Acorn Squash Mac n’ Cheese + Manchego + Kale + Garlic

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Of all the usual ingredients for mac n’ cheese, the only thing I really had was pasta. I was out of cream and gruyere, and I had no bread crumbs. So this came together and it was by far the best mac n’ cheese dish I’ve made. The squash gives it a sweetness and richness, so you don’t need as much cheese and cream. The spices are important, the lavender is just hint of floral, and the cayenne balances out the sweetness. You can use any type of squash or cheese, and mix up the veggies on top. This is the perfect dish after spending the day playing in the snow.

Acorn Squash Mac n’ Cheese + Manchego + Kale + Garlic

1 acorn squash, roasted
1 box quinoa blend organic mac n’ cheese pasta (Ancient Harvest)
¾ cup milk
¼ cup parmesan cheese, cut into chunks
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Teton View Lavender Farm Santa Fe Lavender Spice
1 tsp Teton View Lavender Farm Herbes de Provence
½ tsp cayenne
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large leafy pieces of kale, stems removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Lemon juice

Method: 

Oven 400. Cut the acorn squash in half and face flesh side down in a baking pan filled with ½ inch of water. Roast until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the squash and let it cool before handling.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in sea salted water.
Remove the seeds from the squash and scrape the soft cooked insides into a blender. Add the milk and blend until smooth. Add this mix to a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the parmesan cheese, stirring, and add the spices and salt. Mix the cooked pasta into the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Turn the heat off.
In a separate skillet, heat the butter. Add the garlic and kale and squeeze some lemon juice on top, cover and sauté for five minutes on medium-high heat.
Place another ½ tbsp of butter in a small skillet, and heat in the oven for a few minutes, until the butter is melted. Spoon the mac n’ cheese mix into the skillet, and top with the garlic-kale mix, a few thinly sliced pieces of manchego, and a grind of sea salt and pepper. Cook until the kale is slightly crisped, about 10-15 minutes.

Samosas with Arugula Raita and Apricot Chutney

IMG_1406IMG_1412These samosas are simple to make and many of the ingredients can be substituted depending on what you have on hand. They are great the next day, heated up in the oven, and served with a fried egg and roasted vegetables for breakfast or lunch. They also taste great cold for a work lunch. Make your own chutney, or use an apricot preserve, both taste excellent.

Arugula Raita
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
Heaping handful of arugula, chopped
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne

 Mix everything together and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Filling
6 fingerling potatoes, chopped
2 medium sized carrots, diced
½ large white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ inch piece of ginger, minced
½ tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
Lemon juice
Heaping handful of arugula, chopped
2 tbsp butter
Olive oil

 Oven 425. Place the potatoes and carrots together in a medium sized skillet or use a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and bake until the potato is easily mashed with a fork, about 25 minutes or so (if you do not use fingerling potatoes, this will take slightly longer).Meanwhile, add the butter to a skillet and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until the onions are translucent. Add the coriander and curry powder and salt. Pull the potatoes and carrots out of the oven and use a fork to roughly mash the potato/carrot mix. Combine the onion mix with the potato/carrot mix, add the lemon juice, and mix well. Remove from the heat and stir in the arugula. Adjust the amount of salt, curry powder and cayenne to your liking.

Mix all of the ingredients together and knead for several minutes until the dough is elastic. Flour a surface and roll out the dough until it is quite thin, and cut into small circles. Continue to roll and cut circles until you’ve used all of the dough. In the middle of each circle add a heaping spoonful of the filling. Brush the edges of the circle with some water, fold over the dough and use a fork to press it in place.

Method
Add about ¼ cup or so of coconut oil to a skillet and allow it to heat to about 365 degrees. Place 4-5 samosas in the skillet at a time, and fry until golden. Serve with the arugula raita and whatever chutney you have on hand, a good apricot preserve works well also.

Skillet Mac and Cheese + Sauteed Kale + Basil Broccoli

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Rainy days cause macaroni and cheese. This particular recipe seems to have a lot of steps and ingredients, but it comes together quickly and is my favorite mac and cheese creation. There are endless places this recipe could differ, depending on your cheese, vegetable and pasta collection you may end up with a totally different dish. Wherever you take this, remember the lemon juice and the chili pepper flakes because of the dimension of flavor they bring to the dish. This recipe made enough to fill two small cast iron skillets.

Skillet Mac and Cheese + Sauteed Kale + Basil Broccoli
3 cups brown rice penne pasta
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 leaves cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale, stems removed and chopped
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
8 small broccoli heads, diced
2 tsp dried basil
A pinch of thyme
1/2 cup stale or oven dried bread made into crumbs (I used oat molasses bread my roommate made a few days ago and dried it out in the oven)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup good cheddar cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp paprika
sea salt
pepper
lemon juice
olive oil + butter
Goat cheese and queso fresco or cheese of your choice

Method:

Heat 5 cups of salted water in a large pot and cook until al dente.

In a separate skillet, heat a tbsp of butter and a drizzle of olive oil together. Add the shallots, saute for a few moments, then add the garlic and the chili pepper flakes. Finally add the kale. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sea salt. Cook on medium, covered, until the kale is wilted and the shallots and garlic are slightly crisped and golden.

