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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Spinach Pasta With Acorn Squash

In Breads / Grains, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetables on November 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Everybody jump in the wayback machine for a post from February 2011!!!

This meal is a great carb-loader. Go run a marathon! Or around the block. Or around the room...

Welcome to the new incarnation of Kitchenella! I thank you all for waiting. I know, I’ve taken a looong break, but I’m back with more delicious stuff. The difference is, this delicious stuff won’t turn you into an enormous fattie like the other delicious stuff.

Rest assured, there will be cheat days – after all, science has proven that one day a week of diet abandonment actually does you good. Just not EVERY day. Right, self? Um, yeah…

Okay. This post is about several things:

Acorn squash – because I had never had it before, and I always like to do different things with squash. So I made a pasta sauce out of it.

My new pasta machine – this one. My grandmother sent it to me for Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I’ll post the recipe for the spinach pasta below, and I’ll share my adventures in pasta-making.

My new KitchenAid mixer – this one. W00T! Yeah, you can go ahead and be jealous. The mister gave it to me for Christmas, and I’ve been looking for reasons to use it just about every day since. Please notice that it is the PRO model, not the piddlin’ little Artisan. Heh heh. Don’t worry – you can still make the pasta without it.

So, on to the food. Like I said, squash. Good for you, pretty to look at, sweet and nutty, but once you’ve made soup with it, what do you do? I know, I wondered the same thing. For some reason, I have a hard time eating just plain old chunks of squash like a side dish.

I ended up taking a chance – I had an idea that a squash puree might be a good ravioli stuffing, so I tried. As it turned out, I severely overestimated my skills at making non-punctured ravioli, so that is a skill to polish for another day. But I still needed to make dinner, and I had all this pasta sitting around (see below), so I turned it into a sauce.

Genius! Awesome. Even the veggie-averse Gorilla raved about it. Different at first, perhaps, but definitely a keeper (just like, incidentally, the Gorilla himself).

And get a load of the nutritional info! Chock full, it is. Oh, by the way, I’ll be putting that stuff on every post, so no fooling yourself about your diet any longer. ‘Kay?

Acorn Squash Pasta Sauce:
Ingredients:
1 acorn squash
salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, cumin to taste
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup peas, frozen
1 teaspoon lite maple syrup
dash coriander
2 carrots, shredded
2 ounces, mozzarella cheese, crumbled

Do this ahead of time – place the squash on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for about an hour, or until the skin is dark and bubbly. Remove it from the oven and let it sit until it is completely cool.

Okay. When you start getting hungry, separate the squash from the skin – it should come right off. Throw away the seeds and stringy pulp, because it’s a weird texture and you don’t need it. You can roast the seeds, though – they make a nice snack.

Put the usable portion of the squash in a bowl and mash it until it’s smoothish. Add the spices except for the coriander – taste as you go, and add what makes you happy. I used only a dash of everything, but if you like stronger taste, go for it. Refrigerate the bowl until you are ready to use it.

Saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of canola oil until tender and translucent, and add the garlic and peas. Keep everything moving around the pan until  the peas are cooked through, about five minutes or so.

Add the squash, along with any liquid that may have separated and accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Mix everything around, and add the syrup and coriander.

If your squash didn’t release very much liquid, you can thin the sauce with chicken or vegetable broth, but not too thin. If it’s too thin for your taste, simmer on high for a couple of minutes until it reduces. Otherwise, just simmer on medium or low for a few seconds.

Serve over pasta, sprinkle with shredded carrots and crumbled mozz, and chow down!

Nutrition Info
Servings: 4
Calories: 130
Carbs: 21.9 g
Fiber: 4.4 g
Protein: 6.7 g
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Sat. Fat: 1.5 g
Sodium: 133.3 mg
Cholesterol: 8.2 mg
Vit A: 97.2%
Vit C: 36.1%
Calcium: 15%
(based on 2000 calories)

This was only the beginning...

Okay, now on to the pasta debacle. It turned out well, but I was completely unprepared for the length of the process. Did you know that pasta machines are not magic?

Anyway, I tweaked a typical pasta recipe, and was totally unaware of the sheer volume of pasta that was about to happen. It didn’t seem  like a large quantity of ingredients, and it didn’t seem to be a lot of dough. But once I began running it through the machine, I discovered I was in over my head.

