Tastes of Fall: Chicken, Quinoa, Kale & Goat Cheese Stuffed Acorn Squash

Good morning! I’ve got a delicious- and easy- ¬†recipe for you today. Anyone else like to cook according to the season and, well, what’s in season? I love seeing all of the pumpkin, squash, and apple recipes floating around the blogisphere these days. Athena posted this delicious looking Autumn Kale Salad recipe last week, Alexis posted this Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta recipe that I’m dying to make and Lexi posted these fantastic Pumpkin Sticky Bun Muffins that I actually made last weekend!

I could literally go on and on, but today I want to share a fall recipe that I made the other week. I based it off of this recipe that I made last year, which was basically identical to the meal we had at The Local in Newton. Regardless, I realized that I hadn’t actually POSTED a recipe for this meal so I figured today was as good a time as any ūüôā

Stuffed acorn squash 1

All you need for this recipe is an acorn squash, kale (or spinach), chicken (or shrimp or steak), quinoa (or rice or a blend) and goat cheese (or feta or none)… as you can see, you can really do what you want to make this recipe your own!

Ingredients (use as a guide, but feel free to substitute as you see fit!)

  • 1 medium acorn squash, baked
  • 3-4 chicken thighs, baked
  • small bunch of kale, de-stemmed, rinsed & baked
  • Quinoa or rice or a blend (I had a medley on hand so I used that)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of goat cheese
  • dash of cinnamon (for acorn squash)
  • EVOO (for kale¬† & chicken)
  • Coconut oil
  • salt & pepper & garlic powder

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425*, cut your acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Coat the flesh of the acorn squash with coconut oil and place face down in a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is soft. Once it’s soft, remove from the oven and sprinkle some cinnamon on the flesh. Set aside.
  2. While the squash is cooking, cook your quinoa or rice according to the directions on the back of the package.
  3. While the squash and quinoa are cooking, prepare your kale by washing it, de-stemming it and placing it in a baking dish. Coat with salt, pepper, garlic powder & plenty of EVOO. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it has wilted.
  4. Once you’ve gotten a handle of the foods in steps 1-3, prepare your chicken. I cut mine into cubes, coated with EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic powder and saut√©ed in a skillet until it was cooked through.
  5. At this point, everything should be cooked and it’s time to assemble everything. I combined the kale, quinoa and chicken in a small bowl and then stuffed the acorn squash halves with that mixture. Finally, I topped¬†each stuffed half¬†with a sprinkling of goat cheese and broiled for a few minutes until the cheese started to brown.

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What I loved about these was that even though it was a lot of separate things to cook, they could pretty much all be done simultaneously since the squash takes some time to bake and the quinoa and kale don’t need tending to once they’re cooking.

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All of the flavors in this dish really complimented each other and left me “mmm’ing” after each bite. The savory flavor from the kale mixed with the sweetness from the squash was on point!

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These also reheated really well and sine the squash was cooked enough that it was soft it was easy to peel away from the skin. You could eat the skin if you wanted lots of extra fiber, but I opted to take the skin off ūüėČ

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Like stuffed peppers, I call this a one stop dinner dish since you’ve got veggies, protein and healthy fats all in one place! This is a great fall recipe- let me know if you try it ūüôā

Questions for you: What’s your favorite fall recipe? Are you a pumpkin lover? What’s your favorite kind of squash? Do you prefer kale or spinach?

 

 

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Chicken & Veggie Zoodles- Scampi Style

Good morning! It’s hard to believe that we are entering our last full week of August. On the one hand, this summer has gone by in a blur, but on the other, I feel like it’s been one of the most relaxing summers I’ve had in a long time. We only had 1 wedding, we didn’t have any big trips planned and we were able to get to the Cape for a few nice weekends. Even though I always want a nice, sunny weekend, this past one- rainy/gloomy/humid weather and all- was actually welcomed.

It was nice to be able to do stuff inside my apartment rather than go to the beach! Plus, my parents came down on Saturday for the night to help my sister and me with some packing and to celebrate my dad’s birthday. We ordered lunch when they got here on Saturday and then headed to Piers Park to hang out and relax before going food shopping in order to make dinner on Saturday night. We ended up grilling burgers- some were beef/veal/pork and the others were plan ol’ beef burgers. So good! On Sunday , mom and I went to church and then we all helped pack up some stuff that they were gracious enough to take home for us. All in all, it was a great weekend and so nice to just be home. I can’t remember the last time I woke up in my apartment on a Sunday and then had most of the day to do whatever the heck I wanted to do (which, consisted of watching part of a movie, doing a quickie workout, cooking, reading and blogging).

