Sunday, January 18, 2015

Spiced Butternut Squash Gratin

Winter vegetables are the best - and when they are roasted, it really brings out their flavor.  Roasted pumpkin, butternut squash, turnips, spaghetti squash, it's hard to decide where to start.  

Here's a delicious recipe for roasted butternut squash with a hint of spice, balanced with leeks and goat cheese in a rich gratin.  This is perfect for a main dish if you are vegetarian (with a crunchy side salad), or a clever new side dish for Sunday supper (give your green beans a break!). 

1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
1.5 teaspoons of cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 leeks
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of hazelnuts
6 oz of goat cheese
1 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream

1.  Peel, seed and dice the butternut squash into cubes.  Heat the oven to 375.

2.  Put the butternut squash in a large bowl.  Combine with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper and coriander.  Mix until the squash is covered with the spices and oil. 

3.  Spread butternut squash cubes on a foil covered tray and roast in the oven for 40 - 45 minutes until fork tender.

4.  While the squash is cooking, slice the leeks (white and light green parts). 

5.   In a sauté pan, heat butter over medium heat, add the leeks and sauté for 10 minutes.

6.  Grease a baking dish with butter.  Put the leeks on the bottom of the dish, and add roasted butternut squash.  Slice rounds of goat cheese and scatter in the dish.  Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.  Pour the heavy cream over top.  Place back in oven (still at 375). 

7.  Cook until bubbly and cheese is melting, for about 45 minutes.  Serve immediately!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Who Needs Winter When We've Got... CEVICHE!

Well, it's been a long time friends.  I admittedly disappeared off the face of the blogger earth but I have returned.  I know you were worried, but fear not!  I have some great new recipes for 2015 and some fun ideas to connect people and food together.  But I'll save all that for a later time.  Now to the important stuff.  CEVICHE. 

It may be winter, but a nice dish of ceviche is fresh and crisp dish to brighten your dreary day.  And, it's healthy with all kinds of good protein and vegetables.  What's that?  You're on a juice cleanse?  Oh, well throw this baby in the blender and add some kale then (maybe not, your choice really).  So it might not be juice but it's still tasty and healthy.  Cheers to a New Year!

1 pound of scallops
8 limes
1/2 yellow pepper
2 tomatoes
4 green onions
2 stalks of celery
1.5 tbl of olive oil
1 tsp of ground pepper
1 jalapeno
1/4 cup of cilantro
1 avocado

1.  Cut scallops in quarters and place in a bowl.  Squeeze in juice from all 8 limes until scallops are submerged in the juice.  Let sit in refrigerator overnight until they are "cooked" and no longer opaque. 

2.  Dice tomatoes, yellow pepper, green onions, celery and cilantro. 

3.  Drain half the lime juice from the scallops and add the vegetables.  Stir and then add diced jalapeno, pepper and oil.  Set back in the refrigerator to chill and allow flavors to blend for 6 - 8 hours.

4.  Serve in a small dish with sliced avocados.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pasta Carbonara

I love Sunday night dinner.  There is something comforting and simple about sitting around with family on a relaxing evening to signal the end to a fun weekend and the start of a new week.  My go to dish on Sunday nights is roasted chicken, but I do mix it up with other seasonal dishes for some variety -- like pasta carbonara.  Bacon and pasta with a rich sauce, what's not to love (push those ideas of calories out of your head right this minute, they are distracting!).

Here is the recipe - I've added some of my favorite ingredients like tomatoes and wine to balance out the richness of the dish.  Enjoy with some bread and wine!

4-6 slices of thick bacon
1 lb of pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of dry white wine
4 eggs
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1.  Cook pasta until al dente.  I highly suggest using fresh pasta if can get your hands on it.  It makes the world of difference.

2.  Coarsely chop bacon and cook in a skillet over medium high heat until slightly crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon. 

3.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and add chopped onions to the skillet.  Cook until tender (6-8 minutes).  Add garlic and cook for another minute until tender.  Add tomatoes and wine, cook for two more minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, whisk eggs and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese in a bowl.

5.  While the pasta is still warm, add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta. 

6.  Then add the bacon and tomato and onion mixture to the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.

7.  Spoon pasta into shallow bowls, sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese and parsley.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tales from the Inside

Perrr....fect.  I snagged the computer while Mommy is making dinner/folding clothes/cleaning and Daddy is looking at his awesome phone.  Daddy is so lucky and cool. 

Anyway, while I have some alone time here with you, I wanted to share a little secret.  Come closer.  Closer... okay.  Listen.

This food blogging thing is a sham. 
Seriously.  She makes all that good food, posts pictures up on the internet/face page or whatever, and eats it with Daddy. Everyone oohss and awwws (looks so tasty!) but this is what WE, her own children, get. 

Yup.  Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you.  Chicken nuggets and broccoli.   And no, there is no fancy sauce on the broccoli (cheese might be good for a change) and the nuggets are NOT made-from-scratch.  This is what really happens inside a food bloggers home for dinner. 

