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Quinoa and Acorn Squash Salad

November 7, 2012

Think quinoa (gluten-free superfood) for a healthy, high protein week night meal. Incorporate seasonal ingredients for texture, great flavor, and potent nutrition. I feel fortunate that I have a husband that’s game for a dinner of grains and vegetables. However, I’ll add a nice glass of red wine and a piece of dark chocolate….how can he not LOVE!

Quinoa Salad

Serves 2   (with extra salad for leftovers)

1 Acorn squash

1 cup quinoa

1 granny smith apple, chopped

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups baby greens (I used kale and pea shoots)

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons dates, chopped

1 tablespoon pistachios

1 tablespoon apple vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half (so you have the scalloped edges). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 4o minutes or until tender. In a medium saucepan add the quinoa and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. When quinoa is cooled, combine apple, shallot, garlic, greens, parsley, dates and pistachios. In a small bowl combine vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix dressing with quinoa salad and place in the acorn squash to serve.


Pumpkin Bread French Toast with Bacon Brittle

November 3, 2012

O.K. so here’s the plan. The day after Thanksgiving when the house is still buzzing with relatives ….I am serving this for breakfast!!!  Why you ask?? So they leave my leftovers alone! Status quo has been coffee, pumpkin pie………and then here we go…….. turkey sandwiches, cranberries, sweet potatoes, dressing and turnips! (You know who you are!) Now do you get the plan? Sounds a bit fussy after entertaining 30 plus. However, I plan on making the bread weeks in advance, whip creme from the day before, and the brittle leftover from my sweet potatoes. They won’t know what hit ’em!!!

Pumpkin Bread French Toast with *Bacon Brittle (see previous Sweet Potato post)

Makes 1 loaf

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, additional for preparing loaf pan

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9 inch loaf pan. Mix together flour, salt baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger in a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugar and oil together until creamy. Stir in vanilla. Add the pumpkin puree to the mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until combined. Beat in the dry ingredients at low speed and add 2/3 cups water. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center and comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let it cool completely.

French Toast

Serves 4

4 tablespoons butter, more for pan

2 cups milk, at room temperature

6 large eggs, at room temperature


8 pieces pumpkin bread

For serving, bananas, fresh whipped creme and heated Maple syrup. Top with a shard of bacon brittle.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and 1 teaspoon salt and whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Transfer mixture to large baking dish. Working in batches, add 2 or 3 slices of bread to mixture and let soak, turning once. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt about 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Add bread to pan, cook, turning once until golden, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and top with bananas, whip creme and drizzle with maple syrup.

For serving the group I plan on using a large platter and arranging the pumpkin bread with overlapping slices. Then top with whipped creme, place sliced bananas, sprinkle the bacon brittle and drizzle with syrup.

Twice Baked Sweet Potato With Bacon Brittle

November 1, 2012

Bacon….do I  really need to say more??? Switch up those same ‘ol, same ‘ol, holiday potatoes. This dish can be made hours before and the brittle the day before. Depending on the size of your party, make individual potatoes or serve casserole style. The bacon brittle adds a nice salty/sweet treat without the marshmallows!!!  (Please, people!!)

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon Sesame Brittle

(adapted from Bon Appetit)

Serves 8

4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch wide pieces

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoons sesame seeds

6 medium sweet potatoes

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Salt and pepper

2 scallions, thinly slice dark parts only

Bacon BrittleLine a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp. Transfer bacon over a sieve set over a small bowl, reserve drippings. Return bacon, 1 tablespoon drippings, sugar, and sesame seeds to same skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar turns the color of milk chocolate, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and use spatula to spread out evenly, let cool. Break brittle into shards. (Can be made 1 day ahead and stored in an air tight container.)

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast until tender 45 to 55 minutes, cool. Slice potatoes in half length wise. In a large bowl, scoop out flesh from 8 halves, leaving a 1/2 inch thick layer inside skins. Place potato halves on same foil lined baking sheet. Scoop flesh from the remaining 4 halves, discard skins. In a bowl mash flesh with a whisk. Add eggs, butter, salt and pepper and stir until mixture is smooth. Spoon or pipe filling into reserved skins. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Bake potatoes until the tops are lightly puffed and golden brown, 30-35 minutes. (They will take longer if the potatoes have been chilled.) Top potatoes with bacon brittle and scallions.

This brittle is AMAZING!!! Think vanilla ice cream, breakfast and on and on and on and on………..

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad With Burrata Cheese

October 25, 2012


Birth of the blog! Let’s start at the very beginning……. Randy and I were having a quiet Friday night in front of the fire last Fall and out comes The Shredded Sprouts Salad with a nice (glass) of wine. This started a conversation about journaling my recipes which then evolved…light bulb… into writing a Blog! (Who, Me?) My immediate concerns were discussed, the technical aspect of pulling a blog together, camera, the vision and stepping outside my comfort zone. I spent the next six months cataloging and researching my new found project. With the support of Randy and encouragement of my kids …here I am!! A year later… we are celebrating with a shredded sprouts salad and a nice (bottle) of wine…fireside!! Cheers!

