t make a huge mess in your kitchen, it can be made ahead (I love this!), and you can easily freeze extras for a future dinner.  She used to make this all the time for her four hungry boys growing up (they loved this in high school).  I thought I would take a crack at updating this classic.  For the bell peppers, I substitute yellow and orange peppers for the traditional green peppers (I still make a green one for my husband who is nostalgic!)  Instead of hamburger meat, I use ground bison (it’s healthier and I think tastes so much better).  Instead of white rice, I use farro (it has a nice chewy texture and is fiber rich and is full of minerals) and you can also use pearl barley (also a great source of fiber and can lower cholesterol) or just brown rice.

Meat Stuffed Bell Peppers

Adapted from my mother-in-law Cille’s recipe and one from Emeril Lagasse.

Meat Stuffed Peppers

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

6 bell peppers (try a mix of colors), tops cut away and seeds removed

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground Bison meat (can substitute turkey)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 cups cooked farro or pearl barley (or brown rice)

8-ounce can tomato sauce (Muir Glen Organic)

shredded cheese (mozzarella or cheddar)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the peppers until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.

In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the bison meat, garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Cook until the meat is browned, stirring with a heavy wooden spoon to break up the lumps, about 5 minutes. Pour off any excess fat. Add the farro or barley and tomato sauce and stir well. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

Pour enough water into a baking dish to just cover the bottom, about 1/8-inch deep. Stuff the bell peppers with the rice mixture and place in the baking dish. Top each pepper with plenty of shredded cheese. Bake until the peppers are very tender and the filling is heated through, 30-35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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We eat chicken at least once a week and we got so tired of my boring baked chicken preparation.  Now that I’ve discovered this wonderful Turkish Seasoning from Penzys Spices, we have an easy and tasty way to make chicken that we all look forward to.  Follow the simple marinade and refrigerate in the morning or in the afternoon, and cook the chicken how you like (bake, saute or grill).  The marinade should work on lamb and beef just as well as it does on chicken.

Turkish Chicken

Recipe adapted from Penzeys catalog.

Turkish Chicken

Ingredients:

Turkish Seasoning by Penzeys Spices

1 pound chicken (we prefer boneless, skinless)

Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with 1 tablespoon Turkish Seasoning and rub over chicken.  Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or all day.  Bake in oven at 375 or 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through (insert knife into thickest part of chicken and chicken will no longer look pink and the juices should run clear).  Alternately, sauté in skillet (or grill) over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes per side or until chicken is just cooked through (insert knife into thickest part of chicken and chicken will no longer look pink and the juices should run clear).  Let the meat rest for a few minutes (so it retains its juices) before serving or slicing.

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This rice is so delicious — one taste and you won’t believe you made it!  Nothing hard about this — it just requires you to make the rice the day/night before.  Great served with fish, chicken or steak with an Asian flavor profile.  I have served this with Miso-Glazed Black Cod.

Stir-Fried Brown Rice with Seaweed & Black Sesame

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good

Stir-Fried Brown Rice with Nori + Black Sesame

“This simple dish isn’t just a great way to dress up leftover rice, it actually depends on leftover rice, since leftover rice is drier than freshly cooked rice and the kernels get browned and crispy when you stir-fry them with this lovely combination of flavors.”

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups day-old Perfectly Cooked Brown Rice

Coarse sea salt

2 sheets toasted nori seaweed

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce or Tamari

1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat.  Add the rice, along with a big pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until warmed through and just barely beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes. Using scissors, shred the nori finely and add it along with the remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine and serve immediately.

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This is a wonderful and interesting dish – a great option for a vegetarian night.  There are so many tastes (and textures) going on: salty feta and olives , sour dried cranberries, bitter kale, sweet red onion, and aromatic garlic.  I could eat this once every two weeks — and I don’t know why I don’t!  It’s great with linguine, but also great with healthier penne (we often use Barilla Plus or Barilla Whole Grain). In this photo I tried a brown rice penne from Trader Joe’s which was also good.  Two notes: 1) whole wheat pastas don’t reheat that well (so chewy!) just in case you plan to make enough to have leftovers and 2) I thought 5-6 cloves of garlic was plenty (recipe calls for an entire head).

Pasta with Kale, Olives and Cranberries

Recipe from the blog Two Peas and Their Pod.

Pasta with Kale, Kalamata Olives, Dried Cranberries, Toasted Garlic & Feta

Yield: Serves 6-8

This pasta dish is also known as “crazy spaghetti” because it is crazy good-a family favorite!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound spaghetti or other pasta (we use whole wheat)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut into slivers-pits removed
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Cook onion in the remaining oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add dried cranberries and cook until plumped, about 1 minute.

2. Add kale leaves into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until aldente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain pasta.

4. Toss pasta with kale, Kalamata olives, and 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese and garlic chips over the pasta dish and serve warm.

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