Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze

Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze
Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze

Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze

This roasted acorn squash with miso glaze is a great side dish and as the squash pieces  brown, the glaze sweet becomes sweet with a salty, nutty ~umami flavor that is delicious.

Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans, salt and a koji mold.  It is used in Japanese soups, salad dressing, marinades and sauces and comes in several different varieties from white to yellow to dark brown. Koji is a key ingredient in miso and is a microbe that is mixed with partially cooked rice and has a nutty, floral, sweet woodsy fragrance.  When it has bloomed, it is gathered and mixed with soybeans to continue the fermentation process for miso.  Koji is also used to make soy sauce and sake.  Miso has a salty-sweet taste and look for miso that has not been pasteurized so it still contains healthy, enzyme rich microorganisms for your gut. You can find it in the refrigerator aisle and it contains all essential amino acids and is loaded with vitamin B12.  Keep it tightly sealed and it will last in the refrigerator for months. I also like to make a miso salad dressing similar to the ones they often serve in Japanese restaurants with garlic, ginger, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  To make the miso glaze, mix up some miso with ginger, sake, rice vinegar, soy, and a little brown sugar and brush it over the squash.  I like to line a baking tray with foil or parchment because the glaze can be a little sticky as it browns.  The glaze is also good brushed on kabocha, butternut squash or sliced eggplant and makes a great glaze for salmon or chicken.  click here for the recipe….

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Mexican Chorizo Meatloaf with Tomato-Chipotle Green Chile Glaze

Mexican Chorizo Meatloaf with Tomato-Chipotle Green Chile Glaze
Mexican Chorizo Meatloaf with Tomato-Chipotle Green Chile Glaze

I guess I finally have to concede that we are definitely going into the fall mode after a beautiful Indian summer.  It’s always difficult for me to let the summer go and put the barbecue away.  It leaves me reminiscing about the summer dinner parties I should have had, or the dishes I should have tried that were on my summer food list like the recipe for Moroccan Grilled Leg of Lamb Salad with a Mint and Basil Vinaigrette and Couscous. So much food – so little time to try it all!  I came across this recipe while I was watching The Kitchen cooking show and thought it would help ease me into fall cooking which it definitely did.  It is super moist, and full of Mexican flavors and a real flavor departure from the regular meatloaf I make.  It combines chorizo and ground beef, with the addition of roasted green chile peppers, cumin, chile powder, cayenne and lots of garlic. I used my food processor to chop all the veggies and even mix the eggs which makes the assembly go really quick. The sauce is what really makes it delicious and it starts with a tomato base, roasted green chiles, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and is sweet and sour with the addition of brown sugar and mustard.  I made Yukon Gold mashed potatoes to go with it which are also more of a fall side dish for me and since the oven was on, just bumped the heat up after the meatloaf was cooked and roasted some asparagus to serve alongside. Next time I will make a double batch and freeze one for another day.  Click here for recipe….

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Indian Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Wrap with a Quick Pickled Cucumber Relish and Yogurt Sauce

Indian Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Wrap with Quick Pickled Cucumber Relish and Yogurt Sauce

I spent the weekend in the San Juan islands with my friends who are vegetarian and I love the challenge of cooking something I hope they will like.  I love Indian spices and was inspired by a recipe I found that has a few components, but when it is all brought together in a wrap, it is really delicious and healthy and I don’t miss meat at all.  The cauliflower is roasted with Indian spices like turmeric, cardamon, coriander and cumin and while that is cooking, you make quinoa with more Indian spices.  I made a quick pickled cucumber with rice wine vinegar for a little hit of acid and also made a yogurt sauce with Indian spices and lemon juice to bring the whole wrap together.  I quickly heated tortillas in a dry skillet over medium high heat, and everyone assembled their own wraps.  Give it a try!  Click here for the recipe….

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Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

Jalapeño Poppers

Everyone seems to love jalapeño poppers and they are quick to put together.  I grilled these peppers, but you can also roast them in the oven.  You can make them the day before which is always handy for saving time if you are having a party.  I always wear rubber gloves when I am working with jalapeños because they burn my hands and I inevitably touch my eye and it is really painful!  Take jalapeño peppers and cut them length wise and devein and seed them and place them on a baking tray or plate.  The stuffing mixture is made with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, green onion, and lime juice, and crispy bacon which really makes it delicious!  Bake them in the oven or grill them on the grill until the brown and bubbling and serve.  Click here for the recipe….

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Grilled Shrimp with Artichoke, Asparagus, Yellow Pepper, and Cherry Tomatoes

Grilled Shrimp with Artichoke, Asparagus, Yellow Pepper, and Cherry Tomatoes
Grilled Shrimp with Artichoke, Asparagus, Yellow Pepper, and Cherry Tomatoes

I am still savoring every inch of summer I can and want to continue grilling everything!  I hate saying goodbye to summer.  This dinner is full of flavors like oregano, thyme, garlic and lemon and is really quick to put together.  I always have frozen shrimp in the freezer as well as a jar of artichoke hearts.  I combine olive oil, herbs and garlic in a bowl and add onion, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus and artichoke hearts and toss.  I have a grill basket that I get super hot and put the vegetable mix in and then add a little more olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and toss the shrimp in the oil.  I like to cook the onion and pepper until lightly browned before I add the shrimp and cherry tomatoes because they don’t take as long to cook and there is nothing worse than rubbery shrimp.  I grill half a lemon to squeeze over the finished dish and toss with some lemon zest and tear some fresh oregano over the whole platter.  You can also roast this whole dish on a baking tray if you don’t want to bbq. The plated photo is of a roasted version of the same dish. Click here for the recipe….

