I realize that a few of you might have already turned your noses up at the title of this post...but give me just half a minute to tell you that this salsa/dip, is not only different, but refreshing, bright, creamy, with nothing but flavor in every bite! When Stella served this to us at our book club, (thanks Stella!) she described it as, "Just a fun dip!" She wasn't kidding, it IS fun...so fun that you'll want to double the recipe...so fun you'll want to serve this tomorrow, so your guests can whet their appetites while the bird is finishing browning in the oven...so fun that you'll want to serve this on Saturday while your caveman is watching college football; he'll reach for a chip, stick it in the dip, put it in his mouth and pull a face because he was expecting something else, something less fun, and then he'll eat every drop and go for more. Yes, even the mister, king of all things bland, thoroughly enjoyed every grape and pepper filled bite!
Did your mom make pepper jelly? Mine did, we always seemed to have some in the pantry - or if mom didn't make it then one of our neighbors did, it was kind of a staple at our house. The day after I made this for the first time, mom called to tell me she had just made pepper jelly...oh to have had a jar of hers! So this starts with pepper jelly, but I was fresh out so I bought this Tabasco brand at Safeway, it is delish and not at all hot or spicy like you might think! The pepper jelly is combined with lime juice, cilantro, green onion, bell pepper, and grapes!
Everything is combined in one bowl - it's so colorful! Really truly, this one is a keeper and worth FIVE dangs on the ol' Dang Meter - it will amaze you because it's got everything goin' on...crunchy, crispy, fresh, cool, peppery and then...then there's the creaminess of goat cheese!
The goat cheese is crumbled and added to the mix but it won't stay in pieces for long - it will melt into the most creamy of concoctions, combining with the juices, and this is when this salsa goes from ordinary to extraordinary. If you don't like goat cheese, I suppose you could use Feta...or Gorgonzola...but I'm not suggesting either will taste as good...when it comes to this recipe, I'm sticking with the original, tinker if you must but I'm not budging when it comes to goat cheese!
Goat Cheese and Grape Salsa - Recipe from Southern Living, October 2012, via Stella Jones
This recipe makes about 1 1/4 cups, do yourself and everyone at your house a favor and double it!
2 tablespoons pepper jelly (homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup quartered seedless red grapes
1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely diced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 (4-oz.) package crumbled goat cheese
In a medium bowl, whisk together pepper jelly and lime juice. Stir in grapes, bell pepper, green onions and cilantro. Add goat cheese crumbles and stir, the cheese will begin to liquefy, with some pieces remaining. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Serve with crackers, baguette slices, chips, whatever flutters your heart. Serves 4 to 6.
The mister is a simple man when it comes to food, he is truly happy when his plate is filled with his all of his favorites...boiled chicken, mashed potatoes, canned green beans and buttered Wonder Bread. All lightly sprinkled with salt...no pepper, no sauce, no gravy, no flavor. Feel free to saw ewwwwwwwww. When I put this appetizer on his plate you would have thought I had slapped him - his head spun around in horror! What is this crap?!? He's such a smooth talker. I explained to him that this was one of the best appetizers I had ever tasted and that he would love it and then the door bell rang and I left the mister in the kitchen brooding over his strange food. When I walked back into the kitchen not only was his portion of the appetizer gone but mine as well!
This is deceptively delicious. I say deceptive because everyone I have served this to has asked what it was, being unable to tell by just looking. When I told them, usually one of their eyebrows would go up as if to say, reeeeeally?!? Could cooked Concord grapes with blue cheese on top be that good??
That would be a resounding YES! Grapes cooked with Turbinado sugar, lemon peel, and a pinch of spices make the most delicious concoction! The grapes are spread onto toasted store-bought Naan (or you could use toasted and buttered baguette slices) and Bleu cheese is crumbled over the top, along with fresh thyme...Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm good!!
This appetizer will kick off our T-Day feast, and when we go around the table to say what we're thankful for, I'll make sure I've got a huge bite of this in my mouth when I say I'm thankful for delicious food. Because I am and it seems to me it would be rude to say how thankful I am for food without having something delicious in my mouth! Just so you know, Thanksgiving is the only time when one is allowed to talk with their mouth full since it is a day of non-stop eating. This is the perfect bite of Fall, for the entire Thankful Season really, and it can be served warm, at room temperature or even cold, straight from the fridge. This one is dang good, worthy of company...just make sure your company is worthy of this!
