Sunday, August 23, 2009

Butternut Squash Fries

I love making sweet potato fries. They are so tasty! I got the idea to use butternut squash instead from Cara's Cravings - Cara is such an inventive chef who finds very healthy alternatives to traditional dishes. I can't seem to find the specific recipe on her site, but the link I used references her grilling her squash fries. That is also a great option. I baked mine like I bake my sweet potato fries, but try these either way. They are such a healthier alternative to standard french fries, and tastier in my opinion!

Butternut Squash Fries
serves 2

1 butternut squash, sliced as uniformly as possible
olive oil spray
chili powder

1. Par-boil the butternut squash for a couple of minutes, then plunge in ice water. Drain and pat dry.
2. Spray squash slices with olive oil cooking spray, and toss with salt, pepper, and chili powder, to taste.
3. Spread out on a foil-lined sheet pan, and bake at 425 deg F for about 30 min, flipping half-way through. You will want to watch these carefully to determine done-ness, it depends on how long you boiled them for and how thick you cut them. Remove them when the edges start to brown.

I love these, and they are even healthier than sweet potato fries. These will definitely be a regular in my side-rotation, especially now that butternut squash are coming into season.

Cilantro-Pesto Penne with Chicken

A while ago, I posted about making some cilantro pesto and freezing it. A couple weeks ago, my mom came to visit for a night. I had some chicken in the fridge but I didn't know what to do with it. I saw the cilantro pesto in my freezer and pulled it out. I tossed it with some whole wheat penne (just thaw it on the counter top while you are making the pasta, then toss it with the warm pasta and it will heat up), and topped it with sliced grilled chicken and fresh basil. It was a perfect light meal, accompanied with a glass of wine. Thanks for visiting mom!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Every now and then, Josh wants to get into the kitchen. I have been trying to limit the amount of sweets I keep around the house, so Josh took matters into his own hands and made a very yummy loaf of banana bread. (He hasn't mastered the tooth-pick test yet, so it was a little over-done, but it didn't matter. It was still very good!)Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/2 c mashed bananas
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 deg F.
2. Cream sugar and butter; beat in the mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Combine dry ingredients and stir into the first mixture just until moistened.
4. Fold in chocolate chips until well incorporated.
5. Pour batter into greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 3o to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted tests done. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool banana bread completely before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

This was a very good banana bread. Not too sweet, and not too dense. We might try this again, just to practice the tooth pick test!

French Fries

As in, fried potato sticks. With a craving for fries and some potatoes laying around, Josh pulled out our mini-deep fryer again. We don't use this much, but every once in a while, its a nice treat.

French Fries
serves 1-2, adapted from Food Network, Food 911

1 large russet potato
3 cups ice water
1 Tbsp sugar
Canola oil for frying
Salt for topping

1. Slice potatoes to uniform thickness
2. Dissolve sugar in water. Soak the potato slices in water for a few minutes. Pat dry before frying.
3. Heat canola oil to 325 deg F. Par-fry potato slices for ~3 minutes, remove to a plate and place in the fridge.
4. Increase oil temp to 375 deg F. Add fries, and fry an additional 4 minutes, or until desired crispy-ness.
4. Remove to a paper towel to rain off the excess oil. Top with salt.

This method resulted in french fries with a bit of a bite to them - not the soggy, oily, limp fries you get at some fast food joints. A nice treat to curb the craving!

Red Beans and Rice (with Sausage)

I had picked up some sausage on sale at the store and needed a quick easy recipe to use it up. I saw this on The Lazy Housewife Cooks, originally from Epicurious. It was a great way to use up the sausage - the Old Bay seasoning really adds a deep flavor - and it was pretty easy to whip together.
Red Beans and Sausage with Rice
serves 4

1 lb cooked sausage, such as kielbasa (I sliced on a heavy bias and cook in a skillet until browned)
1 medium onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, minced (I used 2 stalks)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Old Bay or creole seasoning
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth

4 cups cooked long-grain white or brown rice

1. In a 3- or 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook the sausage until it begins to brown and fat begins to render.
2. Add the onions and celery/pepper/whatever and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and spice(s) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and the flavors have blended, about 30-45 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly after the heat is off. 4. Serve over rice. Enjoy!

The flavors in this were really good, ad I think it would be a great comfort dish in the winter time. The sausage added quite a bit of fat and calories to the meal, but you could easily cut that back to slim in down a bit (or use a chicken sausage). And while it took a little while to make, it was really easy to put together.