Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roasted Butternut squash....it is almost that time!

Reprinted from Fall of 2012.... Because it is almost that time!

I must admit, I am a picky eater.  But in the 21 years I have been married, I have gotten much better.  So I really don't care for cold sandwiches with all different condiments or deviled eggs (OK, the list goes on...).   I now can say  have a true appreciation of all different kinds of squash.  First it was acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, then it was spaghetti squash with maybe a little marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese. Well now it is roasted butternut squash. 

A few weeks back we invited our foodie friends over for dinner and some great wine (Stags Leap).  I had picked up a roasting chicken at our local grocery store and decided to try Ina Garten's - Jeffrey's Roast Chicken. Now what to go along with the chicken that our foodie friends would like... 

Roasted Butternut Squash

1 large (4 lbs) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and 1-inch-diced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash on a rimmed foil lined baking sheet, add the olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper and toss with your hands. Roast until tender, tossing once during cooking with a metal spatula so the cubes brown evenly, 30 to 40 minutes. Season to taste and serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.

1 (4-5 lb) roasting chicken
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons, quartered
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half cross-wise olive oil
 Small amount of fresh thyme (My addition to the recipe)
2 Spanish onions, peeling and thickly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Remove and discard the giblets. Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Place two lemon quarters inside the cavity along with the garlic.  (I added some fresh thyme form my herb garden.)

Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Place the chicken in a small (11x14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too big the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Place the pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stocks a and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect on the platter under the chicken and taste for seasoning. Carve the chicken onto the platter and spoon the onions and sauce over it. If the lemons are tender enough to eat, serve them, too. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot or warm.

Chicken ready for the oven. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Heavenly Dessert

I called this one  Heavenly Dessert because it seems the only time we have made this lately is when someone we know has passed away and we want to bring something for the family to have on hand.  To be honest, my darling husband is the one who makes this cake the most.  People even ask for it because it taste so good!

Well today I wanted a piece of Paula Deen's Grandgirl Apple Cake - the most heavenly cake on earth at this time of year.  So I made it.  You heard that right, I made it.  OK, well hubby peeled the apples for me, but that was all!

I have included some photos of the process and a helpful hint when using a tube Pan.



Butter, for greasing pan
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Here is the mix before the apples, nuts and coconut are added












1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease a tube pan.

For the cake: in a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil, orange juice, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract; and mix well. Fold apples, coconut, and pecans into batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Hint:  We place a cup over the whole in the tube pan before adding the batter.  This way you don't drop any down the hole.

Shortly before the cake is done, make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the sugar, buttermilk, and baking soda, and bring to a good rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the hot cake in the pan as soon as you remove it from the oven. Let stand 1 hour, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Pure Heaven!
Serve with whipped cream for extra sweetness! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Simple and Delicious!

I had to bring this one back!  Great homemade hummus!  This is from 2012 and one of my most requested appetizers.

Rosemary White Bean Dip

I found this recipe over a year ago and keep coming back to make it again and again.  I even made sure I had a pot of fresh Rosemary outside my kitchen door.

I wanted something simple and light for Bunco Appetizers last August and I came across two recipes for "hummus".  One was a roasted red pepper and the other was the rosemary white bean dip.  This one came from myrecipes.com.  

When I tell people it is hummus, so many say "I really don't like the taste of chick peas".  Then I explain that it's not chick peas, but Cannellini Beans and give it a try.  And...they love it.  The smell of the roasted rosemary and the oil drizzeled over the top make it extra special.  Try it with cut up vegetables, bagel bites or pita chips.  You won't stop eating this. 




1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cans (15 oz. each) white beans (I used cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, rinsed


  1.  In a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir half the olive oil and the 2 cloves garlic until fragrant, being careful not to brown garlic, about 1 minute. Pour the oil and garlic into a food processor. Wipe out the pan and set aside.
  2. Add white beans, lemon juice, and salt to the food processor and whirl until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl.
  3. Return the frying pan to medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the rosemary sprigs. Warm the rosemary in the olive oil until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rosemary doesn't burn. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
  4. Set the rosemary aside and drizzle the olive oil over the bean dip. Mince one teaspoon of the rosemary leaves and sprinkle over the dip.
  5. Do-ahead tips: Make dip up to 2 days ahead. Store dip in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring dip to room temperature before serving. Prepare the rosemary oil right before serving.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

This is what it is all about!

