Tag: packed lunch

Butternut Squash Chili

One of the things I love about Pinterest is finding new recipes.  It’s similar to reading a cooking magazine, except you click through the pin (the picture) for the recipe.  I keep track of the recipes I want to make on Pinterest here, in case you’re curious.  This Butternut Squash Chili came to me from Pinterest, courtesy of Gluten Free Goddess who posted the recipe, and the friend of mine who pinned it.

I’ve been wanting to make some kind of chili since the cold snap here in New England, and this one came out so well.  I modified the original recipe a bit, removing the peppers and chilies that I don’t like, and adding extra squash.  I used frozen butternut squash mostly for convenience; it would have been a lot more fun to hit up a farmer’s market for a locally grown squash, but that wasn’t in the cards this weekend.  The original recipe also indicates that this can be made in a crockpot, but I used the stove top directions because they fit my schedule.

The end result is a mild chili which is rich in flavor from all the vegetables.  Between the bright orange squash and the red tomatoes, the color is perfect for fall.  If you like your chili with more kick, add a jalapeno or some cayenne pepper.  The diced fresh avocado was a nice touch though, and I highly recommend it.  I have more than a few chili recipes on the blog, including White Bean Pumpkin Chili, Sweet Potato Chili, and Black Bean Chocolate Chili, but this one will now be in the rotation.



Butternut Squash Chili

1 T canola oil
2 t minced garlic
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t ginger
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 (20 oz.) bag frozen butternut squash
4 c. vegetable broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 T sugar
1 T balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in a large soup pot.  Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and ginger and stir well for 1 minute.  Add onion and celery, and stir well to coat.  Saute for 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes, squash, broth, beans, sugar, and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes more, until slightly thickened. Serve garnished with fresh avocado if desired.

-Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess

Chicken with Mole Sauce

It’s a wonderful thing when you can put cocoa powder and peanut butter in a recipe and still call it dinner!  To be fair, there’s only a hint of each in this Chicken with Mole Sauce from Eating Well, and the sweetness is offset by chili powder, cumin, and garlic.  This mole comes together very quickly but creates a thick, dark sauce which is great for serving with chicken thighs.

We had this for a family dinner served with Crockpot Rice and Beans and steamed green beans.  Everyone really liked the dish, and scooped up the mole sauce with a bit of bread.  I’ll be sure to make this one again soon.


Spaghetti Squash ‘Pizza’

After the success of my Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, I picked up another squash at the market.  But this time, I wanted to try to use it as a base for pizza.  There are a lot of low carb pizza recipes which use spaghetti squash, but they often contain over a cup of cheese in the crust alone.  I wasn’t looking for a low carb option and I prefer to save the cheese for the top of my pizza, so I used a combination of cornmeal, egg, and cheese.

Of course, this is different than a wheat based crust (hence the quotation marks), but the texture was actually very good.  Spaghetti squash tends to release a lot of water, but after the initial bake the crust was firm and even got crunchy at the edges.  Although I love a saucy pizza, I was careful not to add too much tomato sauce here because I wasn’t sure how much the crust could really hold.  I was pleasantly surprised that the sauce didn’t overwhelm the crust at all.

The taste was fairly plain, so next time I would add garlic powder and maybe Italian seasoning to the crust.  And of course, I might add some more exciting ingredients to the top of the pizza.  This is a very delicious way to pack your pizza with vegetables!  The picture below isn’t that pretty, so I think I need to make another pizza soon so I can update the post.



Spaghetti Squash ‘Pizza’

4 c. cooked spaghetti squash strands (average yield from 1 small squash)
2/3 c. cornmeal
1 c. mozzarella cheese, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. tomato sauce
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine squash, cornmeal, 1/3 c. mozzarella cheese, and eggs.  Mix well.  Spread onto a greased cookie sheet, and press mixture towards edges until crust is about 1/2″ thick.   Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven.  Spread tomato sauce on cooked crust, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 10-12 minutes more, until cheese is melted.


Crockpot Lentils and Mushrooms

I was a bit under the weather this week with a cold, and didn’t have a lot of energy.  Crockpot to the rescue, again!  This is a very simple recipe, but I love the combination of lentils, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

If you want to make this more of a soup or stew, I would suggest you double the vegetable broth.  I liked the thick consistency, and served it over brown rice.  It was just the kind of warm and comforting meal you want when you’re not feeling well.  And I had so much energy after eating it that I decided to bake!  So come back Monday for some fall inspired cookies.




