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In My Kitchen – November 2016

It’s so long since I’ve participated with In My Kitchen. The last few months have been hectic – since my last post my family had another loss in my Grandma, also Mary Ann, who passed away on Easter Sunday, age 95. I finished and passed my CELTA course (yay!) and then started working and adjusting to life as an employee, after almost a year away from teaching, which was harder than I expected. I taught on and off for 4 months and I am now job hunting again. Once I finally adjusted to life as a teacher again, I got back in the kitchen and have been back at it a bit more consistently since the end of September.  It’s been great but slow going.

First up in my kitchen is a bowl I made a couple of years ago that is currently housing our eggs. I did a wood turning class about 5 years ago and it was one of the most fun classes I have ever taken. If I get a job again, I’d like to go back in the Spring.

imk-nov-16-wooden-bowl

Then there is this beautiful bowl our parish’s assistant priest brought back as  a gift when he returned home to Ethiopia. Aren’t the colours gorgeous?

imk-nov-16-fr-sinthayu-bowl

 

For Hallowe’en, Monkey Nuts are really popular and we’ve a nice big bowl of them (also just figured out some new functions on my camera and this blur option was one. I love it!)

imk-nov-16-monkey-nuts

In my kitchen, or rather my bookcase, are some of my cookbooks. I have a few others than are scattered about the house due to some reorganising we are doing. Extending the Table is my favourite along with the McGuire Family Cookbook which is my Mom’s family’s recipes. Do you have a favourite cookbook?

imk-nov-16-cookbooks

I was house-sitting for my aunt while she and her husband travelled all over Asia: Japan, Shanghai and Duabi and these are the lovely presents she brought me back.

imk-nov-16-dorothy-presents

 

And that’s all folks. Please check out  for the other entries in this month’s In My Kitchen posts at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things and if you are interested in joining us, let her know.Thanks for hosting, Liz.

 

 

Fiesta Friday 143: Warm Spicy Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with Pistachios

Pistachio nuts, the red ones, cure any problem.

~ Paula Danzinger

First off: Happy Hallowe’en! This is a picture I made with the Jam and the Melon. The Jam made the bat that’s flying across the window on the right, and they helped to glue on the clouds, bats and ghosts.

halloween

As I mentioned in my previous post, I consider my Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash to be a base recipe as I’ve been incorporating it into other recipes. This recipe is one I have been making for a couple of weeks and I started making it after getting a little inspiration from Elaine@foodbod when she shared her lunch with roasted carrots and pistachios and I realised that I only ever just eat pistachios. I mean, I mill through them like there is no tomorrow. I love them plain, roasted with salt, roasted with salt and pepper, roasted with cumin – you name it, I’ve probably eaten it. And yet, I’ve never taken the time to shell them, set them aside and use them for something else besides my mouth. When I saw Elaine’s lunch it was like a lightbulb going off in my head and I knew I had to incorporate them into an actual meal. I was house-sitting for my aunt the first time I made this salad and I loved it so much I made it again the following week. Admittedly, I ate a good bunch of the pistachios I shelled before I remembered that they were supposed to go into this salad…..

The spiciness of the butternut squash is offset by the creaminess of the avocado and the pistachios and seeds provide a lovely crunch that offers a nice contradiction to the softer elements. Additionally, pistachios assist with dietary fibre besides already contributing to your protein intake and YIPPEE they are heart-healthy! Always a nice side benefit for me.

spicy-butternut-squash-couscous-salad-with-pistaschios-3

Before moving on to the recipe, I am really excited to let you all know that I am co-hosting with Angie for Fiesta Friday#143 this week along with Judi from Cooking with Aunt Juju. As your co-host, I will be visiting and commenting on your Fiesta Friday posts as well as selecting features. As I’ve mentioned a few times already, Fiesta Friday is a great way to get to know new bloggers and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone is really nice, supportive and helpful. I’ve gotten to know some great bloggers from this event that runs from Friday to Tuesday every week, so even if you aren’t ready to Fiesta on Friday, you’ve another few days to get yourself in the party mood. If you decide to join Fiesta Friday, you need to make sure to link your blog post to Fiesta Friday as well as my blog and Cooking with Aunt Juju. That way we get a pingback and know that someone knew has joined the party. Also, so other readers and partiers know how to find your blog, tag your post with “Fiesta Friday”. For more information and to link to Fiesta Friday , click on the below image. Remember to be eligible for Features, you need to adhere to the guidelines.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-click-to-join1

