Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas

butternut

It’s almost fall. Can you believe it!? Where on earth has 2013 gone? I’m very sad about saying farewell to rosé wine, white jeans and tank tops, but am so looking forward to the delicious delicacies of the season. I can almost taste Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. In celebration of the slight change in temperature, I thought I would offer a transitional recipe combining some of my favorite ingredients: cheese, kale and butternut squash.

Everyone who follows this blog is aware of my kale obsession. I didn’t jump on the kale bandwagon two years ago when some Iron Chef decided to make it popular. I’ve been eating the stuff since college. Besides being cheap and easy to cook its also incredibly good for you. Packed with nutrients, it’s rich in vitamins C and K as well as beta carotene. Kale also contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which has potent anti-cancer properties.

Let’s talk about squash. If you don’t like butternut squash, or any squash for that matter, then I think you are crazy. Butternut and Spaghetti are my favorite varieties, but I’d rank B-nut as number one. If it exists, I think I could eat a Gerber baby food jar of butternut squash, I’m not kidding. Is that weird? No but seriously, I think butternut squash contains some sort of dopamine-elevating drug similar to chocolate.

Finally, there’s cheese. I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll just stop here…some things are just better left unsaid.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1/2 whole Butternut Squash, seeded, peeled, chopped ($2.50)
  • 1 tbs olive oil ($.10)
  • 2 tbs butter ($.10)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder ($.05)
  • 1 bunch Kale leaves, torn ($2.00)
  • 8 flour tortillas ($2.00)
  • 1 tbs Butter For Frying
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese ($2.50)
  • Sour Cream For Serving ($.50)

Total: $9.75

Instructions

Heat 1 tbs butter and oil. Add B-nut squash and season with chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until squash is deep golden brown and tender. Remove and set aside.

Melt 1tbs butter over medium-high heat and add in the kale. Toss and cook it for 4 minutes. Add in the cooked squash and gently toss together. Set aside.

In a separate skillet, melt additional butter and lightly brown 1 quesadilla. Add a layer of cheese topped with a layer of the squash/kale mixture, topped with a second tortilla.

Brown the quesadilla on both sides, adding more butter to the pan if needed to ensure the proper crunch and golden color.

When the cheese is melted, remove each quesadilla from the skillet and cut it into four wedges.

You will end up with four quesadillas. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

 

 

Spicy Kale Chips

kalechips

For those of you that follow this blog on a regular basis, you will probably start to notice my kale obsession. I don’t know if it’s my favorite vegetable, but if we’re talking leafy vegetables then kale wins. I think I owe my roommate Jackie for turning me on to kale. We eat it all the time. I’m proud to admit that we often use it as a substitute for Domino’s Pizza around 2:30 am on Friday nights.

Now kale can be cooked a variety of ways– all of which are great, but my favorite way is to turn kale into chips. I should just do everyone a favor and start bringing these things to barbeques. Swimsuit season is right around the corner and everyone needs to put the Lay’s sour cream and onion chips DOWN, immediately. These by no means require domestic skill or fancy kitchen gadgets. Feel free to get creative and add whatever spices you have around…the recipe below just happens to be one of my favorites. It’s a little on the spicy side so be careful of that sriracha.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces ($3.50)
  • 1 tsp olive oil ($.15)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($.05)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($.03)
  • dash of cayenne pepper ($.03)
  • drizzle of sriracha ($.10)

Total: $3.86

kaleingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  2. Spread kale out on cookie sheet and toss with olive oil
  3. Add garlic powder, salt and cayenne. Mix with hands.
  4. Drizzle a tiny bit of sriracha all over
  5. Bake for 8 minutes or until crispy (they burn easy so watch closely)

kalechips2 Finished Product

Sausage and Kale Risotto

rissotocloseup

It’s been unseasonably cold in DC this month and I’m eager to trade my ugg boots and puffy coat for Jack Rogers sandals and shorts. As a result of this nasty weather, I’ve been clinging to comfort foods lately—pasta, soup and old time favorites. For years I was scared to try making my own risotto because of the time involved and cumbersome technique.  I’ve tried the boxed varieties and let’s face, they just taste…processed. Recently I’ve conquered my fear and tried making my own from scratch. After a few attempts I think I’ve mastered the art of Arborio and it’s really not that hard.

rice

The cool thing about Arborio is that it’s a blank canvas—it will take on the flavor of just about anything you add to it. One key ingredient to never leave out though is wine. Wine makes everything better (you can also be fancy and add Champagne…drink it while you cook and feel fabulous). Don’t worry I won’t judge you if you buy André because it all tastes the same to me. I just had a thought; champagne risotto with lobster, how awesome does that sound? I’ll save that for another post… like a Valentine’s Day or something, stay tuned.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 C of chicken broth ($.50)
  • 1/2 C water (free!)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil ($.10)
  • Salt (I’ll consider this free too)
  • 4 oz white mushrooms, thin sliced ($1.00)
  • 2 links of chicken sausage, casing removed ($3.00)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped white onion ($.25)
  • 1 clove of garlic ($.10)
  • 1/2 C uncooked arborio rice ($2.00)
  • 1/4 C of  cheap dry white wine (If you buy Trader Joe’s for cooking wine like me, $3.00)
  • Handful of kale leaves, roughly chopped ($1.00)
  • 2.5 tbs grated parmesan ($.30)

Total: $11.25 (yields two servings)

Instructions

  1. In a small pot on your back burner, heat the broth and water. When it almost reaches boiling point, turn the heat down and keep it warm while you do the rest of the cooking.
  2. In a large saucepan, sauté your mushrooms in olive oil until they are browned. Season with salt. When they are cooked through and release liquid, remove from the pan and put aside.
  3. Add the sausage and cook until browned and crumbly, then add the onion and garlic. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the Arborio, stir it in and let it toast, about one minute. Add the wine and stir, deglaze by scraping the bottom of the pan. Make sure you leave in all those brown bits!
  4. Stir in a half cup of the broth mixture and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Add the rest of the broth, just 1/4 cup at a time, constantly stirring until absorbed before adding more. This will take about a 25 minutes (sorry…hey, you can get an arm workout in).
  5. Once you finish this, remove the pan from heat.Add the mushrooms, kale and parmesan and stir a minute or two until the kale begins to wilt. Serve with an extra mound of cheese on top.

Note: I used a chicken sausage with basil and sundried tomatoes (whole foods) for this recipe, but feel free to use pork or turkey sausage, whatever you fancy.