Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Well, it is now officially autumn. Weather-wise, it came early this year up here in northeast Ohio; the trees are already turning, which usually doesn’t really begin to ramp up until the second week of October in this neck of the woods, and my winter wardrobe’s migration towards the front of our closet is also a bit premature.  It’s the last week of the season for our CSA and Beloved has begun clearing out our own gardens, as well.

I don’t think we’ll be buying as many apples this year, as we still have plenty of applesauce from last year, but I’m really looking forward to some apple-based dishes, both sweet and savory, and I’m going to try and make some apple cider jelly.

We’ve decided not to do a CSA share next year, but rather get our summer produce from our own gardens and supplement with purchases from local farmer’s markets.  There’s only so much we can consume, even with Darling Daughter back home and The Young One here for the summer and holidays, and some of what we grew ourselves simply went unharvested – mostly leafy greens – because we just couldn’t eat it all.

Winter squashes are in full swing about now, and my obsession with cooking and stuffing them continues unabated.  Last week, it was Mexican-inspired stuffed spaghetti squash; this week, it’s a Moroccan-flavored lamb and quinoa mixture heaped inside roasted acorn squash.

Acorn squash isn’t my favorite – that spot is reserved for butternuts and kabochas – but we had two we’d acquired through our CSA share and I decided, since they were sitting there on the counter, just staring me in the face, that I probably should do something with them.  I wasn’t in the mood for soup (that happened last night with our lone sweet dumpling squash), but another stuffed squash sure sounded like a good idea.  It wasn’t long before I was pulling the last pound of ground lamb from our freezer and the bag of sprouted quinoa from the pantry.

It turns out it was an excellent idea – this was just delicious (frankly, I’d have been happy eating just the filling; it was that good).  Darling Daughter and I shared one half between the two of us, while Beloved inhaled an entire half all on his own.  This is also one of those dishes that is even better the next day, and it reheats beautifully.

Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash. Liven up that ordinary roasted acorn squash with lamb, quinoa and curry powder.

Click the image to enlarge

Curried Lamb and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup raisins, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut the squashes in half, lengthwise, and scoop the seeds from the center. Rub each half with the olive oil; place cut side down on a shallow, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.
  3. While the squash is in the oven, cook the lamb in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks with a large wooden spoon. Once it has barely begun to brown, add the onion and continue cooking until most of the fat has rendered from the meat and the onion has softened. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and salt and pepper and cook until the meat is cooked through and the mixture is fragrant.
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the heat and stir in the pistachios, raisins and quinoa, mixing well. Set aside.
  5. When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Turn it over so that the cut sides are facing up and spoon the lamb/quinoa mixture into the centers, packing it in as necessary, until all of the filling has all been used.
  6. Reduce the heat to 350 F and return the stuffed squash halves to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully cut each in half lengthwise before serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 396 calories, 21.5g total fat, 41.4mg cholesterol, 512.4mg sodium, 833.2mg potassium, 39.6g carbohydrates, 5.1g fiber, 11.7g sugar, 14.8g protein

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs

Earlier this week when I asked my daily “What do you want for dinner?” Beloved started rummaging around in the freezer.  After a few moments I heard, “Hey – we’ve still got a couple of pounds of ground lamb out here.”

So we took it out, and all that was left was to decide what to make out of it.

While I love lamb, ground lamb always seem to taste “stronger” to me than regular cuts – it’s probably due to the amount of fat.  It holds up well to bold flavors, though, so I decided something Moroccan-spiced might be in order.  After perusing the contents of my cupboard, fridge and spice rack I found myself putting this together.

Holy moly!  This was just marvelous.  The meatballs were moist and tender and deliciously spiced, and the sauce complimented them wonderfully; I served it over quinoa and alongside a summer squash sauté (I’m still trying to get rid of that stuff).  We loved it so much that we ate the leftovers for lunch for the next two days – it makes a ton.  I imagine it would freeze quite well, too.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients; the vast majority are spices, and this comes together pretty quickly and easily.  I like to pre-bake meatballs for dishes like this; it helps the meatballs keep their shape and renders out some of the fat so that you don’t end up with a greasy sauce.  In fact, both the calorie and fat content in the nutritional info are probably overstated somewhat because of this.

