Sunday, December 26, 2010

What a Meatball!

veal meatball sandwich with fennel and mushrooms

If you grew up in New England like I did, then you know that the word "meatball" has more than one meaning. It's more common usage refers to the food -- a small, round ball of meat that is cooked and served with tomato sauce. It's less common but more colorful usage refers to someone, usually a big, beefy guy -- also called a "chooch," -- who does something rude or bone-headed. In that situation, you'd say, "What a meatball." Get it? Good.

Now you need to get yourself some ground veal from Strauss Free Raised Veal, a Wisconsin based company committed to raising calves more humanely, to make my Veal Meatballs with Fennel, Mushroom, and Shallot Tomato Sauce.

Now, it's time for a meatball.

Strauss veal hot dog DSC_0015
Italian Style Veal Hot Dogs with Onions, Peppers, and Mushrooms. 

Veal Meatballs with Fennel, Mushroom, and Shallot Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
Printable recipe.

1 pound ground veal
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup sliced white button or cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (32 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with juices, preferably San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
4 (6-inch) torpedo rolls
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and crushed red pepper flakes for garnish

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients. Using your hands, mix until the consistency is moist and the meat holds together well. If it's too dry, add a little bit of water, or another egg. If it's too moist, add some more bread crumbs. Using your hands, roll meat into 1 1/2-inch balls. It should yield 14-16 meatballs.

3. Place meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add shallots and saute 2 minutes until just wilted. Add fennel and saute 3-5 minutes until just softened. Add mushrooms and saute 5 minutes until lightly browned. Add white wine and let cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add cooked meatballs to the sauce and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until heated through. Turn off heat, and stir in basil.

5. Place torpedo rolls under the broiler until lightly toasted. Place 3-4 meatballs per roll, and top with a couple of spoonfuls of sauce. Garnish with grated cheese and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes. Serve hot.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Signings In Rhode Island This Week

Thursday 16 December, time TBD
Radio Interview
The Buddy Cianci Show, WPRO 630 and 99.7 FM
Friday 17 December 5-7 pm
Book Signing
Borders Books, Providence Place Mall, Providence, RI
Saturday 18 December 1-3 pm
Book signing
Borders Books, Garden City Shopping Center, Cranston, RI
Sunday 19 December 1-3 pm
Book Signing
Stop & Shop, Frenchtown Rd, Hunt River Commons, North Kingstown RI

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Gifts for Foodies by Foodies!

Freak of Nature.

There are only 10 days left until Christmas. Shocked? I  know. Don't let it panic you. I'm here to help. I've got gifts for foodies by foodies. 

You can never go wrong with cookbooks. These books are extra special because each one is written by a talented blogger, each of whom I have met. So let's spread the love and the cookbooks.

Cookbooks by bloggers: 

Deliciously Organic by Carrie Vitt.
Carrie shows you how to create deliciously organic meals every day. Every recipe features only organic, unprocessed, whole foods and run the gamut from breakfasts to desserts.
Why I like it: Vitt's tone is conversational rather than preachy.
Best for: Anyone who wants to cook and eat more healthfully.

Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern.
Why I like It: It's a cookbook intertwined with a romance story.
Best for: Hopelessly romantic, gluten-insensitive women.

Why I like it: Elana makes gluten-free baking accessible and enticing.
Best for: People with gluten intolerance or sensitivity who crave dishes like pizza, sandwiches, and cakes.

The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla.
Anupy demystifies Indian cooking for the average home cook.
Why I like it: Anupy says that only a few Indian spices are needed to create a wealth of flavorful, authentic Indian recipes. Good bye Indian recipes that call for 20 ingredients!
Best for: The harried mom who wants a healthy, easy Indian meal on the table at night.

Make It Slow. Cook It Fast. by Stephanie O'Dea.
Stephanie is one of the most bubbly, affable people I have ever met. So much so, that I bought a copy of her cookbook which includes 365 crock pot recipes, and I don't even own a crock pot.
Why I like it: It's honest, real, and practical.
Best for: The busy mom, one who preferably owns a crock pot.

The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin.
Why I like it: Sandy tells women that entertaining is less about perfection and more about making memorable, meaningful connections with others.
Best for: Women who need some emotional boosting to entertain without fear.

Artisan Foods and Crafts for Foodies:

Antique Soap Dispensers

The Gourmet Farm Girl Antique Soap Dispenser by Deb Mahon.
Why I like it: In case you didn't know, Ball jars are hip again. So get this hip soap dispenser for someone with style.
Best for: People who like hand-made items and unique pieces.

La Cense Beef
Why I like it: It's 100% pure grass-fed beef that tastes great.
Best for: Serious carnivores.

Foodie Art by Nicole Docimo such as whimsical prints and organic, reusable tote bags.

Sugar Daddy's Brownies from Columbus, Ohio.
Why I like it: Their brownies are unabashedly flavorful and so prettily wrapped that you feel guilty opening the package. Plus they're shipped from the oven to your door in 24 hours!
Best for: Kids and anyone who wants to feel like a kid again.

Of course, I think my book, Recipes Every Man Should Know, makes a great Christmas gift. With over 60 easy-to-make, manly recipes for just $9.95, it's the ideal gift for guys in your life. Plus, it fits perfectly into a stocking!

Flick photo credit, Welsh Poppy, creative commons. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Share Our Strength's NO KID HUNGRY Progressive Dinner

This holiday season will not be festive for all Americans. Consider this:

1. Over 15 million Americans are currently unemployed.
2. Over 50 million Americans are currently on food stamps.
3. Over 1 million American children go to bed hungry each night.

