Butternut Squash & Kale Tacos

The taco.

Is there anything more delicious and exciting than a taco?  It can be simple, it can be complex, it can be crunch, it can be soft, it can be sweet, it can be savory, it can be anything you want it to be.  I love making tacos because you can make them different every time if you want.

Back in my childhood taco night was a family favorite. It was a purely American-style taco: crunchy taco shells, ground beef with that packaged taco seasoning, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and onions.  And I loved every single one I ate.  I haven’t made those kind in a while, but I still love them.

These days though we all try to be a little more health-conscious and sustainable and grass-fed, and all that.  So while browsing recipes for tacos I figured why not combine a few of my favorite healthy ingredients into one, and put it in a tortilla?  Everything’s better in a tortilla.

Enter kale and butternut squash. Delicious and nutritious by themselves, and a real healthy combo when put together.  I know I’m not the first person to invent the kale and butternut squash taco, but I decided to wing it and see what I could do.

First I cooked up some onions and garlic in a pan, then added cubed butternut squash.  And I didn’t even cheat and buy it pre-cut!

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Let that cook for 10 minutes or until the squash is soft.  Then add some chili for spice. Not too much though, you don’t want to burn your mouth off.

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Then add a bunch of chopped kale and cook until it’s wilted.

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Salt and pepper that up, and your filling’s done!  Easy enough right?

Now for some sauce.  A good taco generally has a nice crema on it, but I actually like using greek yogurt to make a sauce because it’s thicker, and adds a nice tartness to it. The sauce is good enough to be used as a condiment for any sort of dish, if you ask me, though I’m biased.

Combine some plain greek yogurt with lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper, and…Tapatio! Or Cholula.  Or any other hot sauce you think is good.  I like the two of those because they’re smoky and rich in flavor.

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Stir, stir, stir, and you have a delicious condiment:

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So now, put some of that sauce on a warm tortilla and top with the filling.

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Sprinkle a little chopped cilantro and raw onion, for added flavor and texture.

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Then when you’re done taking a picture so you can impress all your friends, make two more to join that taco on the plate, because you’re going to want them.

INGREDIENTS:

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 cups butternut squash, cut in small cubes
1 bunch kale, chopped
chili powder
1 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon cumin
1.5 teaspoons Tapatio or other hot sauce
Corn tortillas
chopped onion and cilantro, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a large pan.

2. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more.

3. Add in butternut squash, and cook for 8-10 minutes, until soft.

4. Salt and pepper to taste, and add 1 teaspoon chili powder.

5. Add chopped kale to pan, and stir together.  Cook a few minutes until kale is wilted.

6. To make the sauce, combine the greek yogurt, cumin, Tapatio, and some salt & pepper.  Stir to combine.

7. Assemble! On a tortilla put some of the sauce, and the filling. Top with onion and cilantro.

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I Love Greek Salad!

 

As a week of healthy eating continues, it goes without saying that salads are a healthy option. But I have a love/hate relationship with salads.  I mean, I never say I CRAVE a salad, there are just times that I feel like I should have one, because we all need to eat more vegetables.

I do, however, love a good Greek salad, and this is a super simple one that takes only a few minutes to put together. In fact, so simple that I have no excuse not to eat one more often.

As with most salads, it is the dressing that can make it or break it.  A Greek dressing should be fresh and vibrant with a little tang that makes your mouth pucker.  You’re only five ingredients away from deliciousness.

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Four ingredients, plus olive oil.

Take the juice of half a lemon, crush a clove of garlic, chop up some mint and parsley, and put it all in a jar, for easy shaking.  Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and shakeshakeshake.  DONE!
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Now that the dressing is finished, time to put some veggies on a plate.  Lettuce, tomatoes, kalamata olives, thinly sliced red onions, cucumber, and some feta cheese.  Drizzle some of that delicious dressing, and maybe add some stuffed grape leaves for show, and you have a picture perfect salad.

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BRB, I have to go eat this now.

GREEK SALAD DRESSING

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic cloved, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients, whisk or shake together.

