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Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani (Indian Spiced Rice)

Cashew nut snack, roasted and salted

Image via Wikipedia

Christmas is around the corner (trust me it’ll creep up on you really fast, so you better have your gifts ready :-D ), and I like to add a little Indian flair to my Christmas Eve dinner. Ok, I’m obviously not Christian, but being born and brought up in Staten Island, I can say I know a thing or two about Christmas festivities and how important it is, religiously speaking. However, I tend to use Christmas as an excuse to indulge in food and gifts- yes, I’m still a child and there is NO shame in that! For some reason squash reminds me of the holidays- maybe because it’s all over the supermarket in ridiculous quantities and they’re pretty cheap! Just look how cheap you can get some Acorn Squashes at Freshdirect averaging around $1.24 for 1! While using this inexpensive vegetable, I decided to put my Indian twist on Stuffed Acorn Squash.
I roast the squash with some masalas, scoop it out and toss it with Spicy Biryani along with cashews and saffron. It has the perfect winter touch with warm flavors of clove, cardamom, cinnamon and spicy masalas- it’s sure to keep you cozy on a cold snowy day! Biryani by the way is a traditional spicy-roasted basmati rice, served in different varieties across India. It comes in Chicken & Lamb Biryani, but we’re not too concerned with that here :-P . Actually, Wikipediahas a pretty good definition of it! Did I mention this dish is Vegan– yes, I know amazing! So why don’t we get started on my Indian inspired Christmas dish?!
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani:
  • 4 acorn squashes cut in half, gutted
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice soaked in water
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp garam masala (click for a homemade recipe or store-bought is fine)
  • 1 medium red onion- diced
  • 3-4 small sweet peppers- diced
  • handful cashew nuts– chopped a bit
  • pinch of saffron
  • handful cilantro– finely chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp biryani paste- recipe BELOW (or store-bought)
  • 1 medium onion- cut into thick slices (garnishing)
  • salt to taste
  • coarse black pepper
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet place the squash halves, spray with PAM and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp garam masala. Place in the oven and BROIL till tender and charred- about 10-15 minutes.

2. While the squashes are roasting, in a large skillet, spray with PAM and add vegetable oil and set over medium heat. Add the cashews and saute until fragrant and slightly darkened. Add onions and peppers, sprinkle with black pepper and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the onions and peppers are soft, but now brown, add the soaked basmati rice (make sure not to get any water in it!). Saute for 5-7 minutes. You want to toast the the rice.

3. Remove the squash from the oven and cool for a few minutes before handling. Score the squash into small cubes, WITHOUT cutting through the skin. Scoop the cubes out into a bowl and set aside. Keep the shell aside, DON’T throw out!

4. Once the rice is toasted add 1 cup of water, pinch of saffron, cover and cook on medium-low heat, about 15 minutes. You want the rice to be cooked thru, not mushy so don’t mix it around too much! Once the rice is cooked, add the cubed squash, tossing gently (you don’t want the squash to break and mush around the rice). Add the Biryani paste and toss to coat. Mix in 3/4 of the chopped cilantro. Taste for salt and biryani flavor- it should be strong, spicy and aromatic.

5. In a small skillet, spray with PAM and set over medium-high heat. Add onion slices, and saute without breaking up the circles. Cook until brown-ish about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

6. Fill each squash bowl with rice, just coming over the top. Top each one with an onion round and sprinkle with remaining chopped cilantro. Serve with yogurt or raita.

Serves 4

Biryani Paste:

  • 1 medium white onion- diced
  • 1 beefsteak tomato- diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic- crushed and minced (click HERE for amazing garlic tips!)
  • 2 tbsp ginger- freshly grated (need help Tackling Ginger?)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (it should be spicy!)
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 hefty tbsp Biryani paste (I use Patak’s Brand)
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a medium skillet, spray with pam, add oil and set over medium-high flame. Add onions and tomatoes, saute until golden-brown about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chili powder and cilantro. Saute until vegetables are soft and fragrant about 4-5 minutes. Add the biryani paste and mix well, making sure all the veggies are coated. Remove from the heat and let cool (10-15 minutes).

2. In a grinder/food processor, add the biryani mixture and grind until smooth (slightly chunky is ok). Store in an air tight container. Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer- for a while!

