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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Loaded Fall (Winter) Tart

Tart & salad

I made my weekly trip to Whole Foods with my trusty post-it list and as soon as I got to the squash bin the list went out the window!  Finally!!!!!  I had to make this tart as soon as humanly possible.

This has been in my recipe queue for ages- but I couldn’t find the right squash for it to save my life.  NO ONE had delicata squash in stock for ages.  Now, I realize I could use another type of squash, but part of what I love about the recipe is how pretty the delicata squash is in the tart.  It’s lovely scalloped edges are just adorable.

It’s one of those recipes that upon hearing the ingredient list you think, “Hmm, I wouldn’t put those things together, but I bet it’s good.” And gosh darnit- it IS good.  Beyond good.

I cheated a bit- I didn’t make the pastry, I used prepared whole wheat pizza dough, so my version was a bit more pizza-y than the original.  I also swapped in hot italian sausage for a bit of an extra punch.

Cheese, apples, garlic, sausage

Once everything is prepared- veggies are roasted and sausage is browned, this comes together really quickly.

Pre-oven

 

Oh yeah.

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There’s a lot of times where I find recipes on food blogs and I think “That would be great for a party!” But I don’t host as much as I would like and though I would love to think so, appetizers cannot count as a meal.  If they did I would survive solely on Trader Joe’s frozen appetizers.  Seriously.

The most recent OMG I have to make this! incident came when I was directed to this site by my cube-mate.  My cube-mate who started cooking classes at night- for realsies.  I am so J. We have a daily discussion of “Oh, hey, did you read Pioneer Woman today?” Or “You need to check out Smitten’s new post.”  This is what we do to try and distract ourselves from the excel spreadsheets that define our 9-5 existence.

Annnnywho, getting back to the food- this site is amazeballs.  I love these girls- I love their food, their photos, these are the things I wish I could do all day.  I knew this recipe needed to be a part of my life asap.  I was also trying to plan a lil’ girls night with my ladies from grad school- the cutest girls to ever grace a finance program.  I suggested a night in- that way we could relax, save some $$, and actually have a conversation rather than yell over Top 40 hits and drunk Fund Accountants.

Happy Hour on Friday got pushed to Saturday and then it turned into an impromptu football party. (Yay Patriots in the Superbowl!!!)  I also decided that it was a good chance to explain American football to Irish Kate.  (I know a lot of Kates, and she really is Irish. Like from Ireland, not Southie Irish.) The menu-planning wheels got to turning, and I decided on the tart, sausage stuffed mushrooms, and spinach & artichoke dip.  All things I’ve never made before.  I was a tad nervous not using a solid tried & true recipe, but, really, how much can you mess up apps? I was also excited to spend the day cooking, but, I didn’t need to.  These were super simple, and after a quick prep session in the morning, things were ready to pop in the oven once my friends arrived.

I followed the recipe for the tart, and this recipe for the dip, for proportions and cooking time, as for the mushrooms- I used Ina’s guidance, but sort of winged it.

I started with button mushrooms, took off the stems and made sure there was room to stuff in each one.  I reserved the stems and chopped them to put in the stuffing.

Rather than sweet italian sausage I wanted to try the amazing apple-gouda sausage I recently discovered at whole foods.  Two birds, one stone.  Sausage & cheese, no need to buy more cheese.  However, as these are already fully cooked they are really hard to get out of the casing, so I needed a bit of help.

Thank you Cuisinart mini-prep.

To a skillet I added olive oil, garlic, the sausage, and the chopped mushrooms.  I think that’s it- I of course didn’t write anything down and it’s been a few days so I’ve forgotten the step-by-step.

Once that was heated through I transferred the mix to a bowl and added breadcrumbs, and a wee bit of parmesan cheese.

I then stuffed the mushroom caps- which had been mixed with a bit of olive oil and Marsala wine, since the recipe called for it, and I have a bottle on hand that’s not going anywhere fast.  I assembled these and put them in the fridge, and got to work on the spinach dip.

This is really too easy- spinach, artichokes, cheese, BAM!

Both are ready to go!

Once the girls arrived I got started on the tart- easy as pie.

Hello friend.  I like you.

Hot dip ready to go!!

Now, again, my skills as a food blogger are still novice, the tart was tasty and the mushrooms went fast I nearly forgot to take more pictures of it once it was served!

The night was a success all around- Pats won and we explained to Kate what a safety was.

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Now ain’t that just the healthiest title ever!! Since discovering that I like quinoa I’ve been playing with it a bit, and wanted to make it the star of a recipe.  I’ve seen a handful of popular ones lately on blogs I love- most recently by Heidi of 101 Cookbooks.  I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go with them and I wanted to try to keep them gluten-free.  I also used a bit of inspiration from Kate and this recipe. I ended up with a ridiculously healthy and easy recipe.  Sweet potato- black beans-and cooked quinoa.  That’s it. (Of course with seasonings).

