Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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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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Baby Beets with Balsamic Reduction

IMG_5544Once again, I was lured by the Siren’s song of the farmers’ market. I picked up some lettuce, some carrots, some cipolline onions. But what caught my eye this week was the box of baby beets. Gigantic red globes can be found anywhere, but baby beets are not quite as easily found. At least not for me. So I pounced on them.IMG_5528

When I was doing my internship at the James Beard House, I worked with different chefs each week. One week, I worked with the crew from Blackberry Farm in North Carolina. They did a plate of roasted baby beets that were like sparkling jewels. And the memory of those little gems is what inspired me to make this recipe.

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Roasted Cabbage

IMG_5071Roasting is probably my favorite way to prepare vegetables. They get golden brown, charred here and there, and caramelized for sweet, intense flavor.

I have never, however, tried roasting cabbage. It’s just never occurred to me. So, I had this head of cabbage sitting in my refrigerator and I was trying to decide what to do with it. Cabbage has may possibilities—I could boil it, steam it, saute it, make soup with it… But I was bored with all those options. I wanted to do something different.

And that’s when it hit me. Roast it. I cut it up, coated the pieces with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I roasted them at 350 F. The result? Delicious. The cabbage was tender, toasty brown, and so flavorful. I ate it all week long.

Here’s what I did. Give it a try.

Roasted Cabbage

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the cabbage in half through the core, then each half in thirds. (If you have a particularly large cabbage, you may want to cut the pieces even further.)IMG_5059Lay the pieces a baking sheet. Pour ¼ cup olive oil over the pieces and use your hands to coat them thoroughly. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.IMG_5067Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.IMG_5068Turn the pieces over and cover again with foil. IMG_5070Bake another 15 minutes.Uncover the pan and roast 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender (it will depend on the size of your pieces).IMG_5075


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Bok Choy 2 Ways

IMG_4972Bok choy is part of the brassica family, also commonly called cruciferous vegetables. Other members of the brassica family are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables are known for their many health advantages, such as fighting cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, strokes, and bad cholesterol. They are high in soluble fiber, antioxidants (vitamin C and beta-carotene), and the B vitamins.

Most Americans are familiar with bok choy as a vegetable in their stir fries. But it’s also great as a side dish on its own. Here are two very simple and quick ways to prepare bok choy to have with rice or noodles or on the side of just about any entrée.

There are many different types of Asian cabbages, and in an Asian market, you will find many different kinds side by side. All of them can be prepared in these two ways.

For 1 pound bok choy, wash thoroughly (grit gets trapped inside the leaves).

Recipes make approximately 6 servings. Enjoy!

SteamedIMG_4968

Bring about 1 to 2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer pot. Place bok choy in the steamer rack. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until bok choy is tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, as desired. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Serve hot.IMG_4977

Roasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F.

Thoroughly dry bok choy on kitchen towels. Place bok choy in a roasting pan. Pour about ½ cup olive oil over them, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix everything together with your hands, making sure that all bok choy leaves are coated with oil. Spread them out as evenly as possible in the baking pan.IMG_4974

Roast until they’re tender and begins to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn them over and roast another 5 minutes to brown other side. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve hot. IMG_4981

 


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Cooking with Cambrays

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Cambray onions, also known as spring onions, are related to scallions. In fact, they look like a cross between scallions and Texas onions—long green stems with big round bulbs.

I’d seen them before but had never purchased them, so when I saw them this past week, I grabbed a few. I learned that they are a popular onion in Latin cuisine (in which they are referred to as cebollitas de Cambray or cebolla Cambray), and almost always appear on mixed grill platters.

They can be used in many types of preparations, from salads to onion tarts to tacos. Being that this was the first time I was eating them (to my knowledge, anyway), I did what I often do with a new-to-me vegetables—I roasted them. I like to do this because it allows me to sample the new vegetable in its basic form with no added ingredients, besides olive oil, salt, and pepper. Plus, once you’ve grilled a vegetable, you can then add it into many other dishes.

So, I roasted the Cambrays until they were caramelized and tasted one by itself. It was sweet and creamy and I could imagine throwing them, cut up, into a dish of pasta or adding them to a stew or chili. I put a few pieces on some flat bread, drizzled some extra virgin olive oil over it, sprinkled a little more salt and pepper, and finished it with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Very simple and very good.

IMG_4430Roasted Cambray Onions

Several Cambray onions
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim onions by slicing off roots and removing outer layers that look brown or funky.

Lay onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle oil over onions and rub them to coat with oil. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.IMG_4423Roast about 15 minutes; turn them over and roast another 10 minutes, or until both sides are golden brown.IMG_4427