Braised Potatoes and Fennel

Braised Potatoes and Fennel

Braised Potatoes and Fennel

This is a neat little recipe to have up your sleeve for when you want to cook potatoes yet another way.  Besides the potato, fennel is included in this really easy way to make a side dish that goes with most any kind of meat or other vegetables.

Use 1 pound of potatoes that are similar in size so that they will cook uniformly. Slice them into 1/4 inch slices.

When selecting a bulb of fennel choose one that is firm, pale in color, with strong stalks and feathery fronds.

Fresh Fennel.

Fresh Fennel.

To prepare the fennel, cut off the stalks, cut the bulb in half lengthwise, and remove the hard core at the bottom.  Then slice it into 1/4-inch wedges.  Reserve the fronds.

BRAISED POTATOES AND FENNEL

SERVINGS:   4

  • 1 pound small potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, sliced into 1/4 inch wedges  Reserve some of the fronds.
  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges, optional

1.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.

IMG_2402

Heat skillet and melt butter with olive oil.

Add potatoes and cook, turning occasionally until golden in color.  Do this in 2 or 3 batches.  Potatoes will brown better if they are not crowded in the pan.

Potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick.

Potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick.

Golden brown potatoes.

Golden brown potatoes.

Add fennel and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes.

Add in the fennel and continue cooking.

Add in the fennel and continue cooking.

2.   Stir in the chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes.  Before serving sprinkle with fennel fronds.  Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Braised Potatoes and Fennel

Braised Potatoes and Fennel

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from   EVERYDAY FOODS

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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The new refrigerator.  YEAH!

The new refrigerator. YEAH!

Going through this experience of living without a refrigerator for almost a week has generally been a good thing.  It was a challenge on several levels.  The biggest was how to keep my frozen foods frozen.  That was solved with coolers where I put the frozen foods immediately, and packed bags of ice around it all.  I was amazed that most everything was still icy after a total of 6 days.  The few items that did thaw, I used right away.

Because I have an unheated room where it has been very cold, I was able to save and use most all of my produce and fruits.  I made salads for my husband’s lunches each day with added in cold cuts and cheeses or cooked meats left over from meals.   Other perishables such as milk, cream, butter, eggs, cheeses, all did well in the cold storage room.  So I didn’t really loose anything.

Inside the door; lots of storage for bottles and jars.

Inside the door; lots of storage for bottles and jars.

The bad was the inconvenience of not having my food source right at hand in the kitchen.  It was a nuisance ( and chilly) having to go into the cold room for everything,  and usually forgetting something and having to go back!   Another inconvenience was not doing any grocery shopping for over a week, so my choices of foods to work with was limited.  But that was also a good thing because it forced me to be creative and look at how some ingredients might work together.  In fact it was kind of fun to see what I could come up with for meals.

The ugly?  There were a few forgotten items that became, how shall I say it, Black and Furry?  You know what I mean.  Only a couple things, though.  So in all, we did pretty well

What I’ve learned:   not to save small amounts of things and then forget about them;   like a marinade.  When I found it I didn’t remember what it was or what it was for.  Don’t save tiny bits of stuff in big jars.  The jars take up too much space for what’s in them,  If there is too little to use up, toss it.  And finally—test my creativity now and then by not going to the market so often and using up what I have before buying anything new.  That’s a must!

Inside, lower section;  a full width deli drawer, and two deep crisper drawers

Inside, lower section; a full width deli drawer, and two deep crisper drawers

Inside upper section.

Inside upper section.

Freezer main compartment with ice maker.  Roomier than it looks!

Freezer main compartment with ice maker. Roomier than it looks!  And a light inside.

Freezer door;  two deep shelves.

Freezer door; two deep shelves.

As I was writing the draft for this post the delivery service arrived with my new refrigerator.   Hurrah!   I thought since you all “saw me through” this disruption in my life I would give you a first look at it.  Thanks, everyone, for hanging in there with me.

A Loaded Panini

By day #4 of not having a refrigerator, I’m really getting to the bottom of the barrel in terms of what I can create for a meal.  This is what I have to work with:  some deli sliced smoked turkey,  sliced cheddar cheese and sliced provolone,  a few strips of bacon, and a tomato.  Does that sound to you like it could become a sandwich?   That’s what I thought, too.  EXCEPT we don’t have any bread.  So, I had to cheat a little.  I stopped at the grocery store and got a few rolls.  So for dinner this evening we had Toasted Panini Sandwiches with Sweet Potato chips and pickles.

