Recipe Sharing: Ultimate Stuffed Acorn Squash (Vegetarian, Vegan Options Included)

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Happy Friday everyone! I have a couple of posts that are incubating but not quite ready, so I wanted to share a recipe instead!

This is a vegetarian (i.e. not vegan) meal that stands alone and is quite filling. The ingredients we bought for a pre-Thanksgiving meal when we planned for my brother to join us with his kids … but when he wasn’t able to make it we ended up with a snack-dinner instead. I had made this before, and it is based on a recipe from Vegetarian Times from a couple of years ago. We were all so done with turkey and needed a day off and had all of the stuff, so Lisa pulled it together for us on her day off.

When I made it the first time I used the Chile powder in the quantity stated as well as sprinkled on the squash (something I removed) but it was too spicy for my family (I have to be careful … I can handle just about anything, they can not). The next time I made it I partially pre-cooked the squash, because I love roasted squash – and it was good but a little overcooked by the time the center set.

This time the squash was well cooked, and the filling was moist – and it was all delicious. Lisa ended up with extra filling so we cooked it by itself and it ended up a lot like corn bread you’d make to go with a pot of chili.

Here goes – and don’t be intimidated by the seemingly large ingredient list … it is pretty easy to make!

Vegan Modification:
– You create vegan butter milk similar to normal ‘home-made buttermilk’ – 1 tbsp vinegar into 1 cup of milk. Only now – non-dairy milk. Works great!
– You can also use a non-dairy cheese, or whatever you normally substitute for cheddar cheese and cream cheese substitutes
– Also – typical vegan egg substitute.

Ingredients:
3 tbsp Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.), divided
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
½ tsp. Ancho Chile powder
½ tsp. ground coriander
3 cups fresh or frozen organic corn kernels
⅔ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 Tbs. melted butter or olive oil
3 oz. soft goat cheese or low-fat cream cheese (⅓ cup)
3 oz. grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (¾ cup), plus more for sprinkling tops, optional
1 ½ cups cooked black beans or 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large poblano chile or 1 small red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
8 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling tops

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine oil and 2 tsp. minced garlic in small bowl. Brush squash halves with garlic oil, and sprinkle lightly with Ancho Chile powder (skip to make it milder) and coriander. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and place on large baking sheet.

2. Pulse 2 cups corn kernels in food processor (we used the Nutribullet) until finely chopped and milky. Set aside.

3. Whisk 1/2 tsp. each coriander and Ancho Chile powder into cornmeal, along with sugar, baking soda, salt, and cayenne (if using) in medium bowl. Set aside.

4. Whisk together buttermilk and eggs in separate bowl. Whisk in butter, then puréed corn, remaining 1 cup corn kernels, goat cheese, Cheddar, and remaining 2 tsp. garlic. Fold in cornmeal mixture with spatula, then fold in black beans, poblano chile, and green onions.

5. Divide filling among squash halves. Sprinkle each squash with extra Cheddar (if using).

6. Bake squash halves 30 to 45 minutes, or until squash are tender and filling is set. Sprinkle with green onions. Squash can be prepared 24 hours ahead, then reheated 20 minutes at 325°F.

Serve right away – you really shouldn’t even need a knife (though you’ll look more civilized if you use one!). One half-squash feeds one person, so this recipe serves 4 people. If you have more, you should be OK with this recipe up to a 3rd squash without scaling (as I say we had a bunch of extra filling).

Do you love stuffed squash? Favorite recipes?

WiAW – Loads of Food Plus Recipe Sharing “No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Recovery Cake”

Happy Wednesday – how is your week going? In our house it is the week between the 11-hour days of marching band camp and the start of school. So for some bizarre reason I decided to do a ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ post. I never thought I would do one of these … but I wanted to share a ‘food day in the life’ … well, OK – I wanted to share a favorite recovery food recipe and the post looked really sparse! Haha – enjoy!

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My incredibly typical breakfast: pear, Greek yogurt, prunes, and peanut butter tortilla wraps (or peanut butter toast)

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Lunch at work seems to consist of brought-in or catered meetings more often than not. This week we have a visitor helping us with an important run, so for a meeting we had Panera Bread – salad and a veggie wrap.

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Make-your-own pizza is a fave – this is from last week, but was awesome!

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Happy endings? My red wine and Lisa’s Martini!

Recipe Sharing

Also, I have a great recipe I want to share – it is for a recovery treat I have enjoyed since I first found it two years ago. I can’t find the blog that referred to it, but the original recipe is here.

