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Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto

I apologize in advance that I have been MIA lately. Things have been very busy over at the The Hicks House. But not to worry, we’ve gotten a few things done that I will be filling you in on shortly. But first a recipe! 🙂

I am fully aware, that my recipes are the least popular section of this blog and for those of you who read this for house updates, maybe you should just come back next week mmmkay?

Anyhoo, this recipe is adapted from Mountain Mamma Cooks. I stumbled upon it on Pinterest and thought it sounded like the perfect fall meal, it was just missing something and that something was sausage. I also did not use barley, as I’ve never cooked with that before and had regular arborio risotto on hand.

So without further ado… I give you butternut squash, sausage and kale risotto:
Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto | Hicks House

This dish embodies the flavors of fall. It is a bit more labor intensive than I generally like I’m a lazy simplistic cook, but the idea of this meal made my mouth water, so I just made sure to make enough for two meals so neither of has to cook another day this week, score! And we get to eat this wonderful meal again, DOUBLE SCORE! (I may or may not have done a fist pump when I realized that… don’t judge)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I buy this pre-cut. If you’ve ever tried to cut butternut squash you understand why)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil (I didn’t measure this out – just eyeball it based on guestimates and your like/dislike of olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup of onion diced – I used about 1/3 of a large vidalia
  • 16oz of vegetable or chicken stock – keep on hand, I have ALWAYS used more than every recipe suggests
  • 1 cup risotto
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced kale, or kale mixture (I used a mix of baby kale, chard and baby spinach because that’s what I had)
  • 1/3 cup parmesean cheese
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto | Hicks House
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the butternut squash a large bowl and toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil till evenly coated, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a foil lined cookie sheet and place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, turn pan or flip squash occasionally (I did this once at about 20 minutes.)

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto

Over medium heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to a medium pot, once hot add onions and saute until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic and risotto and stir for about a minute, the risotto will start to look sort of “wet” from the oil.

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto | Hicks House

Add the white wine. Don’t waste the rest of the bottle – pour yourself a glass too… Reduce heat to medium/medium low. You want to keep it at a slow simmer, but not so hot that all the liquid burns off immediately. Stir regularly (I cannot stress this enough – it is the single most important step when making risotto). When the wine is mostly absorbed, add about a 1/2 cup broth and continue adding broth whenever it is just about absorbed. Many recipes I’ve read say to heat your broth when making risotto, I tried this the first time and found it more difficult to add in than pouring right from the box and didn’t notice a difference in the end result.

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto | Hicks House

About 15 minutes into your risotto, you can begin browning your sausage. If you’re a super multi-tasker like I am (wink wink) you can stir both at the same time – one with each hand.

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto | Hicks House

When the sausage is done, remove it from the heat. Start tasting your risotto about 25 minutes in, depending on how firm you like your risotto it could take any where from 25 – 35ish minutes. When it’s almost

to the consistency you like add your last round of broth and the sliced kale. Mix well, until wilted add the sausage and parmesean cheese and stir.

IMG_1698
Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto | Hicks House
Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kate Risotto | Hicks House

My butternut squash timer went off about 15 minutes before I reached this step, but I didn’t think it was “done” enough so I left it in the oven. (I’m not sure you can over-roast squash). Once your squash is easily pierced with a fork it’s done.

Top your risotto with the squash or mix it all in together and curl up in your little pocket of fall heaven.

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Risotto | Hicks House

Enjoy!
Hicks House


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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Hicks House | Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Fall is in the air, the grill is on the outs and the oven is back as the main cooking star. These Stuffed Zucchini Boats combine the fresh summery taste of zucchini with the heartier flavors and texture of ground meat (with a little creamy cheese thrown in for good measure).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground meat of your choice – I used bison, but have used turkey in the past, ground beef would the kitchen staple go-to for most kitchens.
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 2 oz of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • chipotle seasoning
  • red pepper flakes
  • ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut the ends off your zucchinis, and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon carve out the middle section of the zucchini, reserving the fillings – this will go into your stuffing.
Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Hicks House

Place your boats on a foil lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with black pepper.
Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Hicks House

In a large skillet over medium heat saute your peppers, onions, garlic and zucchini centers. Season with chipotle, red pepper flakes and black pepper to your liking.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Hicks House

The zucchini gives off a lot of liquid, when the liquid is mostly gone add your ground meat and cook through ensuring all the liquid is cooked off. (We added more seasoning – we prefer a little kick :-))

Transfer your filling into a large bowl, add cream cheese and mix.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Hicks House

Spoon the stuffing mixture into your boats.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Place in your preheated oven for 30 minutes until the zucchini is cooked through. Serve and enjoy!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Hicks House


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Baked Eggplant Fries

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

This is one of my favorite side dishes in the history of the universe. The first time I tried eggplant fries it was at a local pizza restaurant, they were fried not baked and I fell in love. It sparked a mission to find a way to make them at home, and at least somewhat healthier as we refuse to buy a deep fryer.

