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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Butternut Squash

Stuffed Chicken Breasts Over Creamed Spinach

Both the chicken and butternut squash can roast in the oven together.

2 servings

Chicken
2 ounces onion/chive flavored cream cheese spread
1-ounce Italian fontina cheese, cut into 4 sticks
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Kitchen twine

Spinach
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 large shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 ounces cream cheese cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the chicken
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Lay the breasts on a cutting board. Using a sharp boning knife, cut a pocket in the thickest part of each breast.

Spread half the filling into each pocket. Tuck the tip of each breast under and secure with one long piece of butcher twine tied into a cross, making sure to seal the pocket hole with the twine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate chicken for 1 hour to firm up.

Place a tablespoon of butter, cut in half on top of each chicken breast.
Bake in the preheated oven until chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 30-40 minutes

For the spinach
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.
Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes; add garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shallot softens.
Stir in cream cheese and cream; cook, stirring, until cream cheese is melted and smooth.
Stir in spinach; add cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Spread half of the creamed spinach on two individual serving plates. Place a cooked chicken breast on top of each portion.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel squash with a vegetable peeler. Slice off the ends of the squash, and then cut it in half width-wise. Cut the round bottom piece in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Carefully cut the squash into spears. Thoroughly blot moisture away with paper towels, and place in a plastic ziplock bag with the salt, pepper, paprika, and oil. Shake well.
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and then place the spears flat on the pan.
Bake in the oven 20 minutes, and then carefully turn the spears over. Continue to bake until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, about 20 minutes longer.

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Looking to make more healthy meals that incorporate more vegetables, then here is a great recipe for you to try.
Most firm vegetables can be turned into rice and the technique is ideal for keeping meals lower in calories and carbs and high in nutrition. So for this new take on Scallop Risotto, I adapted the classic recipe by using riced butternut squash instead of rice.

To make it even easier, Green Giant and Alexia sell frozen riced butternut squash. I defrost it first and drain it well. I think that if cooked in the frozen stage too much water is retained, so I don’t follow the directions on the package.

Butternut Squash “Risotto”

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large shallot, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chicken or fish broth
10 oz riced frozen butternut squash, defrosted and drained
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and salt. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally.


Add the squash to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Then add the broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is completely tender and the liquid has evaporated. Add the sage and cheese. Stir well.

Creamy Scallops

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 large sea scallops
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dry white wine or broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot and sizzling. Add the scallops in a single layer in the pan.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and fry for 2 minutes on one side, then turn them over and fry again for 2 minutes. Remove the scallops from the skillet and transfer them to a plate.

Melt the butter in the same pan and add in the garlic; cook 1 minute.

Pour in the wine (or broth) and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 2 minutes. Add cream and allow to simmer until slightly thickened.

Remove the skillet from the heat; stir in lemon juice and add the scallops back into the pan to warm through.

Place a serving of the butternut squash risotto on each dinner plate. Top with the scallops and cream sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a medium baking dish.
Add the green beans, mushrooms and olive oil. Mix well and then season with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Place into the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables. Continue to roast for 10-15 minutes, until the green beans are just tender. Don’t overcook. Remove the dish from the oven and serve.

 


One of the fastest developing trends in cooking this year has been the use of spiralized veggies. Regardless of the season or the recipe, the spiralizer has given cooks a way to substitute pasta or carb-heavy noodles with fresh squash, beets, and other root vegetables. Green Giant has launched an entire line of frozen spiralized veggies with four different varieties—zucchini, butternut squash, beets, and carrots without any additives—only the vegetable itself. Supermarkets also sell spiralized vegetables in their produce sections.


I find the frozen variety very useful because they are readily available and unlike the fresh veggies, they don’t spoil quickly. I experimented with these frozen veggies and learned not to follow the package directions for microwaving or boiling. Instead, I defrost the veggies, dry them on a kitchen towel and saute them or add them to a sauce. They turn out great – not at all soggy and they retain a fresh taste. Try the recipe below and you will be surprised.

