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Penne with Butternut Squash and Kale

14 Jun

OMG, so far all I have written is the title of this post, and my stomach is already growling. Penne with Butternut Squash and Kale is my new favorite pasta! And I am a pasta fanatic, so that’s saying something.It’s so different from all of the other pasta recipes I’ve tried, which are typically tomato based (and often have ample cheese).

Butternut squash kale pasta
In this recipe, the butternut squash and caramelized onions give the dish a magnificent sweetness that that complements the savory kale and Parmesan. And dare I say this pasta is healthy? I think so! Butternut squash and kale are both superfoods, and sauce is made from a little white wine, not oil.

Butternut squash kale pasta 2
I admit, this recipe is a little time-consuming (the caramelized onions and squash take a while), but not necessarily labor intensive– you just have to plan ahead. I tend to get the onions and squash started, go do things around the house for a while, and then resume. Once the onions, squash, and pasta are cooked, it all comes together quickly. And oh my goodness, is it worth the wait!! If you love it half as much as I do, you’ll be very pleased.

Butternut squash kale pasta 3

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Kale

(recipe by Rikki Snyder)

Ingredients:

  • Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan, to taste

Preparation:

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until completely caramelized, stirring occasionally at first, then more often as the onions begin to brown. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to up to an hour. Season with pepper and remove from skillet when done.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss butternut squash with 2 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • When onions, squash, and pasta are ready, add 1 tbsp oil to a large skillet (you can use the same one you had used for the onions to cut down on dishes). Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  • Add kale and saute for 1 minute, then add wine to the skillet. Continue to cook until the kale has wilted, about 2-3  minutes.
  • Stir in pasta, onions, and squash; cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes more.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Couscous

14 Jul

You know it’s a heat wave when the temperature is in the high 80s and it’s a “cool” day. Yuck!  When it’s this hot outside, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven or stove. It’s the perfect time to grill! Grilling can take only a few minutes and doesn’t heat up the whole house. Plus, then I can get my husband to do most of the work 🙂

Today I’m sharing a recipe for my new favorite grilled dish. Adapted from a recipe by the grilling guru, Bobby Flay, it’s summer vegetables; marinated in a a delicious combination of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, EVOO, and garlic, grilled; and tossed with couscous and fresh herbs. Super easy and so tasty!

I love the adaptability of this recipe. The original recipe calls for toasted Israeli couscous, which is delicious, but after running out of that rather expensive ingredient, I’ve been using regular whole wheat couscous and it works just as well. You can also use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I love grilled asparagus in it, but after it jumped in price, I was OK with leaving it out. Last night when I made this recipe again, I discovered that my cherry tomatoes had gone bad. I was dismayed because they add a lot of brightness to the dish. But I had some extra carrots on hand, so I threw them in, and they gave the dish a really nice sweetness. So really no matter what substitutions you need to make, you can’t go wrong. Grilled veggies are just that good 🙂

It’s delicious served warm, or at room temperature. Feel free to serve as a side salad, or like I do, as a main dish with some yummy grilled bread.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Couscous

(adapted from recipe by Bobby Flay)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 4 carrots, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lb couscous

Preparation:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 the marinade over the vegetables and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium heat. Prepare the couscous as directed on package.
  • Remove the vegetables from the marinade and grill the vegetables until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on the size of the veggies).
  • Cut the grilled vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces. Add them to the prepared couscous and herbs and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 main dish servings.

Panko-Crusted Avocado Fries with Lemon Cilantro Aioli

5 Jan

Wow, have I been on a hiatus! First I was super busy with the end of the semester madness, and then there were all of the holiday celebrations. I know… excuses, excuses. I’ll try to do better.

Well, a few days ago I finally got Pinterest. What a great way to procrastinate 😉 But it is also very motivational. I am itching to start doing more crafts, I just hope I have the time to do them with the new semester starting next week *whine.* I also love the food boards because I’m always looking for new recipes to try.


