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.

 

Oven-Roasted Honey Glazed Carrots

With Autumn upon us, I’m in that mindset to switch to my colder weather cooking – casseroles, crockpots and last Sunday, my mouth-watering pot roast.  I’d bought the most perfect carrots at the Farmer’s Market and thought they’d be a colorful and tasty side dish.

While I could have dropped them in with the simmering pot roast I wanted to change it up and do something visually stunning and delicious.  Though it’s in the seventies today, on Sunday our furnace was on and having the oven fired up was welcome, making the kitchen cozy.

After perusing lots of recipes, as usual, I took those ingredients that looked the best from several recipes and came up with this.  Visually stunning – check.  Delicious – check. I wanted to share it as it would make a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving.

Oven-Roasted Honey Glazed Carrots

  • 6-8 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch long sticks
  • 3-4 T honey
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 2 t balsamic vinegar
  • chopped flat leaf parsley, chives and thyme for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a shallow baking pan with foil (for super easy clean up), drizzle with olive oil and smear to cover the surface.

In a bowl, mix the olive oil, honey, pepper, salt and balsamic till blended.  Add the carrot sticks and toss to completely coat them.  Place the carrots in a single layer onto the pan, use a spatula to get any excess glaze out of the bowl and drizzled over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, onto your serving platter and top with the chopped herbs.  If you don’t have honey or want to make this vegan, maple syrup would be wonderful as a substitution.

Baked Baby Eggplant Caprese

On Sunday when Mom came to dinner, she brought me three perfect, lavender baby eggplants from the Farmer’s Market.  I wish I’d thought to take a “before” picture.

I thought of what I had on hand – fresh Michigan tomatoes,  fragrant basil from my herb garden, tart goat cheese and toasted breadcrumbs made from my homemade croutons and came up with this recipe last night.

They were….phenomenal.  And I’m going to share how I did it in case you’d like to make these little melt-in-your-mouth bites of goodness. They would be great for appetizers, side dishes or a meatless entree.

Baked Baby Eggplant Caprese

  • three baby eggplants
  • 1 c fresh chopped tomato
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • sea salt
  • garlic powder
  • olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 c goat cheese
  • breadcrumbs

Trim the tops and bottoms off each eggplant then slice them in half. Place the eggplant halves on paper towels, flesh side up and salt them. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. After 15 minutes, blot the eggplant and drizzle olive oil over the cut side lightly coating the surface. Place them flesh side down on a grill pan (I used my cast iron one) and roast them for 15 minutes.  Chop the tomatoes, add sea salt and garlic powder to taste, chiffonade then stir in the basil and set aside. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the eggplant over (skin side down), top them with chunks of goat cheese, chopped tomatoes mixture, then a sprinkle of the crunchy breadcrumbs and place them back into the oven. Turn the oven off and remove them after 3-5 minutes until the goat cheese is warmed and softened.

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Sweet Potato Brûlée

So I’m having my mom over for dinner today and along with my famous rotisserie chicken, I wanted to create a new side dish.  Since Spence turned my mom onto sweet potatoes, she’s become a huge fan (as have I) and I came up with this idea.  This would also be a nice way to change up left-over baked sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Brûlée  serves 2-4

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • nutmeg
  • orange zest
  • sea salt
  • 2 t brown sugar

Bake the sweet potatoes after rubbing the skin with olive oil and salt at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Allow them to cool then slice them in half and using a soup spoon, scoop out the flesh (as intact as possible) and place into a buttered baking dish.

Using a microplane, dust the potatoes with nutmeg (to taste).  Using the microplane again, zest the orange over the top of the potatoes (to taste).  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Crumble the brown sugar so it is fine, no clumps, then sprinkle lightly over the potatoes.

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Preheat the broiler, placing these on the next to top rack for a few minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn.  When the top looks bubbly and like a brûlée remove from over and rest for five minutes, then enjoy!

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Can I just say this…..yummy!

 

 

 

 

 

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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My Mission – Find these Products

For those who’ve visited my blog, it’s obvious that I’m food obsessed.  I admit it freely. I love to cook and (pat on the back) am really skilled at it. Since retiring, Spence has benefited more than ever from my endeavors. I frequently cook from scratch, often make up recipes and even before I started the blog, photograph my culinary creations. My Pinterest page is a testament to my obsession as are the countless cookbooks and voluminous recipes I’ve clipped or have on cards in my old-school recipe box.

It is rare that I need to buy food staples at the grocery store as my pantry and freezer hold a myriad of items.  Recently I started a list of things that I needed to replace. To my shock, several mainstays and comfort foods were missing when I visited my local Kroger store.

  • Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp Soup 
  • Stouffer’s Spinach Souffle
  • Stouffer’s Welsh Rarebit

Out of a shopping list of ten items, this seemed a dismal failure but I chalked it up to the condition of the store which has been undergoing an endless “renovation” and is in a state of turmoil.

Perhaps they are so disorganized that they don’t even know what they need to order” I surmised.  I went online and let them know of my concern.

A few days later, we traveled north to Traverse City for a few days with family. Since Spence had to make a beer run I asked him to look for these items at their local IGA store. Struck out – not one of the missing items to be found.  My concern was escalating. Gloria, their next door neighbor, stopped by and heard my tale of woe.  She’d be at the Traverse City Meijer store that day and offered to do reconnaissance for me. If she was successful, she’d buy every can of the elusive shrimp soup and report back on the frozen items. It’s a huge store but that evening we learned the sad truth.  NO LUCK – not one of the items to be found. I felt a rising sense of panic but not to be deterred, committed to searching all grocery stores in our county upon returning home.

