What will 2015 bring?

Another year has passed. A very emotional and unforgettable year. Twins. Cancer. Transatlantic move. Now that my brain is starting to bounce back from the emotional roller coaster, I am setting my eyes on achieving some personal goals.

A few of my goals will be connected to this blog and I thought it would be a great idea to write about them so I will have some sense of accountability.

European Cuisine
Back in 2012, I cooked my way through Asia. It was a great learning experience and I enjoyed the challenge. David and I are missing England and I thought that it would be a great time to cook our way through Europe.

Knitting
Every year I knit several pieces but yet I don’t blog about them. I would like to show off my hard work to you all.

Quilting
I am looking to start a new venture. I am researching how to quilt by hand. I would like to not only hand quilt but also hand piece a quilt. Maybe English paper piecing or not. I haven’t decided.

Photography
My parents bought me a wonderful flash for my camera and it has opened a whole new world to shooting for me. No more waiting for daylight to take pictures. I would like to learn more about exposure and light and share my journey.

So, this is all fine and dandy but how am I going to do this. The European cuisine can easily be accomplished but how am I going to accomplish the other three. I think I may pick a day of the week and focus on those things like Needles Tuesday or Photo Wednesday. We will see.

So, stay tuned for some changes around here. I am looking to the future and have high hopes for 2015.

What are your hopes for 2015?

Squashed Out

I am going to admit that I am starting to get squashed out. I think everyone in the house is feeling the same way.

I am still persevering though. We had a delicata squash waiting to be used in the pantry and I decided to make something fully out of the pantry. We had some frozen chicken in the freezer, squash and onion in the veggie bin, tomatoes, black beans, broth, and seasoning in the pantry and away we go. Throw it all in a slow cooker and you are done. Wallah!
chicken squash chili
Squash and Chicken Chili

Onion, chopped
Delicata squash, diced with skin on (Butternut is a good substitute.)
3 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 Tbsp your favorite chili seasoning
2 cups chicken broth

1. Combine everything into a slow cooker.
2. Cook 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 on high.
3. Shred chicken with a fork and serve with sour cream and Tabasco for heat.

We also had some tortilla chips on hand for some added crunch. I love it when I can shop for dinner at home!

Cheesy Squash

Moving right along with the squash theme. This week I put together something with the mildest of the squashes: Spaghetti squash. I wanted to do something different than the traditional pasta sauce dish with the squash. So, I went with the traybake as the Brits call it. (We have really been missing England as of late.)

I think that the key to this dish is the cheese. Don’t use that crappy preshredded stuff that doesn’t taste like anything. Go to the cheese counter or speciality cheeses and get the good sharp mature cheddar.
cheesy spaghetti squash
Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash, sliced in half and de seeded
1 onion, sliced
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup sharp cheddar
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven 425.
2. Place the squash in the microwave for 12 minutes until fork tender. Let cool for 10 minutes till you can handle it. Shred the pulp into a bowl.
3. In a saucepan, heat a tsp of oil and the onion and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are caramelized.
4. In a large casserole dish, stir together squash, onions, sour cream, salt and pepper. Top with cheese.
5. Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

This was delicious! It is a great replacement for potatoes which are carb rich. This might also be a great sneak in for kids and veggies. Any kid should love any veggie with cheese on it.

The Blue Squash Monster

This week I dealt with the beast of the squash family! An old time friend offered her blue hubbard squash a week ago and I took it off her hands. I knew ahead of time that it was going to be large but I don’t think I fully comprehended how big. When blue hubbard is offered at the grocery store it is sold in chunks not whole. Now, I know why.
blue hubbardI finally decided to tackel the “troll turd”, as my husband likes to call it, after a week of ignoring it. I sharpened my knife and laid a towel down and started to use my big muscles to get inside. blue hubbard inside I finally broke through and cleaned up the seeds and pulp and threw it in the oven. Let’s just say that cooking a whole hubbard squash is a whole day project. In the end, I got ten cups of squash. I would describe hubbard like pumpkin or butternut squash: sweet, great for soups, baked goods, or roasted with some maple syrup. Next time I use it, it will be in a pre-cut chunk from the grocery store. But, for now, I am set for the year with my 8 cups in the freezer.

For this week’s recipe I decided to go with a treat. After all, I needed to reward myself with all the hard work breaking down that beast!
hubbard squash bread
Hubbard Streusel Bread

Bread:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 cups Hubbard squash purée (butternut or pumpkin would work)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp soft butter

1. Preheat oven 350. Grease a large loaf tin.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, oil, squash purée, buttermilk, and vanilla until well combined.
3. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the mix and stir until mixed well.
4. Pour batter into the prepared loaf tin and work on the topping.
5. In a small bowl, mix together the streusel topping ingredients with your hands until it resembles wet sand. Sprinkle on top of the batter in the pan.
6. Bake for one hour.