What can you do? You can support Share Our Strength's NO KID HUNGRY campaign to ensure that no kid in the US goes hungry. NO KID HUNGRY has made a commitment to end childhood hunger in America by 2015, and they need your help.

Here's how you can help:
1. Visit the Share Our Strength's NO KID HUNGRY website.
2. Click on "Take the Pledge."
3. Act now by choosing any of the options provided.
4. Click here to make a donation.
5. Spread the word. Tell your friends and family about it. Are you a blogger? Visit Share Our Strengths' Blogger Resource Center to find out how you can help.

I'm helping to spread the word about ending childhood hunger in America by partaking in a Share Our Strength Progressive Dinner. Michelle Stern of the blog What's Cooking with Kids?, Gaby Dalkin of the blog What's Gaby Cooking? and Clay Dunn of Share Our Strength, have united 50 food bloggers who will create a virtual dinner. Each day from December 6-14, we will offer family friendly, vegetarian, gluten-free and gourmet recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts. (Click here for the complete list of bloggers.)

Today, Gaby of What's Gaby Cooking? and I are sharing recipes for gourmet entrees. Since the holiday season leaves many us harried, I wanted to share a recipe for a fuss-free gourmet entree. Rather than a labor-intensive stuffed pork tenderloin recipe, I chose a quick and simple pork medallion recipe that still impresses: Pork Medallions with Maple-Balsamic Apples and Pomegranate Arils. The sweet-yet-tangy marinade renders the pork tender and succulent, while earthy rosemary, tart apples and zippy pomegranate arils lend complexity of flavor. Easy yet elegant.

Pork Medallions with Maple-Balsamic Apples and  Pomegranate Arils

Pork Medallions with Maple-Balsamic Apples and Pomegranate Arils 
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

Pork Marinade:
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-3/4-inch thick rounds
2 rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 medium apples, with skins, sliced into wedges, preferable a mildly tart variety such as Pink Lady doused with lemon juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate arils

1. Place pork and rosemary sprigs in a large Ziploc bag or air-tight container. In a small bowl whisk remaining marinade ingredients. Pour into the bag. Seal and shake the bag until the meat is well coated. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 4 hours. When ready to cook, remove meat from the bag and discard marinade.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add marinated, drained pork medallions. Cook for 4 minutes without touching. Once well browned, flip and cook 2 minutes more until slightly pink inside. Transfer to a plate.

3. In the same skillet over medium-low heat add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add onions, and saute 5-6 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add apples and saute 4-5 minutes until softened. Return pork to pan. Add maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper and chopped rosemary. Cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated through. Arrange on a plate, sprinkle with pomegranate arils and garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Be sure to visit these other bloggers for more fabulous entrees! 
Gaby of What's Gaby Cooking (gourmet entree)
Niki of life, in recipes (family friendly)
Amber of Blue Bonnets and Brownies (family friendly)
Lydia of The Perfect Pantry (vegetarian)
Chris and Karen of The Peche (vegetarian)
Nancy of The Sensitive Pantry (gluten-free)
Ali of Nourishing Meals (gluten-free)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

5 Stupid and Smart Ways to Not Gain Weight This Holiday Season

'Tis the season of spreading good cheer and spreading waistlines. We have all heard it before --  the average person gains one pound a year during the holidays. That is, except for French women, who apparently don't gain weight, ever.

One pound isn't so bad. What is bad is that most people never lose that pound and then continue to gain a pound each year afterwards.

There is no shortage of articles telling women how not to gain weight during the holidays.  Some are practical; others are, well, simply stupid. Below are a few of my favorite stupid suggestions and my common-sense alternatives. They work for me, and I hope they'll work for you too.

Stupid Suggestion #1: Avoid Alcohol At Parties. 
Telling people to avoid alcohol at a holiday party is like telling women inside of Nordstrom to avoid the shoe department. Ain't gonna happen.

Susan's Suggestion: Imbibe wisely. Light beer and wine have the fewest calories; sparkling drinks like Prosecco are festive yet pretty low in calories. Mixed drinks generally have the most calories, but if it's what you're really craving, then have one, just one. Got it?

Stupid Suggestion #2: Chew Gum to Avoid Eating Too Much.
Chew gum at a holiday party? You want to look classy and glamorous at a holiday party not like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.  

Susan's Suggestion: Hold a Glass of Sparkling Water in Your Hand. Sipping on sparkling water or tonic water with lime will prevent you from eating all night long while still looking elegant. Just don't drink too much of the bubbly sparkling stuff, or your belly will be rumble-bumbling all night too.

Stupid Suggestion #3: Look Up Calories Before You Eat.
Ah, yes, won't you look sexy at your holiday party when you whip out your smart phone and say to the hostess, "Um, wait a minute, I need to look up how many calories are in that bacon-wrapped scallop."

Susan's Suggestion: When you're at a party, scan the food offerings before digging it. Overall, try to select the least fattening foods -- those that are not fried, smothered in cheese, or glistening with oil. Allow yourself one sensational indulgence: maybe it's a meaty crab cake or a slick slice of peppermint cheesecake. Once you've made your choice, leave the guilt behind, and enjoy.

Stupid Suggestion #4: Exercise More During the Holidays.
Telling busy women and harried moms to exercise more during the holidays is setting them up to feel more guilty. 

Susan's Suggestion: Exercising more during the holiday season is a laudable goal; it's also impractical for most women. Instead, try to stick with your current exercise regime. If you don't have one, then consider adding quick ways to burn calories -- take the stairs instead of the elevator, play outside with your kids, take the dog for a longer walk. 