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Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

My nephew requested a chocolate cake with raspberry frosting for his birthday.  I don’t know if he was thinking it through about the fresh raspberries turning the buttercream frosting pink, but he is a real man who also eats quiche and didn’t mind!  The chocolate cake recipe is one of my favorites.  It uses oil and buttermilk instead of butter and is a really moist cake full of flavor with the addition of coffee, melted bittersweet chocolate and coco powder.  I used fresh raspberries and put them through a fine strainer to remove the seeds and added the puree to the buttercream frosting and it has a nice, fresh, raspberry taste.  I also spread a layer of raspberry jam in the center along with a layer of raspberry buttercream to drive the raspberry taste throughout the cake.  To give the cake a chocolate boost, I made a chocolate ganache and poured it in the center of the cake after I piped the decorations around the top and decorated with fresh raspberries.  If I had some fresh mint, I would have place some leaves next to the raspberries for a little more pop of color. The combination of chocolate and raspberries is delicious!  Click here for the recipe….

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Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers with Sundried Tomatoes with a Sundried Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Aioli

Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers with Sundried Tomatoes  

with Sundried Tomato, Basil, Garlic Aioli

These chickpea burgers have a lot of flavor and are vegan.  The recipe makes 8 so I formed them into patties and froze the leftovers so I could have a quick dinner on a night I didn’t feel like cooking.  I used my food processor, and minced chickpeas, oatmeal, spinach, garlic, onions, lemon, tomato paste and sundried tomatoes.  Ground flax seeds mixed with water replaces the egg, but you could use an egg instead to bind the mixture together if you don’t need it to be vegan.  I sautéed the patties in a skillet and while they were cooking, made a quick aioli to put on the bun with basil, sundried tomatoes, garlic and mayonnaise.  This really adds a lot of flavor to the burger.  I garnished the burger with romaine lettuce, sliced onion, sliced tomato and some avocado so it was a filling dinner!  It was a 3 napkin dinner and messy, but really good.  I buy the sundried tomatoes in olive oil at Trader Joe’s, as well as their frozen basil that is frozen in teaspoon sized portions which quickly thaw and can be added to a myriad of dishes in the freezer section.  It’s a great way to keep fresh basil on hand at all times even in the winter.  Click here for the recipe….

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Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges with Chimichurri Sauce and Chipotle-Cilantro Aioli

Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges with Chimichurri Sauce and Chipotle-Cilantro Aioli

I love to grill potatoes and sweet potatoes in the summer and start them out the same way by microwaving them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cook them most of the way through, and then grill them.  It’s a great side dish.  What makes these sweet potatoes really good are the two sauces that you drizzle over the potatoes before you serve them.  There are a lot of versions of chimichurri sauce, but for me, it’s a combination of whatever fresh herbs I have in my outdoor pots – parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, or cilantro.  I combine them in a mini food processor with some garlic, red wine vinegar, capers, a dash of honey and some olive oil and process it until it is loose enough to drizzle.  I made a chipotle aioli with some frozen chipotle I had from a leftover can that I freeze in a little container, and added some mayonnaise and fresh cilantro to make the sauce.  They have some really good pre-made sriracha mayonnaise or chipolte mayonnaise that you could also use to make it easy to put together.  The sweet potatoes are delicious grilled on their own without the sauces, but it really makes a great side dish with the combination of the two sauces.  You could also roast the sweet potatoes if you don’t want to grill them on the bbq. Click here for recipe….

 

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Quinoa Tacos

Quinoa Tacos

If you are looking for a delicious vegetarian alternative to beef tacos, this is a great recipe.  It uses quinoa and the traditional Mexican spices like chili powder, cumin and a little oregano.  While you are cooking the quinoa, sauté and onion and garlic and add the cooked quinoa and some salsa to make the base.  I heated tortillas and garnished the tacos with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, fresh cilantro, and some sour cream and served it alongside a salad with a cumin-lime vinaigrette.  You could add cooked beans to the filling as well.   Click here for recipe….

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Deviled Eggs with Bay Shrimp, Tarragon and Dill

Deviled Eggs with Bay Shrimp, Fresh Tarragon and Dill

Everyone always seems to love good old fashioned Deviled Eggs when they are brought out at a party.  They are so easy to make, but quite a few details go into making them really good ~ starting first with the cooking of them.  There are so many “no fail” ways I have seen to cook hard boiled eggs, but my method is the one my mom taught me and it is to place eggs in a saucepan and cover with 2 inches of cold water and bring them to boil.  Reduce the heat to low for 12-13 minutes and immediately drain and plunge the eggs in cold water and keep changing the cold water to avoid the dreaded grey ring around the yellow yolk.  It doesn’t sound so good to say, but using older eggs is better for hard boiling because they are easier to peel.  The eggs I bought must have been very fresh and a lot of them tore and were very hard to peel which was so disappointing and I didn’t have perfect eggs for the party.  If you are finding them hard to peel, gently crack the shell all around and let them sit in cold water to help loosen the shell and ease with the peeling process.  Always keep them refrigerated after they have cooked.  You can make the filling the day before and it’s best to fill the eggs just before you serve them so they don’t get a crust on top.  To make the filling I passed them through my food mill so they were very smooth and mixed the yolks with mayonnaise, finely diced shallot, bay shrimp, Dijon mustard, fresh tarragon, dill pickles, fresh dill, and lemon zest and juice and garnished them with bay shrimp and fresh herbs.  It’s important to taste the filling for the right amount of acid, salt and pepper.   I like to put the filling in a piping bag (or plastic bag) and fill them quickly and easily right before serving them.  A good rule of thumb is about 1.5 eggs  a person.  They always seem to disappear quickly at a party.  If you have leftovers, you can make egg salad sandwiches.  Click here for the recipe….

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