Brown Sugar Roasted Acorn Squash

Sometimes it’s the most simple of recipes that have the tastiest results. Sometimes things from nature need very little to go from tasty to super delicous and yummy. This is one of those times.  3 ingredients.  One tasty healthy dish.

Since you roast this with the inside up it forms a bit of a bowl. The butter and brown sugar melt together and make a little sauce in there. YUM!! See? Poking the holes into the squash allows the sauce to really seep in.

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Brown Sugar Roasted Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, halved the long way from stem to tip, seeds removed
  • 1.5 tsp light salted butter, softened
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place both halves inside up into a baking dish (the dish should hold them snugly so they dont tip over. If the dish is too big roll up some foil into a log, attach the ends to make a circle and snuggle the squash into it in the pan.
  3. Rub a touch of the butter along the top rim of the squash then rub the rest into the inside.
  4. Sprikle a touch of the sugar onto the rim than the rest inside.
  5. Cover the pan with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, poke holes all over the interior of the squash (gently-don’t go through the outside skin) and then back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then scrape out the squash, cut and serve.

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Strawberry Treat

Strawberries are delicious this year!  I love to have them in the evening for a snack but get bored of just sliced plain ones. I came across this recipe and it sounded so so so good!! And it’s delicious. The combination of sour cream and brown sugar may sound strange but it’s addictive and perfect with the berries. It stays well in a container in the fridge too.

Note: you don’t have to eat all of the strawberries at once for this.  Wash only the ones you plan to eat immediately. Once you wash a strawberry it goes bad fast.

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Strawberry Treat

Ingredients:

  • 16 ozs fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed and cut into 1/4s
  • 4oz fat free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Pile some strawberries in a pretty dish.
  2. Combine the sour cream and brown sugar and drizzle over the berries.

Adapted from skinnytaste.com

Chicken Chili-slow cooker

It seems like this winter just goes on and on and on and on. In the usually average temperature of 40 island I live upon it has been freezing-single digits, tens, teens etc.. and we’ve been introduced to the ‘arctic vortex’ which sounds like some kind of ice cream treat they’d make at Carvel. Sadly it’s not ice cream.  So I’ve had the makings of a lot of soups, chilis, stews around all winter and it was time to clear some of them out of the cabinets to make room for (hopefully soon!!!) spring-time stuff! This chili is great for cleaning out the pantry. Adjust to what you have on hand. It’s delicious!!!

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Chicken Chili-slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 24ozs boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 large)
  • 1 small can diced green chilies (7oz)
  • 1 15oz can sweet corn kernels
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 15oz can red kidney beans
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped small
  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning (or you could use one of the packets)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • Toppings-avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro etc…

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken in slow cooker insert. Add everything else, stir to cover chicken and combine.
  2. Cook on low for 8.5 hours. Shred chicken with forks, check seasoning and add salt and or pepper if needed. Allow to cook for another 30 minutes on low.
  3. Top with anything you’d like.  Eat!!

Red Velvet Cookie Bars with Vanilla Bean Frosting

This months “What’s Baking” theme of ‘Red Velvet’ was chosen by Kim of Just Baked.  Appropriate for Valentine’s Day treats don’t you think? 99% of the time red velvet is paired with cream cheese frosting so I wanted to do something different. While I love CC frosting it’s pretty heavy.

I love love love light airy frosting. The frosting here ended up being as light as fresh whipped cream and super-vanilly which means that it will be great on all kind of things-cookies, cakes etc…. So keep it to use any time of the year. Note: I only made half of the recipe below-you can see in the photo below how much frosting you’ll have on each piece with the recipe halved. If you want more make the full recipe.

Red Velvet Cookie Bars with Vanilla Bean Frosting

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Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 3 & 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp KAF Red Velvet Emulsion

Frosting:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla pod, beans set aside

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a bowl combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking poweder. Whisk to evenly combine. Set aside.
  3. In theb owl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Beat until combined evenly.
  4. Little by little add the dry ingredients, just incorporating before adding more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Beat until a dough forms.
  5. Pour then press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the butter and 1/4 of the sugar.  Beat on low until combined. Continue to add the sugar in this way until it’s all combined.  Add the vanilla extract and beans and  beat on highest speed for about 8 minutes or until it won’t get any fluffier. It will have the consistancy of whipped cream.
  2. Frost the cookies using an offset spatula or backwards dinner knife.

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Cookie recipe adapted from chocolatemoosey.com.  The frosting’s mine.

WB

Perfect Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I generally am really not so good at making chocolate chip cookies from scratch. They’re either too dark on the bottom, too soft in the inside etc….it’s pretty sad really. I’ve baked those ones from the mix or the tube a few times, and they’re great, but I feel like it’s a real cop-out.

But these–these were perfect.  Perfect I tell you.  And so easy to make! It took me less than 20 minutes from start to getting them out of the oven to cool.

