Squash Fritters

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! It was great to have a chance to go home and spend some time with my family. These fritters are inspired by a dish my Uncle made for Thanksgiving dinner. He mentioned that he had a bunch of leftover squash from his CSA basket and needed to come up with a way to use them up. I’ve been in a similar situation with a variety of squash taking over my valuable counter space so I decided I’d try to make something similar.

I combined a butternut and a spaghetti squash for these but you could use pretty much any variety you have hanging around. Frying them in a pan gives them a nice crispy exterior and keeps the inside pretty soft. I also toss them in the oven for a few minutes after taking them out of the pan to help them crisp up even more. This will make about 30-40 fritters, but they’re sure to go fast! photo(22)

Squash Fritters
2 squash of any variety
2 large eggs
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cups flour
olive oil
salt
pepper
cinnamon
nutmeg

1. Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast the squash at 375 for about an hour – until they’re soft.

2. Remove your roasted squash from the oven and let them cool a bit. Once cooled, begin to scoop out the insides and add them to a large bowl (be careful not to get the skins).

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3. Mash up the squash mixture with a fork or a potato masher. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

4. Add your eggs to the squash and combine well. Then, begin adding your flour 1/2 cup at a time until you reach a sticky consistency.

5. Heat up your oil in a frying pan on medium heat, use enough oil to coat to the bottom of the pan.

6. Once your oil is hot, carefully scoop a dollop of the squash mixture into the oil – it should sizzle when added. If it doesn’t sizzle, let the oil get hotter before adding your next fritter. Fry the fritters 3-4 at a time, careful to not overcrowd the pan. You will probably need to change your oil a few times in order to cook the whole batch.

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7. Cook fritters for 3-4 minutes on each side. Then place them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 350 for another ten minutes. Enjoy!

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Simple Sautéed Kale

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I know I know, its cliche now to say you recently discovered kale is an awesome superfood, but I never tried it until a few months ago and now I’m obsessed – where have you been all my life kale!? Kale is good in so many preparations and this is one of my favorites. A super simple way to get all of the healthy benefits of this great ingredient.

This could be a great Thanksgiving side if you’re looking for ways to lighten up traditional holiday sides. To all my other kale fans out there, let me know how you like to cook it!

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion sliced into thin strips
1 glove garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

1. Add the oil and garlic to a pan on medium heat.

2. Let the garlic cook for 30-60 seconds and then add the onion and season with salt and pepper.

3. Let the onion cook for about 4 minutes and then add the kale, if the entire bunch won’t fit in the pan you can add some, let it cook down a little and then add the rest.

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4. Add the lemon juice and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about 8 minutes, enjoy!

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Apple and Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

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I have to give credit to my husband for the genius behind these cinnamon rolls. While I was debating what I should put in them, he suggested Nutella, I immediately decided to go with that idea and it I’m glad I did. This weekend I ran my first 5k. I begrudgingly signed up for it after my husband and friend decided to do it and had been dreading it ever since. For those of you who don’t know, I absolutely HATE running, I never run and I certainly never understood the idea of paying to run. But it turns out the 5k was actually pretty fun and kind of motivated me to see if I can do another.

After successfully finishing the race, I decided I deserved an indulgent Sunday morning breakfast. Given the chilly weather and my seemingly endless surplus of apples I decided a cinnamon roll was the perfect choice. These were great treats, super soft and gooey on the inside perfectly browned on the outside. These would definitely make a great breakfast Thanksgiving morning to tide your family over until the big meal is ready.

Apple and Nutella Cinnamon Rolls
Dough:
3 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons meted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg

Filling:
1 large apple cut into small chunks
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup Nutella

1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a separate bowl add the milk, melted butter, the egg and combine. Using the dough hook attachment slowly combine the wet ingredients with the dry until it forms a ball. If your dough seems really sticky add a bit more flour.

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2. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise for 60 minutes.

3. To make the filling add the cut up apples to a bowl and then mix them with the lemon juice. Combine the rest of the fillings ingredients with the apples.

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4. When the dough has risen place it on a floured surface and begin rolling it out (I have limited counter space so I had to do this in two batches). Roll the dough out evenly until its
about 1/4 inch thick.

5. Spread the filling in the middle of the dough. Roll the dough up and cut off the ends. Cut the dough into 2-3 inch segments and place on a baking sheet.

