October 31, 2010

Chili with pumpkin and black beans

Halloween dinner this year was a chili with pumpkin puree and black beans. This chili had heat and spice and flavor. I was a bit skeptical of pumpkin puree in chili, but I kept seeing recipes with it and figured I'd give it a try. I used my basic chili recipe and changed it up with the addition of the pumpkin and some cinnamon. You could taste just a hint of pumpkin that went well with the spice combination in the chili. Although I made this for our Halloween dinner, it would be a great treat for any cool fall or winter day. This pot of chili fed four people with no leftovers.

October 28, 2010

Beef and Guinness pie

I made this pie especially for my husband on a cold, fall, Sunday afternoon. I've made Shepherd's pie before, but this one was different. It was Shepherd's pie to the next level. Cubed beef instead of ground beef and a full bottle of Guinness in the gravy. The beef was amazingly, melt-in-your-mouth tender... and the gravy... oh, the gravy. I highly recommend giving this a try. This recipe should easily serve four people quite generously.

October 25, 2010

Rutabaga and potato puree

In my quest to make more interesting and delicious vegetable side dishes, I decided to buy a rutabaga at the farmer's market. I'd never had a rutabaga before, so I did some searching and reading. Everything I read said it was similar in taste to a turnip, but milder and a bit sweet. I made this puree as a side for my Autumn pork roast instead of the usual sweet potato. The puree was so good! I loved it. It was slightly spicy, creamy, and just plain good. So, don't shy away from the rutabaga. The next time you see one sitting there are the market, take it home and give it a try!

October 23, 2010

Butternut squash, cauliflower, and potato curry

I was watching Nigella Lawson's new show last week and she threw together a quick and easy curry using leftover vegetables from her refrigerator. I had been wanting to have a curry, especially because I had a cold and I love to eat spicy foods when I'm really congested. I also remembered reading a butternut squash curry recipe in the October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. So this recipe is like a combination of both of the recipes using the ingredients I had on hand. It was also nice that my cilantro made a fall comeback so I was able to pick some fresh out of our little herb garden. You can use any vegetables you have and any combination you like, but these three are a great fall combination. The butternut squash helps to offset the warmth of the curry with its creamy sweetness. This is a quick and easy curry with more Indian flavors than say a Thai curry. This recipe will serve about four people. 

October 20, 2010

Pear, blue cheese, and arugula stuffed chicken

It's week 5 of Fall Fest now and this week celebrates pears. It just so happened that we picked some up at the farmer's market over the weekend. I decided to use pears in a savory dish and this is what I came up with. I love the combination of flavors in this chicken. I used organic, free-range chicken, so the breasts weren't as huge as the ones you often see and this does make butterflying and stuffing the chicken a little more difficult. But, they still turned out good and work just fine. I made this recipe for just my husband and I, so the below quantities are for two servings. You can easily make more stuffing to fill up more chicken breasts though.  

October 18, 2010

Peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Peanut cookies are what I was craving the other day. I did some searching for a recipe that used natural peanut butter rather than the traditional peanut butter. I found this recipe and decided to give it a try as it looked slightly healthier than most. I thought that they may have turned out a bit dry, but they didn't. They had a lot of texture and were pretty filling. I added one large bittersweet chocolate chip to the top of each cookie and used crunchy peanut butter (because that's what I had). I used some brown sugar in place of some of the honey to help keep them from burning. This recipe will make approximately 18 cookies.

October 16, 2010

Homemade applesauce

Last weekend we went apple picking, which is a must-do fall activity here in western NY. We always end up with more apples than we know what to do with. We took our little niece and nephew and my little cousin. They had fun and I love being able to take small children out to show them where food comes from. We picked a variety of apples like Granny Smith, Crispin, Fuji, and Ida Reds. Aren't they beautiful?

Use good cooking apples (firm, crisp, not too watery) for your applesauce. I find that a combination of apples works out great in all apple recipes... you get some sweet, tart, and different textures. I made applesauce not only to use up some of the apples, but because I wanted to freeze some to have for Thanksgiving dinner. I put two freezer safe containers in the freezer and one container in the refrigerator for immediate use. Give homemade applesauce a try - especially if you go apple picking and have loads of apples. It's easy and tasty. Plus it's a great thing to make with kids after picking apples. 

