Parade.com: 3 Ways to Spice Up Your Acorn Squash

Spicy Roast Acorn Squash

Even as a so-called health nut, I love winter squashes roasted until they’re buttery and sticky-sweet. They’re drizzled with olive or coconut oil, or a little soft butter is brushed on slices. Perhaps they’re sweetened with brown or coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey. A bit of sea salt and fresh black pepper are sprinkled here and there. In my creative mind, winter squashes are flavored with any combination of herbs and spices. Read more

Parade Magazine: Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Growing up, tacos were filled with ground beef or shredded chicken, and they were topped with chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. Mom deep fried corn tortilla shells and asked everyone whether they want soft or hard taco shells. Back then, tacos were simple, and I still love my childhood version today for nostalgic reasons.

Today, an online search for tacos yields more than lettuce and tomatoes. Tacos are topped with pickled vegetables and authentic Mexican cheeses. They’re filled with meat slowly simmered in mole sauce, quinoa and spicy roast vegetables. And, some people buy tortilla presses to make their own corn tortillas. Personally, my taco shells aren’t deep-fried, instead a little oil is added to a hot skillet as a tortilla shell is flipped over several times for a few minutes.

In this autumnal taco, butternut squash is roasted with warm spices and toss with shredded chicken. The meat and squash filling is placed over a corn tortilla and before its folded in half to enclose it, pineapple salsa is spooned on top for a fresh and sweet taste. Of course, no taco is complete without cheese. In this version, only a mild flavored cheese is needed, such as Cotija (think of it as a Mexican version of the Italian Ricotta Salata cheese).

There’s memories surrounded by tacos. Since, Dad was ‘The Cook’ in our house, we were excited when Mom decided to make one of her few dishes, which were tacos. For the record, even though I strive to eat healthy most of the time, I always prefer her deep-fried taco shells.  Read more

Spice Up Your African Diaspora Culinary Knowledge

Hot Spiced Coconut Chocolate Milk

February is a joyous month honoring leadership, celebrating love and praising our culture. Starting the month of festivities is African Heritage & Health week. A week long celebration encouraging African-Americans to return to their roots and rediscover cooking techniques and ingredients their ancestors ate before the age of processed food.

In 2011, Oldways, an organization dedicated to teaching nutrition and good food via culture and heritage, introduced the African Heritage Diet Pyramid. It was created by experts in African American history, cuisine, nutrition, and public health. The ingredients listed are commonly found in recipes from North America, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Dishes made with African Diaspora ingredients are generally healthier than some soul food dishes ‘invented’ or ‘revised’ within the last 60 years. Read more

Cornbread Chili Pot Pie with Oregano Corn

Cornbread Chili Pot Pie with Oregano Corn

A season or two ago, Cornbread Chili Pot Pie was made with Oregano Corn as a side dish. Every time I tried to schedule it for publication, another recipe with an immediate seasonal ingredient became a priority. Slowly, it became a forgotten recipe, but it’s a lovely dish. When late autumn arrived, I looked at the recipe, and scheduled it for Superbowl season. Such a hearty recipe is better for extremely cold weather. How was I to know about this year’s unusually mild winter season? Read more

It’s a Chili Mole Weekend

Chili Mole Sauce over Brown Rice served with Buttermilk Cornbread

Chili Mole Sauce over Brown Rice served with Buttermilk Cornbread

At a meeting last week, someone asked, “What’s the perfect meal to serve for a snowy weekend?” This weekend is also Superbowl Sunday. Instead of trying to show off my knowledge of recipes by mentioning exotic ingredients, my answer was simple. I said chili. It’s a comforting, spicy dish. Everyone wants a bowl, especially on a cold day. I didn’t mention the mole addition that gives this sauce a complex flavor. As a Superbowl dish, serve it over rice or on a sausage hot dog. Sausages, instead of hot dogs, could be a better option, because the source of the meat is not a mystery.

That same day, another person asked what I put in my chili, and I mentioned beer. She asked, “Why not wine?” I was thinking, “Wine in chili? This is a cheap dish!” Alas, the beer addition is another chili version. This recipe has a mole base, but I did sweeten it with a little wine. Garnish the sauce with chopped scallions and cilantro. Cheddar cheese is a classic topping, but this sauce taste better with grated Manchego cheese.

Note: Remember the mole enchiladas that was made a few weeks ago? So much sauce was made, I was able to freeze a few cups for this chili recipe. Buttermilk Cornbread served as a side dish to this meal.

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