Pumpkin Empanadas

These make a wonderful appetizer. Or dessert, a little like a hand pie. They are sweet and you can make them a bit more savory by reducing the brown sugar. They are addicting. Adapted from By Tablespoon Kitchens

Ingredients

Pastry Dough:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg

Pumpkin Filling:
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg (for egg wash)

Directions

Set oven to 425 °F.

In mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Add butter and mix with beater until well blended. Add vegetable shortening; mix. Stir in water and egg and beat until well blended. The dough should stick together when held in your hand. Place mixture in a zip-top bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the filling: In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in the brown sugar. Heat until the sugar is dissolved into the butter. Stir in pumpkin and cinnamon. Stir over heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place pumpkin mixture in refrigerator to cool off completely. Filling must be cooled.

Lightly grease a large baking sheet. Take chilled pastry dough out of refrigerator and divide it in half. Return the remaining half to refrigerator. Divide dough you have into 6 balls. On a floured board or table, roll each ball into a circle with a rolling pin. Fill each circle with about 2 tablespoons cooled pumpkin filling. Fold one side of circle over and press down on the edges. You must press edges together to keep filling from running out. Take the remaining egg and put it into a small bowl, add 1 teaspoon of water and beat. With pastry brush, brush egg wash on top of each empanada.

Place the first 6 empanadas on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden and the edges are lightly browned.

Take the rest of the pastry dough out of the refrigerator and follow the same instructions. When you are finished, you should have 12 empanadas.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. This was so good, I wanted to just eat it straight from the bowl. Warmed up perfectly. I am always strapped for time on Thanksgiving and doing anything ahead, is, well, gravy…I think I adapted this from My Italian Kitchen blog.

IMG_6364.JPG

IMG_6363.JPG

IMG_6365.JPG

IMG_6366.jpg

Ingredients

  • 2 turkey thighs
  • aromatics, garlic, carrot, onion, celery, sage, thyme
  • 3 boxes of turkey stock or chicken, low sodium
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

FOR THE GRAVY:

  • one half cup plus probably a couple more tablespoons all purpose flour if you can find it, if not, regular all purpose flour would be fine also
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of Gravy Master or gravy Bouquet it should be found in the spice aisle. (optional)

Instructions:

Heat oven to 375.F place turkey thighs in a baking dish, not too deep, salt and pepper the parts and add aromatics like garlic, celery, onion and herbs.

Drizzle with olive oil and pour a little broth in the bottom of the pan.

Roast for maybe 1- 1½ hours or until nicely golden brown.

Transfer everything into a stock pot, all the veggies, turkey and every bit of those drippings.

Add enough stock to cover the parts, I added 2 boxes of turkey stock, but you can also use a mix with water or chicken stock. Don’t drown it just cover it, add in some salt and pepper.

Let it simmer slowly for around two hours partially covered, you’ll see the meat fall off all the bones and the veggies will be super soft and fall apart.

Let it cool down a bit then take a mesh strainer over a large bowl and throughly strain all the turkey and veggie contents, pressing down with the back of a spoon to help get all those tasty drippings into the bowl, take your time and let it all drip down.

Place strained broth/drippings into containers and refrigerate overnight so the fat can rise to the top.

MAKING THE GRAVY;

Skim the fat off the top of your broth before starting to make your gravy.

You’ll need two saucepans, one to warm up your broth so it’s not ice cold then a separate one you place the stick of butter into to melt.

When butter is melted whisk in ½ cup of flour, and keep whisking until it’s nice and golden about a minute or two, then pour the warm broth in and keep whisking until its thickened to your liking. I ended up putting 2 additional heaping tablespoons of flour into mine. In a separate small bowl I placed the additional flour and enough water to make a non lumpy consistency then poured and whisked it into my gravy mixture to make it thicker which I needed.

Taste for additional salt and peeper if needed.

At this point you can refrigerate the gravy into a container in the fridge a few days before Thanksgiving or just freeze it and take it out to defrost the day before Thanksgiving, either way just heat up and serve while the turkey is resting and being sliced. The fuss and mess will be done ahead of time for you and you’ll will be stress free at the crucial time before eating on the big day.

Bread Stuffing

Bread Stuffing

I can’t believe it is almost time to think about Thanksgiving. A lot of us won’t be traveling home or gathering with our loved ones. I think the holidays will look a bit different for most of us. When I started writing this post last year after Thanksgiving it was with the thought of making it for people gathered around my table. So this year, while I may be making it for just my little family of three, last year I loved this so much I wanted to write it down before I forgot. Being able to make part of this ahead of time was a game changer. It was some of the best stuffing I have made. Adapted from New York Times.

