Monday, December 31, 2012

Recipe #206: Sausage and Rice-Stuffed Acorn Squash

I was so disappointed when I finished eating this meal because I wanted more.  DELICIOUS!!  The combination of flavors and textures was perfect, and this was fun to make, too.  From Cooking Light magazine...  Note, the original recipe called for 4 squashes, but I only used two and kept the same amount of filling.  If you want to make 4 squashes, DOUBLE the rest of the ingredients.


  • small acorn or sweet dumpling squashes (about 10 ounces each)
  • (4-ounce) links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed 
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion 
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 ounce Swiss cheese, shredded (about 1/4 cup) 


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. 2. Place whole squashes in a roasting pan. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until just tender. Let stand for 15 minutes. Halve squashes. Scoop out seeds; discard.
  3. 3. Preheat broiler to high.
  4. 4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Italian sausage to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan; drain on paper towels. Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel.
  5. 5. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage, rice, and next 5 ingredients (through Parmesan). Divide rice mixture evenly among squash halves. Sprinkle evenly with Swiss cheese. Arrange squash halves on a baking sheet; broil 4 minutes or until golden and cheese is melted.

The filling before being piled into the squashes

Friday, December 28, 2012

Recipe #205: Chicken and Leek Soup

I was a bit liberal on amounts in this recipe (mostly adding stuff, but probably not enough broth, so it was more of a stew than a soup).... the leeks seemed to vanish into the soup once they cooked, so it was more like a chicken veggie soup instead.  I thought about not posting this one because it didn't turn out quite how I wanted, but I couldn't deny that it tasted good and hearty.  Maybe next time I'll have less chicken in it and cut the leeks thicker.  Great base recipe.  I added a little bit of dill to it too.


2 1/2 lbs frying chickens, cut up (I used a mix of boneless/skinless thighs and breast tenders)
4 cups water (One of these I replaced with chicken broth)
1 medium carrot, sliced (I used 3 smallish ones)
1 stalk celery, sliced (I used 2)
1/2 cup barley (I used 3/4c)
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (I had cubes, and used 2)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups leeks, with tops (sliced and cleaned very well) (I didn't use the tops as much)

Heat all ingredients except leeks to boiling in large stockpot or Dutch oven.Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Add leeks.
Bring back to a boil; reduce heat.
Cover and simmer until thickest pieces of chicken are done, about 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from broth and cool slightly; remove chicken from bones and skin.
Skim fat from both and remove bay leaf.  (I didn't find any fat to skim...)
Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces and return to broth.
Heat about 5 minutes; serve.

Recipe #204: Lamb Stew

I was beside myself with excitement over this one.  I love lamb, and stew is perfect for winter.  It was fantastic!

My changes:
1.  I halved the recipe.  Well, minus the bacon- can't have enough bacon- I used a one-pound package.
2.  I didn't have flour.  This is because of an incident where only the previous day, I had to throw away all my flour.  I didn't notice anything lacking- not a big deal.  Definitely less of a mess, too.  I have bad luck with flour.
3.  I added peas.  Stews should have peas.
4.  I cooked the bacon in the big pot, removed it, browned the meat in that same pot, removed it, and did the rest before combining everything in that same pot.  No reason to dirty more dishes.
5.  I used a 3lb lamb leg (boneless) because shoulder was not available

Don't mind my laziness- I'm on vacation, after all.  I'm just going to copy and paste from  (

1 1/2 pounds thickly sliced bacon, diced
6 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut
into 2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
4 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons white sugar
4 cups diced carrots
2 large onions, cut into bite-size pieces
3 potatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup white wine
1.Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
2.Put lamb, salt, pepper, and flour in large mixing bowl. Toss to coat meat evenly. Brown meat in frying pan with bacon fat.
3.Place meat into stock pot (leave 1/4 cup of fat in frying pan). Add the garlic and yellow onion and saute till onion begins to become golden. Deglaze frying pan with 1/2 cup water and add the garlic-onion mixture to the stock pot with bacon pieces, beef stock, and sugar. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
4.Add carrots, onions, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and wine to pot. Reduce heat, and simmer covered for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Recipe #203: Baked Cornish Game Hens

I refuse to buy these cute little cornish game hens if they're frozen, which is unfortunate, since I have a hard time finding ones that aren't.  Luckily, my last trip to Giant Eagle resulted in buying my first hens in a long time.  I found this easy recipe on and followed it exactly.  Depending on how much you want to eat, a hen will feed 1-2 people.


2 Cornish game hens
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
   and chopped
   2 cloves garlic, minced
   1 tablespoon dried basil
   1 teaspoon dried oregano
   1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
   1/4 cup melted butter


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

In a small bowl combine the 1/2 cup melted butter, onion, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, basil, oregano and parsley.

Season hens inside and out with salt and pepper to taste, then stuff with equal amounts butter/vegetable mixture. Place stuffed birds in a 9x13 inch baking dish, breast side up. Drizzle with 1/4 cup melted butter.

Cover dish and bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover and brown at 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).