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Category Archives: Recipes

Chorizo Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

Ditch the traditional sweet recipes for acorn squash and try this savory and spicy recipe. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ditch the traditional sweet recipes for acorn squash and try this savory and spicy recipe. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Spice up Acorn Squash with Chorizo stuffing

A savory stuffed squash is a great dinner on a cold night. Skip the sweet version of acorn squash with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and go for a spicy kick by using chorizo. This is a no-fuss recipe I created after craving a stuffed acorn squash. The nutty sweet flavors of the squash explode with the combination of chorizo, which is Spanish sausage that can be purchased at most grocery stores.
Squash is high in fiber, vitamin C and potassium.

Buy one squash and you can enjoy one half for dinner and the other one you can warm up for lunch. This is also a great recipe if you are having a friend over for dinner.

Hot in the Kitchen: Chorizo Stuffed Acorn SquashIngredients for recipe

Ingredients:
1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
½ pound ground chorizo (Spanish sausage)
¼ cup onion minced
1/8 cup red pepper finely chopped
½ cup potato finely chopped
¼ cup kale finely chopped
1 tablespoon golden raisins chopped
1/3 cup mozzarella

Score squash and salt and pepperPreheat oven to 350 degrees while you cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise and clean out the inside seeds and mush with a spoon. Score each half with a knife, by lightly cutting vertically and horizontally on the inside. Brush olive oil all over the insides of both halves and then salt and pepper them liberally. Cook for 30 minutes, while you finely chop all the ingredients for the stuffing. Sauté on medium heat the onion, pepper and chorizo for five minutes until tender and add potatoes, kale and golden raisins and cook for another five minutes. Stuff each half of squash with the mixture and cook for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella on each half and broil at 500 degrees for two minutes or until light brown.

Cheers

Christine

Roasted Parsnips with Leeks and Mushrooms Recipe

This quick recipe combines Parsnips, leeks and mushrooms for a great dinner. Photo by Christine Willmsen

This recipe combines parsnips, leeks and mushrooms for a quick dinner. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Cook with Parsnips – the healthy, but forgotten root vegetable

It’s that time of year, when root vegetables like parsnips rule. But maybe you’ve never thought of parsnips or have never cooked with them before. It’s time to give them a try.

Parsnips are a cousin of the carrot and are a fantastic root vegetable full of nutrients and vitamins.

Parsnips are full of fiber and low-fat. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Parsnips are full of fiber and low-fat. Photo by Christine Willmsen

It is a great source of fiber and vitamin C, providing more than 1/3 of your daily needed dose. It also has iron, magnesium and vitamin B-6. Just because it’s a white vegetable doesn’t mean it’s not full of amazing flavor. I think parsnips show their true color when roasted.

This recipe combines the sweetness of parsnips, caramelized leeks, earthy mushrooms and a kick of red pepper.

The leek is a powerful anti-inflammatory food that also contains vitamin A and K. This low-fat vegetarian dinner is easy and satisfying.

While attending the International Food Bloggers Conference, I discovered Oxbow Organic Farm, located in the Snoqualmie Valley. This 25-acre vegetable garden near Carnation sells its produce at farmers markets, restaurants and to weekly subscribers. At the Ballard Farmers Market, I recently picked up a box of vegetables from Oxbow and their parsnips and leeks inspired this recipe.

Hot in the Kitchen: Roasted Parsnips with Leeks and Mushrooms

Peel parsnips and cut into large chunks.

Peel parsnips and cut into large chunks.

Ingredients

6 parsnips (medium size)

½ of leek diced

1 cup chopped mushrooms (save time by buying pre-sliced mushrooms)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Spread parsnips, leeks and mushrooms on foil-covered baking sheet.

Spread parsnips, leeks and mushrooms on foil-covered baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peal parsnips and cut into one inch by two inch pieces.  Clean leek by slicing it lengthwise from about ½ inch away the root through to the green ends. Rinse the leek under running water to remove dirt. Pat dry and dice ½ leek. Mix parsnips, leek, mushrooms, olive oil, salt, hot pepper flakes and black pepper in bowl. Cover large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour vegetables onto sheet and spread out as thin as possible. Cook in oven for a total of 22 minutes, stirring and turning vegetables at 11 minutes. Optional: sprinkle a pinch of applewood smoked sea salt on top of dish.