Grape, Blue Cheese and Thyme Naan - Adapted From The New York Times
(The New York Times recipe included making the Naan from scratch - who has time for that?!? Also, I reduced the water that was called for and upped the grapes from 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. because it just seemed like a good idea, and it was.)
1 package store-bought Naan (usually comes with 6 pieces)
For the topping:
2 lbs. seedless Concord black grapes
1 teaspoon ground star anise (I borrowed this from my neighbor who had it on hand but you can find it in Asian grocery stores)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Freshly cut zest of 1 lemon, in strips, as big as you can make them
2 tablespoons raw, demerara or turbinado sugar (or you can use brown sugar)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup Blue cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
In a medium pan over medium-high heat, combine the grapes, star anise, cinnamon, 3/4 cup water, the lemon zest and sugar. Cook for 13 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently and gently smashing the grapes with the back of a spatula until the consistency is jammy and the grapes have softened and begin to burst. Discard the lemon zest. Remove a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the pan into a small ramekin, stir in the cornstarch until smooth, then add the cornstarch mixture back to the pan and mix well. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
Place 4 pieces of Naan onto two rimmed baking sheets, two on each sheet. Spoon the grape mixture onto the center of each Naan, leaving about a 1/2-inch clear around the edges. Brush the edges with olive oil. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Remove from the oven and immediately scatter the blue cheese evenly over the top (a couple of tablespoons per Naan or to taste) so it starts to melt. Sprinkle with the thyme and let cool 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges. Makes 8 servings. Serve warm (preferably) or at room temperature.
Need an easy and impressive dessert this holiday season? Then this will be it! Easy to make, super impressive, as in your guests will want to take pictures of these before taking a bite and will only eat if you insist because they are so pretty! And they are good and tasty! What more could you want...someone to make them for you? Your kids would love making these, so gather up your slaves sweet children, and have them roll you some rosettes, they will love it!
You will need Puff Pastry (found in the freezer section of your grocery store). One package of pastry has two sheets inside; each sheet is already divided into thirds but you will stretch them into fourths. You will get 8 apple rosettes from one package of pastry. Whew! That's a lot of math for me! As you know, I'm left brain deficient, definitely from lack of use, but as I have proven every day of my life, all you need is a working right brain and a sincere apology on your lips!
I have made these several times in the last few months - once with homemade caramel sauce, when I had time to make it. The other times I used a good caramel sauce I purchased at the store...it worked great and is a huge time saver! Feel free to use a different flavor of preserves or maybe even cream cheese instead of preserves - whatever jingles your ornaments! In the pictures you can see I used cream cheese, spread thinly on the pastry then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon...delish!
Caramel Apple Rosettes - Adapted From Cooking With Manuela
1 package Puff Pastry, thawed according to package directions
4 large apples, any kind, I used Gala
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon flour, to sprinkle on counter to prevent pastry from sticking
1/2 cup of apricot preserves or apple jelly (if you can find apple jelly, use it, if not, apricot is delicious) OR if you want to use cream cheese, you will need one 8 oz. package, softened
Cinnamon for sprinkling
Sugar for sprinkling
Caramel sauce for topping
powdered sugar for decorating
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a muffin tin with 12 holes, spray 8 of the holes with cooking spray and fill the remaining 4 half way up with hot water, set aside. (Filling the empty holes with water will act as a "bath" for the apples and help steam them as they bake so they are nice and soft.) Fill a large bowl with warm water and add the lemon juice. Cut the apples in half, remove core and then cut the apples into thin slices, as thin as you can get them. (Leave the peel on.) Place the sliced apples into the lemon water, which will keep them from turning brown. Microwave the apples in the lemon water for about 3 to 5 minutes, just to make them softer and easy to bend/roll. When you remove from microwave, test an apple slice, it should be able to bend slightly without breaking, if not, nuke it a few more seconds!
