Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fried Stuffing Balls


I didn't realize that I was sent home after Thanksgiving dinner with an entire tray of stuffing, which I'm not a huge fan of. But in the Midwest, we believe that frying anything makes it tasty, so I squished the dressing into balls and pan-fried them. They're quite tasty, though if I were to do it over, I'd make them smaller so they'd be crispier. All in all, a great way to get rid of left-overs!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter pasta

One week during my trip to the farmer's market, it hit me - it's fall. Almost all the stands were loaded with seasonal vegetables - and I totally took advantage. With no real plan, I loaded up my bags and home I went.

1 large spaghetti squash
Chopped into 1/2" pieces:
1/2 large butternut squash
1 yam
1/2 acorn squash
2-3 red beets
1/2 medium fennel, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
Olive oil
Blood orange olive oil (or orange juice mixed with olive oil)
Parmasan cheese

1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place both pieces face down in a large cassarole dish. Fill to 1/2" with water. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on low-medium heat and add squashes, beets, and yam. Cover and heat for 20-30 minutes, mixing occasionally until soft.
3. In another pan, heat a few tablespoons of the orange olive oil and add fennel, garlic, and pecans. Heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
4. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Scoop out pulp and seeds. Using a fork, scrape the inside of one half of the squash - it comes out like spaghetti! Refridgerate the spaghetti from the other half for use another day.
5. Add spaghetti to pan with the fennel mixture. Add a few more tablespoons of the orange olive oil and mix. Sprinkle with a dash of thyme.
6. Serve spaghetti and yam mixture on a plate and top with parmasan cheese.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wine of the Week - STO 2010 "Lady Luck" Chardonnay


This entry from Sort This Out Cellars is an active performer.  While the nose and the mouth are consistent -- green apple, with a hint of dandelion -- a nice sour aftertaste creeps in and embeds itself on your upper palate and the back of your throat.  And it lingers there in a very pleasant, engaging way.

13.5% alcohol

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fried Rice

My first attempt at fried rice. Totally winged it (wung it?). Turned out more like a stir-fry than fried rice, but good nonetheless. If you don't have a soy ginger sauce (I bought mine at Whole Foods), make your own sauce with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and any other asian flavors you'd like (or use a different sauce/marinade). Of course, feel free to switch up the vegetables to your liking.

Ingredients (all measurements are approximate):
2 cups broccoli (I used florets)
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup green beans, cut up
1/2 small onion
(I'd totally meant to use carrots, but forgot)
1/2 block of tofu
Soy ginger sauce
sesame oil
2 cups cooked rice

Press the tofu for 30-60 minutes, then cut it up and toss it with a little of the sauce/marinade. While that's marinating, heat the oil and saute the onion for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the veggies and the tofu. Once all of that is heated through, add the rice and a few tablespoons of sauce and cook until it looks and smells delicious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roasted yellow pepper soup

Another delish recipe hidden in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:

Ingredients (Makes 3-4 servings)
5 yellow peppers, halved and roasted for 10 minutes and deskinned
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cloved garlic, chopped
32oz veggie broth
Chives and thyme

1. Bring peppers, onion, garlic, and broth to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
2. Remove peppers and pulse in a food processor until soupy (or use a strong immersion blender). Return to pot. Add chives and thyme and serve.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Soup Mix Review: Creamy Tomato & Red Pepper

I love pretty much any version of tomato soup that I've tried, and this soup mix from World Market was no exception. It was also very easy to make: just add canned tomatoes (or tomato puree, like I did), and a couple other ingredients to the mix and heat. It's nearly as easy as canned tomato soup, but far tastier. The mix even includes croutons, which I found delightful.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wine of the Week - Blackthorn Cider


This is a nice semi-sparkling cider, imported from England and available in the U.S. at a surprisingly great price.  Well worth checking out.

You'll find the expected apple scent on the nose, with maybe a hint of pear.

The taste is breezy, crisp and enjoyable.  Lightly tart apples with no bitterness and just a bit of minerality.  The flavor recedes and leaves you with a semi-dry aftertaste.  Very refreshing.  Ideal for pairing with light meals - fish, chicken, rice, vegetables.

6% alcohol

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Dip

From guest contributor Paula...

Dip ginger snaps or Nilla Wafers in this creamy pumpkin dip for a memorable holiday treat.

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate
In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

My guest loved it! My husband enjoys eating it in a small dish like pudding with whipped cream on top. Use your imagination and have fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Caprese Sandwich

Looking for a quick lunch? Or a side sandwich to a hearty soup? Look no further.
About 5 minutes to assemble, what could be easier?

