Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

I will readily admit that Spaghetti Squash has never been a favorite. That’s probably an understatement – I couldn’t stand it. So, I wasn’t very excited to get two from our CSA – they hung out in my pantry for a few weeks as I pondered whether to try them or to give them away. Yes, yes, I know…shameful. In the end, I consulted with a few great cooks and decided to keep them and give them another try. I’m happy to report that this preparation changed my mind. This was a total hit with the family! I served it as a side dish alongside pork chops. You can change the herbs and the amounts for what you prefer but the sage was absolutely amazing.

Sautéed Spaghetti Squash

SAUTEED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
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2 sm-med. Spaghetti Squash
4 Tb. butter (you could sub olive oil if you are vegan)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-3 Tb. Fresh Sage
1-2 Tb. Fresh Parsley
1-2 tsp. Fresh Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut Spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a shallow baking sheet (like a bar pan or jelly roll pan). Add water to 1/2 inch. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes (I actually turned mine over). Scrape out seeds. In a separate bowl, scrape out the squash.

In a skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and herbs. Cook for a few minutes until garlic is softened and the herbs are aromatic. Add the squash and sauté for 5 minutes until heated through and combined with butter and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Balsamic Figs w/Yogurt Cream Cheese & Walnuts

Seriously, I have been missing out. I have always associated figs with those packaged fig cookies which were a treat as a child. My goodness people, if you have not eaten a fresh fig, get yourself to the store immediately and buy some. They are splendid. Maybe I’ve had them before but it seems I would remember…

These were a splurge at the farmer’s market. We wanted to try something new and the seller had samples. One taste and we were totally hooked. We debated how to prepare them and finally settled on this recipe. It was inspired by a recipe on Food Network, I believe. They were difficult to successfully photograph but they were not difficult to eat. This dessert is not super sweet but it is comforting and delicious. It would be a lovely treat during the hustle and bustle of the holidays!

BALSAMIC FIGS with YOGURT CREAM CHEESE & TOASTED WALNUTS
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8 figs, sliced in 1/2

Balsamic Reduction:
1/4 c. orange juice
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
2 Tb. honey

Combine and boil for 5 minutes to reduce to a more syrupy consistency.

Heat broiler. Toss the figs in the balsamic reduction and then place cut side up on a pan and broil for 5-6 minutes until caramelized.

3 Tb. chopped Walnuts, toasted in butter

Yogurt Cream Cheese:
1/4 c. cream cheese
1/4 c. plain yogurts
1 Tb. honey

Beat until smooth.

To serve: place figs on plate and drizzle the remaining reduction from the pan, spoon the yogurt cream cheese over them and top with the walnuts.

Sweet Potato Maple Bacon Pie

Deliciouness abounds in this pie. I absolutely love the combination of sweet and salty. The candied bacon and maple cream kind of stole the show – as in, I could eat a whole bowl of just those two combined. 🙂 Seriously though, this pie was good! I served it to my parents and husband and they all proclaimed it delicious and they were all surprised at how much they LOVED the bacon.

Personally, I still like pumpkin pie better than sweet potato (it’s a texture thing) but I would totally make this again and serve it to guests and especially find more uses for that bacon. This is really an awesome twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. I’m already dreaming of the leftovers for breakfast. [Just a small note – the bacon looks dark in the picture but it was not burned I assure you!]

There are a few steps to this pie but it is not difficult and the steps do not need to be completed all at once.

SWEET POTATO MAPLE BACON PIE
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1 pie crust in a pie pan (you can make your own or buy a prepared one)
2 c. pureed sweet potato
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 c. evaporated milk
2 Tb. maple syrup
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the sweet potato, milk, egg, and maple syrup in the blender. Add the spices. Pour into the crust. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.  Then decrease oven to 350° and bake for 35-45 minutes until set.

CANDIED BACON
3 strips bacon, roughly chopped (mine was fairly thick)
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. brown sugar

Toss the bacon with brown sugar and maple syrup. Cook until crisp stirring and moving continually. It cooks fairly quickly and you need to keep an eye on it. Drain and cool completely.

MAPLE CREAM
1 c. whipped cream
2 Tb. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Just before serving, whip the cream for 1 minute. Add maple syrup and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of pie. Top with candied bacon pieces.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

These were so quick to put together! They were very simple and went perfectly with the soup and salad I had made for dinner. They were light and fluffy and had terrific flavor.