Unwrap the puff pastry over a clean and lightly floured counter (or if you have a pastry cloth, use that). Roll one sheet of dough slightly with a rolling pin, then cut into 4 equal strips. Place preserves/jelly in a small bowl and microwave until warm and easier to spread. Spread one tablespoon of preserves/jelly/cream cheese onto each strip of dough. (Use both pieces of pastry so you will have 8 strips.)
Drain the apples. Arrange apple slices on the dough, overlapping each slice and only covering half of the strip of dough (the other side gets folded up and over.) Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Fold up the bottom part of the dough and starting at one end, carefully roll the dough, keeping the apple slices in place, with the apples sticking slightly beyond the dough. Place into a prepared regular muffin tin. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired. Carefully place muffin tin with the rosettes and hot water into oven and bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the apples are soft and the pastry is done all the way through and lightly browned. (Check after 30 minutes to make sure the rosettes are not getting too brown on top, if they are, cover loosely with aluminum foil.) Remove to cooling rack to cool to room temperature. Drizzle with caramel sauce to taste then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 8 Apple Rosettes.
The mister and I have been married for as long as dirt has been on the Earth. You would think, after all that time, the mister would know a few basic facts about me, like I don't eat eggs, I won't watch horror movies and most importantly, I have an irrational fear of sharks...which means I don't like water, bridges, boats, swimming pools with dark bottoms, get my drift? I have been very vocal about this over the years so he KNOWS I will not ever go on a cruise...every week when we get the Viking Cruise brochure in the mail (everyone over a certain age must get those things!) the mister knows to toss it immediately, ain't gonna happen. When my parents and siblings/spouses went on a cruise I opted to babysit my nieces and nephews rather than go with them! That's right, I volunteered to stay with 4 teenagers rather than go on a shark-bait-boat. Boats + water = sharks, it's simple math. So imagine my surprise this morning when the mister, in all seriousness, asked if I wanted to go on a whale watching cruise off the cost of Hawaii. Time for more math...Boats + WARM water = Giant MAN-EATING GREAT WHITE SHARKS! I just stared at him, mouth agape as he pleaded his case..."I know a guy who owns the whale watching tour company over there, he would show us a really great time, probably give us a personal tour and everything..." translation: we would be on a small vessel that would capsize us right into the mouths of hungry sharks never to be seen or heard from again. Not wanting to sound like Regan in The Exorcist, I took a sip of my morning mocktail, composed myself and in my nicest take-your-next-wifey-on-an-open-water-whale-watching-tour-voice said, "What in the Sam Hill are you talking about?! Go to work you crazy man and don't come home until that thought is banished from your head!" Godfrey! It's so tiresome being the ONLY normal one in this house!
Several years ago I clipped a newspaper recipe and stuck it in my "to make" pile. As Autumn would roll around each year, I looked at this recipe, trying to find a good enough reason to make it...it seemed too fancy to make for an every day dessert and it would be a waste to make for Thanksgiving because that's all about PIE! Finally, hosting my book club gave me an excuse to make this wonderful, silky smooth, richly decadent, subtly-spiced dessert...it's a keeper and while it won't make our T-Day table, it will definitely make a couple of appearances before the Fat Lady sings!
Like I said above, this is subtly-spiced...don't think of this as another version of pumpkin pie, it's not. It has just a hint of pumpkin, and a pinch of nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon, just enough to give you a taste of the season and it definitely allows for a few Mmmmmmms. This can be made a day ahead, or if you want to make it and serve it the same day, make sure you allow for at least two hours of time in the fridge for the brulee to cool. Don't be an idiot like me and wait years to make this - make it this holiday season, you'll thank me!