 

Warm Spicy Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with Pistachios

spicy-butternut-squash-couscous-salad-with-pistaschios-2

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • approximately ½ cup uncooked couscous
  • 50-60 roasted and salted pistachios, shelled
  • 26 black olives, sliced into thirds
  • 1½-2 avocados, chopped
  • approximately ½ cup washed spinach, excess water squeezed out.
  • roasted butternut squash seeds
  • approximately half the Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash
  • a drizzle of the leftover oil from the marinated butternut squash (optional)

Method

  1. Boil a kettle of water/pot of water.
  2. Meanwhile, place the desired amount of couscous into a heat-proof bowl and cover with the water once boiled and a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt. Leave for 5-10 minutes until the water to be absorbed. The couscous will swell as it absorbs the water.*
  3. Once ready, fluff with a fork and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, place the pistachios, olives, avocado, seeds, and spinach in a large bowl and mix together.
  5. Add the cooked couscous tossing gently.
  6. Add the butternut squash:
    1. For warm salad, add the butternut squash immediately after cooking and gently toss with the other ingredients and serve immediately.
    2. If you don’t want a warm salad, let the butternut squash and seeds cool first before adding to the other ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. As you mix the hot butternut squash through the salad, the spinach will wilt slightly.
  8. If you want it to be a little spicier or if you find the couscous a little dry, add some of the leftover oil.

*I don’t actually measure my couscous so this is approximation. I just pour it directly into a pot and judge visually if it’s enough. I over estimated today and I had extras, so I suggest mixing all your ingredients in (minus the squash) and adding the couscous tablespoon by tablespoon until you judge you’ve enough for two. If you have leftover couscous you could serve with some pesto.

Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash

A few months ago we celebrated my Mam’s birthday. My mam loves Mexican food – well probably more Tex-Mex, to be honest, and so I prepared a feast. We had so much food. I think we had two different types of rice – my Easy Dressed-Up Cilantro/Coriander Rice and Green Rice (will have to share some day but as it’s something that I only make, from a recipe book, on very special occasions that will be some time in the distant future), as well as chicken and beef, lots of veggies, burritos, tacos and salads. In two words: A FEAST!

The chicken was from this recipe book that I bought for my sister a couple of years ago called Everyday Mexican and it’s a wonderful little book that includes aforementioned Green Rice  as well as this fantastic Chicken Fajitas recipe where the chicken is marinated in honey/maple syrup, oregano and chili-flakes. It was a hit, particularly with the adults at the table and I definitely need to make it again at some point.

The taste of that chicken had remained with me and I loved the marinade so much that I started to think what else I could use it with when the idea of marinating butternut squash went off like a light bulb and the rest, as they say, was history.

I consider this a “base recipe” and as you’ll see over the next few weeks I have incorporated it into several different meals where it is a star ingredient. One thing I will say is if you are working, this is the type of recipe to leave until the weekend or to have another dinner planned to eat while you marinade, especially if you go the full three hours! BUT, it’s worth it. All of the ingredients work really well together but the chili is my favourite bit. It shines through with every bite, and if you leave the cooked butternut squash for a day or two in the fridge, it gets even better. Be warned though, little mouths and sensitive mouths may not like this dish.