I think these would be wonderful for Thanksgiving. You could change them up by adding maple syrup instead of sugar or by adding a little cinnamon. They bake for less than 15 minutes which makes them ideal to pop in right as people are gathering (and the oven is finally empty) and then pull them out warm as everyone is filling their plate. I served them with just butter but a maple butter or orange butter would also be good or a drizzle of honey.  

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
(Food Network Magazine, November 2011, Paula Deen)
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3/4 c. cooked mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
1/3 to 1/2 c. whole milk, as needed
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 Tb. sugar (I think maple syrup would be delish – you would not need quite as much milk)
1 Tb. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (with butter, oil or cooking spray).

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and 1/3 cup milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with your hands, a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sweet potato mixture and fold gently to combine. Add the remaining milk a little at a time until all the flour is moistened. The amount of milk you will need will depend on the moisture of the sweet potato.

Sprinkle a small handful of flour on a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead lightly 2 to 3 times with the palm of your hand until the mixture comes together. Pat the dough out into a 1/2-inch-thick round.

Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. Gently reroll the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light golden brown and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve these fluffy biscuits warm or at room temperature. Makes 9-12.

Sage Squash

Squash is such a fall speciality. It is featured in recipes and in decorations. It evokes feeling of fall, warmth, and comfort and there are SO many varieties. As Steph and I wandered through the farmer’s market, we admired many squash and finally settled on a buttercup squash. It was a new one for both of us. While I prefer delicata and perhaps butternut squast over the buttercup, I did really enjoy this recipe. You could successfully substitute your favorite squash in this recipe.

If you are looking for a new side dish or a different way of preparing squash, then you will surely enjoy this. It is simple but delicious and certainly fancy enough for your holiday feasting.

SAGE SQUASH
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1 Squash of your choice (about 3 -4 cups cubed)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter, melted
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tb. butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp. fresh sage
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and cube the squash. Toss with olive oil, 1 tsp. melted butter, salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper). Roast until tender about 15-20 minutes.

Melt 2 Tb. butter in a sauté pan. Add onion and cook until tender. Add sage and rosemary and a little more butter if needed and sauté until fragrant and onion is lightly browned. Add roasted squash and gently toss to coat with butter onion mixture. Garnish with more sage if desired.

 

Market Fresh: Fall Salad

The delicious toppings for salad during the fall season make some of the best salads. Recently I tried a new dressing on a bed of mixed greens, sliced apples, chopped walnuts, craisins, and goat cheese. It was wonderful! And really, the whole salad was brought together with the creamy, tangy, richness of the goat cheese (don’t skip it!). Everyone enjoyed the combination of flavors and the large salad bowl was empty at the end of the meal.

HONEY DIJON VINAIGRETTE (I doubled this for a great big salad)
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1 Tb. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Gradually whisk in  the oil.

Market Fresh: Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash is my favorite winter squash. I love its mild, sweet taste and its bright orange color. I’ve been noticing the suggestion this fall of using butternut squash puree in place of pumpkin puree in your favorite pumpkin recipes. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Here are some other ideas for butternut squash:

Butternut Tarts with Spinach and Feta make a delicious fall take on quiche.

This Spicy Butternut Curry is a recipe I made several times last fall. Company loved it and, served with brown rice, it is a very healthy meal.

Roasted Sweet and Savory Squash is a quick and easy side dish that mixes fresh herbs, butter, and brown sugar for a winning combination.

Favorite Fall Recipes

In my opinion, fall is one of the best seasons for cooking and eating. Harvest provides the bounty to cook with and hungry appetites, whetted by the cold weather, are eager to devour the fruits of the kitchen. Here are our favorites:

Rustic Apple Tart: I love to make these tarts because they are easier than a pie, and you can get two of them from one recipe of pie crust. Apple pie is a perennial favorite and a must for the autumn.

Spicy Butternut Curry: this was a random selection from a squash cookbook that turned out to be a winner. I served it to company as well as just to our family.

Spiced Cider Punch: We enjoyed this at a friend’s wedding and then used it for parties here at home. It is easy, seasonal, and very delicious.