Pumpkin Creme Brulee - From The Seattle Times Newspaper, 1997
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
For years the mister has refused to buy a generator, he's a Marine and he don't need no stinkin' generator! Nevermind his long-suffering wife who DOES! Well, well, well...guess what the mister sorely wants now but can't find?! That's right, the OLD Marine has decided it's time to get plugged in (at least the TV as he simply cannot live without it because it's football season and Tennessee has a team this year!) and he is in a sour-state because he can't find one anywhere!! He is desperate I tell you! Desperate enough to make a late night trip to Home Depot to offer up our bank account and/or one of our children for a generator! I'm sure they are still laughing, along with the generator guys at Lowes and Costco because they were all sold out the minute the weathermen announced the double-punch storm headed our way. The mister should have floored it to one of those places immediately! He did not. He waited three more days and THEN, late at night, he decided the time was right and off he went, speeding down the hill determined to return with a generator 5 minutes before TWO major wind storms. Now that the mister has been denied, he is at the end of his rope. I know this because he asked me to find one ON-LINE and he thinks ordering anything on-line is of the devil - he doesn't trust anyone's security - he's still a money-under-the-mattress kind of guy - not that we have any under ours so don't get any ideas, but that's how he thinks. So the first order of business this morning is to buy a generator on-line and have it shipped - sadly it won't be here in time to help us if/when the power goes out today but that's okay with me as I will be headed to a hotel the minute the lights flicker!
Let's talk soup. Pumpkin soup. The kind of pumpkin soup that is ordered in fancy-schmancy restaurants prepared by uppity chefs who have 2 Michelin Stars. The kind of pumpkin soup that after the first sip you sit back in your chair and say mmmmmm. Yes. Mmmmmmm. The kind of pumpkin soup that has you wondering what's in it that is so velvety and seductive. Oh, that would be the coconut milk. This is that kind of pumpkin soup. It's rich and rewarding...it will fill your senses and your stomach and you'll go back for more, I promise. This pumpkin soup stands on it's own, too. It doesn't need the Sage Pesto or the Spicy Pumpkin Seeds...it's dang good without them. But. Or should I say BUT? Yes, this deserves a BIG BUT...so let me rephrase...this soup doesn't need the Sage Pesto or Spicy Pumpkin Seeds BUT it is absolutely 5 DANGS WORTH of Delicious with the toppings so make them...swirl the pesto into the soup... enjoy the crunch of the seeds and savor the mmmmmmm.
There are three steps to making this soup and all three are easy. You can do them in advance, too, even days in advance. The Sage Pesto will keep for a week in the refrigerator and the Spicy Pumpkin seeds will, too. The pesto and the seeds make a lot, more than you'll need for one batch of soup, so you could even freeze the pesto and use it at a later time because you will want to make this soup again and again!
The soup is not overly spiced, and it's just a teensy bit on the sweet side. If you want more heat, you can always add in more cayenne pepper, it's your funeral.
Look kids, it's Pumpkin Season. Don't be like the mister and wait until the 11th hour. Don't wait until the pumpkin shelves are empty at the market. Could happen...just this week the water shelves at our local Safeway were swept clean - we LIVE in water and people were buying water! I guess they don't know that when the power goes off the faucets still work?! At any rate, what if there WAS a run on pumpkin?!?!? Think how sad and devastated you would be then! So don't wait to make this, pumpkin season doesn't last forever you know!
Pumpkin Soup with Sage Pesto and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds - Adapted from Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest
1 cup fresh parsley
10 large sage leaves
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup crumpled Blue cheese (or you could substitute Feta or Parmesan)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Spicy Pumpkin Seeds:
1 cup Pepitas/Pumpkin seeds (I bought mine at Trader Joe's but Safeway also carries them)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cans prepared pumpkin (15 oz. can)
salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely diced shallots, (about 2 small shallots)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups coconut milk
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to your liking)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Make the Pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, combine parsley, sage, pistachios and process until finely chopped, then pour in the olive oil, with processor running. Add Blue cheese and pepper, and pulse a few more times until combined. Taste for seasonings and add additional pepper and salt if needed. Remove and set aside. (It making a day or two ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to use.)
Make the Spicy Pumpkin Seeds: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, combine the pumpkin seeds, brown sugar, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir continuously until the sugar begins to melt and stick to the seeds and the seeds become fragrant and begin to brown slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove to a cookie sheet or a piece of parchment and allow to cool. When cool break into small pieces. Set aside. If making these ahead, keep in an air-tight container until ready to use.
