Tag: local

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pears, and Onions with Blue Cheese

The bushel of butternut squash is now gone.  We’ve made a basic squash soup, a fancier soup with beans and ham, butternut hash, butternut butter, and a butternut squash and kale torte.  With the very last squash, I decided to make Roasted Butternut Squash, Pears, and Onions with Blue Cheese.

The title pretty much says it all, but this recipe takes plain roasted vegetables up a notch.  I loved the mix of squash, pears, and onions, and the strong-flavored blue cheese was a great touch.  This would be good as a side dish, or perhaps accompanied by a nice spinach salad.

I am a little sad that the squash is gone, but I am ready to move on to other vegetables.  It’s the end of January, and I haven’t roasted any beets yet!




Roasted Butternut Squash, Pears, and Onions with Blue Cheese

1 butternut squash, peeled, and cut into 1″ chunks
1 Bosc pear, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced
2 T butter
1 T sage, chopped
1/2 t thyme
1 T mustard
1/3 c. crumbled blue cheese

Place squash, pear, and onion in a large bowl.  In a small pot, melt the butter on medium heat.  Add sage and thyme, and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in mustard.  Pour butter mixture over vegetables and toss to coat.

Place vegetables in a 13″x9″ dish.  Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes, or until tender and brown.  Add cheese, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.


Butternut Squash Butter

Everyone’s heard of pumpkin butter, but with so much butternut squash at my fingertips, I wanted to make butternut butter.  I used this recipe from Eat, Live, Run as a guide.  Thankfully, I also had one big assistant and one little assistant for the project!

We started by weighing the squash, because the amount of squash will drive how much of the other ingredients you need.  However, I cut way back on the sugar from the original recipe – this squash is so sweet on it’s own, you just don’t need that much.  This scale is truly an antique, but it still works.


My big assistant did all the peeling and slicing, and I roasted the squash in the oven.  Then my little assistant helped to measure all the other ingredients and put them in the food processor along with the roasted squash.



My big and little assistants teamed up for the most exciting part – pushing the buttons on the food processor.



The original recipe called for putting the mixture on the stove to thicken, but ours was already quite thick at this point.  I did put it on the stove to heat through, but then we were done and ready to put it in glass jars.  The little assistant got a snack of plain yogurt with a spoonful of butternut butter, which he loved!  I spread some on a piece of whole wheat toast later on, and really enjoyed this fall treat.



Butternut Squash Butter

1 (4 lb.) butternut squash, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 T lemon juice

Place butternut squash slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast at 400F for 20-25 minutes.  Repeat this process until all the squash is roasted.  Place squash, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Place mixture in a pan on the stove and cook until thickened, as needed.

-Recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Butternut Squash and Kale Torte

My parents recently took a drive through Rhode Island, and were stunned to see the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  There are so many tragic stories related to this storm.  They saw homes which were flooded, and a landscape redefined by sand which was moved with the power of the wind.  But less than a mile from the beach, farmers were harvesting a large quantity of butternut squash.  So they bought a bushel, which turned out to be 13 butternut squash totaling 40-45 lbs.  That’s a lot of local produce!

The first butternut squash recipe to share is this Butternut Squash and Kale Torte.  With squash, potatoes, kale, red onion, and tomato, this dish is packed with vegetables, and I loved them all.  There’s also both Provolone and Parmesan cheese.  The dish is a series of beautiful layers, and the camera does not do this justice.  The recipe does take a bit of time with all the peeling and slicing, and required about 15 extra minutes in the oven, but the end result is totally worth it.


Roasted Corn and Parmesan Omelet

Can you believe that even after making this large batch of Corn and Zucchini Chowder, there was still a ton of corn left?  My Dad roasted a batch in the oven, and I took some of that home with me, along with a tomato from their garden.  I’ve been pretty busy lately, but I am so happy I took the time the other day to prepare myself this beautiful lunch.



I was inspired by this recipe for Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Corn, Goat Cheese, and Tomatoes.  Really, you should take a look at the link, the picture is gorgeous.  There’s no real recipe here, but I made a 2-egg omelet using about 1/4 c. of roasted corn, and a large tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan.  At the same time, I sliced the fresh tomato onto a baking sheet and drizzled the slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I baked them at 400F for 10-12 minutes.

