Stuffed Acorn Squash with Chicken, Spinach and Feta Sausage

Recently, we started to buy Aidell’s Chicken, Spinach and Feta Sausage at our local Costco. It is so very useful in many recipes and the fact that it is neither pork or beef makes it even better. Our local grocery store now carries acorn squash. These two items are a match made in heaven!

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Chicken, Spinach and Feta Sausage

Ingredients

  • 2 Acorn Squash
  • 1 package of Aidell’s chicken with feta and spinach squash cubed
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • olive oil spray
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of spinach, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese (or sub your favorite cheese)
  • 2 T of pecorino Romano
  • sea or Himalayan salt

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but keeps the mess away).

Cut each acorn squash in half, top to bottom OR across the middle, and remove the seeds. Use the first 2 teaspoons of olive oil to brush each squash, then sprinkle with salt. Place squash halves in oven for 40 minutes, or until fork tender, but still retaining their shape.

2 While the squash is roasting, brown the cubed sausage in a skillet until cooked through. Next, add in remaining olive oil, onion and garlic to the pan and cook until veggies are soft. Mix in spinach and sprinkle mixture with a little salt. Cook until spinach wilts.

3 Once squash is finished cooking, use a fork to gently mash the inside. Then divide sausage and veggie mixture evenly among the squash halves. Top each with 2 T of feta cheese and a 1/2 T of pecorino Romano. Place squash back in the oven for a few minutes to melt and brown the cheese.

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pot Pie

If you are fortunate to live somewhere where spaghetti squash is available, you probably know that it is a very versatile squash and a great replacement for pasta! Cut it in half horizontally, remove the seeds, spray some olive oil over it and bake cut side down in a pyrex dish in the oven for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. When it is done, remove it from the oven and turn cut side up. Let it cool a bit and then take a dinner fork and begin to shred it into strands.

While the shreds are resting, prepare the “pot pie” ingredients.

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pot Pie

  • 5 cups cooked spaghetti squash, *see note below
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (or turkey)
  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots (I used a can of Niblets)
  • 10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced OPTIONAL
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 Panko breadcrumbs

1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2 Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

3 Add the onions, stirring into the butter and cook until the onions have completely softened, about 10 minutes.

4 Stir in the garlic and cook one minute longer.

5 Add the Niblets, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and rosemary then cook about 5 minutes.

6 Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for a minute while stirring, then slowly pour in the milk.

7 Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the bottom of the skillet and stir the milk into the vegetables. Let the filling come up to a simmer and then let thicken for 3-4 minutes.

8 Stir in the chicken and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, then remove the skillet form the heat. Taste for seasonings and adjust if needed.

9 Pour the filling into a large bowl along with the cooked spaghetti squash. Stir gently to combine the filling, then pour into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that’s been buttered or sprayed with cooking spray.

10 Top the casserole with the remaining parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs then bake for 30 minutes.

11 To brown the topping even more, place the casserole under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.

Chicken Fajita Casserole

Who doesn’t like fajitas, whether beef or chicken or shrimp? This is a fairly simple recipe which does NOT use tortillas. Say goodbye to some carbs!

Chicken Fajita Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 packet Fajita seasoning OR make your own SEE Photo below!
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream and salsa (Garnish)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high, drizzle with Olive oil.

3. Add cooked chicken, peppers and onions. Sauté on high heat to get a nice sear on the meat and veg (about 1-2 minutes) for added flavor! Remove from pan.

4. Mix the cream cheese and seasoning packet into skillet until melted, add chicken and veg back to pan, mix well to coat evenly.

5. Add to casserole dish, top with cheese.

6. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: YIELD: 8 SERVING SIZE: 1/8 of pan

Amount Per Serving: CALORIES: 209 TOTAL FAT: 13g TRANS FAT: 0g CARBOHYDRATES: 6g NET CARBOHYDRATES: 4g FIBER: 2g PROTEIN: 17g

Korean BBQ Meatballs with Zoodles

By now you know how much we prefer zoodles over pasta. Here is a different take on the zoodles with a great sauce!