The best thing about this recipe – well, other than the fact that it’s incredibly delicious?  It’s paleo, and Whole30 compliant to boot.

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs.  Tender lamb meatballs in a delicious tomato sauce.  Fragrant and flavorful!

Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped raisins
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped black olives
  • heaping 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • heaping 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 28-ounce can petite-diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Gently, but thoroughly, combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Form into 24 meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • While the meatballs are in the oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Sweat the onions until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes; add the garlic cinnamon stick, cumin and coriander and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes more.
  • Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients except for the salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the sauce to a simmer and add the meatballs. Continue simmering until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf before serving.
  • Nutrition (per serving): 494 calories, 29.1g total fat, 165.1mg cholesterol, 899.8mg sodium, 1044.7mg potassium, 25.5g carbohydrates, 6.1g fiber, 6.3g sugar, 35.4g protein
Instructions

 

Mexican-Style Chorizo

Well, hmmm – this is my second “Mexican-Style” recipe this week.

I didn’t plan it that way.  It just sort of happened.

If you ask my kids what their favorite breakfast is, they’ll all say “Chorizo!”  Which is shorthand for breakfast tacos consisting of eggs scrambled with Mexican-style chorizo – a fresh sausage, as opposed to Spanish-style chorizo, which is a smoked sausage – fried potatoes and cheese all wrapped up in a tortilla (corn for Oldest Son, Darling Daughter and Miss J and flour for Jolly and The Young One – who will also skip the potatoes.  Yes, the kid is weird).

At any rate, I’ve slowly but surely been cutting out purchased fresh sausages – since we buy or procure all of our meat exclusively from our friends at Whitefeather Meats, this not only gives me a little freedom for how my sausage is seasoned, but is also a little cheaper as well (all those spices, herbs and seasonings cost money, you know).  Making fresh sausage at home is also so quick and easy, I’ve begun to wonder why I didn’t begin years and years ago.

Chorizo was the last hold-out.  Their version – which, of course, isn’t an authentic chorizo but chorizo-spiced ground pork – is just delicious and I tend to buy a pound or two every time we visit them.  Sometimes, though, I get a request for The Favorite Breakfast, and have no chorizo on hand; in cases like these, the 40 minute drive to Whitefeather isn’t exactly an option.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and this is true – especially when aided by a well-worded Google search.

This recipe tastes pretty spot-on – it was well-received by Darling Daughter, The Young One and Beloved, so I’d call that a win.  As written, the recipe doesn’t give the pork that deep, brick-red tone of most commercial chorizos, but you can add a couple of teaspoons of regular paprika (which has little flavor) if you’d like the color.

If you don’t eat pork, this would be just fine with ground turkey or venison.

Making fresh, Mexican-style chorizo at home is super simple - and super delicious!

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Chorizo
Serves: 4 to 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/” target=”_blank”]Honest Cooking[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, gently combine all of the ingredients, using your hands, until well-blended.
  2. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours before using in your favorite recipe.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 218 calories, 16.7g total fat, 54.4mg cholesterol, 402.5mg sodium, 315.4mg potassium, 3.4g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, <1g sugar, 13.6g protein

 

Mexican-Style Rice

Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, and if you live in northeast Ohio you’ll either 1) ignore it, 2) find yourself in a restaurant that wouldn’t know real Mexican (to say nothing of Tex-Mex) food if it jumped in their lap, or 3) make it yourself.

For the last 9 years, I’ve opted for number 3.

I guess ideally, I should have posted this recipe prior to Cinco de Mayo, but since I make Mexican food on a fairly regular basis – and you should, too – I figured it would be worth putting up post-weekday-reason-to-drink-margaritas anyway.  Well, that and the fact that it’s the first time I’ve ever really made it successfully.