Lastly, after a long absence I am sharing this at Fiesta Friday #141 which is hosted by the lovely Angie and her co-hosts, Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

So without any further ado, here’s the recipe:

Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash

(adapted from Everyday Mexican, a collection of essential recipes – link to Amazon included)

Serves 3-4

spicymarinatedbutternutsquash

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (medium – large, or 2 small), peeled, seeds scooped out*, and diced into approx one inch thick*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup/honey**
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Place the oil, maple syrup/honey, red wine vinegar, oregano, chili, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl or dish and mix together.
  2. Add the butternut squash and toss, making sure each piece is covered in some marinade.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge for 3 hours. Make sure you turn the butternut squash chunks at least once in the three hours.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
  5. Put the butternut squash and marinade into a roasting tin/casserole dish and place in the middle rung of the oven. Turn the butternut squash every 20 minutes. The squash will reduce a little in volume as it cooks.
  6. The butternut squash will be cooked in 40-50 minutes but I prefer the butternut squash to be nicely browned so I leave it in for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from the oven and put into a bowl, ensuring you include any remaining cooked marinade. Serve immediately or wait to cool and use as you wish.

*I cook the seeds as they are an optional addition for the next recipe I will be sharing.I use TheKitchn’s guide to roasting butternut squash seeds.

**I used honey with the chicken but I used both honey and maple syrup with the butternut squash. I don’t know which I prefer, so try both and let me know what you think.

Tips

Not a spice fan: If you want to try this but don’t like spicy food, perhaps halve the marinading time. You could also halve the chili flakes. Let me know how it turns out!

Suggestions for use: I’ve a great recipe coming next week that showcases this butternut squash but in the meantime you could add to your own salads or eat with rice for a simple healthy meal.

Fried Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich

“Well, many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese–toasted, mostly…”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson III

The last few months, I’ve been back teaching English as a foreign language after almost a year away from it, so life has been hectic since I last posted. My first 4 weeks back at teaching I had a heck of a journey – easily 1.5 hours each way every day which was a longer commute than I had in Korea-land. It was at a summer camp where I taught 6-18 year old students from all over Europe and Russia. It was really fun but intense and left little time for anything but work and travel. I also got free lunch every day which while not always healthy, and sometimes not even remotely tasty, was still very much appreciated. I then moved into the city where I have been working on and off since August for the company where I received my CELTA and who organised the aforementioned summer camp. It’s been hard to get used to teaching again AND having a life. It’s funny how one year away can affect all your good habits!

On my off days, I’ve been making this breakfast. I think it may definitely be up there in the Royalty of breakfasts. It’s delicious and I’m already wishing tomorrow was an off day because then I could eat this. Not only is it royalty, it is also easy to make and contains only 8 ingredients. Whenever I have it, I’m full for ages and not hankering for another bite to eat just an hour later. It’s not the healthiest of breakfasts but the avocado contains lots of healthy fats that help to counteract the more unhealthy aspects of butter and cheese.

Fried Egg Grilled Cheese

  • butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Cheddar cheese (red or white), thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Once melted, add an egg to the butter and gently fry. You don’t want the egg to get too crispy or the yolk to set too much as you will be cooking it further in the sandwich.
  3. Meanwhile, butter each slice of bread. Place one slice butter-side up and the other slice on top of that butter-side down.
  4. Place the thin cheese slices on this the butter-side down slice of bread, covering completely.
  5. Add the scallion and then the avocado
  6. Drizzle on the sweet chili sauce.
  7. Once cooked, remove the egg from the frying pan, and turn the heat to low.
  8. Add the fried egg to the sandwich
  9. Season with salt and pepper and then place a few slices of cheese on top. These slices of cheese do not need to cover the entire slice of bread.
  10. Take this top layer of bread and fillings and place, butter side down in the frying pan. Add the remaining slice of bread butter side up and gently fry the sandwich for about 2 minutes.
  11. Then add a lid and press down on your sandwich, gently. Leave to cook checking after a few minutes and then flip when golden brown on the bottom.
  12. Again cover, and leave to gently cook until golden brown all over. Remove from heat, slice in half and enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Nutella and Pumpkin French Toast Roll-ups

“The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!”

~ Terry Moore

I know, I know! Pumpkin in June! It sounds crazy but when you get a craving – you get a craving! And, I’m not the only mad one in my family – my mother has requested a pumpkin pie for her birthday which is at the end of the month. Thankfully, what with our local Tesco having tins of pumpkin available all year round, indulging in the yumminess that is that autumn vegetable is easily sorted.