Roman Apple Cake: This was most likely the first apple recipe I ever made growing up and it has stuck around as my go-to for a comfort cake.

Treacle Scones: these scones are filled with the scents of autumn and perfect for tea time on a windy wet day.

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SAUSAGE LENTIL SOUP: We love this soup – It’s filling and absolutely delicious!

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BEET, GOAT CHEESE, & AVOCADO SALAD: This was such an unexpected and fabulous combination of flavors.

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PUMPKIN DESSERTS: Pretty much anything pumpkin tends to be my favorite! The pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars, and pumpkin cheesecake are all wonderful.

cranberry pie
CRANBERRY CHESS PIE: I stumbled on this recipe a few years ago and it’s become a family favorite.

PUMPKIN PANCAKES & MAPLE BACON: While I didn’t love how the photo turned out, we have continued to return to this pancake recipe.  Very fallish!

Off the Shelf: October Magazines

The weather is cooling and filling the house with good smells is one of the best activities! Our October magazines arrived and fall is officially ushered in – at least in our kitchens. We talked about magazines we would review and we have chosen four but the reality is – you can’t go wrong with any of the fall magazines. I have Bon Apetit and Cooking Light in my menu plan ideas with several recipes marked. All of the magazines have wonderful, seasonal recipes and there is a good chance you will see a few more recipes featured here during October and November.

Everyday with Rachael Ray (Alaina) – This magazine has a great variety of recipes. It was such a tough choice of what to make. The Pear & Goat Cheese Crostini, Spiced Squash with Browned Butter Glaze, Maple-Walnut Chicken Thighs & Cheddar-Apple Rice, and Apple Tart Tatin were all tempting. I think I’m just ready for the fall fruits and vegetables!

Mini Meatloaves Smothered with Onions finally made the cut and they were delicious. The combination of beef, dates, bacon, and onions with worcestshire sauce and balsamic vinegar made for flavorful and moist meatloaves.

MINI MEATLOAVES SMOTHERED with ONIONS
(Everyday with Rachael Ray, October 2010)
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1/2 cup pitted dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/3 pounds ground beef
3 onions, 2 thinly sliced and 1 finely chopped
3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 375°. In a bowl, combine the dates and breadcrumbs, working the mixture through your fingers to separate. Mix in the beef. Mix in the chopped onion, bacon, egg, worcestershire and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 mounds and, on a baking sheet, shape into loaves. Place on the upper rack and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, on another baking sheet, toss the sliced onions with the butter and season with salt; spread out evenly. Bake on the lower rack, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 30 minutes. Serve the meatloaves with the onions.

Food Network Magazine (Alaina) – I love this edition of Food Network. The recipes all look wonderful and again it was such a hard decision. How can you go wrong with a pull-out full of 50 delicious Panini ideas?! And the use of fall ingredients is impressive.

I’m still planning to make the Pumpkin Waffles with Trail Mix Topping and the Slow-Cooker Squash Stew and perhaps a few more!  The Caramel Apple Cake, Pumpkin Pie Parfaits, Honey-Mustard Chicken & Apples, and Portabella Fries all sound so good.

After many requests for more side dish recipes, I decided to try a couple of the recipes included in this magazine. So, we enjoyed Sweet Potato Mash and Sesame Broccoli. We really liked both dishes.

SWEET POTATO MASH
(Food Network, October 2010)
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Pierce 4 sweet potatoes with a fork; microwave 8 minutes. Scoop the flesh into a bowl, then mash. Brown 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet, then add 8 sage leaves and fry until crisp; transfer to a plate. Cook 4 chopped scallions with salt and pepper in the browned butter. Drizzle over the sweet potatoes; top with the sage.


SESAME BROCCOLI
(Food Network Magazine, October 2010)
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Cook 1 bunch broccoli spears in a steamer set over simmering water, 10 minutes. Pulse a 1-inch piece peeled ginger, 1 garlic clove, 2 tablespoons each water and sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and a pinch each of sugar and salt in a mini food processor. Drizzle over the broccoli and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Midwest Living (Heather) — Although Midwest Living is not technically a food magazine, the Sept/Oct issue included a huge spread focused on cranberries. The article was so beautiful and inspiring that I felt it was worth mentioning here.