 Grilled turkey, bacon, cheese and tomato panini.

Grilled turkey, bacon, cheese and tomato panini.

A while ago I treated myself to a Panini//Grill pan.  I’m so glad I did.  I no longer use the electric sandwich toaster I had been using, choosing now to make grilled sandwiches on the stove top using the panini grill.  Plus this grill pan is great for grilling burgers or steaks and chops quickly indoors if you can’t use the outdoor grille.  Note that the pan comes with a weighted flat cover that is used to compress sandwiches, or anything else that you want to keep flat as it grills.

Panini Grill Pan

Panini Grill Pan

This is a little off today’s subject, but I also have a George Forman Grill that I don’t use.  I’m not pleased with the results when I use it.  Instead of getting a nice browned sear on meats, mine seem to steam-cook rather than grill.   Am I doing something wrong?  If anyone reading this has any suggestions for me I’d love to hear them.  Thanks.

The rolls I purchased were sesame bulky rolls.  So, starting with the rolls, slice each one in half, and spread each cut side with a little mayonnaise.   Next start layering in the fillings:  thinly sliced turkey breast, as many slices as you like, and  sliced cheese.

Sliced turkey and sliced cheese placed on the split rolls.

Sliced turkey and sliced cheese placed on the split rolls.

Then lay on the already cooked bacon slices, and sliced tomatoes.  A sprinkle of seasoned salt on the tomatoes is good, or regular table salt.

Lay on the bacon and tomato slices.

Lay on the bacon and tomato slices.

Lightly butter the bottom of each roll and place on the heated panini grill pan.  Place the flat weight on top of the sandwiches to press them, and toast till nicely browned on the bottom.  Now lightly butter the tops and flip over so the top get toasty and browned, the filling continues to heat and cheese melts.  Be careful to keep the heat on low or the rolls will become too crisp before the fillings heat and melt.

This is what the sandwiches looked like while grilling,

Sandwiches grilling.

Sandwiches grilling.

And this is what the finished sandwiches look like:

Plated sandwich with sweet potato chips and pickle.

Plated sandwich with sweet potato chips and pickle.

Note the  top side of the sandwich; it has grill markings on it, and the top is nice and toasty.  I like to use sesame rolls for this because the sesame seeds get toasted and their flavor is more pronounced.   Yum!  Wish you could taste this—-it was great.

A great sandwich whether for lunch or a light supper.

A great sandwich whether for lunch or a light supper.

Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions in Balsamic Cream Sauce

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Chicken with mushrooms and onions in a balsamic cream sauce.

Challenge day # 3 without a refrigerator.  This is the requirement right now:  cook with what you have on hand, ONLY.  Going to the grocery store to fill in the blanks is not an option.   Today these were the food items that had priority for usage:  a package of 6 chicken tenders that had defrosted,  a half-package of mushrooms,  some  light cream, and part of a can of chicken broth.  To those ingredients I added 1 large onion, some balsamic vinegar and some butter to come up with what turned out to be a very good chicken dish.

The chicken tenders worked well because they cooked quickly, and remained tender in the cream sauce.  You could also use boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half, so they are not too thick.  The amount of sauce is plentiful, so it’s a good idea to plan rice or noodles to spoon it over.  I used a package of herbed rice pilaf with our meal.  To go along with this I used up the leftover  herbed butternut squash from day #1.

This is how I created this entree:     CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC CREAM SAUCE, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS

YIELD:   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken tenders, at least 6 pieces, or 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut vertically in half.
  • Chicken Tenders

    Chicken Tenders

  • 1 large onion, cut vertically in half, then sliced into “half-moons”.
  • A large onion, cut into "half-moons".

    A large onion, cut into “half-moons”.

  • 1 pkg. mushrooms, (or less), sliced or halved

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

    Mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth.

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup cream, light cream, or half and half
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Over medium heat, in a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Hot skillet with butter melted.

Add the sliced onions, reduce heat to low and sauté until nicely caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove to a bowl, and set aside.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

Nicely browned, caramelized onions.

2.  Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in the same skillet, add chicken pieces and cook to brown each side.  Chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.  Remove to a plate.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

Chicken browned, but not thoroughly cooked.

3.  Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits into the broth.  Add the cream and balsamic vinegar and stir.  Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper.  Decrease heat to low and simmer a few minutes.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

Saute mushrooms, add broth and cream.

