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Zucchini Rice

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I think we're doing summer now.  Like, I don't know if we're going to have a spring?  Maybe next week.  That's how these weather patterns have been playing me recently.  But, you know, we can roll with this.  Don't ever let me complain about the heat again, ok?  After this past winter I must learn to appreciate the warmer weather even more than I used to.

In celebration of our latest wave of "sprummer" (get it - spring and summer?) let's pull on a dress - or shorts, if you like - and make sure that we have some zucchini rice.  Zucchini season is in full swing so we need to take advantage.  Get thee to your local markets immediately.  Once you're back, we can discuss this rice situation.

We are mixing zucchini for our health and cheese because we only live once.  And let me tell you that this is delicious.  I decided to use brown rice because I had some in my pantry, but you can do you and use whatever type of rice you have.  Live your best life!
 

Zucchini Rice
makes 4-6 servings

Print Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth*
  • 1 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 1/2 - 2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or mozzarella would work well)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) Over medium high heat, melt the butter in a large saucepan.

2) Add in the garlic and stir.  Allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes in the pan.

3) Pour in the chicken broth and water, then add the rice.  Bring the rice to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the rice is cooked through.  This can take about 12 - 15 minutes.

4) Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the shredded zucchini and cheese.

5) Season the rice with salt and pepper, to taste.  Cover the saucepan and allow the rice to stand for 3 minutes, so the cheese can melt.  Serve immediately.

*Note - you can leave out the water and use only broth if you like.  Similarly, you can substitute water only, if you don't want to use broth.

-- recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

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Butternut Squash & Cranberry Quinoa Salad

I've been in a bit of a phase lately.  It's what I'm calling my "healthy phase".  So I guess that's a good thing, right?  I'm not going to lie to you.  I'm still eating a ton of jelly beans, because It's Easter.  However, when I'm not eating way too much sugar, I'm busy balancing things out with some butternut squash and quinoa.

I've also started a Brussels sprouts addiction.  I never knew this was a thing, but its a thing.  I posted a picture of some diced and prepped Brussels sprouts on my instagram the other day (ig - @thehobokitchen).  I got a few comments letting me know of new-to-me ways to roast the Brussels.  So basically this means I'll be over here making Brussels sprouts fo' life!

Speaking of healthy ish, let's eat the heck out of this butternut squash/cranberry/quinoa situation.  We've got a bit of everything here.  All the textures and flavors keep your mind entertained when really you're just doing something good for yourself. No issues with that!

Before I let you get to the recipe, can we also just appreciate the weather today?  It's going to be in the mid-80's.  Come on Spring and Summer. Get here soon please!

 

Butternut Squash & Cranberry Quinoa Salad

Print Recipe

  • 3 cups butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup shallot, finely chopped (~1 shallot)
  • 4 tablespoons pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 5 leaves basil, julienned
  • salt and black pepper

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) On a baking sheet, toss the butternut squash with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is tender and golden.

3) Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear.  Make the quinoa per the package instructions.  Set aside to cool slightly.

4) Make the balsamic vinaigrette by whisking together all ingredients.  Season to taste. Set aside.

5) In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, butternut squash, cranberries, raisins, shallots, pistachios, and basil.  Toss gently to mix the ingredients together.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad.  Toss once more to incorporate.  Season with more salt and pepper, if necessary.

6) Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

-- slightly adapted from the Little Broken blog

Saffron Rice with Almonds and Raisins

We fancy now, huh?

Yeah, you know.  Just hanging out throwing saffron all over the place like a boss.

But really though, 5 second rule if anything drops on the floor.  We're not actually living that high life.

I was very fortunate to receive a package of saffron from my coworker as a gift recently.  I immediately started planning what I was going to make.  In the end, I decided on saffron rice.  But not just any plain old saffron rice.  I wanted it to have a slight crunch as well as an added sweetness.  Enter sliced almonds and golden raisins.  Perfect!

I served this rice up as a side for roasted chicken breasts and it might have been the best decision ever.  However, I encourage you to pair any meat (or non-meat) entree with this rice.  And if you're feeling adventurous, switch up the additions of raisins and almonds to something else.  (Let me know which ones you try!) There are no limits, so dig in.