I took a picture for proof, while Mommy smiled, quietly getting excited about my future potential as a food blogger or even, a chef.  Ha! I fooled her, it's all part of a larger plan to build the case about the poor quality of service here at home.  I'm starting with nutrition.

So there it is, the TRUTH from the inside.  Don't worry, I'll survive here.  I score good over at grandmom's and generally, sneak this terrible excuse for food to the four-legged fur ball.  He owes me something good one day, like tunneling me out of here so I can escape and get some real food.  Like delicious McDonalds.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Wine House

Every once in a while on a weekend, I am just not up for making the trek up to DC for dinner (and as it turns out, my husband is never up for that trip).  So it's good to have a few options closer by that aren't a chain restaurants plagued by mediocre food and loud, noisy tables.

The Wine House is now one of those local restaurant spots that I would definitely frequent again.  The wine selection is fantastic, the menu options are good (think standard dinner options like steak, crab cakes, lamb with a few twists such as eggplant risotto and paella), and the atmosphere is relaxing and quaint.

We visited on a Saturday night and the dining room was full.  We selected a wine from the racks around the room (added plus for fun wine experience) and started with the cheese and charcuterie plate.  I selected the F-Bomb wine,  a small batch red wine blend (which admittedly, I selected based on name alone) and it was nice bodied wine with dinner.

For dinner, I opted for the paella which was a special for the evening.  It was rich and full of fish, chorizo and tomatoes.  It was tasty, but a little lighter than I'm used to in a paella dish.

Dessert is a must - we had the white chocolate and sun dried cherry bread budding.  It was doughy, sweet and delicious.  The service was friendly and attentive, with some hiccups when the restaurant filled up but overall, well done.

It was a fantastic evening at The Wine House - solid food, and great wine without the hassle of going downtown to a crowded wine bar.
  The Wine House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Artichoke Au Gratin

I don't know what it is, but I find the older I have gotten, the more and more I love me some veggies.  I'm thinking it's because I generally don't use the kind that come in canned form anymore... but I can't be sure.  Regardless, I definitely taken to using vegetables in a main dish because sometimes, they can be better than meat (gasp! did I just say that aloud!?!).

Here's a great recipe for artichoke au gratin that you can serve as a side dish with ham or fish, or serve as a main dish with some bread and a bean salad.  (the recipe is based off of the cookbook Plenty)

3 8oz bags of frozen artichoke hearts
2 yellow onions
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp of dried thyme
6 tbsp. of fresh parsley
4 tbsp. of butter
1/3 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese

1.  Thinly slice the onions with a mandolin (or very thinly with a knife).  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Boil a pot of water over high heat.  Add the frozen artichokes and simmer for about three minutes.  Drain artichokes.

2.  In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions, sprinkling with salt and pepper.  Sauté onions 6-8 minutes until tender.  Add the thyme and parsley, cook with onions for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. 

3.  Add the artichokes to the onion mixture and cook for one minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4.  In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste and cook for about 2 minutes, whisking to not brown.  Mix the water and milk together and slowly whisk into the flour paste 1/4 of a cup at a time. Continue to whisk on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until thick and creamy.

5.  Add the sauce to the artichoke mixture.  Butter a large casserole dish and add the artichoke mixture.

6.  Sprinkle the dish with parmesan cheese and drop in large spoonfuls of the ricotta in the artichoke mix around the dish.  Cover with foil.

7.  Bake in the oven covered with foil for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil, increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Breakfast Scones

Whew, things got a little crazy there for a few hot minutes (or all of March), but I am back after a hiatus. I wish I had a cool story to share about my adventures from when I disappeared or something close to an excuse, but I have neither. Just pure laziness combined with a busy schedule. 

Regardless of my whereabouts, I am back!! I know, you missed me tremendously and just so you know, I missed you too. (and I think my Twitter account missed me most of all)

So, to celebrate we toast with champagne and breakfast scones. A light brunch treat, scones are great with jelly and perfect with morning mimosas. Also, an breakfast idea you can make the night before to serve during an Easter egg hunt. 

2 cups of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, cut into pieces (4 oz)
1/4 cup of dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries)
2/3 cup of buttermilk, plus more if needed
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoons of milk
Sugar in the Raw for sprinkling

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor and pulse until mixed.  Add the pieces butter and pulse again until well blended.

2. Move flour mixture to a large bowl.  Add in dried fruit and buttermilk and mix with a spoon.  Then get your hands in there to mix together until the dough comes together in a loose ball (like biscuit dough). 

3. Turn the dough out on a floured surface.  Knead lightly by folding together a few times and then shape into a circle about 1 inch thick.  Cut dough into triangles (like pizza).

4.  Put scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Whisk together egg and milk in a bowl. 

5.  Brush scones with egg mixture and sprinkle with "Sugar in the Raw."  Put in the oven and cook for 20 minutes until golden brown.

6.  Remove from oven and serve warm with jelly and clotted cream (or just jelly since clotted cream can be hard to come by!).