Ingredients

  • One medium to large eggplant (dependent on how many fries you are looking to end up with)
  • Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Eggs (We used the whole egg, you can substitute just egg whites if you are looking for a healthier alternative, however you may need extra eggs

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put your breadcrumbs in a bowl (we don’t measure this, just go by eye and add more if we run out). Crack and whip your eggs in another bowl or in a Tupperware. Use a third bowl or Tupperware for your olive oil – again we don’t measure but 2-3 tablespoons to start should be good.

Cut the top and bottom off your eggplant then cut in half. Turn each half so the cut side is facing up and then cut into cross sections creating your “fries”.

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House
Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House
Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Then begin your breading process. Coat the fries lightly with olive oil. Eggplant tends to soak up oil very fast so just do a couple at a time – remember we are baking not frying. Coat in the egg followed by the breadcrumbs making sure to fully coat all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet and continue until you have breaded all of your fries.

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Spray lightly with some more olive oil – this helps to get the outsides crispy.

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Bake for 7-10 minutes, flip and cook an additional 7-10 minutes. Your fries will be sizzling and bubbly but the outsides will still seem soft. Now here is the trick to crispy fries – flip a second time switch your oven to broil and cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes. WATCH THEM CLOSELY! They will brown quickly, you want a nice browned look to them but if they look like they are starting to burn take them out.

Serve with your favorite protein and dig in!

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House


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Chicken Broccoli & Cheese Pockets

I’ve had a couple special requests for this recipe, as it’s one of the go-to staples in our house and I rave about it all the time. You may remember the variation I posted utilizing Thanksgiving leftovers. Way back then I alluded to the fact that we generally make ours with chicken and broccoli, so after much ado here it is.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Breast of Cooked Chicken (either cubed or shredded)
  • 4 ounces low fat cream cheese – softened
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • One medium head of broccoli – diced (I only use the tops and toss the stems)
  • Ground Black Pepper – to your liking
  • One package of seamless crescent dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of your ingredients with the exception of the dough and about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese in a bowl until well combined, ensuring a good coating of cream cheese over all of the ingredients.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray or a light coating of olive oil. Prepare your dough. Lay in the center of your cookie sheet and gently press out towards the edges with your fingers to elongate and thin the dough. Make sure you do not make any holes, if you accidentally rip the dough squish back together.

Once you have achieved a decent size, cut into two pieces down the middle. Portion your filling into each of your two halves and top with remaining cheese.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Now fold it up like a Won-Ton – Ya know pinch all the edges together so the filling can’t squeak out. Ken and I each fold our own pockets, its always a competition as to whose is prettier and whose doesn’t crack open. Up to you whether you turn this into a cook-off or not – it may or may not make dinner prep more fun.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Then enjoy all the ooey gooey deliciousness that is the Pocket.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pocket | Hicks House

One of the best things about this recipe is the versatility. You can literally put any kind of meat or veggie in here and its a great way to use up leftovers. Some varieties we’ve tried include:

      • Steak, Pepper and Onion
      • Buffalo Chicken with Blue Cheese
      • Chicken, Olive and Feta

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
Hicks House


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Double Decker Tacos

Double Decker Tacos | Hicks House

Have you ever had a Double Decker Taco? Perhaps you have at Taco Bell – I used to eat them there all the time back in the day. For me it was an easy step to take the idea and apply it at home, however I find that whenever I talk about it, the idea hasn’t occurred to most people. When Ken and I first started dating I suggested making them for dinner one night and he looked at me like I had lost my mind – flash forward 30 minutes and crazy had turned to genius. In fact they are so good that whenever we have a planned Taco Night we both look forward to it like giddy school children.

So this isn’t a recipe per se but rather a new way to make something you may be making already. So this what you need:

Ingredients:

  • Taco Kit
  • Ground Beef or Turkey (we use turkey)
  • Refried Beans
  • Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Taco Toppings of Choice (ours generally consist of shredded spinach, fat free sour cream, black olives, and diced tomatoes)

doubledeckertaco

Put your refried beans in a small saucepan and heat on medium low while you prepare your taco meat. The kit we generally use comes with a seasoning mix, however we have bought others that give you extra taco shells instead and then you have to buy it separately.

The real magic is in the assembly. Take your warmed tortilla shell and spread your refried beans over the entire surface.

Double Decker Taco | Hicks House

Then place your hard shell in the middle and wrap your tortilla around it. (I did take a picture or this step but it came out super blurry) Fill your taco as you normally would – if you put the cheese on the bottom it will melt a bit when you top it with the hot taco meat.