I had pasta everywhere, and no choice but to continue rolling until the entire batch was done, or all that dough would go to waste. The directions said to dry the pasta on a kitchen towel, but I only own, like, five of them, and two of them were already in use. I ended up using parchment and an old ugly curtain we had bought out of desperation.

This project ended up taking over three entire counters in my kitchen, and it even spilled over onto the dining room table. Yes, two rooms. I implore you not to attempt this on a busy day. It was actually very fun, but gosh. It took a long time.

Spinach Pasta

Ingredients:

10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed

4 cups flour

4 eggs

Honestly, you can use fresh spinach if you’re a purist, but the frozen saves you the trouble of cooking and chopping it yourself. Anyway…

In a blender, puree the spinach and the eggs.

Mound the flour into a large bowl (or the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer… hee hee!), make a well in the center, and pour in the puree.

Mix until smooth. If you have a KitchenAid, you can actually walk away for a bit at this point…  hah!

The dough should be moist but not sticky. When it’s finally reached the point where it is cool, smooth and solid-feeling, pick the ball up between your hands and mash it around a little.

Now, either run it through your pasta machine or knead it by hand until you can roll it extremely thin without it breaking. It may take some trial and error.

I sent most of mine through the kneading process only once, and it came out great. But then I had to send a ball through a second time, and it definitely did come out more homogenized and together-like, so use your judgement.

Once the dough is kneaded, just send it through the portion of your pasta maker that cuts the shape you want, or roll it out and cut it by hand. I got a little creative, and tried some giant bowties in addition to my fettucine. Meh. Kinda sloppy. You can’t properly pinch pasta with long nails.

Once the pasta is whatever shape you want it, lay it on towels or parchment or something to let it air dry. I left mine out overnight, and it came out beautifully. If you made long, skinny pasta, you can dry it in little piles – it will separate when you cook it. If you make ravioli, though, you should freeze them right away so the filling doesn’t go bad.

Nutrition Info
Servings: 8 (generous)
Calories: 337
Carbs: 60.4 g
Fiber: 4.7 g
Protein: 13.8 g
Total Fat: 4.5 g
Sat. Fat: 1.6 g
Sodium: 117.5 mg
Cholesterol: 119.4 mg
Vit A: 94.6%
Vit C: 23.7%
Folate: 45%
Iron: 24.6%
(based on 2000 calories)

Sooo… okay! That’s it! It’s been awhile since my last post, but I sure made up for it, didn’t I?  🙂

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Shrimp Veracruz

In Seafood, Vegetables on June 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm
shrimp veracruz

Summer isn't hot enough. This dish makes it hotter!

One of my favorite Latin dishes is shrimp Veracruz, but I never order it because when I eat Mexican food, I’m always after salty chips, sour cream, and tons of cheese. This dish, however, is actually healthy! Really! And it’s soooo good.

As always, it’s customizable too. Mr. Gorilla doesn’t really like things spicy, so I only used one jalapeno, and I took out the seeds. If you want more heat, use as many jalapenos as you dare, and leave the seeds in. Go ahead, I dare you. If you think you’re such a tough guy, use Habaneros instead. But really, don’t go over the top with the spicy. There is such a beautiful melange of flavors here, you really don’t want to overpower it with heat. Melange. Like that?

Shrimp Veracruz

Ingredients:
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed

3/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped

1 cup vegetable broth

6 Roma tomatoes, chopped

cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, oregano to taste

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon water

1/3 cup cilantro

Directions:

Combine shrimp, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl, toss to coat. Don’t use your hands if you have a paper cut. You’ll see. Let it soak while you’re chopping the other stuff, about 15 minutes. Unload the dishwasher if you have extra time, showoff.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute onion and pepper for 3 minutes. Add garlic, then saute until tender.

Add the jalapeno, broth, tomatoes, spices, and simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes. Taste it every so often, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Dump in the shrimp, juice and all. Mix the cornstarch and water, and add that too. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the shrimp are done.

Stir in cilantro, reserving a few sprigs for garnish.

Serve over rice.

I told you it was good!

Pork Bone Soup

In Pork, Soups/Stews, Vegetables on June 16, 2010 at 11:37 am

...aka "What To Do With Leftover Roast"

SO, you made the pork roast, right? And you saved the bone, right? You better have saved the bone. There is no waste in Kitchenella’s kitchen! So, you have this big ol’ pork bone and a container full of leftover meat hanging out in the freezer. Well kids, this is what you do with it. It’s perfect for a busy day because we rely on our old soup buddy the slow-cooker. Actually, I was at home the whole day this was cooking, and it was torturous. The aroma permeated the house. Try working out with the smell of pork coming from the A/C vents.

