Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chicken Taco Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Black beans.
Tiny jalapeños.
The perfect avocado.

What would you do?

Well, ordinarily I would be googling all over the place. But I've already done that for pattypan squash. Twice. There are plenty of options, but very few transform the squash into a main dish, and even fewer call for a single, giant squash (like the ones my CSA farm tends to grow).

Maybe I was inspired by my upcoming trip to the Mayan Riviera, but......

I made a giant taco.

No, seriously. I have Mexico on the  brain. I am currently searching through a billion possibilities of places to stay on Isla Mujeres, in Tulum, and in Puerto Morelos. This is happening.

Taco Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 80 min
Yield 4-5 servings

1 medium pattypan squash
1 teaspoon chipotle/southwestern seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
½ cup dried white rice
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ large white onion, chopped
3 tiny jalapeños (or ½ large jalapeño), minced
1 medium chicken breast
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 – 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh pico de gallo
½ avocado, sliced
Sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top off of the squash and remove the seeds and any stringy insides. The patty pan squash should now look like a bowl. Bake for 1–1.5 hours (until a fork easily pierces the skin and flesh). Baking time will vary depending on size of squash.
2. In a large saucepan, heat half of the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté onions, garlic, and jalapeños for 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice and sauté until toasted and slightly golden in color.
3. Dump canned tomatoes (including all liquid) into the saucepan with the rice and onion mixture. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked to desired consistency.
3. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Cook chicken breast through (about 7-8 minutes per side). Remove from heat and rest chicken for 10 minutes, then shred with a fork.
4. Add chicken back to skillet (and finish cooking, if necessary), add 1 tablespoon of water along with the taco seasoning. Stir to combine and heat through. Add black beans.
5. When squash is finished, remove from oven and stuff with rice, chicken and black bean mixture, and top with pico de gallo, avocado and sour cream.
6. Cut the squash into quarters and serve like a Mexican pie.


Calories 439, Total Fat 12 g, Cholesterol 32 mg, Sodium: 1017 mg, Protein 21 g, Fiber 11.3 g

........And then that thing happened where I wasn't following a recipe and tremendously underestimated how long it would take to cook the squash and I ate my taco on a microwave baked potato. Don't let this happen to you. Plan ahead for a giant squash, people.

The potato was good, but the squash was much better (even reheated). Apparently, if you ever find yourself with an abundance of ripe pattypan, I'm your girl. Savory, stuffed, or sweet.

Now back to vacation planning!!

(I think planning my own vacations could be a really great career.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cocoa Chai Spice Roasted Almonds

Guess what?! My horses finally made it home to Texas. A three day trailer ride with a layover in Missouri got Angel and Halo down from Iowa in one piece (or, two pieces actually, each made up of a gazillion other pieces). I am so glad to have them close by again. I am far too neurotic to leave my pets that many miles away for very long.

For the first time since July, I got to rub horse noses and scratch horse ears, and hear that endearing little sound that Angel makes when she knows I have food for her*. It was so cute. Even though she had a huge hive of dried cockleburs hanging near her right ear. The rest of her mane was twisted into little black spirals and dredlock tangles... it was not cute. Halo had a few minor mane issues, too, but she has naturally beautiful princess cow pony hair (it's true -- just ask the little girls at Stagecoach Stables), so hers wasn't as bad after a few months of neglect.

Anyway, brushing a knotted labyrinth of horse hair is a fitting punishment for leaving them in Iowa without me for the last three months.  After a couple of days in segregation from the crowd, they were turned out with the rest of the Texas herd today on 65 acres of green grass and seem to be settling in nicely. GBT**.

Now lets talk about these almonds. Aside from horsing around, weekends are also for cooking (and taking pictures because I am home when there is sunlight and windows and time). I'd been eyeballing these Chocolate Chai Roasted Almonds from The Simple Veganista for quite a while***. I even bought an extra pound of raw almonds on my last trip to Trader Joe's****. As soon as I was in a functional-enough kitchen to do some testing down here, these made their debut. Here goes.

I followed the original recipe almost to the letter, but would definitely recommend backing off on the roasting time, as suggested in my version below. Obviously the time to roast will depend on your oven, so feel free to test them halfway and again at 15 minutes to ensure they do not burn. The almonds will be a little sticky at half time, but will be dry once completely cooked and cooled. And don't worry if they stick in clumps -- they will be very easy to break apart.

Cocoa Chai Spice
Roasted Almonds

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 17 min
Yield 12 servings

3 cups raw almonds
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
1 heaping teaspoon cocoa powder
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon cardamom
1 heaping teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (I used white pepper)
a few pinches of mineral salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients until the almonds are well coated.
3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread almonds into a single layer.
4. Bake for 17-20 minutes, shuffling once in the middle.
5. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to two months.

Calories 226, Total Fat 17 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium: 14 mg, Protein 7.6 g, Fiber 4.7 g

These things were so easy, but (alas) they are all gone now. SO.. I am looking for my next roasted almond recipe to try! If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!

Everyone should be greeted in that way. It'll warm your heart, really. That is why she is my favorite.
** God Bless Texas.
*** I have also also made her Glazed Vegan Lentil Loaf. That recipe has been one of the most popular pages on this blog.... if you are interested. :)
****Dear Trader Joe: PLEASE PLEASE come to College Station. I'll pay you. Love, L.
*****Sorry for the excessive number of footnotes.