Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Butternut-Kale Soup

So, after I made Butternut-Black Bean Tacos last week, I had some butternut squash left over. There were many things I could have done with it, but after finding a beautiful head of kale, I decided to make butternut and kale soup.

This soup is packed with nutrients and it’s just plain delicious. Enjoy. Continue reading

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Honey-Soy-Mirin Glaze and Honey-Pomegranate Sauce

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Leave the zucchini and other fair-weather vegetables to summer. Winter calls for thick-skinned squashes. img_6321

My favorite is butternut squash. In my opinion, it not only has the best flavor, but the best texture as well. When cooked down, it’s creamy and smooth, and incredibly diverse. 

Roasting brings out the sweetness and beauty in most vegetables, but this is especially true of squash. My mother wanted me to roast squash for Thanksgiving and I wanted to come up with something that was familiar, that I knew would be liked, but something every-so-slightly different. I came up with an easy, delicious honey-soy-mirin glaze and honey-pomegranate sauce…because, you know, pomegranates. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard how healthful pomegranates are. Here’s a quick rundown of their health benefits:

Based on US RDA, one cup of pomegranate seeds contains 7 grams fiber, 3 img_6349grams protein, 30% vitamin C, 36% vitamin K, 16% folate, and 12% potassium. They have antiinflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.They help fight cancer, especially prostate and breast, and heart disease, and have been known to improve memory function.

Delicious AND healthy. Do you need anything more? Give this a try on a cold winter day…or even a warm one. Enjoy!img_6356

Roasted Butternut Squash with Honey-Soy-Mirin Glaze and Honey-Pomegranate Sauce

2-3 pound butternut squash
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Honey-Pomegranate Sauce

1 pomegranate
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine or ginger ale

Grease a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel and seed the squash. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place them in a large bowl.img_6324In a small bowl, mix together the honey, olive oil, soy sauce, mirin. pour over the squash.img_6325

Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Use your hands to spread the mixture over both sides of the squash. Lay the slices neatly on the baking sheet in a single layer.

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Roast until almost tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue roasting until fully tender and golden brown at the edges.img_6348Meanwhile, make the Honey-Pomegranate Sauce. Cut open the pomegranate and place the pieces in a large bowl of cool water. Separate the seeds from the membrane and discard the skin. Let the membranes rise to the top and scoop them out.img_6353Drain in a mesh strainer and rinse.img_6355Measure out ½ cup seeds and place in a small pot. Reserve the remaining seeds for the top or another purpose. Mix together the honey and wine and add to pomegranate seeds. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.img_6358Transfer cooked squash to a serving platter. Drizzle sauce over top, sprinkle on some fresh pomegranate seeds, and serve.img_6371

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf and Red Onions

Roasted Spaghetti SquashMore spaghetti squash? Why not? It’s squash season, after all. Squash is synonymous with autumn. img_6232

Although spaghetti squash can be found from fall through the spring, there’s something comforting and pleasurable about roasting vegetables in the fall, especially squash. And since many people aren’t sure what to do with spaghetti squash, I’ve been offering some recipes. Last week, I offered Easy Spaghetti Squash Chili. This week, I have for you Roasted Maple-Bourbon Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf.

Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago, amaranth is a tiny little grain that is surprisingly high in protein, as well as other nutrients. One cup of raw amaranth contains 28 grams of protein, 15 milligrams of iron, and 18 milligrams of fiber, which makes it one of the most nutrient-rich grains on earth. img_6256

Amaranth is also a great source of lysine, a protein-rich amino acid. This is good news for those of us who suffer from canker and cold sores. L-lysine has been shown to shorten the life span of canker sores. I can personally attest to this because when one of those little monsters starts making itself known, I start digging into the giant bottle of lysine, and believe me, it works.

So this dish makes the perfect side dish to any autumn meal, but because of the amaranth and almonds, it also is a satisfying entree on its own. And spaghetti squash is low in calories, low in carbs, and almost fat free, so whatever diet you may be on, you can’t go wrong with this squash. You can serve it in lovely slices, or you can scrape out the spaghetti-like flesh and eat it like a pasta dish. Continue reading


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Black Rice Noodles with White Beans & Cauliflower

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I’m on noodle kick. If you read my blog last week, you know that I wrote about noodles then as well. That blog was about the mung bean noodles that I found in an Asian market. Well, in that same market, I found black rice noodles, and, as usual, I couldn’t resist trying them.

A New SuperfoodIMG_5856

Black foods are not only striking to look at, but they’re typically high in antioxidants because of they’re high levels of pigments. Black rice is high in Vitamin E, which helps the immune system and protects cells from free radical damage. According to a study from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, black rice contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries, making it an even healthier choice than brown rice. As a result, black rice is considered one of the new superfoods. And let’s not overlook the fact that these noodles are gluten free! Here’s more about it at Livestrong.com.

The unfortunate part of using black rice noodles is that once they’re cooked, they’re no longer black but a dark purple. But that’s okay—they’re still pretty to look at. And they still stand out beautifully against white beans and vegetables, which is exactly what I did with this recipe. Continue reading


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Parsnip-Butternut Soup

IMG_5468My parents’ garden comes up with great stuff every year. This season, they got butternut squash, and I took a cute little one for myself. The farmers’ market had great-looking parsnips, so I decided to make parsnip-butternut soup.