Make the Pumpkin Soup: In a large Dutch Oven, or other heavy bottomed pan, add butter and shallots. Cook until soft and slightly caramelized, about 7 minutes. Add the thyme and cook another 30 seconds. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the pumpkin, chicken broth, coconut milk, cayenne, nutmeg and maple syrup. Bring soup to a low simmer and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed. Add more cayenne if desired.
To assemble soup: Ladle soup into bowls and top each bowl with a dollop of Sage Pesto, then sprinkle Spicy Pumpkin Seeds on top. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.
Now, before I let y'all go, I want to share my FALL TO DO LIST with you. There are several of these kinds of lists on Pinterest, and I found one I liked and added to it...okay, granted, some are lame-o, but c'mon, work with me, it was the best I could do! Tick-tock, there's still plenty of time to get out there and enjoy this wonderful time of year!
99 Fun Things To Do This Fall
I'm not a huge fan of squash, only in the last few years have I been able to bring myself to eat it...and only if it is combined with other things, like caramelized onions, ricotta, cider vinegar and mint! It's all about hiding the veggies for me, and when they are sufficiently hidden, I will eat them with gusto! (I have posted over a dozen recipes using squash, everything from soups and stews to galettes and tarts...and speaking as someone who never reaches for veggies in any form unless they are disguised, I can tell you that those recipes and this one have so many other flavors that I now just think of squash as a color and not a vegetable!) When I came across this recipe for Squash Toasts from Smitten Kitchen, via NYTimes Cooking, I instantly knew it would be something I would love because even though squash is in the title, it's not the dominant flavor. And speaking of flavor, this has it goin' on! If the crunch of the toast doesn't woo you, then perhaps the finishing touch of fresh mint or the creaminess of the ricotta cheese will speak to you and if they don't, then there's still the caramelized onions, the hint of red chili flakes, a glint of maple syrup and cider vinegar...now you can't tell me that you're not salivating just a teensy bit thinking about that!
This morning I was up early, couldn't sleep after hearing the coyote howling behind our house, which woke little Rosie and sent her scurrying up to my pillow - at that point I knew it would be futile to just lay there. Before getting up though, I began to think about what to make for dinner, isn't that your first thought of the day?! And once again, Squash Toast was the winner! With a salad, Squash Toasts, made with a larger piece of bread, is a great Fall meal but it also works great as an appetizer! There is a bit of time involved with this recipe so I decided to break it up into two parts - and you can, too, this is totally do-ahead-able! In fact, you could make this over several days! Roast the squash one day (about 15 to 20 minutes) then caramelize the onions the next (another 15 to 20 minutes) and then assemble everything to enjoy on the 3rd day. Or make it all at one time, if you've got 45 minutes to an hour to spare. This may seem like a lot of time for toast...but please reread my first paragraph...these are loaded with flavor and will impress the heck out of any guests who might darken your doorstep just as you're sitting down to eat! (You know who you are and you're welcome any time!)
There I was, in the kitchen bustling about, stirring the onions while I peeled and chopped the squash. The mister walked in and since he was right next to the drawer where I keep my parchment paper, I asked him to hand me a sheet. Then I had to explain what parchment paper is. Then I had to direct him to the exact location. Then I had to watch him fumble around until he was finally able to pull one sheet out from the pad. He dangled it mid-air and said, "You mean to tell me you cut all of these pieces of paper to fit your pan?" My smirk was undeniable so I just kept my head down. I might have nodded or maybe it was a twitch, hard to say...I mean, why not let him think I'm that detailed and anal and I have nothing better to do than sit around cutting parchment with scissors for hours on end?? He is always asking me what I do all day, (usually he asks that after he's had a nice home-cooked meal and has donned freshly washed pj's) now he can visualize me cutting parchment! The thought amused me but alas, I am not a parchment cutter...I buy cut parchment, who has time to sit around cutting it?!?! (I buy it from Amazon, 200 pre-cut sheets for $7.99 - it's the cheapest place to get it even if I have to pay shipping and I certainly can't buy it locally for that quantity or price! I use parchment paper every time I pull out a cookie sheet - it saves me time in clean-up and nothing ever sticks. I'm a parchment believer and you should be, too!)