Cheers

Christine

Squid Ink Pasta with Scallops

Squid Ink Pasta Adds Color to this Recipe

Want to jazz up your pasta dinner with a little color? Try flavored or colored pasta like squid ink.  While the thought of squid for some people may make them say – yuck- I know many of you are daring enough to try it.

My video will show you just how easy it is to create this visually stimulating dish that combines squid ink pasta, scallops and fresh vegetables.

Frankly the best part of the squid ink pasta is the deep, rich black color. Cephalopods like squid release the dark liquid as a defense, and the liquid is extracted from the ink sacs of the squid when they are being harvested.

Black squid ink pasta is the perfect color contrast to the seared scallops. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Black squid ink pasta is the perfect color contrast to the seared scallops. Photo by Christine Willmsen

And for those who are scared of the flavor – fear not – squid ink pasta tastes very similar to wheat pasta with a subtle salty flavor. There typically is a small percentage of ink that’s added to the water and dough that creates the black color. Squid ink pasta and other types such as tomato, basil and spinach can be bought at gourmet grocery stores like Central Market for $9 and online at Marx Foods.

In my last video and blog post I showed you step-by-step how to sear scallops in a pan like a professional. Now that you know it’s simple to cook scallops, making this dish will be easy to do when you get home from work. A great wine to pair with this dinner is a glass of Spanish Albariño.

Hot in the Kitchen: Squid Ink Pasta with Seared Scallops

Boil squid ink pasta for eight minutes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Boil squid ink pasta for eight minutes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1/4 bag of dry squid ink pasta

3 defrosted or fresh large scallops

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 gloves garlic minced

1/4 cup red pepper diced

3/4 cup cherry or small yellow tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped basil

1 tablespoon chopped thyme and parsley (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse scallops, pat them really dry with paper towel and lightly season with salt and pepper. Pour one tablespoon olive oil into pan that’s reached medium-high heat and add scallops. Don’t move or flip them. Cook for two to three minutes until brown. Flip and cook an additional two minutes. Remove scallops from pan and let them rest. Boil pasta in unsalted water for 8 minutes.

In the pan combine the remaining olive oil, garlic, red peppers, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Sauté for approximately six minutes on medium heat, then add basil, thyme and parsley and cook for an additional two minutes. Add scallops to the pan to warm them up. After draining the pasta, combine it with scallops and sauce.

Cheers

Christine

How to Cook Scallops

Learn how to Sear Sea Scallops like a Pro

Scallops are the prefect food for singles. They are fast and easy to cook and very healthy. But often my friends say they are intimidated by trying to cook these pearly white discs of sweet, deliciousness, often getting mixed results. The best way to cook scallops, especially if you have a busy schedule is pan-searing them over hot heat with some simple flavors. When seared correctly, scallops are creamy, sweet and carmelized on the outside.

I prefer the large scallops, which are usually available in most grocery stores. The added benefit is that these mollusks are what I like to call “power foods” because they are made up of at least 50 percent protein, low-calorie and loaded with magnesium and potassium.

Pat dry scallops, season and sear for 2 minutes per side. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Pat dry scallops, season and sear for 2 minutes per side. Photo by Christine Willmsen

You will not only impress yourself but any date or friends you are entertaining. Add the scallops to pasta, rice or sautéed vegetables.

In my next video I’ll show you a recipe and how to cook Squid Ink Pasta with Seared Scallops to truly take advantage of this healthy and easy seafood.

Cheers

Christine

Corn and Salmon Salad Recipe and Grilling Tips

A winning combination of ingredients for this chopped salad is salmon, corn and cherry tomatoes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

A winning combination of ingredients for this chopped salad is salmon, corn and cherry tomatoes. Photo by Christine Willmsen

 

Seattle’s smoked salmon, grilled corn and fresh garden ingredients make this salad a full dinner

It’s sweet corn time. As a girl who grew up in Iowa, we always bought sweet corn from a pickup truck on the side of the road after the farmers had picked the corn that morning. So it’s only natural that I find myself buying numerous ears of corn in July and wanting to create different recipes in addition to just putting them on the grill.