Stupid Suggestion #5: When baking holiday treats such as cookies, light a green apple scented candle which can reduce your appetite. 

Susan's Suggestion: Forget the green apple candle, (Does anyone even own that fragrance?) or any candle, for that matter. How often do you get to enjoy the aroma of spicy cloves and sweet vanilla bean? Have some faith in yourself. You can bake and smell cookies without eating an entire tray. Right? If not, then employ Stupid Suggestion #2. I prefer wintergreen or peppermint.

If all else fails, and you end up gaining that unwanted holiday weight, then read this post and plan on making a lot of soup in January 2011.

Do you have any tips or tricks to help prevent weight gain during the holidays? Please share them with us!

Photo credits:
Cooking Light magazine, November 2010
Flickr Creative Commons: KonRuff, twotoneatl

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Eat More Beer. Make Apple, Cheddar, and Rosemary Beer Bread.

Guiness Stout DSC_0019

Eat more beer.

Sure, drinking a cold beer is one's of life's simple pleasures. But why not be happier by eating beer too? Meats like beef and venison taste better when cooked with beer, which is why beer spiked chilis and stews and beer-infused pot pies taste so great.

Beer lends a full-bodied, earthy flavor to braised vegetables too. Collards or kale braised in beer? Oh, yeah. And don't forget thick, gooey beer and cheese soup. And then there's baking with beer, but let's save that for another post.

apple, onion, and cheddar beer bread

Today I'm sharing one of the tastiest, simplest recipes from my cookbook, Recipes Every Man Should Know, co-authored with Brett Cohen. Beer bread is for the man who loves beer and bread but hates to bake. There's no kneading or fancy bread machine required. Just some muscle for stirring.

PLEASE NOTE: If you own a copy of Recipes Every Man Should Know, make the following corrections on pg. 105 for beer bread: Add "1 tablespoon baking powder" and change "2 tablespoons salt" to "1 teaspoon salt." It has been corrected for future printings.

Beer Bread from Recipes Every Man Should Know
Makes 6-8 servings
Printable recipe.

This is the corrected recipe for Beer Bread from the book. Below it are three variations, including Apple, Cheddar, and Rosemary Beer Bread pictured above.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer, preferably dark, such as porter or stout (don't use light beer)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat and 8-by-4-inch or 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients. Pour into pan. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until top is golden broan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely.

Cheddar-Dill Beer Bread:
Stir 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill (or 1-2 tablespoons dried dill) into the batter.

Caramelized Onion-Cheddar-Sage Bread:
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions, and cook 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Reduce heat to low, and cook 12-15 minutes, or until dark and caramelized. Stir into batter along with 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage, about 4-5 leaves.

Apple, Cheddar, and Rosemary Beer Bread:
1 medium crisp, slightly sweet apple, such as Fuji or Braeburn, peeled and diced. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add apples, and cook 3 minutes until just softened and lightly browned. Stir into batter along with 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and 1 1/2-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or 2-3 teaspoons dried rosemary).

You might also like these recipes cooked with beer:
Boozy Beef Chili recipe from Food Blogga
Brat, Beer, and Cheese Soup recipe from Columbus Foodie
Beer and Bean Stew with Dumplings recipe from Green Giraffe Gourmet
Beer Braised Beef Shank with Garlic Grits recipe from Cooking by the Seat of My Pants
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Smoked Bacon and Beer recipe from Food Blogga

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe from Nancie McDermott's Book, Southern Pies

I'm pie challenged. But I'm working on it. About a month ago, my mom and I spent an entire morning making pie crusts. Two weeks ago I took a class on pie making. And last week, I became the proud owner of Nancie McDermott's cookbook, Southern Pies, A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan

Whether you're pie-challenged like me or love baking pies (apparently there are people for whom the latter is true), you should have a copy of Southern Pies on your bookshelf.

Upon my first perusal, I was captivated by Leigh Beisch's stunning photography and the book's clean, simple design. When I began reading the recipe titles, I realized that I had never heard of many of them, despite the fact that I lived in North Carolina (McDermott's home) for nearly seven years.

Tell me. Have you ever heard of "Syrup Pie," which McDermott describes as "good and plain and pure, just like the syrup in the pitcher on the kitchen tables in many an old-time Southern home"? How about "Sweet Tea Pie" made with strong brewed tea and lemon juice? Or "Irish Potato Pie" made from mashed white potatoes seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg?

Each of the 60 Southern pie recipes comes with its own story, which is sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, but always delicious. And the recipes are clearly written and easy-to-follow. If you're looking for new-fangled pies, this book is not for you. But if you're looking for a book with classic Southern pie recipes, solid pie making advice and enticing photos, then this is definitely your book.

sweet potato pie from cookbook Southern Pies

With the holidays upon us, I just had to make Sweet Potato Pie, which I knew would be in the book. What I didn't know was that there would be two recipes for it. I chose the second one named "Bill Smith's Sweet Potato Pie" because it's from Bill Smith, the nationally renowned owner and chef of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Crook's was one our favorite haunts when we lived in Chapel Hill years ago.)

Laced with fragrant cinnamon, allspice, this sweet potato pie smells just like the holidays. And since it's make with sweetened condensed milk, the custard is velvety smooth and dense, just the way I like it. You can eat it plain, but I'd suggest topping it with a dollop  of bourbon-infused whipped cream, because in case you didn't know, sweet potatoes and bourbon are great friends.

I plan on making several more pies from the book including Blue Grass Cranberry Pie, Butterscotch Pie and Molasses Pie. After which I will no longer be pie-challenged. I hope.

