Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet

This was the first meal I made in the new year. Absolutely delicious. I had never thought to mix butternut squash with black beans, let alone put it in an enchilada skillet. Genius. I modified the recipe a bit, so to see the original over at ambitious kitchen, click here. I added ground beef from our cow to make this a little heartier. If you want a vegetarian dish, you can omit it all together (like the original recipe) or substitute TVP or tofu.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet
adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

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  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced, peeled butternut squash (from about a 2-lb. squash)*
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 8 ounces of lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno or equivalent amount of hot peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat colby jack or mexican cheese (or whatever you prefer), divided
  • cilantro and low-fat sour cream, for serving
  • Round corn tortilla chips, for serving
*To prepare the butternut squash, I think it is easiest to roast it in the oven. I do this every fall with all of my squash and then freeze the cooked squash to use in the winter.  Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. If you want you can peel the squash now, but I prefer to wait until after it is cooked. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a metal spoon (roast them if you want). I always find that the base of the squash cooks faster because of that hole, so I like to cut just above the base. You should now have 4 pieces of squash  – 2 half circles and 2 rectangular pieces. Place squash face down on the pan. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the fleshy part of the squash (or when you touch the outside skin it feel soft). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. With a metal spoon, scoop out the base pieces and mash up in a bowl. Freeze this as a paste to use as a pasta sauce or in soup (or just as mashed squash). Peel the rectangular pieces of squash. The skin should come off pretty easily now. Chop the squash into 1/2″ size pieces. I freeze them in quart-size freezer bags.
  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in large oven-proof skillet. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and ground beef. Cook until beef is browned all the way through. Add in green pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add cubed squash, black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring regularly to prevent the squash from becoming mushy. 
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle in 1 cup of cheese. Cover with a lid and let sit for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted.
  3. Serve immediately. Top with sour cream and serve with corn tortilla chips.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

It is that time of year that we all love (or at least I do) – squash season! Squash is by far the easiest vegetable to cook. It can be daunting but believe me, it couldn’t be easier. Especially acorn squash.  I usually like to pair spiced items like apples, cinnamon, wild rice, and ground beef with acorn squash and savory things like Parmesan cheese, sage, and spinach with butternut squash, but that’s just me. This dish was just using what we had on hand that sounded like a good combination. J just started a new job and took this for lunch during his 2nd week. He got so many, “what is that?!?” comments. Most of them where shocked that you could use squash as a bowl. Oh men, where is your creativity?

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Stuffed Acorn Squash
(Each squash makes 2 servings. Increase the ingredients as needed for more servings)


  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 6 ounces ground beef (lean)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp silvered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (if you are feeling adventurous) to taste


  1. Prepare the acorn squash
    Oven Option: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the center contents. Place face-down on the foil-lined pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
    Microwave Option: With a sharp knife or fork, carefully poke all over the squash. You need to get deep enough that the holes go to the center/open portion of the squash. Place the poked squash in a microwave-safe glass dish. Place a tiny bit of water in the base of the dish and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 7-10 minutes. Let stand in the microwave for 3-5 minutes and then remove. Test doneness by trying to pierce the skin with a fork. Cut the squash in half.
  2. Prepare the filling while the squash cooks.
    Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add the onion and beef. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrot, almonds and saute for 5 more minutes. Mix in the cooked rice. Season to taste.
  3. Fill each half with the prepared filling. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate if you aren’t eating it right away.
  4. To reheat, keep the squash wrapped in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Slow Cooker Beef and Cabbage


The kitchen counter doesn’t look much different this morning than it did 4 days ago when we picked up the CSA box. My days have been so long that I haven’t had a chance to look at the produce, let alone do something about it. I have been leaving the house at 4:50am and getting home at 8pm – just enough time to shower, do some reading for the morning, and go to bed. They feed us at the hospital, so I haven’t been very motivated to cook this week either. But today will be different; this morning I have house chores, food prep, cooking, freezing, and canning to do. I thought the weekends were for rest and relaxation…

Anyway, here is a recipe I made a few weeks ago. The weather has turned and it is now crock pot season. As I’ve mentioned before, we bought 1/2 a grass-fed cow from a local farm last winter, so we have a lot of beef to eat. We’ve made a surprisingly huge dent in the stored and the basement just has 1 milk crate full of meat left. Thank goodness, because we just purchased another 1/2 (but this time we will share it with a few other people).

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Crock pot beef is a simple meal to throw together in the morning before work. You can really add any vegetables to the mix; This recipe has cabbage, onions, green peppers, and carrots. I plan to use some of the frozen vegetables from our CSA when I make this again during the fall/winter.

Slow Cooker Beef Roast


  • cooking spray
  • 3-4 pound beef roast
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large green peppers, diced
  • 1 pound carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • Water


  1. Spray a 6qt crock pot with cooking spray.
  2. Place roast in crock pot. Pour vinegar over the top. Season with pepper. Cover with vegetables. I like to put the cabbage in last.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Check after 6 hours – if there is no liquid, add water. There should be plenty of liquid from the vegetables cooking down.


