Couscous Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a really fun and impressive dish that is very versatile; it can be served as lunch fare, a side dish, or vegetarian entrée. The dish has nice a textural contrast between the Israeli couscous, pecans, and goat cheese, and is absolutely delicious!

Couscous Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash
4 acorn squash
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp.
2 tbsp. kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 cup Israeli (or Grande) couscous
2-1/4 cups vegetable broth, or substitute chicken
6 dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup packed coarsely chopped arugula
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 oz. goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut very bottoms off each squash to make a level surface. Cut off the tops, reserving. Remove seeds and any excess flesh. Coat with 1/4 cup olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. Bake squash 35-40 minutes, then add squash tops and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add couscous and let cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until couscous is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Uncover, remove from heat and let cool.
Once couscous has cooled, combine with dates, pecans, arugula, and vinegar in a medium bowl, tossing to mix. Crumble in goat cheese and gently fold to combine.
Place squash on a platter and fill with couscous mixture, overstuffing slightly. Place squash tops gently on couscous as a garnish.
Makes 4.


Simple Roast Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

I have been making this recipe for years, and it is my boyfriend’s favorite. It’s super simple to make, tastes amazing, and I get rave reviews every time I serve it! Brussels sprouts are in season right now, so you can get beautiful sprouts at any local farmer’s market. I was able to find them fresh still on the stalk, and I could not have asked for a better quality vegetable. I hope you enjoy!

Simple Roast Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

1 (5 lb.) whole chicken, innards removed, rinsed and patted dry
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons
1 large onion, quartered
1 cup Greek vinaigrette dressing
1 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place chicken in an 11x9 glass baking dish and coat with salt and pepper.
Cut each lemon in half and squeeze juice into a medium bowl. Place the squeezed lemons inside the chicken cavity with the onion pieces. Secure legs with kitchen twine.
Combine dressings, balsamic, and garlic with lemon juice and whisk to combine. Pour over chicken, cover loosely with tin foil, and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes, basting occasionally.
Remove chicken from oven and remove foil. Baste chicken again, then add Brussels sprouts surrounding the chicken. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, until chicken has reached internal temperature of 160 degrees F and Brussels sprouts are tender.
Serves 2-3


SPOTLIGHT Ingredient: Rosemary

Rosemary is a very common herb that many use year round, but is especially prevalent this time of year. It has a very strong taste and aroma, which can hold up against both meat and poultry alike. I personally love cooking with rosemary, and for me the holidays wouldn’t be the same without it! But did you know that rosemary is also one of the world’s healthiest spices?
Rosemary is one of the herbs that I cannot cook Thanksgiving dinner without. I am always stocked up on fresh rosemary for the holidays, but also keep dried whole and dried ground leaves in my pantry for a few reasons. The dry rub for my Thanksgiving turkey always contains dried ground rosemary, whereas I tend to use the fresh version in my gravy and stuffing. Holidays aside, rosemary is most commonly found in meat marinades. Who would have known that the combination of rosemary and marinating would have a scientific explanation?  
From the ancient Greeks to modern day researchers, rosemary has been utilized as a memory enhancer with positive results. The ancient Greek scholars wore rosemary garlands around their necks to help them study, while modern research has shown increased memory and alertness test results for students after inhaling rosemary oil vapors while studying. And that’s not the only reason this herb is considered one of the world’s healthiest spices. Rosemary’s compounds fight bacteria and help keep meat from spoiling, thus making it a perfect candidate for a marinade. It may even make cooked meats healthier! Kansas State University researchers reported in March that adding rosemary extracts to ground meat helped to prevent the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs)—cancer-causing compounds produced when meats are grilled, broiled or fried.
Since learning of rosemary’s health benefits, I have been trying to utilize the herb as much as possible in my new recipes. Check out my Pear, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Pizza, or my Autumn Harvest Pumpkin and Beef Stew, both of which I have used rosemary with tasty results. Experiment with those old family favorites this holiday season by adding rosemary, or try something completely new! Give your family a healthy dose of rosemary today!


Pear, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Pizza

While pears are still in season, I wanted to experiment with a pear pizza. I know the flavor combinations may sound a little strange, but they really work! Give this recipe a try and experience something both unique and delicious.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 prepared pizza crust
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups baby arugula
2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
6 oz. prosciutto, cut or torn into pieces
5 oz. goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and let cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly browned. Reduce heat to low, and add sugar and salt and stir to coat. Cook 25 minutes until caramelized, stirring occasionally, then add rosemary and stir to coat. Cook 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
Brush remaining tbsp. of oil on pizza crust. Spread caramelized onions and arugula evenly, then top with pears, prosciutto, and goat cheese dollops.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are browned and pears are cooked.
Let sit for a few minutes before cutting, then serve immediately.


Autumn Harvest Pumpkin and Beef Stew

Once again featuring seasonal ingredients, this hearty stew is the perfect mix of savory and sweet. The flavors of all the ingredients blend together to create a spin on a comforting classic, and is easy and quick enough even for a busy weeknight. Serve your family a full serving of vegetables and protein in this delicious stew tonight!

Autumn Harvest Pumpkin and Beef Stew

Makes 10 servings

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. chopped rosemary
2 pounds of stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup dry red wine, such as pinot noir
2 cups red potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 cups baby carrots
6 cups vegetable juice
2 cups pumpkin, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Tip #2 – Make the most of your harvest - Get a dehydrator!

Dried Habanero Peppers

Since I have gotten into the whole gardening thing, every year I am absolutely overloaded with herbs and peppers. I always go a little overboard on the planting – so I am left with more than I can use or give away. The first year I had my garden I let a lot of herbs go to waste, which is when I decided to purchase a dehydrator. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, you’d be surprised how much some can cost, but I found a cheap suitable one online with plenty of racks with plastic trays. Plus, a dehydrator can be used for so many different purposes like making jerky, fruit rolls, and dried fruit, so it was easy to justify the purchase cost.

Dried Mixed Hot Pepper Flakes

I started out only with chopped herbs, but the process was so effective that I began to experiment with surplus peppers from the garden…and in turn discovered how easy it was to make my own pepper flakes! My boyfriend is a HUGE chili pepper head, so every year I stock him up on mixes of all the hot peppers we grew that season, and it lasts him through the winter until we’re planting again. This year I grew 12 different types of hot peppers, some of which we even dried whole. So, if you’re interested in some serious heat, why use chili powder when you can use chili pepper powder?


Chorizo & Swiss Chard Dip

This recipe is perfect for football parties or tailgating, since it is sure to warm you up even as the weather gets colder. Utilizing a hardy fall seasonal vegetable, Swiss chard, the bold and spicy flavors of the chorizo and chipotle peppers blend perfectly with the creaminess of the ricotta to create a spicy appetizer that everyone will love! I recommend serving the dip with lime tortilla chips. Enjoy J

Note: To cut back on the heat, substitute sweet sausage or omit the chipotle peppers, but you definitally want the adobo sauce for its deliciously smoky flavor.

Chorizo & Swiss Chard Dip

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb chorizo or other hot sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 cups Swiss chard leaves, stem removed, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 tbsp. adobo sauce
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 cups reduced fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup nonfat milk