No worries, my smoke alarm works

So, this post is more than a week overdue but nonetheless…

Yes, the smoke alarm in my apartment works. And how would I know that? No, there was no fire in my apartment. Yes, I was using the oven. On broil, I blame it on that since I don’t use broil too often. Just another reason I shouldn’t always follow recipes exactly.

Anyways, in continuation of me trying to actually make new things for dinner, I tried a recipe for stuffed acorn squash. Fantastic dish! Let’s begin with the fact that I only cook for one, and was using what I already had, so I halved this recipe and used only 1 squash. Additionally, I was planning on just chopping up and roasting the squash, thus I didn’t have it cut in half exactly as pictured in the link. Details are overrated. And since I made this recipe about a week ago, I don’t exactly remember the measurements I used. Again, details.

What will you need, you ask?

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • Bulgur (1/4 – 1/2 cup)
  • Black beans (I used about 1/2 can)
  • Diced tomatoes (about 1/2 can)
  • Vegetable (or chicken) stock (1/2 – 3/4 cup)
  • Grated cheese (I had mozzarella)
  • Cumin (about 1 tsp, give or take a little)
  • Hot sauce, salsa, cilantro (all optional)

Now that I have all this, what do I do?

First, cut that squash in half – whatever way your heart desires. Chop the ends off, keep them on…it doesn’t really matter. Just make sure to scoop those guts seeds out. Then pop those halves (on a baking sheet) into a 375 degree oven and let them cook for about 30-40 minutes. While those are roasting, bring the stock (of your choice) to a boil and add the bulgur, cumin, and diced tomatoes. Reduce heat and allow it all to simmer until the liquid is almost gone. Then add the beans (and hot sauce, if you so desire).

Once the squash are done and the bulgur/tomato/bean mixed if finished, spoon the bulgur mix into the squash bowls. Toss a little shredded cheese on top and it goes back in, on broil, for a few minutes (3-4).

After 3-4 minutes, as you’re pulling it out of the oven, you will realize your smoke alarm works. Ok, maybe that’s just my kitchen. Either way, you now have a delicious fall dish.

I really do have more recipes to post. As well as some pictures from my trip west. I didn’t want to come back…at all…

My cooking style. And some broccoli.

There is actually a recipe here! A few things about me before I get to that…:

  • I generally use recipes more for ideas than exact directions. In other words, I don’t like measuring cups and spoons when I’m cooking. There’s a time and place for those and it’s not dinner.
  • Those measuring cups? Yah, I definitely use them for baking.
  • I love olive oil. Really, need I say more? It’s good for you, right?
  • I cook with wine. Meaning there is usually a glass of wine that I sip on as I cook + eat.
  • I’m Italian, and learned to cook from my mom and nonna. This combination may actually explain a lot of things, including my love for olive oil and wine, my inability to measure things as I cook, and my propensity for dinners to be last-minute and involve whatever I can throw together with what’s on hand.
  • Sometimes I get too into the cooking that I don’t always take pictures along the way…you may just get the final product.
  • I’m not a fan of really intricate recipes – I believe good, healthy food doesn’t have to take hours to make.

Moving on…

The other night I made roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes. The recipe landed in my e.mail a few days ago so I thought I’d give it try. I had the broccoli and sweet potatoes from my last trip to the produce market and I really just had to run out and grab rosemary. Yes, if I were awesome, I would have stepped out on my porch/patio/whatever you want to call it and picked rosemary out of my herb garden. I’m not that awesome. And I definitely don’t have a green thumb.

Excuse the really bad picture but this would be my last attempt at growing basil + parsley. Please note the brown (dead) stalks on the basil plant.

About that recipe. What you need is:

  • Broccoli (I used about 2 heads, chopped into florets)
  • Sweet potato (I used one average size)
  • Garlic (couple cloves?)
  • Rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Once you have all that, you can start by cutting the sweet potato up into chunks – however big or small you like, just make sure they are about the same size. Toss that with a drizzle of olive oil (it doesn’t need to be coated), rosemary (chopped; I used about 1 sprig), and garlic. Put it all onto a baking sheet (I put my baking mat on the pan), add a little salt and pepper, then it goes into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. While that’s roasting, cut the broccoli heads up into florets. When the buzzer for the potatoes goes off, add the broccoli to the mix, along with a little extra olive oil. It heads back into the oven for another 20 minutes or so and comes out like this…

And that, my friends, is it. Delicious, I might add. The sweet potatoes were definitely sweet and reminded me of the sweet potato dishes Thanksgiving (that are made with sugar and all other sorts of healthiness I’m sure).

Now onto those two papers I need to write.

Things I’ve learned…

OR ‘My trip to Chicago…’

I feel like a “things I’ve learned” post is inevitable, as is a “favorite things” post. As I’m sitting on the Tarmac in Chicago, hoping I can still catch my connecting flight, I figured I’d enlighten you with some of my learned knowledge. Ok, so maybe just some of the things I’ve learned on this Chicago trip. Or an indirect recap of my trip.

1. Yes, I know it’s cliche, but I realized this summer that you do only live once. And while being practical and realistic is generally the smart thing, sometimes you just have to live a little and spend money that should probably have been spent elsewhere (for example, on a flight to Chicago, instead of that “highly recommended” professional conference you were supposed to present at but didn’t really want to go to. Not like I would know what that’s like or anything…).

2. Continuing on. Sometimes you just need to book a ticket and fly halfway across the country to meet a friend and be their guest at wedding. Trust me, you will probably have more fun than you think. And it’s completely ok if you have ZERO idea who the bride and groom are. It makes it more fun that way.

3. And while you’re at that wedding with said friend (of the opposite sex), you are bound to be asked the ‘are you together’ question – whatever form that may take. It’s fine saying “no, just friends” but it’s kind of fun to lie, especially if you may never see some of those people again. It’s also helpful if there is an open bar. It’s kind of fun having a ‘fake boyfriend’ for the night and making up tales of how the long-distance relationship is working out.

4. You don’t always need a plan. I may have decided to stay in Chicago an extra day or two with no set plans. I knew people in the city and said “hey, if it works out lets get together.” Figuring it would work out, I saw nothing wrong with heading into the city early. Nothing worked out until that night and I did spend the day roaming around with my suitcase. While it wasn’t ideal, and you may get odd looks, it’s definitely doable. It might not hurt to know where or with who you can stay with that night though.

However, if four-square is being played in the middle of the road, you should play.

5. Sandals make airport security easy easier. However, sandals are not practical when you’re running between terminals to catch your flight because you HAD to go out of your way and get the sandwich from the highly recommended restaurant. Who would do such a thing?

6. Do NOT get married during football season. I had a great time but it killed me not being able to watch the game.

7. Have fun. Being flexible and able to ‘go with the flow’ are pretty much necessary for that.

Yes, I had a fantastic and not really all that well planned trip to Chicago. I may also have come home with some kitchen towels in my bag. I couldn’t resist!

Next stop: I’m thinking Michigan. I’m in severe need of a Michigan football game fix and a greasy cider mill donut fix.