Spinach, Artichoke, and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

This was one of those meals that sort of crept up on me, when I was considering what I had around the kitchen that needed to be used up (how many times have I said THAT before??). To be totally honest, I was kind of scared it would be terrible! But, the dinner gods smiled down upon me, and it was actually damn good. I can absolutely see myself making this again… maybe even as a side dish for a holiday. I am a huge, huge fan of spinach artichoke dip, and this definitely satisified that craving, while actually being pretty light! Magic, I tell you.

Spinach, Artichoke, and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake
serves 6 generously

2 medium spaghetti squash
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
6 ounces 2% plain greek yogurt
10 ounce package frozen spinach
1 can artichoke hearts, drained well and chopped
1 pound chicken, cooked and diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
4 ounces monterey jack, grated
kosher salt
black pepper

Spinach, Artichoke, and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°, and then start by dealing with your spaghetti squash. Cut off the stem, and then cut the squash in half lengthwise if you can; if you can’t without feeling like you’re going to lose a finger (or several), go ahead and bake that sucker whole. If you manage to get them cut in half, scrape out the seeds, place the halves cut-side down on a baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until fork tender. (If you’re baking them whole, you’re probably going to need 60-90 minutes, depending on how large they are. When they’re softened and they’ve slumped a bit, pull them out, let them cool until you can handle them, and then cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.)

2.) While your squash bakes, you can make your spinach and artichoke mixture. Defrost the spinach in the microwave; allow it to cool, and then squeeze ALLLLL the water out (you should end up with a clump of spinach that’s pretty dry to the touch, and slightly smaller than a baseball).

3.) Add the spinach, chopped artichokes, chopped chicken, whipped cream cheese, greek yogurt, grated garlic, and about 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper to a bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula until everything is combined.

4.) When your squash is done roasting, leave your oven at 350°. Let the squash cool for a few minutes; then, take a fork and scrape out all the “spaghetti.” Put all the squash into another bowl, and season with a couple healthy pinches of salt and pepper. Toss the strands with tongs so that it all ends up evenly seasoned.

Spinach, Artichoke, and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

5.) At this point, I chose to layer my squash and spinach artichoke mixture; I was concerned that trying to mix it all together would result in the squash getting all broken up and mushy. Feel free to give that a shot if you’d like, and let me know how it goes! Anyways, spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half the squash out on the bottom of the dish; top that with half the spinach artichoke mixture, then the second half of the squash, then the rest of the spinach artichoke mixture. Top the entire thing with the grated monterey jack, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned (you can always pass it under the broiler at the end if your cheese needs some help browning).

Spinach, Artichoke, and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

6.) Let the dish stand for a few minutes so it sets a bit, then dig in and enjoy!

Spinach, Artichoke, and Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

Now, listen… I am not one of those people that’s going to try and insist that spaghetti squash is JUST LIKE spaghetti! You’ll hardly know the difference! That is crap, and we all know it. However, spaghetti squash IS super neutral in flavor… so it’s a great vehicle for other, most interesting flavors. This dish is nice and creamy and cheesy – but it’s also STUFFED FULL of vegetables (and lots of protein, between the chicken and greek yogurt). So you can enjoy the hell out of it, and still feel smug and self-righteous because you just consumed, like, THREE servings of vegetables. BOOM.

Why are spaghetti squash SO DAMN HARD to cut???
Tina

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Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

Of all the traditional Thanksgiving foods, I’ve gotta say that stuffing or dressing is my least favorite. It’s usually a little soggy, the flavors aren’t super exciting, and there’s not a lot of texture to it. When I decided I wanted to try to make a dressing that I DID like, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me; I wanted LOTS of flavor, and I wanted the texture to be just a little custard-y on the inside.

I’ll be honest, I’m the one who came up with it, and this flavor combination seemed a little odd even to ME, at first! But, I’m glad I trusted my instincts and went for it, because the combination of the spicy sausage and the sweet blueberries was really interesting, and delicious. I hope you enjoy it, too!

 Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries
serves 4-6 as a side (can easily be doubled)

8oz high quality bread, stale, cut into 1″ cubes*
8oz hot Italian sausage
one medium sweet onion, diced
3oz dried blueberries
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3oz shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
2oz feta cheese
3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 cup + 2 Tbps chicken stock, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

 Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

*your bread cubes should be pretty dry and crusty. If they’re not, spread them out onto a baking sheet and pop them into a 250° oven for about 20-30 minutes to dry them out. Let the bread cool before continuing.

 Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. Heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add your Italian sausage. Brown the sausage, crumbling it as you go. Add the onion, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.

2.) Add the dried blueberries to the skillet, along with a good pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir everything together, and then add two tablespoons of chicken stock and one tablespoon apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan; use a wooden spoon to scrape all the browned bits up from the bottom of the skillet. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone (the blueberries should reconstitute and plump up just a bit).

 Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

3.) Whisk together the heavy cream, one cup of chicken stock, the egg, and a good pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.

4.) Put the bread cubes into a large bowl, and top with the sausage mixture. Pour in half the chicken stock mixture, and stir to combine everything so that the bread is evenly moistened.

 Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

5.) Add the pistachios, parsley, and feta; pour in the rest of the chicken stock mixture, and stir again. Pour everything into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick or olive oil spray, and spread it into an even layer.

6.) Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the foil, bump the oven temp to 375°, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the top of the dressing is a deep golden brown.

 Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

7.) Allow the dressing to set for about ten minutes, and serve.

I tell you what, this dressing is big on flavor AND texture. Crispy, crunchy bread, chewy, spicy sausage, the little pops of sweetness from the blueberries… and let’s not forget the roasty, salty, crunch from the pistachios. I think you could add it to your Thanksgiving table, right alongside the traditional stuffing, if you wanted to; it’s such a different flavor profile, and it would be a nice addition to the more classic Thanksgiving dishes.

 Sausage Dressing with Pistachios and Blueberries

Alright, I’ve got (at least) one more recipe coming your way, hopefully tomorrow… a delicious and easy non-traditional dessert!

The best part about this dressing is that it never saw the inside of a bird,
Tina

Roasted Squash with Tahini Maple Sauce and Pomegranate

This was one of those recipes that came to me piece by piece, over the course of a week or two. I was gonna tell you the (boring) (long) story of how all the elements of this recipe appeared in my head, but… who cares?? The important part is that it’s really, really, REALLY damn delicious, and you should try it. And you might wanna double the recipe, just to be safe.

Roasted Squash with Tahini Maple Sauce and Pomegranate

Roasted Squash with Tahini Maple Sauce and Pomegranate
serves 4-6 as a side

1 medium acorn squash
1 medium delicata squash
olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard
kosher salt
1/3 cup tahini
generous 1 Tbsp maple syrup
juice of half a lemon
hot water, to thin
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Roasted Squash with Tahini Maple Sauce and Pomegranate

1.) Preheat your oven to 400°. Cut your squash in half lengthwise, and clean all the seeds and guts out with a spoon. Slice each half into 1/2″ half moons (if necessary, cut the acorn squash half moons into quarter moons, so they are approximately the same size as the delicata squash pieces).

2.) Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil, and toss the squash with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic powder, ground mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. When all the squash is evenly coated, roast it for about 30-40 minutes, flipping once, until the squash is nicely browned and tender.

Roasted Squash with Tahini Maple Sauce and Pomegranate

3.) While the squash roasts, make your tahini maple sauce. Whisk together the tahini, maple syrup, lemon juice, and a pinch of kosher salt. More than likely, you’ll find the sauce is REALLY thick; add hot water, a tablespoon at a time, until it’s a nice, pourable consistency. (Depending on how thick your tahini is, you might have to add a tablespoon of water just before serving to loosen it back up; mine thickened back up kinda quickly.)

4.) When the squash is done, pile it into a serving dish. Drizzle the sauce over the top, and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top. Serve immediately.

Roasted Squash with Tahini Maple Sauce and Pomegranate

I was genuinely shocked at how delicious this turned out. I mean, I was pretty sure it would be tasty, but I seriously couldn’t keep my fork out of the dish. I just kept going back for more… and more… and more. The sweet squash is offset by the incredibly savory tahini sauce, and the sweet, tart, crunch of the pomegranate seeds is the perfect finishing touch. As a bonus, this dish is so PRETTY! It just looks like fall, and also feels fancy enough to be placed next to your gorgeous turkey.

