Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

Oh yes.  This so happened.  After more than a year of marriage, my wedding dress is finally ready to be shipped off for a cleaning.  Who knew I'd feel such weight lifted off my shoulders? 

And then there was spaghetti squash.  How have I not told you about spaghetti squash?  It makes an appearance around here often as a simple meal for busy weeks.  Normally, we just bake it then add pasta sauce, but tonight we dressed  it up with sausage and cheese - so tasty without being over the top.  Todd thinks this dish would be better cooked with beer - maybe add some beer at the end then let it simmer...?  

Thought for the Evening:
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. -- Buddha

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage
From White on Rice Couple, serves 3-4

1 Spaghetti Squash (@3lbs or 1365g)
2 T (30ml) Olive Oil (divided in two parts)
5 or 6 medium Shallots, thickly sliced
3 cloves Garlic, crushed or finely minced
3/4 lb (340g) uncooked Sausage (any kind you prefer)
1 c (60g) coarsely grated Parmigiana Reggiano
1 T finely chopped Oregano, or other complimentary herb to the sausage
Sea Salt and fresh Cracked Pepper to taste

Preheat Oven to 375°F.

1. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. (Use the tip of the knife to first pierce and get the cut started. Once you get the first cut started the rest of the squash should slice easily.) Scoop out the seeds and strands, then place cut side down on the prepared sheet pan.

2. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the squash flesh separates easily into strands with a fork. Finish loosening and removing the “spaghetti” from the shells and set aside.

3. Onto a large sheet of butcher paper or similar, pinch and pull small balls of sausage out of the casing, laying them so they stay slightly separate. Continue for all of the sausage.

4. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Heat second 1 T of olive oil in pan, then add shallots and garlic. Cook until soft, stirring every 30 seconds, then add sausage. Cook untouched until bottom side of sausage starts to brown, then stir. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the sausage is cooked through (@2-3 minutes depending on heat and size of sausage).

5. Add spaghetti squash strands to the sausage and continue cooking until heated (usually less than a minute.)

6. Remove from heat. Toss in Parmigiana Reggiano and oregano. Season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper (remember the cheese will have a bit of “saltiness” to it already.) Serve immediately.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spinach Pesto with Cremini Mushrooms

Our first Food for Todd creation turned out pretty well! I used cashews here, but next time I think I'll experiment with pistachios. 

Finals time is closing in for law students - only 2 weeks now! I'm striving for a productive evening over here, and if you're studying, too, here's some inspiration:

“Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness but it is greatness.” - George Bernard Shaw 

Spinach Pesto with Cremini Mushrooms
By Food for Todd

- 1 bunch spinach, stems removed
- About 3/4 cup roasted cashews (or walnuts or pistachios)
- 4-5 (or 6?) cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 boxes cremini (button) mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 bag farfalle pasta
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon juice

In food processor, add spinach, cashews/walnuts/pistacios, garlic and process until smooth. Then, slowly add the 1/4 EVOO.

Cook your pasta. BAM!

While pasta is cooking, cook mushrooms in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.

Drain pasta then add to mushrooms and toss. Add pesto on top. Add your cheese on top of that and mix. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Okra Gumbo with Chickpeas and Kidney Beans

Okra Gumbo!  

Isn't okra the happiest looking vegetable?

I found this gumbo on Post Punk Kitchen, a vegan cooking and baking and blog.  Admittedly, it's good (mild, creamy, loaded with vegetables), but I think it'd taste better with some spicy pork sausage - would you try it and let me know? :)

Okra Gumbo with Chickpeas and Kidney Beans

Post Punk Kitchen
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1 medium sized onion, diced large
About 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, diced large
1-28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons thyme
2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth at room temperature
2 cups okra (about 10 oz) sliced 1/4 inch thick or so
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (a 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans (a 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

First we’re going to make a roux, but it has a little less fat than a traditional roux, which means it doesn’t get as goopy. If you’d like a more traditional roux, just add 3 more tablespoons of vegetable oil. Okay, so, let’s proceed.

Preheat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat. The wider the pot the better, so that you have lots of surface area to make your roux.

Add the oil and sprinkle in the flour. Use a wooden spatula to toss the flour in the oil, and stir pretty consistently for 3 to 4 minutes, until the flour is clumpy and toasty.

Add the onion and salt, and toss to coat the onions completely in the flour mixture. As the onions release moisture, they will coat more and more. Cook this way for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds or so.

Add the peppers and tomatoes and cook down for about 10 more minutes. If using cherry tomatoes, place a cover on the pot to get them to cook faster and release moisture. As the tomatoes break down, the mixture should become thick and pasty.

Season with fresh black pepper, add bay leaves, smoked paprika and thyme and mix well.

Stream in the 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, stirring constantly to prevent clumping. Add the okra and beans, then turn the heat up and cover to bring to a boil. Stir occasionally.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stew is nicely thickened and the okra is tender. If it’s too thick, thin with up to 1/2 cup vegetable broth. If it’s not as thick as you like, just cook it a bit longer.

Add the lemon juice, and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems (if you can see them) then serve in a big, wide bowl.