October 15, 2010

Spaghetti squash gratin

I love winter squash, but spaghetti squash is one squash that I've just never loved. I've tried it many times and it's always just been OK to me. We always end up with some because my father-in-law always grows them. So, as I've been looking and looking at this spaghetti squash sitting in my squash basket, I decided to try it draped and covered in cheese. Well, guess what? I finally found a way to eat spaghetti squash that is quite yummy (no shock there as anything gratin is yummy). So if you have been looking for a way to use those spaghetti squash, given this a try. We ate this as a main dish with a salad and some crusty bread, but it's probably best as a side dish. 

October 13, 2010

Roasted butternut squash and cream pasta sauce

It's already week 4 of Fall Fest. This week is celebrating pumpkin and winter squash. Winter squash are one of my favorite things. I've been buying them left and right at the farmer's market in every size, shape, and color I find. Butternut squash remains one of my all-time favorite winter squash. I decided to try out a pasta sauce utilizing roasted butternut squash. I roasted the squash the night before so that I could save that time when I made the sauce the next evening for dinner. I added some sliced garlic chicken sausage to the pasta because I wanted to make it a bit heartier and also because it helped to add a savory and salty component to the sauce, which is sweet. This recipe will feed 4 to 6 people.

October 11, 2010

Shiitake mushroom and barley soup

This soup was inspired by an early, cool Saturday morning trip to the farmer's market. The farmer who grows and sells shiitake mushrooms was giving out samples of a hot and delicious shiitake and barley soup. I tasted a sample and bought some mushrooms feeling pretty confident that I would be able to replicate the soup at home. So when I got home I got to work on making the soup. The soup is really simple in ingredients and is very filling with the barley. It was easy to make and a comforting to eat on a cool autumn day. I think I got the recipe pretty close to the farmer's -- both were delicious.

October 8, 2010

Carrot-raisin bread

I decided to whip up an easy quick bread one evening because we were running out of snacks for our lunches. When looking around at what produce I had that I could use to make a quick bread, I decided on carrots since I had quite a lot of them. I decided that I would add golden raisins, even though my husband is not a fan. I love raisins, so sometimes I have to use them anyway!

I did a quick search and found this recipe. I made some changes and added another half cup of carrots because I wanted it to be really full with them. The bread turned out good. The original recipe called for a over one hour of baking time. I put it in for 45 minutes to start and think that was probably about 5 minutes too long because it started to get a little dry. So, just keep an eye on it and start at a lower cooking time and put it in longer, if needed. 

October 6, 2010

Grilled apple salad with maple-mustard vinaigrette

I can't believe it's October already! This is week 3 of Fall Fest and this week is about fall salads. I was looking through my recent produce and farmer's market finds to see what I had around already that would make a good fall salad. Apples, of course, are in our refrigerator... We had a couple different greens/lettuces... Also, some brussel sprouts and shallots. When I make a dinner salad, I like to incorporate some warm ingredients into it along with some nuts and/or fruit. With this salad I decided to grill the apples and shallots and toast up some pecan halves. As with some other salads I've posted, I don't really give amounts of the ingredients. This way, you know what's in it, but you can add as much or as little as you want depending on if it's for a main dish, side dish, or light lunch. We had a large salad for dinner along with some crusty bread and it was filling enough for a meal. 

October 3, 2010

Pork and pepper goulash

Yet again, I've used another recipe from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home cookbook. This recipe was calling to me as a way to use up the peppers that were accumulating in our refrigerator. I also thought that this would easily be able to be cooked in the slow cooker rather than the oven and it turned out great. I do love to be able to come home from a long day at work and have the place already smelling wonderful and food almost ready to eat. The goulash was really flavorful. The recipe I used is below. It should feed about 4 people.  

October 1, 2010

Butternut squash muffins

I've been on a muffin kick lately. Usually I would make a batch of granola bars (usually without chocolate) every Sunday so that we had those for our easy weekday breakfast all week. But the past few weeks, I've been in a muffin mood. It started with the most delicious muffins I've ever had. I'm not sure any muffins will ever live up to those, but these butternut squash ones come pretty close. I very loosely followed the recipe from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home cookbook. I say loosely because, for example, I didn't make the frosting (because I wanted to keep them breakfast-friendly), I cut the sugar out by more than half, and at the very end I decided to throw in some bittersweet chocolate. The recipe I used is below and it will make 12 good-sized muffins.