Start cooking your onions while you prep the squash. After they are caramelized, maple syrup and cider vinegar is added and they are cooked a bit longer until the onions become jam-like. At this point you may even consider, like I did, skipping the squash altogether, because if you think about it, jammy-onions over ricotta on toast would hit a lot of buttons! But, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, don't skip the squash!
After the onions are done and the squash has been roasted until it's smashable with a fork, you can scoop everything into a bowl, refrigerate and use at a later date. This mixture will keep for several days in the fridge. When you're ready to assemble your toasts, just nuke the squash mixture a bit in the microwave and you'll be on your way to making one of the best Fall treats you'll ever have.
Any kind of bread will work, but I like using a 9-grain bread, pre-sliced, when I make Squash Toast as an appetizer. After trimming the crusts, the bread is sliced into 4 equal pieces, making them the perfect size for an appetizer...it's just a bit surprising how easily they pop into one's mouth!
Squash on Toast Appetizer - Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and NYTimes Cooking by Jean-Goerges Vongerichten
1 butternut, delicata or acorn squash, about 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. (I used butternut squash)
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes, more or less to taste
coarse sea or kosher salt
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
5 slices of 9-Grain bread, or another type of grain/country-style bread, trim crusts, cut into 4 equal size pieces (or you can also use a French baguette, sliced 1/2-inch thick. The original recipe calls for 4 slices of 1-inch thick cut country bread. If you are going to serve this as a main dish, use 1 slice per serving or cut your bread of choice into thicker and larger pieces)
1/2 cup ricotta, or goat cheese or feta or mascarpone (I've made this with all 4 different cheese and I like ricotta and goat cheese the best, oh, cream cheese would be good, too!)
4 tablespoons (or more) fresh chopped mint leaves (don't skip the mint - you will love it!)
1/2 to 1 stick butter, softened, optional
Preheat over to 450 degrees. Prepare the onions: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add vinegar and maple syrup and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until onions become jam-like, and are broken down, about another 8 to 10 minutes.
While onions are cooking, prepare squash. Peel squash with a vegetable peeler. Slice in half, remove seeds, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Place a sheet of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet (you can also use aluminum foil) and transfer squash to prepared sheet. Toss squash with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons salt and chili flakes until coated evenly. Roast squash in oven until tender and slightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Squash will be done before the onions.) Remove from oven, leave on tray and set aside.
When onion mixture is done, pour over top of squash, still on baking sheet. Using a fork, gently smash the mixture together. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Slice bread (into desired thickness, thicker for an entree, thinner for an appetizer) and toast in toaster or in oven under broiler (my oven has a toaster setting so I can brown toast on both sides at the same time. Original recipes calls for toasting bread in batches in olive oil in a large skillet - which is more time/work than I wanted so I opted for the oven. Do what you have time for. Lightly butter toast on one side (totally optional but everything is better with buttah.) Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese on top, add about a tablespoon of the squash-onion mixture, sprinkle with coarse salt and garnish with fresh chopped mint. Reheat any left-overs on a baking sheet in a 300-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, it will taste like you just made them, especially if your bread was a bit sturdy to begin with.
Makes 6 large pieces (regular bread size) for an entree or 20 appetizer-size (bread cut approximately 2 x 3-inches).
What a week it's been! Sick in bed, rainy and cold outside and then sheer heartache hit...our Max was taken to Primary Children's Hospital with the H1N1Flu Virus!!! He was so very ill and all we could do was pray, hope and beg he would get well soon. Four very long days later he was able to go home!! He is doing his best to drink lots of liquids, and he's trying to eat (he is SO skinny) and now he has some serious video watching to catch up on! I can tell you, it's bad when your kids are down and out with illness or troubles but that is nothing compared to having a grandchild be sick! I was a wreck!
As my mom would say, that boy is pale and wan! I could fatten him up in no time if he was here! And now that I've broached that subject, let's move on to Goober Pie...yes, it is fattening, but you only need a small slice because it is so rich and didn't someone say peanuts are healthy!?? So there's that!
