Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

 

You know the “This Little Piggy” nursery rhyme, don’t you?  Of course you do.  You’re saying it to yourself right now … Well, these little piggies waited to mature into sophisticated, tasty pigs before they went to the market.  That said, they still love the simple pleasure of cuddling into a blanket.

(Now that I’ve got my somewhat awkward pig-to-human analogy out of they way, lets get to how easy these are to make.)

Sophisticated, yet only 5 ingredients!  Andouille sausage is wrapped in puff pastry, sliced into rounds, and baked until golden.  The Andouille is bit spicy.  Thus, the sweet, cooling, addictive chutney and mustard dipping sauce is a must.  These morsels get consumed in high volume, so be sure to make plenty.

Sophistication combined with simplicity.  If you think about it, aren’t we all trying to achieve that? (Just say yes, and agree with me.)

Enjoy.  Happy New Year!

Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping SauceAndouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping SauceAndouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces all-butter puff pastry, thawed and cut into four 5-inch squares
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 4 andouille sausages (3 ounces each), I used Kayem Artisan Andouille Sausage
  • 1/4 cup mango ginger chutney, or your favorite chutney
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven.  Arrange the puff pastry squares on a work surface and brush the top edges with the egg wash.  Place the sausages on the bottom edges and roll up the pastry, pressing the edges to seal. Freeze the logs for 10 minutes, or until firm.
  2. Cut the logs into 1/2-inch slices, discarding the end pieces, and place them in a 24 cup mini muffin pan.  Each sausage should yield 6 pieces.  Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and sizzling.
  3. Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, pulse the chutney and mustard just until the chutney is chopped.
  4. Serve pigs in a blanket warm with dipping sauce.

Thank you Kayem for supplying the Artisan Andouille Sausage for this post.  They were a real treat!

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Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

So, here we go with the 100th recipe post on EmilyAlwaysCooks.  It’s been one heck of a yummy ride, and I’m already looking forward to post number 200.

Quite befitting a make-ahead holiday recipe.  Rich and savory custard, flecked with smoked salmon, goat cheese, dill, and leeks with a buttery crust base.  I have no problem serving this for any meal at any time of the day.  I kept to tradition by serving this quiche at room temperature or just slightly warmer.  Quiche will stay at room temperature for up to 2 hours.  After 2 hours it should be refrigerated.   To reheat quiche, bring to room temperature then bake in a 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche
Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

If you’re making homemade pie crust for a holiday pie, just double the recipe.  I’ve included my favorite homemade pie crust recipe in the ingredient list below.  It uses both butter and shortening which creates a flaky, slightly buttery crust.  Don’t be intimidated to make your own crust. It’s pretty simple.  That said, Store-bought pie crust can be a serious life saver.  Either way you slice it, it’s a winner.  (See what I did there?  Sorry, I had gone too long between obviously cheesy puns.)

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese QuicheSmoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 homemade pie crust (you will only use half of this recipe) or store-bought pie crust, if using store bought thaw according to package directions (If I’m using store-bought crust, I like Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 leek thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4-6 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. If using homemade dough, prepare and roll out into a 12-inch circle. If using store-bought dough, thaw first according to package directions and unroll (dough should be about 11 ounces).
  2. Place it into a 10-by-1 1/2-inch round tart pan, pressing dough into corners.  Line pastry with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, pressing into the corners and edges.  Fill at least two-thirds with baking weights (you can use dried beans, rice, or ceramic or metal pie weights).
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pie pan with the tongs of a fork (fork holes are for any air to escape) and return to oven.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until just golden.  Place on a wire rack to cool while making filling.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  4. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the leek, a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook one additional minute.  Remove from heat and reserve.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, dill, lemon zest, and black pepper.
  5. Line the bottom of the quiche crust with cooked leeks and garlic.  Put one layer down of half the smoked salmon and goat cheese.  Pour half of the egg mixture over the salmon and goat cheese in the quiche shell.  Layer down the remaining salmon and goat cheese, and pour the remaining egg mixture over it.  (Note: You may have a small amount of egg mixture remaining depending on the size of your tart pan. either discard or reserve for a later use.) Hint, make mini frittatas.
  6. Bake until quiche is just set in the center, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6

Note: Reheat by covering quiche with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

At first glance, these cookies seem usual enough.  But, a few key steps make these cookies unusually irresistible.

These soft batch style cookies have a subtle touch of peppermint, (tis the season) and they’re incredibly easy to throw together.  The secret ingredient that makes these so playfully soft … a pack of instant vanilla pudding. Minty, buttery, chocolatey.  The perfect holiday chocolate chip cookie.  They’ll fly off your dessert table.

