Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple, & White Bean Stew

Happy Tuesday! It’s been a rainy week here in Durham, after a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend! Since it’s finally feeling like stew soup weather (Ben tells me that stew has to have more “stuff” and less liquid, although I seriously beg to differ that this stew doesn’t have enough “stuff” in it…), I decided to raid the pantry and make a healthy, hearty supper to warm the bones.

I added a sliced apple for some sweetness (compliments of my Mother-in-law, Julie, who knows my favorite kind is Stayman and went out of her way to make sure I came home with a dozen after our visit to Pittsburgh this weekend!), and a bit of lemon juice and balsamic at the end for a tiny little bit of sharpness to balance out the starchiness of the squash and sweetness of the apple!

Serve with crusty bread and protein of choice, of course.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple, & White Bean Stew
Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple, & White Bean Stew
Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple, & White Bean Stew
Recipe Type: Soup, Stew
Cuisine: Fall, Winter
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
A warm, hearty soup to warm the bones! Add your favorite protein (egg, tofu, or meat if non-vegetarian) and serve with crusty bread for dipping.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz sliced bella mushrooms
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 sliced apple
  • 1 cup shredded or sliced brussels sprouts
  • 1 tsp dry rosemary
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 32 oz. box low sodium vegetable stock (or chicken stock if non-vegetarian)
  • 2 cans diced or stewed tomatoes and juice
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • dash of lemon juice (optional)
  • dash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high and add onions and garlic until softened- about 3 min. Add mushrooms, apple and squash and cook until tender and squash is lightly browned, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add brussels sprouts and cook about 1 more minute.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in spices and salt and pepper.
  3. Add mixture to crock pot, followed by stock, tomatoes, and white beans. Cook at least 4 hours on high, or 6 hours on low. (*Note: if not using slow cooker, you can also add all ingredients into a big stockpot and bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.)
  4. Just before serving, stir in balsamic and/or lemon juice, and more salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Serve with crusty bread and cheese!

Have you put up your Christmas decorations yet? I feel like I just took down the Halloween ones! What’s your favorite holiday to decorate for?

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté

I’ve been craving spaghetti squash since July. No, not the kind of squash that gets dry and sticks together and has no flavor at all- not the kind that gets less and less appetizing the longer you let it sit on your plate getting clammy… I’ve been craving the kind that is juicy, buttery, and cheesy. Comfort food at its best.

Who says spaghetti squash can’t be every bit as satisfying as a huge bowl of spaghetti?

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté
Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté

I love that spaghetti squash comes back into season in late October/early November, just as I’m starting to think about comfort foods that won’t break the calorie bank or send me out shopping for a new pair of elastic waist-banded skinny jeans. And as a lover of lots of different ethnicities of foods, I also love the fact that spaghetti squash is versatile enough to treat as a blank canvas for whatever seasonings or flavor profile you choose! I’m partial to mediterranean flavors, so of course I decided to add Italian seasonings, kalamatas, capers and feta to top this one off. I also topped it with a fried egg for a little extra protein, plus Greek yogurt (as usual).

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Did you know that spaghetti squash, cooked (without seasonings or oil) has only 42 calories per cup?! That’s a whole lot less than a cup of cooked spaghetti, which will cost you 220 calories! Just think- eat this instead and you can have an extra piece of Halloween candy for dessert. 🙂

Hope you had a very happy Halloween, and a great weekend!

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Sauté
Recipe Type: Main Dish, Side
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Who says squash has to be boring?
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups veggies of your choice (I used broccoli, cauliflower, frozen peas and mushrooms)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 deg. Pierce squash with sharp knife around the center, then microwave squash for 3 minutes so it’s easier to slice.
  2. Slice squash in half and spoon out seeds.
  3. Place on a baking sheet, flesh side up and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, followed by oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt/pepper and rosemary. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes or until strands flake easily away from the skin.
  4. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing strands of squash into a large bowl.
  5. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add tomatoes and veggies and cook for 2 more minutes. Pour in lemon juice and vegetable stock, cover with lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Just before serving, add spinach, followed by the spaghetti squash.
  7. Top with olives, parsley, capers and feta.

Slice squash and season.

Slice squash and season.

Cook onions and garlic.
Cook onions and garlic.
Add veggies to pan and cook, then simmer until squash is done.
Add veggies to pan and cook, then simmer until squash is done.
Simmer until squash is done.
Simmer until squash is done.
Cool squash before shredding.
Cool squash before shredding.
Shred strands with a fork.
Shred strands with a fork.
Top with kalamata olives, parsley and capers.
Top with kalamata olives, parsley and capers.
Finish with feta and serve!
Finish with feta and serve!