Butternut Squash Pasta

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1 vegetable bouillon cube or ¼ teaspoon vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Two 12 oz packages frozen butternut squash spirals
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, chopped and parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

Defrost the frozen butternut squash in a colander early in the day you plan to cook. Transfer the squash to a kitchen towel to dry.

In a saucepan, saute the onion, mushrooms, fresh oregano and garlic in the olive oil. Add tomatoes, bouillon, and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the cream and butternut squash spirals and simmer for a few minutes until the squash and cream are hot.
Top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve with the grilled sausage.

Grilled Italian Sausage

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs. Italian Rope Sausage
Olive oil

Directions

Brush the sausage with olive oil.

Heat the outdoor grill on high and then turn the burners off on one side of the grill or place coals on one side of a charcoal grill.
Lower heat is better and will prevent the meat from drying out. Oil the grill grates.
Keep the entire link whole – don’t cut it up or poke holes in it.

Coil the link over the indirect heat side of the grill and close the grill lid. After 15 minutes turn the sausage link over.
Use tongs to turn the links. Don’t pierce the link’s skin or the juices will flow out and cause the sausage to be dry. Cook for 15 minutes more.

Check with a meat thermometer for 160 degrees F internal temperature to be sure the sausage is cooked all the way through. If not, continue to cook until the temperature is reached.

Note: to cook on a stovetop grill, heat the pan, lower the heat to low and oil the pan. Cook the sausage for about the same time as above or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.


No-Fuss Butternut Squash Soup

I am not a fan of peeling butternut squash but I do like the vegetable. Very happy to have found it pureed and frozen at my local market. It is a perfect time saver for soup.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4-12 oz packages frozen pureed butternut squash
32 oz container vegetable broth
4 oz container unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Herbs for garnish, such as sage

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a Dutch Oven except the cream. Bring to a boil, stir well, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with fresh herbs.

Crab Stuffed Shrimp

2 servings

Ingredients

8 large shrimp (16-20 per pound)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 garlic, minced
2 green onions (scallions) finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup fresh crab meat
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and devein the shrimp. Butterfly the shrimp by making a slit along the back side, taking care not to slice all the way through the body. Coat a baking dish with nonstick spray and arrange the shrimp in a single layer.
Melt the butter in a microwave dish and set aside.

Combine the garlic, green onion, celery, bell pepper, herbs and seasoning in a mixing bowl. Carefully fold in the mayonnaise and crab meat.

Spoon even portions of the crab mixture over each of the butterflied shrimp. Using your fingers, gently mold each portion of stuffing around the shrimp. Pour the melted butter evenly over the shrimp.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Garlicky Sautéed Greens

2-3 servings

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Heat the garlic and oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to the empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return to them to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture.when hot, transfer to a serving bowl.


Pork Schnitzel

2 servings

Ingredients

2 boneless pork chops about 1 lb total
1 egg
1 teaspoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Cut the pork chops in half horizontally to make 4 cutlets. Place the pork between sheets of plastic and pound until thin.


In a shallow dish, beat the egg and cream together.
Combine the flour, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder and poultry seasoning in another shallow dish.


Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick pan.
Dip the meat cutlets first into the egg, then into the breading. Fry the cutlets until golden brown on both sides and cooked through – about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel-lined serving plate and keep warm.

For the sauce:

Heat the butter, sweetener, and applesauce in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sour cream and mustard until combined and creamy. Stir in the parsley. Drizzle some of the sauce over the cutlets and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash Spirals

Ingredients

1-12 oz package frozen butternut squash veggie spirals, defrosted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste

Directions

Early in the day, place the frozen squash noodles in a colander.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray and place the baking sheet in the oven while it preheats.


Place the squash spirals on a kitchen towel and squeeze dry. Transfer the squash to the hot prepared baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat with tongs. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and toss again. Spread out on the baking sheet.


Roast until crispy about 20 minutes. Toss the spirals after 10 minutes.

Slow Cooked Green Beans

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
2 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

Directions

In a large, deep skillet with a cover, melt the butter and add the garlic and Italian herbs. Stir in the green beans. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender, about 15 minutes.