 

Saffron Rice with Almonds & Raisins
makes 4-6 servings

Print Recipe

  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

1) Soak the saffron threads in 2 tablespoons hot water for 10 minutes.

2) In the meantime, wash and drain the rice until the water runs clear.

3) Place the rice in a medium sized pot, along with the broth, salt, and saffron threads still soaking in the water.  Bring the rice mixture to a boil over high heat.

4) Once boiling, cover the pot and turn the heat to Low.

5) Allow the rice to cook on low heat, undisturbed, for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit covered for another 5 minutes.

6) Once the time is up, use a fork to fluff the rice.  Fold in the almonds and raisins.  Serve warm.

Sweet Corn Spoonbread

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For me, February 15th is the best day of the year.  I can haz all the Valentine's Day candy and chocolate at 50% off!  Best. Day. Everrrrrr!  I mean, Valentine's Day chocolate doesn't just expire because it's 2/15 instead of 2/14.  And the red and heart packaging is so pretty I can't help myself.  Chocolate in a red heart-shaped box?  Done.  I'm here for it.

While I wait to head to the local drugstore tomorrow morning, I'll just leave you with this spoonbread as a token of my affection.  Unlike Valentine's Day candy, this spoonbread is not exactly the prettiest thing.  However, the taste definitely makes up for a lack of beauty.  I also need to state that this could be the easiest side dish I've ever made.  I literally threw everything together in one bowl, put it in the oven for a half hour and voila...immediate side dish success!  If you're a fan of corn/cornbread, then this is definitely for you.  This is THK-approved!

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Gruyere Bacon Macaroni & Cheese

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Did you say you needed something to bring to Thanksgiving?  I got you!  This Gruyere Bacon Macaroni and cheese is a winning dish.  You should take this everywhere with you.  I'm dropping a life tip here.  I'm not saying you have to pick it up, but, you know...

I truly believe this dish is nothing short of amazing.  I'm not saying it's healthy, but it's definitely comfort food.  Let me tell you that you will be the life of the party if you show up with this.  The heavy cream and cheese alone will make you a star.   The bacon will put you over the edge.  I encourage you to test this out and definitely eat some (or alot?) in the process.

Now.  I feel the need to also give you a tip about storage and reheating this dish.  Because I failed at it and you should not do what I did.  If you happen to make this for a Friendsgiving event and you happen to store it in the refrigerator until said event, and then you happen to heat it up in the oven, make sure you watch that dish like a hawk!  It can go from ooey gooey macaroni and cheese to almost bare noodles in a pan of oil.  I was not amused.  But! I at least have these beautiful pictures to prove that before the unfortunate reheating event, this was a seriously creamy success.  I guess this just means I need to make this one more time to redeem myself...

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Zucchini & Butternut Squash Bake II

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I'm trying out a new thing.  At least I'm going to try to make it a thing.  It's called the "Let's reshoot those horrific pictures you took when you just started blogging" thing.  Do you like that name?  It rolls off the tongue, right?

I tend to cringe when I look back on pictures from my older blog posts.  While they definitely served their purpose at the time, I've also learned a lot (a lot a lot!) about photography and staging food since then.  So I want to put that to use.  I also think it would be super cool to revisit many of those old recipes.  Since I'm always trying out new recipes, I rarely have a chance to remake recipes that I've already posted.  On one hand, I love that because I never get bored with my food, but on the other hand, if something was really good then I want to eat it again!

That's where this Zucchini & Butternut Squash Bake comes in!  I admit that I am *shocked* it's one of my most popular recipes on this blog.  The reason I'm shocked is because this recipe was born out of my desire to use up every perishable ingredient I had in the apartment.  That's the real reason why a jalapeno and garlic scapes were thrown into the original recipe!

But let's cut to today, when I realize that not everyone will have those ingredients laying around.  I decided that while I was reshooting the pictures, I would also tweak the recipe slightly to make it more relatable to everyday life.  I substituted a few things and the dish still came out tasting amazing!  Just like I remember it!  I also cut down on the portion size so the recipe now makes enough for 4-6 people instead of 100 million people.  Now go forth and conquer all the zucchini and b'nut squash!

