Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Shrimp

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I love pasta but am not willing to give in to all the unhealthy carbs just for a night of decadence. I am beside myself that spaghetti squash is back in season! No, it is not pasta but it looks like pasta and feels like pasta when combined with our favorite pasta companions like shrimp, oregano, and in this recipe, even sausage. Enjoy!
Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Shrimp

1/2 of a medium sized spaghetti Squash, baked for 1 hour at 350 degrees
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
8 oz. medium shrimp, cooked
1 large chicken sausage, cooked and chopped into 1/2 inch dice (can use any kind of sausage you like)
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Steps:
Take the roasted spaghetti squash and scrape lengthwise with a fork until there is nothing left but the skin. Place squash threads into a bowl.
In a medium sized saute pan, heat up the oil and butter.
When hot, add in the garlic and saute for a minute.
Add in the cooked squash, sausage and shrimp and saute until heated through.
Add in the salt, black pepper and oregano and stir to combine all the ingredients.
Remove from heat and top with the red pepper flakes and toasted pine nuts.
Serve immediately.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Buckwheat Salad

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I made a big batch of buckwheat the other day but added too much water in my rice cooker by accident! It came out soggy and mushy. Instead of tossing it, I decided to turn it into a pilaf and give it some more texture by frying it up and adding some interesting ingredients. The results were a delicious scramble of sorts. I hope you like it as much as I did!
Buckwheat Salad:
2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
4 cups cooked buckwheat
2 medium sized carrots, shredded
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in 1 cup water for 10 minutes and then drained and chopped
1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
Steps:
In a large pan, heat up oil.
Add in the cooked buckwheat and stir until heated through.
Add in the grated carrots, soaked raisins and spices and stir to fully combine.
Top with the seeds and serve warm or hot.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Leftover Black bean Pasta with Sausage and Roasted Squash

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To avoid the extra weight that I always seem to put on in the winter, I am switching my pasta to a healthier ad more delicious one. I discovered black bean pasta at Costco and am now a convert! 2 out of my 4 kids will eat it as well as my husband and that speaks volumes about it’s pleasing texture and flavor. Look for it in health food stores or google it. Try it with whatever you normally eat pasta and you be the judge!
Quick Leftover Pasta with Roasted Squash and Sausage:

8 oz cooked black bean pasta (cook according to instructions))
2 cups already roasted butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cooked chicken sausage , diced into 1/2 inch chunks
salt and pepper to taste
Steps:
In a medium sized frying pan, heat up the oil and butter and saute the minced garlic until wilted.
Add in the butternut squash and coat with the oil and garlic.
Add in the pasta and chopped sausage and stir until heated.
Serve immediately.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Easy Pumpkin Thai Curry

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Want a very quick and easy Thai curry recipe that will serve 2-3 people and takes just a few minutes to prepare? Well, look no further! I substituted the sugar I usually use in curries with dates and it worked out great. Enjoy!
Easy Pumpkin Thai Curry:
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (can use canned)
2 tsp Thai red curry paste (can get in most supermarkets)
4 dried dates, pureed in a food processor
Splash of fish sauce (found in most Asian food stores and some supermarkets)
Steps:
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Heat in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it starts to reduce a bit, approximately 10 minutes.
Serve with rice, vegetables, meat or whatever you like.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Carrot Ginger Dressing

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For the last few weeks, I have been participating in The Whole Life Challenge which is a nutrition, fitness and overall healthy living regimen for 8 weeks. There are some food restrictions but I have been able to make some healthy substitutions, like Greek yogurt instead of silken tofu that I used to use in the following recipe. I used to eat this dressing at the famous east village restaurant Dojo for decades and figured out how to make it myself a few years back. I hope you enjoy it!
Carrot Ginger Dressing:

4 medium sized peeled carrots
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
3 tbsp fresh, ginger, chopped
1 cup Greek plain yogurt
3/4 inch slice red onion
1/4 cup fresh pineapple or other natural sweetener like dates
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
1/4 cup neutral oil like grape seed, avocado or canola oil
Steps:
Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Homemade Shrimp Lo Mein

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When my 14 year old has a food request, I like to honor it. There is not much that this teen and I can agree upon in these trying teen years so I try to work some magic in the kitchen to make the household a bit more Beaver-Cleaver-like. She meticulously removed the carrots but besides that, it made her night. I hope you like it!
Homemade Shrimp Lo Mein:

