Stuffed Acorn Squash

As mentioned in an earlier post, I deliberately make extra stuffing at Thanksgiving, follow this link for my recipe.

While at the market yesterday I saw this pretty little acorn squash and thought…”hmm, this would be delicious filled with my leftover, unbaked stuffing”. I was right – here’s how I did it:

Stuffed Acorn Squash  serves 2

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Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out seeds.
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Brush the edges of the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, place face down into a baking dish for  30 minutes.
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I used a bowl to tightly pack 1 1/2 cups unbaked stuffing per half squash. Remove the squash from the oven, flip it, scoop  packed stuffing into the cavity  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until squash is softened.
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Add a glass of red wine, enjoy every bite.

 

Prosciutto, Brie & Apricot Flatbread

My latest flatbread creation, using ingredients I had on hand. And it may be my new favorite dinner for one!

Prosciutto, Brie & Apricot Flatbread

  • 1 flatbread
  • 2 oz cubed Brie
  • 1-2 t fresh thyme
  • 2 slices prosciutto, rolled and sliced into ribbons
  • 6-8 chopped dried apricots, cut into 3-4 pieces
  • Garlic Aioli (see below)
  • Crunchy onions, crumbled
  • Fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush flatbread on both sides with olive oil and place into a skillet then into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and top with a light spread of the garlic aioli, followed by the apricots, brie, thyme and prosciutto. Return to the oven for 6-8 minutes. Remove and add the crunchy onions and parsley. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

Garlic Aioli

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 T mayonnaise
  • 1/4 t lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Using a micro plane, grate the garlic clove over the mayonnaise, stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper. This is delicious on any number of sandwiches and burgers as well as a base for the flatbread recipe above and is even better made a day or two ahead!

My Famous Cran-Orange Relish, just in time for Thanksgiving

 Cran-Orange Relish
Cran-Orange Relish
  • 2 12 oz bags of fresh cranberries
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 T raspberry or strawberry jam
  • 2-3 T sugar
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 T Grand Marnier liqueur
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Assembly Line

I use a dutch oven pan to create more surface area for warming the berries. Place cranberries, sugar, jam and vinegar in the pan on a low to medium setting, stir. Zest one navel orange and then juice that orange, adding both juice and zest to berry mixture. Stir again

Using a veggie peeler or small sharp knife, remove about 1/2 the peel from the second orange, careful not to go beneath the “orange” peel (avoiding the bitter white part). Chop the peel fine (see below) until you have 1 tablespoon. You may use more peel if you end up with more or freeze it for later use.

Add peel to berry mixture. Cut the second orange in half and then section it, adding the sections to the berry mixture. Squeeze any residual juice from the second orange into the pan.

Looks pretty, smells tart and citrusy
Looks pretty, smells tart and citrusy

You will start to hear little pops from the pan, those are the cranberries bursting. Give it a stir, put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low. Check back every 15 -20 minutes for another stir, letting it simmer.. After 45 minutes, stir in the Grand Marnier, the berry mixture should be breaking down like a chutney. Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes more. Cool and serve. Makes 2-3 cups of relish. This can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks and freezes beautifully, simply thaw and serve.

This is delicious as to serve not only with your Thanksgiving dinner but with chicken, pork or even seared scallops (trust me). For a festive appetizer, make a charcuterie platter  with cheeses like brie or a spreadable goat cheese or camembert, manchego, sharp white cheddar, cornichons and marcona almonds with sliced baguettes! Get creative…..and always, enjoy!

Looking for other Thanksgiving or Holiday recipes? Here’s links to a few of my best recipes:

Chestnut, Apple and Sausage Stuffing

Roasting Chestnuts – a Labor of Love

As I’m making my 2016 batch today, I decided to re-publish this recipe in hopes that it might be helpful to someone this Thanksgiving!  

Sesame-Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna


On Election Day after many contentious and negativity filled months, I determined that tonight Spence and I would come home after casting our vote and enjoy a quiet dinner while sharing a great bottle of Proscecco. And the “Best of Earth, Wind and Fire” on the stereo…

When I saw Sashimi-grade Ahi Tuna at my favorite market, I devised a recipe after combing Pinteres; the result was outstanding.  Here is the recipe, served with buttered garlic crostini and a spinach salad.

