Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ta da! I finally figured out how to get straight to the ‘make a new post’ box that lets me do html from the beginning. Not the BS that WP seems to think I want.

I made stuffed acorn squash last night. It was great last night. And it was great today as lunch, as I’m sure it will be tomorrow too. Even the ManBeast approved and said I can make this again. You’ll want to do this on a day when you have plenty of time. This is NOT a fast recipe.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

0. Preheat oven to 400F.

1. Split and clean out an acorn squash. In a baking dish, put the cut side down. Put water in the dish to about 1/4″ up the side of the squash. Or some estimation of that, with more being better than less.

2. Bake squash for 1 hour.

Towards the end of that time, prepare the stuffing.
3. Cook 1/2 lb ground pork sausage. With some crushed red pepper if you like spicy. Set pork aside.

4. In same pan, sautee 1/2 onion, and a few cloves of chopped garlic (I used 4 small ones).

5. When the onions are soft (or done to your liking, this recipe is pretty flexible), add a 1/2 stalk chopped celery, 5 sliced/chopped mushrooms, and a 1/2 peeled/chopped tart apple. The recipe I followed called for 1/2 c pecans, but I forgot them. I’d probably like them, but I’m not sure the ManBeast would.

6. Cook until nice and soft and everything is well cooked. Put in same bowl as pork.

7. “Deglaze” pan with 1/4 c white wine. This didn’t work so well, as our cast iron is now well seasoned, but I did it any way. Reduce wine a bit.

8. Add in pork mixture along with 1 egg, 2 T milk, and a 1/2 c “bread crumbs”. Spice/herb to taste. I added 3 fresh chopped sage leaves, a 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt, and some pepper.

9. Hopefully in there somewhere, you took the squash out and let them cool a bit. Flip them over and be careful of any water that has sucked back up into the cavity. You might want to scoop out some of the squash, mix it with the pork mixture. Stuff the cavity with the pork mixture. It will likely mound over a bit. I put some more crushed red pepper over the top.

10. Bake at 375F for 1/2 hour. Top with parmesan cheese.

A word about the “bread crumbs”. You could use actual bread crumbs, or something else bread-ish. I made biscuits the night previous and while they tasted good, they didn’t quite get the fluff I wanted. So I hacked up 3 of those and used them as my “bread crumbs”. You could probably even do this without the bread crumbs.

A word about cost. We get ground pork sausage for $2 a pound (or maybe less, I can’t remember). The acorn squash was $1.50 at the farmers market, and the apples, I paid maybe $1 for two. The celery was a wilting stalk that normally I would have thrown out. The mushrooms were left over from another dish where we didn’t need the whole package. So really, all told, you could probably do this entire dish for well under $10. To me, the pecans would likely be the most expensive, and I’m kind of glad I left them out. I even used one of the cheapest bottles of white wine I could find. This worked out to be four meals for us.

Breakfast burritos

So, what have I been up to?  Quite a bit.  What, with getting engaged, going to Copenhagen for a conference, canning probably close to 50 pounds of tomatoes (and other things), and trying to get science done?  I’ve been a little busy.  Today, I give you breakfast burritos.  Hopefully later this week I’ll talk about rainbow cupcakes and my canning adventures (not canning rainbow cupcakes though).

Breakfast burritos

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As always, I’m a fan of mis en place (mess in place).  This recipe includes:

1/2 diced onion
4 garlic cloves minced
2 peeled and “diced” baking potatoes
1 diced red bell pepper
1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3-4 chipotle peppers in adobe, chopped
~7 extra large eggs*
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 pound maple breakfast sausage
Oh, and my cooking fat was bacon fat

With about 3-4T bacon fat in a large skillet, brown your onions, add the garlic, then the potatoes.  The potatoes will take longer than you think to cook if you haven’t pre-boiled them (which is an option).  You might want to do something while they cook.  I scrubbed the cabinet doors:

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(I consider the left one clean enough, the right one will get done another day).

This is about what your potatoes should look like when you’re getting close to done:

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Once they are done, set them aside and briefly saute the red bell pepper in the same pan.  More if you like them cooked more, or less if you aren’t as fond of overcooked bell peppers as I am.  Set them aside in the same bowl as the potatoes.

Now cook your sausage.  You could probably use a number of different meats here.  The recipes I used for inspiration included chorizo, poached pulled chicken, other types of ground meat.  Pick what works for you.

Once the meat was cooked through, I added the potatoes and red peppers back to the pain and topped that with the egg/cheese mixture along with some salt, pepper, and a 1/2T of ancho pepper powder.  You want to stir gently here as the Pioneer Woman reminds us (which was one of the sites I used for inspiration).

Once everything was cooked, I let it cool for a bit.  I used basic flour tortillas as my wraps, putting 1/3 cup of mix in each wrap.  My 10 pack of wraps actually had 11, and I had enough left over mix for 7 more wraps.