I made this pie for my book club - we had a Southern themed dinner to go with our book. Actually we had two books, To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman, said to be Harper Lee's newest...or is it?? We all love To Kill A Mockingbird, probably one of my top five books (and everyone else) but Watchman???? Nope, not even close, save yourself the time, it's horribly written and edited - total waste of paper and ink. But, having said that, reading the book did lead to a great discussion (not about the book) and a wonderful evening of Southern food...ending with this pie, so I suppose the book has some value!
Peanuts are sometimes called Goobers in the South...and this pie is about as Southern as you can get. It's kind of like a Pecan Pie, in texture, but has a definite molasses flavor that may seem a bit strong at first bite but give it a second and it will grow on you. Before you know it you'll have eaten your wee slice and will be back for more! This is especially good with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream...it's a keeper, and a 5 Danger - it's dang, dang, dang, dang, dang good!
Goober Pie comes together in no time but it takes an hour to bake and when you remove it from the oven it will be this luscious caramelized color - just let it cool to room temp and you can cut into it with wild abandon!
Goober (Peanut) Pie - Adapted from My Mother's Southern Entertaining by James Villas with Martha Pearl Villas (One of the best Southern cookbooks ever!)
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Karo light corn syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, (lightly salted okay) roughly chopped
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust (store bought or homemade, I use this recipe here)
Whipped cream or ice cream, optional, but why not?
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer till frothy, then add the sugar, corn syrup, molasses, melted butter, flour, cinnamon, salt and vanilla and beat till well blended and smooth. Add the peanuts and stir till the nuts are evenly distributed. Scrape the mixture into the pie shell and bake till the filling is just soft in the center and the crust is golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the pie completely on a wire rack and serve at room temperature with dollops of whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. Makes one 9-inch pie, serves 8.
Did you know there are Dog Psychologists?? It's the only kind of psychologist that does more talking than the patient. Lately, little Rosie and I have had several talk therapy sessions...where I expound on the virtues of going potty outside...I think she's starting to listen, I mean, she stares at me with her little eyes and I see her concentrating...I see her blinking in agreement...perhaps I missed my calling in life and all this time I should have been counseling dogs?!? So our talk therapy sessions are going great...and while Rosie is taking her time, you know, coming to grips with her behaviors and how she needs to change, I'm strictly adhering to our routine...standing out in the rain every three hours, walking around with smelly dog treats in my pockets, going to Pet Smart every other day to purchase new toys, treats, beds, carpet spray, etc.$$$!
One thing Rosie loves is being in the kitchen with me. She sits on the rug in front of the stove and watches my every move. She's learned that occasionally some little bit of something falls to the floor so the kitchen is her happy place...as it should be!
Making these biscuits will put you in a happy place - guarandamteed! First of all, there's bacon. Need I say more?
Bacon. Right there is one reason you should make these. Need another? Maple flavoring. One more? Dates...or you could use raisins, which I did the first time I made these and they provide just the right amount of sweet. And if you are still looking for another reason, here you go, buttermilk...it gives these biscuits a slight tang that plays ever so nicely with the sweetness of the dates and maple...this one is a keeper my friends. Tried, true and downright delicious. (Do not judge...I didn't have fresh buttermilk on hand the first time I made these, so I used the packaged "buttermilk" - which does work in a pinch or if you're desperate and you have to make them immediately and can't run to the store because you're in your pajamas!)
I haven't told you about the glaze...the maple glaze that is brushed on top of each biscuit as it comes piping hot from the oven. It's a game changer. Sticky-sweet - you'll be licking your fingers with glee...and no one will stop you, it's the right thing to do! Oh one more thing, these are easy to make and they freeze well...make a double batch - some today, some to give away (all 4 people I served these to asked for the recipe and then when I didn't sent it right away, they asked again! Now that should tell you something!) and some to enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday!
Bacon Maple Date Biscuits - Adapted From The Wandering Goose, Seattle, WA
5 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups (3 sticks) cold butter, diced
8 oz. chopped dates (about 2 cups or less if desired, and you can use raisins)
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cold buttermilk
1 tablespoon maple extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl and mix on low. Add the butter and mix on low until the butter is the size of small peas, about 5 minutes. Add the dates and bacon, and with the mixer running on low, add the buttermilk and maple extract. Mix only until just blended, taking care not to over mix. The dough will be somewhat dry and crumbly. (Which makes for a very flaky and light biscuit!)
