Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Puttanesca originated in Naples in the mid 19th century and is usually made with pasta, capers, tomatoes, garlic and hot peppers. Since I had a spaghetti squash I need to use up, I made this dish. It turned out wonderfully. Below is my own version of this!!

(Hidden under that luscious sauce is the shredded spaghetti squash!)

Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash cut in half horizontally with seeds removed
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 1 diced jalapeno pepper or red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 2 stems of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup of whole black olives (optional)
  • 2 cups of Prego pasta sauce
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

Drizzle olive oil over each half of squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side  down in a Pyrex dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven uncovered for 60 to 75 minutes.

Remove squash and let cool before shredding each half with forks. Be careful not to puncture the squash skin! Cover loosely with foil. Let it rest while preparing the sauce.

In a large frypan (or wok – I love using a wok when preparing sauce for spaghetti), brown the beef, stirring frequently. When there is no more pink, add the 2 cups of pasta sauce.

Stir to combine all of the meat, adding the diced jalapenos (optional) or red pepper flakes

Add the pitted black olives and 1 stem of basil LEAVES and stir to combine.

Uncover the bowl of spaghetti squash shreds and pour the sauce the shreds.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and the leaves from the other basil stem.

Serve.

Zucchini Noodle Pesto for Two

My spouse bought three medium sized zucchini at the grocery store with which I made this wonderful pesto dish. Meatless! Unlike most pesto dishes, this one I made with no pesto sauce, as you will see below. It was all his idea and turned out perfectly!

Zucchini Noodle ‘Pesto” for Two

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchinis (ends trimmed) unpeeled
  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 T. cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese+
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Use a spiralizer to make strands of zucchini noodles(zoodles). I chose the thinner setting.
  2. Shred the basil leaves by rolling them together like a cigar and slicing across the roll. This is called chiffonading.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan until slightly brown and remove from heat.
  4. Sauté the zucchini noodles in 1 tablespoon of cooking olive oil in a wok or deep frying pan for two minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the fresh basil leaves to the noodles and stir to mix well.
  6. Add pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Salt and pepper to preference.
  7. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the noodles and serve.
  8. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Garnish with more basil leaves.

Beef and Broccoli

I have always enjoyed this dish in an oriental restaurant, and having found myself with too much broccoli, I searched for how to easily use it up. The ingredients list seems long, but actually it does not take much time as there is no marinating the sliced beef! It gets the flavour from the sauce ingredients. You will obviously notice that there is NO rice. We are trying to cut back on rice these days…

Better-Than-Takeout Beef with Broccoli

  • 1 to 1.25 pounds flank steak, sliced into thin strips, no more than 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or nicely minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ginger, or to taste (fresh or dried is okay, use less dried than you would fresh)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (light may be substituted)
  • 4 to 6 cups broccoli florets (dependent on preference for broccoli)
  • 2 to 3 green onions, sliced into 1/4-inch-long segments
  • red pepper flakes, optional and to taste
  • sesame seeds, optional for garnishing

To a large zip top bag, add the steak, cornstarch, seal, and toss to coat. Set aside while preparing the sauce.

1 To a medium saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and heat over medium-high for about 1 minute, or just until garlic is fragrant, taking care not to scorch it.

2 Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and allow it to boil for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened and reduced. While it simmers, sear the steak.

3 To a large skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and the steak. Cook over medium-high or high heat until steak is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes, flipping the pieces intermittently to ensure even cooking.

4 Add the broccoli.

5 Evenly drizzle in the soy sauce mixture, noting it will bubble up dramatically. Toss the beef and broccoli to coat evenly with the sauce. Simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes at medium-high, or until the broccoli is as crisp tender as desired.

6 Optional — If your sauce hasn’t thickened up as much as you’d like and your broccoli is done or nearly done, and you want a sauce that clings better and isn’t as thin, simply dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water (called a slurry), add it to the skillet, stir for about 1 minute, or until your sauce has thickened to your desired level. Since I used 6 cups broccoli, the natural water and juices that escaped from it thinned out my sauce, so I needed to use a slurry.

8 Turn off the heat, add the green onions, and stir to incorporate.

Optionally, evenly sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Roasted Frozen Broccoli Florets

How many times have you realized that the only vegetables in the house were in the freezer? Sure you can sometimes steam them, but often they turn out mushy. Thankfully on Pinterest you can find recipes for using them straight from the freezer without thawing! This recipe is a keeper, along with others I found there for using frozen spinach in a pasta and frozen butternut squash. (more on those another day).

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Roasted Frozen Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 10 oz bag of frozen broccoli florets
  • olive oil spray
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder

Instructions

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange frozen broccoli florets in a single layer on the parchment paper

Spray the frozen broccoli with olive oil spray to coat

Sprinkle on even amounts of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder over the tops of the broccoli (no need to toss or stir)

Roast at 450 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, checking once or twice, until broccoli is crisped to your liking

Remove from oven and sprinkle on parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

Fried Cabbage with Bacon, Onions and Garlic

Looking for a great Easter side dish? Buy that half head of cabbage and start frying. This is an excellent side and you can substitute turkey bacon if you prefer. It reheats beautifully.