Shredded Sprouts Salad with Burrata Cheese

Serves 4 side salads or 2 entrees

1 small red onion, cut into 1/2 inch rounds

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound brussels sprouts, shaved

1/2 cup parmesan cheese shavings

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoons shallot, minced

1 ball burrata cheese

Toss onion with 1/2 tablespoon oil and pinch of salt. In a saute pan, add 1/2 tablespoon oil and onions over medium heat til charred, about 4 minutes. Place onions in a bowl and toss with vinegar. Let the mixture set for 10 minutes. Drain and chop into small bits. Using a mandolin shave the brussels sprouts (or slice very thin). In a bowl add the brussels sprouts, onions, parmesan and mix. In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, honey, shallot, salt, and pepper. Combine dressing and sprout mixture. For an entree salad, plate sprouts and top with half of burrata cheese.

I love brussels sprouts. Now! Growing up….not so much. Mom (sorry) but you killed em! We may actually have a lost generation of sprouts eaters due to our mothers over boiling them! Please re-visit and give these healthy vegetables another try. Roasting with olive oil, salt and pepper is ideal. However, give this raw salad a try. Add Burrata cheese, which has a liquid center of fresh cream, and this dish becomes rich and hearty enough for an entree. Shredding the sprouts gives each bite a nice crunch with an earthy, nutty flavor!!

Have fun with these beautiful stalks! They make for great conversation and a seasonal arrangement!!!!

Butternut Squash Risotto

October 18, 2012

Risotto is not difficult to make…..if you have the time. Pour a glass of wine, set out a nice appetizer and bring your guests into the kitchen while you combine these simple ingredients to create an elegant (yet casual) seasonal entree.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves 4 (as a main course)

8 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

2 cups arborio rice

3/4 cups white wine

Salt and pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 or 2 slices or prosciutto

Heat the chicken stock in a pan over low heat. Cover and keep warm. Heat the softened butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and butternut squash, and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, coating it with the butter and seasonings. Continue to stir and toast the rice, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates. Stirring the rice continuously, add the warm stock, one cup at a time, making sure the liquid is completely absorbed by the rice before adding the next cup. The rice will start to release its starch and thicken into a creamy porridge, about 30 minutes. Depending on the texture of risotto you like, the grains of rice should be tender to firm. Season the risotto with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let sit for a couple of minutes. Stir in the cold butter and Parmesan into the risotto. Grate a bit of nutmeg over top of risotto and add additional grated Parmesan. Serve immediately. For garnish, slice and crisp up the prosciutto in a saute pan. Serve with a seasonal side salad (greens, pear, walnut and a creamy balsamic dressing?) and crusty bread.

Caramelized Onion and Apple Tarts

October 13, 2012

With the holidays fast approaching it’s a good idea to have a few easy appetizers in your back pocket. Really can’t get much easier than this! Keep these seasonal ingredients on hand …. you can also combine mushroom and butternut squash or pear and caramelized onion. This appetizer pulls together so quickly and is so easy and elegant…. you’ll feel like you cheated!

Caramelized Onion and Apple Tarts with Gruyere and Thyme ( adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

*Makes 32 tarts

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 lb yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 lb tart apples, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated

2 tablespoons chives, minced

1 teaspoon thyme, chopped


1 package (1 lb) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water

In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm oil.  Add onions, salt and cool until the onions are golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt butter in a medium pan and add apples, sugar and stir to coat. Stir until the apples have softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with onions and add cheese, chives, thyme and pepper. Cut the pastry sheet into 2 inch squares. Place on baking sheets about 1 inch apart and wash with egg mixture. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture in the center of pastry square. Season with salt and pepper. Bake rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and from  front to back during baking for even cooking. Bake til bottoms are crisp and golden on top, about 25 minutes. Makes 32 tarts.

*I cut the recipe in half for 6 people………..and have the remaining ingredients ready to go for another evening!

Celery Root And Potato Puree

October 10, 2012

Celery root (Celeriac) is a root vegetable. This gnarly-looking root need not be judged by it’s cover anymore. What you’ll find beneath is a creamy, white flesh with a deliciously sweet, smokey flavor. This humble vegetable packs some serious health benefits: it’s high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. What’s more celery root has only 42 calories versus 118 in a potato. It is edible raw or cooked and tastes similar to the stalks. The combination of celery root and potatoes adds a rich, earthy, hearty addition to any meal. Pairing this with any braised, roasted or grilled meat makes the perfect comfort food dinner.  (This combination of celery root and potato are also perfect for a gratin…..Thanksgiving?)

Celery Root and Potato Puree  

Serves 2-3

1 large celery root (1 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cube

1 medium baking potato 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cube

1 garlic clove

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

Salt and Pepper

1 tablespoon butter

3 sage leaves

In a medium sauce pan, combine celery root, potato, garlic, milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderate low and simmer until tender about 40 minutes. Drain in a colander set over a bowl and reserve cooking the liquid. Working in batches, puree the celery root and potato in a blender, adding as much of the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to form a soft puree (or your desired consistency). Transfer the puree to the saucepan and add salt and pepper to taste. For sage leaves, heat butter in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until butter is melted. Then add sage leaves and cook til butter is slightly brown (careful not to burn). Top the puree with the sage butter.