4.  Bring heat back up to medium.  Add the chicken and onions to the pan mixture and cook the chicken all the way through.

5.  To serve, transfer chicken pieces to a serving dish, pour mushroom-onion-cream-sauce over the top and garnish with parsley if you wish.  (I did not have any parsley on hand.)

A satisfying dish of chicken,  mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

A satisfying dish of chicken, mushrooms and onions in a rich cream sauce.

Our assessment of this dish?  My husband said ” UHMMM! this is great”.  But he loves mushrooms, so anything with mushrooms in it is AOK with him.  I thought it was a very good combination of flavors.  Most importantly for me is that the chicken remained moist and tender.  I always worry about white meat chicken becoming dried out, tough and chewy, but this didn’t.  The cream in the sauce smoothed out the tang of the vinegar, with the vinegar providing a dark color to the sauce. The mushrooms and onions rounded out the dish and were a good compliment over all.  I’m glad I made rice to go with it to put the sauce on.  I will definitely be making this dish again.

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

Pumpkin-Spice Cookies

I am still baking with pumpkin on Day #2. of living without a refrigerator.

They look good.  How will they taste?

They look good. How will they taste?

I keep running into recipes that promise fantastically delicious baked items using just two ingredients.  That’s what I said, only two ingredients(?) and one of them is a boxed mix of some kind.  With all this pumpkin puree on hand and needing to be used, I decided to give this concept a test run with this recipe for cookies.  Some of you may remember that I made a two-ingredient recipe once before and that was this one.

For this recipe all you need is a box of Spice Cake Mix, and a can (or two cups) of pumpkin puree.   It couldn’t be simpler.

Two ingredients;  that's all you need!

Two ingredients; that’s all you need!

Empty the cake mix into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to remove lumps.  Add the pumpkin.

Add pumpkin to cake mix.

Add pumpkin to cake mix.

Stir well and voila,  a thick spicy dough for cookies.

Makes a nice thick dough.

Makes a nice thick dough.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoons-full onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Using a cookie scoop makes uniform size cookies.

Drop dough by teaspoons onto baking sheets.

Drop dough by teaspoons onto baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 350* oven for 13 – 15 minutes..  Cool on cooling racks.

After baking.

After baking.

These cookies are cake-like in texture, rather dense, and chewy.  Ok, now the truth comes out.  I added 1 more ingredient:  1/2 bag of Heath Toffee Chips.  The cookies would be very good –nice and spicy–without adding anything but the toffee bits made them just that much better.  At this stage they were pretty terrific,  but then I went and frosted some of them with cream cheese frosting (using up what was in that old refrigerator, remember?) and for the remainder after the frosting was gone,  I sprinkled them with confectioners’ sugar.   Oh, La-La-La!

Looking good just dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Looking good just dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

:)  :)  :)  :)

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Sorry, no pics of the frosted ones.  I gave them to my husband to take to his Lodge meeting for the guys.  Get them out of here before I eat them all!

TWO INGREDIENT PUMPKIN SPICE COOKIES

  • 1 box Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 can pumpkin or 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree

Empty cake mix into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to remove any lumps.

Add pumpkin and mix to combine well.  (Here’s where you get to add any other “goodies”, like nuts or chips.)

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 350* for 13 – 15 minutes.  Mine took almost the full 15 minutes, but start checking them at 13 minutes.  If undercooked, they well be doughy.    I got a total of 30 cookies.

SOURCE:   Duncan Hines.com

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Walnuts and Cappuchino Chips.

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Walnuts and Cappuchino Chips.

Challenge Day #2 without a refrigerator.  Back in October when pumpkins were plentiful, I roasted several and made pumpkin puree that I froze in 2-cup measured amounts.  Without the freezer to keep it frozen the puree ( which has a high liquid content) thawed out quickly.    So you have probably already guessed that I am making baked goods using the pumpkin puree.  The first item I made is today’s recipe:  Pumpkin Spice Bread.

This is a very nice recipe, quick to put together, and it makes a tasty bread that is good for dessert, a snack, or for breakfast.  You can add nuts, or chips of any kind to “fancy up” the recipe as you wish.  In this version, I added about 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts, and also 1/2 cup cappuchino chips. Regular chocolate chips are also a good addition.  To get a nice crunchy top to the loaf, I sprinkled it heavily with demerarra sugar before baking.