Korean BBQ Meatballs with Zoodles

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large zucchini (400 g)
  • 4 Spring Onions
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 1/2 Small Onion
  • 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dressing

  • 1.5 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 T Honey
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Sesame Seeds
  • 1 package fresh meatballs*

*Prepare meatballs according to your preference. I made mine in the microwave and then added them to the skillet and it worked well!

1. Wash and prepare vegetables. Spiralize zucchini and set aside. Slice red onion into thin strips. Julienne carrot, roughly chop small onion. For the Spring onion I chopped the white part small and then cut the green portion into 1/2-inch strips. I used about 2 full spring onions and only the white portion of the other two.

2. Prepare a large wok or frying pan add olive oil and heat oil through. Add carrot and onion, let soften and heat through for 3-5 minutes. Add chopped onion, Spring onion, and red pepper cook for another 3 minutes. Add salt to taste while preparing vegetables.

3. Prepare meatballs. IF using frozen you can put them on a plate in the microwave covered with Saran wrap, leaving a corner for the steam to escape. Three minutes should do it as they will cook in the sauce…

4. Add prepared zoodles. In a separate bowl mix all of the dressing ingredients together and then add them to the wok with all of the vegetables together. You want to heat the zoodles

5. Add meatballs to the vegetables and serve immediately.

Asian Zucchini Zoodles

For those of you trying to avoid regular pastas, “zoodles” are a fun and tasty way to replace them with extra nutrition. Many grocery stores now sell already “zoodled” vegetables, like cucumbers, zucchini and beets! My favourite are the zucchini zoodles, made easier with a proper “spiralizer”.

Zoodle away with this simple dinner or lunch option!

Asian Zucchini Zoodles

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar use honey (I preferred honey)

Preparing the zoodles.

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 large zucchinis spiralized (yellow and green)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes to taste

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and brown sugar; set aside.

2. To a large skillet, add 1 teaspoon oil (any type) and onions. Cook onions down for 2 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the sauce to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute then add the spiralized zucchini noodles and cook just for 1-2 minutes or until fully coated with sauce. Add pepper flakes. Serve immediately!

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

Normally, when I do sausage and peppers, it is in the oven. Since I had time this week I found a slow cooker/crockpot recipe on Pinterest for this method. Come to find out, I liked it much better without having to use the oven. The texture of the sausage was so very different and the peppers were great. Served this with a little side of steamed broccoli. Perfect dish!

FYI…the sausages I prefer are Obertal Argentinian Chorizos, but that is your choice.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg Italian sausages (5) My preference is Obertal Argentinian Chorizo
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup chunky marinara sauce I substituted a small jar of PACE Medium Salsa
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.

2. Sear the Italian sausages 2-3 mins on each side until starting to brown. You aren’t trying to cook them all the way through, you’re just browning the outside a bit which always increases the flavor while slow cooking.

3. Lay the seared Italian sausages in the bottom of a slow cooker/crockpot.

4. Add the uncooked sliced onions and peppers on top of the sausages.

5. Sprinkle the garlic salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning over the top.

6. Spread the marinara sauce or PACE salsa over the onion and pepper mixture.

7. Cook the crock pot sausage and peppers recipe on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours until the peppers are soft and the Italian sausage is cook through. FYI…mine was done at 4 hours on low!

8. The crockpot Italian sausage and peppers are seriously SO delicious as is, but to take it up a notch, take the sausage and peppers out of the slow cooker and spread into a broiler-safe pan and follow the cheese steps in the optional section.

Optional – Add Cheese

1. Sprinkle 1/2 – 3/4 cups of your favorite shredded white cheese, like mozzarella, Monterey Jack, an Italian blend, or Colby Jack would all be great choices.

2. Broil the Italian sausage and peppers mix for 1-2 minutes 4″ from the heat source until the cheese is melted.

Seafood Stew (otherwise known as “Bouillabaisse)

In different parts of the world, this dish is simply called “seafood chowder”. In Belgium we ate a similar dish known as “waterzooi“. I decided that I had small amounts of fish, shrimp and scallops that were not enough to cook separately and once again I turned to Pinterest to see what were the possibilities. The resultant stew/chowder/bouillabaisse/waterzooi was great!

