Maple Acorn Squash and Spinach Pizza

My best friend and I just took a weekend trip to New York City. Honestly, the food options in that place are more overwhelming than the crowds of people.

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I could spend 5 days there just trying different restaurants. Of course I would walk from one to the other to burn off some of the calories.

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We packed a lot into a day and a half. Empire State Building, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, riding Citi Bikes (aka flirting with certain death), a run through Central Park, meandering through Highline Park and dinner/drinks with friends and family. It was perfect.

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Probably the best thing I ate was the Crepe Suzette we ordered for dessert at Les Halles, the restaurant owned by Anthony Bordain. The chef made it right in front of us and it was delicious.

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This trip also taught me that I can’t afford to eat fancy NYC food all the time. So instead I made this pizza at home and pretended it was fancy city food.

Inspired by Smitten Kichen’s Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza.

What You Need:

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  • 1 small acorn squash, halved, seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil, divided
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pizza dough (I used a gluten-free pre-made dough)
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 cup raw spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large mixing bowl, toss the half moon slices of acorn squash with the half the oil, the red pepper flakes, maple syrup, salt and pepper until thoroughly and evenly coated.

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Lay the squash out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes or until soft and golden.

Roll out your dough using the other half of the oil to keep it from becoming sticky.

Sprinkle the cornmeal over a pizza stone or your baking sheet, and lay the dough out over the cornmeal.

Once the squash is cooked, gently peel off the skins.

Lay each half moon over the pizza.

Top with gorgonzola cheese, spinach and Parmesan, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crust edges are golden brown, cheese is melted and spinach is wilted (but not dry!)

Slice up and chow down!

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Heavenly Slow Cooker Meals for Winter: Coconut Butternut Squash and Spinach

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My car has been in the shop for more than 3 weeks. It wouldn’t start, and although the temperature outside at the time was below zero, I was told that wouldn’t matter, even for a 10-year-old car prone to a mild degree of grumpiness.

Luckily, the car place gave me a loaner, and it happens to be a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta. This thing is SLICK.

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Therefore, it makes me feel pretty slick to be driving it. It might as well be a Maserati. I’m turning up the radio, leaning back, giving other drivers a little nod to acknowledge that I realize I am winning at driving.

The latest news is that my car still isn’t fixed, which I’ve already decided means I’m just going to keep the loaner car forever.

In the end, nothing really matters as long as I have a way to get to the grocery store. I like Thai food a lot and this dish tastes like Thai food. Plus it’s super easy and makes a ton.

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What You Need:

  • 1 lb Butternut Squash, peeled and seeded and diced into cubes (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 small cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (seeded if desired to reduce spiciness)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp oriental seasoning (if you don’t have this, just use a pinch of garlic powder, a pinch of onion powder, a pinch of ground ginger, and a pinch of black pepper.)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cups spinach, raw

What You Do:

In the crock pot, add the squash through the oriental seasoning and mix well.

Cook on high for 5 hours.

Once it is ready to serve, add coconut milk and spinach and mix well, continuing to cook and stir until spinach is soft and reduced.

Add some red pepper flakes to the top of each dish if desired. Enjoy!

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Baked Spaghetti Squash and Vegetables

Whenever Mike and I return from a holiday weekend, we inevitably feel totally stuffed (even if our last big meal was the day before) and guilty from all the treats and goodies we tossed freely into our mouths. And yet somehow we still manage to cram leftovers down our throats.

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When we returned on Sunday from our whirlwind Thanksgiving holiday in Connecticut and New York, I gave myself one last hurrah meal. I indulged with a bagel pizza I made using a New York bagel we heisted from Mike’s aunt’s house before heading out. There is just something so special about these bagels. It’s rumored to be the water used in the dough, which is apparently unique to the Empire State. Whatever it is, I had no choice but to say a tearful farewell to these bagels and what had been turning into a dangerous daily breakfast habit.

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Enter the spaghetti squash. Low in calories and sugar but high in nutrition and taste, there is no better way to reverse the holiday binge than with spaghetti squash. I typically prefer to prepare these as though it is actual pasta, and slather it with homemade tomato sauce and cheese, but given the circumstances I thought a lighter meal would be better. And this dish certainly is light. It really helped start our week off on the right foot.

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What You Need:

  • 1 spaghetti squash (about 5 cups cooked)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded if desired)
  • 4 or 5 large white button mushrooms, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided*
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 6-10 Campari Tomatoes, cut into quarters (juices should be kept and added to dish)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 400F

*Because this recipe calls for vegetable broth, you have the option to simply make your own. Boil 2 1/2 cups water in a pasta pot and add any parts of the vegetables from this recipe that you’re discarding. (Onion and garlic skin, mushroom stems, a few springs of sage, jalapeno stem and any unused parts of the tomatoes). Once you have boiled down the vegetables, strain the broth into a separate pot and set aside.

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Halve the spaghetti squash with a sharp knife. Dig out the seeds with a spoon and place squash face-down on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the squash skin becomes darkened and the squash begins to caramelize around the edges. If you can easily stick a fork through the skin and squash meat, you’re good to go.

While the squash is baking, heat coconut oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent and soft. Add chopped mushrooms and jalapenos, heating continuously until the mushrooms are brown, soft and fragrant. The mushrooms will emit some water, so let the entire dish simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Once the water begins burning off, add one cup vegetable broth and stir. The heat should still be on medium and the broth simmering. Once it has simmered down to less liquid, add the sage and tomatoes with their juices. Continue to simmer.

Using a fork, remove the strands of spaghetti squash from the shell. You should have about 5 cups. Add it to the vegetable mixture and mix everything up well.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable broth (if you made your own, simply freeze any leftover broth for another dish).

Add the spinach and mix until it becomes limp and blends into the dish.

Top each serving with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

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Pro Tip: If you have extra time, pile the whole deal into a baking dish, sprinkle with the cheese and bake on 350F for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.