In less than 20 minutes, lunch was served.  This was so much better than my other option, yet another peanut butter and banana sandwich. 🙂


Roasted Root Vegetable Megamix

In addition to the Brussels sprouts, Jamie Oliver inspired the roasted root vegetable megamix that we enjoyed on Christmas Day.  I figured it would be easy to get local (Connecticut) root vegetables to use in the recipe.  Our first stop was the Billings Forge Farmer’s Market in Hartford, where we were able to purchase a nice bunch of carrots.  One of the vendors also offered beet greens, but unfortunately did not have beets or turnip available.  Our next stop was the Wethersfield Winter Farmer’s Market, which did not really have any produce for sale.  We did buy some fresh lemon thyme though, and incorporated the herb into the recipe.  After stopping at two different grocery stores, we had turnips, beets, and parsnips and were ready to roll.



First, we parboiled the parsnips, carrots, and turnips for about 7-8 minutes in a large pot.  We parboiled the beets for close to 30 minutes in a separate pan.  Then, each vegetable was mixed with the ingredients listed below, and placed in a homemade foil compartment.

Carrots: olive oil, salt, pepper, juice of 1/2 orange, dried rosemary
Parnsnips: olive oil, salt, pepper, splash of white vinegar, fresh lemon thyme
Beets: olive oil, salt, pepper, splash balsamic vinegar, dried oregano
Turnips: olive oil, salt, pepper, splash red vinegar, dried crushed bay leaves


Finally, we roasted the vegetables at 375F for about 45 minutes and mixed them together to serve.


The real benefit to this method is that each vegetable tastes unique, but complements the other vegetables.  The beets were my favorite, with a nice flavor from the balsamic vinegar and oregano.  My second favorite though were the parsnips which were roasted with the lemon thyme.  While this recipe was a little labor intensive, it was fun to experiment .  Root vegetables are going to be in season for a while, so there’s plenty of time to try some combinations and see what you like best!

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  Our Christmas Eve buffet was splendid, featuring a beautiful antipasto salad, stuffed shrimp, meatballs, kielbasa and sauerkraut, and homemade manicotti.  And of course, a dessert buffet featuring fruit salad, apple cranberry crisp, candy, and lots of cookies.

Christmas dinner was a much smaller affair, and so we planned a simpler meal centered around these stuffed chicken breasts featured on the Today Show.  If you’ve ever struggled to cut a pocket in a chicken breast, you need to watch this video and see Mark Bittman’s easy method for making stuffed chicken.

The stuffing in the original recipe calls for pine nuts and raisins, but my Mom made a more savory stuffing.  We started with Connecticut-grown spinach purchased from the Billings Forge Farmer’s Market in Hartford.  After the spinach was sauteed, we added panko breadcrumbs, pancetta, vegetable broth, and Parmesan cheese.  Then my Dad pounded the chicken breasts and placed the stuffing between two pieces, securing it with string.  We sauteed the chicken breasts on each side until lightly brown.

This pan went right into the oven, and in about 15-20 minutes, the chicken breasts were cooked through.  The chicken was removed from the pan, and we made the sauce with balsamic vinegar and mustard as indicated in the original recipe.  Accompanied by potatoes, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce, it was a great meal.


We all loved the chicken, and this method of stuffing the breasts was so much easier than traditional methods.  The vegetable recipes are coming up next!


Cooking Bok Choy

I went to the Copley Square farmer’s market on Friday afternoon, and although it was great to see so many fall vegetables, I was missing my greens.  I almost bought some kale, but then I spotted a big bunch of bok choy.  I’ve cooked both regular and baby bok choy before, but never felt very confident that I was preparing it properly.  This weekend I found an excellent bok choy tutorial which takes you through the process step by step.  One of the best tricks I learned is to put the garlic and ginger in the pan before it heats up.

I had such a large bunch of bok choy that I had to stuff it into the pan to get the lid on, and it took longer to steam than the one minute suggested.  But I am sure things will go more smoothly if you’re not trying to cook so much at once!  I served the bok choy on a bed of brown rice, topped with an egg.  It was a delicious weekend lunch, and I’ll be sure to pick up another bunch soon.



Spaghetti with Scallops and Peas

When I want help in making a sustainable seafood purchase, I turn to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.  Every type of seafood is listed by the region where it is caught and the method used.  There are 3 possible ratings based on the environmental impact: Best Choice, Good Alternative, and Avoid.

When I wanted to make this scallop recipe from Real Simple, I turned to the handy Monterey Bay app on my Iphone.  The market offered scallops from New Bedford, MA.  Scallops from the US Atlantic caught by dredging are considered a ‘good alternative.’  If the seafood in the market isn’t labeled, it’s OK to ask!  The person helping you may not know the answer, but simply by asking, you’ve let them know that you’re an interested consumer.

So back to the recipe, I made several tweaks from the original.  I wasn’t excited about using browned butter,  so I built the sauce around wine instead.  A fancy scallop meal deserves to be accompanied by a glass of wine anyway.  I swear I bought a lemon, but it was nowhere to be found.  However, I did find some sage in the back of my freezer.