PUMPKIN SPICE BREAD

YIELD:    1  9″ x 5″ loaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups flour  ( I used 1 cup all purpose white flour and 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour.)

    Lots of great spices go into this bread.

    Lots of great spices go into this bread.

  • 1 tesp. baking soda
  • 1 tesp salt
  • 1/2 tesp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tesp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tesp. allspice
  • 1/2 tesp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tesp. cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree ( canned or homemade)
  • 1/3 cup water, as needed

1.  Mix together all the dry ingredients i.e. flour through cloves.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

2.  In bowl of mixer, on medium speed, mix sugar, oil, and eggs.  Stir in pumpkin.

Wet ingredients:  oil, eggs, and pumpkin.

Wet ingredients: oil, eggs, and pumpkin.

3.  Slowly blend in the dry ingredients, add water alternately, as needed.   I did not use the water because my pumpkin puree was so thin, that the batter was the right consistency without the water.

4.  Stir in any additional ingredients like nuts or chips.  Pour into prepared 9″ x 5″ pan.

Before baking sprinkle the top of bread heavily with sugar for a nice crunchy top.

Before baking sprinkle the top of bread heavily with sugar for a nice crunchy top.

Bake at 350* for 60 – 75 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cover with foil if the top is getting too brown.   Cool on wire rack.  Slice and serve when cool.

Fresh from the oven, cooling on a rack.

Fresh from the oven, cooling on a rack.

Delicious while still a little warm.

Delicious while still a little warm.

SOURCE:    Taste of Home

Challenge Day #1: Pan-Seared Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce

Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce.

Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce.

Day # 1 without a refrigerator.  I produced a pretty terrific dinner today, and I also made chicken broth for a future soup.  My dinner consisted of Strip Steaks with Balsamic-Glazed onions,  Baked Butternut Squash with Garlic and Herbs, and Hasselback Potatoes.   For today’s recipe I will be telling you how to pan-sear a steak, and a quick way to make caramelized onions.

Whenever we go to our favorite steak-house, I like to order a strip steak with a pile of caramelized onions.  I almost like the onions better than the steak.  They are so rich and glossy, they turn a simple seared steak into something really special.  I had purchased a package of two strip steaks with the thought of trying to recreate this simple dish at home.  Faced with the fact they had started to defrost, I realized the time to give this meal a try was now.

The part of this dish that takes the most time is caramelizing the onions–probably about 45 minutes.  When cooking the steaks only takes about eight to ten minutes, I wanted to speed up cooking the onions as much as I could.  So here’s where I hit upon a short-cut.  I cooked the onions in a little oil for about 8-10 minutes till they started to brown,

Onions browning in a little oil.

Onions browning in a little oil.

and then added balsamic vinegar to the pan.

A nice variety of balsamic, with a hint of pomegranate added.

A nice variety of balsamic, with a hint of pomegranate added.

Two minutes later the onions were soft and fully browned.  How could that be, you ask?  Well, the sugar in the vinegar speeds up the browning process, and the steam generated by the simmering vinegar softens the onions in a flash.  Finally, the vinegar turns the onions brown.  My balsamic onion sauce may not taste exactly like caramelized onions, but it came pretty darn close.

PAN SEARED STEAK WITH BALSAMIC ONIONS

SERVES:   2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbspns vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 boneless 8 – 10 ounce strip steaks
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tspn. minced fresh (or 1/2 tspn. dried) rosemary

1.  Heat 2 Tbspns oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.   Transfer onions to a bowl.

2.  Add remaining oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.    For a nicely browned and flavorful crust, pat the steaks dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook steaks, without moving, until browned on first side, 4 – 5 minutes.  Flip steaks and continue to cook until browned on second side, 3 – 4 minutes more.  Transfer steaks to a platter and cover with foil.

3.  Discard fat in skillet, return onions to pan, and set over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add 1/4 cup vinegar, rosemary, and cook, scraping up browned bits, until thick and syrupy, about 2 minutes.  Pour any accumulated steak juices into pan and mix in.  Season with salt and pepper.

4.  Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4 -inch slices and transfer to serving platter.

Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Spoon onions and sauce over steak.

Steak with Onions and Sauce.

Steak with Onions and Sauce.

SOURCE:   COOK’S COUNTRY

Out With the Old, Waiting for the New

I feel as though I’ve lost an old friend.  Even though I’ve met a a replacement, we haven’t gotten acquainted yet,  so I’m in limbo-land.

