Acorn Squash with Chicken Sausage, Peppers and Onions

I wasn’t going to share this recipe. For one thing, I’ve been posting a LOT of food items lately and I want this journal to be about more than that. Besides, this meal is almost too easy. However, like a lot of simple dishes, it’s flavors and textures are amazing together. And it’s pretty to look at* (it does NOT photograph well, as witnessed below.)

I was hungry and, as you know, still recuperating from a tenacious “bug”. This meal was pulled together because it’s easy and the fixin’s
were on hand at the time. I was not prepared for my husband’s delight. When this plate was placed in front of him, he started exclaiming over it. He insisted that I take pictures before sitting down to my own dinner and destroying the evidence (Really!?! I was hungry!!) and to share with you. “This is the best thing you’ve made in a long time!” He even called his mom to tell her about it!

Hmmm. Well, I’m happy he liked it. And it is truly delicious. But it is probably the easiest thing I’ve made in awhile. It just doesn’t seem fair that something so effortless should win first place over more sophisticated and interesting dishes. Then again, who am I to argue with a man who bragged about me to his mother?
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New Year Black Eyed Pea Chili is Good Luck in a Bowl

Happy New Year Black Eyed Pea Chili
Tradition says that black eyed peas bring good luck when you eat them on New Year’s day. The thing is, they taste very, um, earthy. So when I tossed this into the crockpot for us to enjoy on New Year’s Day, I combined well-soaked beans with the lovely, strong flavors of a hearty chili. And it is good!
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Sweet and Savory Blend

Sweet and Savory is one of my favorite flavor blends.

Spice displays call to me like “hunny” to Pooh Bear. I cannot resist them. Each delectable scent beckons; sweet spices, e.g., cardamom, coriander seeds, ginger; spices that seem exotic to many of us in the United states; e.g., fenugreek, zatar and sumac. Mixing these with more commonly known flavors makes for an interesting and multi-dimensional dish.

Yields about 3/4 cup

What’s in it …
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) caraway seeds
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) coriander, ground or seeds
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) fennel seeds (this is what I use)
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) ground ginger
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) dried rosemary leaves
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) dried sage leaves
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) dried thyme
2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried mustard
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground fenugreek (optionalthis is what I use)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) sumac (optionalyou can buy sumac here)
1/2 teaspoon (5 ml) mixed peppercorns
1-2 dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
1-2 dried edible roses (optional. Found in middle eastern markets or online at amazon)

How you pull it together …
Working in small batches, drop one or two ingredients into a mortar and then grind with a pestal until finely textured. OR use a clean coffee grinder (When I’m feeling lazy, this is what I use to grind my spices and herbs.)

As you finish each batch, empty it into a glass container that has a tight lid and will hold more than a full cup. When every ingredient is finely ground, cover the container and shake shake shake until everything is fairly evenly blended. Store tightly covered.

This is fab with …
Roast chicken, pork, beef, lamb. Butternut squash (what isn’t great with butternut squash?!), eggplant, roasted tomatoes. Try a bit in a pot of soup to add something unexpected.