Category Archives: Sauces

A Valentine’s to remember!

Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day?! But I must begin by saying, we are one of those couples that doesn’t really go all out and celebrate the so-called ‘Hallmark Holidays!” We came up with an idea/agreement that I treat him to dinner on Sweetest Day and he treats me on Valentine’s Day (but not on the actual days to avoid the crowds and pre-fixe menus, etc) but no elaborate gifts or anything! I am one of those lucky girls you always hear about or see in movies, the ones with the boyfriends/husbands that constantly bring them with flowers for no reason, surprise them with gifts, cook them dinner, etc. So I don’t need a Valentine’s Day to feel appreciated and spoiled, but it surely doesn’t hurt to feel special!Unfortunately this year, I dropped the ball on Sweetest Day and we didn’t do a darn thing and we recently purchased our first home and are trying super hard to save as much money as possible so we weren’t even planning on doing dinner for Valentine’s Day.  But I still wanted to do something sweet for my sweetheart and make him feel special for a change! Instead of going out, I decided to make a meal I think he’d order out at a nice restaurant! I went with homemade angel hair pasta with scallops in a white wine, tomato, butter sauce and mussels. And for dessert, 7 layers of pure amazingness!

I’m not going to lie, I decided to do homemade pasta so I can try out some new gadgets I got and the cake, well that was also mostly for me too! But he surely enjoyed it, so it was well worth it! The mussels though, those were all for him!

Homemade Angel Hair:

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T water
  • Salt to taste
By hand: pour flour on working surface, make a well in the center, add the eggs and mix by hand, add in olive oil, water and salt and hand knead until dough comes together. If sticky, add more flour, if dry, add more water or oil. With Kitchenaid mixer (preferred method): with paddle attachment, mix together eggs, olive oil, water and salt. Switch to dough hook and add in flour a little bit at a time until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand until perfectly smooth and together (same rule as before, if sticky add more flour, if dry, add more water or oil). Divide dough into 6 sections and feed one at a time through Kitchenaid mixer attachment or roll out by hand. Feed through pasta cutter attachment or cut by hand, set out to dry. I left mine out overnight and it was very dry and tasted wonderful!
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Sauce (adapted from Giada):
  • 3 T cup olive oil
  • 3-4 T butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 t crushed red pepper and/or flakes
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • package of mushrooms
  • fresh scallops

Melt butter and heat with olive oil. Saute mushrooms and shallot until soft, add in garlic, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add white wine to deglaze, let cook until reduced by half. Add in tomatoes and let cook down until thickened a bit. Add in scallops and mussels, cover and cook in sauce for 3-5 minutes. Add in some Parmesan and serve over pasta…adding more parm as necessary while eating! Be sure to serve this with some hearty, crusty bread (we baked some Ciabatta rolls and they were perfect for slopping up any extra sauce)!

Dessert is a wee-bit more complicated and took about 3 hours in total to construct…but it was definitely worth it! You essentially bake your favorite brownie, chocolate chip cookie and cheesecake recipes, splitting each batter between 8X8 or 9X9 pans so you end up with 2 brownie rounds, 2 chocolate chip cookie rounds and 2 cheese cake rounds. You  make two different frostings and then assemble from there! Here are the recipes I used:

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This is what it looks like when it is all said and done! Standing at least one foot tall!

Brownies (courtesy of my lovely sister-in-law Mandy):

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of two 8X8″ or 9X9″ round pans. Line the pan with parchment paper and spray again.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pans using the parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack before assembling cake or frosting!