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Anyway! The point of this post was to share an easy “zoodle” recipe with you. It seems like spiralizers are all the rage these days, and I can’t lie- I love using mine! I’ve used it for carrots, zucchini and summer squash, but zucchini is my favorite. This recipe came together pretty quickly and I enjoyed it all week. Loaded with wine and garlic and veggies, you can’t really go wrong ūüėČ

chicken & veggie zoodle scampi bowl

Ingredients- rough estimate- I didn’t measure ūüôā

  • 2 large zucchinis, spiralized
  • 1 ear of corn, steamed and kernels cut off the cob
  • handful of small Brussels sprouts- cut in half
  • 4 chicken breast tenders
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts (or nut of choice)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • S&P to taste

Directions

  1. Steam the corn & cut the kernels off. Meanwhile, cut the Brussels sprouts and steam for 2-3 minutes to speed up the cooking time.
  2. Spiralize your zucchini and set aside. Head a skillet at medium heat and let the oil, garlic, wine and lemon juice simmer.
  3. Once it’s simmerd a bit, add in the steamed Brussels sprouts and let them cook for a bit. Once they are mostly soft, add in the pine nuts and corn and raw zucchini. While that is cooking, heat up another skillet and cook the chicken.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, chop it up and add it to the veggies.

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I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I was creating when I started this dish- I just knew I had a bunch of things in my fridge that I needed to use up so I went with it and I have to say- I’m pretty happy with the end result!

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I loved the flavor combination as well as the bright green and yellow colors- and the slight crunch from the pine nuts was great for a texture queen like myself.

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I ended up even eating it cold throughout the week and it tasted just as good as when it was nice and hot.

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I tend to eat more veggies in the summer (because everything is fresh and they are light and easy), and this meal totally hit the spot in that department. Nothing like quick, easy & healthy meals to throw together and eat throughout the week!

Questions for you: How was your weekend? Has your summer been busy with weddings and travel? What’s your favorite dinner to make in the summer? Do you have a spiralizer?

 

 

 

Eats as of Late {Part II}

It’s been a hot minute since I shared my eats with you, huh? In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

I feel like RM and I have been eating out a bit more than we really want to be eating out, but now that the weather is warming up a bit (well, sometimes!), it’s just so much more fun to go out and get drinks, which usually leads to us grabbing dinner out. We leave for Italy in about 3 weeks, so I’m hoping to cut back on eating out until then. For now, here’s what we’ve been eating- enjoy!

Coconut Crusted Healthified Chicken Tenders {gluten free & dairy free}– RM came up with this recipe and he’s used it on chicken and fish and it’s quickly become a staple for us!

Coconut crusted chicken tenders

Italian Meatloaf– I came across this meatloaf from PaleOMG and I’ve probably made it 5 times at this point. Every part of it is so delicious and it’s been a great lunch meal.

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In January, RM was doing the Whole30, so we were more limited with our meal options. Insert lettuce tacos! So good and so healthy.

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Curry dishes have also frequented our meal rotations. We love this dish because it’s easy and healthy and just so darn tasty! We’ve made the dish with chicken and with shrimp and have decided we like shrimp the best.

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These Smashed Sweet Potato Guacamole Bites from Running to the Kitchen were a HUGE hit at the Super Bowl party I went to.

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Weekending: Relaxing, Spontaneous Girls Night, Sunday Dinner

I wasn’t sure what my weekend was going to entail going into it, which is very unlike me! For once, I went entirely with the flow and sans plans. It was quite nice, might I add!

Friday was weird since I went into the office. Luckily, we can wear jeans on Friday’s now. Since I was dressed and had my hair done, I had wanted to get drinks after work, but no one was around and by the time I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was go back out in the cold so I just stayed in.

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Saturday morning I took a class at Recycle studio with my friend Lindsay which was the best way to start my day!

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We grabbed coffee (tea for me) at Starbucks after class and it was really interesting to hear how she got into teaching at Recycle. It makes me want to do it, but it was a huge time investment and I don’t know if my schedule allows for that right now. By the time I got home, I was starvinggggg, so I quickly whipped up this delicious quesadilla.

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Ground turkey, mushrooms, kale and cheese. It.was.perfect.

I was able to spend the rest of the afternoon catching up on a LOT of blogging. I don’t often have a solid chunk of time to do that, but I wish I did because I was so productive.

I met my sister and Amy at Stoddard’s in Downtown Crossing for a drink before our dinner reservations at 49 Social. It worked out perfectly because they are literally across the street from each other. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably remember that the “Shapleigh” girls like to get together for girls nights. Rachel was out of town, so it was just the 3 of us this time.

49 Social was really, really good! I didn’t take any pictures of the food, but we got hummus, a Duck Confit Quesadilla, a burger and some asparagus and everything was absolutely delicious. We always like to get things from the bar menu or appetizer section since we all like to share, so it was perfect. Danielle and I shared a bottle of this sauvignon blanc which was quite tasty.

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For once, I didn’t want to go home after dinner. We were having so much fun that we decided to keep it going and have “one more” at Gem as it was nearby. Well, “one more” ended up being “three more” without even really realizing it! I absolutely love nights that turn out like this. We were all just living in the moment and enjoying being out together, so we kept it going.