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Fried Cabbage with Bacon, Onions and Garlic

Serves 4

  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 1 large brown onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium head of white cabbage, trimmed, cored and sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • The following to taste:
  • salt, black pepper, onion and garlic powder, paprika
  • a knob of butter (optional)
  • dill weed (to taste)

Heat a skillet and then cook the bacon rashers over medium heat until just crisp. remove and set aside on paper kitchen towelling to drain. Crumble and keep warm.

Add the onion to the bacon drippings. (Over here our bacon is very lean so there wasn’t many. If you find that is the case, add a small splash of olive or rapeseed oil.) 

Cook, stirring to soften. when it begins to caramelize somewhat add the garlic.  Cook and stir until fragrant. Add the diced carrot.

 Add the cabbage.  Cook, tossing and stirring, until the cabbage begins to soften.  Season to taste with the seasonings. 

Add 60ml (1/4 cup) of water and cover. Cook and steam over low heat until the cabbage has softened. Stir in the bacon crumbles.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required. If desired stir in a knob of butter. Serve hot.

KETO Chicken Pot Pie

I don’t know about you, but chicken pot pie is one of my fall favourites. That creamy chicken and vegetable filling is so warming and comforting. 

Although this recipe included a coconut flour crust, I ignored it and it became my Chicken Pot Pie without a crust! The choice is yours…

Keto Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 cup mixed vegetables
  • 1/4 small white onion diced
  • 1/4 tsp.salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp.poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp.rosemary
  • pinch of thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken diced
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese OPTIONAL

Instructions

  1. Skip cooking the chicken and buy a ready roasted one! Cut up 2 1/2 cups…
  2. Saute onion, veggies, garlic cloves, salt and pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter for approx. 5 minutes until onions are translucent.
  3. Add heavy whipping cream, chicken broth, poultry seasoning, thyme and rosemary. Simmer (covered) for 5 more minutes.
  4. Add the diced chicken.

Optional – Stir in 1/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese.

 

Maple Thyme Roasted Brussel Sprouts,Carrots and Parsnips

Last of the fall vegetable recipes since they are becoming scarce. These were great! Great with the scalloped potatoes…

Maple Thyme Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, and Parsnips

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped, peeled parsnips, cut into ½” chunks (about 3 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped, peeled carrots, cut into ½ ” chunks (about 3 medium)
  • 4 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered, depending on size
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the oven racks on the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
  2. Divide the vegetables between two large rimmed baking sheets in a single layer.
  3. Place the olive oil, maple syrup, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle half of the mixture over each pan of vegetables and toss well to coat. Place one pan on the upper rack and one on the lower rack, and roast for 15 minutes. Switch the pans from upper to lower and vice versa, and roast 10-15 minutes more or until caramelized and softened.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted veggies

Roasted Summer Squash with Sweet Peppers and Onions

 You are probably wondering why I am using summer squash now that it is Fall. Well, the truth is that northern type squash, which I love, are not normally available in Yucatan. What is “normal” are patty pan squash which are quite small but are available most of the year here. Recently I found a package of these so-called summer squash at a local grocery chain. So, here goes…

Roasted Summer Squash with Sweet Peppers and Onion

This recipe can be easily doubled, using 2 baking sheets and rotating the pans to allow for even cooking. And, yes, we eat the rinds, since there are lots of nutrients..

  • 1 large yellow squash  or smaller summer squash [about 2 cups] unpeeled
  • 1 large zucchini squash [about 2 cups] unpeeled
  • 1 medium purple onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet orange pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 3/4-1 tsp garlic salt
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a baking sheet liberally with cooking spray.
  2. Cut the yellow squash and zucchini into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
  3. Thinly slice the onion and cut the peppers into strips.
  4. Place all of the veggies into a medium size mixing bowl.
  5. Drizzle the veggies add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle with the seasonings, add 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, 3/4-1 teaspoon of garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well.
  7. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Stir. In the first 20 minutes, the vegetables will release a lot of moisture.
  9. Bake for another 15 minutes, then stir again.
  10. Increase the oven temperature to 475°F and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until golden.

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Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Once a year, we seem to be able to find spaghetti squash in Yucatan. This was it! If you have never baked a spaghetti squash it is so simple. When it is done baking you take a large fork and shred it et voila – spaghetti! The simple version is to bake it and the add your favorite spaghetti sauces (commercial or homemade) and lots of Parmesan cheese,

This version is a little more time consuming but well worth it. Take a look –

Spaghetti SquashThe original recipe called for the filling to be baked inside the upturned squash. It was very difficult to shred the squash with the filling in it and thus I adapted the version and filled the shredded squash, mixing the filling into it.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Cut the spaghetti squash in half horizontally and remove the seeds. Put squash cut sides down in a baking dish with a half inch or so of water. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake in 350-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Test with a fork for tenderness.

While it is baking, prepare the stuffing as shown below.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. Ground beef
  • 5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Seasoning to suit your taste
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of salsa (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Heat oil in pan.  (I like to use my wok) Throw in the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Throw in the onion and continue to sauté until tender.

Add ground beef and brown thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

Add other seasoning such as Italian as you wish*

Mix in the cheese. Mix in the salsa.

Keep warm until the squash is tender.

Turn the squash over on a plate leaving on the outer shell, shred with a fork being careful not to break the shell.Fill with the ‘stuffing”.

Top with sour cream, more salsa? BBQ sauce?