I found the recipe that I adapted to make these cookies on a container of Crisco that I had bought-probably during the holidays intending on baking tons of goodie-but never did.

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Perfect Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1&1/4 firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark-your choice)
  • 3/4 stick Crisco butter flavor all-veggie shortening
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1&3/4 AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the first 4 ingredients and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl when needed.
  3. Add the egg and mix until combined.
  4. In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir with a wisk to evenly combine.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl of the mixer on low speed and mix until just blended.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  7. Place rounded tbsp of dough 2.5 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 11 minutes for chewy insides and crispy outsides, a bit less for all chewy.
  8. Remove from the oven, let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then carefully slide the parchment with the cookies off of the sheet to cool.

The full recipe makes about 36 cookies. I baked half and froze the other half in a ziplock bag with the instructions written on the bag.

Mexican Meatball Soup

The recipe for this soup caught my eye for a number of reasons-it’s easy and fast to cook and the ingredients are probably already in your pantry (I just had to buy the carrot and zucchini) yet delicious when put together. You can very easily adjust the heat too-add a bit more or less of the chili powders or add some diced green chiles. I made mine rather mild,  opting for a few squirts of hot sauce later.  I really loved how crisp the veggies stay even after reheating and there’s just enough rice. I served it with a small cheese quesadilla, a bit of refried beans, sour cream and salsa.  It was nice to dip the quesadilla into to broth. I think it would be great topped with some tortilla strips or crunched tortilla chips. This recipe is a keeper!!

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Mexican Meatball Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste
  • 1 large egg
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Goya Adobo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth (I used the last 3 cups of this home made chicken stock plus an additional 3 cups which I purchased)
  • 1 large carrot cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 large zucchini,  halved then cut into 1/4 inch half-moons
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained (I used Muir Woods Organic)
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
  • freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, for topping

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients (beef through and including Adobo). Using your hands mix to evenly combine. Be careful not to over-mix. Pinch off tablespoon-sized pieces and roll into balls.
  2. In a large dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Place as many meatballs into the pot as you can without crowding them and push slightly on the top to flatten a bit. Brown on all sides for about 3/4 minutes. You do not have to cook them all the way through but they must be mostly done. You may have to work in batches to brown all of the meatballs.
  3. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, zucchini and rice. Return to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is done and the meatballs are cooked through.
  4. Season with salt if necessary.
  5. Serve garnished with cilantro and cheddar cheese if desired.

This soup reheats beautifully for left overs and I would imagine that it freezes well-although I didn’t try.

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Adapted from February, 2014 issue of All You Magazine.

Cranberry & Meyer Lemon Strudel

This month’s ‘What’s Baking’ challenge theme was a good one–A Small Dessert for 1 or 2. It was hosted by Eva from Eva Bakes and a great idea. Seeing as it’s only Husband and I (no kids thanks-just the dog), I often find that recipes make just way.too.much. for just the 2 of us.

This strudel is delicious. The cranberries are so tart and the  Meyer lemon adds a bit of sweetness. It can’t get easier than just unrolling the puff pastry either.

This is the perfect strudel to make in the dead of winter as both blood oranges and Meyer lemons are in season. Feel free  to use more or less of the Meyer lemon, blood orange and/or regular orange juice.

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Cranberry & Meyer Lemon Strudel

Ingredients:

  • 12 ozs frozen whole cranberries, thawed.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp blood orange juice
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 package Pepperidge Farm frozen Puff Pastry (package contains 2 sheets)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp orange juice

Instructions:

  1. Set a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the sugar, zest, corn starch and juices and stir to combine and dissolve. Add cranberries, stir and bring to a boil and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.  The mix will thicken up considerably and the cranberries will burst.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and put in the fridge for 2 hours.
  3. While the cranberry mix is cooling thaw the pastry as to the package instructions for countertop.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Lay one puff pastry sheet on one half of the baking sheet.  Spread half of the cranberry mix down the middle section of the pastry, fold the left and right over the center. Pinch the dough at each end together to make a seal. Using a small sharp knife cut a few holes gently into the top layer of the pastry.  Reapeat with the remaing pastry dough.
  7. Mix the egg and water together and, using a pastry brush, gently brush the egg wash on top of the pastry.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to wire racks to cool.
  10. Mix the confectioners sugar and orange juice together and, when the strudels are fully cooled, drizzle over the tops of each.
  11. Slice and serve.

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Note: this makes 2 strudels. To make only 1 cut all ingredients in half.

Inspired by Easy Cranberry Strudel found on eatathomecooks.com

Check out the other great recipes for this month’s theme here.

