Thursday, September 20, 2012

Butternut Squash Pasta

The weather has been cool and rainy here in southern Georgia. As the weather changes, I start craving those fall favorites. My brother shared a recipe with me last year for butternut squash ravioli. I have made gluten free ravioli wrappers, but they are very tedious. A quick and easy fix? Take the filling and toss it with gluten free pasta.

When he made it, Adam made his own fresh ricotta cheese. It was warm and creamy, the consistency was less grainy than store bought ricotta. I fell in love with it. If you have the time, I recommend making your own.

This recipe is very basic, but has all the flavors of fall that I love. Roasted root vegetables, salty cheese, dried cranberries, and earthy sage. The leaves may not change here, but my palette certainly knows it's time for fall!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures my friends. Cheers!

Butternut Squash Pasta

1 small butternut squash
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
2-3 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Gluten free pasta, cooked according to package directions

Preheat oven to 400.

Peel and dice butternut squash. Quarter onion. Toss squash, onion, and garlic in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn onto a prepared sheet pan. Roast 35-45 minutes until golden brown and softened.

Puree vegetables in a food processor or blender.

Combine 1 cup puree*, ricotta cheese, and egg. Warm over low heat until slightly thickened. Stir in nutmeg. Set aside, keep warm.

Cut sage leaves into thin strips. In a small skillet, brown butter. Add sage and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes.

Toss squash and sage butter with pasta. Sprinkle with cranberries, Parmesan cheese, and pepitas. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 * You will have more than one cup of puree from the vegetables. It's great as a thickener in soup or frozen for another batch of this pasta.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quick Banana Bread

I am a fan of banana bread. It screams comfort to me. Jon hasn't been feeling well, so I made a big pot of chicken and vegetable soup and a loaf of banana bread.

I wanted to be able to eat the banana bread, so I opted to try a new gluten free recipe. The one I used came from of my Betty Crocker gluten free cook books. I had to make a few substitutions on the fly because I didn't have quite enough gluten free Bisquick. But, lucky for me, I am a fairly savvy cook.

The results were wonderful! It was moist and tender. I would like a little stronger banana flavor, but Jon said it was perfect.

This would be a great holiday bread for brunch or for a sweet treat. It's perfect for those gluten eaters in your life because it uses gf flours that don't have strong flavors. My husband who is a big fan of gluten filled treats asked why I was eating the bread- he didn't know it was gluten free until he was told. That is a huge success in my book!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures!

Quick Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed, ripe bananas
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 1/2 cups gluten free Bisquick**
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Spray the bottom of a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add banana,eggs and buttermilk. Mix well.

In a separate bowl combine Bisquick, rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, spices and salt.

Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture. Stir to combine. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the loaf. Remove the bread from the pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

* If you don't have buttermilk- take 1/2 cup milk add 1/2 TBS lemon juice or vinegar. Stir. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir again and use as directed.

** You can use 2 1/2 cups of gluten free Bisquick. If you do, omit the rice flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Roasted Potato Salad

 I love German potato salad. Jon hasn't ever been a huge fan, he says it's too sharp for him. I on the other hand, love the vinegary bite.

I found this recipe a few weeks ago- it's a gentler version of the traditional dish. Jon fell in love with it. At the end of the meal he stated, "Let's do this one again, soon!"

I had some of the leftovers the next afternoon for lunch. It was delicious. It rewarmed wonderfully.

We served it with grilled chicken breasts and fresh veg.

There you have it, quick and easy. And yea. Bacon. Who doesn't love bacon?

Here's to you and your culinary adventures friends! Cheers!

Roasted Potato Salad

2 lbs baby red potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
2 TBS olive oil, divided
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 TBS sugar
6 strips apple smoked bacon, uncured, chopped into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste

4 TBS red wine vinegar
3 tsp sugar
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard (I used French's dijon with chardonnay)
¼ tsp Italian seasoning
3 TBS reserved, warm bacon drippings
1 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, add the halved (or quartered)  potatoes along with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well to combine.

Spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray, and turn the baby potatoes out onto the baking sheet. Roast for 35-40, or until golden-brown and tender; while potatoes roast, crisp the bacon and onion.

In a medium-large non-stick pan set over medium heat, add a tsp or two of olive oil; when hot, add the onion and 1/2 TBS sugar. Cook/caramelize the onions over medium for about 10 minutes, or until a golden, caramel color, and softened. Remove from heat. Set aside and keep warm.

To the same pan set over medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until brown and crispy, then remove them with a slotted spoon and onto a paper towel to drain; reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Set aside to use in the vinaigrette; keep the drippings warm.

Prepare the dressing in a mason jar or container with a tight fitting lid. Combine all the dressing ingredients. Shake well to combine.

Add the warm, roasted baby potatoes to a large bowl, and then add the onion, bacon,  and vinaigrette. Toss well to completely combine, making sure that all of the potatoes are well dressed. Serve warm.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crock Pot Pork Roast

Jon and I had a beautiful day off together earlier this week. We slept in, had a leisurely morning, and headed to the beach.

Before we left for some fun in the sun, I threw a pork roast into the crock so we'd have supper when we came home. It turned out so moist and flavorful! No sauce was needed for this star dish. And, bonus- I didn't have to heat up the house when it was 100+ degrees outside!

A few snapshots of our day at the beach (click to see the larger image):

Do you spy a giant 5 foot spider web?

There are a ton of these Golden Silk Orb-Weaver spiders here. It's more commonly called a banana spider.