CSA Week #14

The first sign of fall came today – winter squash! Is it really that time already? We have a few baby squash coming up in our backyard garden as well, so it will just be a matter of time until I can start to use all of the sage I dried this summer. If you have never tried winter squash with sage, you must! It is absolutely amazing. Our favorite recipes are Spinach and Butternut Squash Lasagna and Acorn Squash Crock Pot Bake. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself…it is only Sept 10th and there are still lots of summer vegetables to be eaten.

(the apples are not from the CSA and the pickles are some I canned last weekend)

(CSA Week 14 plus some pickles I canned last weekend)

Here is what’s in the box this week:

  • Acorn Squash
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Hot Peppers-mix
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Winter Squash

Here are some recipes I am thinking of making this week:

Need more eggplant ideas? I found this great post with the 10 best eggplant recipes (one of which is the thai basil recipe above)

Sausage and Kale Pizza

This recipe was something we quickly threw together on a Sunday afternoon for lunch. We had a ton of kale left from the CSA and there was a chance we’d be getting more on Tuesday. Originally I thought I’d make kale brownies again, but opted to make real food instead. For some reason, when I think of kale, I instantly think of sausage. While we didn’t have any sausage on hand, we had (and still have) plenty of ground beef. The end product was actually quite delicious and super filling – definitely a man’s pizza.

Kale and Sausage Pizza

Sausage and Kale Pizza


  • 1 premade whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 12 ounces ground beef
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Prepare pan with cooking spray.
  2. Brown meat with onion.
  3. Roll out the pizza dough and press into the prepared pan.
  4. Thinly spread the pizza sauce over the prepared dough. Add kale and beef. Top with cheese.
  5. Bake in the own for 10-14 minutes, or until the edges are golden.

Beef Stock

When we purchased our 1/2 cow they offered us bones for soup broth. We took them, of course (we’re cheap), but I never got the urge to make broth, so they have sat in the freezer for months. Last weekend I was going through the freezer to see how much meat we had left and I stumbled on a few packages of bones. I decided it was time to make broth. To my surprise, there was actually a lot of good meat still on the bones, so we ended up with 3 cups of shredded beef for J’s lunches as well.

Broth is one of the easiest things to make. Pour bones, vegetables, and water into a crock pot. Cook on low all day. Let cool overnight and skim off the fat. Done.

Crock-Pot Beef Broth
From Nom Nom Paleo


  • 3 packages (about 3 pounds) of beef bones
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (apple cider works well)
  • 3 garlic scapes (1/2-1 tbsp garlic powder would work too)
  • 2 cups misc. vegetables (carrots, celery, onions), diced
  • Water


  1. Place everything above, except the water, in the crockpot. Fill the crock-pot about 80% of the way with water. Place on low heat and hook for 8 hours (or longer).
  2. Remove the bones from the crockpot. If there is meat on the bones, take it off and shred it up for sandwiches.
  3. Push all the marrow out of the bones. This was absolutely disgusting, but necessary since the marrow has a lot of nutrients in it.
  4. With a whisk, mix up the mixture and dissolve the marrow.
  5. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a glass bowl. This will remove all the large pieces of vegetables or meat.
  6. Place the broth mixture in the refrigerator overnight. in the morning it will look like this:
    beef brothbeef broth (2)
  7. Skim off the fat and discard the fat.beef broth (3)
  8. Pour the remaining mixture into freezer bags and freeze until needed. We did quart bags since that is a common size we would need for a large batch of soup.




Pesto Burgers

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After we purchased half a cow I knew I had to start eating beef  a little more often. J has a big appetite, but I don’t think he can eat 170 pounds of beef by himself in a year (7 ounces a day, 3.25 pounds a week).  Last summer we had tons of basil left over, so I froze a few batches of pesto that I brought to school with me. I froze the pesto in 1/4 cup portions, which worked out perfect for this recipe.  I served the burger with beer bread and sautéed green beans and onions.

Pesto Burgers 


  • 20 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup frozen pesto, thawed


  1. Mix the pesto with the ground beef and form into 5-6 burgers.
  2. Grill burgers using an outdoor grill or George Foreman grill.


Pesto Meatballs


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean-up.
  2. Mix the pesto with the ground beef and form into 1″ meatballs.
  3. Place the meatballs about 2″ apart on the pan.
  4. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

Serve over pasta, on a sandwich, or as an appetizer. You can also freeze these for future use. I recommend you individually freeze the meatballs so you can take out as many as you need (vs. having to thaw the entire package). To do this, line a cookie sheet with cling wrap and place the meatballs on the pan. Freeze for 1 – 2 hours on the pan. Remove from the freezer and place into a freezer bag.