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6. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until the rolls begin to brown. Some of the filling will likely spill out while they’re cooking but that’s ok. Enjoy!
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Butter Cookies

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Time for another holiday cookie! These simple little bites are one of my all time favorite treats. I would always get so excited when my mom would make these, but then again what’s not to love about butter, sugar and flour? I’m not usually a fan of eating unbaked cookie dough (weird, I know) but I always take a few spoonfuls of this dough for myself while I’m making these.

These cute delicate little cookies melt in your mouth. The texture that comes from pushing them through a pastry tip gives them a little something special and the literal “cherry on top” adds a touch more sweetness.

This recipe makes a LARGE batch of cookies, you can half it if you want, but I bet you’ll wish you had more once you start eating them!

Butter Cookies
4 cups flour
1 lb room temperature butter
1 cup 10x sugar
maraschino cherries

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Cut maraschino cherries into quarters and drain them on a paper towel
3. Combine butter, sugar and flour in a large bowl and mix well.
4. Using small amounts at a time push the dough through a pastry tip
5. Top each cookie with a cherry 6. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, enjoy!

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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I think I eat about twice as much mac n cheese as a normal human being should.  Whenever the mac n cheese food truck is even remotely near my office I can’t resist.  It’s just one of those foods that pretty much always sounds good to me.

This week a lone butternut squash was the only farm basket ingredient we had left to use by Sunday, so I was searching for something creative and relatively simple to do with it.  This recipe satisfied the need to use up the squash, and eat something cheesy and carby.  I was afraid adding squash to such a comfort food type of dish would end up kind of strange, but it’s actually not weird at all!

The one thing no one seems to mention about cooking with squash is how difficult it is to cut!  I mean I know I’m pretty weak but I still think cutting open a squash qualifies as a days work out.

Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese
1 medium butternut squash
3/4 box of small pasta (elbows or shells work best)
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt, pepper and cinnamon to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and brush the insides with olive oil a bit of salt, pepper and cinnamon. Roast for about 45 minutes, until tender.

2. When your squash is cooked, lower the oven to 350 and let the squash cool for a bit. Carefully scoop out the insides of the squash, being sure not to get any of the skin.

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3. Cook your pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  When it’s cooked add it to a large oven pan

4. In a large saucepan melt the butter on medium – low heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk continuously. Next add your heavy cream and continue to stir.  Then add the cheese and the squash and continue stirring until the cheese has melted and everything is combined.  Add a pinch of cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Pour the cream sauce over the cooked pasta and top with breadcrumbs.

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6. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, enjoy!

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Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

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Once in awhile I get ambitious and try to make some kind of Turkish food.  We ate so many great things in Turkey and my mother in law makes some great food that you just can’t find here.  Lahmacun is a kind of Turkish pizza we would eat at my husbands house and almost everywhere we went in Turkey.  Lately I’ve found myself craving it quite often so I finally decided to give it a try.

The dough needs to be very thin and very soft so you can roll these up to eat them.  My attempts at traditional Turkish dishes haven’t been great, and I was almost certain my first attempt at this wouldn’t come out well.  I scoured a bunch of recipes trying to find to find what seemed like the right mix of ingredients and measurements that I wouldn’t have to convert.  I ended up using this Food Network recipe as a guideline but changed some things around to make these as close to what I remembered eating in Istanbul.

I have to say I impressed myself with the end product.  My husband who rarely likes Turkish food in the US loved them, so I knew they were good.  I’m sure I’ll be making these again soon.
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Note: This recipe calls for a pepper paste that is very difficult to find in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it I would suggest a jar of
tomato paste seasoned with cayenne or red pepper.

Lahmacun adapted from Food Network
Dough:
3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup pepper paste (see above for substitute)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
1 T dried mint
1 T cumin
juice of 2 lemons, plus extra to add before eating
olive oil for pan

1. Add the water and yeast to the bowl of stand mixer and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the dough ingredients to the bowl and mix using the dough hook for about 5 minutes, until it forms ball.

2. Remove the dough ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour.

3. While the dough is rising begin to make the filling. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the ground beef, cook until the beef is cooked through. Add the cooked beef and the rest of the filling ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine.

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4. When the dough had risen, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll each piece into a ball, cover and let rise for another 15 minutes.

5. One at a time roll each ball out on a floured surface until very very thin. When you think it’s think you’ve rolled them out thin enough, keep going a bit more. I found it was easier to add the rolled out dough to the pizza stone and then add the filling. You could also add the filling and then put it on the stone but I am clumsy and know I would end up dropping it.