Pelican- we saw several of them this day.

After two years, we finally pulled out a map to find out what the land mass in the distance is. It's Cumberland Island! You know, where we saw the horses on my birthday. :)

First attempt at a photo on the beach- a little breezy for me...

Second attempt on the boardwalk was much more successful.

There you have it- a glimpse of our day at the beach. We checked on our nest, no signs of babies yet. But the Georgia Sea Turtle Center posted a photo this morning of a hatch-ling. It would have been from one of the very first nests of the season. Fingers are still crossed our little turtle kids hatch and make their way home to the water!

When we arrived home, the roast smelled fantastic. I shredded the meat and served with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. It was delish.  A great meal to end a great day with my sweetheart.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Crock Pot Pork Roast

3lb pork roast with good marbling and a decent fat layer
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup honey
3 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS dry basil
2 TBS minced garlic
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup hickory bbq sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Spray the insert of the crock pot. Lay the pork roast in, fat side up.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over pork roast. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

Remove from cooker. Allow to cool slightly.

Trim and discard any large pieces of remaining fat. You want to leave some fat on when you shred the meat because it keeps it nice and tender. Discard juices from the crock pot once cooled.

Shred meat using two forks. Serve with additional bbq sauce if desired.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Taco-Chili Skillet

This recipe evolved from Mom's taco chili recipe. I was really longing for the flavors of her chili, but it's been blisteringly hot.

Jon mentioned the other day that he missed hamburger helper. Then it hit me- add some pasta to the chili and thicken the sauce.

It was a home run. :) Super easy and delicious.

I hope your summer is going well and you are staying cool! And hopefully, you haven't been carried away by a waterspout like the one we had in our neck of the woods this week:

A local dolphin tour business re-posted this photo of the waterspout. I couldn't tell you who took the photo, but it's a great shot of the action. I didn't actually get to see this water tornado, but the girls at work could see it from the parking lot. They tell me it was so clear and clean it was unbelievable.

Jon and I go to the beach often and check up on our turtle babies. They should be hatching some day soon. Hopefully we will get to see them make their way to the Big Blue! If we do get the opportunity to see the miracle, I will try to capture it on film. So fingers crossed and prayers said :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Taco-Chili Skillet
Serves 6-8

8 oz pasta (I used gf shells)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 envelope taco seasoning + 2-3 tsp chili powder + 1 tsp cumin
1-2 TBS dry ranch dressing mix *
1 can whole corn, drained
1 can light kidney beans, drained
1 can rotel tomatoes
1/3 cup chunky salsa
1/4-1/3 cup beef stock*

Shredded taco cheese, optional
Sour cream, optional

Cook pasta in lightly salted water for 7-9 minutes until almost done. Drain well. Set aside.

Brown ground beef with onion and garlic. Season as desired with salt and pepper. I used Adobo seasoning.

Add remaining ingredients through beef stock. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes until thickened.  Gently stir in pasta.

Serve with a garnish of cheese and sour cream.

* As always, if you are gf- be sure you are using gf products. Just a heads up, some brands of dry dressing mix and beef stock contain gluten. Read your labels carefully :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Squash Casserole

It's been in the low hundreds here this week. The heat index climbed up into the upper 120's. We finally had a break in the weather around Wednesday- it was only 89 with a heat index of 97 when I got home the other night. I decided it was my very narrow window to make a new recipe- summer squash casserole.

I am so happy I made good use of that opening! This dish turned out really good. I served it with grilled pork chops and fresh tomatoes. And, like most casseroles, it was even better the second day.

I think this would make a great accompaniment to a chicken dish- perhaps chicken piccata. This is a definite keeper that we will revisit this fall.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Summer Squash Casserole
Serves 6

2 lbs summer squash, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 TBS butter, divided
1/2 large sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
salt and pepper
1/2 cup crushed corn flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add squash. Simmer for about 8 minutes, until squash begins to soften. Drain well. Set aside.

In the same pot, add 1 TBS butter, garlic,and onion. Saute until onion begins to soften and starts to turn translucent. Remove from heat.

Add bread crumbs, Parmesan, cheddar, chives, parsley, sour cream, egg, and seasonings. Stir until well combined.

Fold in squash. Pour into a prepared 8x8 or 11x7 casserole dish.

Melt remaining tablespoon of butter. Combine with corn flakes and garlic powder. Spread evenly over squash.

Bake, uncovered for 35 minutes.

Let cool 5 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Raspberry Creamsicles

It is hot here this week. The mercury hit 102 with a heat index of 125 today.Yesterday was much of the same.

I needed to cool down after a hard day of work and a cold shower wasn't going to do it. Mostly because the ground water is no longer cool. I can take a shower with the hot water off and the water is still lukewarm. Not super refreshing.

I wanted a frozen treat that would be creamy and satisfy my sweet tooth without being heavy. Cool Whip has a ton of recipes out there so I thought I would try one.

I loved these! Light, refreshing, and just enough sweet to satisfy.

If you don't have Popsicle molds, you can use little Dixie cups with a Popsicle stick.

Hope your summer is going well! Stay cool and enjoy the sunshine :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Raspberry Creamsicles

4 oz cool whip (light, regular, sugar free, whatever suits your fancy)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 small box sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix

Combine cool whip and pudding mix until well mixed. Fold in pineapple and berries. Spoon evenly into popsicle molds.

Freeze at least 4 hours.

To remove from plastic molds- run the mold under warm water for 10-20 seconds to loosen. If you use paper cups, simply peel the paper off.