Sesame-Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna

Crust:

  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 T whole peppercorns (I used a black/pink/green/white melange)
  • 1/2 t sea salt

Place ingredients into a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle.

2 ahi tuna steaks (about 1 lb)

Coat the tuna with the sesame-pepper mixture.  Using a cast iron skillet, pour peanut oil onto a paper towel and wipe over the skillet surface.  Turn the burner onto a medium high heat and then place the tuna into the skillet to sear for 1 1/2 minutes, turn and sear for another 1 – 1 1/2 minutes for rare tuna.  Remove and serve.


 

 

 

 

Wedge Salad with Easy Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

The other night I threw a small dinner party. As I was putting together the menu, I thought – how about Wedge Salads?  I’ve never made them, but love the crunchy, freshness of the lettuce with all the toppings – plus I’m a bit obsessed with blue cheese. If I may say so, this was a huge hit with my guests!  You can certainly use a chunky blue cheese dressing from the store but this simple recipe takes less than 5 minutes to make and it’s worth the effort.  For the Wedge Salad, I’ll tell you how I top it and you can decide how many you’re making at a time.

Easy Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 3/4 c chunky blue cheese
  • 1/2 t red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t lemon juice
  • sea salt & coarse ground cracked black pepper to taste

Place together in a bowl and stir together until mixed.  It’s ready to serve and will be even better in 24 hours.

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Wedge Salad

  • Iceberg lettuce – cut into wedges (I can get six wedges from a head of iceberg lettuce – remove the core)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped crispy bacon (I sprinkle pepper on my bacon before cooking it)
  • chopped fresh chives
  • blue cheese dressing
  • blue cheese crumbles to top

When I served this the other night, I neglected to take a picture.  I placed six wedges on a vibrant green platter and then topped them. It was gorgeous and a showy way to present a Wedge Salad for a dinner party. Tonight, I made up two for Spence and I.  Here’s what my wedge looks like.

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Caprese Salad

Is there anything much better than fresh tomatoes from your garden or the Farmer’s Market? This summer I’ve been getting the most delicious tomatoes and am constantly building my meals around ways to incorporate them.  Here’s my easy Caprese Salad – I’m giving you the ingredients and a photo, just build the amount that you want for this evening’s meal and enjoy!

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Caprese Salad

  • fresh, sliced tomatoes
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • fresh basil – either tear or chiffonade the leaves
  • good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • pesto
  • sea salt (or other finishing salt)

Assemble the tomatoes, then mozzarella and repeat.  Sprinkle the basil over the top, drizzle olive oil over the platter, drizzle pesto and then finish with a bit of salt to taste.  It’s just that easy and such a refreshing side salad or meat-less entree.

 

Tasty Tuesday … Homemade German Spaetzle

Spence and I love Spaetzle and I’ve long harbored a desire to make it from scratch. Spence bought me a Spaetzle maker late last year and I set it aside. Till now. Check out this truly authentic recipe from a blogger I follow, incahootswithmuddyboots.com. And wish me luck!

in cahoots with muddy boots

Growing up in Germany, we ate homemade Spätzle fairly regularly. The side dishes served with these tastily little morsels depend  on the region you live in. We generally ate brown lentils perked up with a splash of vinegar and Wiener Würstchen along with the Spätzle.
First we would make the batter, let it rest and then cook the Spätzle in salted water. When all the batter was used, we would sauté a finely chopped onion with some garlic in butter, add the drained Spätzle and fry them until they got a bit crispy in spots. Last but not least, we would sprinkle some Swiss mountain cheese over the top. Before you knew, a huge pan full of these popular little noodles had disappeared!

It has been a long time since I’ve made Spätzle at home. A while back I

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Scallops Chambord – in time for New Year’s Eve

Though I featured this post one year ago, it remains one of my signature recipes and one that we are having again tonight while ringing in 2016. It’s a tradition but also, it’s an amazing and delicious dish and so here it is once again! I hope you’ll try it!

Happy New Year!