I’ll never forget a surprise gift from my dad several years ago when he was visiting Seattle. When he arrived he opened an extra piece of luggage and about two dozen corn picked that day from an Iowa farm spilled out of the bag. My heart was warmed by my dad’s sincerity and we ate plump, juicy corn for days. With sweet corn being grown throughout the U.S., almost anyone can get fresh corn from their farmers market or produce store.

Quick grilling tips for corn

Pull back husks of corn and remove any hairs, then season with salt, cumin and chili powder. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Pull back husks of corn and remove any hairs, then season with salt, cumin and chili powder. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Grill corn for 8-10 minutes in the husks to keep them moist. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Grill corn for 8-10 minutes in the husks to keep them moist. Photo by Christine Willmsen

To successfully grill corn, prep and season it. That means you need to pull the husks back, remove all the silk (fine hairs) and spice it up by rubbing a mixture of salt, chili powder and cumin.

Try your own spice combination. Rewrap the husks around the corn and grill for 8-10 minutes on medium-high heat. I always poke the corn with my fingernail and if it pierces the soft kernel and the juices explode then it’s time to pull it from the grill.

While I may eat an ear or two for dinner, I’ll grill another one so that I can use it for a salad the next day. I’ve created this recipe that combines Seattle’s finest smoked or cooked salmon with garden ingredients that are ripe right now including arugula and cherry tomatoes. This is a hearty salad that’s perfect for one person for dinner. To see The Solo Cook assemble the salad, watch King 5’s New Day Northwest show. The recipe below is inspired by the restaurant Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I had a memorable salad. I know once you try my salad you will be hooked on cooking extra ears of corn for this chopped salad.

Hot in the Kitchen: Corn and Salmon Salad Recipe

Cut all your ingredients and line them up to place them in a line on your plate, then drizzle dressing on top. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Cut all your ingredients and line them up to place them on your plate, then drizzle dressing on top. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of corn or kernels from 1 grilled corn cob

1/2 cup chopped arugula

1/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped smoked salmon or cooked salmon

1/8 cup slivers asiago cheese

3 tablespoons pepitas

1/4 cup cooked pearl or Israeli couscous

Pesto Buttermilk Dressing:

Gently stir dressing in with the salad ingredients. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Gently stir pesto buttermilk dressing in with the salad ingredients. Photo by Christine Willmsen

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup pesto (store bought if easier)

Half of shallot chopped

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 lemon squeezed for juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise, pesto, shallots and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into food processor and blend thoroughly.  As food processor continues to run, add buttermilk, remaining lemon juice and salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare salad for presentation: place each ingredient in a line such as 1/4 cup arugula, 1/4 cup corn, tomatoes, asiago, salmon, pepitas, couscous, 1/4 cup corn and 1/4 cup arugula. Drizzle dressing on top of the ingredients. When ready to serve, lightly fold dressing into the ingredients. Leftover dressing can be stored for several days. Use the remaining dressing as a dip for fresh cut vegetables.

Cheers

Christine

Two Beet Salad Recipes that are Quick and Healthy

Try these two quick and healthy beet salads; each is a perfect serving for one

Roasted beets can taste like candy when added to salads. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Roasted beets can taste like candy when added to salads. Photo by Christine Willmsen

It’s time to go beyond the traditional roasted beets your mom boiled or cooked in the oven and think of beets as a way to beef up your salads.

Go to the store and get two or three beets and start by cleaning them and trimming the green tops off.  Leave about one inch of the stems intact to prevent the beets from bleeding. But don’t throw away those green tops; use them in my chicken soup recipe I posted last week. Beets are superfoods, stocked with high levels of folate and potassium, according to Self Nutritional Data and the USDA.