Espinacas con Garbanzos por Olla

Bienvenidos, mis amigos! Today I am bringing you a recipe from the archives, but updated with prettier pictures and less “hands-on” time! Espinacas con Garbanzos is one of my favorite and most versatile recipes, inspired by our honeymoon to Seattle and the San Juan Islands. Some of you may remember my first post about this dish, which is similar to a meal I had in Friday Harbor at a wonderful little waterfront restaurant called Cask and Schooner. You all know how much I love my beans and spices, and this is a stew-like recipe that can be served hot or cold. I like it chilled for the summer, with a few hearty crackers and some lettuce cups, and a dollop of greek yogurt on top.

Espinacas con Garbanzos por Olla
Espinacas con Garbanzos por Olla

This time I adapted the recipe a bit to be made in the crock pot (the name for this recipe literally translates to “spinach and chickpeas by the pot”), so that you can let it simmer away all afternoon while you do all of the other important things you have going on in your life. It also makes a lot of leftovers!

I also added a poached egg on top, since I didn’t include any turkey sausage this time and wanted a little more staying power. I love poached eggs on top of salads/stews. Such an easy way for an extra dose of protein!

Espinacas con Garbanzos por Olla
Recipe Type: Stew, Slow-Cooker
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
I love that this vegetarian and protein-packed stew can be served hot or cold. So versatile, and makes lots of leftovers to enjoy all week long!
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (yes I realize this is a LOT of garlic!)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seed (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed
  • lemon juice, for serving
  • parmesan cheese and greek yogurt, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic and cook until onions are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the spices (cumin through red pepper flakes) and stir continuously for 1 minute. Add a few drizzles of red wine vinegar to deglaze the pan.
  2. Transfer mixture to a crock pot and add garbanzos, tomato sauce, and tomatoes.
  3. Pour in the rest of the red wine vinegar, water, and salt and pepper. Set on low heat for 4-5 hours or until carrots are tender.
  4. About an hour before serving, add spinach.
  5. Serve with a few drops of lemon juice, cheese and a dollop of greek yogurt.
  6. I also like mine with some hearty crispbread crackers and lettuce cups!

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“Everything But the Kitchen Sink” Weeknight Stew

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“Everything But the Kitchen Sink” Weeknight Stew
Recipe Type: Soup, Stew
Cuisine: Easy, Healthy
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
I literally threw together whatever I could find that would be somewhat tasty for this easy weeknight stew! All you need to spice up that boxed or canned soup that’s been in your pantry for a year is a few pantry staples!
Ingredients
  • 1 box or can black bean soup, or black bean soup base (I had a box of “Simply Balanced Organic Soup, Southwestern-Style Black Bean” in my pantry left over from like, a year ago that I got on sale at Target)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 links chicken or turkey sausage, sliced
  • EVOO
  • 1/2 tbsp each garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, cocoa powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 cups water or chicken broth, depending on how thick you like your stew!
  • 1 can tomatoes and their juice
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • Handful of barley (about 1/4 cup)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • kale or spinach
  • greek yogurt, for topping
Instructions
  1. Cook onions and garlic on medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil, 3-4 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add sausage and corn. Stir until all browned bits on bottom of can are gone.
  3. Add all spices and stir continuously for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in chicken broth or water, add tomatoes, corn, pumpkin, and barley. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Just before serving, stir in kale or spinach.
  6. Serve with greek yogurt and pepper on top, with some hearty blue corn tortilla chips on the side!

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Note: I used this organic soup base from Target. I highly recommend, but I have to warn you- it’s pretty salty. To avoid getting diagnosed with congestive heart failure (or if you just want to watch your sodium intake), I’d suggest adding a few cups of water or LOW-sodium broth to dilute it a bit. 

Ben’s “Pleasant” Crock Pot Veggie Chili

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Ben’s “Pleasant” Crock Pot Veggie Chili

When I asked Ben why he liked this chili, his response: “I like the taste!”

Me: What do you like about the taste, love?

Him: It’s very…pleasant.

Very pleasant. Just what every wife wants to hear when her husband compliments her cooking. I mean, are we talking “pleasant” as in “Yes, I met that older woman who lives down the street with her six cats… she smelled a bit like mothballs, but she was very pleasant.” Or, are we talking “pleasant” as in, “The new color on the wall isn’t my favorite, but it doesn’t exactly make me want to run out of the room with seizures… it’s pleasant.”

Pleasant is what you use to describe something that isn’t so awful that you can’t stand it, but doesn’t make you shake your pom-poms and do a jig in your kitchen. It’s a euphemism you use to make someone (or something) sound much better than you really think it is.