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6. Cook each lahmacun for 6-8 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on each one before eating, enjoy!
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Quick and Easy Onion Tart

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This weekend I was craving something salty, crunchy and cheesy.  But, I was also feeling a bit lazy and really didn’t want to spend a lot of time preparing something.  This onion tart uses one of my favorite “cheat” ingredients – puff pastry.  You pretty much can’t go wrong with puff pastry, everyone loves it, it’s super quick and always come out great. I used Boursin cheese in my tart since it happened to be on sale this week and it’s easy to spread, but you could use anything you like is either soft and spreads easily or melts well.  This quick and easy tart was the perfect Sunday afternoon snack and would be great as an appetizer.    I’d love to hear if any of you have a favorite recipe that uses puff pastry – let me know!

Quick and Easy Onion Tart
1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
2 medium yellow onions
3 T Boursin cheese
2 t olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Slice the onions into thin strips and cook in a large pan with the olive oil on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

2. While the onions are cooking prepare your puff pastry. Add some flour to a baking sheet to prevent the pastry from sticking. Place the puff pastry on the pan and poke it all over with the tines of a fork.
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3. Spread the cheese in a thin layer over the puff pastry, leaving about an inch empty around the edges.

4. When the onions have cooked until they’re translucent add them on top of the cheese.

5. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry and use fork to seal them. 

6. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until the puff pastry just starts to brown, enjoy!
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Butternut Squash Ravioli

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Homemade pasta is one of my all time favorite foods.  I feel like a person can never fully appreciate eating homemades until they understand that work that goes into making them.  Not that it’s hard, but definitely time consuming and patience requiring.  I’ve only attempted to make ravioli one other time and that was a complete disaster that scarred me for awhile.  I had a grand plan for an entirely homemade meal.  I was making the ravioli, making the ricotta for the filling and of course making the sauce.  Four hours later, I had a pot full of ricotta that tasted like scrambled eggs, a burnt pot of sauce and and a table full of pasta sheets that had become too brittle to cut into any shape.

I guess I’ve finally emotionally recovered from this event since I had the courage to give home made raviolis a second try this weekend.  I had a gigantic butternut squash that had to be used, so  I decided to make a very simple filling out of that.  Instead of the typical brown butter sage sauce I opted for herbs that I like a bit more.  I’m pleased to say that this attempt was much more successful. I know this recipe is long and daunting to look at, but it’s really not difficult, just a little time consuming but totally worth it for the outcome!

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Pasta Dough:
4 cups all purpose flour
6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

**A quick note on the eggs: normally I would only use 4-5 eggs for 4 cups of flour but the eggs I had were pretty small so I added an extra, if you’re using larger eggs you shouldn’t need as many

1. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and push most of it out to the sides to create a well

2. Crack the eggs in a bowl and add them to the middle of the well of flour

3. Using the dough hook begin to mix the eggs into the flour and salt, when they’ve started to combine drizzle in the olive oil

4. Let the mixer go until the dough has formed into a ball, remove the dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes

5. After the dough has rested, break it into 6 smaller pieces and start running it through your pasta maker until it reaches the desired thickness – since you’ll be filling the dough you don’t want to go all the way to the last setting as it makes the pasta more likely to break. My machine tops out at 9 and I stopped running my dough through at 7

Butternut Squash Filling:
**You’ll want to have your squash mixture ready before you being to roll your pasta sheets out to avoid them drying out too much to cut
1 medium butternut squash (the squash pictured here is quite large, I only used half of it for the filling), seeds removed and cut into 4 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cheese of your choice – I used pecorino romano but I think goat cheese would be excellent in thisphoto (22)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Combine the olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and brush the mixture all over the squash pieces

2. Roast the squash in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until you an easily stick a fork in it

3. In a bowl, mash up the cooked squash and let it sit until it has cooled

4. Add the heavy cream, cinnamon, cheese and mix together

Assemble and cook the pasta:
1. Take one pasta sheet and add a small amount of the mixture about every 1 1/2 inchesphoto (23)

2. Lay another pasta sheet over that one and push together the top and bottom parts of the dough that surround the mixture to seal the pasta
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3. Use a ravioli cutter to cut out the shapes, if you don’t have a ravioli cutter you can use the opening of a small cup or a cookie cutter

4. Once they’re all cut out, cook them in small batches for 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water, they should float to the top when they’re cooked