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Each wrap was wrapped in plastic wrap and then loaded into a freezer bag.  That and the left over mix went into the freezer.  Tomorrow I’ll pull out one (or maybe two) wraps and reheat them in the microwave. Suggestions I’ve seen are to wrap in a paper towel and reheat for anywhere from 45 seconds to 3 minutes.  I’ll see what my microwave takes.

*I say 7 eggs because I actually had 4 yolks and 1 egg white to use up from other recipes, and then added 6 actual extra large eggs.

Sesame chicken

Why are so many websites these days changing to be less and less usable?  I haven’t (obviously) done much here lately, but I hate the changes wordpress has rolled out.

This recipe can easily be made gluten free, or gluten full.  The amounts are also flexible.  You could easily do more chicken in the batter (I think the most we’ve done is a pound an a half), half or double the sauce.  Depends on how you like your food.

Sesame chicken

1.  Chop about a pound to a pound and a half of chicken into bite size pieces.

2.  Marinate in the following for about 20 minutes:

2 T soy sauce (gluten free if you need it)

1 T sherry

1 T sesame oil

2 T flour (random mixtures of gluten free flours have worked for us)

2 T corn starch

2 T water

0.5 t baking powder

0.5 t baking soda

1 t vinegar

3. While that is marinating, combine the following in a sauce pan:

1/2 c water

1 c chicken broth

1/4 – 1/3 c vinegar

1/4 c corn starch

1/4 – 1/3 c sugar

2 T soy sauce

2 T sesame oil

2 T plus (or to taste really) siracha

4.  Put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet.  Deep fry the chicken at 375F.  Do it in small batches.  Fry until nice and golden brown.  When each batch is done, put it onto the cooling rack.  Letting it cool this way will let it maintain it’s crispiness better (this is a trick I learned from userealbutter, and it’s always worked great for us).

5.  While the chicken is frying, bring the sauce to a gentle boil and stir.  Simmer until thickened.

6.  We serve this one of two ways.  Either put chicken over rice and top with sauce.  Or just combine the chicken and sauce in a dish and serve.  We almost always have steamed broccoli as our veggie for this dish.

Chicken/pork rub

Oh look, two recipes in one day! (you might even see a third if I am up for it)

This recipe is by far the one I’ve used the most in the past two weeks. I got the base somewhere off allrecipes and then mangled it to be ours. And honestly, I haven’t made it the same way twice. Every time I use it, I change something. Every version has been stellar. All the spices here are dried.

Chicken/Pork rub
Combine in a small bowl:
1/8-1/4 c brown sugar (the original was 1/4, 1/8 works too, more is better if you have more meat)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

Mash around with a fork and then rub onto your meat of choice. Cook as desired.

More specifically how I’ve used it:
-Two large pork steaks, slathered on both sides, cooked under the broiler for 7 min a side (a bit too long in our opinion)
-4 chicken quarters, baked at 350-400F for 45 or so minutes, until the chicken was done, or with 6 quarters.
-I’ve also put rosemary in. And sage. I forget the cayenne last time. You could do the garlic and salt separate. The original had 1.5 tsp of basil.
Etc.

Beef Stir Fry – urb inspired

I don’t often make recipes from use real butter, and I’m not sure why. But I do regularly check out her posts for inspiration, often times combine useful techniques or flavor combinations with what I have on hand, or what I know we like. This was the case with dinner tonight.

Beef stir fry – urb inspired
0. Set out a bag of stir fry veggies to thaw, ideally in a colander.
1. Chop up a bunch of garlic. I used probably 7 or 8 inner cloves. Set aside.
2. Slice a medium onion in half, and then slice it into thin half moons. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 T corn starch, 3 T sesame oil, 4 T soy sauce and about 2 t siracha.
4. Slice up the meat. I used about a pound of flat iron steaks, because they looked good when I was at the Butchery on Friday. Useful technique from urb: slice the meat when it is still mostly frozen-ish. You’ll get more even slices. You want them about a 1/4″ plus thick. Also very important, slice against the grain. Add the meat to the soy sauce mixture and mix around.
5. Heat your cooking fat of choice in an appropriately sized cooking vessel. I used coconut oil in one of our small stock pots.
6. Cook the stir fry veggies until they are hot. Set aside.
7. You might need to add more cooking fat. Saute the onion until it is done to your liking. Undercooked onions and I don’t agree, so I cooked mine until they were lightly caramelized.
8. Add the garlic and stir. Cook for maybe a minute.
9. Add the meat and sauce mixture. Stir and flip the meat until it is brown on the outside, and all the pieces are visibly no longer red on the outside. Cook longer if you don’t like your meat pink, cook less if you do like your meat pink.
10. Put the meat in the veggie bowl and then attempt to deglaze your pan with 1 T soy sauce, 1 T sherry and 1 T sesame oil. It won’t quite work, but you’ll at least get some of the flavorful stuff off the bottom of the pan. Put everything back in the pan and heat through. Serve and eat.

Broiled lamb arm chops

I know I’ve said it before, and I should say it again to remind myself, but I really shouldn’t buy lamb arm chops. The ones we got this time weren’t very fatty, but there just isn’t a lot of meat on them, and one of them, the center bone was huge. But at least they tasted good!