 

Cuban cuisine is a blend of Native American Taino food, Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisines. Some Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. This results in a blend of the several different cultural influences, with strong similarities to the cuisine of the neighboring Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. A small Chinese influence can also be accounted for in the Havana area. There is also some Italian influence. During colonial times, Cuba was an important port for trade, and many Spaniards who lived there brought their culinary traditions with them.

A majority of the dishes are sautéed or slow-cooked over a low flame. Most Cuban cooking relies on garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves and uses a sofrito as a base in main dishes. Sofrito consists of onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano, and ground pepper quick-fried in olive oil.

Meats and poultry are usually marinated in citrus juices, such as lime or sour orange juices, and then roasted over low heat until the meat is tender. Root vegetables such as yuca, malanga, and boniato are common in the cuisine. These vegetables are flavored with a marinade, called mojo, which includes olive oil, lemon juice, sliced raw onions, garlic, cumin, and a little water. The steak recipe below includes all those flavors.

Cuban Style Steak

Ingredients

Marinade
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
¼ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon lime zest
3-4 fresh orange slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 flank steak, patted dry

Salsa
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro paste
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

To make the marinade:
Combine the marinade ingredients together in a large ziplock bag.
Add the steak, close the bag and massage the marinade into the meat; set aside for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

To make the salsa:
Combine the jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice, water, oil, honey, hot sauce, salt and lime zest in a serving bowl for a chunky salsa-like consistency.

To cook the steak:
Light a grill or grill pan and 
oil the grate. Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until lightly charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 125°, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove steak to a serving plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil; let rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.

Serve the steak with the salsa.

Bake the squash and tomatoes in the oven at the same time.

Oven Baked Spiralized Butternut Squash

Ingredients

1/2 of a butternut squash spiralized or 2 containers of spiralized butternut squash from the market
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the squash noodles on a large baking sheet, with sides, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss the squash to coat it all.


Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing the squash once or twice with tongs during the cooking process. Place the squash in a serving bowl.
Heat the butter, and garlic in a small microwave dish or small pan. Pour the butter sauce over the squash and toss. Add the parsley and cheese and toss again. Serve immediately.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 medium ripe tomatoes
½ cup cooked spinach or swiss chard, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the spinach, mozzarella, garlic, olive oil & red pepper flakes in a small bowl – set aside.

Cut a thin slice off the top of the tomatoes and remove the seeds & juice. Season the insides of the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Using a spoon, fill each tomato with the spinach stuffing mixture. Place in a small, shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the top of each tomato with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Bake 20 minutes and serve.


Ribeye Pork Chops

Ingredients

2 bone-in ribeye pork chops, 2 inches thick weighing about 16 oz each
Your Favorite Rub For Pork
Your Favorite BBQ Sauce
Here is a link to my favorite pork rub and BBQ Sauce:

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2017/07/14/weekend-bbq/

Directions

Coat the pork all over with the rub mixture. Place the pork in an oiled baking dish and cover the dish with foil.

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the foil-covered baking dish in the oven and roast the pork for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone. The pork will finish cooking on the grill.

Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high. Oil the grill rack.

Brush the pork with BBQ sauce and place them on the grill. Grill the pork, turning occasionally, until the chops begin to char, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Crispy Baked Butternut Squash

Servings 4

Ingredients

1 butternut squash peeled and cut into spirals
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the butternut squash in a ziplock bag with the oil. Shake the bag.

Arrange the squash on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until caramelized and charred in spots.

Turn the spirals over after 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Twice Baked Cauliflower

6 Servings

Ingredients

1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into large florets
4 cloves garlic, diced
4 green onions, diced
8 strips bacon, diced
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the cauliflower florets in a large ziplock bag and add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shake the bag and turn the florets out onto a baking sheet.

Roast until the florets are soft and begin to brown, about 30 minutes.

Cook the bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Place the roasted cauliflower florets in the processor with the garlic and green onions. Process until almost smooth. Add the cream cheese and sour cream and process until smooth.

Pour the cauliflower puree into an oiled medium=sized baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cooked bacon and cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes.

 



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