Yummy. Distinctive. Simple. Melt in your mouth. Impossible to eat just one.

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip CookiesPerfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3.4oz box of Jello instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate mini chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter, light brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again for 30 seconds. Add eggs, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Beat until well combined, about 30 additional seconds.
  3. Combine flour, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Add mini chocolate chips and mix again until chips are incorporated.
  6. Place dough onto prepared baking sheet in 1 tablespoon increments. I like to use a small cookie scoop for this.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 60 mini cookies

cookies2

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

 

Stuck in a salad rut?  Well, not anymore.

This one has a fantastic variety of delicious and beautiful attributes.  Time to bust that salad rut!  (That sounds kinda weird, but I’m gonna roll with it.)

Charred cauliflower is a fun and unique salad ingredient.  When combined with the nutty farro, a hearty quality is achieved without taking away from the salad’s inherent light/healthiness.  Farro is a simple hearty grain with high contents of fiber, protein, and iron.  I adore adding it to soups and salads, and I often use it as a substitute for pasta or rice.  If you are a farro novice, check out Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro.  This cooks up easily and perfectly every time.

A few more bright ingredients and a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing round things out.  Look at these pictures … There’s too much delicious harmony in this salad for any type of rut to continue.

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 7 oz. bag arugula
  • 20 pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 ounces feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
  • Simple Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients: 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 shallot minced, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, salt and black pepper

 

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning halfway, until the cauliflower is tender and golden.
  2. Next, prepare the lemon vinaigrette . Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, salt and black pepper; mix well.  I like to prepare this vinaigrette in a mason jar. Simply combine the ingredients, attach lid, and shake.
  3. Meanwhile, cook farro. In a medium saucepan, combine farro, 3 cups of water (enough water to cover the farro by a couple of inches) and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.  Cook until the farro is tender to the bite but still a little chewy (about 30 minutes). Drain off the excess water and rinse well.  Allow farro to drain well to remove as much water as possible.  Toss cooked and cooled farro with a small amount of vinaigrette and 2 tbsp fresh parsley. (Note: Check the cooking instructions on the bag of farro you purchased. Shorter or longer cook times may be required depending on the type used.)
  4. In a large serving bowl, toss together arugula and 1/3 cup salad dressing. Add the roasted cauliflower, reserved farro, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and capers.
  5. Top salad with avocado and additional salad dressing if desired.

Servings: 3 as a main dish, 6 as a side dish

 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Homemade Turkey Stock

 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Homemade Stock

 

Of all the life lessons I was taught, this is one of the most important.

Never throw away the bones and carcass from the Thanksgiving turkey.

I prefer to make my stock on Thanksgiving night.  Turkey bones, veggies, and aromatics are placed in a stockpot.  Simply covered in water, brought to a simmer, and left to work their magic.

If you aren’t going to make the stock immediately, put everything into a zip-lock bag.  Keep that bag in the refrigerator for a couple days.  While your relaxing and listening to holiday music, throw the contents of the bag in the pot.  Let it simmer away.  Easy peasy.

Soup is always made with my homemade stock.  Onion, carrots, celery, garlic, fresh herbs, turkey, and noodles.  Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, or a pinch of parmesan cheese to the finished product.  Healthy, hearty, and soul warming.  The best use of leftovers.  Adhere to the delicious life lessons.

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Homemade Stock

 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 4 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, left whole
  • 2 quarts homemade turkey stock, recipe below  (Note: You can supplement with store bought stock if you do not have enough homemade.  You can solely use store bought stock, if needed.)
  • 2 cups shredded turkey (Note: Use the turkey you reserved after making the stock.  If you do not have 2 full cups, supplement with leftover turkey.)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Noodles, for serving
  • Fresh parsley, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 10 minutes until onions begin to look translucent.  Add garlic and cook 2-3 additional minutes.
  2. Add bay leaf, rosemary sprig, and turkey stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  At this point, you want to taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as you see fit.
  3. Add turkey and fresh parsley and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and rosemary sprig.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles.  (Note: I do not like to add my noodles directly to the soup, as they absorb too much broth.)  Drain noodles and reserve.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of noodles into serving bowl. Top with turkey soup and garnish with fresh parsley.