Cheesecake:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter two 8X8″ or 9X9″ round pans, line with parchment paper and spray again. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in Ricotta and sugar, mix until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Finally, beat in sour cream and blend until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pans, evenly and bake in oven for 15 minutes, turn temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 45 more minutes. Let cool before removing from pan, freeze until ready to use.
Chocolate Chip Cookies (I used the bake-shop cookie recipe from a previous post):
  • 3/4 cup salted, butter, room temp (if you use unsalted, just add about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8X8″ or 9X9″ round pans, line with parchment paper and spray again. Sift together flour, cornstarch and baking soda; set aside. Beat butter until light and fluffy, cream together with sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add in flour slowly. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour half the batter into each prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until golden and still soft. You definitely want a soft cookie, not a crunchy one for this recipe…make sure they are completely cooled before assembling cake!
Marshmallow Frosting:
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow fluff
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

To make the butter cream, beat together the marshmallow fluff and butter, on medium speed, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat for another minute. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes until it’s light and fluffy. Set aside until cake assembly time (will need to be divided into four equal parts)!

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I let it cool about 1 hour, stirring occasionally)
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. (will have to be divided in half, and then on of the halves in half so you have 1/2 of the mixture, 1/4 and 1/4).

 

Whew, that’s a lot of components! Ok, now that everything is done and cooled completely, here’s how the layering goes: one brownie layer, marshmallow frosting, one cookie layer, marshmallow frosting, one cheesecake layer, chocolate frosting, graham crackers broken to fit around circle, chocolate frosting, other cheesecake layer, marshmallow frosting, other cookie layer, marshmallow frosting, other brownie layer, chocolate frosting to cover top and sides!

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So the layers will look like this, maybe even a little neater than mine!

Obviously you can arrange the layers  in whatever way you want but I saw this on a blog through Pinterest ( http://www.fatgirltrappedinaskinnybody.com/2011/06/ultimate-smore-anniversary-cake/) and that’s how she did it so I figured I’d follow it! After seeing this, I knew I had to make it, and boy was it amazing, what a creative and great idea!

Cafeteria Make-over!

I can still remember the disappointment and lack of excitement when my mom would tell me we were having meat loaf for dinner! I was just never a big fan, and came to find out neither is Josh! We share (or I suppose I should now say shared) the same feelings about meat loaf….boring, same-old same-old, and just overall blah! That was until Friday night when I decided to re-invent meat loaf and make it something we’d want to eat and look forward to eating! Having never made a meat-loaf before, this was quite the challenge! The project was a definite success and now meatloaf is something to get excited about!

Stuffed Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 t garlic salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1.25 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 egg
Stuffing
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 container mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • velveeta cheese, 8 thick slices
Sauce (Adapted from Alton Brown)
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1 t cumin
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 dashes Siracha
  • 1 T honey

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. For the filling, heat the olive oil and butter in large skillet. Add the onion and mushroom, season to taste and saute until softened. Add in the garlic and saute a few more minutes. Set aside. In the meantime to make the meat loaf, combine the bread crumbs and all seasonings. Combine the ground meat and veggies with the bread crumb mixture. Add the egg until combined thoroughly. For the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients.

Place half of the meat mixture into the loaf pan. Top with 4 of the slices of Velveeta, the mushroom mixture then 4 more slices of Velveeta. Top with remaining meat mixture. Place in oven for 50-60 minutes, topping with the sauce about 10 minutes into the cooking process.

For dessert, I decided to combine two of my favorite things together: raw cookie dough and fudgy brownies! I made the mistake of concocting edible cookie dough that is absolutely delicious! Delicious enough that I ate the entire thing and had to make more for the brownies! Here’s how it goes:

Brownies (best brownie recipe ever by the way…adapted from King Arthur)

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t espresso
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 bag chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, stir in sugar until dissolved. Return to heat, but do not let boil, just heat up. While the sugar is heating the second time, whisk the four eggs with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso and vanilla. Add the butter mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Add in chocolate chips and flour, stir until chocolate melts. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes for an 8X8 or 9X9, and about 30 for a 9X13.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I let it cool about 1 hour, stirring occasionally)
    2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
    1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
    3 tablespoons milk
    1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Place all in a food processor and blend until smooth and thick. Set aside.

While the brownies are baking, mix together one can sweetened condensed milk, 8 T softened butter, 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 t vanilla and 1 cup chocolate chips. Store in fridge until ready to use!