Crockpot Lentils and Mushrooms

1 c. lentils
1 (8 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 c. chopped onion
1 t minced garlic
2 c. vegetable broth

Mix all ingredients in a crockpot.  Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.  Serve over brown rice.

Spinach and Smoked Gouda Quiche

Quiche is great because it is so versatile.  You can eat it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.  It travels well, and can be enjoyed warmed or cold.  You can pair it with soup, salad, or fruit, or all three if you’re serving it to company.  So I was pretty excited when my friend and blog reader Sarah sent me this recipe for Spinach, Green Onion, and Smoked Gouda quiche along with her notes on the recipe.  Smoked Gouda is one of my very favorite cheeses, but I hardly ever have a good reason to buy it.

I made a few tweaks to the recipe based on Sarah’s feedback and what I had on hand.  First, I decided to use a Vidalia instead of green onions since the big sweet onions were on sale this week.  I also used a bit more cheese than the recipe recommended because I just couldn’t resist.  Sarah said her crust came together pretty easily, but I admit that I struggled a bit.  The mixture just seemed too crumbly at first, so I added a few extra drops of milk.  When it came time to roll the dough into a circle, I ended up with an slightly crooked oval.  I am by no means an expert at making dough, but I do know you can’t rush the process.  Take your time with each step, especially rolling it out, and remember that no one really cares what the crust looks like.  Here’s my ugly crust for all the Internet to see!



When it comes time to bake the final product, you also need to be patient.  The original recipe quotes 35 minutes; mine took around 45 minutes, and Sarah said hers took closer to 60 minutes.  But this quiche is well worth the wait!  I had a piece straight out of the oven, and loved the combination of flavors.  If you buy a bag of fresh spinach for the recipe, you’ll have some extra for a salad to accompany the quiche.  If you tackle this project on a weekend afternoon, you will have a gourmet dinner by evening.




Spinach and Smoked Gouda Quiche

6 T butter, softened
2 T nonfat milk, plus more if needed
1/4 t salt
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 c. flour
1 T canola oil
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced thinly
3 c. fresh spinach
1 c. nonfat milk
1 c. shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/4 t black pepper
3 eggs

Place butter in a mixing bowl, and beat until fluffy.  Combine 2 T milk, salt, and egg yolk in small bowl and whisk well.  Incorporate milk mixture into butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Add flour, and beat just until combined.  Add more milk if mixture seems too crumbly.  Press dough into a small disk in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator.  Roll out dough on a floured surface into a circle.  Place dough in a 9″-10″ pie plate.  (My Pyrex dish is somewhere between 9 1/2″ – 10″.)  Freeze for 15 minutes.  Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, until lightly brown.  Allow to cool.

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add sliced onions, and saute until tender and lightly brown, about 15-20 minutes.  Add spinach, and saute for 5 more minutes.  Meanwhile, combine milk, cheese, black pepper, and eggs in a large bowl.  Add onion/spinach mixture to bowl.  Pour into prepared pie crust.  Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.

-Adapted from Cooking Light

Tortellini Minestrone

I always feel good when I have a big pot of soup simmering on the stove.  And this recipe truly makes a big pot of soup, so be prepared!  The recipe is inspired by this  Spinach Tortellini Soup from Budget Bytes.  I added white beans and zucchini, and renamed it because the soup reminded me so much of minestrone.

I like that the soup is packed with vegetables and really filling, and the tortellini bites are such a treat!  The recipe offers a great way to stretch an ingredient that is both more expensive and more calorie dense.  If you’d like just a little more cheese, sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan on top, because that’s what I did right after I took this photo.  This is really a delicious soup, so gather your family and friends, or get out some Tupperware, and make your own big pot.



Tortellini Minestrone

1 T olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped
2 t minced garlic
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
28 oz. water
1 t Italian seasoning
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach
1 (8 oz.) package frozen zucchini
1 (12-13 oz.) bag frozen cheese tortellini

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Saute onion and garlic on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until softened.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, and beans, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add spinach, zucchini, and tortellini, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables and tortellini are tender.

-Adapted from Budget Bytes

Summer Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

I was inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light, but think of this as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style salad.  Choose a pasta.  Choose a variety of fresh vegetables, and don’t forget the avocado.  Choose a fresh herb or two.  And then toss it all together with a spicy buttermilk dressing.