If you don’t want to spend a day cooking, I would just use canned pumpkin or roast a butternut squash.

Squashy Breakfast

We had the pleasure of having my mother-in-law for the week. She came to send some much-loved time with the buddies. They loved every minute of it even with a gross cold that the boys have been fighting.

We got out of the house a few times which included a visit to Benson’s Park in Hudson, NH. If you have not visited I would highly recommend even with this cold weather approaching. Here are a few pictures of the family.

Cute Couple!
Cute Couple!
Sleepy buddies.
Sleepy buddies.
Mommy-Teddy time. While brother napped in the stroller.
Mommy-Teddy time. While brother napped in the stroller.
Brothers checking each other out. One of their favorite activities these days.
Brothers checking each other out. One of their favorite activities these days.

In other news, it is time for some squash. This week I attended my third MOPS International meeting and my group was assigned to bring breakfast. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to bring something different from the usual egg casserole. So, I turned to hash to do the job. The result was a very different but delicious concoction.

Chorizo and Squash Hash
Chorizo and Squash Hash

Chorizo and Squash Hash

1 tsp olive oil
8oz chorizo, diced
red onion, chopped
red bell pepper, chopped
8oz brussel sprout, thinly sliced (Any dark green would work)
1 delicata squash, diced into 1/2 inch cubes (You can eat the skin!)
tabasco, to taste

1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat add the oil and the chorizo. Cook the chorizo until golden brown. Drain the chorizo on a paper towel.
2. In the skillet, saute the onion, pepper, and brussel sprouts until everything is well browned. Set the veggies to the side.
3. Add more oil if needed. Saute the squash until browned. Add a splash or two of water to help the squash cook completely. It will take about 10 minutes.
4. When the squash is soft add in the rest of the ingredients and add the tabasco till it is just right for you.
5. Enjoy!

I baked this in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes with some cheese on top for the ladies. For David, I added a couple over easy eggs. Delicious! Who knew you could eat so many veggies for breakfast?

Squish Squash

As my life starts to come to a normal pace again I thought it was time for a new theme. We have been soaking up the fall colors and flavors the last month here in New England and I thought I would bring a little autumn to the blog. The other day when I was doing the grocery shopping I was amazed at the squash aisle at the market. There were so many different edible squashes and I thought it would make a great theme for myself.

I am familiar with butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and pumpkin but I have never had delicata, buttercup, or hubbard. So, I plan on learning more about squash this fall season and sharing what I learn. I might even share some squash with the buddies!

My Little Pumpkinheads with Daddy.
My Little Pumpkinheads with Daddy.

I thought a great introductory recipe would be a butternut squash recipe. I love the flavor of sweet butternut squash with Italian sausage and this recipe is a great platform for it!
butternut squash and kale pasta

Butternut Squash, Kale, Sausage Pasta

1 tsp olive oil
1 lb. italian sausages (spicy or sweet), sliced or casing removed
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups kale, chopped
8 oz penne, cooked al dente
1 cup puréed butternut squash
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (extra for serving)

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Fry sausage until fully cooked and golden brown.
2. Add the onion and garlic to the sausage until fragrant. Saute the kale into the sausage and onion until it has wilted.
3. Stir in the butternut squash puree and thin with a little bit of pasta water if needed. Season the sauce and cook until hot.
4. Stir in penne and cheese and serve with a little extra parmesan.

Let me know what you think! Do you have a favorite butternut squash recipe?

What To Do With Sauerkraut?

Cooking with sauerkraut can be a little intimidating. It is such a strong flavor that it would scare the most experienced cook.

When we were living with our housemates over a year ago, they made us a delicious dish using sauerkraut and my mind was blown. I tracked down the recipe from her and like a true recipe there were no measurements. So, I played around with it and thought I would share.
IMG_0020.JPG
Sauerkraut Pork

1.5-2 lb pork roast
2 cups drained sauerkraut
1 tart Apple, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Season the pork roast with pepper, I do not season it with salt because of the sauerkraut. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the roast on all sides.
2. Place the browned roast in a slow cooker, add the sauerkraut, apple, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
3. Cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 on high. Slightly shred with a fork.

I liked this with a root vegetable. Smashed potatoes, sweet potato, turnip, or rutabaga are a great option or simply roasted root veggies.

Delicious! The combination of pork, sauerkraut, and brown sugar are mind blowing. This is definitely going to be a go to recipe for the Mosley family.