Then enjoy the best taco you’ve ever had!

Double Decker Tacos | Hicks House

It’s that easy! I hope you enjoy as much as we do!
Hicks House

 


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Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

If you like comfort food then this recipe is for you.  It’s a favorite winter weekend dish in our house.  A kicked up version of traditional meatloaf we use turkey instead of the more traditional ground beef to cut back on fat and because after years of substituting turkey for ground beef we now prefer the taste.  To help make it somewhat less bad more nutritious we also add in spinach.

For such a flavorful dinner the prep is extremely easy even wannabe cooks with no kitchen skills (like myself) can do it without supervision. 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of ground Turkey
  • 3 cups of shredded low moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 6 oz Stuffing mix or bread crumbs (I prefer the chunkier texture of stuffing mix)
  • 2 cups of chopped fresh baby spinach tails removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup of onion diced
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of your favorite sauce
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • Ground Black Pepper

Assemble all of your ingredients together
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dice up your onions and mince or dice your garlic and add it to a large bowl
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Add in your egg
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Then your chopped spinach
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Measure out your stuffing mix and break up any extra large clumps if you find it necessary then add that to the mix too.
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Then add 3/4 cup of the sauce reserving the other 1/4 cup, 2.5 cups of the mozzarella and the parmesan cheese.
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Lastly add the ground Turkey and seasonings to your liking (don’t taste there is raw egg and meat in here – gross). All of the directions up until this point could have simply been “Combine all ingredients with exception of 1/4 cup of the sauce and 1/2 cup of mozzarella. However, if your like me and I wrote it like that you would dump in everything or forget something.

Then mix it all together with your hands. Go ahead get in there and make sure its all good and mixed. (I hate this part – I usually ask Ken to do it for me, if your less of a chicken you can handle it yourself)
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Put the mixture into a sprayed loaf pan, pack down and form into a loaf-like shape.
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Put in your pre-heated oven uncovered and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the sauce and cheese you saved.
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes to allow the cheese to melt and ensure the loaf is cooked through.

Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. If you cut right into it when it’s super piping hot it will most likely fall apart. (I do this all the time, I can’t wait. It still tastes the same just doesn’t look “pretty”)

Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

Serve with your favorite vegetable and dig in!
Hicks House | Loaded Turkey Meatloaf

I’d love to hear if you give this recipe a spin and what you think.
Hicks House


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Grilled Avocado BLT

It’s been a little while since the last time I posted a recipe. When I first started this blog I never imagined I would post a single one, since my skills in the kitchen are quite limited. However once in awhile something is just too delicious not to share so I hope you enjoy reading the occasional food post as much as I like eating sharing them!

Luckily for me, Ken is more adept in the kitchen than I am and willing to indulge my sometimes odd food requests. Last weekend while in the grocery store pondering what to make for lunch we we’re staring a giant guacamole display in front of the meat counter (hello thick cut bacon) and the idea struck “what about avocado BLT’s?”

So with no other idea and the pains of hunger growing we decided to stop deliberating and just go with it. We purchased our avocado and headed home to assemble our sandwiches.

Once we started things slowly got out of control… “What if we grill the sandwiches rather than just toasting the bread – that would be yummy”… “If we’re going to grill it then we need cheese too – what’s a grilled sandwich without melted cheese”…

So that all led us eventually to this awesomeness:
Hicks House | Grilled Avocado BLT

Here it is step by step how we did it:

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bread
  • butter or margarine to spread on 1 side of each slice of bread (or cooking spray if using a panini press)
  • 6 slices of bacon cooked
  • 1 tomato cut into slices
  • 2 slices of cheese (or 4 if you had mini slices like we did)
  • spinach or lettuce – enough to cover one slice of bread
  • avocado cut into thin slices

The first step is to prepare all your ingredients and cook your bacon. Spray your panini press or butter two slices of bread and place on a cold skillet.

Start layering your ingredients. We did it in this order: spinach – avocado – cheese (we used monterey jack) – bacon – tomato.
Hicks House | Grilled Avocado BLT

Hicks House | Grilled Avocado BLT

Hicks House | Grilled Avocado BLT

Hicks House | Grilled Avocado BLT

Hicks House | Grilled Avocado BLT

At this point we remembered we own a panini maker and were wondering why we always make these large stack sandwiches in a skillet… So we transferred it to the panini maker and topped with the final slices of bread.

If you are using a skillet top with your second bread slices and turn the heat to medium until browned (just like grilled cheese) then carefully flip without loosing all your fillings. (This is an art that Ken has mastered due to our perpetual forgetfulness that we own a panini maker) Continue cooking until the other side is browned.

If using a panini maker turn it on and press till browned and cheese is melty.

Enjoy!
Hicks House | Grilled Avocado BLT