Spaghetti Squash and Make-It-Your-Own Sauce

Hello Tablers!  My apologies for being MIA this past week, between my day job, general life, and getting lasers shot in my eye, it’s been a pretty busy time around here.  All those time constraints have led to me eating pretty poorly, a lot of breads, a lot of meats, and not a lot of veggies.  For shame!

So this week I’m eating healthier, lighter, and getting back in the swing of things! It’s Springtime, isn’t that what we should all be doing anyway?

We’re going to start this week with a vegetable I get confused by: Spaghetti Squash.

People love it, and there is some that I’ve had that is delicious, but every time I have made it at home it turns out either undercooked or squishy, or not that tasty.  There was a big pile of them staring me in the face at the market though, and I will not be deterred. If it can replace pasta every now and then and still give me the satisfaction, I’m all in.

Now, let’s talk tomato sauce. Is there any sauce that is more forgiving than a tomato sauce? I call this Make-It-Your-Own tomato sauce, because you can pretty much put in anything you might think will work. You can use different meats, different vegetables, different spices, make it your own! Of course you can serve it with regular pasta too!

Let’s start with the squash.

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Look at that beauty. So yellow!  So…oval.  Ok well it’s a pretty yellow at least.

First thing you do is cut that baby in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.

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A blank canvas, ready for seasoning!

Spaghetti squash is pretty tasteless, which is bad if you want to eat it on its own, but great if you want to cover it with something delicious. Add some salt, pepper, and drizzle some olive oil on both halves, and then put them face down on a baking sheet. Cover with foil.

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Peek-a-boo

Throw it in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour, checking after 30 minutes. You know it’s done when a knife slides into it easily.

Now while that’s cooking let’s talk about the sauce. Looking in my fridge, I had some Italian turkey sausage, some onions, and sweet peppers, so that’s what I used. But hey, you have some ground beef? Ground turkey? Chicken Sausage? Spinach? Broccoli? Use it!  Whatever you feel like.

First cook the onions for a few minutes, then add your protein, in this case my delicious spicy turkey sausage.

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After the turkey sausage is browned, add in the rest of the veggies, in this case the chopped sweet peppers I had. (If you’re using spinach or some other leafy green, don’t add it now, add it near the end).

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Action shot!

Then add a can of whole tomatoes, crushing them with your hand as they go in, to really get all the juices out.

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This is the point where you open up your spice cabinet and see what’s happening in there. In my kitchen I had some dried oregano, dried basil, garlic salt, red chili flakes, and cumin (why not?), so I put some of each in there, gave it all a stir, put a lid on it and let it cook until the squash was done. Oh also add some salt and pepper of course.

Speaking of, here’s the squash when it’s done:

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Perfect. Now take a fork and carefully scrape the strands apart, basically moving from the skin side to the middle, like this:

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MAGIC.

Let’s check the sauce too.  Sometimes you’ll have to mash the tomatoes up a little more with your spoon.

 

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And when you add the two together, with a little parmesan, of course…

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A satisfying, and healthy meal, that’s full of flavor!  And it even looks like spaghetti! The miracle of nature.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH:

Ingredients:

1 2-3 pound spaghetti squash
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.

3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

4. Place cut side down on a baking sheet, cover the sheet with foil.

5. Place in oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Check after 30 minutes. It’s done when a knife can slide into it easily.

6. Remove from oven and let cook for 5 minutes.

7. With a fork, gently scrape the squash away from the skin into strings. Place into a bowl.

8. Add your favorite topping and enjoy!

MAKE-IT-YOUR-OWN TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 28oz can whole tomatoes

1/2 pound protein (sausage, ground beef, turkey, etc).

1 onion

Vegetables (peppers, broccoli, asparagus, zuchinni, whatever you like)

Spices.

Instructions:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pot or deep pan over medium heat.

2. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until just starting to brown.

3. Add your protein, and cook until browned.

4. Add your sturdy vegetables and cook 3 minutes.

5. Add tomatoes and liquid to the pot, crushing with your hand as you go.

6. Add spices (basil, oregano, garlic, fennel, chili, whatever else you might have in your cabinet!) and seasoning.

7. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer 20-30 minutes.

