Well Dined

9Dec/130

Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Is there anything better than a big pot of comforting beef stew in the Winter?  Maybe if you add a lot of veggies, Middle Eastern spices, and some apricots for sweetness.  Yum, yum, yum.  At least I thought so - my husband wasn't really sold on the whole sweet things in a stew concept, and he doesn't like all those vegetables getting in the way of his meat.  But whatever, I thought it was awesome.  If you are not limiting carbs, you could serve this over some couscous and let it soak up all the juices.

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Start by cooking some red onion and browning some beef chuck that has been seasoned with cumin, ginger, and cinnamon.  I feel like red onions only work well in specific places, and this is one of them.  Cooking them enough that they start to caramelize and release some sweetness is the way to go, here.  Remove the meat to a plate temporarily and deglaze the pot with some red wine to scrape up all those browned spices and good bits that are stuck to the bottom.

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Add in some sweet potato, apricots, and a can of whole tomatoes in their juices; then add enough water to cover and let simmer for a few hours.  Your house is going to smell AWESOME.  For reals.

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

After it is done simmering and the meat and potatoes are all soft and luscious - throw in some chickpeas and spinach.  Oh my gosh.  There is so much going on here!  The apricots absorb the liquid and plump up, and the sweetness from them and the sweet potatoes contrasts the warm spices.  I love all the different colors and textures, too.  Let's get cooking, peeps!

12Nov/130

Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

I'm not really sure how to do food styling for mac and cheese - as you can tell from this photo.  Oh - a chunk or orange stuff, yum.  Well don't let my bad photography fool you - this mac and cheese is the bomb.  It's the ultimate comfort food, and I should know.

Well Dined

Look at that sweet face.

You see, I lost my cat last month to illness.  Other pet owners out there might understand this - he and his (adopted) brother were my first pets as an adult.  That is a whole different situation from childhood pets, or even pets you get later as a family.  I literally think of my boys as my children, so this was extremely difficult for me.  It was also very sudden.  Animals, as you may know, hide their sickness so that they won't be perceived as weak.  Which means that by the time they start acting sick, it is often too late.  In our case, we took him in the same day he was acting weird and found out that night that there was nothing we could do.  He was gone the next day.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

The grief affected me like the flu - I had fever, chills, and nausea.  The only thing I could stand to eat was macaroni and cheese, and after a couple of days of my husband making me the boxed stuff, I finally started cooking again.  I made this butternut squash mac and cheese and lived off it for a week.  It was definitely very comforting.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

It's ooey gooey with both cheddar and Gruyere, with a bit of caramelized onion, pops of salty bacon, and sweet butternut squash - partially mashed so that there is sweetness throughout, but also some chunks here and there.  I even splurged and used regular, white pasta so that I could get my favorite shape - gemelli.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

The top is sprinkled with more cheese and buttery breadcrumbs.  Perfection.  This is possibly the most delicious food ever.  So whether you are sad or you just like macaroni and cheese, go dive face first into a bowl of this stuff.  You won't regret it.

25Oct/130

Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Super comforting spiced lamb on top of creamy mashed potatoes - how could that be healthy?  Well for starters, there are no potatoes - that is a cauliflower and white bean puree.  This looks like comfort food, and it totally is, but it is all veggies and protein with no carbs!

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Start by caramelizing some carrots to release that sweetness.  Then brown up some lamb.  I used lamb chops and discovered that there is very little meat on them - next time I am definitely using cubed meat.

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

When the lamb is browned, add in garlic, spices, chard, and chickpeas (more protein!).  I wondered why the original recipe didn't call for tomatoes - they make so much sense here.  So I went ahead and added them.  The original recipe also just used paprika, which I thought was a little boring.  I used paprika, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander.

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Another change from the original was that it called for polenta to serve with the lamb.  Polenta is cooked corn meal, and I am trying to avoid grains.  So I used a cauliflower puree instead and it was creamy and delicious - a good counterpoint for the tangy spiced lamb.

7Oct/130

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese

Well Dined | Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese

I don't know if you've noticed yet, but warm quinoa salads are kind of the go-to for my friend, Melissa, and I (like this one, and this one, and this one).  So when we didn't really have a lunch plan a couple of weeks ago, we decided to throw some her CSA veg into, you guessed it, a warm quinoa salad.  I would apologize for the repetition, but these salads are healthy and filling and delicious, so I'm not sorry!

Well Dined | Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese

This time around, Melissa was drowning in fall squash.  So we diced up a butternut and threw it in the oven with a sliced onion.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese

Meanwhile, we cooked up our pretty tri-color quinoa and tossed in some toasted pine nuts.  You could easily sub walnuts or pecans instead.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese

In went the roasted veg and some arugula, along with some fresh thyme.  Again, you could easily sub another type of green (I do love peppery arugula, though) and whatever herbs you have on hand.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese

Lastly, and certainly not least, we added in some goat cheese.  We both seriously love goat cheese.  We mixed half of the cheese into the salad to get it melty, and crumbled the rest on top so there would be nice pockets of it.

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese
original recipe, click here for Melissa's post
serves 4

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small onion, sliced in half-moons
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups baby arugula
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Toss the squash and onion in olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper.

Spread the veggies in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet covered in foil.  Roast for 25–30 minutes, turning the veggies over halfway through.  When the squash is tender, remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the water is absorbed and the curlicues pop out.  Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the pine nuts, roasted veggies, thyme, arugula, and half the goat cheese into the quinoa; crumble the rest of the cheese over top.  Serve warm.

8Feb/120

Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Vegetables

I was looking for a hearty winter side to go with our beloved turkey mini meatloaves and I came up with this combination of root vegetables, roasted and stuffed into baked sweet potatoes and topped with creamy goat cheese and sharp Parmesan.

3Jan/120

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash


When my friend Melissa and I get together it is usually to bake, or cook, or go out to eat - which is fitting for two food bloggers. We wanted to get together recently and cook up something satisfying and healthy. Melissa, who is a vegetarian, came up with a wonderful recipe for Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash - and you can read all about her take on her blog, Smells like Brownies.

This recipe is full of delicious veggies, packed with flavor and texture, and super healthy! Quinoa is not quite in the popular lingo yet, so for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, here is a brief rundown. Quinoa is a grain, similar in use to rice or couscous, but it is better than either of those because it is both a whole grain and a protein! It's basically a super food.

17Nov/110

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Chili


I saw this recipe on the Food Network while getting my nails done and immediately wanted to make it. We didn't have any plans for Halloween night, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. It turned out to be a pretty fortunate decision, because Jasper came up with the idea to invite some friends over to play a horror board game at the last minute (read 5PM Halloween night). I had already started making the chili and I knew it would be great for a crowd. Funny thing was, we hadn't seen each other in so long that we wound up talking all night and never getting to the board game!