Here is the finished product:

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Ingredients:
8oz whipping cream
16oz good quality milk chocolate
8oz Graham Crackers
8oz peanut butter
(optional 1/2 cup confectionary sugar, 2 tbsp butter)

Instructions:
1. Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan.

2. Bash or chop chocolate into small chunks and place in a bowl. Add hot cream and stand for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, line a loaf pan with parchment (or waxed) paper.

4. Stir cream and chocolate until smooth and well combined. Pour enough melted chocolate into the base of the cake to cover the bottom.

(Optional 4a. microwave the butter for 20 second to melt, stir in peanut butter to thin, and then slowly combine in the confectionary sugar to make a fudge).

5. Place a layer of Graham Crackers on top. Cover with peanut butter (or peanut butter fudge).

6. Repeat until you go through most of the chocolate.

7. Add a final layer of Graham Crackers. Drizzle remaining chocolate over the top.

8. Refrigerate (or freeze) for at least 8 hours, or longer if possible.

9. Slice thin – as you might expect this is super-rich and filling!

The original recipe offers some variations:
– Dairy Free: Replace cream with almond milk or rice milk or coconut milk. Also replace milk chocolate with dark.
– Dark Chocolate: Go for it and replace milk for dark chocolate (you might want to drizzle some honey for sweetness)
– Sweet & Salty: add some sea salt flakes on top of the peanut butter layer.

What is YOUR favorite decadent recovery food?

Five Things Friday – Health, Parenting and Gender Issues Links

Virtual Body Swap

Thanks so much for all of the great feedback from last Friday. Now I am bold and am going to embark on another list of 5 links of things that made me think this week. But before we start, I have a question:

Pinterest: so I was asking Olena at Candies & Crunches about her infographics after reading this post and she noted finding them on Pinterest. That hadn’t even occurred to me. I have a Pinterest account and do Pin things on occasion, but have just never connected.

I have had a couple of people suggest it is a male/female thing, but I don’t know if I believe that – I don’t tend to fall on those sorts of lines anyway. I think it is more a ‘dinosaur’ thing …

So I will ask you guys … what suggestions do you have for getting more engaged with Pinterest?

OK, so here we go with another set of links I found interesting this week!

1. OK, this is totally meta, but here is a link to a set of links from Greatist. I like how they do round-ups, and this one is on ‘gender and feminism’ issues. There are several great links, looking at strategies for winning Oscars to ‘boyfriend-zoning’ to proof guys are more absent-minded (I still call it a cop-out!) and more.

I really enjoyed all of the links (and the minutes just disappeared as I worked from link to link and so on). But there was ONE I really connected with – it is a VR syste, allows one person to see life through the perspective of another – male to female, black to white, short to tall.

Be Another Lab takes a different, more visceral approach to exploring empathy. Instead of using digital avatars, the group uses performers to copy the movements of a subject: for example, racial bias is studied by having a subject’s actions mirrored by a performer of color.

I know it is only an experiment, but the thought of allowing others to gain empathy through this type of things really intrigues me.

2. Here is a unique perspective highlighted at UpWorthyEat anything you want … just cook it yourself. The main theme is that the things fast food does best are often things that are laborious in small home batches – so we end up eating those things much more frequently than we would if we had to make them ourselves. The video is just a couple of minutes long and definitely worth watching.

While we’re talking food, Greatist had another link list about ‘Odd Eating Habits’ … definitely some fun things including articles about using expired food for cheap meals, eating roadkill, how baby smells trigger the same brain centers as delicious foods, and more!

Wait! Wait! ONE MORE on food (last I swear). A great article on runners and nutrition over at Competitor that we should all take time to check out:

Just because you’re fit doesn’t mean you’re healthy, or vice versa. Knowing the difference between the two will go a long way to a sustainable lifestyle. Racing or recreational running doesn’t intrinsically make one healthy.

OK, so I lied … one more. I have always talked about how my running regulates my eating – when I run, I automatically eat better. Turns out it is ‘a thing’ because … SCIENCE! A study highlighed at Runner’s World looked at what you craved after exercise compared to non-exercize. Cool!

3. OK, so I have never worn Spanx – though apparently it is not unheard of for men to wear them, particularly on camera. But for women, shapewear has become something as natural as underwear or shoes. But according to an article at Huffington Post, all that “Spanx And Other Shapewear Are Literally Squeezing Your Organs”. Here is just a taste:

Shapewear couldn’t do its job if it wasn’t tight. Unfortunately, this leaves your stomach, intestine and colon compressed, which Dr. Kuemmerle says can worsen acid reflux and heartburn. Restrictive clothing can also provoke erosive esophagitis.

