Monday, September 26, 2011

| fall = applesauce |

If you're lucky enough to live in a part of the world where apples are abundant in fall, you need to make homemade applesauce. It's SO easy and you will never want to go back to regular applesauce again.

As with most of my "recipes" I'm not really so good on measurements - sorry.


5-6 medium/large apples (baking-type apples work best, but anything is fine)
1/4 sweetener (brown sugar, sugar, honey are all nice choices)
1-2 T lemon juice
cinnamon to taste

If you like chunky applesauce, you don't even have to peel them. For this method, you want to dice them up pretty small (like quarter-sized chunks) because the peels will not get smaller in the cooking process (so if you put in giant slices, you will have huge pieces of peel in there).

If you want a smoother applesauce or just don't want peel, then peel your apples. For this method, you can leave the apple pieces really big (like 1/4 of an apple).

Put the apples, sweetener, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan. If you're feeling really decadent, add a hunk of butter. Fill with water until it's just about to the top of the apples.

Cook on low heat (simmering) until the apples are soft. Maybe this is about a half-hour? I'm not sure because I'm always doing something else.

When they're good and soft, mash them up with a potato masher (or big fork, or mixer, or blender).

Eat this stuff WARM. Have you ever had warm applesauce? So delicious.

Side note: one of my favorite things to put in applesauce is Cool Whip. Sounds weird, I know, but it is so not weird when you eat it.

| tempeh BLTs |

This was actually my first trip into the world of tempeh. The bakery down the street makes a mean tempeh burger, so I've definitely eaten a lot of tempeh, but never cooked with it before. I found this recipe from Kiwi Magazine and it is definitely tasty. Now, don't get me wrong, it doesn't actually taste like BLTs (at all) but it is really good.






In a large baking dish, add the soy sauce, ¼ cup of the safflower oil, maple syrup, vinegar, tomato paste, liquid smoke, and garlic. Whisk to combine and add the tempeh, tossing to coat. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or up to overnight.

Heat a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon safflower oil and the marinated tempeh (you can refrigerate the marinade to reuse for up to a week). Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, flip, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until both sides of the tempeh are browned and crisp. Transfer the tempeh to a plate. 

Assemble the sandwiches: Place four slices of bread on a work surface and spread each with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Place four slices of the tempeh on each slice of bread, then top with tomato slices and 2 lettuce leaves. Spread the remaining four slices of bread each with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, then use to top the sandwiches. Slice each sandwich in half and serve, or wrap tightly in foil and pack for lunch.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

| butternut lasagna |

A few weeks ago, my dear facebook friends convinced me that the only way to make a decent mac n' cheese on the stovetop was to start with a roux and proceed through a sort of bechamel situation. I'm really just throwing around terms, here. I don't know what I'm talking about. But I made it up as I went and the mac n' cheese turned out fabuloso. 

Today, a facebook friend was asking for good butternut squash recipes and I was remembering with great fondness a butternut squash lasagna that my MIL has made for us a few times. Not having the recipe, but having a serious craving, I set about to make some version of it myself. Armed with my newfound ability to do the whole roux/bechamel/cheese sauce thing, I rocked it out pretty hard core.

Note: This is vegetarian, but if you're into meat, I'd recommend some chicken.
Note part deux: No, this is not technically a lasagna...but it's so much easier to work with and I really like the consistency that happens with the egg noodles. If you must have a true lasagna, then I'd recommend layering the noodles, sauteed vegs, cheese sauce, and squash puree separately. 

8-10 oz uncooked egg noodles
16 oz of butternut squash, pureed (either microwave or roast and then puree)
1 onion, diced
small bunch of broccolini, chopped finely (or about 2 cups of chopped broccoli)
8 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed in the microwave
2 large carrots, grated
1 large or 2 small zucchini, grated
4-5 mushrooms, diced small
1 head of garlic, minced (yes, one HEAD, not one clove)
gobs and gobs of olive oil
a little flour
some whole milk or cream
all your favorite cheeses – I used about a cup of ricotta, a cup of parmesan, and a cup of mozzarella
salt and pepper
dried Italian seasoning

