Recipe of the Week: Butternut Squash Stew

Going through all of my Paleo recipes made me realize just how much I love sharing successful recipes with other people.  Because I love to cook, I’m always looking for awesome recipes…and now that I’m a mom, I’m also always looking for easy recipes.

So, starting this week, I will be sharing a “recipe of the week”.  It will be a recipe that I made the week before, and it will be one of two things: either (1) a more challenging recipe that was totally worth it, or (2) a quick and easy recipe that either moms or busy people will appreciate.

Please don’t expect awesome pictures, because I’m not interested in starting a food blog.  Please don’t expect a ton of original recipes either, because I’m not THAT amazing of a cook.  But please do expect:

  • Descriptions that will hopefully help you quickly determine whether it’s worth your time to even try the recipe.
  • Lots of substitution options.  Lots.  Because it’s silly when a recipe requires you to go spend $30 on a bunch of random ingredients you’re never going to use again.
  • Recipes that are either healthy or worth it.  So if it’s not healthy, it’s going to be delicious.

Without further ado, our very first recipe of the week:

Butternut Squash Stew

This recipe comes from Allrecipes.com, and is technically called Moroccan Tagine.  But I didn’t want to freak some of you out.

Description

  • Easy/fast
  • Minimal ingredients
  • Stuff you probably already have in your kitchen
  • Cheap
  • Kid-friendly (at least the chicken and the butternut squash)
  • Can be made vegan
  • Gluten free

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, butter, lard, or olive oil
    • Suggestion: refined coconut oil because it’s easy to find and can be heated to high temperatures.
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into chunks
    • Substitution: skip this to make a vegan meal, and just double the garbanzo beans.
    • Time saver: get yourself a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and just throw 1-2 cups in there.
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
    • Suggestion: um…more like 5-6 cloves.
    • Time saver: it’s okay to skip fresh garlic and use garlic powder if you really need to.
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
    • Time saver: get the pre-peeled and pre-chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe’s.  I think they have it year-round.
  • 1 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
    • Substitution: as mentioned above, skip the chicken and double the beans to make this a vegan meal.  We do this a lot because it helps save money and get more plant-based meals into our diet so we’re not gorging on meat.
  • 1 carrot, chopped
    • Time saver: skip this if you want to; it won’t change the recipe that much.
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
    • Suggestion: get fire roasted.  You can put this stuff in anything and it’ll make it taste amazing.  Props to Christina Trudgian for teaching me that!
  • 1 14 oz can chicken broth
    • Suggestion: make your own ahead of time.  Let me know if you need help with this – it’s so ridiculously easy to make your own chicken broth, it will blow you away.
    • Substitution: use vegetable broth to keep the recipe vegan.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (don’t skip this, even though it’s weird)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • Substitution: it’s hard to substitute for coriander, and if you have the cash, I’d suggest buying some because it’s useful in other recipes.  If you’d rather not buy some, you can substitute cumin, fresh cilantro, lemon oregano, or sage….just depending on what flavor you like best!
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Heat your oil in a large pot over medium heat and cook the raw chicken and onion until done (or just onion).  When done, toss in your garlic and heat it up a bit, but don’t cook it for long – it’ll burn and taste gross.
  2. Throw in the squash, garbanzo beans, carrot, tomatoes with juice, broth, sugar, lemon juice, and all seasonings.  You can also put in your cooked chicken at this point, if you are going with pre-cooked chicken instead of raw.
  3. Bring everything to a boil, and then let it simmer on low for 30 minutes with a top on it.  You can actually go a bit longer if you want, but don’t go so long that the butternut squash turns mushy.
  4. Serve alone, over rice/quinoa/couscous, or with toast.

Enjoy!

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Good Neighbor

I got here and knew nobody. I started my job and had basically zero background doing anything “cowboy”. The biggest event of the year in raising cattle is, hands-down, the branding, and that takes multiple people, most of whom need to know how to rope, and at least one who knows how to use a branding iron.

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I have a great neighbor named Brooks who grew up cowboying.  His brothers, dad, and friend also did, and they were willing to help me in my time of need.

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We spent a long morning roping calves,

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throwing, and branding them.  Brooks’s nieces all gave us a hand.

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Some of my cows were pretty interested what we were doing.

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We moved onto the cows, who much were easier to work with in the squeeze chute.

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Then we trailed them to their next pasture, and ate.

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And all I needed to do was provide them food and beer afterwards.

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The Gosses go Paleo…week 4

We made it.  Four weeks of Paleo eating.  Recipe suggestions and final thoughts below.

Stuff You Could Eat Even if You’re Not Doing Paleo

  • Chocolate chunks – I totally messed this recipe up by heating everything too long, but it was still delicious.  This is an awesome way to make chocolate without dairy or refined sugars.
  • Italian sausage and potato soup – you wouldn’t even know this was a Paleo meal.  It was perfect for the slightly cold weather we’ve had lately.
  • Creamy and smoky chipotle pork chops – definitely my favorite recipe of the week.  I don’t use liquid smoke, so I used smoked paprika to achieve the smokiness factor.  This will definitely be made again, although I’ll probably toss some pasta in the sauce.  This time we ate it with a roasted acorn squash, which was still pretty good.
  • Korean ground beef – this is actually a non-Paleo recipe that I’ve been making for years; I switched out some of the ingredients for Paleo approved ingredients.  I am constantly recommending this recipe to people, as it’s fast, easy, and delicious.  Just don’t do nearly as much sugar as she recommends.