Place the dough onto a lightly flour surface, pat gently into a 1-inch thick round, and cut using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour. (Do not twist the cutter as you cut the biscuits as this will seal the sides and the biscuits will not rise as high. Gather up the scraps and reshape into a disc to continue cutting until all the dough is used.) Set the biscuits on a baking sheet and brush the biscuits with melted butter. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
For the Maple Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar and syrup and mix until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, thin with a few drops of water. Drizzle over the cooled biscuits and serve.
Makes 24 biscuits.
The mister coughed. One little cough. But If you're married to a hypochondriac then you know one little cough is not what it seems...nope, it can be a thing of joy for them...because it could lead to another and another and possibly a full-blown sneeze which would require immediate time on the couch. So the mister coughed...and it was his lucky day because he coughed again...and a minute later, another cough. Since I'm not a hypochondriac I knew it was just a cough so I grabbed my water glass and walked out of the kitchen, headed for the stairs even though he was still coughing. Half-way up the stairs I was hit with a tiny shard of pity so I yelled back to the mister, "Everything okay?" Knowing it was,because I watch doctor shows on TV, I continued on my way. I walked into the bedroom, turned on the TV and experienced a bit of joy that I remembered how to work the remote, since I'm so rarely allowed to touch it. A few minutes later the mister walks into the bedroom and he glares at me, which made me smirk...you give me a glare, you're gonna get a smirk, that's how it works around here. But I couldn't hold my smirk as long as the mister could hold his glare so I started to laugh and that set him off...and he angrily spouted, "I was choking and you left me! I could have used the Heineken Maneuver and you just walked out and left me to choke to death!!"
Me: "You needed the Heineken Maneuver??? The Heineken???"
Mister: "Yes, I was choking!"
Between fits of laughter than outdid his fit of coughing I managed to say, "If you needed a Heineken you could have reached into the fridge and got one yourself."
With that the mister got into bed, shut off the lights and turned off the TV, all to the sounds of me carrying on like a hyena...a good loooooong belly laugh is the best sleeping pill.
We don't have waffles very often but when we do, these have been the ones we love the most. Maple flavoring is added to the batter along with the zest of two oranges, which will brighten every forkful. Then there's the toasted pecans, which add a meatiness to these waffles - I'm telling you straight, these are dang good - so good they made watching the Seahawks lose easier to swallow. Ba-dump-dump!
Our waffle maker makes four large Belgian-style waffles so I only cooked three batches, making a total of 12 large waffles. While the waffles were cooking I made the syrup by adding a bit of orange juice to maple syrup...and right there folks, you've got yourself a 5 danger breakfast!
Putting the waffles onto a baking rack and then into a warm oven keeps them crisp and hot while the rest are cooking. We expected the boy and his bride to come for brunch and to watch the game, but they were no-shows, so I wrapped up the extra waffles between sheets of waxed paper and put them into a Zip-lock plastic freezer bag. The next time we want waffles I'll just take them out frozen and pop them into the toaster and they'll be as crisp and tasty as if they were just made.
Maple Orange Pecan Waffles - Adapted From Family Time
1 1/2 cup pecan pieces, divided, lightly toasted
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 fresh orange zest, grated
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups Sprite or 7-Up
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup orange juice
Heat waffle maker. Put pecan pieces into a small skillet on the stove top over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until pecans are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn. Remove from stove and set aside to cool slightly. In a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup of the toasted pecans (set remaining 1/2 cup aside), flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and process until pecans are finely ground. Transfer pecan mixture to a large bowl. Stir in orange zest. In a small bowl whisk eggs and melted butter. Add egg mixture and Sprite to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of remaining pecan pieces (reserving last 1/4 cup for topping waffles). Cook waffles on a hot waffle iron until browned on both sides. Keep warm and crispy by placing cooked waffles on a wire rack in a 180 degree oven.
Whisk maple syrup and orange juice together and heat in microwave until warm. Serve waffles with Maple Orange Syrup and sprinkle remaining pecan pieces on top. Makes 12 large waffles.