Apple, Leek & Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tis the season! No, not the Christmas season just yet! Fall has always been my favorite season. Something about the leaves changing color, the crispness in the air, all the deliciousness roasting in my oven.

After a summer of grilling, I love to roast hearty dishes that nourish us, and make my house smell delicious. When my friends at al fresco chicken sausage asked if I’d like to partner with them to create an easy weeknight dinner, I knew I’d be roasting something delicious. 

Roasting is also a great way to multi-task on weeknights. While the squash roasts I can make the salad, set the table, and catch up with Mr. Big on his day.

I thought about using delicata squash (#thelordsgourd), but delicata season is so short, and acorn squash are readily accessible throughout the fall and winter. Plus, delicatas don’t leave much room for the stuffing, and you’re going to want a full portion of this leek, apple, and apple sausage stuffing!

Ingredients:

Directions:

I preheat my oven to 400°. 

While the oven preheats, I slice my leeks like coins and separate the layers of rings into a bowl of cold water. Leeks tend to get sandy or dirty between these layers, so this bath removes the grit.

I peel and finely dice my garlic cloves.

I slice my washed celery on a bias for a more interesting cut than a traditional dice, then core and dice the apples. I leave the skins on for color, but you can remove them if you prefer.

I chose the al fresco Apple Chicken Sausage because it will bring a sweet note to the stuffing and blend well with the leeks and garlic. If you’d like a little bolder flavor, you could use the al fresco Sweet Italian sausage instead!

I slice the chicken sausage into a coin shape similar to the leeks. If you’d like a little more bite, you can leave the casing on the sausage like I do, or if you’d like it to crumble, you can remove the casing.

I finely chop my rosemary, but I actually leave the thyme leaves whole. I just remove them from the stem. 

I drain all the water from the leeks, then pat them dry with a paper towel.

With all my ingredients ready to go, I put 1 Tbsp olive oil into my Lodge Cast Iron pan, then add the celery and leeks. I cook them until soft, approximately 4-6 minutes. The leeks will start to “melt,” which is how I describe them losing their shape altogether.

I add the garlic (putting it in later ensures it won’t burn), apples, chicken sausage and the herbs and cook for another 4-6 minutes until the leeks start to brown and everything is heated through. I add salt and pepper to taste. Adding your salt and pepper throughout the cooking process is an Ina Garten trick. If you add it at the end, the salt just tastes like salt. If you add it into a recipe during cooking, it will blend and enhance the flavors of your ingredients.

I put the stuffing mixture in a bowl, ensuring I scrap all the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

I like the way the acorn squash looks when it’s presented standing up vertically on the plate, so I cut the top and bottom off the squash. I try to ensure I cut just the tip of the bottom of the squash off so it’s still a bowl and I reserve the top so I can serve it like a little hat topper on my squash. 

*If you’re short on time, you can absolutely cut the squash in half and adjust the cooking time by 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

I roast the squash the cast iron pan for 25 minutes, then add the stuffing mixture to each squash and cook any extra stuffing in a glass pyrex dish with the squash tops. I cook them for another 20 minutes, or until the squash are fork tender.

I serve each squash on a plate with a little garnish of leftover stuffing, the squash “topper,” and fresh thyme.

Best of all, these squash are a BIG portion for 340 calories or 4 WW Points each!

What do you think? Would you add these to your menu plan?

TCFC’s “Don’t Wait for 2019!” Challenge

Why wait for 2019 to get focused on your health and wellness goals? December has 31 days where we can work hard, eat healthy, and start the new year on the RIGHT foot!

The TCFC “Don’t Wait Until 2019!” Challenge provides support, encouragement, healthy recipes, and inspiration designed to keep you focused through the holidays!

This challenge contains three, 30-minute audio classes available on demand right on your cell phone. The classes cover topics like:

10 Holiday Eating Strategies to Help You Survive Cocktail Parties, Dining Out, Holiday Feasts & More!

Taming Emotional Vampires (every family has one) and Managing Holiday STRESS

Ten Takeaways from My Weight Loss Journey with Jane from the “Garbage Talk” Podcast

Each class comes with a resource email with links to inspiring blogs, thoughtful advice, delicious recipes, and must-have kitchen items, condiments, and maybe even a great pair of shoes!

You’ll also have the support of the TCFC Tribe in a private Facebook group, with live check-ins and classes with TCFC Founder Alexis Eggleton!

You may know Alexis from Good Morning America, her feature in the NY Post, Weight Watchers magazine and on PopSugar.com, or in the Winter 2018 Weight Watchers radio ads with Ryan Seacrest! Alexis is someone who has truly lived her weight loss journey, and having lost over -100lbs and cruising towards her own personal goals.

Weight loss isn’t the same for everybody or every body, so participants in this challenge embrace all kind of sustainable weight loss programs – calorie counting, Weight Watchers, Paleo, clean eating – whatever works for them!

This Challenge group is designed to help keep you focused, motivated and EXCITED about achieving your weight loss goals!

Pricing:

This class series is being offered to you at an incredible value! The month of December is available to you for just $44 per month.

Because these classes and resources are available on-demand, there are no refunds or exchanges available.  Please make sure you are purchasing the correct class prior to registration.

Want to give the TCFC online classes to a friend or family member as a gift? Email us at tradingcardioforcosmos@gmail.com and we’re be thrilled to help!

