Butternut Squash and Kale

I keep thinking that my love affair with butternut squash will end soon.  But it’s still going strong, so I may as well add some recipes to my long neglected blog.  This one is just the best.  I serve it by itself as a side, tossed with black beans and topped with cheese as a one bowl main dish, sandwiched in a taco or quesadilla, or under a fried egg.  It’s comfort food.  Only healthy.  This will make two to three big bowls full or enough to stuff in lots of tacos.

1/2 butternut squash, cubed

two big handfuls of roughly chopped kale


chili powder

garlic powder


Melt a pat of butter in a sauce pan on medium heat.  Add the butternut squash and sprinkle it liberally with S&P and chili powder.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash begins to soften and brown.  At this point pile on a couple of big handfuls of kale.  Sprinkle the kale with a little more salt and a good amount of garlic powder.  Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan, and put a lid on so the kale steams and cooks down.  As soon as it is wilted, you can toss in some black beans or serve this however you like.



Pimento and Cheese

I’m always on the lookout for good vegetarian picnic foods and sandwiches, but ever since childhood church dinners, I’ve avoided Pimento and Cheese.  Something about the store bought, lumpy stuff just turned me away.  That is, until a couple of months ago when we visited my Aunt Nancy.  A Southern Belle, turned Michigander, we couldn’t visit her without being sent home with lots of food, so she tucked a tupperware container of homemade pimento and cheese in our cooler as we headed out the door.  I am now officially a convert, so here is the recipe we just mixed up:

Pimento and Cheese

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup mayo (more or less to the consistency you like)

1 heaping Tbsp pimento peppers, diced small

1 clove of garlic

dash hot sauce

S&P to taste

Mix all ingredients together, adding more of this or that until you like how it looks and tastes.  Serve on some crusty bakery fresh bread if you’re not worried about accidentally eating the whole batch in one sitting.

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Dip

I really have been on a chili kick these last few days.  I needed something to take to book club on a snowy, icy night, so I decided to create a chili cheese dip.  I liked it so much that I also ate it for breakfast the next day.  HEY!  Leave me alone!  It’s full of protein!  🙂

Vegetarian Chili Cheese Dip

1 cup cooked lentils

1 cup cooked black beans

homemade taco seasoning

6 oz cream cheese

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese

3 or 4 dashes of tabasco (or to taste)

1/2 cup salsa

Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer over the stove.  Add taco seasoning to taste until it’s as seasoned and spicy just as you like it.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Vegetarian Chili Mac

It’s been cold around here lately, so I’ve been experimenting with chili recipes and warm soups.  I love chili, but sometimes I just want to change it up a bit, so I took my normal chili recipe and turned it in to a creamier Chili Mac recipe.  I can’t tell if my kids actually liked it or not, since they were promised Chocolate Oatmeal cookies if they ate their dinner without complaining.  But they did, in fact, all eat it without complaining.  Except the baby.  But she’s a baby.

Chili Mac

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, diced fine

1/4 yellow bell pepper, diced fine

3 cloves garlic, diced fine

1 small can diced green chili

2 cans kidney (or any kind) beans

4 diced tomatoes (they have less citric acid than canned, but you can sub canned)

2 Tbsp cornmeal

chili powder, to taste

cumin, to taste

salt, to taste

16 oz dried pasta

3 oz cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

sour cream or greek yogurt for topping

Saute onion and pepper in olive oil until they soften.  Meanwhile, in a separate pot, boil the pasta to al dente.  Add garlic to the onion and pepper and stir.  Immediately add the canned ingredients and diced tomatoes (so your garlic doesn’t scorch). Season to your taste with the spices.  I think I use at least a tablespoon of chili and cumin, but I often just keep adding more.  Simmer for at least 20 minutes with the lid on.  Sprinkle in the cornmeal and stir it in so it begins to thicken the chili.  Melt and stir in the cream cheese.  Add the cooked pasta.  Sprinkle the cheddar over top and put the lid on so that it melts.  Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt.

Blackeyed Peas for Cornbread

I know this dish doesn’t sound exciting.  But trust me on this.  So good.  This was originally a recipe for Hopping John Bean Butter that I found on the Chubby Vegetarian blog and absolutely loved.  I made some adaptations so that instead of a spread, it’s a bowl of the same delicious flavor, perfect for crumbling cornbread in to.

Blackeyed Peas

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large garlic cloves

1/2 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp cumin

1.5 cups prepared black eyes peas in their water

a couple dashes of tabasco sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp black pepper

sautee garlic in olive oil, add coriander and cumin, and then the rest of the ingredients.  Smash up some of the beans and cook down until the dish becomes less watery.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve over corn bread.

“The Best Pancakes Ever”

This recipe was titled by my eldest son, who says “Nina and PopPop make the best eggs ever, but you make the best pancakes ever!”  So I’m writing it down for posterity. This recipe makes enough for 5 people to eat generously.  It is just a tiny bit salty, which perfectly complements the sweetness of the syrup.  And the oatmeal adds an unusual (in a good way!) texture to the fluffy little cakes.