Cabbage Rolls

More cabbage for you all. This week we received Napa Cabbage. I had never cooked with napa cabbage before but after a quick search I found a number of recipes for cabbage rolls. Based on what I saw, I came up with these. I only used some of the large leaves for this recipe and used the rest for an asian cole slaw (recipe to come :))

Cabbage Rolls

– 9 large Napa cabbage leaves, washed and dried
(I found that storing them in the refrigerator for one day made them softer and easier to work with)
– 10 oz lean ground beef
– 1/2 cup onion, diced
– 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– 1 cup rice, prepared

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with non-cook spray.
2. Prepare the ground beef with the onion.
3. After the meat is close to being complete, add the oil and soy sauce. Finish cooking until the meat reaches 165F.
4. Add the rice and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Using a slotted spoon, scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into the top portion of the leaf. Bend the harder part of the cabbage leaf up to the mixture. Fold the sides of the leaf towards the middle and the top of the leaf down. Set into the baking dish and repeat with all 9 leaves.
6. Drizzle the top of the leaves with soy sauce and sesame oil. Cook for 30 minutes.

Looking for more things to do with cabbage? Here are some great sites!

Kitchin Seasonal Spotlight

Beyond Slaw – 8 Things to do with Napa Cabbage

Roasted Cabbage with Bacon

Thai Cabbage Salad

Easy Okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza)

Pickled Napa Cabbage

Bok Choy and Beef Pockets

Image from Steamy Kitchen (click image to visit site)

Bok Choy – have you ever cooked with it before? I haven’t but after getting a huge head of it in our CSA last week, I knew I was going to learn. After searching online I found a number of recipes for egg rolls using bok choy. We had some egg roll wrappers in the refrigerator from a different recipe I meant to make a few weeks ago (but never got around to…stupid board exam).

I decided to make more of a pocket than an egg roll, because it would allow for more filling to fit into each nutritionally meaningless wrapper. It also made them more filling. They were super easy and super delicious! I prepared the filling in advance, which made it easier to work with, because when it is hot it is very runny.

Bok Choy and Beef Pockets


  • 1 large head of bok choy 
  • 16-20 ounces of lean ground beef (we use grass-fed, which is so lean that we don’t need to drain any fat afterwards)
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers (16 count)


  1. photo (1)Prepare the bok choy by cutting and cleaning the leaves. You can use all the plant, including the stem. Chop into small pieces.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium and add the ground beef. Once the ground beef is 50% done, add the sesame oil, garlic, and bok choy. Stir and cook down until the leaves wilt and the beef is completely cooked. Add soy sauce and more sesame oil, if needed.
  3. Place the mixture in the refrigerator until you are going to assemble the pockets.



  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. 
  2. IMG_0252Place a wrapper on your prep surface. Using a slotted spoon, scoop 1 spoonful of mixture into the center of the wrapper.
  3. IMG_0253Fold up the bottom corner so the tip is in the middle of the pocket. Repeat on each side. Use a basting brush and water as needed to help the wrapper stick together.
  4. Place each pocket onto a prepared baking sheet with the folded sides up. You could coat them with egg using the basting brush if you’d like them to be more golden.
  5. BIMG_0254ake the pockets for 20-25 minutes. I turned mine after 15 minutes so both sides would be crispy and to prevent one side from burning. This did make them less pretty because the sauce from inside the pocket leaked a bit when the folded side was on the pan.

Grass Fed Beef with Roasted Tomatoes

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This winter J and I purchased 1/2 a cow from a local farmer. I am not much of a beef eater (I could eat chicken every day…or no meat at all) but I wanted to support a local farmer and give grass-fed beef a try. I am VERY happy with the beef. The flavor is different from what we used to get in the store and I actually find myself wanting to make it for dinner (vs. eating because I don’t want it to go to waste and I could use the iron, zinc, B12, B6, and protein).  I am amazed at how naturally lean the meat is as well; when I brown the beef there is less than a tbsp or two of fat for me to drain off (so I’ve stopped wasting my time draining it off – it has some healthy fats in it anyway, since they are grass-fed).

I was also impressed with the farmer. He invited us to his farm to see the cows before we decided to make the purchase. He has 7 pastures and moves the cows each day. This way the grass isn’t over-grazed and is ready for the cows when the come back in a week. Winters in WI are cold, like really cold, so in the winter, many farmers will  supplement their “grass-fed” cows with corn. Not this guy. He feeds them hay from the fields to make sure they stay grass-fed.

Last week I took a study break to throw together something quick for dinner. I used these Roasting Guidelines to decide how long to cook my roast. For the side dish, I opted for broiled tomatoes. I sliced large beef steak tomatoes in half, sprinkled with part-skim mozzarella cheese, and topped with Italian seasoning and garlic. Put them on a pan lined with foil and broil them for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts; I kept the light on in the oven so I could watch them. After I took the picture I drizzled them with balsamic vinegar.