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?

 

 

Warm Kale Salad {with candied pecans, grilled pears, craisins & goat cheese}

I know, I know- this salad does sound amazing, doesn’t it?! The first time I made it was last year for Mother’s Day, per my mom’s request. She had gotten one at Mill 67 when they first opened and instantly fell in love with it, so my goal was to try and re-create it. The result? A pretty decent first shot at replicating her beloved salad. I just recently decided to make it for book club and I think I may have nailed the recipe, which is why I’m sharing it with you today!

kale salad 2

The thing i love about this salad is it’s relatively easy to make since you don’t have to chop up a million veggies. Is it just me or are salads super annoying to make because of that?! I actually hate making salads for myself, but since this was such a different salad than the norm, it made the process fun! Imagine that ūüėČ I wouldn’t say it’s the healthiest salad based on the fact I added candied pecans and craisins, both of which are pretty sugary, BUT in small doses and for special occasions (such as a brunch!), it’s totally worth it. Some day maybe I’ll make my own candied nuts… I digress.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of organic kale, rinsed and de-stemmed
  • 1/2 of a pear, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup candied pecans
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2-4 tbsp EVOO (but, let’s be honest, I never measure this because too much EVOO is not generally a bad thing!)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

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Crustless Veggie & Goat Cheese Quiche

Would you look at that- I’ve posted for FOUR days in a ROW this week! I know, I’m just as surprised as you. I’m so happy that I had time to post this recipe for you, though, because boy oh boy is it tasty! Not only that, but it was super easy to put together: chop & sautee some veggies, whisk some eggs, bake and voila! You don’t¬†even have to deal with making or rolling out a crust, which not only saves you time, but saves you¬†some calories, too! What you end up with is a healthy, nutritious and yummy dish to eat for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.

Crustless Veggie & Goat Cheese Quiche

That’s the beauty of quiches, right? They’re so versatile since you can literally eat them for any meal of the day. And, if you add veggies you’re getting an even better bang for your buck. I don’t like to add TOO many veggies, though, because they get in the way of the egg consistency that I love about quiches. This one ended up coming out super fluffy, which I think may be due to how much I whisked the eggs and milk- my arm was burning by the time I finally stopped!

Crustless Veggie & Goat Cheese Quiche

Ingredients

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Tomato, Cucumber, Corn & Spinach Quinoa “Salad”

Well that’s a mouthful, huh? In an attempt to amp up my boring lunches, a few weeks ago I whipped up a batch of this quinoa dish. I based it off of this Caprese Orzo Salad recipe, but changed quite a few things. What I loved about this dish was that it was filling, super flavorful and chock full of good stuff!

quinoa salad

Ingredients

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  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • Corn from 1 ear of corn
  • 1 big handful of spinach
  • Goat Cheese (I just used maybe a tablespoon?)
  • ¬Ĺ cup EVOO
  • ¬ľ cup White wine vinegar (or red wine)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Few big shakes of crushed red pepper
  • Juice from ¬Ĺ a lemon

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to the back of the package. While that’s cooking, chop up your veggies.

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2. Sautee or wilt the spinach as the quinoa is cooling.

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3. Combine the EVOO, vinegar, S&P, crushed red pepper and lemon juice in a separate bowl.

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4. Once the quinoa has cooled, add the spinach, corn, cucumber, tomato and cheese¬†and mix together. Add in the ‚Äėdressing‚Äô and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

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This dish lasted me throughout the week and I loved eating it alone, on top of my salad and even with some chicken mixed in.

Questions for you: What’s your favorite non-traditional salad? How do you “spice up” your salads?

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?