 

The Nitty Gritty Details

Classes will be offered on the following schedule:

Sunday, December 1 – Audio Class: 10 Holiday Eating Strategies to Help You Survive Cocktail Parties, Dining Out, Holiday Feasts & More!

Wednesday, December 4 – Facebook Live Class at 8pm

Sunday, December 8 – Audio Class: Taming Emotional Vampires (every family has one) and Managing Holiday STRESS

Wednesday, December 11 – Facebook Live Class at 8pm

Sunday, December 15 – Audio Class: Ten Takeaways from My Weight Loss Journey with Jane (@themuchomama on Instagram)

Tuesday, December 18 – Facebook Live Class at 9pm

-Sunday, December 22 – BONUS Audio Class!


How It Works:

Audio Classes: You will be emailed a link to the coaching audio class, according to the schedule above. This mp3 recording is yours to download, keep and listen to as often as you’d like!

Facebook Live Class: You will have the opportunity to submit questions for Alexis to answer about the class information, challenges or your own weight loss journey. Alexis will open a Facebook Live Chat, according to the schedule above, to answer your questions and share her inspiration and insights! Can’t tune in? No worries – the Facebook Live video will also be available for you to access later if that time doesn’t work for you!

BONUS: As a bonus, every weekend you’ll receive an email full of additional resources, recipes and tips to help you stay focused and motivated!

WW Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet

Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. I love gathering family from across the country for games, stories, laughter, and reminiscing. 

But for my weight loss journey, Thanksgiving is usually a day when I am less successful. I get derailed by the appetizers, my wine glass is never empty, and I end up with a pretty serious sugar/carb hangover the next day.

So this year I’ve decided: I’m not going to go into the holiday without a plan. I am going to research the things on our Thanksgiving table, and I’m going to decide which foods I definitely want, which foods I’m content skipping, and which foods I want but in a smaller portion.

So I put all the holiday favorites into the WW app, and created this handy cheat sheet so we can all see what we’re working with:

So now that you know what everything is “worth,” tell me: what’s going on your plate?

Put An Egg On It: Breakfast Bowls!

You guys know my favorite food is eggs, so it’s no wonder breakfast bowls are right up there on my list of must-have breakfasts!

I love them because the combinations are truly endless, and I usually prefer them when I’m aiming for a low-carb or protein-packed meal – no toasts allowed!

So let’s talk possibilities!

First and foremost, I like a lot of contrasting textures. The eggs are pretty soft, so fresh, hearty greens like arugula and baby kale provide some nice crunch!

Next, I like to add a variety of roasted veggies. I’m a big fan of meal prep on Sundays, so I like to make a big sheet pan of veggies up on Sunday and then I can add them to omelettes or breakfast bowls to “bulk up” my meals. Peppers, onions, and zucchini are easiest because they cook at about the same time, but I’m also a BIG fan sautéing shiitake mushrooms with fresh rosemary. The earthly flavor is a great compliment to, well, everything!

Roasted butternut squash with Cajun seasoning is a Fall favorite of mine. It’s spicy and sweet and pairs beautifully with a good runny egg yolk. My favorite Cajun seasoning is from A Cajun Life – it tastes just like a classic New Orleans seasoning!

I’m also a big fan of adding brown rice, beans, or legumes to my breakfast bowls for some extra fiber and protein. Rinsed canned black beans are a pantry staple in my house, as are dried French lentils. I usually like to cook up a batch of lentils in half chicken stock, half water for an extra flavor boost, and then add them to salads, breakfast bowls or as a side dish with dinner.

Now… let’s talk about the EGGS! I love a poached egg, or as I called them as a child “dipping eggs!” I’ve never been great at making them in a big pot of water, so when I found these silicone egg cups, I ordered them immediately. They allow you to cook the eggs in water, but keeps the egg white together – they’re the best!

If you’re a gadget gal like my mom, Momma Shelley, check out this stainless steel egg poaching pan, with four individual cups!

I always like to top my bowls with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or chives. The herbaceous flavor is such a bright contrast to the fatty egg yolk – definitely worth keeping around the house!

What about you? What do you put in your breakfast bowl?

Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Paella Party!

If eggs are my favorite food, paella is a very close second. I know, I know, totally different things but they’re both delicious and super versatile.

The first time I had paella was in a Portuguese restaurant down the shore in New Jersey and I was fascinated by the creamy rice, the crispy bottom rice crust, and the delicious saffron-seasoned seafood.

The next time I ate paella I was on the beach in Spain with my mom for my 30th birthday – pretty incredible there too!

I order it whenever I see it on a menu, so when Mr. Big said he could make it for me over a woodfire in our backyard, I was immediately on Amazon looking for a paella pan that would fit over the firepit. This one is 26 inches, which definitely feeds a crowd!

 

I also ordered Bomba rice, the official paella rice, and saffron threads, which is way cheaper on Amazon than it is in my local store (if I could even find it)!

 

For appetizers, I chose fresh tomato bruschetta and this Tuna & Chickpea Salad that reminded me of a Cod & Chickpea Salad we had in Portugal last summer:

I also chose gazpacho shooters from my friends at Tio Gazpacho – a perfect, light soup that was portable, too, so everyone could mingle! (Side Note: These are the best portable snacks – I get the sampler and it lasts 1-2 months!)

For dinner, we created this incredible paella from a recipe from La Tienda, and served it atop two logs right in the center of the table. Talk about a show stopper!

What do you think? What would you add to your Paella Party?

Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.