Christmas Cooking: Spaghetti Squash

I think I’ll start a segment like that next year: experimenting with new ingredients…just need a catchy title. Let me think about it! Since thats what I’ve been trying to put together and decide on: what to keep and what to let go of/add on for 2014.  While my mind is occupied with this, I figured Christmas is over but right now is a great time to have Spaghetti Squash and I think its pretty awesome.

I always try to help out a bit with any house party or celebration.  This year, I decided to make Spaghetti Squash the week before and bought the squash itself and placed it on the kitchen counter so that there was no backing out of it.  Here’s what it looked like:

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

The recipe for this is right here: http://www.vanilleverte.com/creamy-curried-spaghetti-squash/

I did make a few modifications.  I didn’t prepare in advance so I didn’t have any soaked overnight cashews to blend so I skipped that process completely and just put everything else together and simmered it for just a little pit in the pan, put in the squash, so that it would seep the taste into the squash and then that was it.  I didn’t want to make the squash all mushy, because then it wouldn’t be so nice to bite.

Aside from that, I don’t know what the difference would be but I popped it into the oven without taking out the seeds and in wrong way, after revising the instructions (oops!) but still, it turned out pretty good.  I think they only thing it did was made it a little drier in some strands but you can easily remove it and still have plenty for the final dish.

Its a delicious and healthy replacement for spaghetti or even just as a vegetable dish. The broth really gives its a taste and everything matches well with each other. Its keeps its simple but still very tasty.

Have you tried making Spaghetti Squash? How did you make it?

Springtime Minestrone!

Between me and my boyfriend, we have different levels of interest in soup.  But when it comes to minestrone soup, we’re pretty similar.  We’ve only ever made one type before and its usually for wintertime.  If you haven’t seen that recipe, you can find it HERE!  However, when a fellow blog FRUGAL FEEDING posted up his switch up on the normal minestrone and turned it into a seasonal thing with his Springtime Minestrone, I knew I had to try it out eventually! I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and seeing as there’s a wedding tomorrow to attend, I decided to try this out since it looked light and delicious 🙂

Springtime Minestrone (by Frugal Feeding)

Springtime Minestrone 

Doesn’t that look quite good? I didn’t put any spring onions on the top to mark it look even more awesome.  Forgot about it *blush*

To find that recipe, please head over to Frugal Feeding’s Springtime Minestrone HERE!

This soup is really delicious and it turned out really great! If you’re into soups, its really one to go to.  I actually probably like it a lot more than the traditional minestrone.  The spaghetti bits gives it some substance and its like vegetable explosion.  I have never eaten fennel before and it was really awesome! I’ll try and find some more ways to incorporate it into my meals 🙂 The little bit of bacon in there gives it a nice tasty meat base.

I always seem to be modifying recipes but for this one, everything stayed the same except that I replaced fresh thyme with dried.  Instead of bay leaves, I used dried basil leaves.  Still was tasty to me.  If you do have the actual ingredients available, you should definitely follow the recipe all the way through!

Wonderful recipe and if you are interested in some more awesome recipes, Frugal Feeding really has a lot to offer.  I will be trying out some more of the recipes soon!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Colour

I know that I’ve done tons of colour photo challenges last year, like COLOURFUL and COLOURS! You should head on over if you want to brighten up these gloomy spring days.  I know I am…since forecast has it that it just might sprinkle more of that white stuff on Thursday…and the sun has been camping out behind the millions of clouds in the sky.

The only place we’re finding hints of colour is inside and I had proof of that at one of my friend’s birthday dinners at a lovely Brazilian restaurant called Milsa.

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The decor had the ceiling draped with yellow and green fabric hanging loosely and a blazing red sign for the restaurant for contast 🙂

Since we are at the restaurant, how about a little colourful food? Our all you can eat salad!

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Red tomatoes, green cucumbers, purple lettuce and cabbage (is that what we call that?)

Winding a week or two back, on March 31st, my birthday..my mom decorated her delicious yellow cake topped with lush red strawberries to match with the dried cranberries she had put in the cake as well 🙂 It was simple but mega delicious!!!

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To end it off, earlier on that same day, I was in Burlington and we had found a wall full of nice drawings on it that we hadn’t noticed the first few times around.