The cranberry article included things such as cranberry scones, cranberry layer cake, and cranberry apple sweet potatoes. I chose to try the Crimson Slaw and it was delicious. The color, taste, and texture were right on and paired perfectly with my baked ham, roasted sweet potatoes, and steamed green beans.

CRIMSON SLAW
(Sept/Oct Midwest Living 2010)
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1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry red wine (optional — but added a great depth)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
4 cups shredded red cabbage (1/2 of a medium head)
1  6-ounce package dried cranberries (I used half this amount)
1/4 to 1/2 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced

For vinaigrette: in screw-top jar, combine oil, sugar, vinegar, wine (if you like), salt, pepper, and mustard. Cover and shake well.

In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, cranberries and onion. Pour the vinaigrette over cabbage mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours. (I had to serve it immediately and it was great.)

Serves 6.

Victoria (Heather) — Victoria has always been my favorite magazine. The beauty and romance of its pages capture my heart. I enjoyed flipping through this magazine while on our recent “staycation”. Since I am a devoted Anglophile (more precisely a UK-phile), I particularly enjoyed this issue.

Page 38 contains a beautiful photo of an amazing cake: who knew it was gluten-free?! I had to make it. The result was beautiful, but strangely tinny. After some reflection I realized the recipe had been altered in translation and the “tablespoons” should be read as “teaspoons”, especially where baking powder is concerned!!! So, if you’re going to make this cake, be sure to follow the recipe below, or remember the proper translation when you read the magazine!

APPLE AND CINNAMON CAKE
(Victoria Magazine, Sept/Oct 2010)
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1 1/2 cups butter, softened (margarine can be used if you can’t use butter)
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose, gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill with great results)
4 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 large eggs
4 apples, peeled and coarsely grated

garnish: 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped; 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and line two 9-inch cake pans.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium-high speed, beat together butter and sugar until smooth.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture, and mix at low speed until combined and smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs and grated apple; fold into butter mixture.

Divide batter between prepared pan, and bake for 40 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble cake, place one cake layer on plate and spread half of the icing over top; top with second cake layer, and spread remaining icing over top. Garnish with walnuts and dried cranberries, if desired.

ICING
(Heather’s Recipe)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and whip (slowly at first) until cheese is thoroughly mixed in and mixture has thickened.

Market Fresh: Beets

There are so many vegetables available at the market these days – vegetables we tend to be a little less familiar with. Today, I want to focus on beets. Red beets seem to be the most common in the supermarket but yellow/golden beets are delicious as well. Beets are a root vegetable but the entire vegetable is edible – the greens are actually my favorite of all the greens.

I love beets and I always have but my husband isn’t crazy about them. I can’t remember if my kids have had them before but all three of them ate the beets without complaining and a couple of the boys liked them very well. The  recipe I made even had my husband admitting that they were pretty good!

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Here are the red and yellow beets washed, trimmed*, drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in aluminum foil, and ready for the oven. Bake them at 375 degrees for about 1 hour or until tender. Then cool until they can be handled and peel them. I actually enjoy them straight from the oven just like that with maybe a little butter and salt. For the recipe, cut them in wedges – 6 or 8 per beet.

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The recipe below is in my top favorite salads ever. It is SO good – a bite with a little bit of everything has the perfect textures and wonderful flavor.

BEET, GOAT CHEESE, & AVOCADO SALAD
(Inspired and adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
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1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 medium red beets, roasted, peeled, and cut in wedges
3 medium yellow beets, roasted, peeled, and cut in wedges
6-8 cups fresh mixed salad greens
1/2 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
2-3 ounces goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Whisk the vinegar, red onion, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil.

Arrange mixed greens on 4 plates and dress with a little of the dressing. Top with the walnuts and cranberries. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Arrange the beets and avocado around the salad. Top with the goat cheese, dress with more vinagrette and serve.

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As I mentioned the greens are outstanding. I like to saute mine in a little butter and olive oil and top them with a little balsamic vinegar and salt. They are also great with a little garlic! Delicious!

(the picture is courtesy of Heather who also loves beet greens and whose red beet green tops were much better than the tops on mine)

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*A final note – leaving the beets with the peel and the top and bottoms intact when you are roasting them minimizes the color bleeding out of the beets. If you are boiling them (which also works well), still just trim off the greens and then drop them in the pot with the peels, tops, and bottoms still in place.