1 lb chinese lo mein egg noodles (can get at any Asian supermarket and in some ethnic sections of general supermarkets)
3 cups cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into matchsticks
5 scallions, washed and chopped into pea sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1-2 tbsp of Tamari or soy sauce, more if needed (Tamari is wheat free)
2 tsp agave nectar or honey
2 tbsp neutral oil like grapeseed, avocado oil or canola oil
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup roasted cashews, chopped
8 oz. cooked shrimp, chopped
Steps:
In a large pasta pot, cook noodles according to directions, drain and set aside.
Do all your prep work while the pasta is cooking (carrots, cabbage, ginger, garlic, scallions, cashews, cook and chop shrimp)
In a wok or large frying pan over low to medium heat, heat up the neutral oil.
Add in the garlic, ginger and scallions and saute until the scallions start to wilt.
Add in the chopped cabbage, prepped carrots and cook until the cabbage starts to wilt.
Add in the noodles, the shrimp, the tamari, sesame oil, the agave and the cashews and stir to combine fully.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Curried Chicken Salad

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This is a really delicious and simple protein filled recipe that is also perfect to make from leftover roast chicken. Great for lunch , dinner or even a snack!

Curried Chicken Salad:

4 cups chopped, cooked chicken from 2 large breasts
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Steps:
Combine all ingredients together and serve cold on a sandwich or over greens.
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Fried Polenta with Olive oil and Parmesan

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I forgot all about polenta until I saw it in Trader Joe’s yesterday! I was looking for gluten free dinner ideas to make a special dinner for my niece who is going out of town and I saw the prepared tube of polenta on the shelf. These tubes are so user friendly and can be fried up and embellished to become a delicious side dish or appetizer in just a few minutes. Try the following recipe and let me know what you think!
Fried Polenta with Olive oil and Parmesan:

One tube prepared Polenta, sliced into 1/4″ round slices (should make about 20 slices)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Steps:
Heat up a medium to large size non-stick skillet over medium heat (I like the eco friendly ceramic skillets) and add a tsp of the olive oil until hot.
When the oil is smoking a bit, add as many slices as you can to the pan, leaving a little room around them so that you will easily be able to flip them with a spatula.
Wait a few minutes and check with a spatula to see if the underside is getting golden brown. When it does, flip it over and cook until that side is golden brown.
While you’re waiting for the second side to get brown, place a little of the cheese on top.
When the cheese is melted and the second side is golden brown, remove from the pan and loosely cover with aluminum.
Start making the second batch and when they are all done, serve immediately. Enjoy!
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Cucumber Raita

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Sometimes the simplest recipes are the ones we relish. I have been on an Indian cooking kick for a few weeks now and I love making this quick raita (yogurt sauce) to accompany dishes that need a little sauce. I have been making use of all my luscious cucumbers from our garden but any store bought ones will do as well. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped into 1/4 inch chunks
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 0% fat preferred
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced finely
pinch of Kosher salt
Steps:
Mix the minced garlic and yogurt together until fully combined.
Add the yogurt to the cucumbers and stir to fully coat.
Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, stir and chill for at least 15-30 minutes.
Enjoy!
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Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Corn Frittata with Kale

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What to do when you have a little leftover ricotta from making a lasagna? How about making a quick and tasty fritatta? I love using up some leftover corn as well to give it some summer freshness. Enjoy!
Corn Frittata with Kale
9 eggs
1 1/2 cup cooked corn cut off the cob or defrosted frozen corn
1 cup kale, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper to taste
2 oz. ricotta
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, add in the salt and pepper and set aside.
Wash and chop the kale and then pat dry.
Heat up the butter in a medium sized ovenproof skillet and cook the onions until translucent. Should take about 5 minutes.
Add in the kale and saute until wilted.
Add in the corn and stir until heated through.
Add in the eggs and wait about 30 seconds until you slowly start folding the eggs toward the middle, letting the runny eggs flow to the sides.
Gently fold the eggs in on themselves for about 2 minutes and then add the dollops of ricotta cheese on top.
Place on the top rack of the oven and broil for about 3 -5 minutes until the eggs are fully set.
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