WB

The Devil’s Cider

In my house there’s one shelf in the fridge just for drinks. We have iced tea, iced coffee and a huge array of bottled goodies-beers, ciders etc.. Angry Orchard has been a staple for a few years. I love ‘crisp apple’ one the most-it is really crisp and it’s so super tasty.  We also like Red’s,Crispin, Stella Artois Cidre…. but AO is our favorite I think.

Whiskey on the other hand-I’m not really a fan (I remembered the Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour that I made last year). But then he other day Husband told me that all of his coworkers have been talking about something new-adding a shot of cinnamon whiskey (huh? they can do that?) to a glass of cider. I was intrigued. Very intrigued. I love cinnamon and those candies? I can eat them all day long!

Wow!! What a great combination. You don’t taste the whiskey at all-just the cinnamon. It’s the same as if you were eating one of those little red hots and drinking the cider. YUMMY!!! Go and try it!!

I’m particularly happy with the way this photo came out-I love the bubbles swirling on the surface.

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The Devil’s Cider

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz bottle Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
  • 1 shot Fireball whiskey

Instructions (read these carefully they’re very complicated):

  1. Mix them together and drink

Chicken Panini with Pesto, Roasted Red Peppers and Fresh Mozzarella Cheese

Sometimes something really great comes out of needing to make a meal when you didn’t think you’d need to. That’s where this sandwich comes in.  It was so very very very tasty and so many different layers of flavor!!!  And mmmmmmmm melty cheese.

I had plans for Saturday which, super-sadly, fell through due the weather being awful. Torrential rain, dangerous winds etc..  I watched the figure skating championships instead. I can’t wait for the Olympics to start in February-figure skating is probably my favorite of the winter sports. Remember that whole Nancy Kerrigan thing years ago? Lifetime made a really great (well as far as a Lifetime movie goes) about that and boy did they make it dramatic and fun to watch.  I think we have some great contenders for medals this year.

I always have boneless, skinless chicken breasts frozen individually in the freezer. I buy the large family packs (they’re FAR less expensive than the 1lb packs), I bring it home, trim up the chicken, weigh it and then use my food saver to package it up. I write the date and weight on the package.  Those are lifesavers on nights when you want to make something fast. In a bowl of cold water the chicken only takes a short time to defrost.

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Chicken, Pesto and Mozzarella Panini

Ingredients:

  • 4oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning (I use the low-sodium)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil plus 1/4 tsp
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese-cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1 flatbread

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning, salt and pepper.
  2. In a small skilled over medium high heat heat up the 1 tsp oil and then add the chicken breast.  Cook a few minutes on each side until fully cooked. Remove from the pan. Chop into very small pieces and set aside.
  3. Microwave the flatbread for a few seconds to loosen it up.
  4. Brush a thin layer of the remaining olive oil onto the flatbread and then turn it over so that the oil side is down.
  5. Smear the pesto onto one half of the bread, then lay down the cheese then top with the peppers and chicken.  Fold the top of the bread over and gently press to make sure it’s all staying together.
  6. Place it on the panini press and cook until cheese is melted and bread is crisp.
  7. Eat immedately.

Makes 1 panini.

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Panini

I love the egg sandwiches that we get at delis and bagel shops (having such great delis and bagel places here on Long Island I get spoiled) but making them at home is easy too-and better for you since you can control the ingredients and skip the butter and extra grease. I’ve heard from people visiting (the NY metro area) that egg sandwiches don’t exist where they live.  They have my full sympathy. I can’t fathom life without great delis, bagel shops and pizzerias. Here we get them on bagels or on kaiser rolls. I didn’t have either but the flatbread in my panini press worked perfectly. They’re heaven.

Feel free to use egg whites, egg beaters, bacon, different cheeses etc.. to make it your own.  Some people put ketchup on it too but I don’t.

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Sausage, Egg and Cheese Panini

Ingredients:

  • 5 large eggs, scrambled in a bowl
  • 2 tbsp milk (any is fine-skim, whole, 2%)
  • 7 sausage links or 2 patties
  • 2 flatbreads
  • 4 slices american cheese (we use the Boar’s Head brand. It melts differently than others and in my opinion has a nicer texture).

Instructions:

  1. Cook the sausage as to package instructions then set onto paper towels to drain. Chop into small pieces and return to paper towels and set aside.
  2. While the sausages are  cooking make the eggs. In a medium non-stick frying pan with a flat base over medium heat cook the eggs,. Using a rubber spatula frequently pull the cooked eggs away from the edge, tilt the pan to allow the raw eggs to flow to the pan surface.  Turn when needed trying to keep the eggs together. When they’re all cooked remove from the heat and set aside.  (Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper if desired but I don’t generally because of the seasonings in the sausage. )
  3. Microwave the flat bread for a few seconds to loosen it up.
  4. On one half of the flatbread place half of the cheese, eggs and sausage.  Fold the other half of the bread over the top and place on the panini press until bread is crisp and cheese has melted fully.
  5. Serve immediately.

Makes 2.

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