Bill Smith's Sweet Potato Pie from Southern Pies
Makes one 9-inch pie
Printable recipe.

Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie (store bought or basic crust, see below)

Pie Filling:
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract or vanilla extract (I used vanilla)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust and then crimp the edges decoratively.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking powder, and salt and use a fork to stir them together well.

3. Place the sweet potatoes in a medium bowl and beat them well, using an electric mixer at medium speed or a whisk or big wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add the sugar and beat to incorporate it completely into the sweet potato-egg mixture. Add the spice mixture, milk, butter, and extract, and beat at low speed to combine everything evenly and well.

5. Pour the filling into the piecrust and place it on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake until the edges puff up and the center is fairly firm, wiggling only a little when you gently nudge the pan, 40 to 50 minutes.

6. Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature.

Sandra Gutierrez's Butter Piecrust from Southern Pies
Makes two 9-inch single piecrusts or one 9-inch double piecrust

NOTE: Since this sweet potato pie calls for 1 crust only, you will have an extra crust that you can refrigerate or freeze for future use. Please see step 4 for instructions. 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very cold unslated butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4-6 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon white vinegar

1. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour and salt. Pulse for 10 seconds. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some small lumps., 30 to 40 seconds.

2. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice water and the vinegar and pulse 5 to 7 times, until the dough just barely holds together in the work bowl. Add another tablespoon or two of ice water if needed just to bring the ingredients together. Turn it out onto plastic wrap and pat the dough into two separate disks; refrigerate them for at least 1 hour. Set one or two disks out at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling.

3. Roll out one of the dough disks on a lightly floored surface, to a circle about 1'8inch thick and 10 inches wide. Carefully transfer it into ta 9-inch pie plate. Press the dough gently into the pan and trim away any excess dough, leaving about 1/2-inch beyond the edge of the pan. Fold the edges up and over, and then crimp the edges decoratively. Or presst he back of a fork into the pastry rim, working around the pie to make a flat edge marked with the tines of the fork. If not filling the crust soon, refrigerate it until needed.

4. To make the crust in advance, wrap it well in plastic and refrigerate it up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to 2 months.

You can buy Southern Pies, A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan (Chronicle Books, 2010) online at Amazon or wherever books are sold.

Special thanks to Nancie McDermott who generously sent me a signed copy of this book ASAP when the one I ordered online didn't show up in time for Thanksgiving. I owe you a lunch at Crook's Corner next time I'm in Chapel Hill, Nancie!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes: Roasted Butternut Squash, Turkey and Apple Pizza with Blue Cheese

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza or Butternut Squash, Turkey and Apple Pizza with Blue Cheese

I'm sure you've already had your fill of Thanksgiving leftovers sandwiches and soups, but have you had Thanksgiving leftovers pizza yet?

No, there's no cranberry sauce or brown gravy on it. That would be weird. But there is roasted butternut squash, leftover turkey, sauteed apples and blue cheese.

Since Jeff said we'll be making this again in December and January, I thought it would be good idea to have another name besides "Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza." So feel free to call it Roasted Butternut Squash, Turkey and Apple Pizza with Blue Cheese.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza or Roasted Butternut Squash, Turkey and Apple Pizza with Blue Cheese
Makes 8 slices
Printable recipe.

I used store bought basic white pizza dough for this recipe. But if you're looking to make your own, here are my recipes for basic white pizza dough and whole wheat pizza dough. If you've got leftover roasted squash from Thanksgiving, even better!

1 pound store bought pizza dough
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 small sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced
1 medium firm, crisp apple, such as Fuji or Braeburn, with skins, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups room temperature shredded cooked turkey, white and dark meat
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese (or 4 ounces sliced cheese)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
3 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal

1. Center an oven rack and preheat to 400 degrees F. Place butternut squash in a single layer on an aluminum-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast for 25-35 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven.

2. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees F. Position an oven rack in the lower part of the oven and place the pizza stone on it.

3. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Once they begin browning, lower the heat and cook until soft and browned all over, about 12-15 minutes. Add apples and cook for 3 minutes until just softened.

4. Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Brush with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Top with fontina cheese, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Spread turkey over the dough. Top with squash. Then top with caramelized onions and apples. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary. Season with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone scattered with 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 teaspoon of rosemary before serving.

4. If you don't have a pizza stone, then preheat oven to 450 F. Place rolled out dough a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

You might also like these pizza recipes:
Philly Cheesesteak Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Fennel Sausage and Rapini Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Butternut Squash and Red Onion Pizza recipe from Culinary in the Desert
Pear, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese Pizza recipe from Cook Mobile

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes: Guy-Friendly Turkey and Bean Breakfast Hash

Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey and Bean Breakfast Hash

OK, guys. Listen up.

This Friday morning, chances are good that the women in your life will be Christmas shopping. They may leave as early as 2:30 am. Yup. Kohl's department store is opening at 3am on Friday for masochistic Christmas shoppers.

That means the house and the leftover bird is all yours. So here's what you need to do:
1. Turn on ESPN.
2. Make a pot of hot, strong coffee.
3. Make my Turkey and Bean Breakfast Hash.
4. Eat. Watch sports. Eat. Watch sports. Eat. Watch sports.

If you like this recipe, then check out my book, Recipes Every Man Should Know, which has recipes for hearty breakfasts such as Breakfast Burritos, Fool-Proof French Toast and Sausage and Egg Breakfast Hash.

