Acorn Squash with Kale and Chickpeas

Recently I’ve been experimenting with cooking stuffed foods, and this week’s is stuffed acorn squash. One of my favorite winter vegetables is squash, regardless of the variety. Some types, like acorn and butternut, are sweet enough that they could almost be dessert. This recipe has many different flavors and textures that combine for a perfect vegetarian entree.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

1 medium acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
> cooking spray
> 2 teaspoons olive oil
> 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
> 1 medium onion, finely chopped
> 4 cups tightly packed kale, torn
> 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
> 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
> salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Heat oven to 375°. Sprinkle acorn squash with salt; coat with cooking spray. Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden and tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes, then add kale. Cook for 5 minutes, or until kale is sautéed. Add chickpeas and cook for 1 minute.

Divide kale-chickpea mixture among squash. Sprinkle squash with feta cheese. Broil about 3 minutes.

Makes 2 servings plus extra kale-chickpea mixture.

Adapted from Self.

Kale-Chickpea Mixture

Stuffed Eggplant with Lentils

Winter vegetables are some of favorite, including eggplant. This recipe with the predominant flavors of eggplant and lentils is a satisfying and nourishing meal for a cold winter evening.

Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients:

> 1 eggplant, halved lengthwise
> cooking spray
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 1 medium onion, finely chopped
> 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
> 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
> 2 cups cooked lentils
> 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Heat oven to 450°. Remove pulp from eggplant, and cut pulp into 1/4-inch cubes. Coat eggplant shells with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place eggplant shells open side down.

Coat eggplant cubes with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt. Place in one layer on the same baking sheet. Bake eggplant shells and cubes until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove eggplant, and reduce oven to  350°.

In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook onion and carrot until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, lentils, eggplant cubes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Flip shells on baking sheet and stuff with lentil-eggplant mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until warm, about 10 minutes.

Optional: Top with goat cheese or other desired cheese.

Makes 2 servings plus extra lentil-eggplant mixture.

Adapted from Self.

Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Goat Cheese Caprese

The holidays are a great time to try new recipes for appetizers since it’s the season of entertaining. Meatballs and bacon-wrapped bites are common must-haves at parties, but what about the appetizers that cater to vegetarians? These stuffed cucumber cups are refreshing, healthy and full of flavor.

Stuffed Cucumber Cups

Ingredients:

1/2 cup balsamic  reduction
> 4 whole persian cucumbers
> 1 large beefsteak tomato, chopped
> 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
> 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
> salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Cut the cucumbers into 1/2-inch slices. Use a small melon baller or grapefruit spoon to scoop out the middle of each slide, leaving the walls and bottom intact. Set the cucumber cups on a tray.

In a bowl, add the goat cheese, chopped tomato and basil, and stir until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill cups with the goat cheese mixture and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve.

Makes 6 appetizer servings.

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen.

Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps

With a plethora of Christmas desserts in recipe books and on the Internet, sometimes it’s hard to choose which most people will enjoy. Since classic sugar cookies are well, classic, I decided to bake up some chocolate snowcap cookies with a hint of espresso. They not only have a wintery look to them, but a festive taste as well.

Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps

The recipe was taken from Martha Stewart.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 4 teaspoons instant espresso
~ 1 teaspoon baking powder
~ 1/8 teaspoon salt
~ 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
~ 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
~ 1 large egg
~ 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
~ 1 tablespoon milk
~ confectioners’ sugar, for coating

1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined. Mix in cooled chocolate.

2. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.

4. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, about 12 minutes. Cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack and enjoy!