If you're interested in seeing my original post, you can click HERE for ALL of the "interesting" photos!

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Charred Zucchini with Feta Spread

charred zucchini

 

The summer is coming with a quickness! Are you ready?

Hurry up and snatch this zucchini and cheese goodness so your appetizer game can be on point.  There's also cheese involved in this so you know things are starting to looking pretty good.  I can't lie, I'm not wild about mayonnaise.  In the condiment world, it's pretty much one of the worst things out there in my opinion.  There's truly nothing quite like swiping the last bit of cheese at the bottom of the bowl only to realize that it was really a glob of mayo.  That was not a fine moment.

What I adore about this dish is that it literally required 10 minutes of work in total.  Annnnd then I was done.  I really appreciate a nice and easy appetizer.  I'd rather spend time hanging out at a BBQ with my friends, perhaps drinking too much tequila and lime-a-rita mixes, instead of toiling away in the kitchen.  Speaking of which, I really need to retire the use of my oven for the summer.  There's no reason to start hotbox-ing my apartment just yet.  More on that in future blog posts.

For now, I want to spice up all the zucchini and cheese.  I want to be fancy and squeeze a lime section on top of one of these things without (I repeat: without!) squirting myself in the eye.  Another proud moment.  I will chow down with conviction because I'm eating green things and if it's green it's got to be healthy, which means I'm making some good decisions in life.  Definitely.

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Easy Chickpea Salad

Easy Chickpea Salad

 

I am gearing up for the summer.  I mean, I know it's not here yet, but really, can a girl dream?

In other news, I'm bouncing back from all the junk food I ate at Disneyworld last weekend.  Would it kill them to serve a decent salad at a place where I don't have to wait 3 hours to order it?  Come on Walt.  Let's pull it together.

I saw this recipe and knew it would be the perfect rebound food.  This also satisfies my constant cravings for chickpeas and fresh corn.  My summer body is in need of something like this.  It's telling me that we need to make it happen, and I'm listening.

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Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Cucumber, and Cranberries

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Cucumber, and Cranberries

 

My desire to eat healthy food is constantly being challenged by all the M&M's out there in the world.  Ahhhhh...

I'm trying to even out the scales though.  Can you tell?  I'm getting my protein in with some quinoa and some other goodies.  Let me just put it out there that this recipe is pretty much a dump of the items in my refrigerator and my pantry.  No shame in this game.  I'm just keeping it honest.

Can I also state that this salad would be PERFECT for a summer picnic?  Not that I'm thinking about summer already, because I am just loving these single digit temperatures.  Aren't you?  ... Now before you tell me that it's winter and it's supposed to be cold...yes, I know that, but seriously, Mama Nature is just being rude at this point.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed this salad and I may have eaten all 4 - 6 servings by myself.  #nojudgement

What?  A girl can't be hungry? I really like avocado, ok.  And cucumbers and cranberries.  #owningit

I swear this hashtag thing isn't going to be a thing.  For real.

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Bahamian Peas n' Rice


I'm attempting to get back into my old posting routine.  Work has been Rough lately (with a capital R!) but I'm trying to work my way through this.  At least I got a short holiday break when I was able to make a quick trip to Florida for the weekend.

Sunshine!  Warmth!  Beach!  Pool time!  It sort of reminded me that I've been sitting on this Bahamian recipe for a while.  Oops.  So here I am now, back in North Jersey.  I'm working with temperatures that are fluctuating between 50 and 75 degrees.  I'm desperately hoping that the temperatures stay in that range all winter long.  A girl can dream, right?

To help me relive my days in the sun, I'm finally handing over this recipe for Bahamian peas and rice.  It's a staple dish in the Bahamas, as no Sunday dinner or family gathering is complete without it.  The list of ingredients may seem slightly daunting but trust me, this is a relatively easy to make.  If you do try it out, please leave a comment and tell me how you liked it!

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