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We met the young man in the photo above when Danielle was showing off her stellar dance moves. He was visiting from Australia and I’m not sure he really knew how to handle us. It was hilarious.

Anyway! Sunday was productive, but also flew by. I went grocery shopping and then next thing I knew, it was time to head into the city for a class at Exhale Spa. When I got home, I got cookin’ in the kitchen. I made garlic and cheese mashed cauliflower, roasted veggies and marinated chicken. It was simple, but healthy and really good. The flavors were spot on.

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Fantastic way to end my weekend!

Questions for you: When’s the last time you were spontaneous? What was your best meal over the weekend? What was the best part of your weekend?

Artichoke & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken & a Summer Quinoa Salad

The title of this post caught your attention, didn’t it? Last week, as I was thinking about what to make for my first *real* meal in my new apartment, I¬†decided I wanted to make something different from the “normal” Monique meals. I always text my friend JP photo’s of my meals and he said a few weeks ago: “your meals always look the same! Delicious, but the same!”, so I decided it was time to change that! In addition to my meal looking different, I also wanted there to be no trace of zucchini or summer squash. No offense to either vegetable, but after 3 meals in a row with those veggies being the main focus (Summer Squash and Zucchini¬†Lasagna, Zucchini¬†Boats, and Zucchini & Summer Squash¬†Parmesan), I wanted nothing to do with them!

While walking and talking to my mom, I decided to make one of my favorite “go to” chicken recipes: Artichoke and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken. A number of Christmas’ ago, my mom got me the Cooking Light Chicken cookbook and this was one of the first recipes I made from it. I’m not big on repeating recipes (why would you when there are SO MANY recipes to try?!), but I have repeated this recipe a handful of times because it’s THAT good. And, it’s really quite easy, which is always a nice thing.

Once I decided on the main dish, I looked through all of my Hannaford¬†“Fresh” magazines (which always has delicious looking recipes- I’ve tried a number of them and have loved them all!), in search of a fun side dish. In the January/February 2013 edition, they had a recipe for a Toasted Quinoa-Pistachio Tabbouleh and I knew that was what I wanted to make. I ended up changing the recipe quite a bit, but I followed the dressing recipe to a T, so that counts for something, right? Anyway, these two recipes paired for a delicious Sunday dinner! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did ūüôā

Artichoke & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

-recipe is from Cooking Light

Ingredients – Just an FYI, since I was only cooking for myself, I halved the recipe below. This is how it is listed in the cookbook.

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp grated lemon ride (I don’t have a grader so I just squeezed the juice of a 1/2 of a lemon instead)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (6 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 1 (3 oz) package herbed goat cheese, softened
  • 4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375*.

2. Combine the first 6 ingredients, sir well.

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3. Flatten the chicken breasts so they are nice & thin-¬†it’s easier to roll them this way. Place about 2tbsp of the cheese mixture and roll the chicken (jelly roll style). Secure with toothpicks.

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4. Heat a large skillet, coat with a little EVOO and brown the chicken rolls. Move the chicken rolls to a baking pan/dish and bake at 375* for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.

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Summer Quinoa Salad

-Recipe¬†from Hannaford’s¬†Toasted Quinoa-Pistachio Tabbouleh. My changes are noted in red.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth– I forgot to buy this so I just used 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1¬†cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (packed)– didn’t buy this so I skipped it, but added lots of basil!
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint– thought this was weird so I skipped it
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced– didn’t add this
  • 1/3 golden raisins– didn’t add this

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Directions

1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast, shaking the pan occasionally. Should brown in 3-5 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (covered) until quinoa is tender- about 15 minutes. Once it’s cooked, remove from the heat and let cool.¬†I skipped this-¬†I just cooked the quinoa with water according to the package- how boring ūüėČ

2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.

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3. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber accordingly. If you’re following the recipe, also cut the scallions, parsley,¬†and mint.¬†Add to the dressing.

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4. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add pistachios and toast until fragrant and slightly browned (about 3 minutes). I did this, and burned them. Well, most of them. Whomp. (Don’t worry- I still used them)

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5. Once the quinoa has cooled, add it to the cucumbers, tomatoes and dressing. Mix well. Top with toasted pistachios. (if you’re following the recipe exactly, you’d be adding the quinoa to the veggies, herbs, and raisins.

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Ta-da! I steamed up some broccoli on the side, even though it wasn’t necessary. This was such a fun and delicious meal that was totally different from the normal meals I make. It’s a great dinner party meal, too!

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I happily ate leftovers of this meal for a good part of the week. Once the chicken was gone, I added the quinoa salad to a bed of lettuce, added some sliced turkey deli meat and goat cheese… ohhh my goodness! This was the best “salad” I’ve had in a long time.

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Questions for you: What’s a recipe that you tend to repeat? What’s your favorite salad right now?