Makes about 1/2-1 cup

Can’t Get Enough Healthy Vegan? Check these out:

Tandoori Tofu Masala “Salad”

Spicy Cumin Potatoes with Green Chili Tofu

Indian Sloppy Joe (Pav Bhaji)

Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Idli & Vada (South Indian Delight)

Creamy Maharashtrian Chole

 

 
 

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Betty’s Holiday Table Butter Pecan Spoon Rolls Recipe

Betty's Midwest Kitchen in Aman Suria

In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make Holiday Table Butter Pecan Spoon Rolls. These are yeast rolls that you do not have to wait on to rise. Also, the addition of butter and pecans make them festive for your holiday table.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped pecans
2 cups warm water
1 package dry yeast
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
4 cups self-rising flour
cooking oil spray for muffin tins

In a small saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add ½ cup chopped pecans. Toast over low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, tending constantly. Drain any excess butter, and set aside to cool completely. In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix 2 cups warm water with 1 package dry yeast. Let sit, until ready to add to roll batter. In a large bowl, place ¼ cup sugar. Add yeast/water mixture. Stir together. Add ¾ cup vegetable oil and mix thoroughly. Stir in 4 cups self-rising flour. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon batter into muffin tins that have been sprayed with cooking oil spray, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 12 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve immediately with fresh butter. This dough will keep in the refrigerator easily for a week or more, making them really convenient for serving with large dinners. If you prefer to have plain spoon rolls, just leave out the buttered pecans. I hope you enjoy this recipe! –Betty 

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Baking, Betty's Kitchen

 

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Betty’s Holiday Drinks with Ice Balls Recipe

Some typical alcoholic beverages.

Image via Wikipedia

In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make ice balls and shows how they can be used in Betty’s Christmas Cherry-Pineapple Punch (already in bettyskitchen), and in a new recipe, Betty’s Whisky Sour. The use of ice balls in the place of ice cubes was inspired by Maker’s Mark distillery. I uploaded a video last year of our trip to Maker’s Mark Distillery, in which I explained the Maker’s Mark Ambassador program. You can become a Maker’s Mark ambassador, just by going to Maker’s Mark web site and signing up. (You must be of age.) Maker’s Mark will then place your name on a barrel of their fine bourbon whisky whenever it is ready to cure. It will take about 15 or 16 years for your barrel of whiskey to be cured. It is taste tested by a professional taster, and you will be informed of the progress of your barrel. When your barrel is ready to be bottled, you are given the opportunity to buy whisky from your barrel of whisky. Maker’s Mark sends all of its ambassadors Christmas gifts, and I have shown you a few of them. This year they sent out ice trays for making ice balls. They call them “bourbon balls,” not to be confused with the candy of the same name. (If you are interested in Bourbon Ball Candy, I have Maker’s Mark’s recipe demonstrated in bettyskitchen.) I thought some of your might have received your ice trays, and in this video, I show you how they look with Christmas Cherry-Pineapple Punch, and also with my own Whisky Sours. One great thing about the ice balls is that they keep your drink cold without diluting it like ice chips do. If you don’t have ice ball trays, you can experiment with matching small cups for half-circles of ice. Ice balls can be made ahead and frozen in a zip lock plastic bag for later use. The recipe for my Whisky Sours is below:

Whiskey Sours

Ingredients (for 1 drink):

1 ice ball (If can’t make ice balls, you may use crushed ice.)
2 oz. bourbon whisky
1 oz. lemon juice, chilled
1 oz. lime juice, chilled
2 oz. simple syrup (You can make simple syrup by placing ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a small pot and warming it on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Then cool it in the refrigerator before adding it to the mix.)
½ orange slice, chilled
1 stemmed maraschino cherry, chilled
1 cocktail pick (optional)

Place an ice ball in an Old Fashioned glass. In a measuring cup, mix together 2 oz. bourbon whisky, 1 oz. lemon juice, 1 oz. lime juice, and 2 oz. simple syrup. (If you are not using an ice ball, also add ice chips.) Pour mixture into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. (If you don’t have a shaker, use a mixer or blender to blend well.) Immediately pour over ice ball, and place a cocktail pick containing ½ of an orange slice and 1 stemmed maraschino cherry on top of the drink. Enjoy!

 

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Betty’s Festive Cranberry Orange Muffins

zest

Image by Chris Blakeley via Flickr

In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make her Festive Cranberry Orange Muffins. This is a wonderful bread to serve with your holiday dinner. It’s nice and moist, and is bursting with Christmas flavors. (However, it is great anytime of the year!)