The photo below is from Pinterest, showing oysters, lobster, etc. accompanied the original recipe. Choose whatever seafood you can get at the store…

Feel free to choose whatever seafood you have on hand…

Seafood Bouillabaisse

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 6 small potatoes, chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped* OPTIONAL
  • pinch saffron
  • 4 cups fish or vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-pound fresh cod or another fish of choice, diced
  • 8 raw shrimp, shells on
  • 8 littleneck clams* OPTIONAL
  • 8 mussels* OPTIONAL

Garnishes and accompaniments: Chopped fennel fronds, chopped parsley, slices of toasted baguette.

To make rouille, combine one minced garlic clove, a 1/4 cup of finely minced jarred roasted red pepper, and cayenne pepper with 1/4 cup mayonnaise.

1 Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, fennel and saffron until translucent. Add tomatoes and fish broth and bring to a boil. Cook stew until thickened, about 20 minutes. If you’re planning to serve the stew immediately, continue to step 2. If serving later, allow stew to cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, bring back to a simmer over medium heat before continuing to step 2.

2 Lower heat to simmer and add fish, adjusting heat to keep the liquid bubbling gently. Add cod or other diced fish first. Follow with clams about 5 minutes later. Finally, add the shrimp and mussels. Cover the pot and continue simmering until clams and mussels are open and shrimp is pink.

3 Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle stew into bowls and serve with toasted bread slices and rouille sauce.

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.

Smorgasbord of Leftovers

Fast approaching the new year...FINALLY! With two holidays in such a short period of time there are bound to be leftovers. Am I right? Indeed we had leftovers from both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at this point. No turkey in this house this year, but we did have hamand roasted duck. I raced to Pinterest as usual and the results were both quick and easy – Classic Split Pea Soup and Duck, Duck Soup. Both were great for the cooler days this holiday season.

  1. Classic Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 ribs of celery, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 to 1-1/2 cups diced ham

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 to 3 cups water

1 lb (about 2-1/4 cups) dried split peas (I used a jar of cooked white beans)

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, ham bone, diced ham, split peas, chicken broth, 2 cups of water and bay leaf to the pot.

Bring the soup mixture to a slow simmer and cover, leaving the lid slightly askew.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas have broken down completely and the soup has thickened, 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove and discard the ham bone and bay leaf.

Stir the soup to blend thoroughly and if necessary, add more water until the thickness of the soup is to your liking.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls for serving.

2. Rachel Ray’s Duck Duck SouP

Ingredients

Bones from cooked duck

1-quart chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 slices ginger

3/4-pound bok choy, sliced OR spinach

1 1/4 cups shredded duck meat

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 scallion, sliced

Preparation

In medium pot, simmer bones, broth, 1 cup water; garlic and ginger for 25 minutes; strain. Remove any residual meat from the bones. Return to pot with remaining ingredients; simmer 5 minutes.

Make Ahead Breakfast Scrambled Eggs

Hope it is not to late for you to get these ready? The recipe makes about 4 breakfasts. Simply portion the ingredients into 4 small jars, refrigerate overnight. Come morning, dump the ingredients into a mug, add two slightly scrambled eggs, stir and microwave according to the directions!

*6 ounce jar pictured, prior to refrigeration

Make Ahead Breakfast Scrambles

  • 2 oz. ham, diced (I used a strip of bacon per jar).
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 8 large eggs

1. Divide the ham, bell pepper, onion, and cheddar between four resealable containers*. Cut the butter into 4, 1/2 teaspoon-sized pieces, and add one to each container. Sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt into each container.

2. Seal the containers and store them for up to 4-5 days.

3. When you’re ready to prepare a microwave breakfast scramble, pour the ingredients of the container into a ceramic mug, add two large eggs, and stir to combine.

4. Loosely cover the mug with a paper towel or another microwave-safe object and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Stir the contents of the mug and microwave for 15 seconds more. Stir again and continue to microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until the eggs are mostly set, but still moist. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 267.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.68g | Protein: 18.25g | Fat: 19.5g |Sodium: 609.48mg | Fiber: 0.5g