Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cranberry Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Want to receive a delicious holiday treat from a fellow blogger?  Check out the Blogger Baked Goods Exchange over at Itzy's Kitchen.  The deadline to sign up is Wed., Nov. 24th, so do it quick! :)

Squash rocks.  It is super healthy, deliciously filling, and easy to cook.  I've been intrigued by different kinds of squashes since I began reading about the various kinds available during the fall.  Sprouts had all their squash on sale a few weeks ago, so I picked up an acorn squash and started working on something tasty for dinner on a chilly fall night.

Enter Mollie Katzen's Get Cooking.  I won this cookbook in a Kashi giveaway last year (it was one of those things where you enter and forget about it until the package shows up on your doorstep).  Needless to say, it's been a great resource and is packed full of easy and simple recipes to help you sharpen (pun intended, har har) your culinary skills.

Let's get started, shall we?

Pick a lovely squash for your meal.  Isn't it purty? :)

Get a big, sharp knife.  You'll need it to halve your squash down the middle.  Use force if necessary.

With a big spoon, scoop out all the pulp and seeds.  Be patient - it takes a while!  When you're done, bake it for 35-40 minutes until the flesh has softened.

Meanwhile, get your quinoa going.  I subbed quinoa for rice in this recipe because I hadn't cooked any in a while, and I thought the nutty texture of the quinoa would pair well with the sweet and nutty flavor of the squash.  I was right :)

In your saucepan, sauté some onions.

Add in your chopped nuts to toast them a bit and bring out the flavors of the natural oils.  Yum!

Please try not to burn your onions like I did.  Oops.

Once your quinoa is finished cooking (about 20 minutes), it will be nice and fluffy like this.  Sample a bit just to make sure :)

For the topping on your quinoa, toast the leftover squash seeds in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees with olive oil, S&P, and cumin.  Make sure to stir them halfway through so they don't burn.

Mix all your other ingredients in with the quinoa...

...and add a splash of this to bring out the lovely fall flavors and give it a little extra kick.  I probably used 2-3 tablespoons.  Don't be shy!

Here's what your squash will look like after roasting.  Yum yum!

Fill each squash half with your quinoa mixture, and top with some toasted squash seeds.

Doesn't that look good? :)

Cranberry Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash - serves 2
Adapted from Mollie Katzen's Get Cooking


  • 8 oz. quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water (or however much you need to cook your quinoa)
  • 3/4 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 medium acorn squash
  • 1/2 tsp. butter
  • 2-3 green onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium apple, chopped
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
  • Apple cider vinegar to taste
  • Cook your quinoa according to package directions, and set aside.
  • Adjust your oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line a baking tray with foil, and pour half the olive oil on it.  Using your fingers, distribute the oil so it coats the area where you'll put the squash.  
  • Place the squash, cut side down, on the olive oil.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until flesh is tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the remaining olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.  Add the butter and swirl until it melts into the oil.
  • Add onion, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, or until it becomes very soft.
  • Add the walnuts and cook with the onions, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes (they will begin to toast and give off an aroma).
  • Stir in the garlic and salt, and cook for a few minutes longer.  Remove pan from heat.
  • Check on your quinoa and add a splash of apple cider vinegar to taste, if you like.
  • Transfer quinoa to a medium mixing bowl.  Add the onion-walnut mixture and toss until combined.  Add the apples and cranberries and toss until combined.
  • Turn the squash halves over so their cavities are facing up.  Divide the quinoa mixture among the squash, using a spoon to fill the cavities and pack down the mixture. (You'll have plenty of quinoa left over!)
  • Sprinkle the squash with the toasted seeds, and serve.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Banana Peanut Flour Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel Topping

Have you ever tried peanut flour?  I ran across it at Trader Joe's several weeks ago and was quite intrigued by the little bag.  Then I saw recipes coming up all over Blogland about it.  Being a muffin maniac myself, Monica's Banana Peanut Flour Muffin recipe called out to me and said, "Bake me!"

So I did. :)

These muffins are delicious, healthy, and FILLING.  Mind you, this is coming from someone who tends to avoid muffins just because they don't stick with me.  I ate 2 for breakfast probably every day after making them until they were gone.   I used half brown sugar and half white sugar instead of what the recipe calls for and they were just sweet enough.  Add some Oatmeal Streusel Topping and you'll be good to go.   

Gather all your goodies:

Mix your flours, salt, and baking powder/soda together.

Mix your milk, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract and yogurt.

Batter up!

So far so good...

Mix wet and dry together...

Make your Oatmeal Streusel Topping.  This is the best part :)

Pour your (thick!) batter into greased muffin tins and sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.

Post-bake: oooh yes!  Lookin' good :)

Hellooooo muffin.  Get in my belly, please!

They need to cool for a bit, but go ahead and eat one warm right out of the oven.  You won't regret it :)

Muffffffin.  Yum. :)

You can find the recipe here.  Enjoy!

