Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lentil, Sausage and Squash Soup

This soup started out of necessity, I made a big pot of chicken stock and I have no freezer room for it and there were two sad delicata squash begging to be cooked. I love a nice hearty soup that can count as the entire meal and this one fits the bill.
Here's what you need:
3 chopped onions
3 chopped carrots
3 chopped celery stalks
2 delicata squash roasted and chopped
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 can diced tomatoes 
1 lb dried lentils
2 quarts chicken stock
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Crushed rosemary
Start by roasting the squash, I didn't go too crazy here, just cut and remove the seeds, season and brush with a little oil. Roast at 425 on a baking sheet for 30 minutes. In that time you will have your soup all made and ready for the squash. 
While you are browning the sausage in a heavy soup pot, chop the usual mire poix suspects. Remove sausage and drain the fat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, season with salt, pepper, garlic and cook over medium heat until wilted, around 10 minutes. Add the lentils and canned tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add the sausage and finally the roasted squash. I just used a spoon to scoop it from the skins. Simmer for about an hour, stirring frequently to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom. You may need to add a little more liquid. Season with some fresh chopped parsley and rosemary and check for salt. You want it to go from looking like this:

To more like this: 
This kind of soup is so much better tomorrow!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bacon Jalapeño Chicken

Grilled chicken season is over at this house, time for some different ideas. I had chicken, bacon, jalapeño and's not going to be a healthy dish, although there is nothing wrong with a little decadence. I think I will make bite size versions of this as an appetizer for the World Series, let's go Mets! Here's what you need:

Chicken breast (cut into 4 lengthwise quarters) 
1/2 jalapeño for each chicken piece 
Bacon, I slice per chicken piece
Seasoning of your choice
Shredded cheese optional
Here's what you do:
Cut up your peppers and chicken. Season the chicken, I used my standard salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, cayenne, paprika, dried parsley. 
Place the pepper on top of the chicken and wrap the bacon tightly around it, making sure the ends are underneath. You can secure with a toothpick if you'd rather not live life on the edge. 

You can get them prepped up to one day ahead, keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook. 
In a large nonstick skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat, bottom side down first. 

Turning gently after about 5 minutes, the bacon should be getting brown and crisp. Cook another 5 or so minutes until chicken is no longer pink in the center. They can be finished in a 400 degree oven if needed. You can top them with shredded cheddar and place under the broiler for a minute. I forgot to do that before I took the picture!
I served them with some roasted asparagus and smashed new potatoes. 

Tip of the month:
You can download all sorts of printable labels on Pinterest. I love storing in jars and I really love these chalkboard looking labels. I just used mod podge to stick them on. Currently, this half shelf is the only organized part of my life. 

On to Crafty business:
I've been working on these vintage animals 

Flannel throws for future gifts
Another baby hat (it will be an owl hat) 
And of course, this pun towel 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprout Pasta

I was so excited to see brussel sprouts on sale last week, they are one of my favorites. I didn't have a plan for them so after a few days I roasted them at 375 with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until they were nice and crispy (about an hour). I leave them whole unless they are very big and then they get halved. The outer leaves that fall off and turn really dark are like candy to me. Once they were cool, I froze them in a quart size bag for another day. Today was another day. Per usual, day before grocery shopping, no clue what to make.

Roasted Brussel Sprout Pasta
2 cups roasted brussel sprouts, halved or quartered
1 large onion sliced
8 oz. chopped mushrooms
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream or half&half
1/3 cup grated pecorino or parmesan
8 oz. cut pasta
salt and pepper
olive oil
a large sauté pan with a cover

Heat olive oil in sauté pan on high heat, toss in mushrooms. Sauté unseasoned until they get a nice color, remove from pan and set aside.  Brown the sliced onion and season with salt and pepper. Add the previously roasted sprouts and when everything is hot add the cream and the uncooked pasta.

With the heat on high, add enough stock to cover the pasta, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Give it a stir every few minutes.  I used penne and cooked it for about 10 minutes, larger cuts take about 15 minutes.

You want to cook it until the pasta is just done and there is a little liquid at the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat and add the mushrooms and grated cheese.

Continue to stir as the sauce comes together, it's kind of like magic.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Good Morning!

Cooking for breakfast is a rarity usually reserved for days off with my husband or weekend mornings with my daughter. My husband likes to bring breakfast to work to save money and to avoid eating junk, it's a good plan especially because he typically packs yogurt and fruit which requires no effort. If I have extra time and extra veggies (or eggs from my neighbor's yard) I will make a breakfast dish to last a few days. Frittata is a great dish to use up leftover vegetables or small amounts of cheese. This is the last one I made:

I used a small amount of cooked spinach, crumbled bacon, cherry tomatoes, cooked white potatoes, onion, mushroom, 8 eggs, cheddar and grated parmesan.

Preheat the oven to 375, spray a 9x9 pan and set up a water bath. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and beat them well, set aside. Sauté seasoned potato slices in a bit of oil or butter to get them a little brown. Layer them along the bottom of your baking dish. The potatoes make a nice frittata base and also make it easy to get out of the pan. Next, you will layer the cooked veggies and bacon.  In the same pan sauté the raw veggies, until softened and golden. Layer them along with cheese on top of the vegetables and pour the eggs gently. shake the pan a bit so that the egg works its way in between the layers. Bake in a water bath at 375 for 45 min to an hour until egg is cooked through and top is browned. Once it's cooled you can cut it into individual serving sizes and pack it up in the fridge. It should make 4-6 servings but my husband works hard and needs a bigger breakfast so it was 3 servings.