This combination in particular was good, but not spectacular.  The salad needed something else – maybe some queso fresco, or perhaps something crunchy like pumpkin seeds.  The buttermilk dressing has a nice kick, but be sure to make some extra so the salad isn’t dry.  This was a fun adventure, but I’ll just choose a slightly different path next time!



Summer Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

1 c. orzo, cooked and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed and halved
1 green pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts only, chopped
2 c. mixed greens
1 avocado, diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/4 c. buttermilk
3 T lemon juice
2 T plain Greek yogurt
2 T light mayonnaise
1 t chili powder
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper
1 t minced garlic

Mix orzo, tomatoes, pepper, scallions, mixed greens, and basil in a large bowl.  In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk, lemon juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, spices, and garlic.  Toss dressing and salad.  Chill before serving.

-Adapted from Cooking Light


Feta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you like feta cheese and sweet potatoes anywhere near as much as I do, you’ll love these!  I got the idea from this Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen, but decided the original recipe didn’t have nearly enough cheese.  It was just a little tricky to squeeze the potato out of the skins while a) keeping the skin in one piece and b) not burning my hands, but I was successful with 2 out of 3 skins which isn’t too bad.  And the potatoes were just as good the second day, reheated in the microwave.  I may have to try some other cheese/spice combinations soon!




Feta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

3 sweet potatoes
1 c. fat free feta
1/4 t coriander
Dash cayenne pepper
2 t Garlic Gold in oil
Smoked paprika

Scrub sweet potatoes, and bake at 350F for 60 minutes, or until very soft. Meanwhile, mix feta, coriander, cayenne pepper, and Garlic Gold in a bowl, and refrigerate.

When potatoes are ready, remove from oven.  Slice potatoes open lengthwise, and using an oven mitt, squeeze potato flesh into a bowl, reserving the skin in one piece.  Add feta mixture to potato and mix well.  Stuff mixture into potato skins.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, and garnish with smoked paprika before serving.

-Lightly adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Artichoke Tart with Polenta Crust

I was talking to a friend the other day about artichokes.  She has a love of artichokes that she passed on to her daughter, so now they enjoy them together.  I’ve never felt that strongly about artichokes.  Sure, I’ve eaten (more than) my fair share of Spinach Artichoke Dip, but I’ll eat just about anything that involves spinach and cheese.  When I saw this recipe for an Artichoke Tart, I was really drawn in by the polenta crust and the pretty fluted tart pan.  I also figured it would give me a chance to try artichokes on their own.

The recipe looks more complicated than it really is, and polenta is very forgiving.  You really don’t need to fuss.  I liked the creamy texture of the tart, although it could have used just a bit more flavor.  I think some garlic or caramelized onions would help.  And the verdict on the artichokes?  They were my least favorite part.  I admit, I was wishing I had used spinach, or mushrooms, or asparagus.  But that is the beauty of a recipe like this one, you can pick whatever vegetable you like.




Artichoke Tart with Polenta Crust

3 c. water
1 Knorr Vegetable Bouillon cube
1 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/4 t black pepper

1 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 T Italian seasoning
1/4 t black pepper
1 (14 oz.) can artichokes, drained well
1/2 c. low fat ricotta cheese

Heat water in a pan on medium heat.  When the water is simmering, dissolve bouillon cube.  Pour cornmeal into the pot slowly, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low, and continue stirring for 5-10 minutes, until polenta is thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in Parmesan cheese, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Stir in egg and black pepper.  Spread polenta mixture into a large pie dish or tart pan coated with cooking spray.  Spread the crust up the sides, and use a spatula or your fingers to make it smooth.

Mix yogurt, eggs, Pamesan cheese, and spices in a bowl and set aside.

Place artichoke pieces on the crust.  Place spoonfuls of ricotta cheese around the articokes.  Pour the yogurt filling into the crust.

Place pie dish or tart pan on a cookie sheet, and bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes.

-Lightly adapted from Stacey Snacks


Green Bean Pasta Salad

Between the spring like weather and the time change, it seemed the right time to make some pasta salad.  I had seen this recipe in Real Simple, but it’s not quite green bean season yet and I didn’t have any fresh parsley either.  With frozen green beans and pantry spices, I forged ahead.  I am so glad I did; the pasta salad was a great change of pace, and quite colorful.




Green Bean Pasta Salad

2 c. whole wheat penne, cooked until al dente
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen green beans, steamed
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
Thyme, Salt, and Pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Season to taste and serve.

-Adapted from Real Simple