Friday of last week while I was out doing errands, my refrigerator decided it’s time had come.  When I came back into the house there was a strong smell of something burning.  My nose told me it was the refrigerator, so I quickly turned it off.   It had served us well for 25 plus years, so I knew it was beyond repair.  But then the questions began:  Where shall I shop for a new one?  What kind shall I get?  Will a new one fit the limited space where the old one stood?  and, most importantly;  will I be able to save all the food in it?

A good friend for 25+ years.

A good friend for 25+ years.

I’ve had some practice with that last question, what with the power outages we’ve had here in the Northeast in the last couple of years.   So out came the coolers, and I spent the evening sorting the food into the various coolers, and packing it with ice.  Luckily it’s winter and quite cold here, and I have a sunroom that is not heated.  I like having that room; it’s like having a walk-in cold storage space, so that’s where the coolers filled with food are now residing.  A side benefit occurred:  I found some things I’d forgotten I put in the freezer, and I made an inventory list of all the frozen foods currently on hand.

The freezer, now empty of its contents.

The freezer, now empty of its contents.

The almost empty interior.

The almost empty interior.

The next day, Mr. D. and I went shopping for a new refrigerator, measurements and space requirements in hand.  After visiting four appliance stores and looking at about six different models we narrowed our choice to The One, and placed the order.  I was surprised that in the space I have available I gained 2.5 more cubic feet, and a reconfigured interior in the new model.  Excited as I was, I was hoping it could be delivered the next day.    But no such luck.  Four days, they said.  What? I said—–oh, no!

So, here we are, waiting in limbo-land.  I told Mr. D. that I’ll have to get creative, and design some meals around what’s defrosting and what needs to be used before it spoils.  You can expect to see some interesting foods coming up in the next few days.  The challenge will be to see how many meals, lunches, and baked items I can create without going to the grocery store.   HMmmm!  Let’s see, what shall I make today?   🙂

IMG_2529

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart

As I was looking through the November issue of Cooking Light Magazine, this recipe for Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart caught my eye because the picture of it was so appetizing.  I wanted to make and eat it right then and there, but I earmarked the page for a more opportune time.  Well, the time came this past week.  After the cooking and baking frenzy that was Christmas I was ready to prepare a simple meal, and enjoy the process of doing it.

Boy, am I ever glad I finally got around to making this tart.  From the crust on the bottom to the cheese on top, it is one layer after another of delicious flavors that compliment each other perfectly.

Layers that taste delicious and hold together perfectly

Layers that taste delicious and hold together perfectly

Let me start with the crust:  the ingredients are mixed in the food processor and once mixed, go straight into the pie plate where you form the crust with your fingers by pressing it against the bottom and sides of the pan.  Then it goes right into the preheating oven to begin baking.

The recipe as printed in the  magazine relies on prepared ingredients, i.e. pre cubed squash, chopped onions, pre chopped pancetta, and pre sliced mushrooms as time savers.  However as a cost saving measure I don’t usually purchase my vegetables this way, preferring to prep them myself, so that added some time to the preparation of this dish.

Preparation of the tart filling involved peeling and cubing the butternut squash,

Cubed squash

Cubed squash

chopping the onion, grating the cheese  ( I used an Edam cheese that has good flavor and nice melting properties.)

Grated Edam Chese

Grated Edam Chese

The shiitake mushrooms I purchased were whole caps that I sliced, and the pancetta was in slices that I cut into small pieces.

Sliced shiitake mushroom caps

Sliced shiitake mushroom caps

This all added about 15 minutes to the preparation time.

Because I knew the prep work would take a little time, I did all of it before making the crust, so once the crust went into the oven I was ready to continue using the processor to make the filling.  Cutting the squash into fine pieces cuts down on the cooking time, and changed the texture somewhat and when the onions get mixed with it the flavor and “mouth-feel” was very pleasant.  Eggs, cheese and seasonings get mixed with the squash and onions, then poured into the partially baked crust and baked.

While that is happening, you sauté the pancetta till brown and then add and sauté the mushrooms.  The final step is to arrange the mushrooms and pancetta on the tart surface followed by the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts.

Hot and melty from the oven.

Hot and melty from the oven.