Because it’s October and I don’t have any fresh herbs left my garden, I turned to my dried herbs. You can use whatever dried herbs you have on hand or particularly like for soup. I used thyme and savory.

Also growing in my parents’ garden is celery. But it’s a kind of wild celery—in fact, it’s probably lovage, a relative of celery that has big leaves and small, thin stalks. I put some of these leaves into the soup and pureed everything together. It unexpectedly turned my soup green, so it kind of looks like split-pea soup. If I hadn’t done that, I would have ended up with something that looks more like typical butternut squash soup.

Regardless, it’s delicious. The parsnips give the soup an earthy tone, while the squash sweetens it up. It was just what I needed on a brisk autumn day. You can have it with croutons or chopped walnuts or little cooked cubes of butternut.

Give it a try. Enjoy!IMG_5452

Parsnip-Butternut Soup

Makes 4 servings.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried spices (see instructions)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups cut-up parsnip (from 1 large parsnip)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cut-up butternut squash (from 1 small squash)
Fresh herbs, if available
Black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and salt and cook until translucent.IMG_5454Add the garlic, bay leaf, dried spices (I used 1/2 teaspoon each thyme and savory), and garlic salt. Stir and continue cooking another 2 minutes.IMG_5455Add parsnips and saute, stirring often, until parsnips starts browning.IMG_5456IMG_5457Add broth. Bring to a boil.IMG_5458Add squash and any fresh herbs you want. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Add black pepper.IMG_5460IMG_5461Transfer to a blender and puree. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.IMG_5463IMG_5464Serve hot.IMG_5467


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Beet Green Rolls Stuffed with Millet and Eggplant

IMG_5427This recipe is another example of just how good leftovers can be. You can transform the things you have in your refrigerator and pantry, the little bits and pieces that remained behind, into something new and interesting.

I had purchased beets from the farmers’ market and wanted to do something different with the leaves than the usual saute with olive oil and garlic. As much as I like that particular dish, I think I’ve O.D.d on it. So I started thinking about other ways of using them.IMG_5398

I also happened to have leftover roasted eggplant slices and some millet in the pantry. After some thought I came up with this recipe: beet green rolls stuffed with millet and eggplant. Millet is the perfect grain for stuffing because it’s sticky and you won’t have little individual grains skittering across your plate. It will hold everything together. It’s also gluten free, so those of you with (or who have loved ones with) Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, this is a great recipe for you. Further, beet greens are loaded with iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, and antioxidants.

Since I will assume that you don’t just happen to have roasted eggplant slices already in the fridge, or perhaps not even millet in your pantry (even if you do, I doubt you’d have both at the same time), I’ve written this recipe so that you can start from scratch. Btu it’s a very easy recipe—you can even make the eggplant a few days in advance so that you can just jump right into this recipe.

This is the perfect autumn/winter dish—hearty, delicious, and great to bring to gatherings. You can serve it as an appetizer, a main course, or side dish. Enjoy!

Beet Green Rolls Stuffed with Millet and Eggplant

½ cup olive oil, plus extra
1 medium Italian eggplant
¾ cup millet
Greens from 1 bunch beets
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. If you’re using foil, grease it with some of the olive oil.

Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices lengthwise and lay them on the baking sheet (use more than one baking sheet if you have to). Set aside 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and use the rest to brush both sides of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning over once, until browned on both sides, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop up the eggplant finely and measure out 2 cups. Reserve the rest for another recipe.IMG_5411Meanwhile, place the millet in a small saucepan with 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 10 minutes.IMG_5399If the water hasn’t been all absorbed, drain the millet in a mesh strainer. If it needs to cook some more, you can add a little more water and continue simmering.IMG_5402Transfer the millet to a bowl. Add the eggplant, parmesan, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper; mix well.IMG_5412IMG_5413Place the beet greens in a large bowl of water and wash the greens in several changes of water.

IMG_5400Pick out the largest, nicest leaves (you’ll need about 14) and place them on a kitchen towel to dry.IMG_5408Cut off the stems of the leaves. You may need to cut out a little bit of the ribs a the bottom if you find the leaves difficult to roll. IMG_5415Place 1/4 cup of the filling—less, if the leaf is smaller–at the base of a leaf and roll the leaf up. (It’s okay if the leaf tears a bit or the rib pokes through—you’re not making rolls that people will eat with their hand. These are fork rolls!)

IMG_5414Place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining leaves. Pack the rolls close together. Gently brush olive oil over them.IMG_5419Cover tightly with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Transfer them to a serving platter, sprinkle more parmesan over the top, then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.IMG_5423Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes about 14 rolls.IMG_5430

 

 

 


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Mediterranean White Bean Spread

IMG_5318I recently found myself with an abundance of dried Great Northern beans, and if you stopped by here last time, you saw that I took some of those beans to make Tomato-y White Beans.

I had cooked up a huge batch, so I needed to come up with something else. And, as I also said last time, because it’s summer, I’ve had access to a bunch of tomatoes. Well, both they went into a food processor for a white bean spread. With a few additional ingredients, this is a flavorful, filling, yet light, snack. It’s also perfect to taking to a picnic or barbecue.IMG_5309

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