25 September, 2012

Pumpkin Brownies- Gluten Free!

A little bit of pumpkin, a little bit of chocolate....

Don't mind if I do.
A good (and easy) way to celebrate fall.

21 September, 2012

Almost Shepherd's Pie

Okay. This technically is not a pie. 
This is something warm and delicious that falls under the comfort food category- it's what happens when a shepherd's pie meets a meat ratatouille.  

Shepherd's pie is basically a beef and vegetable pie topped with a layer of mashed potatoes. Ratatouille is a French dish that is a tomato-based saute of vegetables, eaten as a side dish or main course.
I used spicy Italian sausage in place of beef, used a bunch of ratatouille vegetables like green peppers, onions, and squash, and skipped adding any tomato.  Instead of a mashed potato topping, I used cubed potatoes sauteed in garlic and butter and topped with cayenne pepper.  

You can obviously use sweet ground Italian sausage if you like, but this wasn't overwhelmingly spicy at all.  It definitely had a little kick though.
The Boyfriend went back for seconds.  So did I.  In fact, we almost ate the entire thing.

Chocolate Cookies AND Banana Maple Creme Muffins

Have a box of apple cake mix lying around and in the mood for chocolate cookies?  Cursing yourself for not buying some chocolate cookie mix for a quick chocolaty cookie snack?  
Or perhaps you have a ripe banana you'd rather bake in a sweet treat than eat it on it's own?
You're in luck. I brought these to an open house last night for Partylite candles, who also has a food line by Two Sister's Gourmet.  I've made this mix before as apple cake, and it's good, but I wanted to show how versatile the mix is.  So I made gooey chocolate cookies- they're soft, rich, and gooey, and so chocolaty!

And the banana muffins were moist, the maple creme adding a little sweetness, and the apple cake mix adding some cinnamon and spices. 
They were a hit. 

On a side note- I told The Boyfriend I made cookies, and he's like 'You gotta stop makin' cookies all the time babe.' (We try not to eat so many sweets). Told him don't worry, they're just for the open house.  
Later that night, with cookies leftover, I text him if he wants me to bring some home, and he says 'HELLS YEAH I DO.'   Guess he liked them.

They were at hit at the party too, and recipes were requested.  So here they are!

19 September, 2012

Sweet Summer Squash Pudding

Remember that huge homegrown summer squash I had? 

Well I didn't use the whole thing in the Chicken Chili.  That would be absurd! 
Which left me thinking... what am I going to do with all this squash?  

I used to work at a restaurant that serves a Sweet Corn Pudding.  Oh my God, it was to die for.  So I wondered if a squash pudding would work.
Guess what? It does.  

Roasting the squash with thyme and garlic really gave it a good flavor- and the chili powder added towards the end gave it an unexpected kick.  

This is a great, simple, yet impressive side dish.  It's easy to make, and will impress your guests (have they ever had Squash pudding?  Heck no they haven't! They'll be thinking.. 'How did you think of this?' 'Who would think to make pudding out of squash?' 'How surprising that pureed squash tastes so good!' 'I wish I could cook like this!')      :))))    

It's okay, take the credit.  I don't mind.
The squash a considerably more delicate flavor than corn pudding- corn is a lot sweeter and has a bit of a stronger flavor that stands up to heavier meats (burgers, steak, etc).  Squash is better served with poultry or fish. 

I served this with pork- tender southern style boneless ribs roasted in the oven for 3 hours.  But I wish I had served it with a firm fish- swordfish, mahi mahi, maybe grouper.  I found it a little too delicate in flavor to be paired with pork.

If you want a thicker pudding, add 2 or 3 tbsp of flour when blending.  

17 September, 2012

Gorgonzola Sage Popovers

Hellloooo Beautiful.
These bad boys have a delicate, hollow interior and a crisp exterior.  

A savory popover with hints of sage, the perfect complement to a nice pork tenderloin, beef roast, chili or soup, or almost any other meal I can think of! 

Add this to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner for a really special dinner roll.

The use of a blender in making these popovers makes sure that air is incorporated in the batter, which enables the popovers to blister and give them the beautiful, hollow interior.  
Make sure you use clarified butter when called for, or the popovers will burn.

Sage Chicken Chili with Lentils and Garden Vegetables

Here's a nice fall meal for you!
My parents recently gave me an organic homegrown squash that was almost as big as me.. maybe a mild exaggeration.. but look:
They also gave me homegrown peppers and tomatoes, and with this beautiful fall weather and football season starting, OF COURSE I'M GOING TO MAKE CHILI!

This is a healthier chili- made with chicken, protein packing lentils, and lots of vegetables.  It's mildly spicy, though of course you can adjust it to your own tastes.  If you want less spicy, skip the jalapeno and reduce the chili powder to a teaspoon or none at all. For more spicy, increase chili powder to 2 tbsp, and if you really want it hot add another jalapeno!

This is a one-pot meal- no rice required!  The lentils are way healthier than rice, and make the chili a bit more hearty and filling.  Afraid of lentils?  Don't be- they really don't taste like much- they soak up the flavor of the chili, and The Boyfriend didn't even know they were in there.  He still doesn't.   :)  

This chili would make for a perfect vegetarian chili too- just skip the chicken, increase the lentils, and use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock.  The recipe is very forgiving- add and subtract vegetables as you desire.

As with any chili, this can be made in the crockpot or on the stovetop. I wrote down both methods for you. 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream if you like, maybe a Gorgonzola Sage Popover, and voila! Dinner is served. 

09 September, 2012

Savory Sausage and Spinach Cannelloni

With fall approaching, I can't stop thinking about winter comfort foods. I may be jumping the gun, but I've already made Honey Spice Bread (which is similar to a gingerbread), and have been craving anything that has mounds of melted cheese (brought on by the best macaroni and cheese ever at Casellula in NYC).

So while looking to satisfy that hearty comfort food craving, but in a healthier way, I made this Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Cannelloni.  
This was so good, so warm and filling, and pretty healthy!
  The cannelloni filling is part spicy sausage and part turkey sausage that was sauteed and cooked down with onions and thyme.  The meat then was combined with sauteed garlicky spinach for a hearty, flavorful filling.  The cannelloni's were then placed on a bed of  a very quick raw tomato 'sauce', and topped with bechamel and parmesean cheese.
The cannelloni could easily be made ahead if you're planning on making it for guests or will be short on time.  You could also use jarred tomato sauce to save time.nThe whole thing can be assembled and refrigerated overnight, and then just popped it the oven when your ready!

The best part is the variations are endless! Have leftover chicken? Or even turkey?  Cut into cubes, add some broccoli, and you've got a variation of chicken and broccoli alfredo.  

             You could do sundried tomato, artichokes, and chicken.  Add a little ricotta if you desire..

You could do a caprese style cannelloni- fresh diced tomato, basil, and mozzarella.. maybe add some sauteed pancetta...  and top the whole think with more mozzarella.
I could go on..... but I think you get it ;)