 

Homemade Turkey Stock

Ingredients:

  • Turkey carcass with some meat still intact and reserved neck
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2-3 celery stalks, cut in half
  • 2-3 carrot sticks, cut in half
  • 1 garlic head, cut in half crosswise
  • 10-12 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water by 2-3 inches.  If you do not have a large enough pot, you can use 2 pots.  Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2–3 hours.  Skim off any foam or fat that rises to the surface as needed.
  2. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve or colander into a large bowl.  Allow to cool down completely.  Remove any fat that rises to the top.
  3. Do not toss out the bones and veggies yet.  Once cooled, pick through and remove any meat.  Reserve this meat to be used in the soup.

Note: You can also make homemade stock in the Crock Pot.  Place all of the ingredients in a large Crock Pot and cover with water.  Cook on low overnight or for 12 hours.  Strain stock through a sieve or colander into a large bowl.  Follow additional instructions, per the above.

Note: Once cooled, Turkey stock is more gelatinous than chicken stock.  Do not be alarmed.  This thins out when cooked.  The stock will last a few days in the refrigerator and freezes well for up to 6 months.

 

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

This dish accomplishes three ever-important objectives. 1) Delicious taste. 2) The kitchen is filled with a wonderfully unique and enticing aroma. 3) Easy to make.  Three objectives met. One adjective needed.

Magical.

Indian food is all about the spices. While there are numerous spices to choose from, I brought this particular taste of India home by focusing on these basics. Sweet cinnamon, smoky cumin, spicy cayenne, lemony coriander, and warm garam masala.

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

This is far from an intimidating spice list.  In fact, I bet you have most in your spice cabinet. But even if you don’t, all of these spices are easily accessible and affordable. Garam masala was the only new spice I had to purchase to complete this dish.  Garam masala is a Northern Indian style spice blend.  The composition of garam masala differs according to regional and personal taste.  The specific blend I used is a tripart mixture of cardamom, coriander and black pepper.  Well worth the investment.

I like to serve this dish over fluffy white rice. As an accompaniment, a heaping scoop of cilantro yogurt sauce and a plate of warm naan.  Don’t skip the sauce, it brings a cooling balance to the dish.

We know you’ll be back for seconds. We know I’m about to steal an old, corporately-leprechaun cereal slogan.  You and I both know this dish is… magically delicious.  (I couldn’t resist.)

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs chicken breasts, approximately 8 large chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 26oz container strained tomatoes, I prefer Pomi
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
  • Long grain white rice, prepared according to package direction, for serving
  • Naan bread, Firestone and Whole Foods Market make a great garlic variety, for serving
  • Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
    • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
    • 1/4 white onion, very finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
    • 6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 garlic clove, mashed into a paste
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken breast into 1 inch pieces and reserve.
  2. In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine onion, garlic, ginger, strained tomatoes, olive oil, garam masala, cumin, sweet paprika, salt, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, lemon juice, and black pepper.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add chicken breast. Stir to combine, and nestle bay leaves into the sauce.
  4. Cook on low for 5 1/2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare yogurt sauce by combining all of the ingredients into a small bowl.  You can do this several hours before serving to allow flavors to meld together.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Whisk together half and half and cornstarch in a small bowl, and add to the slow cooker.  Stir well and cook with the lid off for an additional 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and discard.  Total cook time is 6 hours.
  7. Note: If you haven’t already done so, prepare rice.  Most long grain rice takes approximately 30 minutes to cook.
  8. Serve chicken with freshly chopped cilantro, white rice, naan, and cilantro yogurt sauce.

Servings: 10

Serving Size: 1 cup chicken and sauce, plus rice, naan and cilantro yogurt sauce

Note: You could easily make this dish on the stove-top.  Follow the directions as is, and cook on the stove-top for 2 hours over medium-low heat.  If the mixture starts to boil vigorously, reduce the heat to low and simmer for the remainder of time.  After 2 hours, add the cornstarch mix, and continue the recipe as noted.

 

 

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

I get it.

Telling you “Asian roasted Brussels sprouts are the perfect bar food snack” makes me sound like a food snob.  But if you’re reading this, you’re either already a food snob, or you’re on the road to becoming one.  So let’s embrace both our inner food snobbery, and this fantastically delicious and easy to make bar snack.

Like clockwork, 4pm rolls around and I begin craving a cold beer and a salty treat.  I look in the fridge to find something to curb my hunger.  My eyes keep going back to a bag of Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom tells me my snack attack cannot be cured by Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom be damned!

I crank the oven to high heat to get the Brussels sprouts charred and crispy, then toss them in a sticky Asian glaze.   Slightly sweet, a bit tangy, and nicely balanced by the heat from the Sriracha.

Kiss the mozzarella sticks goodbye.  You’ve evolved into a more sophisticated form of bar food.  Don’t forget the cold beer.

Crispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • A pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and set a rack on the very top level. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and reserve.
  2. Prepare the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the base of each sprout and slicing them in half.  Discard any loose outer leaves.
  3. Rinse Brussels sprouts under cold water and drain removing as much excess water as possible.
  4. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir with your hands to ensure they are well-oiled and salted, and spread out evenly on baking a sheet.
  5. Place in the oven on the top rack for 45-50 minutes. After both 20 and 40 minute mark, stir the Brussels sprouts to ensure all sides get crispy.
  6. When Brussles sprouts are close to being done, prepare the sauce. In a small saute pan, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, Sriracha, and black pepper. Reduce sauce over medium-high heat until sauce is thickened (about 5 minutes).  Make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning.
  7.  When fully cooked and crisped on all sides, remove Brussels sprouts from the oven. Place them in a bowl and toss with some of the reduced sauce.  Add sauce the sauce a little bit at a time, as you don’t want the Brussels sprouts to be overly soaked. You want them to retain their crispy texture. You should have a little sauce leftover.

How To Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

 

Stop wasting your money at Starbucks on pumpkin bread.  Start baking with homemade pumpkin puree.  It couldn’t be easier.

Sugar pumpkins are an excellent choice for cooking and baking.  These smaller squashes have a firm, sweet flesh and are only about 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  These particular pumpkins are great for roasting and turning into puree.  They have a more pronounced flavor and their firmer and less stringy flesh roasts up to a much more pleasant consistency than that of a larger pumpkin.  Pure pumpkin puree is incredibly healthy for you.  Running about 50 calories for 1 cup and packed with vital antioxidants, and vitamins.  Homemade pumpkin puree is a win-win-win.  Tastes great, healthy, and easy to prepare.

So, leave those large decorative pumpkins for carving jack-o-lanterns and pick up some sugar pumpkins for baking.  Your homemade pumpkin will impress, and make your Starbuck going friends jealous.  Note: If you are preparing a recipe that calls for a 15oz can of pumpkin puree use 1 3/4 cups of this homemade pumpkin puree instead.

Some fun pumpkin recipes coming soon!  In the meantime, give these pumpkin bars a try.

Homemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin PureeHomemade Pumpkin Puree

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 small ripe sugar pumpkins, about 1.5-2 lbs each

Directions:

  1. Cut the stems off the pumpkins.
  2. Cut the pumpkins in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Save the seeds to roast later.  Note: I like to use an ice cream scoop for this step.
  3. Cut each pumpkin in half, then in half again. You should have 8 pieces.
  4. Roast cut side up at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.  They should be light golden brown and easily pierced with a fork when done.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Remove the pumpkin skin using a pairing knife.  Be sure to scrape the skin with a knife to remove any additional pumpkin flesh.
  6. Discard the skins and add the pumpkin to a food processor or powerful blender.  Puree for several minutes until smooth.   You may have to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your food processor.  Note: Not all pumpkins are the same.  Some can be watery and some can be dry.  Mine were a bit dry, so I added 2 tbsp of water to the pumpkin as I pureed it.  It is just what it needed.  If your puree is too watery, you should strain it in a cheesecloth (a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter will also work) to get rid of some of the liquid.
  7. Use immediately, store in your refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

This recipe yields 3 cups of pumpkin puree.  Note: If you are preparing a recipe that calls for a 15oz can of pumpkin puree use 1 3/4 cups of this homemade pumpkin puree instead.

Don’t forget to roast your pumpkin seeds! Pumpkin Seeds

 

Fall Quinoa and Kale Salad

Quinoa and Kale Fall Salad

 

Take a look at this salad.  Tell me that doesn’t look beautiful and delicious.  But don’t actually tell me that, or type me that, or whatever … because you know it’s not true.  You know this baby looks fantastic.  What you may not know is the little trick I used to make it taste even better.  Here it is.

I massaged my greens.  No kidding. I  showed my kale some love and it reciprocated with taste.

Quinoa and Kale Fall SaladQuinoa and Kale Fall SaladQuinoa and Kale Fall SaladQuinoa and Kale Fall Salad

 

Kale makes a delicious and healthy salad green, but it can also be tough and bitter.  By massaging the fibrous leaves, you bring out their sweetness and transform them into something tender and easier to digest.  Just chop up the kale, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and use your fingers to rub the oil into the leaves.  After a minute or two, the leaves will begin to wilt and shrink.  Trust me, you will notice the difference.