Turkey and Bean Breakfast Hash
Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
8 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups leftover shredded turkey, white and dark meat
1 cup canned black, red, or pinto beans, rinsed
2 cups salsa of your choice (I used chipotle salsa)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra for garnish

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add onions and peppers and saute 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2. Place eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and lightly whisk. Pour into the skillet. Cook 2 minutes, pushing eggs from side to side with a spatula. When eggs are about halfway cooked or "set," add turkey and beans. Cook 1 minute, stirring a few times. Add remaining ingredients and heat through, about 1-2 minutes. Eggs should be soft but no longer runny, and the cheese should be melted. Transfer to a platter and garnish with additional cilantro and cheese. Or just eat it as is. Nobody is watching you.

You might also like these hearty breakfast recipes from Food Blogga:
Swiss Chard, Potato, and Parmesan Frittata
Breakfast Egg Sandwich with Avocado and Chipotle Mayo
Ricotta Hotcakes with Warm Spiced Apples and Maple Syrup

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf from Book, Recipes Every Man Should Know

bacon wrapped meatloaf from book, Recipes Every Man Should Know

Once again, bacon has made something better: meatloaf.

Make plain meatloaf. Make bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Then tell me which one is better. Aw, never mind. Just make the bacon-wrapped meatloaf. It's absolutely better.

It's also in my book, Recipes Every Man Should Know, co-authored with Brett Cohen. This little, hardcover, black book details a number of recipes that... well, every man should know. You'll find manly breakfasts like Sausage and Egg Breakfast Hash, gut-filling dinners like Jumbalaya, and lots of bacon-spiked foods, including guacamole and brownies! All this goodness for a modest $9.95. Can you say Christmas stocking stuffer?

bacon wrapped meatloaf, uncooked

Here are a few tips for making a killer bacon-wrapped meatloaf:

1. Use the best beef and bacon you can afford. I prefer 85% lean beef. Any flavor bacon will do, so use your favorite. I don't suggest thick cut because it doesn't cook and crisp as well due to the criss-cross pattern.

2. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together. The mixture should be moist yet hold together nicely when formed into a long oval. Pat the sides together with the palms of your hands, then pat both ends to make it hold together compactly.

3. Criss-cross the bacon strips so it looks good. I mean, come on, that's one pretty beast, is it not?

4. Bake it on an aluminum-foil lined rimmed baking sheet for easy clean up. Or, if you have one, bake it on a roasting pan so the fat drips in the pan.

5. To ensure the meat is safely cooked, use a meat thermometer which should read 160-165 degrees. If you don't have one, then insert a knife into the thickest part of the loaf to ensure the meat is no longer pink.

bacon wrapped meatloaf from book, Recipes Every Man Should Know

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf
Makes 4-6 servings for hungry guys or 8 servings for women and kids
Printable recipe.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 pounds ground beef (85% lean is best)
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons spicy mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
several dashes hot sauce
6 tablespoons ketchup, divided
8-10 slices bacon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned; let cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, combine sauteed onions with all ingredients from ground beef through hot sauce, plus 2 tablespoons ketchup. Using your hands, mix until thoroughly combined. Transfer beef mixture onto a large baking sheet lightly greased with canola oil or cooking spray.  (You can line the pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up.) Shape into an oval mound or long rectangle and lay bacon slices over the top so that they crisscross. Wash your hands, then brush remaining 4 tablespoons ketchup over bacon and meatloaf.

3. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until browned on top and cooked through. (A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meatloaf should read 160 to 165 degrees F.) If you don't have a thermometer, insert a knife into the thickest part to ensure meat is no longer pink.

You might also like these porky recipes from Food Blogga:
Rigatoni with Pancetta, Chestnuts, and Marsala Wine
Chestnut Pancakes with Pancetta, Creme Fraiche, and Cinnamon Maple Syrup
Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Prosciutto Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella
Veal Cutlet Sandwich with Garlicky Greens, Smoked Mozzarella, and Prosciutto
Check out my NPR piece"Bacon Gets Its Just Desserts" 2009 which includes four bacon-centric recipes:
Chocolate-Bacon-Peanut Bark
Maple-Apple-Bacon Cake with Maple Glaze
Chocolate Chip-Bacon-Pecan Cookies
Peanut Butter-Maple Bacon Fudge

Friday, November 19, 2010

Golden Rum Cake from the Booze Cakes Cookbook

golden rum cake from Booze Cakes cookbook

What would the holiday season be without desserts? And booze? Fortunately, the sassy ladies behind the spirited cookbook Booze Cakes have got ya covered. Authors Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone have created the ultimate fun baking book with over 100 bodacious, boozy confections.

The book is divided into four sections:
1. Classic Booze Cakes such as English Trifle and Tipsy Tiramisu.
2. Cocktail Cakes such as Pumpkin Martini Cakes and Tequila Sunrise Cake.
3. Cake Shots including Rum & Coke and Screwdriver Shots.
4. Cakes with a Twist such as Black Jack Praline Cake and Rosemary Limoncello Cake.

golden rum cake from Booze Cakes cookbook

Castella and Stone are girls who want to have fun, and they want you to have fun too. That's why they include helpful icons for special occasion cakes and a cheeky "Booze Meter" that rates cakes as "Lightweight," "Feeling It," or "Totally Tipsy." (In case you're wondering, I picked a "Totally Tipsy" cake.)

In the midst of all this merriment, Castella and Stone actually teach you about baking with alcohol and share quirky anecdotes and historical facts. Did you know ancient Egyptians drank beer? Or that booze doesn't simply evaporate in the oven? Or that you should never attempt to use a Kitchen-Aid mixer while downing rum?

Perhaps their best piece of advice is this: Relax and have fun.

Golden Rum Cake
Makes 10 servings
Booze Meter: Totally Tipsy
Printable recipe.