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Beautiful vibrant colors on this street wall painting!

What colors catch your eyes in your life?

This is my response to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme COLOR!

Linguini with Chicken, Broccoli and Peppers in Light Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette

The main course of Sunday`s meal is finally here.  Its long to type these recipes up or else I`d load you all with it in one post. This turned out to last me to the next night for leftovers and some for lunch as well.

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Whats great about this recipe is that its loaded with veggies.  The sauce is quite delicious and pretty healthy as well.  Plus, I love chicken and this had it also.

The recipe is called Orient Express in the Looneyspoons collection by Janet and Greta Podelski and here it is:

Makes 4 Servings

12oz uncooked whole wheat linguini*

2 tsp olive oil*

1 cup chopped onions

2 tsp minced garlic

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup each reduced sodium soy sauce and ketchup*

3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar*

1 tbsp each freshly squeezed lemon juice, sesame oil and grated gingerroot

2 tsp liquid honey

1 tsp hot pepper sauce *

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 cups chopped or sliced cooked chicken breast

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper*

1 cup carrots, cut into thin strips*

Instructions:

1) Prepare linguini according to package directions. Dran and keep warm.

2) While pasta is cooking, prepare sauce.  Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add broth, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, lemon juice, sesame oil, gingerroot, honey, hot pepper sauce and black pepper.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Blend cornstarch with an equal amount of water until smooth.  Add to sauce.  Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and has thickened, about 1 minute.

3) Add cooked chicken pieces, broccoli, red pepper and carrots to sauce.  Mix well.  Cook 3 to 4 minutes, until vegetables are tender-crisp.  Pour chicken-vegetable mixture over warm linguini and toss to coat evenly.  Serve hot.

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As usual, I had some modifications and I’ve indicated them with *asterisks.  First of all, I used normal linguini and not whole wheat. I’m still working on the bundles of pasta sitting in my cupboard that my mom bought.  I ran out of olive oil so I used grapeseed oil.  Apparently, its really good for you also.  I lowered the quantity of the ketchup by half.  As for the rice vinegar, I only have the normal type, I’m not sure what seasoned rice vinegar is or what its seasoned with.  I’ll have to look into that and see if it would have made a difference in taste.  I omitted the hot pepper sauce completely as I don’t own it and I wouldn’t be able to eat it if it were added.  As you can see, I decided to dice the carrots and peppers instead of slice in thin strips.  Either would’ve been fine.

Also, I have cooked chicken highlighted because I didn’t read the recipe beforehand and when it came to the part that I needed cooked chicken, I flustered about in the kitchen trying to not spoil the sauce but cook chicken and multitask at my max potential to get it all together. My boyfriend was tremendous help and came to make sure that nothing was burnt and mixed the vegetables and chicken and sauce together when the time came.

This dish tasted A-MAZ-ING! I’m starting to think this cookbook can do no wrong. I think I had one slightly over sweet recipe and changes here and there but most of the time, its absolutely delicious.  I’ll definitely be trying out more of their pasta recipe although, next week, I’ll be aiming to try out the Pad Thai recipe for one.

Some people like the texture of Spaghetti, or they like lasagna, and some like rigatoni, I’m a huge fan of farfalle.  Do you have a special type of pasta that you like?

Raw Apple Muffins!

Ever since I saw this recipe earlier this year on a fellow blogger’s post, I’ve been wanting to make it.  I never actually had bought apples and when I did I always went and made the familiar pies.  It turns out my friends (and even myself) we’re not much of a muffin person.  Everyone always had other choices for apples, even if it meant just slicing it and eating it by itself.

Now, these muffins looked amazing.  They looked downright delicious.  Here is the link to her post on Raw Apple Muffins.

Recipe: http://saltandserenity.com/2012/05/28/raw-apple-muffins/

Last night, the initial plan was to make Pumpkin Spice Muffins, but I didn’t have time to head out to buy groceries after work.  So seeing as I had bought apples last week to make this and never got around to it, I thought it’d be the perfect time.  I have a gathering with my friends again.  I can’t believe its been a month (or so).  Remember last time, I made  Apple and Oat Scones, and before that it was Banana Gingerbread Slices? Other than dicing the apples took a crazy amount of time, this was a fun recipe.  I pretty much put on a movie and started chopping and mixing.

