Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things I Am Loving This Week

Back again with the "Things I Am Loving This Week"--those (mostly) food related things that I am enjoying and want to share.

I enjoy a big plate of pasta as much as the next person, but I also crave a good spaghetti squash now and then. Since they were on sale, I bought one and decided it was in need of a nice meaty, but still full of vegetables kind of sauce, so I threw this Hearty Ground Buffalo and Veggie Ragu together and loved it. I made the sauce using what veggies I had in my fridge and it can be changed up to suit your needs/tastes. I used ground buffalo but any ground meat will work. Wanting to give it a kick, I added dried red chili pepper flakes and threw in some leftover olives and of course my true love, capers. Yum!

Hearty Ground Buffalo and Veggie Ragu
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

1 Tbsp olive or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground buffalo (bison) or lean ground beef or turkey
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes, drained of 1/2 liquid (I used the no-salt)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup olives, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp capers
2 cups baby spinach leaves
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, red pepper and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add ground bison and cook until meat is brown and cooked through. Add chili pepper flakes, oregano, basil, parsley, canned tomatoes with half their juice and tomato paste and stir. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add olives, capers and baby spinach and cook another 20-30 minutes until all veggies are cooked. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve over cooked spaghetti squash (see cooking directions below) or pasta with a sprinkle of freshly grated cheese if desired. Enjoy!

For spaghetti squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce the squash several times with a small knife and bake until tender and skin can be very easily pierced with a fork. (About 45-55 minutes depending on size of squash). Let squash cool to the touch then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove seeds using a spoon, then using a fork, pull the strands of squash away from each half and place in a serving bowl. You can add a bit of olive oil or butter if desired, although with the sauce you really don't need it.

I think I have already shared my love for trolling the beverage isle of any good natural foods stores--so many delicious things to try like these Alodrinks I bought the other day. Made with aloe juice and pulp they are very refreshing and taste so good. I have tried two of the five flavors so far, Awaken (with wheatgrass) and Allure (with mangosteen and mango) and I am loving both of them. A little higher calorie and higher sugar than I want to drink regularly (about 60 cal and 15 g sugar in a serving--half a bottle), they still make a refreshing occasional treat to enjoy.

I have a penchant for pickles, especially dill pickles, so when I saw this recipe for Quick Indian Pickles in the November Sunset Magazine, I knew I had to try it. (BTW--loving this issue of Sunset too--so many good things in it!) The recipe combines my love for pickles with another love--Indian flavors and spices. I found some little Persian-style mini-cucumbers at Whole Foods so it was easy to whip up a batch. They are delicious and only 13 calories a spear so how can you not love that?

Quick Indian Pickles
Sunset Magazine, November 2009
(Makes 24 Spears)
Time: 1 Hour

1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp each brown mustard seeds, black peppercorns, whole coriander seeds,whole allspice
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cardamom pods, split
2 small dried hot red chilies, broken in half
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
1 piece (1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled, thickly sliced
6 Persian cucumbers, each cut into 4 spears, or 2 English cucumbers, each cut into thirds crosswise and then into 4 spears

Warm oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cook, covered, until they pop, about 2 minutes. All at once, add remaining spices except for turmeric and cook, stirring, until spices are very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add turmeric and stir until just sizzling. Carefully add 1/2 cup water, the vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.

Pack cucumber spears into a deep bowl. Pour pickling liquid over them, weight with a small plate to keep them submerged, and let cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Lift pickles out of brine to serve.

Make ahead: Chill, covered,up to 2 days (pickles will get more flavorful).

Per Spear: 13 cal, 12% (1.6 cal) from fat, 0.3g protein, 0.2g fat (0g sat), 2.7g carb, (0.3g fiber), 181 mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol.

So these are the "Things I Am Loving This Week"--what things are you loving?

Don't forget, I am hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week (see this post for details). Hope to have you join us!


  1. Such a tangy and savoury Things I am loving this week!
    I do love pickled and brined food, so you have won my heart with your pickles, olives and capers!
    I keep forgetting how wonderful spaghetti squash is, remind me to get one soon! Delicious dinner, totally yummy.

  2. pickles sound delicious! and that pasta, so hearty!

  3. Deb, pickles are one of those things I remember as a child. A great aunt, Aunt Lilian, made the best 'bread & butter' pickles ~ I'll have to ask my mom to dig up that recipe ~ and her pickles were always a staple on her table.

    As for your 'trolling' natural food stores, that sounds like a great pass time to staying healthy. I have not seen this drink, but will keep an eye out for it and give it a try.

    I love the taste of spaghetti squash and how it is the perfect substitute for the Italian version.

    Great 'things I am loving' post. Thanks

  4. I love the sound of those pickles. I keep thinking that making pickles would be difficult, but you made it look so easy! The spaghetti squash recipe is sure a tasty way to get in your 5 a day in veggies :D It looks delicious.

  5. The Spaghetti Squash with the Ragu looks amazing Deb...~

  6. I love using spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute when I'm having a heavier sauce. It looks delicious!

    The pickles look fabulous as well. I would never thought to have flavored them.

  7. The aloe juice is very interesting! I've seen it health food stores, and in NY, I've also seen it in mixed drinks. I'll have to try it!

    I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)