October 30, 2012

Delicata squash and hazelnut shortbread bars

I swear that we are eating real food that isn't desserts, even though my recent blog posts don't seem to reflect that... I've been making a lot of desserts lately for family gatherings and different dinners. We currently have 36 winter squash in our basement as part of our winter stock-up. Delicata squash are one of my favorite winter squash. They have such a different flavor that reminds me of butternut squash combined with sweet potatoes and corn. In addition to its unique flavor, it has a texture that is drier than most winter squash. I almost always use and see sugar pumpkins and/or butternut squash in sweet treats, so I wanted to try incorporating delicatas into a dessert. I found a recipe for pumpkin bars that I used as a guide. I was hoping that the unique flavor of delicata squash would stand-up in a dessert and not just taste like a pumpkin pie. These bars were delicious, and while I did taste a bit of sweet potato flavor, most people probably wouldn't taste a difference between this and pumpkin... Oh well...

This recipe will make about 16 bars depending on how small/large you cut them. They are really a lovely fall dessert and would be a nice addition to a Thanksgiving dinner or as a Halloween treat. As I'm writing this, we are beginning to get our portion of the "Frankenstorm" and I think it's the perfect time to snack on one of these with a hot cup of tea and hunker down for the night...

October 25, 2012

Brown butter blondies with apple, pecans, and white chocolate

Don't make these blondies unless you have a few people with whom to share them. They are very decadent, rich, and delicious -- from all the nutty brown butter. These were dessert at our Oktoberfest dinner that I talked about recently. But, let's get back to the brown butter. This was my first experience with brown butter and I have no idea what took me so long. I see brown butter recipes all over the food blog world and have always been intrigued by it, but now I understand why it is so special. Browning butter turns it a golden color and caramelizes the milk solids so that you end up with a extra rich, nutty flavor. This process of browning the butter for these blondies really made them extra special because it heightened the fall flavors I added to them. I'm looking forward to trying out more brown butter recipes now.

This dessert will make about 12-16 blondies, depending on how you cut them. I suggest cutting them small. Usually I love to eat my baked goods while they are still warm from the oven, but I think these were even better the next day because all of the flavors, especially the apple, were more noticeable. These blondies get a nice crisp top and a super soft and chewy center. They were inspired by a Martha Steward recipe.

October 21, 2012

German sweet and sour red cabbage

My husband and I both have a fair amount of German heritage, but neither of us grew up eating a lot of traditional cuisine. We both really love German food though, so I'm on a mission to learn how to cook more of it. Recently, we had some people over for an Oktoberfest dinner. I was looking all over the web for a recipe to make traditional German cabbage that was similar to one that we enjoy at our favorite German/Polish restaurant. I found this recipe for German red cabbage and went from there. I adjusted some of the ingredients to taste and it really probably varies depending on how large your head of cabbage is. Lucky for us, there was one lone red cabbage at the farmers' market that morning - I scooped it right up and took it home to make this tasty side dish.

The cabbage is best if you make it a few hours, or even a day ahead of time and then reheat it. This way, all of the flavors will penetrate the cabbage even more. We served this with some fresh German brats from a local European sausage shop, some homemade potato and cheddar pierogi, sauteed onions, and, of course, some great fall beers. While the whole meal was delicious, the cabbage was an unexpected hit with everyone. Plus, the color was really pretty and it added a punch of color to each plate. This recipe will serve six to eight people as a side dish. 

October 18, 2012

Apple-turkey burgers with cranberry-apple relish

My bushel of apples is slowly dwindling down... We've picked out a bunch of small ones and put them away in the refrigerator for snacks. I still have quite a few for cooking though. I've made some of my standbys like applesauce and autumn pork roast, and new recipes like apple crisp pie and these burgers that were inspired by this recipe. I like incorporating fruits into savory dishes, so I was pretty excited to try out these burgers, plus they used up two more of my apples! These burgers were really moist from the addition of grated apple into the turkey and the topping was a nice mix of sweet, tart, and a touch of heat.

This recipe will make four burgers. I served them with some simple roasted purple cauliflower (we got a beautiful head at the farmers' market last weekend). It was a great weeknight autumn meal and unlike any burger I've had before.

October 12, 2012

Apple crisp pie

Apple pie is one the the quintessential desserts (and baking smells) of fall. I love a good apple pie. Since we have a bushel of apples to use from apple picking, I had the perfect excuse to make one. While I love a classic apple pie with a double crust, I do really enjoy a crumb top. Last year I made an apple crumb tart - regular crust with a crumb top. This time I found a recipe at Taste of Home that used the same crumb topping for the crust - pretty genius if you ask me. No chilling or rolling of a crust! I had to give it a try! I adjusted the filling a lot because it seemed pretty bland to me (an apple pie with no cinnamon? I don't think so). This easy press-in pie crust that doubles as a topping is such an easy way to make a pie and really cuts the time down. It reminds me a lot of apple crisp and I think it would work well with so many other fruit pies as well.

October 8, 2012

Chocolate chip pumpkin blondies

Over the weekend we went on our annual apple picking day. My husband and I go every year, usually with various members of our family. I think apple picking is a great autumn activity (especially in NY where we have apple farms all over the place). It's a fun way to get outside, pick your own food, get kids involved, and then you end up having to make at least one pie. We ended up with a bushel of apples (so expect apple recipes coming soon). 

Before we went out, I got up a bit early, grabbed a cup of coffee, and whipped up these treats to take along with us so that we would have a non-apple snack when we were all finished picking. I took my time and creamed/mixed everything by hand, but feel free to use a hand or stand mixer. I sometimes like to take the old-fashioned route. Everyone liked these pumpkin squares, even the kiddos. They reminded me a lot of one of our favorite fall snacks - chocolate chip pumpkin bread. I was originally going to use white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips in these bars, but I couldn't find any without things like hydrogenated soy oil and/or palm oil in them (this is why we don't use palm oil products), so I went with mini-chocolate chips. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart

October 3, 2012

Creamed collard greens with crispy shallots

My mom joined a CSA this year for the first time and has been getting a lot of great stuff. Recently, she was getting a little more than she could eat and gave me a bunch of "Swiss chard." I knew that it wasn't chard and when I looked at the list I realized that it was collard greens, which are something I had never eaten before! So I was pretty happy to have a new veg to try out, especially when I've been craving greens lately. 

I realize that this probably isn't the most exciting dish, but as I've said before, I like to post vegetable side dish recipes (check out the "side dishes" category in the Recipe Index). While I certainly eat my fair share of streamed vegetables, an extra delicious and interesting side dish is a great thing. It encourages you to try and eat more vegetables. These collard greens were good, the greens were slightly bitter and complimented by the creamy sauce with a touch of nutmeg. You could make this with other greens like spinach or Swiss chard. The harvest time is a great time to get to know all your different veggies. Pick up a new one this weekend at the farmers' market or grocery store and give it a try. For me, I've never met a vegetable I didn't like.