Chili-Maple Butternut Sqaush

Hello!  Oh, I have missed blogging.

The last post about saving time, money and energy has truly been helpful.  It was good to read that others are in the same boat – and busting out the crock pot or cooking double/extra whenever they can.  I am gone over and over the comments (and I suggest you do as well if you are looking for tips) to find the pearls of wisdom.  I am amazed by the tips.  A FEW of the AMAZING tips are:

The reality of my days has not really changed (although thanks to some schedule changes at school, I now have *only* 164 students).  (And yes, it IS a noticeable difference in the classes, but not overall.)  This fall the girls have been quite sick (pneumonia and bronchitis – of course, at different times = way too much time off school).  Just when I think I’ve hit a groove, there is a bump/hurdle or unexpected gaff.  The girls being sick is not something you can plan for – let alone when they are sick for two + weeks in a row.  My favorite gaff has resulted in a new kitchen faucet.
No matter how desperately needed (the old one from 1979 was a leaky mess), it was a series of plumbing foo-fahs that ushered in our new one.  My lovely husband decided that 9PM on Saturday night was a good time to fix the leak (while I was wrestling the two little ones in the bathtub/bedtime).  I heard shouts of “OH SH*T” followed by a yelp of pain and a “Katie!  Come quick!!”.  When I got into the kitchen, there was a geyser of steaming hot water shooting out of the faucet handle soaking the light fixture, the ceiling, my cookbooks, the spice drawers – EVERYTHING.
We shut off the water at the sink and cleaned up.  Sunday morning when we decided to just replace the faucet and the work started, we realized we had bigger problems:  the shut-off valve hose snapped off in the replacement of the faucet and the house water shut-off valve wouldn’t working.  The water wouldn’t stop.  And we had no water in the kitchen at all or it would flood.  So we had to wait for the city to shut the water off to the house (a skill I now possess thanks to a neighbor) before finishing our repairs.  (After a mere three more trips to the hardware store to pick up the appropriate plumbing supplies.)
Oh yes, the Keystone Cops of Plumbing were in the house with the two of us.
Really.  Maybe Mr. Bean would have had an easier time.
Oh – life.  What else can ya do.
I have taken a few tips from the previous commenters to make my life easier.  We are buying meats in bulk from CostCo.  We are sticking with the milk delivery (despite the slight higher cost) for a major time savings.  (No one likes to see crying babies at the grocer at night after work.)  We – as usual – eat 99% regularly GF foods.  When making GF bread or what not (a once a week endeavor lately as I have been working on an Oat & Honey Bread recipe), I am sticking to using the basic, whole-grain cheaper flour (like brown rice, oats and a small amount of tapioca starch or potato starch).  Mostly, we fill up on the foods you can find on the outside of the grocery store.
I’ve also tried prepping in advance.  Some nights while making dinner, I prep the dinner for the next night and get it all into the crock pot insert which I keep in the fridge until the next morning.  When the girls are eating breakfast, I finish putting it together  and start up the crock pot.  I haven’t yet had the courage to roast a whole chicken in the crock pot – but it’s so on the agenda!
This weekend I picked up some gorgeous butternut squash.  I blame Costco.  They sell it prepackaged, cut/washed, etc.  And I love butternut squash.  My Love?  Not so much.  So I didn’t pick up the CostCo pack.  Instead, I found a great squash at the market – on sale!  I know squash is not the highlight of most people’s lives.  Mine either – but sometimes you just can’t beat it.
Try this QUICK (hooray!) squash recipe sometime.  You might just change your mind.  (And it’s a nice variation on a veg for dinner.)

Chili-Maple Squash

Chili-Maple Butternut Squash

TIP:  To peel your squash more quickly, pierce the squash several times with a knife or fork.  Wrap it up in a dish towel and pop it in to the microwave for a couple minutes.  (Like 2 – 3 minutes, no more.)  It will peel SO MUCH easier – and be easier to chop as well.
NOTE:  I used a 2 pound squash.  I peeled and cubed the squash and divided it in half for two meals.  The ingredients listed below are for ONE POUND of squash.  Feel free to double, etc the recipe as needed.
Chili-Maple Squash
1  pound butternut squash (or other firm squash), peeled/seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and seed squash.  (Or… umm.. go to Costco. :D)  Cut into 1 inch cubes.
  3. Toss squash pieces with melted butter, maple syrup, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Roast on a silpat/cookie sheet for 20 minutes until fork tender but not mushy.
  5. Serve along side your favorite dinner.
(And feel free not to share.)
And the next post?  That Oat & Honey Bread sans the plumbing drama, k?
~Happy Gluten Free Eats, All!

Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeño Salsa

Oh yea, babee…it’s summer. And it’s not quite “hot” here. Temperatures are slow to rise, making for chilly mornings and gorgeous afternoons. Basically, it’s perfect. I get up early and get any house-warming/cooking out of the way and then I’m done for the day.

And summer? Beckons forth the canning jars. Not that I know all that much about canning, but I sure do take advantage of canning jars to make extra large batches of homemade BBQ sauce or teriyaki sauce. Having them on hand helps create quick meals – when I’m hungry and/or don’t feel like cooking too much.

Today I made Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeño Salsa and I have some roasted red peppers for my Romescu (yes, RomescU) sauce for dinner.

When I first moved to Chicago to complete my student-teaching from my small college in Iowa (Go, Coe!), I learned – unexpectedly – about how different grocery stores can be based on their neighborhood. I had popped in to a market to pick up some things for a student’s family for Thanksgiving. Instead of easily finding what I anticipated (or the layout… I hate that about stores…. wandering like a dimwit looking for something), I found huge piles of collard greens. I mean HUGE piles of collard greens. Like 3 huge tables/centers of greens. OH! I was so excited and a bit overwhelmed. My American-Irish/Minnesota background didn’t make for a ton of recipes for greens, but my friends gave me some that were (are) to die for.

The next stop at the same chain (but different location) yielded a slew of different kinds of peppers and tomatoes. It was there I found huge piles of tomatillos. (toe-mah-tea-yos) These leafy-wrapped firm green tomatoes were completely new to me. Mind you, i am not a big tomato consumer (it’s the texture), so venturing in to Tomato-Land was never on my list of things to do. But I’m always game for a food adventure, so I bought a pound of them based on the advice given to me by an older Mexican woman who hooted with laughter when she saw me pick up the tomatillos looking puzzled. She gave me great advice on how to pick them out (you want them to be firm and the leaves should not be discolored). (See a picture of a tomatillo here.)

However, she failed to mention that the tomatillos can be sticky once you peel the leaves off to roast them. YUCK. Thinking I had purchased a spoiled pound of tomatillos, we (my roommate and I) ended up roasting only two tomatillos out of the 10 that I had bought. (DUR). We used the roasted tomatillos and their juices to add to a pasta. Not too bad, but not the best use either.

And at my favorite Mexican restaurant – Mamacita’s on Halsted – I found a new love and use for them. Mamacita’s makes the BEST tomatillo-garlic-cilantro salsa ever. Seriously. Sadly, they don’t disclose their recipe. Even when I begged them before we moved to the Pacific Northwest. LOL

So, I made up my own salsa recipe. If you have never made salsa before, you will be SHOCKED at how easy it is. Give it a try! With a few ingredients, you can have the best salsa for chicken or fish or chips or pasta….. well, you get the picture.

Here’s what I made today:

Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeño Salsa (*see note below)
1 pound tomatillos (firm)
2 jalapeños (medium) for a mild salsa* or 3-4 for a warmer salsa
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup water
salt, to taste
sugar, to taste (if desired! optional)
(*You can also add tabasco to up the spiciness if you’d like)


  1. Peel and wash your tomatillos. Pat dry.
  2. Seed and remove the stem from the jalapeños. Cut them in half.
  3. On a foil lined tray (with edges to catch the juices), place your tomatillos under the broiler for 4-6 minutes or until they begin to char a bit.
  4. Remove the tomatillos from the broiler and flip them over. Add the jalapeño slices to the tray. Return the jalapeño and tomatillos to the broiler for 4-6 minutes until slightly blackened.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  6. Once cool pour the tomatillos, jalapeños and accumulated juices into your food processor or blender. Add the onion, cilantro and garlic. Process until even. (This is a thin, NOT chunky, salsa.)
  7. Taste. Add salt/sugar to taste.
  • If you want it spicier, add some tabasco or more jalapeño.

Well – I’m off. The red peppers are done roasting and the Romescu sauce is calling my name.
Happy Gluten-Free Summer Days!

*NOTE: My sister and our family friend, Sue, as experts at Tomatillo Salsa.  My sis says that you can also quickly poach the tomatillos in boiling water for 3-4 minutes or so and then add them to the blender with a bit of the poaching water instead of roasting them.  The other tip they offer sounds delicous to me too – they suggest adding an avocado (medium, ripe) to the blend.  It makes the salsa creamier and it holds on to the chips better.  Lastly, they also use serrano peppers in lieu of my jalapeños.   (Told you they were the experts.) Maybe some of these ideas will be help too!)

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