Cooking for my family brings me so much joy

October 16, 2013

Food - food represents much more than just sustenance.
It represents so much - but cooking food with love- that speaks much more.

When I can - I enjoy cooking and hosting meals in my home for family and close friends.
It brings me much joy to cook a warm meal for those I love.

This past weekend I was able to do just that.

We had my parents over for a Sunday dinner...and I wanted to make it a little special for my parents as they do so much for us on a daily basis.

I made sure to have a good bottle of red wine on the table.
My daddy loves his red wine.
And Sangria was made for my mom and I - a recipe that was given to me from my aunt in Guatemala.

The menu consisted of a family favorite. Seafood marinara (with shrimp, scallops, lobster, swordfish, clams).  But I also wanted to push myself and try two new recipes.

I like to challenge myself in the kitchen.
If you don't try new things - you never can grow as a cook!

First thing I made new was an appetizer - Roasted Artichokes with Lemon

The prep work for this dish is so simple.

You wash and clean the artichoke - discarding any leaves that look browned or tough - I took off about two layers of leaves on the ones shown above.
Cut the stems down so that artichokes can stand upright in a roasting pan.
Then you take a mixture of olive oil, garlic paste, and white wine, and liberally spread all over the artichokes and inside each layer you can get your little fingers into.  Then I took half of a lemon and squeezed it over the artichokes...and the other half I sliced up and put inside the roasting dish with the artichoke.

I placed them in the oven at 425 for 40-45 min until they are roasted on the outside - but tender on the inside.

The intense taste of lemon and garlic made these so fantastically delicious.

The second new dish I tried was Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa has become a little bit of a staple in my home in the past year.
Its full of nutritious benefits (including being high in fiber) and I find it to be so flavorful - almost nutty in flavor.

To make this the recipe is a little more detailed:

ingredients needed:
  • 3 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, strings and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth


Step 1.

Heat the oven to 400ºF. Sprinkle the cut sides of the squash with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ⅛ teaspoon of the pepper. Place the squash (cut sides down) on a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven and pour ¼ inch of hot tap water into the pan. Roast the squash until it is almost tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove it to a work surface and carefully discard the hot water from the pan.

Step 2.

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer under running water until the water runs clear, 1 minute.

Step 3.

 Add the oil to the pan and when it is hot, add the onion and bell pepper and cook until tender, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rinsed quinoa, chipotle peppers, paprika, cilantro, toasted pine nuts, and remaining ¾ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper. Cook for 1 minute; then stir in the broth and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer the quinoa until it is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 4.

Set the squash (cut sides up) on the baking sheet and fill the hollows with the quinoa mixture. Place the stuffed squash in the oven and roast at 400ºF until it is tender and the tops are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Tip: You can cook the squash and quinoa ahead of time and refrigerate them for up to two days. Then just stuff the squash and roast it as directed, adding five minutes to the final cooking time. 

It is such a great fall dish. I imagine this alone could be a great vegetarian meal if you used veggie broth.  

My family loved this one - its a keeper!

And so speaking of cooking for your family - I like this quote so I had to share it:

Happy Cooking!

Love, Stylish Mama

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