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest (grated orange rind)
6-oz. container vanilla yogurt (You may use plain yogurt or orange-flavored yogurt.)
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, well beaten
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
½ cup pecan pieces (These should be small; you may chop them with an electric kitchen chopper.)
1 tablespoon cold butter
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups self-rising flour, ½ cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon orange zest. Make a well in the center of the mixture. In a small bowl, stir together 2 well-beaten eggs, a 6-oz. container vanilla yogurt, and ½ cup vegetable oil. Add to dry ingredient, stirring until just moistened. The batter will be thick and may contain some lumps. Gently fold in ½ cup dried cranberries and ½ cup chopped pecans. Spoon the batter into a greased and floured 12-cup muffin tin, putting the same amount in each cup. In a small bowl, place 1 tablespoon cold butter, 2 tablespoons flour, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Cut with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Sprinkle equal amounts over batter in muffin cups. Bake at 375 (F) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pans and place on wire racks, and let cool slightly. Place on a nice serving dish and serve while warm. These may be made ahead and frozen. Just thaw them overnight, and warm them in aluminum foil in the oven before serving. This is a magnificent bread to grace your Christmas table! I hope you enjoy it! –Betty ♥

 

 
 

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Betty’s Christmas Fruitcake — Family Favorite!

Two types of vanilla extract

Image via Wikipedia

In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make Christmas Fruitcake. This recipe is a tradition in my family, and my sister, Barbara, makes it every year. It is much better that pre-packaged fruitcakes, and I think you will love the combination of Christmas-y flavors!

Ingredients:

1 lb. pitted dates, chopped
1 lb. pecans, chopped
¼ lb. red, candied cherries, chopped
¼ lb. green, candied cherries, chopped
½ lb. candied, sliced pineapple, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, well-beaten

Combine dates, pecans, cherries, and pineapple in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Combine dry ingredients; add to fruit mixture, stirring well. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Spoon batter into a buttered and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 250 degrees (F) for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake completely in pan. Remove, and place on a nice cake plate. Slice into ½-inch slices to serve. (It is very rich.) Note: Cake may be baked in 2 buttered and floured standard loaf pans at 250 degrees (F) for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. You may think you are not fond of fruitcake, but I think this recipe will convince you that it is a great tradition for the holidays. Thanks to my sister Barbara for the recipe, and much love to all of you at Christmastime! –Betty 

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Baking, Betty's Kitchen, Sweets

 

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Betty’s Christmas Vanilla Butter Cookies

Wheat flour

Image via Wikipedia

In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make Christmas Vanilla Butter Cookies. This recipe is designed for making cookies that are to be cut with specialty cookie cutters, and is also the perfect cookie for frosting. These Vanilla Butter Cookies taste great, too!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg, well-beaten
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
red-colored sugar and green-colored sugar for sprinkling tops of cookies before baking (optional) or icing for after cooling (optional) (I will be uploading Icing for Christmas Cookies in the next upload.)

In a large bowl, beat 1 cup softened butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Add 1 well-beaten egg, and beat for 1 minute. Stir in 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, gradually. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until dough is firm and easy to handle. Roll out on lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into desired Christmas shapes with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheets or baking pans. Sprinkle with green-colored sugar or red-colored sugar, if desired. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown. Cool on wire racks. Transfer to a nice serving plate or cookie tin. These make great Christmas gifts in cookie tins, or you can use them for your Christmas party or to leave for Santa! Enjoy! –Betty 

I know it’s not Christmas, but I am uploading Betty’s videos in some kind of order , so it’s not really the time for these kind of videos, but oh well Christmas cooking videos are always good in my opinion! Enjoy!

 

 

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Betty’s Icing for Christmas Cookies Recipe

eat as much as you can

Image via Wikipedia

In this video, Betty demonstrates how to make Colored Icing for Christmas Cookies. I used red and green colors in this icing. I used red, green, and white icing to turn my Christmas Vanilla Butter Cookies into festive treats! I think you will enjoy icing your Christmas cookies with this recipe.

Ingredients (full recipe; I only made half of the recipe in the video):

2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ tablespoons water
food coloring, as desired (for Christmas cookies, red and green are the best colors to use.)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 ½ tablespoons water thoroughly. Add more water, a few drops at a time, until mixture is of spreading consistency. If the mixture is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. Divide into 3 parts. Color one part with green food coloring to desired shade of green, one part with red food coloring to desired shade of red, and leave the third part white. Use the icing to frost cookies as desired. Let each individual color of icing set up before applying a different color, and let all iced cookies sit on waxed paper until dry. Then you may stack them on a nice serving plate or nestle them in a cookie tin that is lined with Christmas tissue paper or napkins. The cookies will be quite colorful and enjoyable to ice! –Betty 

 

 

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