Broiled lamb arm chops
I served this with risotto that was less than average, so I won’t bother sharing that with you. About half way through making the risotto, I ‘marinated’ the arm chops, and then popped them in the broiler towards the end when the risotto was almost done.

1. Combine in a small bowl: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 T lemon juice, a few shaves of pepper, some estimation of 1/4 t salt, 1/2 t rosemary, and one clove of minced garlic. Honestly, I didn’t measure the salt, pepper or rosemary. I just went with what looked right. Mix these all together well.
2. Place two arm chops on a plate and slather with the oil mixture. Smear the chops around to cover well. Let them sit while you continue cooking whatever else you might be making. Every few minutes, smear the chops around and flip them over. This was my attempt to marinate them at least a little.
3. Turn on your oven to broil. Mine only has off or on, and you can only put the rack at one height. So if you have other variables, you’ll need to figure it out for yourself.
4. When the broiler is hot, and you’re ready, line a small broiler safe baking pan with aluminum foil, and place the arm chops on that. Pour any remaining marinade over the chops.
5. Broil for 5 minutes. Smear around and flip them, and broil for another 5 minutes.
6. Eat.

You’ll want to cook them a bit longer (or shorter) depending on thickness of the cut, how well done you like your meat, and how fully thawed out the chops are. Mine were still a little frozen-ish in the middle. They were about 1″ thick. And we’re not afraid of medium cooked meat. So ours came out pink, and slightly more pink near the bone. Tasty. Easy. And quick. I love broiling meat.

Chinese style ribs

I’m home sick today with some sort of upper respiratory viral infection. I thought it was my allergies, being as I ran out of my normal antihistamine Saturday and thought it a wise idea to use up the back store I had of less than ideal antihistamine. So when I got a sore throat, I chalked it up to post nasal drip. And when I started feeling fatigued, I chalked it up to my allergies, which if not kept in check, make me fatigued. Monday I remembered I had some nasal spray that I thought should have helped the post nasal drip. Tuesday night I decided I’d had enough, and stopped to get my usual antihistamine after I went to my meeting. And last night, when I still wasn’t feeling any better, I decided to actually look into my mouth and see what was going on. It wasn’t good, and I decided it looked like I could have strep throat. So I called urgent care and they got me in for an appointment this morning. The rapid strep test was negative, and the PA who saw me said my symptoms actually more likely were from a viral infection. The white stuff in my throat didn’t really look like that of strep throat. So I’ll just have to wait this out. I’m just fatigued enough that I don’t really feel like doing anything, but I’m not so fatigued that all I want to do is sleep. It’s really annoying. And if I sit for long enough, I start to feel better, but the minute I’m up and trying to do something, all I want to do is sit back down. Cleaning the kitchen tonight was torture, and now I’m paying for it.

Chinese style ribs
Spare ribs were on sale at the Butchery last week for $2.50 a pound. The only package they had left was 2.5 lbs; I bought them with no clear plan in mind. So early this week when I opened up the package to see what they actually looked like, I instantly wanted chinese style ribs. Like the ones my parents used to order for me from the chinese food place that was behind our house when I was younger (which was actually run by a really nice Korean family). You know, sticky, sweet, tangy, slightly spicy. I could eat an entire bag of them myself. I found a recipe on allrecipes that looked reasonable taste wise, altered to what we had on hand, and mashed it with a cooking technique that seemed like it would work. I’d call the sauce recipe a work in progress. The ManBeast liked it, but I think it could use some more tweaking. The other thing I’d do different next time would be to cut the ribs apart prior to cooking. Yes, it would likely make them more of a pain to baste and turn, but I think it would get the taste of the sauce into the meat better. You could also marinate the meat, but I never seem to remember. I also didn’t actually measure out all the 2.5 T below. I guesstimated as a bit under 3T.

Here’s your teaser picture:

This is for 2.5 lbs spare ribs.
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a small bowl mix:
1/2 c hoisin sauce
2.5 T ketchup
2.5 T honey
2.5 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
2 T ume plum vinegar
2.5 t lemon juice
2.5 t minced ginger
1 clove minced garlic
a rounded .5 t five spice powder
3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (yes, this is definitely a good idea, and so would spraying it with cooking oil).
4. Place the ribs meaty side up and brush liberally, but not sopping wet, with sauce. Turn over, and brush the ‘bottom’ side.
5. Bake for 20 minutes and then brush with more sauce. Bake 20 more minutes.
6. Turn ribs over and baste with more sauce. Bake 20 minutes. Then baste with more sauce. Bake a final 20 minutes.
7. If your oven is the right temperature, the ribs should be perfectly cooked at this point. If not, you might want to cook them more.
We had extra sauce, which I boiled down a bit, and then completely forgot about. Next time we’ll use it for dipping sauce (though if the ribs were cut apart, I don’t imagine there would be as much left over sauce as there would be more surface area to cover).