About 10 years ago, hubby and I formed a dinner club with 3 other couples.  The group meets every other month and the host couple  comes up with the menus and send out cooking assignments to the other couples.  Some time there are comfort foods, sometimes they are themed dinners.  It is whatever the host couple decides.

We have talked as a group about sending our ideas to Food Network, seen articles pop up in Cooking Light about dinner clubs and how to join one in your area, but no one ever really acted on sharing our story.  Well, that was one of the reason I wanted to blog. 

Last Saturday we had another dinner that was Italian inspired and our assignment was dessert.  We made Cappacino Panna Cotta.  Simple, easy and delicious.  Topped with whipped cream and cinnamon, it was wonderful.

Brian Boitano's Cappuccino Panna Cotta
Prep Time: 12 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 hr 30 min
Cook Time: 6 min
Serves: 8 servings

1 (1/4-ounce) package or 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup milk
3 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Ground cinnamon, for garnish

In a small bowl mix together the gelatin and 3 tablespoons of cold water and set aside to soften.
In a medium pot combine the milk, 2 1/4 cups heavy cream, sugar and salt. Put over medium heat and heat until just before it reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin, instant espresso powder, vanilla bean pod and seeds. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Arrange 10 espresso cups or 10 (4-ounce) ramekins on a baking sheet. Stir the cream mixture to reincorporate all the flavors. Remove vanilla bean pod from the cream and evenly divide the mixture between the espresso cups. Cover the cups with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

In a large cold bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of heavy cream and the powdered sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator and top each cup with a heaping tablespoon of the whipped cream. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Better late than never!

Cranberry-Almond Shortbread Tart - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips

My handsome hubby recently had a birthday and I had told him that I was going to make this for him.  Well the day came and time had gotten away from me, so I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and bought him a fresh pie for his birthday.  Well, a rainy Sunday came along and I had all of the ingredients, so we celebrated hubby's birthday the right way!

Cranberry Almond Shortbread Tart from Fine Cooking

For the cranberry filling
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
12 oz. fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (about 3 cups)
3 Tbs. apricot jam
For the shortbread
3-1/2 oz. (1 cup) sliced almonds
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-3/4 oz. (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) fine yellow cornmeal
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 Tbs. packed finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
1 large egg yolk
Cooking spray
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)

Make the filling Combine the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes. Add the cranberries and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the cranberries have popped and the liquid is syrupy, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the apricot jam and simmer until the jam melts, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Make the shortbread Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until warm and fragrant but not yet brown, about 5 minutes; let cool completely.
In a food processor (with at least a 10-cup capacity), combine the nuts with 2 Tbs. of the flour. Pulse until very fine but not powdery, 20 to 25 short pulses. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining flour, the cornmeal, and salt.
In the food processor, combine the butter, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract.
Pulse until creamy, 10 to 20 short pulses. Add the egg yolk and pulse a few times to combine. Add the dry ingredients and pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, just until a soft dough forms, 30 to 40 short pulses. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic and divide.
Lightly coat a round 91/2 x1-inch fluted metal tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Press half of the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Form the remaining dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough and the tart shell until very firm, at least 30 minutes.
Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork and bake on a heavy-duty baking sheet until firm, dry, and just starting to turn golden brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. The shortbread will have puffed up during baking, so use the back of a spoon to gently press down the bottom of the crust to create enough space for the cranberry filling. Spoon the filling into the tart and spread evenly.
Crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the cranberries in pebble-like pieces, covering the filling. Bake until the topping is firm and golden-brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Carefully remove the tart rim. Slide a long, flat spatula between the pastry and the pan bottom and transfer the tart to a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, just before serving.