Sweet & Spicy Harvest Bowl

The weather is still pretty warm out but I am mentally ready for fall!  Especially with all the delicious veggies at the Farmer’s Market that are coming out for the season.  The pomegranates, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables and especially all the squash and pumpkins I’m seeing everywhere!  They’re all so beautiful, colorful and oh so yummy!

I was inspired during my last visit to the Farmer’s Market for this recipe.  I used acorn squash because it is mild in flavor and one of the easiest squash to peel and cut.  The beets added beautiful color and flavor (and lots of nutrition!), and crispy brussels sprouts once roasted are the perfect addition for texture in this bowl.

Here are a few other ingredients I used though, I definitely didn’t roast them:

  • Avocado
  • Red Pears
  • Feta
  • Toasted Pecans
  • Quinoa

As for the dressing, I debated whether to add one or not but in the end, I decided a simple squeeze of lime would do justice without taking away from the other flavors.

I was so excited just roasting the veggies because they looked so bright, bold and beautiful!  The spice that I added to balance the sweet of the beets and pears out was smoky chipotle pepper to the veggies that I roasted.

This is one dish that I think is going to come up often on our table through this season!  Make a big batch for a holiday dinner side, a small batch for a lunch or make it a meal for a weeknight!  It’s simple, healthy, delicious, and you get to eat many of your colors!

Here are some of the health benefits from this yummy bowl:

  • Low Carb
  • High in Fiber
  • High in Protein
  • Vitamins K, C, A, and B-6
  • Good Source of Iron
  • Good Source of Folate

Well!  What are you waiting for?  You have got to try this out!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious Sweet and Spicy Harvest Bowl!

Spiced Pear Loaf

I love a traditional banana bread but I also love changing out the fruits and making different types of loaves.  This Spiced Pear Loaf gives me a peek into the fall with its hints of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger; the sweet pear chunks added in… oh so delicious!
IMG_7866
This bread uses milk and oil in addition to the pear chunks to give it just the right amount of moisture.  Use a 1:1 ratio of whole wheat flour and oats for a healthy balance of carbs, and just enough brown sugar to combine with the warm spices to bring fall home any time of the year!
IMG_7871
Use this loaf for a snack during recess, packed in your lunchboxes, or even as a sweet treat post meals.  So delicious and scrumptious, you have to try it out!
IMG_7862From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious treat!

Basil Butternut Squash Lasagna

20151002_195403

Fall is here and that means squash is everywhere.  So many different kinds but butternut squash is one of my favorites.  I experimented with Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe for Butternut Squash Lasagna and since then, I’ve made a few changes of my own.  This recipe is great to serve for a dinner party, or even to have for lunch leftovers.  If you want the original recipe, I’ll post a link at the end of this blog post.  But for the moment, here’s my version.

Ingredients:
1Tbsp olive oil
1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2c water
1/4c butter
1/4c all-purpose flour
3 1/2c low-fat milk
Pinch nutmeg
3/4c (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves
1c fresh basil leaves, chopped
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2c shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Add the squash in a heavy large pot full of boiling water.  Cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender – it’ll take about 20-30 minutes.  Spoon out the squash and let it cool for 5 minutes.  Add to food processor and blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes.  Add the nutmeg and mix well.  Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender. Add the 3/4 of the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Preheat to 375 degrees F.  Spread a ladle of the sauce in a baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread a little squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Drizzle some more sauce over the noodles.  In the second layer, sprinkle the cup of chopped basil.  Continue layering and top with mozarella cheese.

20151002_192341Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  I found that this makes the sauce not bubble over and the flavors are so much more vibrant.  Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes.  Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.  Garnish with some fresh basil.

*Here is the link to the original recipe by Giada de Laurentiis: Butternut Squash Lasagna

Chicken Pot Pie

20150925_194904

One of my favorite things about cooking, is the smile on my husband’s face when he eats my food. Whenever I make anything, I always rely on him to give me his honest opinion so I can perfect my dishes – I have to say, he gave me a PERFECT on this one! Now I want to make it over and over again.

The cool thing about this Chicken pot pie is I add the chicken separate from the veggies instead of mixing it all together like many recipes call for it. By doing that, I’m giving myself the freedom to turn it into a Veggie Pot Pie for myself (being a vegetarian – I have to find ways to share meals without making separate ones all the time!) I’ve also tried to make it healthier in my own way by cutting out the butter and replacing it with olive oil and cutting out the cream completely. And of course, for my Li’l bit of Spice, there’s some hot sauce in there!

Here’s how I made it!

For the Chicken:

Preheat Oven to 400°F. Season boneless, skinless chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
When it’s done cooking, remove from oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes then shred it with a fork.

For the Veggie filling:

Preheat the oven to 400°F
In a nonstick pot, heat the oil. Then add in the onions, garlic, peas, carrots, and celery.

20150925_184924

Mix well and saute for about 3-5 minutes until the onions turn translucent.

Add in the flour and mix well. Let it cook for about 5 minutes so the flour is not raw.

Add in the veggie broth, salt, pepper, turmeric, thyme and hot sauce.

20150925_185819

Lower the heat just a little bit and cook until the mixture thickens.

Layer individual ramekins with veggie mixture, then the shredded chicken, then a little more of the veggies. For the vegetarian in you, there’s no layering involved! So easy!

Cover the ramekins with pie crust (not gonna lie – still working on figuring out how to make this), then brush with a little egg wash. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes and there you have it! Beautiful Chicken (or veggie) Pot Pies!

20150925_194900

Here’s the consolidated version. This recipe makes 4 servings.

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 c diced carrots
1 c diced celery
1 c frozen peas
1/2 c diced onions
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2c whole wheat flour
5 c veggie broth
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbsp thyme
1 whole pie crust
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
For the Chicken:
Preheat Oven to 400°F. Season boneless, skinless chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
When it’s done cooking, remove from oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes then shred it with a fork.
For the Veggie filling:
Preheat the oven to 400°F
In a nonstick pot, heat the oil. Then add in the onions, garlic, peas, carrots, and celery.
Mix well and saute for about 3-5 minutes until the onions turn translucent.
Add in the flour and mix well. Let it cook for about 5 minutes so the flour is not raw.
Add in the veggie broth, salt, pepper, turmeric, thyme and hot sauce.
Lower the heat just a little bit and cook until the mixture thickens.
Layer individual ramekins with veggie mixture, then the shredded chicken, then a little more of the veggies. For the vegetarian in you, there’s no layering involved! So easy!
Cover the ramekins with pie crust (not gonna lie – still working on figuring out how to make this), then brush with a little egg wash. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes and there you have it! Beautiful Chicken (or veggie) Pot Pies!