Tomato slices
Basil pesto spread
Fresh mozzarella
Roll of choice
Fresh basil leaves

Layer all onto the bread in whatever order you like and enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wine of the Week - Carivintas 2007 Petite Syrah


This is a tasty dessert wine from Carivintas - a winery that supports animal shelters and rescue organizations.

As you'd expect from a dessert wine, this petite syrah has a thick, syrupy mouth feel made for slow sipping.  Sugary sweet with a bit of a tart aftertaste.  A great drink, mellow drink for sitting back and relaxing after dinner.

21% alcohol

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cranberry Cream Cheese Pinwheels

From guest contributor Paula...

When entertaining, try this simple and delicious snack. It's so easy, but your guests will think you spent hours working on it. They're great for an appetizer or just a snack. At Christmas, you can use spinach tortillas to make them look more festive.

You'll need:
  • 4 soft flour tortillas
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 2 bunches diced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  1. Mix cream cheese and garlic salt together until well blended. Spread evenly on tops of tortillas.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and onions. Sprinkle evenly over cream cheese spread. Lightly press cranberry/onion mix into cream cheese.
  3. Roll up tortilla. Trim off ends. Cut each tortilla into 10 even pieces using a serrated knife, like you would slice bread. HINT: I chilled my rolled up tortillas before slicing. It made them easier to cut without crushing.
It takes about 15 minutes to make (minus the chilling time). Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stuffed Squash

Another gem from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The author calls it a sidedish, but I think this can completely be considered the main course served with a salad or rice and bean mixture.

Ingredients: (to serve two)
1 medium acorn squash
2 small turnips
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
Cinnamon, nutmeg, salt
1 cup granny smith apple, shredded

1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the muck. Place cut sides down in a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn cut sides up and bake for another 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook turnips and carrots in salted boiling water for 15 minutes until tender, and drain.
3. Carefully scoop out the pulp from each squash half, leaving a thin layer of pulp in the shell. In a large bowl, mash pulp and turnip mix together.
4. Stir in butter, sugar, and a dash of the spices. Fold in apple.
5. Spoon mix into each shell. Bake for 15 minutes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Squash & Apple Soup

Of all the soup recipes I've made up, this is my favorite! :)

1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
2 granny smith apples
2 tomatoes
2 large carrots
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsps vegetable oil or butter
1 lemon
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 can evaporated milk salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup peanut butter
6 cups water or broth
pinch cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
dash cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp basil

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400. Halve and seed the squash. Bake 45 minutes.
  2. While squash is baking, chop the carrots, garlic, tomatoes, and apples (which should be cored).
  3. Saute these ingredients in the oil or butter until the apples are soft. Squeeze the lemon juice over this as it cooks.
  4. When squash is done, scoop out the flesh.
  5. Combine the squash and the sauteed mixture, along with the rest of the ingredients in a stock pot or slow cooker and simmer 30 minutes.
  6. Puree the ingredients with a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches with a food processor or blender.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wine of the Week - STO 2010 "Suited" Sauvignon Blanc


From Sort This Out Cellars, this sauvignon blanc has scents of green apple, pear, and honeydew.  It's perfume-y to the taste; dry on the roof of your mouth, but sweet on the tongue with a light, evaporating aftertaste.  Crisp and enjoyable.  Great for picnics, or a warm afternoon.

13.5% alcohol

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chocolate-Soled Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin cookies

I recently threw together a quick, Halloween-inspired variation on a standard sugar cookie.  This could be used for Thanksgiving as well.  Or just use a different shaped mold and enjoy any time of year.

Make a batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe and add orange food coloring.  Put the dough in a pumpkin-shaped silicone mold, but leave plenty of room for the chocolate.  Bake the cookies and allow them to cool.  Leave them in the mold.

Melt a bag of chocolate chips in a sauce pot over the stove, being careful not to sear.  Drip the melted chocolate onto the cookies in the mold.  Allow to cool.  Refrigerate if necessary to solidify the chocolate.  Use green or brown icing to represent the stem of the pumpkin.

The result is a very rich, filling dessert.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Snack break - Pumpkin seeds

October is over. Another Halloween has come and gone. What did you do with all those pumpkin seeds? Hopefully you saved them.
Toasted pumpkin seeds are my favorite fall snack. And so easy to make!

1. Rinse off seeds - get rid of all the pumpkin muck.
2. Lay out tin foil on a cookie sheet. Spray with oil.
3. Spread out seeds on foil and let sit overnight to dry out.
4. Once dry (or mostly dry), spray with another coat of oil, and toss with your favorite seasonings. I like my spicy so I use cumin and cayenne.
5. Bake at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Can be served immediately!