HEART health EAT to LIVE light

Let's fill our hearts with healthy goodness so that our reunion...
with anything sweet will be realized with a little less guilt.


In support of our...
Healthy Heart awareness month...
here's my loving dedication.

Self-esteem kitchen issues...
seem to run high within my circle.
You know who you are :-)

I'm here to tell you to get over yourselves and invite me over at the very least for a sandwich by your countertop ;o))

I promise to eat and appreciate every morsel ;o) 
I'm not that intimidating...am I???

As for everyone else, you must be wondering why...
I'm bringing this up and not a fancy...
Valentine meal or dessert?
A little patience...it's coming in next weeks' post.

For today, this will be a message to my surrounding friends and family that have some of these pesky kitchen dilemmas.

I do consider myself being blessed with silver fingers in baking and the golden thumb in cooking.  
The latter is not something I particularly struggle with.
Due to a very fortunate star set upon me...cooking seems to come quite naturally.

Baking is my therapy...
however, due to the sometimes precise complexities...
I have experienced more than my share of a few failures in my lifetime.


Just this past Sunday...
I had ‘Sushi’s granDOGparents over...
for a pre-Valentine Brunch.

After all...
they're leaving for an extended vacation where this may be their last good meal for a while. LOL

The table was set and waiting for a brunch feast to be served.
Most of the meal went well except for the tiny mishap with the poached eggs ;o(
I will be bringing this up in another post for sure.

By this time, most of the meal had proceeded reasonably well until...
I had decided to show Mom how I make a last minute dessert...on the spot no less.
Big mistake!
I had a doozer of an embarrassing experience with some...
Molten Chocolate light cakes.
The height and soft interiors were nowhere to be found.

All these mini-cakes had going for them was...
a pretty decent presentation and good quality chocolate.

To think that I had made this same recipe twice before with fabulous results.
Later in the evening, I realized what two things went very wrong due to distraction.
I'll surely bring up this other full experience again in another post also.

At one point, since Mom felt it was so unlike me to experience two flops in one invite...
the question begged to be asked...are you alright Claudia?
I thought I was doing fine until later that evening a few other situations happened.
I thought it was best to call it a day and start over fresh the next day.

Therefore, this was certainly one that made the Honorary Top 10 Flops for sure.
Hubby still brings up the forgotten baking powder in one of my other cakes.
Alright, here's the message to the ones that...
think I'm always cooking elaborate meals...NOT.
Are you kidding me?
After a full day...do you honestly think I'm really always in the mood to cook?
Back to a few of my desperate moments in my kitchen...
which actually turn out to be quite edible indeed.
You'll see, from the moment I open that fridge to what finally...
appears at the table can actually be at times miraculous.

Therefore, friends and family...
this is the last time I'll need to console you on...
your frequent dull meal prep moments.
This is how it actually unrolls itself during my uninspired beginnings.

The other day...
I had come in with a few chills coming from the outdoors...
...and since I wasn't really in the mood for restaurant food...
I gave a quick browse in the semi-empty refrigerator.

Although, in all fairness...the shelves did hold some promise.
There was some meatloaf and a few anxious veggies begging to be used.

With the leftover meatloaf...I thought of making, a comforting 'Pasta e Ceci'...{Garbanzo pasta soup} with a little more substance. I actually called this my most desperate put-together soup ever.  No kidding.
To the quick chopped veggie mix I added cans of Japanese Enokitake mushrooms and crushed Italian tomatoes.  Chicken stock was in the freezer and so were some chick peas which I had prepared the other day.  Added to that, some small shelled type pasta got cooked right before serving.  It actually turned into a soup meal to be proud of.
All there was left to do was add a drizzle of olive oil...Parmigiano and a generous garnish of fresh parsley leaves. Voila, a quick, healthy soup...and a great taste all around. It seems, that one more time...the least thought-out menu turned into a good light supper.


On another day of the week, I had a...
rustic romantic reunion
with one of my favourite squash named...
the 'Table Queen'...
otherwise commonly known as the
'Pepper' or 'Acorn' squash.

I had purchased this acorn squash which later ended up sitting in a tray for almost a month.
Although, I've used it quite often in my cooking and baking...for some reason it just kept staring at me.


Easily available...this 'pepper' acorn squash rose to the occasion and showed its true colors. It was perfectly without the unwanted blemishes and some of the deeper shades of orange were very welcomed...especially at this time of year.

     I had nothing elaborate in mind when I split open the squash and scooped its seeds to then start roasting it.  At first, I was going to eat it as a side dish and then something in me shifted.  I figured, why not do something a little different with it this time.
I opened the fridge door and quickly took inventory of what was left from my veggies before the next jaunt to the store.
All of a sudden, an inspiring moment emerged. I got out the deep pan...poured a little olive oil and sautéed some veggies. I  soon found myself getting some inspiring momentum in my pan.  A few dried herbs, spices and I was in business.  The spinach came in as an after thought, only because I had initially bought them for another dish.  Oh, what the heck...in went the spinach for a little green to the veggie mix.

This nutritional 'Table Queen'...
full of fibre, plenty of vitamins and minerals...
was now going to find herself in great company.
A mild, along with an aged cheese got added to the scooped out flesh and the veggie mix.
I had made sure to keep the shells intact so that I could stuff them back.

stuffed Acorn Squash Veggie hearts
serves 2 persons
Click HERE for PRINTER version

(American / Metric measures)
. 1 roasted Acorn Squash
Vegetable mix:
. 4 tbsps. (60ml) olive oil
. 1 large sweet onion
. 1 red bell pepper
. 1 small Nappa cabbage
. 1 bunch of baby Spinach
. splash of Sherry or White wine (optional)
. 1 tsp. (5ml) each: sea salt, garlic powder, dried basil and oregano
. 1/2 cup (65g) shredded aged Cheddar
. 1/2 cup (65g) shredded Friulano or other mild cheese
. a little extra cheese for the optional gratin

. Pre-heat oven at 375F/190C/Gas5 and position rack at the second level from the bottom of oven.
...roast SQUASH:
1. Split squash in half and place cut side down on a parchment pre-lined baking sheet.  Make tiny incisions in order to permit the squash to exhaust a little steam.
2. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the knife pokes easily through the flesh without it being too soft.
3. Take out of oven to cool slightly before carefully scooping out the flesh to go back into the stuffing.
. Lower the oven to 350F/180C/Gas4 while the rest is ready to assemble and be put back into the oven.
4. While the squash is roasting...start caramelizing the onions.  Then continue by sautéing all the vegetables and seasonings as mentioned in the ingredients list.  Add the optional splash of wine towards the end.
5. Place the scooped out squash into a medium bowl along with the cheeses and the vegetable mix.
6. Put the finished mix evenly distributed between the two squash halves and place back onto the baking sheet to bake for another 20 minutes.  If you wish, at the very end, a little more cheese can be added and placed under the LOW broiler setting for another 2 minutes or so until desired gratin is achieved.
. Serve with a side of salad or simply with crusty bread or crackers.  Buon appetito.

Today, hopefully served on a few fronts.
One, to remind us that it's not difficult to eat healthy.
Second, we all have our desperate moments.
Thirdly, I certainly enjoyed spilling and sharing my little kitchen confessions.

I'm sure, you may also have some...
desperate moments to share.
Well, here's your chance...share a little so that our HEARTS and soul will feel free.

Flavourful wishes,

Comments or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SAVOURY creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.