IMG_6389.JPG

IMG_6368.JPG

IMG_6367.JPG

IMG_6369.JPG

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 6 to 8 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (I used a baguette)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or sage leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon or sage, crumbled
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chicken or turkey broth
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

PREPARATION

  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a large, deep skillet, Dutch oven or casserole. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add celery and cook about 5 minutes. Add nuts and cook, stirring almost constantly, until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add bread crumbs and tarragon or sage and toss to mix. Turn heat to low. Add salt, pepper and scallions. Toss again; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add parsley and stir. Turn off heat. (You may prepare recipe in advance up to this point; refrigerate, well wrapped or in a covered container, for up to a day before proceeding.) Before cooking toss with the chicken broth.
  3. Roast in an ovenproof glass or enameled casserole for about 45 minutes, at 350 to 400 degrees; you can bake this dish next to the bird, if you like. (Or you can cook it up to 3 days in advance and warm it up right before dinner.)
Butternut Squash, Pine nut and Sage Risotto

Butternut Squash, Pine nut and Sage Risotto

This was adapted from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook. Autumn makes me want to start cooking with all the wonderful squash that starts appearing on the shelves. I roasted the squash which I thought brought out the flavor. It also called for Hazelnuts but I though pine nuts worked perfectly (and what I had in the pantry). This could be a vegetarian main dish with a salad but pairs perfectly with a grilled pork tenderloin or Chicken.


Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
  • 5 tsp. chopped fresh sage or 1 Tbs dried sage
  • 4 Tbs toasted pine nuts (or hazelnuts)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Put butternut squash in a bowl, toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast squash for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender and getting caramelized.

In a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion, stirring frequently, until it is soft and light brown, about 10 minutes.

In a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and sauté the onion, stirring frequently, until it is soft and light brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until a white spot appears in the center of the grains, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the broth, adjust the heat to simmer, if needed, so that the liquid bubbles and is absorbed slowly. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the liquid 3/4 cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, until the rice starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking, adding the liquid 1/2 cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, until the rice is just tender but slightly firm in the center and the mixture is creamy, about 10 minutes more.

Add the roasted squash, Parmesan cheese, 3 Tbs. of the nuts, the pepper and salt. Stir to mix well.

To serve, spoon the risotto into a serving bowl or onto plates. Garnish with the remaining 1 Tbs. fresh sage, if using, and the remaining 1 Tbs. nuts.

Apple Galette

Apple Galette

This is a perfect fall dessert. Comes together quickly. From http://www.theviewfromthegreatisland.com

Ingredients
For the pie crust

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup ice water


For the apple filling
2.5-3 medium-large apples, sliced and peeled
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1 Tbsp honey (plus extra for drizzling over the finished galette, if desired)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold or room temp, cut into small pieces


Instructions
For the pie crusts

To make the pie crust, add the flour, butter, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until the butter is broken up and no large pieces remain.
Slowly add the ice water through the top of the food processor and continue to pulse until the dough comes together in a single lump.
Remove the dough from the food processor. Roughly shape into a disk about an inch thick. Place in the fridge until ready to roll out for the galette.


For the galette

Preheat oven to 375F and line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
Toss the sliced apples with the brown sugar, spices, and salt. Set aside.
Sliced apples for apple galette
Place the pie dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll it out into a large circle about 14 inches in diameter. It should be fairly thin, but not too difficult to handle without tearing.


Rolling out galette dough
Gently move the rolled out dough to your prepared baking sheet. Put about half of the sliced apples into the center of the circle of dough, and spread them out evenly, leaving about 1 and a half inches of space all around for folding the dough over the apples. You can simply place all the apples into the center of the dough and spread them out evenly, or you can take the other half and arrange them in an overlapping circular pattern.
sliced apples on dough for an apple galette
Drizzle 1 Tbsp of honey over the apples and dot with the butter. Fold the excess pie crust over the filling.

Lightly brush the edge of the pie dough with milk or cream, and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.
Place the galette in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are cooked through.
baked apple galette with plate of apples
Drizzle or brush another tsp or 2 of honey over the finished galette while still warm for a glossy top. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie

There are a million different recipes for this I am sure and this is a tasty way to use up your tomatoes from the garden or the farm stand. I used yellow tomatoes but you could use any good, ripe tomato. The key is to really let the tomato slices drain on paper towels, 1-2 hours. You can use Mayo instead of ricotta, also. Thank you to Dawn Bryant Hughes for the recipe.

4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced, drained
3/4-1 Cup ricotta cheese
herbs (basil, parsley, chives), & minced garlic together
2-2.5 Cups cheese (anything you have – cheddar, gruyere, mozzarella, parmesan)
1 precooked pie crust (I made mine but you can use ready made).

• Pat dry tomatoes, spread out on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Roast at 350 for about 20-30 minutes.
• Pre cook pie crust according to recipe or directions.
• Starting with tomatoes, layer tomatoes and cheese mixture 2-3 times and top with a little more cheese. Sprinkle with Basil.
• Bake 350° for 30 min.

Corn Risotto

Corn Risotto

This is a fabulous side dish. I served with chicken. It is addicting. Take advantage of all this wonderful fresh corn while you can!

