5 ways to squash your dinner

5 ways to squash your dinner

You can tell by the bright yellow or orange flesh of winter squash (well, depending on the variety), that this fall harvest fruit is good for you. (Yes, squash is a fruit!) Winter squash, like acorn and butternut, are the more substantial varieties. And I’m sure you already knew it, but zucchini is considered a summer squash.

If you’re looking for some ideas about how to get more of this delicious fruit that’s easy to find, easy to cook and easy on the budget, I happen to have some fab suggestions for you. 😉

The following are five ways you can prepare squash to enjoy with your dinner this evening:

Roasted with root vegetables. If you’re roasting beets, parsnips or carrots, toss in some squash. You can also make it even easier and simply slice your squash in half, remove the seeds (save them to roast later), and roast in its skin at 375 for about 30–40 minutes, depending on the squash and its size. When dinner’s ready, scoop out the flesh of the squash and enjoy with some butter.

Mashed or puréed. You can steam your squash and mash it, just like you would with potatoes. I personally don’t care for this method as it’s not nearly as flavorful as roasting, but it’s a good way to bulk up a serving of mashed vegetables. Puréed squash also looks very pretty on a plate.

Souped up. Make a simple soup from your squash, and serve it as an appetizer. Or, bulk it up with more veggies and serve it as a main course.

Stuffed. You can stuff and roast just about any squash you would like. Imagine a beautiful spaghetti squash, sliced in half and stuffed with tomato sauce and meatballs. Or an acorn squash sliced and stuffed with sausage and apples. Use your imagination (and Google—you can find endless ideas for roasting squash.)

As noodles. You may already know that you can roast a spaghetti squash and scoop out its noodly flesh to eat as you would any traditional noodle. But if you have a vegetable spiralizer, you can also make noodles out of other types of squash like acorn or butternut, and gently steam them to serve for dinner. (You can find veggie spiralizers on Amazon.) The accord squash “noodles” are wonderful!

I hope I’ve inspired you to add squash to your menu this evening. 🙂

Special Report – Expired Condiments

Special Report – Expired Condiments

Are you suffering from OCS? Old Condiment Syndrome? You know what I’m talking about. Crusty ketchup bottles, icky, old Ranch dressing and ancient mustard?

Most of us have as many condiments as we do cleaning supplies. My dear friend Marla Cilley (AKA as the FlyLady) says she knows what’s lurking under your sinks (more cleaning supplies than a janitorial service needs). Well, I know what you have in your refrigerator doors. Fossilized condiments! And more than a busy hotdog stand in New York City needs, too!

Did you know the refrigerated shelf life for mayonnaise is two months? It is! So guess what? Today is the day you get to toss that stuff and get a new one. Listen, if you don’t use it often enough, buy a smaller jar. Even though it costs more money, it really is the cheaper way to go. You don’t need nasty old mayo in your fridge!

Here are some more items you probably have languishing in the doors of your fridge or way in the back:

1—Mustard. Not just the yellow kind, but Dijon, honey mustard, brown mustard and that teeny, tiny jar of gourmet mustard from the gift basket you received over the holidays with the funky taste. No one likes it, but instead of throwing it out, you put it in the fridge. Why? Toss it! Shelf life: 6-8 months in the fridge; 2 years unopened in a pantry.

2—Jams and Jellies. The other day, I pulled out a raspberry jam that had a “best used by” date of 4/5/16. YIKES! I bet you have some of those too! Time to chuck them as well! Shelf life: 1 year in the fridge; 1 year unopened in the pantry.

3—Salad Dressings. A lot of commercial salad dressings have enough preservatives in them to embalm you. However, nothing lasts forever. If they’ve been opened for more than 3 months in the fridge, they’ve gotta go too. Unopened, they’ll last a year in your pantry.

4—Pickles. I think I’ve had the same jar of pickles in my fridge since I’ve had the raspberry jam. The issue for pickles is they don’t last as long as jam in the fridge! Only 1-2 months opened and in the fridge. For the pantry shelf? One year unopened. Time to ditch your pickles!

5—Ketchup. I don’t even want to know how old my ketchup is. Let’s just say probably from the same era as the pickles and the raspberry jam. Truth is, it’s only good for about 2 months in the fridge. Unopened and on the pantry shelf, it can last a year before it needs tossing.

6—Salsa and Hot Sauce. Guess what? Once your hot sauce or salsa is opened, it’s good for just a month in the fridge! Don’t wait for it to mold; throw it OUT! Unopened, it’s good for a year on your pantry shelf.

7—Olives. Oh yes, I confess. My olives are refrigerator pals with the jam, ketchup and pickles! Out they go; they only last a month opened in the fridge. They’ll last a year unopened in your pantry though!

Well, that’s quite a condemning list, isn’t it? The question is how to know how old everything is? One rule of thumb if there is no date on the jar or package and if you don’t remember when you opened it, it’s probably a good idea to toss it.

How can you avoid Old Condiment Syndrome? By marking your condiments on the label with a Sharpie (it will hold up to the refrigeration without smudging or smearing) with the date so you know. You might want to keep this list handy so you know how long to keep these items.