The following recipe is an idea I’ve been playing around with for a while. Of course, it was mostly inspired by the wonderful Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and her amazing French Toast Nutella Roll-ups (a firm favourite with my two little helpers) but also by a memory of one Thanksgiving a long time ago. I was in college at the time and I was visiting my family in Omaha. My cousin, Bets, was making cheesecake for the dinner later on that night and her cheesecake was composed of chocolate and pumpkin. OH MY GOSH! The deliciousness of that cake has stayed with me since then. It was amazing! I’ve thought about it on and off over the years and when I got a craving recently for some pumpkin pie (we had a tin of pumpkin in our press), instead I decided to marry the pumpkin with Nutella and these wonderful, chocolate-y, pumpkin-y bites of hot deliciousness were born.

In fairness, to myself, I should let you know that I’ve been planning this recipe for a few months in my head but I only got round to making it last week for a PhD party as my sister had passed her PhD viva, which is an oral defense of her PhD, and we wanted to celebrate this achievement. My other sister made a fantastic dinner of cashew chicken and fried rice and several wonderful salads – and I made dessert.

The first batch of the pumpkin had a bit too much cloves in it but when I made the second batch of pumpkin, I reduced the amount and it was much better. I also upped the amount of Nutella and I think that these changes made them even better. These are quite rich and very filling so I would count 2 per adult. The Melon wasn’t overly keen on these but The Jam liked them a little. There is a fair amount of the pumpkin filling, so you could halve it and adjust the spices according to your own tastes. Otherwise, you could make these for breakfast over a few days.

I am sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday #123 which is hosted by Angie. You should check out the other wonderful entries there as well as Angie’s co-hosts Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Linda @ La Petite Paniere.

Pumpkin and Nutella French Toast Roll-ups

Makes about 30 roll-ups*

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin mix
    • 1 cup tinned pumpkin**
    • ¾-1 cup icing sugar
    • 3 -4 tbsp cream cheese
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • ¼-½ tsp ginger
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • ¼ tsp cloves
  • approximately 30 slices white bread
  • Nutella
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • Butter for frying

Method

  1. In a large bowl, place all the ingredients for the pumpkin mix into a bowl and then mix well together, set aside.
  2. In a shallow bowl, or rimmed plate, whisk together the eggs and milk, set aside
  3. On a plate mix together the cinnamon and granulated sugar, set aside.
  4. Roll each slice of bread as thinly as possible with a rolling pin. You can remove the crust if you want as it makes for easier rolling.
  5. Taking a heaped teaspoonful of Nutella and spread on half of one slice of rolled up bread, horizontally. Take a level teaspoon of the pumpkin mix and spread over the other half.
  6. Roll the bread to close over the fillings until it forms a tube.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 until you have used all the bread that you want or until the filling is all gone.
  8. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and melt the butter.
  9. Meanwhile, roll each tube into the egg and milk mixture,  and then transfer, seam-side down in the frying pan. Fit as many filled bread tubes as you comfortably can into the frying pan. My frying pan took about 5 at a time.
  10. Cook until browned on each side and then remove from the heat and roll in the cinnamon-sugar.
  11. Eat as is, or serve with maple syrup and whipped cream. You can also serve as a side dish with eggs, sausages, pudding and rashers/bacon.

*We left the crusts on the bread, out of pure laziness, but if you take them off you would get a few more roll-ups out of the mixture. I used Brennan’s sliced pan to make my roll-ups but depending on the size of the bread you are using you could end up making more or less of these roll-ups. Good news, the pumpkin mix keeps for a few days, so you can have them, again and again and again.

** These are approximate measurements for the cream cheese, spices and sugar. I started with the lower end of each measurement, then I tasted the filling and decided to add a little more, but you can adjust according to your own tastes. However, I would keep the cloves and nutmeg at no more than a ¼tsp as they can be quite overpowering to taste.

Tips

Leftover pumpkin If, like me, you’ve used a tin of pumpkin puree, you will have some leftovers from the tin. I was able, due to testing this recipe, to use everything up during the week but if that isn’t the case for you, I’d suggest freezing any leftovers until you want to use them or follow these tips from The Kitchn.