Your digestive tract is also affected, explains Dr. Erickson. The intestines are supposed to contract and move food along, but when they’re compressed over a long period of time, the flow of digestion is stifled. “It’s like when people eat a huge meal and then unbuckle their jeans,” Dr. Kuemmerle says. This damage, though not permanent, can lead to unpleasant symptoms like abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas.

Another hallmark of shapewear? Shallow breath. When you inhale, your diaphragm expands and your abdomen flares out, Dr. Erickson says, but shapewear restricts this movement and decreases the excursion in respiration.

Definitely go check out the full article … and after reading I would bet that guys will start asking ‘WHY do you think you need to wear that’ and women ‘do I REALLY need to do this to myself’?

4. Parenting – exactly where are the boundaries?

I am certainly not going to jump on a ‘parental judgment’ train here, but this week there was a post at Gawker featuring a picture someone snapped of a kid climbing all over a piece of art valued in the millions while the parents just stood by and let it happen. Here is the picture:

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We have always been pretty strong with the boundary limits for our kids – look but don’t touch, no ‘visiting other booths’ at restaurants, and so on. But at the same time, we don’t pretend our kids were perfect (more than one full grocery cart was left behind over the years) – so when I see a kid who is a little fussy and the mom/dad is distracted by another fussy kid, if I can give a distracting smile, I certainly will. But there need to be some type of limits … and personally I think that climbing on art falls on the far side of that line.

Thoughts? Not just about this – but what as a parent has changed in how you now view other kids, and as a non-parent what drives you nuts about parents and kids in public?

Also on parenting, over at Neatorama, there is an amazing comic looking at the first year of parenting through the perspective of comic artist Grant Snider of Incidental Comics.

5. I used to be very quiet, but got better after losing weight … and now after moving to Corning Lisa says I am a total chatterbox who will talk to just about anyone! Yet I still dno’t have an issue with silence. I have no problems making smalltalk – do you?

There was a cool article at LinkedIn highlighting a number of topics to use and avoid and approaches for small talk. Definitely check it out – especially if you hate making small talk but find silent moments uncomfortable.

But there was a link in there I found even better – about when you get stuck talking to someone who is constantly correcting you. Personally there are few things that will drive me away from someone faster than this. Here is a sample:

A person with oppositional conversational style is a person who, in conversation, disagrees with and corrects whatever you say. He or she may do this in a friendly way, or a belligerent way, but this person frames remarks in opposition to whatever you venture.

I noticed this for the first time in a conversation with a guy a few months ago. We were talking about social media, and before long, I realized that whatever I’d say, he’d disagree with me. If I said, “X is important,” he’d say, “No, actually, Y is important.” For two hours. And I could tell that if I’d said, “Y is important,” he would’ve argued for X.

I saw this style again, in a chat with friend’s wife who, no matter what casual remark I made, would disagree. “That sounds fun,” I observed. “No, not at all,” she answered. “That must have been really difficult,” I said. “No, for someone like me, it’s no problem,” she answered. Etc.

I have definitely dealt with this too many times through the year – people who absolutely need to be right, and have the situation corrected, politeness and decorum be damned.

Bonus: Did you watch the State of the Union? Apparently they scheduled it during Supernatural so we missed it. I heard it largely consisted of one guy promising free beer even if he had to buy it himself, and a bunch of other guys nobody knows or cares about scrambling to find microphones (and occasionally threatening the people WITH the microphones) to tell people that they do NOT want the free beer but instead want what they have in a bag somewhere, but wouldn’t say what was in the bag, where it was, or whether or not it would be free if and when they DID talk about it. 😀

ANYWAY …

Over at Rolling Stone they put together a list of 27 Shocking Numbers That Reveal the True State of the Union

Here are some I thought were particularly interesting:

1. New income generated since 2009 that has gone to the top 1 percent: 95 percent

2. Financial wealth controlled by the bottom 60 percent of all Americans: 2.3 percent

8. What the minimum wage would be if it had kept pace with gains in worker productivity since 1968: $21.72

13. Years since the turn of this century that have ranked among the warmest 15 on record: All 13

15. U.S. defense spending as of 2012: $682 billion (which is $516 MORE than China spent)

25. Alternate unemployment rate including Americans who’ve given up looking for work, or have only been able to secure part-time employment: 13.1 percent

26. Number of jobs the United States is still down from 2008 employment peak: 1.69 million

So … what did YOU find intriguing this week?