Last thoughts on this and then you can go cure the OCS in your fridge: unless you have a huge family or you’re an overly zealous condiment using family, it’s probably best to stick with supermarket sized condiments as opposed to the jumbo sized stuff that they sell in those warehouse stores. Bigger isn’t always better.

Have fun tossing!

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a trick, a tip and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

Today’s focus is on: BUTTERNUT SQUASH

As the weather gets cooler, my mind goes to squash. That didn’t come out quite right, but you know what I mean!

Butternut squash is one of my favorite winter squashes. It has a gorgeous orange color that tell us it is jam packed with carotenoids which protect us against heart disease, breast cancer and macular degeneration.

In addition to carotenoids, butternut squash is full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and folate. There’s enough Vitamin C in a cup of butternut squash to give you half of your recommended daily dose of this powerful nutrient!

Not only is butternut squash nutritious, but it’s also very tasty. It can be roasted and served as a side dish or in a salad, it can be steamed and pureed into a soup, or it can be served mashed in place of starchy (boring) white potatoes.

Now, for your Trick!

You can store butternut squash for up to three months in a cool, dry place. But if you’ve cut into it, you only want to keep that guy around in the fridge for a week, max.

Your Tip:

Peeling butternut squash can be a painful process. To make the job easier on yourself, slice the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds (save those for roasting later!). Put each half of the squash—cut side down—on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let it roast at 375 degrees for an hour. You’ll be able to scoop it right out of its skin.

And your Recipe:

Print Recipe
Beef & Butternut Squash Stew
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme; sauté until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and add beef; brown on all sides.
  5. Add beef broth and whisk up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add butternut squash and stir to combine well.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour until beef is cooked and fork-tender.

 

Never Let Your Kids Do These 3 Things in the Kitchen

Never Let Your Kids Do These 3 Things in the Kitchen

One of my favorite pastimes is cooking with my children. Do you have kids? If you do, I want to heavily recommend that you teach them the joys of the kitchen while they’re still young and look up at you like a superhero that has all the answers. Teaching your children how to cook is more than a rite of passage; it’s just plain fun. To me, the kitchen is like a magical land that can create a special type of community and intimacy with the simple act of making a meal.

There are some little things you should look out for when you start to integrate your children into the cooking world: the basic do’s and don’ts.

DO assign simple tasks. When starting out, show them how to wash veggies, how to stir sauces to not let the sides burn, how to scramble eggs, etc.

DON’T let your child use a knife and cutting board without supervision and being taught proper technique.

DO give them a bit more responsibility as they show they understand. Show them basic vegetable cutting, but once you pass that knife from your hand to theirs, watch them like a hawk. (younger ones can use pumpkin carving knives safely, so save yours!)

DON’T let your child remove anything from the oven. But explain how it’s done as you do it; this way, when it’s time, they’ll be ready.

DO explain how when you’re using a pot or pan that you need to turn the handle to the side so it’s not sticking out so no one can run into it or accidentally knock it over.

DON’T allow them to handle meat until they’ve had a couple seasoned years under your training, but explain the safety issues and demonstrate thorough hand washing after you touch it.

ALWAYS let them sneak tastes of their labor in the kitchen. One of my favorite things about cooking is that I get to taste along the way, and I can guarantee that it’ll be a favorite among your children as well.

Well folks, there you have it! Show your children what a kitchen is and how to use it. My daughter is a college graduate now and she tells me all the time how surprised she is that hardly anyone her age knows how to cook. Regardless, your children are going to love learning this new skill! For them, it’s like finally getting to know the secret behind a magic trick. Have FUN!!

What veggie can I not get enough of right now?

What veggie can I not get enough of right now?

By: Leanne Ely

 

It’s time for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe! And in honor of this most ultimate summer squash, today we’re giving it the attention it deserves. Sound good?

Zucchinis are packed with beta-carotene, potassium and B vitamins. They also provide fiber and a bit of Vitamin C, but a large zucchini contains only 16 calories!

While zucchini can be used in muffin and loaf recipes, I prefer to eat it in its pure form, simply stir fried as a simple side dish. Oh you know what else is good? Grated zucchini sautéed in olive oil and a bit of garlic with salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious and almost rice-like in texture.

This is one versatile and delicious veggie!

zucchini

Now, it’s time for your Trick:

If you don’t know what to do with all that zucchini in your garden, grate it up and put it in the freezer, sealed individually in one-cup servings.

Your Tip:

Select small to medium sized zucchini if you’re eating them for flavor. The bigger guys start to lose their taste after awhile. They’re okay for purposes like zucchini bread, but they won’t do much for you in a stir fry.

And your Recipe from our new 21 Day Knock Out!

Fried Egg and Veggie Skillet
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 pound zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
4 large eggs

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: In a very large skillet over medium high heat, melt half the coconut oil. Add onion, pepper, and zucchini and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in thyme.

Move the veggies to the outer edges of the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining coconut oil. Crack eggs into the center and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip eggs over and fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until eggs reach desired doneness.

Carefully scoop vegetables out and top with eggs. Season eggs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

If you want more tasty recipes to help you stay on track and get ready for summer, join me on our new 21 Day Knock Out here!