Ingredients
4-6 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (4 cups), divided, cobs reserved
5 1/2 cups hot chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
shallot, minced
2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
I 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup greek yogurt or sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

l. Stand l reserved corn cob on end on cutting board and firmly scrape downward with back of butter knife to remove any pulp remaining on cob.
Repeat with remaining reserved cobs. Transfer pulp to blender. Add 3 cups corn kernels.
2. Process corn and pulp on low speed until thick puree forms, about 30 seconds. With blender running, add 1/2 cup hot broth. Increase speed to
high and continue to process until smooth, about 3 minutes longer. Pour puree into fine-mesh strainer set over large liquid measuring cup or bowl.
Using back of ladle or rubber spatula, push puree through strainer, extracting as much liquid as possible (you should have about 2 cups corn liquid). Discard solids.
3. Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallot, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned,
about l minute. Add rice and thyme sprigs and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Stir in 4 1/2 cups hot broth. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until liquid is slightly thickened and rice is just al dente, 16 to
19 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.
5. Add corn liquid and continue to cook, stirring gently and constantly, until risotto is creamy and thickened but not sticky, about 3 minutes longer (risotto will continue to thicken as it sits).
6. Stir in Parmesan and remaining l cup corn kernels. Cover pot and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Stir in creme fraiche, chives, and lemon juice. Discard thyme sprigs and season witl1 salt and pepper to taste. Adjust consistency with remaining 1/2 cup hot broth as needed. Serve immediately.

Spanish Paella

Spanish Paella

I adapted this from “Tastes better From Scratch” Blog. I have a huge paella pan and this worked perfectly on the gas grill. This recipe can have so many variations but I stuck with seafood and chicken but you can make this vegetarian, add chorizo, lobster, rabbit or pork. It is actually a very easy recipe. and takes about an hour. I used a paella rice (“bomba” rice, calaspara rice, arroz redonda) but you can use short grain or sushi rice if you cannot find.

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive Oil (Spanish EVOO if you have it)
  • 1 Onion , diced
  • 1 red bell pepper , diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 3 roma tomatoes , very finely diced
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 4 boneless , skinless chicken thighs , cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup flat leaf Parsley chopped, divided
  • 2 cups Spanish Rice
  • 5 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • ½ lb Jumbo Shrimp or prawns , about 12 – peeled, tail on
  • 1/2 lb Mussels (about 10-12), cleaned properly (beards off)
  • 8 oz calamari rings
  • Lemons , for garnish

Instructions

  • Add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add chopped tomato, bay leaf, paprika, saffron salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add white wine and cook for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.
  • Add chicken pieces, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and rice to the pot. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Pour the broth slowly all around the pan and jiggle the pan to get the rice into an even layer. (Do not stir the mixture going forward!).
  • Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Give the pan a gentle shake back and forth once or twice during cooking.
  • Cook for about 15-18 minutes (uncovered), then nestle the shrimp, mussels and calamari into the mixture, sprinkle peas on top and continue to cook (without stirring) for about 5 more minutes. Watch for most of the liquid to be absorbed and the rice at the top nearly tender. (If for some reason your rice is still not cooked, add ¼ cup more water or broth and continue cooking).
  • Remove pan from heat and cover pan with a lid or tinfoil. Place a kitchen towel over the lid and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon slices. Serve
Roasted Broccoli Florets with Toasted Breadcrumb Gremolata

Roasted Broccoli Florets with Toasted Breadcrumb Gremolata

My husband loves the idea of vegetables. He loves to eat them when they are disguised.
I was not sure he would eat these but he cleaned the plate. The roasting brings out a sweet nuttiness and these make a wonderful side dish to anything! This was adapted from the New California Cookbook. Full disclosure: I actually used a brioche hot dog bun for the breadcrumbs and it was fabulous.

IMG_E7365.jpg

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (optional)
  • 1  broccoli crown, stems removed, tops cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot; sauté until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add breadcrumbs; toast until golden, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to small bowl. Mix in lemon peel. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss broccoli with remaining 3 tablespoons oil in large bowl to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread out onto large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until stems are crisp-tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle gremolata over and serve.

IMG_7360.jpg

IMG_7361.jpg

IMG_7364.jpg

IMG_7363.jpg

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

If you are looking for an easy cooking project for the kids, or just want to eat some brownies, these are super easy. You can make this using 1 bowl. My husband ate about 4 after they came out of the oven… Inspired by a recipe from Cafe delights.

IMG_7150.jpg

IMG_7151.jpg

IMG_7154.jpg

IMG_7156.jpg

IMG_7152.jpg

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and HOT
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil, (olive oil or coconut oil are fine)
  • 1 1/8 cup superfine sugar, (caster sugar or white granulated sugar)*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut butter (optional)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

    • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
    • Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper (or baking paper); set aside.
    • Combine hot melted butter, oil and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well for about a minute. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in color (another minute).
    • Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (do NOT over beat as doing so well affect the texture of your brownies).
    • Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly. (OPTIONAL: Top with chocolate chunks or chocolate chips.)
    • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centre of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch (the brownies will keep baking in the hot pan out of the oven). If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies.
  • Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing into 16 brownies.