Once the brownies are completely cooled. Spread with chocolate frosting and then spread cookie dough on top. If there is remaining frosting, throw another layer on top of the frosting!

These are incredibly rich and decadent…not for the faint of heart!

Enjoy, and get excited about meat loaf Mondays!

A new take on an old favorite!

When my mom told me about a recipe she found in one of her cooking magazines, I was intrigued. The combination of brussels sprouts and cream cheese with pasta had me wondering…I knew we would have to try it out! I have tried just about every veggie with pasta, but never brussels sprouts for some reason! And using cream cheese seemed like a cop-out to make an alfredo-ey type sauce without having to do any sort of work but I’ve seen more and more pasta recipes recently that use cream cheese so I figured why not jump on the bandwagon?! The dish ended up being a great weeknight dinner idea, very creamy, thick and rich and fairly easy to make. And the best part being, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand to make it, they are more or less staples for us!

Roasted Brussels Sprout Pasta

  • 1-2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 pound pasta (I used a shell type, but you can use elbow, orecchiette, etc)
  • 3-4 T butter
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion, chopped or 1-2 t onion flakes
  • 1 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay on sprayed baking sheet in one layer and roast about 30-40 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil for pasta, heavily salting as soon as it comes to a boil and cook pasta. While that’s cooking, saute onion and garlic in butter until softened, 3-4 minutes, add in chicken broth or wine and bring to a boil until reduced by half. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the water. Toss pasta and brussels sprouts with butter mixture, reserved pasta water, 1-2 T olive oil, some parmesan cheese and cream cheese. Heat until cream cheese is melted, add more pasta water as necessary to get to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with more parm while eating! I like to add parm in layers as I eat…usually going through an additional 1/4 cup at least…I do not suggest this, however it is one of those habits I just can’t stop!

When we were younger, my best friend and I would go to my gram’s house during lunch and she’d make us pastina and egg. Another amazingly simple yet delicious recipe (seriously, just add a cracked, beaten egg or two to drained pastina, with a half a stick (or more) of butter and a ton of parmesan cheese)! We would eat an entire pound of pastina and go through half a container or more of parmesan cheese….glad to have someone to share my love of parmesan cheese with, mostly because at least I know I’m not the only one!!

Savor the Moment!

Usually, I opt for the sweet breakfast choice over the savory, any day of the week…I’m talking 9 out of 10 times…give me a muffin or chocolate croissant please! Yesterday was an entirely different morning, for some reason I decided to make an uber rich and savory breakfast and it turned out fabulous! Josh and I went out to a steakhouse Friday night and ended up, through quite a mishap of giving our entrees away to another table, etc, with 3 large entrée steaks…so for once, we ended up having leftovers, a rare event in our lives! I was trying to think of something fun to do with the steak because re-heating a steak doesn’t sound too appetizing to me! I got the idea from a combination of  the ever popular dishes ‘chicken and waffles’ and ‘steak and eggs’ and came up with ‘steak and waffles!’ We both absolutely love anything mushroom or Marsala so I decided this would be the ‘syrup’ for the waffles. We made savory herb waffles and topped them with steak slices, Marsala sauce, and a fried egg. I just might swing towards the savory breakfast club if they could all be this good!

Waffles (makes 6):