Stuff You Probably Wouldn’t Eat Unless You’re Doing Paleo

  • Fruit and nut bread – while it was great to have “bread” for breakfast instead of eggs, and this was pretty delicious, I’m still not a big fan of stuff like fruits and nuts and seeds in my bread.
  • Spaghetti squash chow mein – I didn’t know what category to put this in.  I may make it again some day, simply because it’s nice to sometimes skip a bunch of carbs with dinner.  If I do make it, I’ll leave out the celery and add in some meat.  Grant had it as a vegan Paleo meal, and I added eggs.  We were really tired of meat at this point and needed a break.
  • Lasagna – while this was better than I thought it would be, lasagna needs cheese.  Period.  And not freaky cashew cheese, which I actually left out, because I don’t like ricotta anyway.
  • Slow cooker beef & broccoli – this was actually a perfectly good recipe, but I have other better slow cooker Asian beef recipes, which I will go back to after this diet.

My final thoughts:

  • I don’t think that the Paleo diet is sustainable, in the same way I don’t think that a vegan diet is sustainable.  I think we should be wary of any diet that cuts out a very large number of food items that have been eaten for thousands of years, whether those items are animal products or grain products.  That being said, these four weeks will have an impact on my future diet – I will probably eat a lot less gluten, I’ll be much more careful about the dairy I eat, and I will definitely go back to eating frequent vegetarian meals.
  • This diet did nothing for my health…at least that I can see.  I have some pretty intense gastrointestinal issues, and the Paleo diet does not appear to have helped them.  I say this only to point out that everybody has a diet that is right for them – there is no one-size-fits-all.
  • I need some cheese.  Stat.  I often hear that not having gluten is the hardest part of the Paleo diet, but I disagree.  The Paleo diet has shown me just how much I love dairy products.

Grant’s final thoughts:

  • Not having bread or tortillas makes eating very logistically difficult, but other than that, he didn’t really miss refined carbs.
  • Cheese, shmeese.  Grant didn’t miss dairy at all.  He did miss beans.
  • If this diet were sustainable (he agrees with me that it’s not), Grant says he wouldn’t really mind doing it.  (He’s a nut.)
  • BEER.  No other explanation necessary.

The Gosses go Paleo…week 3

We’re done with three weeks of the Paleo diet!  I found some really amazing recipes this week….enjoy.

Stuff You Could Eat Even if You’re Not Doing Paleo

  • Crockpot beef stew – Paleo enthusiasts all over the world argue over whether potatoes are allowed on the Paleo diet.  I decided that they are allowed on my Paleo diet.
  • The green chile from week 1 – this stuff is so delicious.  It doesn’t have a roux, which is slightly weird…and the peppers are not roasted, which is also slightly weird.  But it’s easy and amazingly tasty.
  • Buffalo chicken casserole – who would have guessed that Frank’s Red Hot is Paleo approved?!  I needed something that tasted non-Paleo.  This seriously did the trick.  Also, spaghetti squash is weirdly filling.
  • Sausage gravy stuffed squash – okay, three things about this recipe.  First, just use butternut squash (WTH is delicata squash anyway?).  Second, arrowroot powder is amazingly good at thickening gravy…like, better than regular flour.  Third, this was awesome.
  • Sweet potato nachos – yes, I will make this when we’re off Paleo.  And yes, I will add cheese.
  • Fudgy brownies – there is no way you could eat one of these and guess that it’s dairy and processed sugar free.  These are heavenly.

Stuff You Probably Wouldn’t Eat Unless You’re Doing Paleo

  • Eggs

Just kidding.  But really, I am sooooooo tired of eating eggs for breakfast.  Thanks to my one year old who still nurses like a newborn, I really need substantial meals like 10 times a day, which is why I’ve eaten eggs for breakfast every day on this Paleo diet.  I miss being able to do something like oatmeal and peanut butter, quesadillas, granola and yogurt, or bean burritos.  If any of you out there have a suggestion for a Paleo approved breakfast without eggs that is filling, send it my way.

Grant’s thoughts for this week: it’s becoming a lot more normal.  He says that if he doesn’t think about it, he doesn’t miss bread.  He also says he feels really good after all of his meals.  But he says it’s hard to eat with other people.  He went on a work trip this week and watched his friend eat a chicken fried steak while he snacked on fruit and beef jerky (I keep yelling at him, “You could have ordered fajitas!”).  And since it’s hard to eat with other people, it’s kind of a self-centered diet.  I mean, you can go to a restaurant with friends or go to a BBQ at a friend’s house, but you can’t eat 75% of the stuff there, and then everybody around you feels weird.

My main thought for this week was: wow, I feel a lot better.  The first two weeks were terrible.  I felt woozy, dizzy, and shaky.  I got HANGRY at least 2-3 times a day (that’s the truth, ask Grant).  My workouts were ten times more challenging.  A couple of days into week 3 all of that went away.  I don’t feel any better than normal, like many other Whole30 or Paleo enthusiasts say they do, but at least I don’t feel like total crap.

Last week I bashed Paleo enthusiasts who eat crap meat.  I still stand by what I said…but it’s only fair that I confess our meat cheats.  We have stuck to local pastured/grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork…except for the following:

  • Beef jerky
  • Eggs (yes, I consider them a meat)
  • Sandwich meat
  • Bacon (I had to treat myself somehow)

So, there you have it.  Nobody is perfect, and definitely not us.