Spence and I have spent 24 New Year’s Eves together.  At some point I came across this recipe that sounded decadent, festive and delicious.  The first few New Year’s Eves I made this as an appetizer/first course, then onto lobster tails and maybe even fondue as the night progressed.  Too much food, too rich and the star here was the Scallops Chambord. Fast forward, our holiday routine now firmly established, Scallops Chambord is the whole meal! This year I prepped 4 skewers but decided to prepare two of them first, then about an hour later, two more.  This was brilliant as we savored them over the evening with a fire blazing, Prosecco and later a special bottle of Champagne. I use most cookbooks as a “guide” so this represents my version which is better than the original in my humble opinion (patting myself on the back now).

Scallops Chambord

  • 20-24 sea scallops
  • 5-6 slices of bacon (not thick cut)

Rinse the scallops and rest on paper towels, blot the top.  Stretch the 5-6 pieces of bacon, just pulling gently to lengthen.  Cut each slice in half.  Prepare a broiler pan and four skewers.  Wrap the bacon around each scallop so that there is a complete wrap with a little overlap.  Thread onto skewers, keeping space in between them.  Set aside.

Chambord Sauce

  • 1 c seedless black raspberry preserves
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 c Chambord liqueur

 

In a small saucepan, add the preserves, honey and Chambord liqueur.  Stir together on a very low heat to melt the preserves and honey together and incorporate the Chambord.  You’ll want it to reduce sufficiently to coat a spoon. I usually make the sauce earlier in the day to assure the consistency is right.

Set oven to broil.  Place the broiler pan with skewers in on an upper rack.  Set your timer for 10 minutes but watch the scallops during the process – your oven may be hotter than mine. Remove, flip the skewers and return to the broiler for 3-5 minutes – again, you want the bacon cooked but not burned.

While the scallops are broiling, ladle your sauce onto the plate as shown above.  When the scallops emerge from the oven, remove them and set onto the plate.  At this point, I pour Spence and I a glass of Prosecco which we enjoy with our plated Scallops Chambord.

 

Chef’s Note:  If you can’t find black raspberry preserves, a perfectly good substitute is seedless red raspberry preserves.  

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Cocktail Recipes with Rum Chata, Chambord & Bailey’s Irish Creme

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Cocktail anyone?

This cocktail is one I came across on Facebook this morning and I can’t wait to make it.  It’s reminiscent of a cocktail I enjoy called Nuts N Berries, that recipe is below.

Nuts N Berries 

You will need Bailey’s Irish Creme, Chambord, club soda, crushed ice, a shot glass and a tall glass.

  • Fill your glass half full with crushed ice.
  • Fill a shot glass with Bailey’s, pour over ice.
  • Fill a shot glass with Chambord, pour over ice and Bailey’s.
  • Fill the remainder of the glass with club soda.  Stir with a straw and enjoy this refreshing cocktail.

As a twist for both cocktails, substitute the club soda and use a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream; add all ingredients to a blender for a delicious Hummer-type drink.

Neiman Marcus Bars

Many years ago when Mom was living in Ft Myers Florida, Spence and I would visit her in the weeks just before and including Thanksgiving.  We always made a trip to nearby Sanibel and Captiva Islands, dropping Spence off at the pier near the lighthouse, armed with a cooler and his fishing gear. We went shopping.

I know, you’re thinking “I thought this was a recipe?”

Patience please, I’m getting there.

Our first stop was a favorite little art gallery. They happened to be holding their Holiday Open House which included lovely treats and wine. There were two selections on the dessert table that completely had us “over the moon”; one was Neiman Marcus Bars, the other – Kahlua Cake.  So enthusiastic were we that the owner said “write your address on the back of this business card and I’ll mail them to you” (this was in the olden days –  before email). We thought it was kind of her to offer and Mom promised to copy the recipes for me if she followed through. Within a few days, they  arrived in the mail and these recipes have become family favorites ever since. I promise to post the Kahlua Cake recipe in the near future.

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Just out of the oven….yummo!

Neiman Marcus Bars

For the crust:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c chopped pecans

Mix together well and press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.

For the topping:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb powdered sugar

Mix these ingredients well and pour over the top of the “crust” mixture, smooth out.  Sprinkle with 1/2 c chopped pecans and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Allow to cool completely and then cut into bars.  Enjoy!

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