  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Marsala Mushroom Sauce:
  • 1 container Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 small onion or shallot, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 3-4 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 t chopped thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion and mushrooms in some olive oil and/or butter until softened, add in garlic. Cook a few more minutes, then add in Marsala, scrape up any browned bits on bottom of pan, add in herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cook a few more minutes. Uncover, add cream and cook, stirring until desired thickness (took me about 8 or so minutes). To assemble: top the waffles with the steak slices, then the Marsala sauce, followed by a fried egg!
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My favorite part about this was the fried egg, when you cut into it, the yolk from the egg oozed out all over the steak, mushrooms and waffle. I contemplated adding in a different cheese with the waffle batter or using blue cheese with the Marsala sauce but I think it would have been too rich, this was a very hearty and savory dish already. It was a great way to use leftovers instead of throw them out, that’s for sure!
On another note, I made the stuffed pumpkins again last night, however I substituted ground lamb for the ground beef, added in carrots and peas with the mushrooms and used fresh rosemary and thyme from our garden…they were even better than the first time! They had a Shepard’s Pie feel to them but were stuffed in a pumpkin! I am really loving this recipe, not only because of how amazingly delicious it is but because of how versatile it is and how you can play around with it! Had to get one last round of pumpkins in there before the season officially ends! My next task is going to be to make enough baked mostaccioli and meatballs for Josh’s family’s Thanksgiving of 75+ people! I am going to have to channel my inner Gram for help with this one!

Gravy Train!

I realize it has been a while since my last post but luckily I’ve been really busy! And sadly we didn’t have internet at work this week…which forced me to do actual work, blah! No seriously though, I do have a new recipe I’d like to share with everyone! I saw an episode of Giada over a year ago that I’ve been wanting to make but never did, until last Friday! It is for a lamb ragu….I used her recipe, omitting the mint leaves and using a smidge more garlic and lamb meat…and used my mama’s gravy recipe for the ‘marinara sauce’ part! The lamb added such a unique, peppery flavor and the ricotta added an unexpected creaminess. It was well worth the wait, and was easier than anticipated to make which was a definite bonus!! So here it is:

1 lb Pasta (rigatoni, shells, rotini: any that hold on to a hearty meat sauce)!

2 T olive oil

2 lb ground lamb

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup red wine

4 cups marinara (Gram’s gravy recipe to follow)!

1/2 cup ricotta

Heat large pot of water to boiling, add salt, and add pasta….cook until al dente. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the shallots and garlic, cook until softened. Add the ground lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and juices have evaporated. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Add the marinara sauce and cook over low heat until flavors meld, at least 15 minutes. Add the ricotta and mix through. Add the pasta (I chose shells, mostly because that’s what I had in my pantry but also because the shells would hold on to the meaty chunks in the sauce). Top with some fresh parsley and of course, serve with parmesan and a big glass of red wine!!

Picture of Lamb Ragu with Mint Recipe

This is the pic of Giada's with the Rigatoni! Unfortunately I do not have a pic of my own to share!

Mama’s gravy recipe (and I apologize in advance for not having exact measurements of any sort, but I had to learn how to make this through watching):

Heat enough olive oil  and vegetable oil (more olive than vegetable) to coat the bottom of a deep, large pot. Add a lot of chopped garlic and little chopped onion and soften for a few minutes. Add pork neck bones and fry until browned. Add a large can of tomato puree. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a lot of oregano, a little basil, a dash of red pepper flakes and a few splashes of red wine. Let that come to a boil, then simmer. Mix a small can of tomato paste with a can of water and add that to the gravy.  Add a bit of parmesan cheese and let simmer for a few hours. Be sure to stir occasionally, making sure to scrap the bottom and sides of the pot. (Sidenote: you can use any combination of pork neck bones, beef shank, Italian sausage, meatballs, etc for the beginning part)!

It’s That Time of Year Again!

The time I am talking about is of course pumpkin season! Just about everyone’s favorite time of year…coffee shops bring back the pumpkin lattes, donut shops and bakeries the pumpkin donuts and muffins, stores the canned pumpkin puree…all such wonderful things! I do have to say though, some coffee shops really fail on the pumpkin syrups and they end up tasting as if you’re drinking a melted down candle (Caribou and Julius Meinl I’m talking to you), but Starbuck’s you are exempt, yours is delicious! So my obsession with pumpkin hit an all time high the other year when canned pumpkin became a rare commodity…I ended up buying at least a can or two every trip to the grocery store and when all was said and done, I ended up with a stockpile of 15 + cans! Needless to say, I needed to come up with a few recipes/ways to use them! So to celebrate the season, here are a few of my favorites:

