Winter Hash

Winter Hash3It’s funny how things kick you into action sometimes.  This Winter Hash is something I started making as soon as the winter squashes came into the stores.  It’s helped me get over the fact that I eggs are not part of my breakfast routine anymore and I was able to make a large batch on my day off and have it ready in the mornings for breakfast when I woke up.  The adrenal fatigue is not very conducive to making a healthy breakfast every morning.  I still like to make a large batch even though I’m not working now.

I kept meaning to share the recipe with you and well, you know what happens when you’re sick.  You go into save mode and only the things that have to get done get done.  Then I forgot as I started to get better because I was doing other things like cleaning.  Yeah.  I would no longer feel embarrassed about the state of our apartment if someone happened to drop by.  Then Deanna at The Mommy Bowl posted her recipe for Sweet Potato & Swiss Chard Saute.  I knew it was time to finally get it written down and photographed.

The beauty of this Winter Hash is everything is interchangeable.  Don’t want collards?  Use kale, chard, turnip greens, etc.  Don’t like butternut squash?  Use any other Winter squash or sweet potatoes.  Just know that sweet potatoes really will sweeten the whole dish.  Can’t find shallots?  Use onions (white, yellow, red, green), garlic, or leeks.  Don’t like italian sausage?  Use ham, ground beef, chicken, or beans.  If you can do soy, tofu would work, too.  In fact, I came up with this in an attempt to make it a vegan scramble, but never got it to turn out the way I wanted it to.  I like to change everything up each time I make it.  Sometimes I use collards, other times I use kale.  You could do hot Italian sausage with mustard greens for a hash with a big kick.  I use a variety of different aromatics depending on what the main ingredients are.  This is something to play with and find what combinations you like.

Winter Squash – serves 4 – 6

1 pound mild Italian sausage (or other protein of choice) – if it is in casings, squeeze it out of the casing

1 shallot, sliced

4 cups diced butternut squash (or other Winter squash of choice)

1 bunch collard greens (or other greens of choice)

1 tablespoon fennel seed

salt

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage and break it up as it browns.  Don’t worry if the sausage sticks to the bottom, it will be released later in the cooking process.  Once the sausage is browned, add the shallots and cook for two minutes.  Add the squash and fennel seed.  Stir together and cover.  Cook for about 5 minutes covered.  Add your greens and season with salt, stirring to mix everything together.  Cover again and cook for another 5 minutes.  If your squash is not cooked through, cover and cook for a few more minutes.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

Hanging With My Bestie

Early mornings mean spectacular light, coffee, and sometimes conversation.

One of the great things about visiting my best friend, Dawn, (other than the completely obvious) is the view from the house.  She, the Old Man, and Little Obi-Wan live two blocks from Universal Studios/City Walk. We could walk there if we wanted to deal with all the steep inclines.  This includes the Stairs of Death.

Take them slowly and hold on to the rail or you WILL fall. This is why they are the Stairs of Death. Also, you feel kinda dead once you climb all those stairs.

Visits usually mean we’re up early.  She was a teacher for years so when she was still working, she was still up early.  Now Little Obi-Wan usually wakes early meaning she does, too.  Early there means late for me so really I’m sleeping in.  Right?  We have coffee, sit and zone out, talk a little once we feel coherent, and now that we have smartphones – check world of social media.  I’ll usually pull out whatever book I happen to be reading and indulge in some early morning reading time.  Book count this vacation?  Four.  That’s pretty good considering all the stuff we did I already blogged about and all the stuff I haven’t shared with you yet.  Not to mention the countless times we watched Thomas the Train, Sesame Street, and videos with Little Obi-Wan.

The view from the kitchen. How can you not love that view while fixing your meals? Oh, right. It gets hotter than Hades in there. That’s how.

I love cooking with Dawn and in her kitchen.  She did something great that I already shared about which was make sure there were safe pots and pans for me to use.   The last time we visited it was for Thanksgiving in 2009.  The kitchen is a little small so having Dawn, her mom, and I all in there at once can get a little claustrophobic, so we tried to take turns.  It worked for the most part, but there were times we were all in there at once and staying perfectly still at our station so we weren’t bumping into each other.  That was a great Thanksgiving!

I showed you several of our meals out, but I haven’t shared our meals in.

Our first night, Dawn grilled up two different types of brats by Johnsonville.  Original and Spicy.  She also grilled some corn.  We had some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers as well and then watermelon for dessert.  Yummers!

So fresh!

Another night, Dawn made Sloppy Joes with homemade buns and roasted potatoes.  Chaz was in homemade bread heaven while we were

Potatoes and Sloppy Joes!

visiting.  I skipped the buns and ate mine with a fork.  Just as good!

The day we went to the L.A. County Fair was my turn to cook dinner.   Chaz was spectacular and ran over to Ralph’s for all our dinner needs once we got back from the fair.  I should mention that the shopping center that the Ralph’s is in closest to Dawn is the shopping center where everyone loses their sanity.   Everyone forgets how to drive in there and decide that they all have the right of way.  Thank goodness for underground parking.  If you can manage to get to it without being run into.

The requirements that the Old Man set out for anything I fixed is that it have meat (can do), and not contain eggplant or

An old standby

curry.  I decided to go with a variation of something I tend to make

Carnitas! Ole!

when I want something quick and easy.  Pasta with mild Italian sausage and kalamata olives.  I added asparagus in with it and topped it with fresh basil.  Chaz got some fresh heirloom tomatoes that he sliced up and some radishes.  I intended to eat mine without pasta and just set some the of sausage, asparagus, and olives aside, but Chaz bought some Tinkyada pasta, so I felt obligated to fix it.  I had a pot of Tinkyada pasta for me and a pot of gluten-full pasta for everyone else.  There were enough leftovers that I could have some as breakfast a few days.  Which turned out to be a good thing after I discovered eggs were a problem.