The Best Pancakes Ever

1 1/2 cups whole wheat (or a blend of whole wheat and white)

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)

2 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

10 oz greek yogurt

1 cup milk

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp melted butter

Whisk try ingredients together. Mix together wet ingredients.  Combine the two, mixing just until there’s no flour showing, but it’s still a bit lumpy.  Slowly heat a cast iron griddle on low heat.  Cook pancakes until edges appear dry and bubbles in center begin to form and pop, then flip and cook for just a minute or so until they’re done.

Chana Saag

This is Matt’s favorite dish when we go out for Indian food.  (Well, actually he likes the cheese, or paneer, version, but at home we sub chickpeas.)  I’ve tried to make this a couple of times, but this week it turned out really well, so I want to write it down!  I modified the recipe from New Recipes for Life so that it would include the pantry staples that I have on hand.

Chana Saag

1 whole onion, diced fine

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp fresh garlic, diced fine

2 Tbsp garam masala (or to taste)

2 Tbsp cumin (or to taste)

1 Tbsp groung ginger (or to taste)

1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 heaping tablespoon on tomato paste

3/4 cup of cream

2 frozen boxes of spinach

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Melt butter in a large sauté pan, and add onion.  Slowly and patiently fry the onion until it is caramelized, but not burnt. Add the spices and salt.  Toast them for a minute before adding the tomato paste and cream.  (Any kind of milk should work, but the richer the milk, the creamier the dish.)  Optionally: pulse the spinach in the food processor a few times before adding it to the sauté pan.  I did not do this, but I think it would provide a nicer texture to the dish, so I will next time.  Cooked spinach can be a bit stringy otherwise.  Either way, add the spinach and the chickpeas to the sauté pan, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes.  The longer you simmer it, the better the flavor will be.  Taste the curry and add more of any (or all) of the spices that you need to.  The spinach and beans do soak up a lot of flavor, so you may find that you want more.  I did.  Serve over rice and/or with naan bread.

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

This recipe comes from my friend, Beth, who made these potatoes for us when we visited her in Wisconsin, and won my children over to the flavors of salt and vinegar.

4 potatoes, scrubbed and sliced in to 1/2 inch cubes

olive oil


balsamic vinegar

Preheat the broiler.  Toss the potatoes in olive oil and spread in to one layer on a baking sheet.  Broil for 8-9 minutes on one side, then flip to the other and broil for another 5-6 minutes or until they’re browning.  Put the potatoes straight in to a bowl and drizzle them with just a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt.  Toss the potatoes to coat.

Beer Cheese

If I want to love my husband well, I make him homemade pretzels and beer cheese.  Birthday?  Hard day?  Just because?  Pretzels and beer cheese.  The only warning I have for those of you who are making this for your husbands: don’t use his good beer. You know, the one that he buys in a 4 pack because they’re so fancy?  Nope.  Don’t do it.  Use a PBR.  You’ll end up with a nice, mild flavor AND you won’t break your husband’s heart.  I don’t really measure any of this, so I hope you’re able to decipher this recipe, but I don’t think you can go too far wrong with a little tasting and seasoning to taste.

About 2 cups of cheddar cheese

light beer

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp (or so) of dijon

3-4 drops of tabasco

salt to taste

Pour about 1/3 a can of beer in to your food processor (start small.  if you use too much beer, you’ll end up having to add 2 pounds of cheese just to make your dip thick enough.) add the remainder of the ingredients and puree.  Add more cheese if you need the dip to be thicker.  Add more beer if it’s too thick.  Add more garlic, dijon, and tabasco if you want it to be more flavorful and/or spicy.  Let this dip sit for an hour if you can stand it.  It tastes better the longer the flavors are able to mingle.

Deep Dish Oatmeal Fudge Bars

This is one of those instances in which Pinterest did not let me down.  I made these bars to take to book club, and I really could have just stayed home with a spoon and the entire pan to myself.  I especially liked them after a quick chill in the fridge.  It makes the fudge layer really smooth and… well… fudgey.  I didn’t change a thing about this recipe except that I had to make my own sweetened condensed milk because I had none on hand.  But I don’t think that made much of a difference.  I highly recommend you take a visit over to Living Beyond Measure and get a look at the gorgeous pictures of these delectable treats.  You’ll definitely want to make them then.

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2 cups brown sugar

1/3 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 cups oatmeal

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix butter, sugar, eggs, and 2 tsp vanilla, then stir in the 1/3 milk.  Gradually add dry ingredients.  In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips, 1/3 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and condensed milk until it’s smooth.  Butter a 9×13 baking dish.  Spoon 1/2 of the batter mixture in to the bottom, pour the chocolate mixture over the batter, and then scoop small scoops of the remaining batter over top of the chocolate layer, trying to cover the chocolate as much as possible.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Let it cool completely before you cut it.  I recommend chilling it, but maybe that’s just me.  In any event, the chocolate needs to set up before you cut it.