Pork Bone Soup

In a slow cooker, combine the bone and whatever meat you have left. Add about a cup of chopped onion, a couple of chopped carrots, and a rib or two of chopped celery. If you have some rosemary, throw that in.In fact, chop up a bit of whatever vegetables you have lying around and throw it in. The more the merrier.

Pour in a cup of white wine, a cup or so of vegetable stock, and water to cover. Season with salt, pepper, a dash of cinnamon, oregano, and whatever else you think might taste good. Soup is free-form. It’s like Australia – there are no rules.

Cover and cook on high for about 8 hours, or until you’re ready to eat. If you want noodles, cook them separately and mix them in after. Then they won’t come out all mushy.

Taste the soup before you serve it – it may need more seasoning, it may not. Serve it with fresh bread, which tastes really good dipped in.

Now you’ll have leftover soup in the freezer.

Stuffed Tomatoes

In Snacks, Uncategorized, Vegetables on May 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm
stuffed tomatoes

Believe it or not, this is actually quite healthy!

I’m trying to do new things, and cook things I normally wouldn’t think of. There are so many independent produce markets around here, full of so much beautiful produce, I want to start doing more with vegetables.

Tonight’s dinner was fantastic – stuffed tomatoes. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of this before, but I never would have, and I’m so glad I found it. The tomatoes really shine in this dish, and the cheese makes it hearty enough to fill you up without weighing you down. A very warm, cozy dish. It even makes a nice appetizer!

Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes

3 cups soft bread crumbs – run a few slices of bread through the food processor.

2 cups shredded mozzarella

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Halve the tomatoes, scoop out the insides, and reserve them in a bowl. Sprinkle the tomato halves with salt, and turn upside down on a paper towel to drain.

Chop the tomato insides, and mix with the bread crumbs, cheese, and garlic. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Brush the inside of a glass baking dish with the oil, and arrange the tomato halves inside. Spoon the mixture into each tomato, and sprinkle with olive oil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until top is golden brown.

I served mine with linguine tossed with chickpeas and spinach, but you can do it however you’d like. Some nice, crusty, artisan bread would be lovely.

Artichoke Frittata with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

In Eggs, Uncategorized, Vegetables on May 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm
artichoke fritatta with roasted red pepper sauce

Not only is the frittata good, but the sauce is a freakin' revelation!

Artichokes…hmm…dip? No…grilled? No…hmm. How about a frittata? Yeah! Really, this thing is great. It’s light enough to be breakfast, brunch, or lunch, and it’s savory enough for a delicious dinner. Served with a crisp green salad, it makes a delightful spring meal that won’t feel like lead in your belly.

Is it just me, or does hot weather make your appetite plummet? I mean, you would think it would be a good thing, but it also makes my desire to exercise plummet. South Florida is the home of stagnant, sticky, oppressive summers, and all I want to do is sit like a lump in the AC. I mean, we have the pool now and everything, but as soon as you get out, the water evaporates off of your skin immediately and you start sweating again. Ugh.

Anyway, this dish, although it is, in fact, a hot meal, is still light enough to dispel the hot weather blahs. Make it.

Artichoke Frittata

Ingredients:

1 3-ounce bar cream cheese

1 clove garlic, minced

4 eggs

1 6-ounce jay marinated artichokes

a handful of fresh basil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine the cream cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Do not begin spreading the mixture onto crackers and eating it. You need it for the recipe.

Whisk in the eggs one at a time – this should remove the temptation to eat the cream cheese.

Stir in the artichokes (rinsed), and use kitchen shears to ship half of the basil directly into the bowl.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. As the oil gets all shimmery and hot, use a grill brush to spread it around the pan, including about halfway up the sides.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook uncovered for a couple of minutes until the bottom of the mixture solidifies. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top,  cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue cooking until the top no longer looks wet.

Remove from heat, cut into wedges, and serve with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, which I will tell you about in a second.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons water

Directions:

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until softened and translucent.

Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Either run it through the blender or food processor, or just whirl an immersion blender through it. I used my immersion blender, and it left it a little chunky, which I like.

The beautiful way the peppers and the balsamic vinegar play off of each other will make you want to put this stuff on everything, but just put it on the frittata for now, okay? Calm down.