I am happy to say that my first recipe inspired by Pinterest was a success! Sure, I managed to negate the health benefits of avocado by frying it and dipping it in mayo, but these panko-crusted avocado fries were a fabulous treat! They were soft and creamy on the inside, and crispy and golden brown on the outside. And the lemon flavors in the aioli made it a perfect, flavorful, fresh accompaniment. I’m looking forward to trying lots more recipes 🙂


Panko-Crusted Avocado Fries with Lemon Cilantro Aioli

(adapted from recipe by Adventures in Cooking)

Ingredients:

For the fries-

  • Canola oil (for frying)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cumin

For the aioli-

  • 5 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the bread crumbs,  salt, pepper, and cumin. Set it aside.
  • Cut the avocados in half and then slice them vertically into wedges. Set them aside.
  • Heat the deep fryer to 335 degrees F.
  • Meanwhile, dredge the avocado slices in the breadcrumb mixture, then in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumb mixture again. Place them in the hot oil and fry them for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon or tongs, and set them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  • Allow fries to dry for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a serving tray and serve them immediately.
  • For the lemon cilantro aioli, place the mayonnaise, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender and mix until smooth and creamy in texture.

Makes 3-4 servings.

The Quest for an Apple Orchard, & the Resultant Best Apple Pie Ever

9 Nov

Ever since I started noticing the first signs of Fall, I embarked on one simple mission: To find an apple orchard in Indiana which could hold a candle to Hicks Orchard in my hometown (which, parenthetically, is frequented by Rachael Ray. Which would be kind of a big deal anywhere, but especially in my very small town).


My criteria for such a comparable orchard were quite simple. It would need to have: (a) pick-your-own apples, (b) apple cider, and most importantly, (c) apple cider donuts. That’s not too much to ask, is it? One would think not, but it was hard for me to find an orchard which met all three criteria.

Finally, my pleas for guidance on Facebook resulted in a friend suggesting County Line Orchard, about 90 miles from here. It was a trek, but this orchard far exceeded my expectations! It was GIANT! In fact, it was such a tourist attraction that police were actually directing traffic in and out of the parking lots! Not only did this orchard have pick-your-own apples, apple cider, and apple cider donuts, but it also had a corn maze, pumpkin patch, kettle corn, and well, anything else you could possibly want at an orchard and more. It was quite the thriving enterprise and had me fantasizing about  owning my own apple orchard. I tend to have fantasies like these about a simpler life whenever school is especially overwhelming, haha. I mean, c’mon, planting apple trees has GOT to be easier than writing a dissertation!

But anywho, my day at the orchard did provide a welcome reprieve to the demands of school. My husband and I had a grand ol’ time sampling countless varieties of apples before selecting the winners who would be destined to die in the name of both decadent desserts and healthy snacks.


And these apples certainly did not die in vain. They became an absolutely delicious apple pie, courtesy of  my own merger of the recipes of Paula Deen and my grandma. Could there be a better meeting of culinary minds? I don’t think so. Paula’s filling has just the right texture, consistency, and sweetness, and my grandma’s pie crust is tender and flaky. And it’s topped off by a sweet and crunchy topping. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a better apple pie!


In fact, I think the only thing that could have made this pie better was having more of it. Next time, I’m making a deep-dish. Look out, apples!

Crunch Top Apple Pie

(adapted from recipes by Paula Deen, and my grandma!)

Ingredients:

For the Crust-

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Filling-

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples (I used Golden Delicious and highly recommend them)
  • 8 oz unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter, chopped into small pieces

For the Crunch Topping-

  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Preparation:

  • To prepare the crust, combine flour and salt in a sifter. Add 1/2 cup of butter and mix with an electric mixer. Then, add the rest of the butter and mix. With a fork, little by little, add the cold water until the pastry holds together. Roll into a ball, and cut in half. Roll out each half on a floured board. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of the dough. Cut the remaining crust into strips and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Stir in apples, applesauce, and lemon juice. Spoon apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Arrange the remaining strips of dough in a lattice design on top of the pie.
  • For the crunch topping, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a fork, cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle crunch topping over top of crust.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
  • Refrigerate overnight for best results.

Makes 6-8 servings.