I often cook several beets on a Sunday night so that I have them ready for these salads throughout the week. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then rub each beet with a bit of olive oil and wrap them in aluminum foil.  Place them on a cooking sheet so that their juices won’t ooze to the bottom of the oven and make a mess. Cook them for at least one hour or until a knife can easily slide through the beet. Cool them to room temperature and peel them.

Now let’s have fun with two different salads that I promise will make your beets taste like candy from the earth. The first salad combines the sweetness of beets, the crunch of cucumbers and the salt of feta cheese to make this a savory and sweet salad. The second salad is all about combining fresh, simple ingredients. Each of these recipes is a perfect serving for one person for lunch or a side dish at dinner.

Hot in the Kitchen: Beet, Cucumber and Pea Salad with Feta

The sweetness of the beets, the crunch of cucumbers and the salt of feta cheese make this a great salad. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The sweetness of the beets, the crunch of cucumbers and the salt of feta cheese make this a great salad. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1 cooked beet cut into squares

½ cucumber peeled and sliced

¼ cup peas defrosted

1/8 cup crumbled feta cheese

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper to your taste. I used peas from my garden that I froze earlier in the year.

Hot in the Kitchen: Beet, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Beet, tomato and avocado salad only takes minutes to prepare. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Beet, tomato and avocado salad only takes minutes to prepare. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1 cooked beet, sliced

5 cherry or teardrop yellow tomatoes sliced in half

½ avocado cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Gently mix ingredients together and sprinkle with sea salt.  If you are craving greens in your salad, add ½ cup torn arugula.

Cheers

Christine

Easy Chicken Soup with a Leafy Twist Recipe

Try Chicken Soup with Beet Greens to Stay Warm on Frosty Days

On cold days, there’s nothing better than a large, hot bowl of chicken soup to thaw your bones and steam your face. I have a great twist on chicken soup that helps you use left over chicken and the tops of beets. Instead of cranking open a lackluster can of chicken soup or spending hours cooking a pot of soup on the stove, just follow these easy steps to make a flavorful chicken soup that will leave you satisfied.

This is a easy and fast soup to make with chicken, beet greens and garbanzo beans. Photo by Christine Willmsen

This is an easy and fast soup to make with chicken, beet greens and garbanzo beans. Photo by Christine Willmsen

As a single person I often have leftover chicken from another meal that I want to use in another dish, and this soup makes use of all those extras in the kitchen. The twist in this soup is adding beet leaves. And when I pulled some of my beets out of the garden recently, I knew I wanted to some how create a recipe that used those colorful green and red tops.

Many people buy their beets, cut off the tops, and roast the red jewels in the oven. But don’t dump the leafy tops in the compost.  They contain valuable nutrients and are perfect for this chicken soup. If you don’t have beet tops, you can use rainbow chard or spinach as a substitute. This soup will make enough for dinner and then lunch the next day. With chicken and garbanzo beans this is a protein-packed soup that’s filling despite it not having noodles or dumplings.

Hot In The Kitchen: Chicken Soup with a Leafy Twist

Don't throw away the tops of beets. I use been greens from my garden to add flavor to soups. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Don’t throw away the tops of beets. I use beet greens from my garden to add flavor to soups. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

1 chicken breast cut in large chunks or ¼ of chicken that’s leftover

½ onion chopped

2 cans vegetable or chicken stock

1 tomato chopped

1 can garbanzo beans

2 cups beet greens, thickly sliced, without the thick stems

3 tablespoons of minced cilantro

1 teaspoon of both salt and pepper

Optional: slices of avocado, lime slice and hot sauce

Cook chicken and onion in saucepan with stock, salt and pepper on medium low heat until tender or falling off the bones, about 30 minutes.  Then add tomato, garbanzo beans and beet greens to soup and cook on low for another 8-10 minutes. Top the soup with cilantro, sprinkles of sea salt and slices of avocado. If available squeeze a slice of lime on top to give the soup a bright flavor. If you like a little heat, feel free to add a couple drops of hot sauce.

For other great chicken soups recipes see Foodista’s recent story.

Cheers

Christine