Everyone needs a good "visiting cake" during the holidays -- easy-to-make, portable, delicious --  and this one is yours. It's moist, buttery, and mildly sweet, and pairs perfectly with a cup of tea of coffee. Or a shot of rum.

Golden Rum Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup dark rum

Golden Rum Glaze:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum

3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. grease and flour a 9- or 10-inch Bundt or tube cake pan.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and slat. In another bowl, combine milk vanilla, and rum. Beat flour mixture and milk mixture into the butter in three alternation additions. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake 1 hour, or until golden brown.

4. For the glaze: Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugar and 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

5. Place cake on a serving platter. Slowly pour glaze over top and sides until completely absorbed. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

In full disclosure, Booze Cakes is published by Quirk Books, the same publisher of my books, Recipes Every Man Should Know and The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches. I wrote this post of my own accord and was not compensated for doing so. I just love the book.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes For Men

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Smoked Bacon and Beer DSC_0023

Want to know how to get the men at your Thanksgiving dinner to gobble up their veggies? Well, at least their sweet potatoes? Go to Irreference, Quirk Books' nifty website to find out!

And while you're there, why not pick up a copy of Recipes Every Man Should Know? This little, black book is chock-full of over 60 easy-to-make, manly recipes. After all, it's never too early to do some Christmas shopping.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Popcorn!

Nutty Apple Spice Popcorn!

You've heard of Thanksgiving stuffing, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving turkey. But have you heard of Thanksgiving popcorn? Of course you haven't. That's because I just created it.

Why "Thanksgiving" popcorn? Read on.

I handed Jeff a bowl of popcorn and said, "Here, try this."

He ate a couple of handfuls and said, "This is the best popcorn you've ever made."

"Really?" I said. (I thought my best was my maple walnut popcorn.)

He took another handful and tossed it in his mouth.

"Oh, yeah. This is definitely the best. What's it called?" he asked.

"I don't know. I can't think of a name I like," I said.

"You should call it Thanksgiving popcorn. It's got all the flavors and smells of Thanksgiving," he said.

And that, my friends, is how today's popcorn got its name. Hmmm... I wonder if I can get my own Wikipedia entry for it.

Thanksgiving Popcorn
Yields 10-12 cups
Printable recipe.

This popcorn is a fun, kid-friendly appetizer or dessert to serve on Thanksgiving Day and pairs deliciously with mulled apple cider. If you really love pumpkin pie spice, then use it in place of the apple pie spice and call it "Pumpkin Pie Popcorn." 

3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 heaping teaspoons apple pie spice seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Coat two large rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray or aluminum foil.

2. Pour oil in a large saucepan over high heat and cover. After about 1 minute, listen for the shimmering oil as it heats up, then drop a couple of kernels in the pan. When they start sizzling and spinning, the oil is ready. Add remaining kernels. Cover the pan, and give it a couple of shakes so the kernels get coated with oil. Now listen for the popping. Once it really starts popping quickly, listen carefully. Remove the pan from the heat once the popping slows down to every few seconds, or it could burn quickly. Pour popcorn into a big bowl coated with cooking spray, and add nuts and dried cranberries.

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Add apple pie spice. Lower to a simmer for 2 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Pour syrup over popcorn and nuts, stirring to coat. Spread the popcorn mixture on to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Break into small clusters.

Here are more delicious popcorn recipes you might enjoy:
Five Spice Popcorn recipe from Macheesmo
Maple Walnut Popcorn recipe from Food Blogga
Aunt Aly's Caramel Popcorn recipe from The Open Pantry
Chile-Lime-Tequila Popcorn recipe from 101 Cookbooks
Parmesan Pepper Popcorn recipe from Peanut Butter and Jargon
Cinnamon Sugar Caramel Popcorn recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Must-Make Recipe: Dorie Greenspan's Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

If you bake one pie this Thanksgiving Day, make it Dorie's Greenspan's Thanksgiving Twofer Pie. Two of Thanksgiving's most cherished pies, pumpkin and pecan, are gloriously united to create a unique spiced-laced, sticky-sweet, nutty, pumpkin-y pie.

Don't you just love a twofer?

Dorie Greenspan's Two-Fer Thanksgiving Pie

Dorie Greenspan's Thanksgiving Twofer Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
Printable recipe.

This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours.
You can serve this pie warm or at room temperature, though I prefer it chilled. And don't forget the freshly whipped cream. 

1 Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough: See Dorie’s recipe here.

For the pumpkin filling:
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
2/3 cup heavy cream
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons dark rum
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt

For the pecan filling:
½ cup corn syrup
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1½ cups (about 7 ounces) pecan halves

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. To make the pumpkin filling: Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse and process, scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed, for 2 minutes. Leave the tilling the processor for the moment.

3. To make the pecan filling: in a medium bowl, with a whisk, beat all of the ingredients except the pecans together until smooth.

4. To assemble: Give the pumpkin filling one last quick pulse, then remove the bowl from the machine, rap it on the counter to de-bubble the batter and put the filling into the piecrust. Top the pumpkin filling evenly with the nuts, then pour over the pecan filling mixture. Use your finger to poke down any pecans that float to the top and aren't covered with filling.

5. Bake the pie for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for another 35-40 minutes, or until it is evenly puffed and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let it stand until it is just warm or until it reaches room temperature.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Addictions, I Mean Traditions: Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Nuts

sweet and spicy rosemary nuts DSC_0007

Ever since Jeff and I moved to Southern California seven years ago, my parents have flown from Rhode Island to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.