Dawn loves using a slow cooker as much as I do.  She fixed carnitas in the slow cooker the day after our trip to Disneyland.  This meant really only veggie prep that evening.  The best kind of

That risotto…best risotto!

The sky was on fire one night

cooking when you’re recovering after back-to-back full days out.

Our last dinner was roasted chicken, carrots, and butternut squash risotto.  Dawn was awesome and instead of using butter that the recipe called for, she used more olive oil.  The best risotto I’ve had.  And it was cooked in a rice cooker!   Yes, a rice cooker.  You know, the thing that us Asians use to cook rice in so we can have great rice without standing at the stove watching it, but a lot of Americans use to cook other things in.

Okay.  I know I started off with talking about what we do when I visit and ended up talking about food.   Well, we eat!   We used to go out to eat a lot (or call for takeout or delivery) when I would visit, but tight budgets and food intolerances/allergies kept us in more often this time around.  That was fine with me.

Just look at that face!

Jump!

The resident fighter against Communism, aka Mantequilla or Manny for short, takes up residence next to me while I’m sitting on the sofa or love seat.  He demands a lot of attention and belly scratches.  He learned from my first visit that I’m the one with the fingernails that knows all the right spots to hit.  Word has it he was a bit sulky and wanted more cuddles than usual after we left.  Poor little guy.  He just can’t get enough lovin’.

We usually play video games during lazy days indoors.  They got a Xbox with Kinect since our last visit.  Let me tell you, that thing is a pain!  It took more time to get everything set up than we spent playing!  As Dawn says, it’s not intuitive.  Not at all.  Give me my Wii any day!  Little Obi-Wan had a blast though.  He plays like I do a lot of times.  I don’t really care, I just do whatever.  Really.  Playing Mortal Kombat and Street

Trying a Sancerre

Fighter in college I had no clue how I was supposed to use the controller.  I just kept rapidly pressing all the buttons and when I was lucky, I’d win.  It’s all about having fun.  Right?

Copious amounts of wine and other adult beverages are also consumed.  That’s just one bottle of wine and the one I bought.  You should see their two bars.  Okay.  One and a half.  The Old Man’s mancave is where he has his poker games and they keep a full bar down there.  The “bar” in the kitchen just has a little of everything you might need.  Rum, vodka, kahlua.  You know, the important stuff.

No words needed

 

 

 

I Smell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

A friend asked me for my recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers a couple of weeks ago.  I realized I had not made them since I did that post.  So, I decided I’d mix it up a little and try something different with  the recipe.  Instead of 2/3 cup of onion, I used an entire onion and reduced the amount of ground beef to 1/4 pound.  I added brown rice (1 cup dry cooked in 3 cups gluten-free beef broth) and traded the tomato for 1 cup of diced butternut squash.  I also used a bit less than 1/4 head of red cabbage.  The cabbage head I bought was pretty big.

I ended up with something I think is amazing.  It has a more robust flavor.   I would have thought others would smell the beef and seasonings, but when I took the leftovers into work last Friday and Saturday for lunch, my co-workers all kept saying, “I smell peppers.”  One of them even came into the break room while I was eating and said, “I smell fresh peppers,” and looked between me and the other co-worker eating their lunch.  I told him I had stuffed bell peppers.  He said, “Good to know my nose still works,” then walked right out of the room!  Gave me a little giggle.

The beginnings of soup

I had leftover filling and raw ingredients and decided I’d try to conjure up a soup with everything.  The recipe as I’m giving it is how I made it.  The next time I make it, I’m going to do it a little differently to help retain the brightness of the squash.

Butternut Squash Soup with Leftovers

1/2 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or other oil choice)

4 cups butternut squash, chopped

fresh thyme sprigs

2 scant cups beef broth

1 pint coconut creamer

1 cup bell peppers, chopped (this was from the tops that I chopped off the peppers in order to stuff them)

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 1/2 cups leftover bell pepper stuffing

1/2 cup dried black beans, soaked, drained, boiled, and drained again (drain WELL after cooking)

salt

pepper

Heat a medium to large pot and then add grapeseed oil.  Add onions, some salt, and some pepper.  Saute the onions for about 3-5 minutes.  Add the butternut squash, thyme, and beef broth.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes.  The butternut squash should be fork tender.  Remove the thyme sprigs and use an immersion blender on low to puree the soup in the pot.  (Yes, I finally replaced the one I sacrificed in the name of homemade soap, finally.)  While pureeing the soup, slowly add the coconut creamer.  Once the soup is well blended, add the remaining ingredients, adjust your seasonings, and simmer for another 10-20 minutes, until the cabbage and bell peppers are tender (but not too soft).

Butternut Squash Soup with Leftovers

Make sure the beans are drained well.  I took this picture before I added the black beans and there was still a little water and it muddied the color a bit.

I was chopping up the squash and I kept thinking, this looks like cheese.  My husband came in several minutes later and thought it was cheese.  He thought it was an awful lot of cheese I was chopping!  When I added the leftovers to the soup, I thought, now this looks like queso.  I think cheese was really on the brain!

I asked my husband what he thought of the soup and he said, “It’s good.  It just looks weird.”  Indeed.

He ate it all up and didn’t even have to add salt!

 

*This post is linked to Seasonal Sunday at Real Sustenance.