Who’d have thought squash could be so exciting?
Tina

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

I’m not sure if I’ve ever managed to post a Thanksgiving recipe here BEFORE Thanksgiving. And with Thanksgiving 2016 being, oh, TEN short days away, that doesn’t give me much time… but this year, I’m gonna make it happen. I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut for quite a while, and I decided the other day that a great way to get myself OUT of that rut would be to come up with some new and interesting Thanksgiving dishes. And so, here we are! I’ve got several dishes on tap for this week, and I’m gonna do my best to get them all up here in the next seven days – because, seriously, there is nothing more annoying than having ALL your grocery shopping done, and then stumbling across a recipe you really want to add to your menu the morning of Thanksgiving, and then being forced to go fight the masses at the grocery store, where you lose your will to live and begin to hate the whole of humanity. It’s possible I’m projecting my own personal issues, here.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

Up first is a sweet potato version of the traditional Pommes Anna, which is a delightful potato tart of sorts, made up of layers and layers of very thinly sliced potatoes. It’s a beautiful dish, and such a fun change of pace from the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato dishes (marshmallow-topped yams, I’m looking at you).

Two disclaimers before we jump in:

1.) While a mandoline is not absolutely essential to make this dish, your life is going to be 1,000 times easier if you use one. It’s a great tool to have on hand anyway, so do yourself a favor and Amazon Prime one to your house immediately.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

2.) This dish is not at all hard, but it does involve quite a few steps and ingredients. The upside is that 2/3 of it can be made ahead of time. Believe me when I say, the work is worth it.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta
serves 6-8 as a side

For the tart:
3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
olive oil
kosher salt
2oz parmesan cheese, finely grated

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

For the fire-roasted green chile sauce:
small can of diced fire-roasted green chiles
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic
1 green onion
3 Tbsp plain greek yogurt or sour cream (NOT fat free)
1 tsp dijon mustard
red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 tsp kosher salt
black pepper

For the whipped ricotta:
4oz cream cheese, at room temp
16oz full fat ricotta
kosher salt
black pepper
zest of half a lemon

1.) Preheat your oven to 425°. Grab an 8″ non-stick pan, and add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of it, ensuring it’s evenly coated.

2.) Grab your mandoline and slice the sweet potatoes on the thinnest setting. Once they’re all sliced, start layering them into the (cold) non-stick pan, overlapping them slightly in concentric circles. This bottom layer will eventually be the top of your tart, so make sure it looks nice!

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3.) Brush the first layer of potatoes with a thin coat of olive oil, and season with kosher salt. Move on to the next layer of potatoes; be sure you brush each layer with olive oil and season it with salt. As for the parmesan cheese, sprinkle an even layer in between every OTHER layer of potatoes.

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4.) When you’ve used all the potatoes, place the pan over medium heat. Once the tart starts to sizzle and the bottom layer of potatoes begins to brown (about 4-5 minutes), move the pan to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

5.) After 20 minutes, pull the pan out of the oven. Place a plate over the tart, and very carefully press the plate against the tart and tip the pan up over the sink to allow the hot oil to drain out (I prefer to do this with oven mitts on, in case any hot oil leaks out).

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

6.) When the oil has drained, flip the tart out onto the plate. Add a bit more oil to the bottom of the pan, and slide the tart back into it (the side that was previously on the bottom of the pan should now be face up). Return the tart to the oven for 10 more minutes.

7.) While the tart is in the oven, you can make the fire-roasted green chile sauce. Simply throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.

8.) For the whipped ricotta, start by putting the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the cream cheese until it’s nice and smooth, 2-3 minutes.

9.) Add the ricotta, and continue to whip the cheeses until they’re no longer grainy, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. When the cheese is just about done, add in the lemon zest, salt, and pepper, and whip just a bit longer.

10.) Once the tart is out of the oven, let it set for about 5 minutes before cutting into it. Slice it into wedges, and top each wedge with a drizzle of the green chile sauce, and a dollop of the whipped ricotta! You can garnish the tart with some additional green onions cut on an angle, if you want.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

While this recipe might not be the most ideal for a huge group of people, it’s perfect for a smaller crowd! It’s beautiful, and delicious, and relatively impressive looking, if you ask me. I also happen to love that it’s sort of visually reminiscent of a slice of pie topped with whipped cream!

One final note: if you’re looking at the crust on the tart in these photos and thinking it looks a little burnt, I want to assure you that it’s not! Sweet potatoes have a really high sugar content, so they’re going to caramelize and brown more than white potatoes. DO NOT be afraid to let your food (sweet, savory, or otherwise) get nice and deep, golden brown. That’s where the deliciousness happens!

Meet you back here in a couple days,
Tina