Each year about a week before they leave, Mom calls and asks,"Do you want us to bring anything? Bread from Buono's? What about some soppressata from Venda's?" After taking down our requests, she invariably asks me one question: "Is Jeff going to make those rosemary nuts this year?"

I make the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry relish, the vegetables and all the desserts. But what do my parents want to know? If Jeff is making the rosemary nuts.

These Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Nuts have become such an integral part of our celebration that none of us can imagine Thanksgiving Day without them. Jeff makes them early in the morning, enticing us with the aromas of earthy rosemary and sweet honey.  We traditionally serve them drinks before dinner. When there's about half a bowl left, we take turns, saying, "Put them away. I've had enough."

Then as the day goes on, each of us dips our hand into the bowl for another mouthful. Somehow, unbelievably, we think the other three don't notice. Then when we sit down to dinner, my mom looks at all the food on the table and says, "Oh, I'm so full. I ate too many of those rosemary nuts. Next year I'm not going to do it."

Then the next year she does. And we all follow suit.

Sweet and Spicy Rosemary Nuts
Serves 10-12
Printable recipe.

These rosemary nuts are sweet, spicy and salty, everything a snack food should be. They're quite versatile when it comes to drink pairings, though they taste extra sweet with a dirty martini and extra spicy with a full-bodied, malty beer.

6 cups unsalted mixed nuts, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and pistachios
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place nuts in a large mixing bowl.

2. In a small pan over medium-high heat, add honey, brown sugar, cayenne, salt and 3 teaspoons rosemary. Heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce is syrupy. Pour over the nuts and toss until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once, or until nuts are golden brown. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn! Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary over nuts. Cool. Break into small clusters. Store in an air-tight container for up to one week. Though they'll never last that long.

You might also enjoy these addictive recipes:
Maple Walnut Popcorn recipe from Food Blogga
Ginger and Honey Roasted Almonds recipe from Purple Foodie
Crostini with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, and Fig Jam recipe from The Italian Dish

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipe: Roasted Root Vegetables with Pomegranate Molasses and Rosemary

roasted root vegetables with pomegranate molasses and rosemary

Does anyone at your Thanksgiving dinner table get visibly excited over root vegetables? I've eaten a lot of Thanksgiving dinners, and I've never heard anyone exclaim, "Ooh, look! Roasted rutabagas! My favorite!"

We know potatoes and usually love them. We know beets and usually hate them. But many of other root vegetables remain a mystery. Do you know the difference between rutabagas and turnips? (If you don't, read this post.) How about parsnips? Are you familiar with those?

Here's what I want you to do for this Thanksgiving dinner: Buy an assortment of root vegetables, including the enigmatic turnips and rutabagas. Roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until they release their sugars and caramelize. Then drizzle them with pomegranate molasses, a uniquely tangy syrup made from pomegranate juice and sugar.  Serve them to your guests, but don't tell them about the pomegranate molasses. Then wait for someone to say, "Wow! These are delicious. May I have some more?"

pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate molasses is most commonly found in Middle Eastern specialty stores. You can also buy it online. If you can't find any, then you can make your own pomegranate molasses. Elise of Simply Recipes shows you how.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Pomegranate Molasses and Rosemary
Serves 6-8
Printable recipe.

1 rutagaba, peeled and diced, about 2 cups
2 turnips, peeled and diced, about 2 cups
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced, about 2 cups
4 parsnips, peeled and diced, about 2 cups
4 carrots, peeled and diced, about 2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
4 tablespoons pomegranate arils, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss diced vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread vegetables in a single layer on an aluminum lined baking sheet (for easy clean up). Roast for 20 minutes. Stir and continue roasting for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

2. Drizzle pomegranate molasses over the vegetables, and stir until well coated. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons rosemary and stir gently. Roast for another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Taste. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Toss in 3 tablespoons pomegranate arils and stir gently. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary and remaining 1 tablespoon pomegranate arils before serving.

You might also like these root vegetable recipes:
Pureed Roasted Parsnips recipe from Simply Recipes
Potato Root Vegetable Mash Up recipe from Blue Kitchen
Slow Roasted Root Vegetables recipe from Sarah's Cucina Bella
Saffron and Honey Glazed Root Vegetables recipe from ecurry
Baked Yams with Citrus Glaze and Toasted Pecans recipe from Food Blogga
Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Sage Glaze recipe from Food Blogga

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipe: Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash

simple stuffed acorn squash DSC_0011

It's already in full swing. Thanksgiving turkey mania. You know what I'm talking about. The endless, frenzied debate over how to cook the perfect turkey. With all the food magazines, cooking shows and turkey hotlines available, I know you'll find more information than you ever wanted on the bird. That's why I'm posting about Thanksgiving side dishes: They're much less controversial. You can't brine sweet potatoes or deep fry cranberry sauce. At least, I don't think you can.

Last year I shared four Thanksgiving side dishes with a twist: Perennial favorites like sweet potatoes and string beans got a makeover. They looked fabulous. But we can't make the same veggies this year. Well, except for the String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Lemon. I have to make those again. Don't worry though. I've got a few new ones for you that won't disappoint.

Let's start with Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash. A robustly sweet and tangy filling of shallots, cranberries, prunes and pecans is nestled inside of a hot roasted acorn squash half. If you've just wrinkled your nose at the word "prunes," trust me, they're the ideal foil to tart cranberries. But if you just can't abide the thought of them, swap them for sweet Medjool dates. Everyone loves Medjool dates

Festive Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4 or 8 if you slice each half in two
Printable recipe.