Pumpkin Sage Alfredo (courtesy of Emily Vandenbroucke):

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 16 fresh sage leaves (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Combine the cream, puree, parmesan, sage, salt and pepper into medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Simmer the mixture until slightly thickened (10 – 12 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in butter. Toss with cooked pasta and serve immediately.
Pumpkin Donuts:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or a Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying
  • Spiced Sugar
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high seed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour until well combined. Cover and chill 3 hours.
  2. Shape into balls or on a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut with floured 2-1/2-inch doughnut cutter  (if you are fancy enough to own one of these)!
  3. Fry doughnuts, 2 or 3 at a time, in deep, hot fat (365 degrees F) about 2-1/2 minutes or until golden, turning once. Using a slotted spoon, removed doughnuts from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. Coat warm doughnuts in Spiced Sugar.
  4. Spiced Sugar: In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Stuffed Pumpkin:
Pumpkin and cheese
  • 1 pumpkin, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • 4 ounces stale bread, sliced thin, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 4 ounces cheese ( Gruyère, Blue, or Goat are my favorites), shredded or cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Any other seasonings you like can be added! As can any type of meat or vegetable…
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Either line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Using a very sturdy knife, cut a cap off the top of the pumpkin. Clear away any seeds and strings from the cap and hold it aside while you scoop out the seeds and filaments inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper and put it on the sheet or in the casserole. Toss the bread, cheese and garlic together in a bowl, then pack it into the pumpkin. Season the cream with salt, pepper and several gratings of fresh nutmeg and pour the cream into the pumpkin. Put the cap back in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours — check after 90 minutes — or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbly and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. I removed the cap during the last 20 minutes or so of baking so that the top could brown. Another variation on this is to stuff the pumpkin with a combination of ground beef, cream of mushroom, cheese and some veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, etc)! Really you can stuff anything that is normally baked in the oven into the pumpkin and cook it inside and scrape the insides of the pumpkin when serving!
I have plenty more pumpkin recipes so I’ll keep them coming throughout the season!! Here’s another I got from a patient, tried it last night…didn’t turn out as it was supposed to but was still absolutely amazing!! I can’t even imagine how sickeningly good these would be had they come out of the liners properly!
 Pumpkin Pie White Chocolate cups:
 
  • 10 oz good-quality chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • [10 mini (2 inch) aluminum/tin foil muffin liners]
  • 2 oz (about 4 Tbsp) 1/3-less-fat Neuchâtel cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup finely ground cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (a food processor works best here)
  1. Melt chocolate in double boiler.
  2. Continuously stir the chocolate until completely melted. Remove bowl from the heat.
  3. Using a small spoon or pastry brush, “paint” the melted chocolate all over the insides of the 10 muffin liners (the tin foil cups are easier to peel off than the paper cups). The layer of chocolate should be thick enough so that you cannot see through it, but thin enough that the paper cups remain upright and intact. You will not use all of the melted chocolate in this step.
  4. Allow chocolate cups to cool and harden completely by placing on a tray in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can also complete this step the night before.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese through vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in graham cracker crumbs.
  6. Evenly divide the pumpkin mixture between the hardened chocolate cups., smoothing the top to create an even surface.
  7. If the remaining melted chocolate has hardened too much, simply repeat steps 1-2.
  8. Evenly divide the remaining melted chocolate amongst the filled cups, smoothing the tops and making sure the chocolate reaches all the way to the edges in order to seal the cups.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 1-2 hours.
  10. Try to eat just 1 or 2, I bet you can’t!
  11. http://www.healthyfoodforliving.com/?p=14620 (this is the site the recipe came from)!
When I made these, I think I used too small of liners (they didn’t have 2″ at the store so I got the 1 1/2″. I think going bigger would have been better in this situation! Mine don’t exactly peel out of the liners so easily! They were better today than last night however still some white chocolate stuck onto the wrappers, easy to lick right off though! I am going to try these again this weekend (since all but a few of mine have been eaten already, oops) so I’ll let you know if the liner size makes any difference! Oh and if you are not a white chocolate fan, do not fear this recipe, my husband despises white chocolate, but after much begging and convincing, I got him to try one and now he’s also addicted!