1)    Preaheat your oven to 350 and set your milk on the counter to warm it up.
2)    Boil your noodles very al dente (I cooked mine for just 5 minutes), drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
3)    Prep all your veggies, including the squash puree. If you’re lucky enough to have a grocery store that carries frozen pureed squash, you’re in real luck. We used to, but then they punked out on us.
4)    Put about a tablespoon of olive oil into a saucepan (or, to save pans, just use the stockpot you did your pasta in since it’s now sitting out). Add about two cloves of garlic, minced. Saute the onions until they start to soften, then add the broccolini and sauté a few more minutes, then the grated carrot and zucchini and mushrooms. Throw in a little S&P and the Italian seasoning. Turn off the heat when they start to look cookedish.
5)    In a saucepan, heat about ¼ cup olive oil with the remaining minced garlic. Inhale deeply. When it’s warm, add about 2-3 tablespoons of flour, whisking constantly, until it starts to turn a golden color. Slowly add in your milk, about a cup at a time, stirring constantly. The sauce will start to thicken. Add more flour and more milk until you end up with about 2-3 cups of gravy-consistency goodness. Add some pepper. Add in your parmesan and mozzarella. Stir. Taste it and be happy.
6)    Stir the butternut puree and ricotta into the sautéed veggie mixture. Add in the cheese sauce, reserving about a cup for the top of your lasagna. Add in the cooked egg noodles.
7)    Dump the whole mixture into a big casserole. Top with the remaining cheese sauce and some sprinkles of parmesan. If you add some cracked pepper and Italian seasoning to the top, it’ll be prettier.
8)    Bake for about 30-45 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it.

| squash time |

A friend of mine has fallen in love with squash and wanted some non-soup, non-just-bake-with-butter-and-brown sugar recipes, so here are a couple of mine. What are yours?


This first one I made up a couple of years ago when we had way too much squash in our CSA.

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup (or maple)
½ cup raisins
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Cinnamon and nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Quick cook barley

Combine all ingredients except the black beans and barley in a large casserole. Bake at 350-375 until the sweet potatoes are tender (about 30-45 minutes). Meanwhile, cook up about 4 servings of quick cook barley according to the package directions. Once the potatoes are done, add the can of black beans and stir. Serve the potato mixture over the barley.

I think I found this recipe for butternut squash fries from a WW friend. I never wrote it down, but it goes something like this:
1. Get a large butternut squash with a long neck. Cut the neck into long, thing fry-shaped pieces. 
2. Toss the pieces in a mixture of your favorite oil, salt, pepper and any spices you want. I enjoy cumin, but I bet it would also be fun with cinnamon-sugar.
3. Bake just as you would oven fries. Spread thin on a sheet and bake at 450ish until they're crispy, tossing and turning every 15 minutes or so. 

I've never made this one, but it sounds amazing. A friend emailed it to me, so I apologize for not knowing what website it's from.

·                2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
·                2 medium onions, chopped
·                1 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about half a medium squash)—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
·                kosher salt and black pepper
·                2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
·                6 large eggs
·                2 cups whole milk
·                3/4 pound soft French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 7 1⁄2 cups)
·                1/2 pound Gruyère, grated (2 cups)
1. Heat oven to 375° F. Oil a 2 ½- to 3-quart baking dish.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the squash, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cook, tossing frequently, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes more. Stir in the sage. Let cool for 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the bread, cheese, and squash mixture and toss to coat.
4. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake until golden brown and set, 55 to 60 minutes.
When peeling a butternut squash, make sure you remove enough layers to get down to the bright orange interior. If you don’t and leave an underlayer of skin, the squash can cook tough instead of tender.

Okay, this is more of summer squash, but still delicious. I got this from friends who got it from an Atkins Cookbook.

  2             pounds  spaghetti squash -- halved lenghtwise
  4          teaspoons  olive oil
  8             ounces  zucchini -- 1/2 dice
     1/4      teaspoon  salt
  1             medium  red onion -- thinly sliced
  4             medium  tomato -- diced
     1/4      teaspoon  pepper
Cook the squash in the microwave. Saute the onions in half the olive oil for 3 minutes. Add zucchini and cook 4-5 minutes until zucchini starts to brown.  Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, simmer 10 minutes.
Take squash out of shells. Toss with oil. Serve veggies on the squash.
Garnish with parmesan and lemon slices.

Also, my MIL has a recipe that I don't have but could be re-created with some creativity. It's a squash lasagna. Basically, you want to puree your favorite cooked winter squash and then lasagna it between layers of pasta using a white (alfredoish) sauce instead of red. Add in a few other veggies that you enjoy (mushrooms, onions, spinach), but not a not. Keep the squash up front. Use whatever kind of topping cheese you enjoy....mozz, parm, asiago, etc. 

And, two from my archives:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

| a tale of two fruit dips |

This is one of those recipes that sounds totally bizarre and gross when you read it....and yet, when you make it, turns out super tasty. I think I first found it on the WW website or in one of their cookbooks. Every time I slice an apple, I get a craving for it. So delish.

Mix together about 2-3 T of plain nonfat yogurt, 1-2 T of light mayo (yes, that's right, friends), and a dash of cinnamon (again, I'm not kidding you).

Stir well. Add a dash of lemon juice if you'd like.

Dip fruit into know apples, grapes, bananas, etc. This makes a single serving (ish).

And, lest you think I only have weird fruit dip recipes, here's one that actually sounds tasty from the get.

1 package (8 oz) of strawberry cream cheese
1 small jar of marshmallow fluff

Mix together well. Inhale. Or eat on fruit.