This kale is tossed with quinoa, roasted butternut squash, rosemary and garlic toasted walnuts, dried cranberries and creamy goat cheese.  Finally, it’s finished with a tangy apple cider vinaigrette.  Perfect balance.  I love the varying autumn colors, flavors, and textures.  Serve as a meatless main for a few, or as a side dish for a group.  Beautiful, seasonal, and delicious.

Quinoa and Kale Fall SaladQuinoa and Kale Fall SaladQuinoa and Kale Fall Salad

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, cut into cubes (5-6 cups)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large bunch lacinato kale, about 1 lb
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, skin removed and left whole
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Apple cider vinaigrette:
    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 1 shallot, finely diced
    • 1 garlic clove, minced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss chopped butternut squash cubes with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, tossing half way through.
  2. Thoroughly rinse quinoa under running water.  In a small pan, bring 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of water to a boil over high heat.  Once liquid is boiling, add quinoa, stir well, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.  Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit with the lid on for 5 minutes.  Fluff quinoa with a fork and cool to room temperature.  Alternatively, follow cooking directions on package.
  3. While the  butternut squash and quinoa cook, prepare the walnuts.  In a saute pan over medium-low heat add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil.  Add garlic, rosemary, walnuts, salt and pepper.  Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until walnuts are toasted and golden.  (Keep a close eye on these, they will burn easily.) Remove garlic and rosemary, and chop toasted walnuts –Look at you, you just made rosemary and garlic toasted walnuts! —  (Note: Do not throw out the garlic clove that just roasted with the walnuts, here is an Emily tip – slather that goodness on a piece of toasted bread.  What chef doesn’t love a little snack mid cooking session.)
  4. Wash, remove stems, and finely shop kale.  Put kale in serving bowl, add 2 tsp of olive oil and massage with your hands for 2 minutes.  This will help to wilt the kale.
  5. Next, prepare the salad dressing.  Combine apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, honey, shallot, and garlic in a mason jar.  Secure lid and give it a good shake.  Alternatively, whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.
  6. Salad assembly time – Add the cooled quinoa to the kale and toss with half of the vinaigrette.  Top with butternut squash, walnuts, cranberries, and goat cheese.  Toss again and add additional salad dressing if needed.   Note: I only used half of the vinaigrette and saved the rest to dress a salad later in the week.

Servings: 4-6 as a side dish (2-3 as a main dish)

Quinoa and Kale Fall Salad

Spinach and Cheesy Chicken Roll-Ups

Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups

 

Admit it.  Unless it’s fried, chicken is pretty boring.  Or as I like to say, BOOORING.

I can’t help myself from going off on a little Emily side tangent here: Using the proper pronunciation of the word ‘BOOORING’ is always key. Make sure your voice is low, and then say those two words.  BOW, (with an up voice inflection)  then RING (with a downward voice inflection).  Got it?  Good.

Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups

 

Now that I’ve taught you the properly cool way of saying BORING, know that this chicken dish will never be described as such.  It’s far too exciting, interesting, and tasty.  Chicken cutlets stuffed with a combination of spinach, feta, ricotta, parmesan, herbs, onion and garlic, then breaded and baked until golden brown.  Wonderful for a Tuesday night, or for a dinner party.  Serve along side a large salad or on a bed of couscous.  Chicken is one of my standby ingredients.  This is a great way to utilize a standby in a creative (did I mention healthy?) way.

Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups Spinach and Cheesey Chicken Roll-Ups

 

Forget the old baked, BOOORING chicken breasts (you better have said it properly there). Give these FUN roll-ups a try!

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and juice squeezed out
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning chicken
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 chicken breast cutlets (or 3 chicken breasts cut in half horizontally and pounded thin)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a  saute pan over medium heat.   Add onions and garlic and cook about 3 minute until onions become translucent.  Add spinach, parsley, dill, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and cook until heated through.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Once cooled, mix in the feta, ricotta and parmesan cheese.
  3. Season chicken cutlets lightly with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
  4. Place about 1/3 cup of spinach mixture in the center of the chicken and roll tightly.  Lay the chicken seam side down on a piece of parchment paper.  Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  5. Whisk the eggs and water together in a small bowl with a pinch of salt.
  6. Place the breadcrumbs in another bowl.
  7. Dip the chicken rolls into the egg wash, then into the breadcrumbs and place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet.
  8.  Lightly spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray.  Bake 25-28 minutes or until cooked through.

Servings: 4-6 (Serving size: 1-2 stuffed chicken breast)

Note: 1 chicken roll-up satisfies me, but my guys eat 2.

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