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Herbed Brown Butter Sauce:
1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon basil
1 1/2 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepperphoto (26)
1 teaspoon oregano

1. Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat, still it while melting until it starts to brown

2. Add herbs and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes

3. Top the raviolis with the sauce, some extra cheese and whatever else you like (I added some green onions) and enjoy!

Onion, Pepper and Tomato Quiche

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I hate to admit it, but my husband and I have become incredibly boring over the past year.  The highlight of our weekends lately is usually a trip to Costco and binge watching whatever the newest hit tv series is.  This weekend, we had to suck it up and pretend to be fun people.  My husband’s best friend was coming to visit and so we had to go out, stay out late and actually do things during the day.  Not that we didn’t have a good time, but by Sunday, I was exhausted.

Growing up, Sundays were synonymous with pasta.  For the most part, I’ve continued that tradition into my adult life but this Sunday I decided to forgo the Sunday sauce and whip up something that would make up for the lack of vegetables in our weekend meals of mac n cheese, chili fries and frozen pizza.  So, I took every remaining vegetable out of the fridge, sauteed them up and made this quiche.  The best thing about this dish is it has that warm comfort food feeling, but gives you lots of nutrients and vitamins from the veggies.  It also requires minimal work.  Since I was aiming for doing the least amount of work possible I used a ready made pie crust but you could certainly make a homemade one very quickly.  The recipe below is what I put in it, but you can put really anything you want in this, it’s a great versatile meal idea.

Onion, Pepper and Tomato Quiche

1 ready made pie crust
1 large chopped yellow onion
1chopped green  bell pepper
3 large chopped heirloom tomatoes
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese chopped or grated
1/2 cup monterrey jack with jalapeno cheese chopped or grated
2 t butter
1 t olive oil
seasonings to taste (I used salt, pepper, parsley and oregano)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Add the butter and olive oil to a pan on medium heatphoto (16)

3. When the butter is melted add the onion to the pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and whatever spices you like

4. When the onion is starting to get translucent add the pepper
**I like my peppers a little under cooked, if you like them softer, add them in with the onion or slightly after

5. Cook for another 4-6 minutes until peppers begin to soften

6. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute or two

7. When the onions, peppers and tomatoes are cooked turn the pan off and set aside

8. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and add the heavy cream, then add the cheese photo (14)

9. Place the pie crust in a pie dish (my pie dish was dirty so I had to use my spring form pan but it worked)!

10. Pour the vegetables into the pie crust and top with the egg, milk and cheese mixture

photo (17)11. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the quiche comes out clean, enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage, Onions and Peppers

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I absolutely love this time of year.  It’s cool enough to be comfortable outside, but not yet time to bundle up. I can start pulling out my favorite fall staples like boots and scarves.  And, in my opinion, it’s the best season for vegetables.  It’s the perfect transition time when you can still get some late summer gems like great heirloom tomatoes at the same time that my fall favorites likes squash , sweet potatoes and swiss chard are just hitting their peak.  This week I got spaghetti squash in my farm basket – an ingredient I’ve never cooked myself before.  The past few days I’ve been craving an Italian sausage and peppers sandwich, so I decided to see if I could combine the two.  I’m a bit of a turkey kick at the moment, so I substituted turkey sausage for pork and the taste was surprisingly similar.  A fun bonus with the squash – you can toast the seeds just like pumpkin seeds to snack on!

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Sausage, Onions and Peppers
2 medium spaghetti squash
2 bell peppers cut into strips
1 yellow onion sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt
pepper
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds – save them if you want to roast them!

3. Drizzle olive oil over the squash and salt and pepper them photo (7)

4. Place the squash on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until you can easily poke them with a fork and feel that they’re soft

5. Add some olive to a large pan on medium heat and add the onions and the sausage
**I like my peppers just a little crunchy so I wait to add them, if you prefer them cooked more add them in with the onions and sausage

6. Add the peppers and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook until the sausage is cooked through

photo (8)7. When the squash is soft, take it out of the oven and use a fork to scrape out spaghetti like strands and add them to the cooked sausage and vegetables – careful with the squash it will be very hot!

8. Mix it all together, top with some pecorino romano or parmesan and enjoy!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Seeds 

Rinse the seeds and let them dry on a paper towel. Mix the seeds in a bowl with some olive, salt and pepper (add some cayenne if you like spice). Put them on a baking sheet and bake at 250 for 30-40 minutes, turning them every ten minutes so they evenly roast.

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