My final product was as pretty as the picture in the magazine.  The crust was flaky and tender, it remained dry and flaky in spite of the wetness of the filling baked in it.  This tart also cut perfectly; each wedge holding its shape as it was removed from the baking dish.  I will definitely use this recipe and method for making a crust for tarts and quiches that I make from now on.  I might also add that I felt that the time spent making this dish was well worth the effort, because the finished dish was so perfect in every way.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MUSHROOM TART

SERVINGS:   6

CRUST:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons ice water
  • cooking spray

FILLING:

  • 3 cups peeled, precubed butternut squash
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 3/4 cup prechopped onion
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese, divided.  Gruyere, Gouda, Edam are all good choices.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 ounces prechopped pancetta, or 3 slices cut into small pieces
  • 5 ounces presliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

2.  To prepare crust, spoon all the flour plus the salt, pepper and baking powder into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2 times to mix.  Combine 1/4 cup oil with the 3 Tablespoons ice water in a measuring cup.  With the processor running, slowly add oil mixture through food chute, and process until dough is crumbly. Pour dough into the pie plate.

Pour crust crumbles into pie plate.

Pour crust crumbles into pie plate.

Working quickly, press dough into an even layer in bottom and up sides of pie plate.

Press crust into pan with your fingers.

Press crust into pan with your fingers.

Place crust into preheating oven, and bake for 10 minutes.

3.  To prepare the filling, place squash into food processor (do not clean from dough), and process for 1 minute or until squash is finely chopped.

Finely chopped squash.

Finely chopped squash.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add squash and onion to pan; sauté for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  While squash cooks, combine half the cheese ( 1/3 cup), eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Stir into the squash and onion mixture.

5.  At the end of 10 minute baking time, remove the crust from the oven, spoon squash mixture into the crust and spread evenly.  Return to the oven and continue baking for 9 minutes.

6.  Return skillet to medium-high heat.  Add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add pancetta; cook 1 minute or until beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms and cook for 7 minutes or until browned.

Browning the pancetta and mushrooms.

Browning the pancetta and mushrooms.

Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 cup white wine.  Cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates.

7.  Remove tart from oven.  Arrange the mushroom mixture evenly over the top of the tart;  sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese.  Return tart to 425 degrees oven and bake for 3 – 5 minutes until cheese melts.

Hot and melty from the oven.

Hot and melty from the oven.

A fantastic dish on all levels!

A fantastic dish on all levels!

Serve this delicious entree with a mixed green salad for a complete, low calorie, almost meatless meal.  To make it vegetarian just omit the pancetta.

Calories  368,   Fat 21.8 g.,  Carb  31.6 g.

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from Cooking Light Magazine,  November, 2012

Eggnog Baked French Toast

Eggnog baked French Toast

Eggnog baked French Toast

If you are anything like me right about now you have “bits of this” and ” a little bit of that” left over from Holiday cooking and baking, and you’re wondering how to use it all up.  If it’s eggnog you want to use up, wonder no longer.  I have just the recipe for you.  You’re gonna love it, and so will any children you may be feeding.  This might even turn into a post Holiday tradition, or a special breakfast for New Year’s morning.

The cranberries provide a hit of tartness in amongst the sweet.

The cranberries provide a hit of tartness in amongst the sweet.

Besides including eggnog, this French toast will also accommodate any other additions such as fresh or dried cranberries, or raisins that you might want to add.  In my version, pictured here, I used fresh cranberries, and we particularly liked the occasional tartness in amongst the sweetness of the toast.   Since this is prepared the night before and baked in the morning it is an ideal menu item for either breakfast or brunch.

Great for a Holiday breakfast or brunch.

Great for a Holiday breakfast or brunch.

EGGNOG BAKED FRENCH TOAST

YIELD:   4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup low-fat eggnog
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 small French baguette, (or half a large one) cut into 1-inch cubes.  (About 5-6 cups )
  • 1 cup additional fruits, i.e. cranberries, raisins, dried cherries

DIRECTIONS

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, and whisk briefly.  Add the eggnog, maple syrup, and vanilla and mix in.  Add the cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk well till all is evenly combined.

Stir in the bread cubes until evenly coated.  Stir in the fruit.

Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  Transfer the bread-egg mixture to the baking dish.  Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or over night.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375* F.   Remove the plastic wrap, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until puffed and light golden brown.  Let cool a few minutes, then serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and additional maple syrup if desired.

IMG_2350

SOURCE:   Everyday Occasions,  via Annie’s Eats Blog