My chili is never just “pleasant.” I tried to make Ben guess the key spices in it, even giving him the letters each one started with (“three C’s, Ben! Come on!) as if his ability to pick out the unique flavors in this stew would make my labors worthwhile.

His answer: “Cauliflower?”

Sigh. Some battles you just can’t win. I must conquer this blast to my home-cook confidence.

Tonight, when he asked for leftover chili over pizza or quiche, and even without any chicken to top it off, I knew that I’d come up with a winner, even if I hadn’t been able to woo him with my spices the night before.

So here you have it, my friends. Ben’s “pleasant” chili that hopefully won’t remind you of the cat-lady or boring paint on your wall. A chili that’s easy to throw together in the crock pot in the morning and let it do its magic all day. Packed with veggie and fiber, this can be enjoyed all week long to fuel your busy days and “spicy” lives! It also has a few “secret ingredients” that really add an extra kick of spicy-sweetness (but you’ll have to look for yourself!). Enjoy it on a cold rainy Monday night with a dollop of greek yogurt or some shredded cheese, and even bring the leftovers to work with you the next day. Go ahead- make all your co-workers jealous. You have my permission.

Just do me a favor. When you’re heating it up in the microwave at work, don’t let anyone tell you that it smells “pleasant.”

Ben’s “Pleasant” Crock Pot Veggie Chili
Recipe Type: Stew, Soup, Chili, Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8-12
Throw together all the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and let ‘er simmer away all day. Come home to a smoky, sweet smell and warm up those cold bones with this veggie chili! Perfect for Meatless Monday and bring-to-work-leftovers Tuesday!
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 carton (about 1 cup) sliced portobella mushrooms
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes and their juice
  • 32 oz carton low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • dried parsley, optional for topping
  • greek yogurt or cheddar cheese, for topping
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 3 min. Add mushrooms and cook 2 min more until soft. Pour into bottom of crock pot sprayed with cooking spray. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, beans, corn, lentils, tomatoes, and broth.
  2. Stir together remaining spices in a small bowl and add to crock pot. Stir to combine.
  3. Cook on high heat 5-6 hours, or low heat 6-8, or until potatoes and carrots are soft.
  4. Top with dried parsley, greek yogurt or shredded cheese.

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Steelers’ Stroganoff Stew

This week we had a house full of boys, er- men? (When DOES a boy become a man, anyway?) After three days of my wonderful husband giving them the Durham gourmet pizza-BBQ-Chickfila food tour, they were tired of spending money and overindulging in heavy, fried food. (Perfect way to start off the New Year, right?). So this rainy Saturday evening during the Steelers’ playoff game vs. the Ravens (boooooo…), I decided to make them a hearty stew that could simmer away all day long and be pretty low-maintenance at the last minute when there were plenty of exciting bball and football games to be watched!

But what does one serve college guys who could gorge themselves on chips, dip, cookies, pizza, and the candy dish all day long? Beef Stroganoff Stew! Originally I was going to make Ropa Vieja Enchiladas, which are one of Ben’s favorites, but I just didn’t have it in me to shred any meat or turn the oven on after we got home late this afternoon from the NSCU vs. Pitt game (sad day for Pitt basketball. oh well.). Plus, I’d forgotten to get the enchilada sauce. Instead, I settled on a beef stew with a “citrus flair,” as traditional Ropa Vieja has a dash of orange or lime juice to brighten it up! I served this over cooked egg noodles, but you could also ladle it over another type of pasta or white rice. Just make sure to serve it with plenty of shredded cheese and sour cream!

LET’S GO STEELERS!

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Steelers’ Stroganoff Stew
Steelers’ Stroganoff Stew
Recipe Type: Stew, Pasta
Cuisine: American, Russian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Looking for something to serve the men in your house? Here’s an easy, throw-together stew that you can simmer away in the crock pot all day and enjoy in front of the Steelers’ game next Saturday night! This one was made with chuck roast meat, but you could also use pork or chicken. I also added some citrus with a generous glug of orange juice and a few squirts of lime. Cuban meets Russian?
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 carrots, spiralized 🙂 (or chopped into small chunks)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 package beef stew seasoning or mushroom and onion mix
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can low sodium beef broth
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (such as wide egg noodles or rotini)
  • shredded cheese and sour cream, for serving
Instructions
  1. Drizzle olive oil in bottom of crock pot.
  2. Combine onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and all spices in crock pot. Add beef on top.
  3. Cover with water, broth, tomato sauce/paste, orange and lime juice.
  4. Cover and set to low for 6-8 hours or until beef is tender.
  5. Give the stew a good stir and reduce heat to warm. Add the cooked pasta and peas 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and some crusty bread for dunking!
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Steelers’ Stroganoff Stew