Saucy!

Last night Josh and I decided to grill some rib-eyes but wanted to do something different than our usual preparation of garlic salt, cayenne pepper and sauteed mushrooms.
We both love blue cheese and every time we eat at a steakhouse, I always order the blue cheese crust! So I decided to attempt to make my own mushroom, blue cheese sauce! The sauce came out soooo delicious, we decided that we are never eating steaks without it again! It was so good I felt I needed to share so here’s what I did:

I sauteed half a chopped onion and a few cloves of chopped garlic in some butter until softened and then added in the mushrooms for about  5 -7 minutes. I then added a few splashes of marsala wine to deglaze the pan, being sure to scrape up any browned bits that stuck to the bottom. I then added about 3/4 cup of beef broth and brought that to a boil and then let it simmer for a bit until it was thick enough to coat the back of the spatula (about 5 minutes or so). Once thick enough, I added in 8 ounces of crumbled blue cheese, let it melt down and then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste!

Hope you enjoy!!

Kitchen Mishap #1!

I was home alone the other night and decided I would prepare a lasagna to bake the following night for dinner since I had what I thought to be all of the necessary components. I was going to use Trader Joe’s Vodka Sauce in place of homemade gravy (yes  gravy as us Italians refer to it, not pasta sauce) and add in some spinach and mushrooms. My grandma would die if she knew I was using a bottled ‘sauce’ but this was not going to be a truly traditional lasagna nor did I have 6 hours to home make it and let it simmer all day! So I boiled the noodles until al dente, sauteed mushrooms and spinach in olive oil and garlic, made my ricotta and parmesan mixture and was ready to begin assembling my masterpiece! That was until I opened the bottle of vodka sauce, only to find out it had gone bad before I was able to use it! With no sauce, it is nearly impossible to make a lasagna! I searched my cabinets for anything I could use to make a generic, quick substitute for gravy. All I had was a can of tomato sauce and two cans of diced tomatoes. I decided that instead of letting all I had already prepared go to waste, I was going to give it a whirl!

Here it goes I thought as I sauteed some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until they were soft and then threw in the can of tomato sauce and two cans of diced tomatoes. I added a few bay leaves, some fresh basil and parsley, salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes. I also added a splash of red wine and  let it simmer for as long as I could before heading to bed, which only ended up being about a half hour! I didn’t want to taste the sauce before creating the lasagna for fear it was not going to be good and I’d consider this epic failure #1! So I ladled some sauce into a 9X13 pan, layered noodles on top of it, added the ricotta mixture and some mozzarella, another layer of sauce and noodles, then the sauteed mushrooms and spinach with more mozzarella and lastly, another layer of noodles and sauce and topped it mozzarella and grated parmesan. I covered it and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Being a newlywed (our wedding was May 14th), I didn’t want to tell my husband about my little mishap and put him in the mindset that it was going to be terrible and that his Italian wife can’t even make a lasagna! This Susie homemaker thing is still new and exciting for me, I didn’t want to fail this early on! I brainstormed different ways to make things go better than anticipated and even toyed with the idea of opening multiple bottles of red wine with dinner, hoping that he would then forget if it wasn’t quite as delicious as I hoped! Bad idea since we both had to work the next morning, so it dawned on me to end the meal with something I know would be super delicious! I decided to whip up homemade fudge brownies and top with them with Nutella and dark chocolate ice cream! I knew this would definitely overshadow any bad dinner! As it turned out, the lasagna was fairly tasty, not my best work by any means and my grandma would probably have scoffed at it, however it was edible and we enjoyed it…him more than I but that’s what it’s all about!