I actually forgot- I started with a bit of sauteed onion as well-

A little fuzzy- but cooked quinoa (about 2 cups) and the onion went into a large bowl.  I then added a sweet potato that had been boiled and mashed (about 1 cup mashed) and a cup of black beans.

I mashed everything together, added cumin, chili powder and salt, and formed into patties

Using a non-stick pan and a bit of canola oil spray I cooked the patties until brown & crispy.  I topped them with a wacky dressing of light mayo and salsa.  Don’t ask me how that sounded like a good idea… but it worked.

I think this is hands down the healthiest thing I’ve ever cooked.  It was insanely easy and includes some super foods.

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Ahh, the gorgeous leek.  Why did I fear you for so long? Maybe fear isn’t the right word- but it definitely wasn’t something I saw in the grocery store and said, “oh, yes, I need leeks this week.” Anyway, when I finally tried potato leek soup I was no longer afraid. It’s been on my cooking bucket list for awhile and since soup has been my go-to lunch these days, I decided it was time.

I searched for a simple recipe- no cream, nothing too heavy, and David Lebovitz’s recipe was perfect! I said to one of my co-workers this week about it: “Well, if things are ever really bad and I only have $5, I can make soup.”  Potatoes, Leeks, water. That’s it.  (Of course there is seasoning involved, but I tell ya, this is easy and hearty.)  I supposed you could use chicken broth, but I honestly did not notice a difference without it.  I love this soup.  I want to snuggle with this soup.  Though that might get messy, I’ll leave the snuggling to the fat cat.

Soften the leeks…

Get your potatoes ready

Potatoes & leeks meet each other in the big pot

Seasonings, water, bay leaves

Puree with immersion blender (or regular) and enjoy!

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I totes cheated on this one.  I had a nearly full container of Whole Foods Nut N’Honey Granola, but I was tired of it on its own, and granola bars were the next best idea…

Granola, cinnamon chips, canola spray and the pan ready to go!

However, the honey I had to use to hold it all together was a bit, err, crystallized.  I boiled a pot of water and poured it into a bowl with the honey container and left it to melt.

When everything was mixed, I turned it out onto the pan and formed a sort of square, using a well oiled spatula.

Into the oven (350 for 20 minutes) and occasionally took it out and smooshed it with a spatula to make sure everything was sticking together.

And here we have granola “bars.”  Hmmm… we’ll see how they taste!

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My New Year’s dinner left me with quite a few left-over roasted potatoes… I wanted to do something interesting with them.  I also had a few pieces of bacon left in the fridge- so tried my hand at hash & eggs.

SO GOOD.  I really think my cooking strength lies in the realm of diner food.

I diced up the left-over roasted potatoes and set them aside.  I then diced the raw bacon and threw it in the cast-iron skillet

Once the bacon was beginning to brown-up I added the potatoes

While that was coming together I threw on two eggs

I put some hash on a plate, added just a tad of shredded mozzarella,


On went the eggs, and a bit of ketchup on the side… such a tasty breakfast for dinner treat!

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Hello 2012!!

Sparkly shoes for New Years Dinner

TGITHT!!

(Thank God it’s two-thousand twelve!)  For realsies.  It’s high time for a new year. 2011 wasn’t all bad- but, it certainly had its moments.  I’m glad it’s long gone and I’m excited at the prospects for a new journeys and exciting things to come.

So, as I discussed in my last post this holiday season has been hectic, and after the whirlwind that was Christmas weekend I was looking forward to some downtime for  New Years.  New Years &  I have a strained relationship, and the older I get, the less I like it.  There’s so much pressure to do something really fun, go to a crazy party- pay a ridiculous cover to a bar, drink champagne and kiss someone at midnight.  As my Dad calls it, “amateur night.”  I would much rather spend the night with close friends, family, and keep things low-key, certainly pop some bubbly, maybe play a round of Scrabble and watch a movie.

This year, my plan was to cook myself a delicious meal and relax; the ultimate treat these days.  I did just that and it was magnificent.  I didn’t feel lonely or sad, it was just perfect.  I am my own best date sometimes.  So here’s to 2012, living to the fullest, staying true to me, and making it all work.

Here’s what I made to ring in the new year…

Chicken au Champagne or shall we say… Chicken con Prosecco.

I made this recipe a few years ago with the real deal- Veuve Cliquot, but I couldn’t justify the nearly $50 bottle for just me.  And, to be completely honest, I prefer Prosecco and Cava.  To me they are drier and more palatable than the traditional French Champagnes.

Look at that roasted beauty…

And to go with it, Ina Garten’s Herbed New Potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts

herbs and potatoes

And yes, that is a glass of bubbly in the background, I love my antique champagne glasses, not the flutes, but the flat saucers almost.

And of course… dessert… Gluten-Free brownies and Vanilla Ice cream.. oh yes.

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