Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Make-Ahead Halloween Dinner

It has a Thai flare!
I have made several different pumpkin sauces over the last several autumns, and this one is by far our favorite. I have also tried this sauce with either ground turkey sausage, slices of chicken sausage links (as I did this time), or vegetarian. Great for Halloween leftovers too…when you’re too busy with ghoulish outfits and scary trick-or-treaters to cook.

1 pound spaghetti


5 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 inches ginger root, minced or grated

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 to 1/3 cup tamari dark soy sauce

1 (15-ounce) can cooked pumpkin

2 rounded tablespoonfuls mild or hot curry paste

3 tablespoons five-spice powder

12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

12 diver scallops, trimmed and patted dry

4 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces, then thinly sliced lengthwise into matchsticks

Heat a large pot of water for noodles. When water boils, salt it and add pasta to cook to al dente or with a bite to it.

While pasta cooks, heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil. Add garlic, ginger, red bell pepper, and pepper flakes to the pan and cook together a couple of minutes, then add peanut butter and melt it. Whisk soy into peanut butter, then stir in pumpkin and curry paste. The sauce will be very thick. Turn down the heat to low. Add a ladle or 2 of pasta cooking water to thin sauce a bit and simmer over low heat. Adjust salt, to taste.

Heat a small to medium skillet over high heat. Pour the five-spice powder onto a plate with some salt. Press both sides of the shrimp and scallops into the powder. Add 3 tablespoons of remaining oil to hot skillet. Place the shrimp in the pan and cook 1 minute, flip and sear the other side until just opaque. Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add another 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat back up to smoking. Add the scallops and sear on both sides until opaque. Remove scallops and add to the plate of shrimp.
Drain pasta and return pasta to the pot. Add the curry-pumpkin sauce and toss thoroughly. Serve noodles on 4 plated and top with scallions and seafood.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Harvest Apple Bars

1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 c. apples, unpeeled and chopped
1/2 c. nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9x9 square pan.

Blend together butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Whisk in flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; do not over mix. Gently stir in apples and nuts. Spread mixture into greased baking pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture (1 Tb sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon).

Bake for 30 minutes, do not over bake.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Not Yo Mamma's Chicken Soup

This was a surprisingly delicious and simple soup to make. I pre-cut the celery, onions, and carrots the night before and while they were sauteeing I mixed the chicken meatball mixture. Add the stock and bring to a boil, roll meatball mixture and drop into the pot, then just toss in gnocchi and frozen peas (I used a green veggie blend)! I REALLY enjoyed a healthy, but filling soup on a week night.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's that time of year!!!

(5 stars)

I know my favorite time of year is upon us...when it is time to bake my fruit cakes! I was never a fan of fruit cake until I had my grandmothers back in high school, since then I have been a firm believer in a good, homemade fruit cake wrapped in cheese cloth and soaked in brandy. Several years ago I spent an afternoon getting a lesson from my grandmother on how to make them, and walked away with a treasured memory and a wonderful recipe.

Buff Chips

Game Night Food!
4 small baking potatoes, thinly sliced
4-6oz shredded cheese
Cajun or chilli powder seasoning
bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss potatoes with EVOO, seasoning, and s&p. Place them on baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until crisp on the edges. Sprinkle with cheese and place back into the oven until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with bacon, optional.


Last week I heard about a great way to implement more vegetable into ones diets (this was focused on kids), but both Andy and I enjoy eating healthy, nutrient rich diets so I am looking forward to including more of these recipes into my diet.

Here’s the link to the book: (click here) I have ordered it but not yet received it.

I made the carrot and broccoli purees this past weekened. I froze them in 1/2 cup portions, and have them ready to use when the book arrives.
First, steam the vegetable for 5-10 minutes, or until fork tender. Second, process them in a food processor, adding a few tablesppons of water as needed, until smooth. Portion out and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Now I just need the book for the yummy recipes! I heard there is a chickpea chocolate chip cookie, brownies made with beet puree, and chicken fingers with broccoli puree! I know from my experience adding vegetables into baked ggods make them super mosit and flavorful, so I am excited to give it a try! More to come!

Halloween Fun

Confectioner Sugar Iced Cookies

I love this recipe because you can immediately use the dough and it doesn't require any chill time in the fridge beforehand. It's great for impatient husbands!

“Tasty” Snake

(click above for recipe)

I made this a few years ago and came across the photo today. This was a big hit with my co-workers and both easy and fun to make. I used the above recipe when I made it for my nephews, but I altered the “guts” for a more adult pallet by mixing together softened cream cheese, fresh herbs, and parmesan cheese…scrumptious! Have fun with this one!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Autumn Delish

(click above for the recipe)
This is the best "stuffed" mushroom I've come across, probably
beacuse it is stuffed with cheese and sauce. A few diced olives,
roasted red peppers, or artichokes would also be great stirred into
the sauce and then laddled onto the mushrooms.

Hominey Saute

2 cans white hominey, drained
4-5 green onions, chopped
1 container grape or cherry tomatoes

Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in skillet, once hot add hominey, scallions, s&p. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add cherry tomatoes and cook 4-5 minutes. Serve.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sweet Treats!!

I rarely make these kind of indulgences, because I love them sooo much...but we're having our good friends visiting with us for the weekend, so I'll have someone to share the guilt with!

An old, tried and true favorite of mine!

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies*****

not to worry, these WILL be served with vanilla ice cream

5 ounces semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Line pan with foil or parchment paper, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; overhang will help in removal of baked brownies. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In medium heatproof bowl melt chocolates and butter in microwave for approx 2-3 minutes, checking and stirring in 1 minute intervals; until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread into corners, and level surface with rubber spatula; bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes.

4. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, and then remove brownies from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1-inch squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve; brownies can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's been a while...

(click above for recipe)
My twist: added kalamata olives, marinara sauce, swapped baby spinach for the arugula, and baked on whole wheat pizza crust
Served with baked acorn squash filled with brown sugar, light butter, s&p