Time to Lighten Up!

Gone are all the cookies, cakes and heavy foods, it’s time to snap out of it!
 Now I’m craving all things green, lighter fare, and it feels good. I’ve made this salad three times already, it’s that good! Simple ingredients, but the combination of flavors work so well together.
Roasted butternut squash, feta cheese, toasted pecans, sliced red onion and a generous sprinkling of pomegranate arils all laying on a bed of spinach tossed in white wine vinegar and olive oil. 
I love these little jewels, even though it can be a little messy when de-seeding them. I find that by cutting them in half and whacking the back with a meat mallet or heavy spoon preferably over a bowl does the trick fast and easy and all the arils just fall right out.
Kale is another green I crave and this healthy bowl of soup just makes me feel good.
 No real recipe here just leftover roasted butternut squash and chicken along with some white beans, lots of kale, carrots and leeks bathing in a chicken or vegetable based broth cooked with a parmesan rind.
 It’s all good, lets hope I keep this up!
Buon Appetito!


Winter Risotto

In case you missed it the other day, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so according to him we still have 6 more weeks of winter, which means you still have plenty of time to make this warm and earthy risotto.

Any type of winter squash could be used in this recipe such as acorn, pumpkin, delicata and even sweet potatoes, but as I mentioned in my previous post I told you how much I adored butternut squash, so now pair that with spinach and earthy crimini mushrooms and you have the makings of a wonderful and hearty risotto!

I like to have my squash roasted and ready beforehand and towards the end of cooking the risotto I just toss it all in along with sliced mushrooms and fresh torn spinach. Kale would be good as well if you want to replace the spinach.

This easily could be a one pot meal or served as an individual side. Risotto is so easy to mold, while it’s warm it takes on the shape of whatever you place it in, whether it’s a tiny bowl or ramekin, I’ve even used a spring form pan to mold a whole pot of risotto, after it cools slightly you can release the spring and then cut it into wedges.

Here’s the ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice*** 4 cups of chicken or veggie stock, simmering hot on stove*** 2 cloves of minced garlic***1/2 of chopped onion***fresh thyme*** 1/2 cup white wine*** 3 cups of roasted medium diced butternut squash***1 1/2 cups of sliced crimini mushrooms*** 1 large handful of fresh torn baby spinach*** 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Here’s what you do:

In a heavy pot on medium heat, drizzle bottom with olive oil and 1 T of butter, toss in the onion and garlic and saute. Next toss in the rice and season with fresh thyme, salt and pepper, cook rice until you see a light golden color. De glaze with the wine, letting it cook down.

By ladle fulls, start adding stock stirring until it’s absorbed into the rice, keep adding stock and stirring. Towards the end, add in your squash, mushrooms and spinach, gently stirring until all stock is gone. Turn of the heat, toss in your cheese, and a little drizzle more of the olive oil. Taste for salt and pepper.

Enjoy and Buon Appetito!


Individual " Lighter" Chicken Pot Pies

Winter just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t make at least one pot pie, lately I tend to shy away from them because normally they’re not the most healthy thing to eat, but this version is not only portion controlled but the sauce is made from a rue whisked with chicken broth infused with garlic and fresh thyme, and yes, there’s a piece of puff pastry on top but it was cut out with a small cookie cutter, so how bad can that be?

I can’t stress enough how absolutely delicious this combination of roasted chicken, roasted butternut squash and fresh chopped spinach is. Spinach and butternut squash is a match made in heaven, I’ve been making so many meals lately from those two ingredients, in fact my next post will be a lovely risotto minus the chicken, replaced with hearty crimini mushrooms. So good!
This recipe filled three 5″ ramekins, and I only used one large chicken breast for all three. I served my pot pies along side a salad of mixed baby greens, it all went perfect together.
Wouldn’t this be cute for a cozy little Valentine dinner, besides, you’d have plenty of room left for a decadent dessert!
Here’s the ingredients:
1. A previously roasted chicken breast, I seasoned mine with a drizzle of olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
2. A previously cut up and roasted butternut squash that was drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. You’ll have leftovers, but that’s a good thing, that’s what I made my risotto with!
3. A huge handful of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped.
4. Onion, garlic, fresh thyme.
5. Grated Parmesan cheese.
6. Puff pastry sheet defrosted, and shapes cut out with a cookie cutter.
Here’s what you do:
In a saucepan melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 of a small red onion.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour, season with salt and pepper and then whisk in a good 2 cups of chicken broth, maybe a teenie more, also add some fresh thyme, and a generous handful of grated cheese.
Note* If you want the sauce to look creamier stir in a tablespoon of milk or half and half, but you really don’t need it!

When the sauce thickens, turn off the stove and throw in your chicken, squash and chopped spinach. Scoop ladles full into your buttered ramekins and place your puff pastry cut out on top of filling, ( brush a little milk or cream on top to help get it golden brown).
Bake in a 400F. oven untill brown and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.
Hope you enjoy!
Buon Appetito!