Next up:
Loaded Waffle Tater Tots

Sometimes you need a little help from frozen food. In this case, we usually have some kind of frozen potato item (fries, tots, hash browns) for emergency snack or whatever. I treated Julia to this last weekend and it was really good. We are big fans of putting everything in the waffle iron, this was a first for tots.
First, heat the iron to 'screaming hot' while you defrost some tater tots in the microwave. Next, chop a little onion, cooked bacon, scallion, jalapeno, and cheeses. Combine everything in a bowl by trying to mash it with a fork as best you can.

Spray the waffle iron with vegetable spray and mound a good amount on the iron. Push the top down really hard so that it gets in all the grooves. It will take at least twice as long as regular waffles do. check every few minutes, you want them really crispy and the cheese to be all melty. Yum!

Finally, a cold weather, weekday favorite:
Slow Cooker Steele Cut Oats

We love Steele cut oats but they take a long time to cook in the morning. If you have a slow cooker, problem solved! It's really quick to set up before bed and you have warm oats waiting for you when you get up. The most important thing you need to do first is find a bowl that fits inside of your crock with enough room to add water around it. I have a ceramic bowl that allows a few inches of water to sit underneath and that's perfect. 
The basic recipe is 1 cup Steele cut oats, 4 cups of water and a dash of salt. The rest is up to you! I like to add 2 peeled, cut up apples, vanilla, cinnamon and 1/2 cup brown sugar. 
Combine, set to 8 hours, low heat, cover and walk away. When you wake up they will be done...not pretty, but done. 

This picture was taken after my husband scooped his out at 5am. I stirred it together, added a handful of golden raisins, toasted walnuts and packed it up for his breakfasts to-go. 
I tried doing this with berries and raisins added in the beginning and I wouldn't recommend it. They get all bloated and ugly, it's better to add at the end. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

What to call this pasta?

Fall mac and cheese, roasted squash baked pasta, cheesy bacon squash penne? All I know is that this might be the best pasta I've ever made. Seriously. If fall had a flavor it would be this for me, you can keep pumpkin spice everything. So here's what's in it:
1squash- carnival, acorn, or small butternut
8 oz pasta cooked al dente 
4 slices bacon
1 onion
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 lb provolone
Grated Parmesan
1/2 cup light cream or milk
1/4 cup flour
Dried rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Roast the seasoned squash at 400 until toasty and tender. I started roasting in slices before I planned on this dish, I would have cut it in half otherwise. Remove skin from squash and break it up in bite size chunks when done. Cook bacon until crisp, set aside and sauté onion in grease until carmelized. Season and add flour, cook for a minute. Stir in stock until thickened and add cream and cheese. Stir until melted and remove from heat. Combine cooked pasta with cheese sauce and fold in bacon and squash. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake at 400 until bubbly 10-15 min. Note that I tried to lighten it up with more chicken broth than cream. There is so much flavor going on in this dish that you really don't need it to be any richer. 

On the crafty home front:

Oilcloth wine bags... I'm not sure. 

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

Switching the chili up a little today. I meant for this to be sweet potato turkey chili but I forgot to buy ground turkey. More often than not I forget the main ingredient when I'm shopping but today  I'm glad I forgot turkey because it was really good with chicken. This dish is so hearty and very filling. 
Sweet Potato Chicken Chili
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut up
1 lg onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
Peppers- sweet and not a whole bunch of them I used 1 cubanelle and a few mini peppers
2 carrots diced
2 celery diced
2 jalapeños diced
1 can crushed tomato
1 box chicken stock
Salt, pepper, cumin, ancho chili powder, cilantro and parsley. 
Sauté veggies (minus potato) in a bit of oil until tender, season and add potatoes. Sauté a minute, add tomato and stock. Bring to a boil, add chicken, reduce to simmer. Simmer uncovered for approximately 45 minutes until chili thickens. Add fresh herbs at the end. 

In crafty news:
I'm cranking out more cute baby hats! Crochet is my fall sport. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Multi-functional spaghetti squash

I abandoned the grey hat and whipped up this cute one on my night off. I can't wait to see the newborn that will be wearing this! It fits perfectly on this spaghetti squash but I had other plans for it. 

The day before grocery shopping results in my most inventive cooking. Leftover cheese, an open box of chicken broth, a small amount of spinach...
Cheesy baked spaghetti squash

1 squash
1 chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
Olive oil
Chopped spinach
8 oz cheese (I had mozzarella and provolone)
Handful of grated Parmesan 
1/4 cup flour
1.5 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup light cream
Salt, pepper, red pepper

Preheat oven to 375, cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Sauté seasoned onion and garlic in oil until wilted and browned. Add flour and cook for a minute. Stir in chicken broth, bring to a boil and add cream. Toss in spinach and shredded or chopped cheese until smooth. When squash is done, (keep oven on) scrape it out of skins with a fork and combine with cheese sauce. Spray a 9x13 pan and transfer squash, sprinkle with parm. Bake 20 minutes and broil top for a few minutes if it doesn't brown. This would be a good enough meal on its own for me but I'm serving it with some chicken and a salad.