This recipe really suited my taste a lot.  I didn’t really have to change anything at all.  It turned out as promised to be moist and delicious from the apples.  I did have to make some little changes.  Salt and Serenity suggested to use Granny Smith and Macintosh apples.  I didn’t have those, so I used Cortland apples.  I think it didn’t make too much of a difference.  Second modification was that I replaced raisins with dried cranberries.  It added a little extra colour to each muffin and usually is a good replacement for raisins.

 

Wait before you go, there’s more.  There was one extra little part I had to change–the topping.  It was supposed to be dipped in melted butter than into the sugar.  I’m lactose intolerant for one and I had run out of butter and margarine.  So I just sprinkled the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the top.  Trust me, it still taste fantastic.  Honestly, I’m not sure melted margarine would’ve tasted the same as melted butter, maybe I’ll try it on one of them later on.

 

This was how they looked when they first got out of the oven.  Nice little muffins, eh?

I’d like to give a big thank you to Salt and Serenity for sharing this with everyone.  If you haven’t been to her blog, you definitely should, she has awesome recipes there.

So, just a little update: Those other muffins I talked about will be coming up soon.  As much as I’m not much of a muffin person, I think I’d prefer that over making a pumpkin pie or something.  Its going to be the first time I bake anything with pumpkin so, I’ll start it off in an easy fashion.

If you do have any suggestions for pumpkin recipes, I’d love to hear it.

Pan-Fried Asparagus!

Do you like asparagus? I LOVE them.  I only started trying these out last year when my mom first made them but man, are they ever yummy?

I decided last night for the weekly cooking that I’d go ahead and give it a shot.  I found a really nice recipe for it, but instead of baking it since the oven was lining up with too many dishes to heat up and cook (we made oven-baked ribs on Sunday also).  I would’ve posted up the ribs also but I really winged it.  I didn’t have any more rib sauce so I just used all sorts of spices.  It actually turned out pretty amazing. Maybe next time!

Back to the asparagus, here it is (you’ll find the recipe below):

The recipe was mostly inspired from Looneyspoons Collections by Janet and Greta Podelski, original recipe is called “Britney’s Spears” (Haha!)  The one I post up below will be what I did since I did make several changes.  I’ll tell you after the recipe.

PAN-FRIED ASPARAGUS

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs (680g) asparagus

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground  black pepper

1/4 cup water

Directions:

1) Prepare the asparagus by trimming off the tough ends.

2) Heat olive oil in pan on medium setting.  Arrange asparagus in a single layer (as much as you can) and move it around so it doesn’t burn.

3) Mix in garlic with asparagus.  When the garlic starts turning yellow, pour in water and put the cover on.  Let it simmer for about 2 mins or until the water has mostly evaporated.  Remove the cover and mix in salt and pepper.

4) Cover the pan for another minute till the water evaporates and it starts sizzling.  Remove the cover and make sure that it is cooked thoroughly but  still firm (not too mushy).

5) Arrange cooked asparagus on a plate and serve!

This was relatively easy to make.  I had one worry was that I wasn’t sure how to determine whether the asparagus was cooked too much or too little.  My asparagus was cooked perfectly by the way.  The taste was pretty good also.  I’d probably decrease the amount of oil.  You shouldn’t have that problem though.  I had more oil than mentioned because I had prepared it to go in the oven then changed my mind last minute.  Nonetheless, it tasted pretty good.  I was happy with my first attempt with asparagus and I think it’ll hit the dinner table more frequently.

The original recipe was to be roasted in the oven with garlic and oil then sprinkle on salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Then top it with crumbled feta cheese or grated Parmesan cheese.  I think that would taste pretty good too.  I didn’t have any balsamic vinegar so I didn’t even season with that.  As for cheese, I can’t eat that so I’m pretty sure my house has limited supplies of that as well.

This is my first (or second?) attempt at writing directions for recipes, still so hard.  If there are any problems or anything is not clear, feel free to ask me in the comments.

I’m still a beginner at making asparagus.  Is there any other ways to prepare it that you’d suggest? Any other seasonings that would taste good?

Zucchini Bites!