8. Crush tomatoes a little more with your spoon.  Salt and pepper to taste.

8*. If you have leafy greens, this is where you should put them in and cook a few minutes longer until they’re just wilted.

9. Serve over spaghetti squash, or regular pasta, with lots of parmesan cheese.

 

 

Tomatoes and Butter and Bucatini Oh My!

I was super lazy this weekend. My boyfriend was out of town, so it was just me and the dogs and no scheduled events, which was so nice. By the time Sunday rolled around I really didn’t want to make anything too fancy, because it was just me.  I had some bucatini I’ve been wanting to use, because I love bucatini, so I asked the internets (or more accurately, I said to my phone “Ok Google, find me a simple recipe for bucatini), and found probably the easiest pasta I’ve made to date, short of pouring sauce out of a jar.

Remember when I talked about a recipe that was sure to get you a man?  Cancel that thought.  This is the one that will land you a man.

It’s three simple steps.

1. Put the ingredients in a dish and bake.

In a baking dish you add the following: canned tomatoes, butter, a couple anchovies, a lot of garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper.  I added oregano because I’m rebellious.

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2. When it’s done baking, take it out, and mash it all up with a potato masher.

At this point everything will be so soft that it will all melt together. Also, as I learned, be prepared for a splatter filled oven.

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3. Toss with cooked bucatini, or really any pasta. Top with parmesan, and if you want, some crispy pancetta. Place in bowl.

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It is so amazingly good for the amount of effort you put into it.  Honestly, I can barely look at this picture without wanting more of it.  Unfortunately there’s none left…cuz…well…you know…I mean it’s really good.

The recipe is at Bon Appetit,

Low Calorie Pizza. It’s a thing.

Spring has finally sprung!  That means the flowers are blooming, the weather is perfect, and my birthday is mere weeks away.  It also means that Summer is also mere weeks away and this is L.A., so we all have to start prepping our beach bodies (even if we don’t go to the beach because traffic is terrible, and who wants to spend an hour driving to the beach, and another hour parking, on a weekend?).

Okay so maybe we don’t all need beach bodies, but we also don’t need pizza every day, even though we wish we could sometimes. I mean, it’s the world’s perfect food, right?

But I was doing some Pinterest-ing the other day and saw some recipes for a pizza crust made of cauliflower.  What!  Cauliflower!  I’ve been kind of obsessed with cauliflower lately as a low-calorie potato substitute, but could it possibly sub in for my beloved pizza crust?

It starts with taking some cauliflower and pulsing it in a food processor until it’s chopped into a fine powder.

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Sidenote: At this point you could use it as a substitute for rice! So many options for a simple vegetable!

Now you have to get as much water as possible out of the cauliflower so that you can get a crispy crust. So microwave it for a few minutes and then lay it on a kitchen towel to cool.  When it’s cool enough, wrap the towel around and squeeeeeeeze until  you get as much water out as possible.  It will be a surprising amount. You’ll be left with these dry cauliflower crumbles.

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In a bowl, mix the cauliflower with 1/4 cup parmesan, 1/4 cup mozzarella, 1/2 a teaspoon each of dried basil and dried oregano, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a few red chili flakes.  Oh and most importantly, one egg!

Mix it all together and lay it on parchment paper.  Form into a pizza-like shape.  This is the best because you don’t need to roll out dough.  I’m terrible at rolling out dough.

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You bake it in the oven for 10 minutes until it’s nice and golden brown.

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Then, add your toppings, and pop back in the oven for 7-8 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. I added (turkey) pepperoni and mushrooms.  And look what you get:

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A pizza!  Look you can even slice it!

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Now, how did it taste?  Surprisingly good.  The crust was really solid and the whole thing was actually very satisfying.  I didn’t miss the bread at all!  It’s no replacement for regular pizza, of course, but it’s actually so easy to make that I would prefer making this type of crust at home rather than regular pizza crust.  Plus then I won’t feel guilty about eating the whole thing.  Not that I did that, of course…

You can find the recipe I used here.