Last Saturday, I was on a mission. I drove to the nice, newer Meijer store in the neighboring community of Davison.  STRUCK OUT.  Next, I went to the Davison VG’s and while the soup and Welsh Rarebit eluded me, I hit gold with the Spinach Souffle, snagging six of them!

I was encouraged.

Recalling that there is a Kroger in Davison, I trudged on.  And to my delight, snagged the last six Cream of Shrimp soups and five Welsh Rarebits.  As I drove home victorious, I declared “I must blog about my quest“.  Spence was impressed with my coup but said “don’t put this in your blog“. What does he know about blogging?

Please watch in the future for a post of the recipe – my Famous Shrimp Bisque – using the elusive but not discontinued Cream of Shrimp soup as the base! 

Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes

  • Fresh green beans, trimmed
  • Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
  • Sweet white onion, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Finely shredded cheese
  • Salt, pepper & seasoning blend ( I like Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute or Melting Pot’s Garlic Wine Seasoning)

Trim green beans, place in steamer basket. Steam on high for 4-5 minutes, remove from heat. In a separate pan, drizzle oil and sauté onions until carmelized. Add tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and seasoning. Place beans into serving bowl, sprinkle with cheese, add tomatoes and onion, add more cheese and serve.

Oven-Roasted Smashed Potatoes with Gremolata Topping

For an easy side-dish, great for entertaining, try my new favorite potato dish.

Oven-Roasted Smashed Potatoes with Gremolata       serves 4-6

  • 1 dozen new potatoes (you could also use redskin potatoes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, whole & peeled
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • olive oil

Fill a large pot with water and 2-3 heaping tablespoons of sea salt, bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and reduce heat to medium.  Cook until tender – use a sharp knife to test.  Drain and cool them for 5 minutes.

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Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil. On a cutting board, place each potato under a spatula (or lunch plate would work), I use a heavy meat tenderizer from Williams Sonoma. Press down with even pressure – gently – smashing but not pulverizing.

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My heavy-duty potato smasher.
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Place each smashed potato on the foil-lined baking sheet.

Drizzle the potatoes generously with olive oil, sprinkle sea salt and black pepper over them. (I also put the garlic cloves that boiled with the potatoes on the sheet pan)

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Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake the potatoes for 18-20 minutes, remove, flip each one. Drizzle with more olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Bake for another 18-20 minutes. Remove the pan from oven, turn off heat. Top the potatoes with Gremolata (see recipe below) and place the pan back in the oven for 5 minutes and serve.

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Enjoy!

Gremolata

  • Zest from 1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 t coarse black pepper
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped parsley

I use a mezzaluna given to me by my lifelong BFF, to chop the parsley and garlic, having first place the citrus zest, salt and pepper under the parsley and garlic. Cover until ready to serve.

This is what is looks like:

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Gremolata – delicious!

Arancini

I was looking for a recipe that would work with my leftover Butter Baked Rice. I’ve seen Giada make Arancini and so I scoured Pinterest for a version that would work with what I had on hand. It turned out better than I could have imagined. Here’s what I did:

2 c leftover Butter Baked Rice (see below for link to recipe)
3/4 c Parmesano regainno
1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix together the rice, Parmesan and egg, using your hands.

Block of mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese cut into small chunks (think sugar cube size)

Take a large spoonful of rice mixture into your hand, press a chunk of cheese into the center. I used a small ice cream scoop to form the rice mixture into well packed balls.

2 eggs, lightly beaten
Italian breadcrumbs

Line a platter with wax paper. Take each ball, gently roll into the egg, then dredge in the breadcrumbs. Place on the wax paper.

Heat vegetable oil in a deep fry pan. Place the balls into the oil, once browned on one side carefully flip them and brown that side. Remove from oil onto a paper towel.

Serve immediately with marinara sauce. This made 10 balls. As you can see I served these as a side with an oven baked herbed chicken breast but these could be appetizers or a vegetarian entrée.

Here the link for the recipe for Butter Baked Rice:

https://spencesgirl.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/butter-baked-rice

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Hot from the fryer with melted cheese in the middle.
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Plated with marinara sauce and served alongside herbed oven baked chicken.

Butter Baked Rice

BUTTER BAKED RICE         serves 4-8

  • 1 c long grain brown rice (white rice may be used as well)
  • 2 c boiling water
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 3/4 c chicken stock – heated (see Chef’s Note below)
  • 1-2 t garlic seasoning blend (I love Melting Pot’s Garlic & Wine Seasoning)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2-3 T chopped parsley (I prefer flat leaf but curly parsley works fine here)

Butter Baked Rice - a crowd pleaser

Preheat oven to 325. Soak rice in 2 cups of the boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Try to remove as much of the water as you can by gently pressing it or dabbing with a paper towel. Then in a large skillet, melt the butter over a medium low heat. Stir in the rice and keep stirring gently until all the butter is absorbed. This should take about 8 to 9 minutes. Add the butter rice to a 2 Qt casserole. Add the heated chicken stock pouring over the rice. Add garlic seasoning, red pepper flakes and sprinkle the parsley on top, stir. Cover tightly and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

Chef’s Note: You can substitute the heated chicken stock with vegetable stock for a vegetarian version. If you should have any leftovers, throw it into a pan with chopped veggies, a shot of soy sauce and make a quick fried rice.  See my 1/6/2015 post for Arancini (or click the link below)- using the leftover Butter Baked Rice – for an easy appetizer, side or vegetarian main dish! 

https://spencesgirl.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/arrancini/