For some reason, Mexican-style rice, or sopa seca, is something I’ve never been able to master to my satisfaction.  Something of an oddity, really, since things like handmade tamales and traditional chiles relleno pose no problem for me at all and neither of those dishes are what you could call “quick and easy.”  However, since I was making enchiladas for the “holiday” (I found some wonderful organic, sprouted corn tortillas at our local natural foods store) and I’d just made western-style beans a few days before, I wanted some rice.

I wanted some good rice, and I found the recipe over at Homesick Texan.  Lisa is a marvelous cook (her blog is where I found the aforementioned western-style beans originally) and I was more than willing to try her version of Mexican-style rice.  With a few modifications – I like peas and carrots in my Mexican-style rice and subbed half the tomato paste with some homemade Enchilada Sauce while cutting back on the cumin – it was just marvelous.  Not only did I love it, but Beloved, Jolly and Darling Daughter also ate it with great enthusiasm.

Really. Good. Stuff.

Mexican-Style Rice. A must for any Cinco de Mayo feast, this recipe for Mexican-style rice is easy, delicious and pretty much perfect.

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://www.homesicktexan.com/2008/06/with-beans-comes-rice.html” target=”_blank”]Homesick Texan[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice, chicken broth and kosher sea salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat. Stir again, then cover the saucepan with a dry, clean dishcloth and place the lid on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, sauté the onion in the butter in a shallow skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, enchilada sauce, cumin and peas and carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are warmed through, another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the onion/vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the cooked rice, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 197 calories, 3.7g total fat, 7.9mg cholesterol, 347.9mg sodium, 313.1mg potassium, 35.3g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 3.6g sugar, 6g protein

 

 

Pomegranate-Glazed Meatballs

Well, hello there.   I know I haven’t posted in a month, and I apologize, but I’ve needed this break in the worst possible way.  Part of the problem is that I stare at a computer screen all day and most days the last thing I want to do is go home and stare at it some more.  Another part of the problem is all of my “photography stuff” got consigned to the basement over the holidays and I have so not been motivated to run up and down those stairs looking for appropriate place settings for pictures.  And it’s also the dead of winter, which in northeast Ohio means NO sunlight, which means using artificial lighting for photos and I’ve gotten to the point where I hate that.

Yeah, I know – excuses, excuses.  At any rate, I’m not going to make any promises about the frequency of posting in the near future, but I think I’m ready to get back into the saddle again, at least on a provisional basis.

Even with all of the above-mentioned excuses, I’ve managed to photograph a thing or three I’ve cooked over the last month (when the stars were aligned just so); this is one of them.  And it is very, very good – Beloved keeps asking me when I’m going to make it again, and we argued over what little leftovers there were the next day.  It’s also incredibly simple, and these days, that’s a huge plus.

If you look at the photo, you’ll see this is served over something you might think is lentils, and you’d be 100% correct – it’s a sprouted lentil pilaf, and it was really delicious.  In the wake of all the brouhaha about resistant starch, we’ve been incorporating a moderate amount of properly prepared legumes (soaked, sprouted or fermented, which deactivates much, albeit not all, of the lectins and phytates) back into our diet.  Which makes me happy, because I’ve always liked them.

If you wish to avoid legumes for whatever reason, these would be very nice served over just about any vegetable puree or steamed white rice.  Make those itty bitty, cocktail-sized meatballs, and they’d make a great appetizer, too.

The meatballs would also work well made with ground pork or turkey if you can’t find or don’t care for lamb.

Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Meatballs.  These little gems are delicious - bright and exotic.

Click the image to enlarge

Pomegranate-Glazed Meatballs
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/pomegranate-molasses/” target=”_blank”]pomegranate molasses[/url]
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently mix together the lamb, garlic, salt, coriander, cardamom and pepper until combined; form into meatballs. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake the meatballs until golden and just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Brush with pomegranate molasses, making sure to coat the meatballs completely, and return to the oven until glazed, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with mint and pistachios and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 384 calories, 21.5g total fat, 101.3mg cholesterol, 581.8mg sodium, 1104.5mg potassium, 17.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 28.8g protein