Yes! After a very long time, I have broken out of routine and cooked.  Well, maybe not.  Its more like I baked a main dish (instead of the usual dessert) and they were pretty awesome.

First of all, I’d like to thank the recipe posted up by pumps ‘n iron. The link is here:http://pumpsandiron.com/2012/08/06/zucchini-squash-bites/

You should check out her site.  Its full of awesomeness for workouts, outfits, recipes.

For mine, I just made Zucchini Bites, I’m not a big fan of squash personally but I am a huge fan of zucchini (and I mean HUGE!).  So I replaced squash with even more zucchini.  I also don’t eat cheese so had to take out the cheddar.  Also, I ran out of onions…so I had to replace it with garlic.  I did do the exact portion because if not, I’m not sure anyone would want to be in close vicinities to me.  In the end, it still tasted fantastic.

It smelled and looked really good and was just so yummy.  Just check it out for yourself!

 

I’ve been wanted to give it a second run and its only been a few days.  The next time though, I’m definitely adding in onions, probably would taste even better.

I’m telling you, if you like little easy delicious recipes, this one does the job.  Go ahead and give it a shot!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

As you saw in the last week’s challenge, Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple, my garden has a lot of flowers.  Flowers may change every once in a while in my garden especially the seasonal ones, but every year for as long as I remember, my mom had her vegetable garden area just to herself.  This year was no exception so the star of this week’s photo challenge is my mom’s vegetable garden to see how some vegetables are growing as summer gradually comes to an end.

Tomatoes: We can see the transition of growth from not ripe (green) to ripe (red)

Squash (not sure which kind)

Its a type of asian melon; something like a hairy melon of sorts.  You can see the flower that led to its growth bit by bit every day.

This stuff is amazing in soup.

The next star is the bitter melon.  This one is slightly deformed, usually its more elongated.

With some, the growth is hidden from us as this sweet potato plant.

We can only witness the growth of sweet potatoes when we dig it up at the end of the season

Of the most abundant ones right now is the prune tree.

With just a little portion of the tree in this shot, we already see a lot of prunes growing on every branch

Rhubarb Crisp

Right when you thought my rhubarbs adventures were over, they weren’t, eh?

This is what happened. I was mowing the lawn and then I turned around and looked at my garden which my mom has been going absolutely crazy this year with.  She’s at it non-stop.  So I wanted to know what we were actually going to end up harvesting this year.  So I start looking at the tomatoes and next to it 3 tomato plants, I see this little one with big leaves and red stalks.

And I start sticking my head closer to the plant and then I’m thinking to myself that it can’t actually be rhubarb because I had killed the last one.  Or at least when I last saw it, it definitely was taking its last few breaths.  So I go inside, and ask my mom and she tells me that that was my rhubarb plant that I bought last year.  My jaw drops open and I’m thinking my mom is a miracle worker as I walk back outside and stare at the plant.

C’mon! Look at this!

Super beautiful stalks. Its just the first year so it still doesn’t have the big thick stalks.

Man, did we get a whole lot of rhubarb this year!

I had wanted to try and make Rhubarb Upside Down Cake but turns out we were low on butter and stores were already closed.  So Rhubarb Crisp it was.

Here’s where I found my recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/341350/rhubarb-crisp

On the side note, Martha Stewart‘s recipes do not disappoint, even the crafts.  I’m becoming a big fan of it.

Anyways, on with the recipe, making any type of crisps are easy.  Its pretty much preheat the oven, cut your fruits into pieces, mix it in sugar (and flour, in this case) and let it sit while you mix the ingredients for the crumb topping together.  Lay it on top of the fruits and then stick it in the oven.  Voila!  Easy, right? Mine turned out tasting amazing! The only issue was that I started looking really thin because I somehow had misplaced my baking dish so this one was a bit bigger than I had wanted.

This is how it turned out  this morning after a night of cooling off (since I finished it at around midnight):

Excuse the missing part on the side, my mom had found her way to trying it out already before I had time to snap a picture of it.

I wasn’t able to get a really nice picture of it but I’m seriously, it tastes a whole lot better than what it looks like.  I’m a big fan of apple crisp so doing rhubarb crisp and expecting it to be insanely sour, it was not in the end.  Very enjoyable experience!  Give it a shot and tell me how yours turned out!