2 acorn squash
olive oil for brushing flesh
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen, unthawed cranberries
1/4 cup chopped prunes or soft dates, such as Medjool dates
4 tablespoons dry white wine
6 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Slice acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Brush flesh with a bit of olive oil and place flesh side down on prepared baking sheet. Cook 35-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

2. In a medium skillet, melt butter. Add shallots and saute 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add cranberries, prunes, wine, water, salt and black pepper. Cook until cranberries pop and the sauce slightly thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Divide filling equally among the four squash halves. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and serve hot.

You might also like these roasted vegetables for Thanksgiving from Food Blogga:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pears
Roasted Kabocha Squash with an Orange Honey Glaze
Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Glaze
Roasted Acorn Squash with Medjool Dates and Toasted Almonds

Here are more delicious stuffed acorn squash recipes:
Moroccan Style Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe at Eliza's Domestica
Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Hazelnuts recipe at Savour-Fare
Maple Roasted Acorn Squash and Cornbread Stuffing recipe at Karina's (gluten-free) Kitchen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Midnight Pizza

eggplant, caramelized onion and prosciutto pizza with smoked mozzarella

When I awoke bleary-eyed at 12:15 am last night, I rolled over to Jeff's side of the bed to discover a still-warm, empty spot. Fearing he was ill, I immediately walked to the bathroom. Empty. I walked into the kitchen and there he was, standing in the darkened room lit only by the bluish glow of the refrigerator light. His cheeks were bulging, and he was holding a big slice of leftover eggplant and caramelized onion pizza.

"Watcha doin'?" I asked.

"Noffin," he said, trying unsuccessfully, to hide the ball of pizza stuffed in his mouth.

"Doesn't look like nothin'," I said, "Looks like pizza."

"You're dreaming. Go back to bed," he said. 

If ever there was a pizza worth getting up in the middle of the night, it's this eggplant, caramelized onion and prosciutto pizza with smoked mozzarella.

Eggplant, Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella
Makes 8 slices
Printable recipe.

I used store bought basic white pizza dough for this recipe. But if you're looking to make your own, here are my recipes for basic white pizza dough and whole wheat pizza dough.

1 pound store bought pizza dough
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch thick round slices (about 8-10 slices)
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/3 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes (about 5)
2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives (about 8)
2/3 cup shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped parsley
8 slices of prosciutto

1. Preheat oven broiler. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Lay eggplant slices on sheet without overlapping. Brush both sides of slices with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Broil for 7-8 minutes or until browned. Flip over, and broil another 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven.

2. Position an oven rack in the lowest setting. Place pizza stone on the rack. Preheat oven to 500 F. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions;  cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Once they begin browning, lower the heat and cook until soft and browned all over, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in sherry vinegar and heat 1 minute.

3. Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Brush with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Spread with tomato sauce leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with half of the smoked mozzarella. Arrange eggplant slices, slightly overlapping. Top with sun-dried tomatoes; arrange caramelized onions evenly on top and scatter the olives. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and remaining smoked mozzarella. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone scattered with 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Place prosciutto slices on the hot pizza. Sprinkle evenly with fresh herbs before serving.

4. If you don't have a pizza stone, then preheat oven to 450 F. Place rolled out dough a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Here are more pizza recipes from Food Blogga you might enjoy:
Philly Cheesesteak Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Fresh Fig and Fennel Pizza recipe from Food Blogga
Buffalo Chicken Pizza recipe from Eclectic Recipes
Zucchini and Goat's Cheese Pizza recipe from The Purple Foodie
Roasted Pepper, Onion, and Sweet Corn Pizza recipe from Local Kitchen

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Trick Or Butterscotch Pudding?

Butterscotch Pudding

Happy Halloween!

Are you ready? Do you have your costume? Do you have enough candy to hand out to the little goblins in your neighborhood? Do you have whiskey? No, not for kids, for you.

Here's how it works: Make yourself a batch of David Lebovitz's boozy butterscotch pudding, and chill it in the fridge all day. Then after you've finished handing out all of your Halloween candy, put the kids to bed, turn off the lights and treat yourself.

Just be sure to serve it tricked-out with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a few candy corn. That is, if you haven't already gobbled up all the candy corn in your house. If you have, then switch to salty, roasted pecans.

Butterscotch Pudding
Recipe from David Lebovitz.
Printable recipe.

4 tablespoons (60g) butter, salted or unsalted

1 cup (180g) packed dark brown or cassonade sugar

3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch

2½ (625ml) cups whole milk

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons whiskey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the dark brown sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup (60ml) of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs.

3. Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar, whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.

4. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop, until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce.

5. Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey and vanilla. If slightly-curdled looking, blend as indicated above.

6. Pour into 4 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving.

Freshly Whipped Cream from Food Blogga
1/2 cup heavy whipped cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 teaspoons whiskey, if you dare

1. Before you begin to make the whipped cream, consider these helpful tips: Start with a deep stainless steel bowl that has been chilled in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Chill the beaters of the electric mixer as well. Both will help to create more volume in the cream. Once ready beat ½ cup heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the whipped cream and beat until peaks re-form. Whipped cream can be covered with Saran Wrap and refrigerated for 1-2 hours before serving.

2. Top each pudding with a dollop of whipped cream and a few candy corns. Indulge.

Here are more tricked-out treats you might enjoy: 
Snickers Cookies recipe from Food Blogga
Tootsie Roll Fudge recipe from Food Blogga
Candy Corn Cookies recipe from Mignardise
Candy Vanilla Bundt Cake recipe from Noble Pig
Nutter Butterfinger Bars recipe from Wine Imbiber
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies recipe from Food Blogga