Stuffed Acorn Squash

As mentioned in an earlier post, I deliberately make extra stuffing at Thanksgiving, follow this link for my recipe.

While at the market yesterday I saw this pretty little acorn squash and thought…”hmm, this would be delicious filled with my leftover, unbaked stuffing”. I was right – here’s how I did it:

Stuffed Acorn Squash  serves 2

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Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out seeds.
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Brush the edges of the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, place face down into a baking dish for  30 minutes.
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I used a bowl to tightly pack 1 1/2 cups unbaked stuffing per half squash. Remove the squash from the oven, flip it, scoop  packed stuffing into the cavity  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until squash is softened.
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Add a glass of red wine, enjoy every bite.

 

Pesto Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb

Mom is joining me for today’s Easter dinner and for the last week I was on the fence about what I’d fix. Mom is easy as she loves everything I cook – and tells me I should be on Chopped (home chef edition), with my inevitable win launching my own Food Network show but I digress.

A few days ago I saw rack of lamb and the decision was made.  Mom and I both love lamb chops and I’ve made those many times. I’ve cooked rack of lamb only once and grilled it. It was delicious though my friend Terry had to start my grill as the one time prior that I’d lit it, I blew the lid back and lost all my arm hair. Spence was always my grill master and though Mom would (and could) light my grill I had decided to go a different way.

After scanning cookbooks and Pinterest for ideas I quickly realized that I hadn’t picked up fresh herbs – never a problem from May-October when my herb garden provides more than I need. What’s a girl to do? It was noon, my homemade croutons were done and cooling, our favorite Rhubarb Custard pie is in its final 20 minutes of cook time, sweet potatoes poked and ready for baking, my dijon vinaigrette prepared.  I’m still in my jammies and not enough time to shower and run out for fresh herbs before mom arrives. Though dried herbs might work, I knew I could do better.

Then it hit me – make a crust using pesto with its lovely green color and fresh herb flavors mixed with Panko breadcrumbs, both of which were in my gourmet pantry! Brilliant kitchen hack if I don’t say so.

Pesto Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb – serves 2-4

  • 1 rack of lamb
  • 1 c Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 T pesto
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Several hours before dinner mix together the breadcrumbs and pesto. Score the fat side of the rack, salt and pepper to taste.  Wrap the bones in foil to prevent burning. Cover all sides of the rack with the breadcrumb mixture using more on the fat side which will be face up when cooking.  Pat it down to make the crust. Refrigerate for several hours.

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Two hours before you’d like to serve dinner, remove the rack from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and place the rack into the pan.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the rack.

Cook time will depend on how rare you like your chops – check at 15-18 minutes for rare to medium rare (my preference) by inserting a meat thermometer look for the internal temp of 120 degrees. Remove from oven and tent, the temperature will increase to 125-130 degrees; allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil. To preserve the crust for serving and presentation, I cut them 2 bones per chop. I served these with a nice bottle of red wine, spinach salad with homemade croutons and Dijon vinaigrette, the aforementioned baked sweet potatoes with butter and fresh grated nutmeg – and of course the pie.

 

 

 

Pork Fried Rice

Let me start by saying, I love fried rice and I love to cook.  That said, I’ve never made fried rice…until last night – with great success. I even dreamt about it. I had leftover baby back ribs from Sunday’s dinner which inspired me to do Pork Fried Rice.  If you want, this recipe would be equally delicious with shrimp, chicken or amp up the veggies and make it a veggie fried rice as well.

Pork Fried Rice   serves 3-4

  • 2 c uncooked white rice
  • 2 eggs – beaten with a fork
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c cooked, chopped pork
  • 3/4 c diced white onion
  • 1/2 c diced carrot
  • 1/3 c diced peppers
  • 1 c frozen peas – thawed
  • sesame & peanut oil
  • liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/4 c Rice Wine vinegar

Start by cooking your rice (using a little less water than called for), early in the day or the night before.  Spread it out and cool it on a sheet pan, allowing it to dry out a bit.

Compile your ingredients and heat your wok to medium high heat, add a teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of peanut oil.

Add the eggs to the pan, allow them to start cooking then break up with your spatula into soft scramble egg bites.  Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add the same amount of oils to the wok as for the eggs then add the carrots allowing them to cook for several minutes.  Now add the onions and peppers, cook for a few minutes more, then remove them from the wok and set aside.

Add the same amount of oils as in previous steps, then add the pork allowing it to crisp up a bit.  Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add 2 T sesame oil and 2 T peanut oil to the wok, add the rice spreading it out to cover as much of the wok surface as possible.  Let it brown for a couple of minutes, then move it around allowing it to continue to brown, repeating this step until it’s nicely golden. Stir in the Rice Wine vinegar and the liquid amigos/soy sauce to taste.  Add the veggies and pork into the rice, stir to combine. Now add the peas, then the scrambled egg, stir to combine and it’s ready to serve!

 

THE WORLD’S BEST CHICKEN

Tonight I’m having a couple of dear friends (former co-workers) over for dinner and a long overdue girl’s night. I’ve had my eye on a recipe for sometime whose title The World’s Best Chicken was a claim that I decided is worth testing.  I love a recipe that doesn’t require me to miss out on cocktail hour with my guests by simply baking in the oven – easy right?

The simplicity of this recipe with a few select but flavorful ingredients including fresh herbs from my garden made this the right choice for tonight.  Here’s how easy it is:

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INGREDIENTS
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into 2 tenders each
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Fresh rosemary

Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and rosemary to garnish before serving.
INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, syrup, and vinegar plus some chopped fresh rosemary and pepper.

OMG! This is so tasty...
OMG! This is so tasty…

Place chicken breasts into 9×13 lined baking dish (I doubled lined it with foil for easy clean up).

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Season with salt & lots of pepper. Pour mustard mixture over chicken. Make sure each breast is coated.

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Bake for 30 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.

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Season with fresh rosemary and chopped flat leaf parsley just before serving.

Adapted from rachelschultz.com

Crispy Baked Maple Sriracha Glazed Chicken Wings

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Oven baked crispy coated chicken wings that get tossed in a sweet, sticky and spicy maple sriracha glaze when they come out of the oven.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 to 60 minutes
Total time: 60 to 75 minutes
Yield: 2 to 3 lbs chicken wings
Ingredients

2 to 3 pounds chicken wings, cut in pieces, wing tips removed
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1-2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 eggs
3 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ground ginger and salt to form a dredging mixture.
Whisk together the water and eggs to make an egg wash.
Dip each wing into the flour dredge, then in the egg was and back into the flour dredge again.
Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and lightly drizzle or spray the tops with a little more olive oil.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 45 to 60 minutes. Flip the wing pieces at half way through the cooking time.
When they are crispy and fully cooked toss them into the Maple Sriracha Sauce
While the chicken is baking, prepare your sauce by slowly simmering together the maple syrup and Sriracha sauce. The volume of the sauce after it has simmer enough should be reduced to about a half cup.

Note from Chef Laura: I made these the other night for dinner, quick and easy!  The flavor was fabulous – crunchy, sweet and spicy!

Recipe and Photo by Barry C. Parsons, courtesy of Pinterest