Scallops are one of my favorite types of seafood, and this dish was good, but it wasn’t perfect.  The peas were the element that just didn’t belong, and they kept falling off my fork which was annoying.  I know I use spinach a lot, but I think sauteed spinach might be a better choice here.  Still, this was a nice meal to end a tough week.  I am looking forward to a fun weekend, including reconnecting with my cooking club for a night of “Finger Foods”!


Spaghetti with Scallops and Peas

4 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1 c. frozen petite peas
1 T olive oil
8 sea scallops, sprinkled with salt and pepper
1/4 c. white wine
1 T chopped fresh sage
2 T whole wheat breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning

Cook pasta according to package directions.  2 minutes before it is done, add the peas to the pot.  Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.  Place scallops carefully in pan.  Cook for 3-4 mintue on one side, flip and cook for 1-2 more minutes until done.

In a bowl, toss pasta, peas, scallops, wine, and sage.  Serve on plates, and garnish with breadcrumbs.

-Adapted from Real Simple


Grass-Fed Local Beef Sausage

While shopping at a Rhode Island farmer’s market this weekend, my family and I met the Browning’s of Browning Homestead in Matunuck.  Farmer’s markets are a great place for local produce, and also a convenient place to buy local meat.  This farm has a mascot that travels to the market.

I don’t feature a lot of meat-based recipes on the blog, and occasional readers sometimes think that I am vegetarian.  I do eat all kinds of meat, but I am against factory farming, and I believe in eating locally.  I try to make conscious choices that support local, sustainable farming.  So I was excited to hear that the animals on this farm are grass-fed.  No steroids, antibiotics, or hormones are used.  The animals are slaughtered in a USDA facility also located in Rhode Island.  Most importantly, the farmers seem to be very committed to producing quality food.  

Last year we tried grass-fed hamburger from a different farm, and learned the hard way that it cooks much more quickly.  This time, we tried the all-beef mild Italian sausage, and paid closer attention when it was on the grill. (Thanks, Dad!) The meat was finely ground and tightly packed, with almost no visible fat.  The flavor was mild as promised, and almost reminded me of keilbasa – with a lot less grease of course.

I don’t eat sausage all that often, and this was a nice change of pace.  Grass fed meat does taste different, but once you learn how to cook it properly, it’s a good kind of different.  This meat is raised in a way that’s kinder to the environment, and contains essential fatty acids that are healthier for your heart.  I am hoping to try another cut of grass-fed meat from a local farm soon!

Mexican Grilled Salad

I hope everyone had a great long weekend!  Did you try any of the recipes I suggested for an End of Summer BBQ?  My classes start today, and I am actually really excited about the new semester.  There’s a lot left to learn, and I want to keep moving towards the goal of being a Registered Dietitian.  But if you’re not ready for fall, don’t worry.  There’s at least a week of summer left on Recipes that Fit, and it will be full of tomatoes, eggplant, and corn.

This salad was at least partially made with ingredients from a Rhode Island farmer’s market, and  is a variation of the Mediterranean Chopped Salad from earlier this summer.  The corn, tomatoes, and onion can all be grilled in advance.


I got the idea for grilled croutons from Emeril, and added a Mexican flair by dipping the bread in a mixture of olive oil and chili powder.


Of course, any of the salad ingredients can be optional, and you could add sliced jalapenos if you’d like your salad to have more kick.  I used queso fresco, which is a soft and mild cheese, but shredded cheddar would also be good.  This might be the last time I eat fresh corn this season, and this salad was the perfect way to enjoy it!


Mexican Grilled Salad

Ears of Corn, husks removed
Onion, sliced thickly
Tomatoes, cut in half and seeds removed
Baguette slices
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, and Cumin
Romaine lettuce, cleaned and torn
Black Beans, rinsed and drained
Avocado, diced
Queso Fresco, crumbled
Olives sliced

1. Place corn and onion slices directly on a hot grill.  Cook until nicely browned.  Cool slightly, and remove corn niblets with a knife.  Chop grilled onion.
2. Drizzle tomato halves with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill until browned and softened, using a grill basket if available.  Cool slightly, remove tomato skins, and chop.
3. Dip baguette slices in a mixture of olive oil and chili powder.  Place directly on a hot grill, and cook until browned.  Cool slightly, and chop into croutons.
4. Mix 3 T olive oil, 2-3 T lime juice, 1/2 t cumin, 1/2 t chili powder, 1/8 t salt, and 1/8 t cayenne pepper in a small bowl. (Makes enough dressing for 3-4 salads.)
5. Assemble salads using all ingredients, drizzle with dressing, and serve.