For the Oatmeal Streusel Topping: Combine 2 tbsp. melted butter with a packet of instant oatmeal (I used Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar).  Sprinkle over the top of your muffins before you put them into the oven.  Easy peasy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Foodie Does Seattle

Hi friends :)  It's good to be back in blogger land!

If you read my last post, you might have guessed where I was the past few days.  I headed to the Evergreen State to my dear friend Audrey in Seattle.  She just started nursing school at UW and graciously hosted me for the weekend.  It was my first visit to the city (unless you count a layover in the airport, which I don't) and I was really struck by how much Seattle has to offer.  The scenery is gorgeous - there are bodies of water everywhere and mountains galore.  No wonder Seattle residents are so outdoorsy!  On a clear day you can see Mount Rainier in the distance, and we snuck a peek the day I arrived as it was just barely poking out through the clouds.  I also enjoyed seeing the variety of neighborhoods, charming houses, and locally-owned businesses.

Some of the highlights of our weekend included sunset views and city lights from the top of the Space Needle, visiting Pike Place Market, touring the UW campus, a beautiful run along Lake Union, a great 4-hour hike, and checking out several parks and other scenic areas.

Oh, let's not forget the food :)  Seattle is fantastic in that it has a plethora of ethnic restaurants, locally-owned places, and countless organic, vegetarian, and vegan options.  In other words, you won't have any trouble finding something for everyone.  Here's a taste of all the yumminess we experienced!

Visit Pagliacci Pizza around Seattle for fantastic gourmet pizza.  Here's our pie:

A slice loaded with tomato sauce, goat cheese, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, and drizzled with pesto. Look at that gooey cheese!  It was awesome :)

After pizza we hit up T.S. McHugh's, a great Irish pub, for a few pints.  I really enjoyed my Mac & Jack's Amber Ale, courtesy of another friendly local brewery.  Alas, pizza-induced food coma = no picture taking at the bar :)  Audrey had to study the next morning, so we headed over to Café on the Ave. close to the UW campus for lunch/studying/Facebooking :)  I had a delicious veggie sandwich (baguette, hummus, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and pickles) and veggie soup:

On our visit that afternoon to Pike Place Market I couldn't help but drool over the gorgeous pastries at Le Panier.  Check out these works of art.

Isn't this meringue exquisite?  Now that's what I call a work of art :)

Our dinner later that evening took place at Qazi's Indian Curry House, in the Fremont district.  Here's Ryan's (Audrey's boyfriend) vegetable dish:

Audrey ordered Tandoori chicken, and yes, it really was that bright!

My chicken and lentils dish.  It doesn't look pretty, but it tasted great!

My plate of Indian goodness.  The lighting made it hard to take a picture, but I think the blurriness captures the excitement and energy of the flavors all coming together.  Don't forget fluffy basmati rice :)

What's dinner without dessert?  We walked off our Indian food and headed to Molly Moon's, a ice creamery that prides itself on creating fresh, homemade ice creams and sorbets using all-natural and local ingredients.  They made waffle cones right in front of us at the counter and man, it smelled heavenly.  I chose blackberry sorbet and spiced cider sorbet for my waffle cone.  Yum!

Of course, lots of eating requires exercising to work it off :)  Here's me and Audrey (and Ryan's finger on the lens :) ) on our Sunday afternoon hike!  There was a beautiful waterfall right behind us, but alas the angle doesn't capture it.

Hiking works up an appetite for healthy food to fill you up.  Ryan had stumbled upon Chaco Canyon Organic Café a while back, and we headed over for a delicious vegetarian AND organic meal.  Seattle rocks :)  I had a delicious kale and veggie soup (I think there were sweet potatoes in it), sprouted grain toast, and a lovely house salad with lots of fresh veggies.  It really hit the spot!

It was a brisk and drizzly day before I headed out of town, so Audrey and I stopped for a delicious Puerto Rican lunch at La Isla in Ballard.  It was my first time trying Puerto Rican cuisine and I was not disappointed.  I found it very similar to several Cuban and other Caribbean and Latin American dishes I sampled while living in Miami.

My Pollo Guisado bowl: pulled chicken over rice topped with green onions, an avocado wedge, and tostones (fried plantain fritters) and garlic mojito sauce on the side.  ¡Buen provecho!

There you have it, folks.  I also sampled delicious espresso from Caffé Vita, a local coffee roastery, as well as a to-DIE-for chocolate chip cookie from Cinnamon Works at Pike Place Market.  Unfortunately, my stomach devoured them both before I could get my camera out :)

I try to make it a habit to support local businesses whenever I visit somewhere new, especially since you can visit Starbizzle on every city block in practically any major city in the world.  Besides, it's much more fun to eat like the locals do :)

What are some of your favorite local watering holes?
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