The Art of Delegating . . . some things, anyway – Curried Butternut Squash & Green Beans over Quinoa

I feel like that little cartoon saying that you see pinned up in middle management offices sometimes – “The faster I go, the behinder I get”.  The reality of my everyday real life makes it so that I just can’t write as fast as I can cook.

I literally have recipes, creations, and pictures backing up like baby clothes in a laundry hamper.  And I know you mama readers can relate to that little analogy.  For those of you who have gracefully left the baby stage of parenthood, just take a moment and reflect on those days when you easily tallied in FOUR dirty outfits for one tiny creature.  You remember now, don’t you?  An endless parade of bibs, burp cloths, and buntings (what is a bunting really anyway?).  And everything so tiny that folding was like origami practice.  So much so that sometimes it was easier to just leave the mass of tininess in a big pile rather than even trying to fold and put away.

Well that’s how I’m feeling with my cooking these days.  I’m pumping out the meals and chronicling each creation in photos as I go,  but there they all sit in digital nowhereland on my laptop.

I manage to keep up with other stuff around the house by delegating to my troops.  Everyone pitches in and that’s what makes it all work.  I recently found a little gem called My Job Chart which I use to help keep everyone on track.  They LOVE it and clamor to the computer to log their helpfulness in exchange for points which they can spend, save or share.  It’s really an amazing motivator – I mean after all, it’s got technology AND money involved.  But there are some things, like this blog, that just can’t be delegated.  Teeth brushing would be another one of those “un-delegatable” items.  Is it really just me, or can anyone else relate to those days when you fall into bed at night after a trying day and just wish someone could take your head off, go brush your teeth for you, and then return your head?  OK, definitely just me, but now it’s out there and now you know the true level of my weirdness . . .  not to mention the extent of my fatigue on “certain” days.

So before I get any more “behinder”, I have decided to take a few days and give you the recipes, just the recipes (to be spoken in your best Joe Friday imitation), without any of my superfluous spiel.   Here’s the first one to get us started, and it’s an ORIGINAL creation (read – no recipe) that I just can’t wait to share.

To get started with making Curried Butternut Squash and Green Beans over Quinoa, I first peeled and cubed one medium butternut squash.

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I tossed the squash with a little olive oil and then roasted for about 30 minutes at 425 degrees.  While that was roasting, I sliced up some green pepper and a little lemon grass.

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I melted a little butter in a skillet and then added the green pepper and finely chopped lemongrass along with some red pepper flakes and curry powder.

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I sauteed everything until the pepper was just tender.  Then I added in a little coconut milk and some Thai fish sauce.  At the same time, I had brought a pot of salt water to a boil and cooked up some green beans until they were just tender.  I added the green beans to the curry mixture and also tossed in the roasted squash.

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I let things simmer just until everything was heated through.  I served it around a bed of quinoa and garnished with chopped cashews and some chopped fresh cilantro.

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Quite a satisfying little dinner.  It also got approval all around the table – which isn’t always the case when I go free-wheeling and recipe-less.

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Here’s the complete recipe for Curried Butternut Squash and Green Beans over Quinoa.

Looking for more curry recipes?  Give these a gander.

Spinach Patties

The thing about spinach is that when I buy it from our local Persian market, the bags are just huge! I steam and sautée it here and there and add to other entrees, but I usually end up wasting some. So my objective in this endeavor was to really make spinach the mainstay of the meal and not just an accompaniment. I found this recipe for Sephardic Spinach Patties on Epicurious and decided to give it a go.

First I cooked the spinach and squeezed it dry. Then I sautéed up the onions and garlic. I added the onion mixture to the spinach and mixed in the matza meal and spices (salt, pepper & nutmeg). I mixed in the egg along with 1/4 c. of freshly grated parmesan and made sure it was the right consistency for patty making. When the consistency seemed right, I heated the oil in a large skillet and dropped the spinach by 1/4 cupfuls into the oil.

I fried the patties for about 4 minutes per side.  They really held together well and browned quite nicely. This can be a problem sometimes with vegetable patties of other sorts, and in my opinion, consistency is king when it comes to any kind of patty making.

I served them up with some sweet potato fries which I love to accompany with a chipotle mayo sauce. I just buy the canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and transfer the whole can to a Tupperware. Then, whenever I want chipotle sauce as an accompaniment, I chop up one pepper with a little of its sauce and add it to the mayo just until I get the desired color and spice level.  I also served some cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette along with this meal.  The colors were delightful and it was tasty and well-balanced too.

Sorry I don’t have a full plate photo to share with you, but I think I had a 20 month old hanging on my pant leg when we sat down together to eat.

This recipe adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/

Kale & Cannellini Ragout

So they say, that among the best veggies to eat are “leaves”. (http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/unhappy-meals/ for a good read on this and lots of other thought provoking food points) This can be tricky if you don’t venture  beyond your standard salad fare. Two of our favorite leaves are chard and kale. We make kale chips from time to time and love putting together different salads with it, but this little ragout changed things up a bit and EVERYONE liked it – including somewhat persnickety three year old.

Start by sautéeing a little onion and garlic.  Then add a can of diced tomatoes.  Add a little veggie broth and your chopped up kale and simmer until the greens are soft. At the very end, add a can of drained and rinsed Cannellini beans. Top the whole deal with some freshly grated Parmesan and you’ve got a healthy and delish dish. Sorry about the lack of step by step photos on this one – sometimes it’s all I can do to just get the FOOD on the table and take a pic of the final product. And yes, this photo does include Mama’s well deserved glass of Sauvignon blanc.

I served this one accompanied by roasted green beans (notice the bacon mixed in with those little beans- thus the “using meat for flavor and accent” stance we have taken – plus, bacon makes anything  so much tastier) and a grated carrot salad with raisins and a fig walnut vinaigrette.

Adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/