In another pan heat the milk, heavy cream, cheese, paprika, sea salt, pepper and butter. Watch this carefully and remove when the cheese is mostly melted. Mix this cheese mixture with the cooked pasta.

Drizzle another skillet with olive oil and add the broccoli, drizzle with lemon juice, and then add the basil, bread crumbs and thyme.

To assemble to macaroni and cheese, lightly butter a cast iron skillet, spoon in some pasta, mix in some of the kale, then top with the broccoli, basil bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle a little bit of goat cheese and queso fresco on top and finish with a grind of sea salt and pepper. Broil on high heat until the cheese is browned and crisped.

Spaghetti Squash with Lentils, Crispy Sage and Pickled Pears

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I signed up for the River School’s CSA for the next 15 weeks and have been enjoying the beautiful produce each week. Their honey and the honey that comes from my family’s ranch is the best. It is chewy and complex, not overly sweet, and doesn’t have that almost metallic overwhelming taste of some honeys. It is best eaten in big spoonfuls. This week we received pickled pears, a treat I haven’t had before. I was sampling them while I was at work, wondering what I was going to pair (ha) them with, and then just tried them out with this dish. The yogurt and pear added this lightness and that sour complexity to the dish and was great with the meaty lentils and spinach and the sweet squash. My first bite was tentative, curious about the mix of textures and flavors, and I was really impressed by how well it all worked out together. If you have some quality prosciutto it would taste great baked on top of this dish as well. The squash, spinach, sage and pears are all from the River School in this recipe.

Spaghetti Squash with Lentils, Crispy Sage and Pickled Pears
1 spaghetti squash, cooked (I cook mine face down, in a little water, in the oven at 400* for about 30 min)
1/2 cup lentils, cooked
Spinach, chopped
Rosemary
Sage leaves
Sea salt & pepper
Olive oil
Butter
Whole milk plain yogurt (Strauss)
Pickled pears

Method:
Oven 400. Remove the seeds from the spaghetti squash, place in a cast iron, and layer lentils and spinach in one half of the squash, or both if you’re making both sides. Season the lentils and spinach mix with salt and pepper and place a few little pieces of butter over them. On top of the spinach and lentils, place some rosemary branches and sage, and layer extra spinach leaves around the side of the squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season again. Bake until the sage leaves are slightly crisped, about 15-20 minutes. Enjoy with fresh yogurt and a spoonful of chopped pickled pears.

Portabella filled with Farmer’s Market Vegetables topped with Cucumber-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

This dish is just exciting to me. I mean it combines a lot of my favorite things; it combines my life and food philosophies. It is simple, diverse, local and colorful. It is beautiful and each bite is a new and different combination. You have the umami richness from the mushroom giving the dish this grounded fullness and then you’ll get a crunch of the cucumber and lightness from cilantro and then a crisp piece of kale or the chewiness of eggplant. And then there is the roasted tomatoes and arugula offering sweetness and bitterness. And there is cheese, of course there is cheese, adding that richness, that depth of flavor and decadence. Oh, and corn, there is corn, and peppers and all kinds of different ingredients I picked up on the farmer’s market on Saturday. If you don’t have all of these ingredients, just modify, if you do, or have even more, incorporate them.

 Portabella filled with Farmer’s Market Vegetables and a Cucumber-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

1 portabella mushroom
1 small red onion, diced
2 small peppers, sliced
1 small Japanese eggplant, sliced
1 ear of corn taken off the cob
A few stems, or about a cup of kale, stems removed
½ cup cooked quinoa
1 handful cilantro
1 handful arugula
1 lemon
sea salt & pepper
olive oil
Good, spicy salsa
cheese: I used jack and goat cheese

Cucumber-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

¼ cup cucumber, sliced into small pieces
1 big handful of cilantro, stems removed
¼ cup whole milk yogurt, I used Straus.
Sea salt & pepper
Lemon

Method:

First just prep all of the ingredients and turn the oven to 425.

Then heat up a cast iron on medium-high heat, sauté the onions and eggplant for a minute or two in olive oil, then add the peppers, corn, kale and quinoa. Add a drizzle of oil, salt & pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, cover and cook for several minutes.

Meanwhile wash the portabella, remove the middle stem, and drizzle the mushroom with olive oil, salt & pepper, and some lemon juice. Place the mushroom in a mini cast iron, or other small baking pan, and put it in the oven.

When the veggies are slightly browned, turn the heat off. Take the mushroom out of the oven and fill it with the veggies, not all of mine fit so I saved them as leftovers. Next, add a few dollops of salsa on top of the veggies, then add the diced cheese on top of the salsa. Finally, season with salt & pepper, add some tomatoes to the cast iron, and bake for about seven or so minutes.

While the mushroom bakes, make the cucumber-cilantro sauce. Just mix together the cucumber, cilantro, yogurt, salt & pepper and lemon juice.

During the last few minutes of baking, set the oven to broil. Add a handful of cilantro to the pan, and cook for just a minute or so, until the cheese is browned and the arugula is a little crispy and wilted.

I ate mine right out of the cast iron, topped with the yogurt sauce and plenty of extra cilantro for seasoning. I also added a few slices of avocado and a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice.