Nov 30, 2010

Beef, Shiitake and Snow Pea Stirfry

There is only one dish SA asks for other than cheeseburger meatloaf and that is stir fry.  I normally suck at making stir fry. Seriously. I know what you are thinking. How can you screw up a stir fry? It's a relatively simple dish, a simple idea and a simple preparation.  However I absolutely hate my stir fry.  I think it always melds into too many flavors and I don't like the way the sauce tastes. This however is a recipe I modified from a Bon Appetit recipe and it ROCKS my SOCKS! The sauce... oh let me talk about the sauce for a moment.  THE SAUCE was amazing velvety and spicy sweet and savory, it embodies everything I never knew I always wanted  a stir fry to be.  The shiitake were meaty and woody, the snow peas crisp and green and the meat was delicious.  I'm sold. I LOVE MY STIR FRY!

1 1-pound top sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced
8 ounces snow peas
1 med size shallot thinly sliced.
5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger, scallions and mushrooms; stir-fry until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Add beef to skillet; stir-fry until beef browns but is still pink in center, about 2 minutes. Add snow peas stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in hoisin, chili-garlic sauce, and five-spice powder; saute until peas are crisp-tender, about a minute.

Nov 21, 2010

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

When you are looking for something wonderful to do with all of your leftover turkey then I would highly recommend this soup.  The first time I made it I made it with chicken, and after our Thanksgiving feast I decided to use the rest of the leftover turkey and make this!

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cups left over turkey shredded
1  cup wild rice
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup celery chopped
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of thyme
1/4 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy cream
olive oil
     In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until onions are translucent about 5 minutes,stirring frequently. Add thyme, parsley, pepper and salt. combine broth, water and turkey. Bring just to boiling, then stir in rice, cover and turn down to medium heat let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
     In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture by tablespoons, to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.
Stir cream mixture into broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.

Nov 18, 2010

Sausage, Apple, Onion and Cranberry Dressing

This stuffing is SO good.  I always thought that my Grandma's stuffing was the penultimate. Thought is the operative word.  It has everything : sweetness from the apples and cranberries, a great texture from the different kinds of bread and a wonderful savoriness from the sausage and onions. I believe that using the fresh herbs also gave it a great taste...

Sausage, Apple Onion and Cranberry Dressing
1 pound mild bulk breakfast sausage
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped onions
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups bread cubes
1 cup cornbread crumbles
1 cup stale french bread cubes
1 cup black bread cubes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Saute the sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Transfer the sausage and drippings to a large bowl. Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, apples, celery and poultry seasoning to the skillet and saute until the leeks are soft, about 8 minutes. Mix in the drained cranberries, sage and rosemary. Add the mixture to the sausage, then mix in the breads and parsley. Next add the heavy cream and the chicken stock a little at a time until the stuffing is very moist. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish.
Bake in a 14-inch oval or 9 by 13-inch rectangular casserole dish and place, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center piping hot.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry juice should not come in a can.  It shouldn't have marshmallows and it should not be cut with a knife.  Just my thoughts.  This recipe is an amalgamation of 4 or five others that I read and liked parts of.  I get my agar-agar at the health food store in the bulk section but I suppose in a pinch you could use gelatin.

Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce
12 oz fresh cranberries

1 c POM juice
1 1/2 c raw sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp orange peel
1tsp agar-agar
pinch of salt
Place the the cranberries, pom juice and sugar, cinnamon, orange peel and agar-agar and salt in sauce pan. On medium to high heat until sugar has melted and cranberries begin to pop and release their juices. Stir occasionally. Bring the mixture to a boil. once boiling lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thick.
It was fairly thick at this point but I liked it even more once it had a chance to hang out in the fridge over night!

I apologize for the HORRIBLE picture, but it was from my cellphone and I wanted to be able to post all the Thanksgiving recipes before people were finishing up their Thanksgiving plans!

Nov 16, 2010

Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and Marshmallow fondant leaves

Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

1 1/4 cups butter
2 cups chopped pecans
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

    Pre- heat oven to 350. Grease and flour bottoms of three 9 inch layer pans(or two cupcake pans).
Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and brown 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
           Sift flour with baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cream remaining butter in large mixing bowl. Gradually add 2 cups sugar; cream at high speed of mixer until light and fluffy. At medium speed blend in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. At low speed add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla extract, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition. Stir in pecans and pour batter into pans.
     Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched in center. center.       
When cool frost with creamy vanilla butter cream:
To make creamy vanilla butter cream Frosting: Cream 1/4 cup butter or margarine in mixing bowl. Add 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract, salt, 4 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/3 to 1/2 cup cream. Beat until smooth.

Marshmallow Fondant
16 ounces white mini-marshmallows
2 to 5 tablespoons water
2 pounds icing sugar
1/2 cup shortening
Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave or double boiler. To microwave, place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 1/2 minutes total.

Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix and if you have a kitchen aid dump in your greased kitchen aid. Or grease your hands generously then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle. Start kneading like you would bread dough and add the rest of the powdered sugar.  If the fondant gets too dry add a little water. If you aren't using it right away spread a little shortening over it and seal it well.  I like to wrap it in plastic wrap and then a plastic bag as well.

For the leaves I just rolled the fondant out till it was thin, used a cookie cutter and painted the leaves with food color.  I also let them sit out a few hours so that they were a little stiffer.

Nov 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Souffles

Sweet Potato Souffle
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled

1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted
8 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp rum flavoring (also maple would be amazing here)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 a cup gingerbread cookies crumbled into fine crumbles (I used my rolling pin)
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly coat 8 individual ramekins with cooking spray and then a light coating of the gingerbread crumbles. Run your finger 1/4 inch into the ramekins to remove any extra crumbs or oil. This allows the souffles to rise better.
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1 inch squares, cook over medium high about 30 minutes or until tender.
In a stand mixer mixer, beat the sweet potatoes with the brown sugar, butter, eggs, rum, and cinnamon.
Transfer the batter into prepared ramekins.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out cleanly.  Sprinkle with more gingerbread crumbles on top.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Curry

     While I was changing and putting on a bit of makeup for the pre-Thanksgiving potluck dinner we had this past weekend I asked SA to either put the roasted squash into the blender for me or to put it into the food processor.  When I came back down I stopped and stared.  My helpful non kitchen oriented husband was spooning spoonfuls of my squash mixture into a strainer and straining it through. And there was squash on the ceiling. I was gone less than ten minutes!
     Turns out SA had decided to use the blender and instead of adding chicken stock as I had told him to he was using a spatula to push the squash into the blender.  What happens when you do this?!  The blade eats the spatula.  I panicked when I heard this! I couldn't believe he ruined my beautiful roasted vegetables.  I almost lost my cool.  Luckily right as I was about to launch into a full fledged freak out he recovered the piece of plastic and it was the whole piece.  Crisis averted and I could take back over the process!
     I have made several butternut squash based soups before but by far this is my favorite.  The curry adds a depth and a subtle spice to the creaminess of the squash, but my most favorite thing was the condiments we added! I never would of thought to add banana and coconut but they were an unexpected delicious addition!

Recipe Source: Modified from a Barefoot Contessa Recipe

Curry Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon good curry powder*

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash and the apples and onions into two different pans and spread it in a single layer. Roast Squash for 45 minutes or until very tender and roast the apples and onions for 20 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done either blend them with a little of the chicken stock or put them in a food processor.  When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough chicken stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Reheat and serve hot with condiments either on the side or on top of each serving.


Flaked coconut
Roasted cashews, toasted and chopped
Diced banana

* I would recommend starting off with 1/2 a tsp of curry powder and adding it and tasting so you do not put too much in.

Nov 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

     Thanksgiving was yesterday.  We sat around and ate till we were stuffed, there was a game going on (from what I hear, haha), everyone left with leftovers and today my poor dishwasher has already born the brunt of three loads of dishes and it's not even three pm. Wait, what you say? Thanksgiving is still almost two weeks away!
     Correct, however, SA and I have very little family out here, I work retail and I close the day before Thanksgiving and then open pretty early the day after so those things combine to make having a big Thanksgiving dinner/celebration on the actual day pretty damn impossible. So we had it last night!  The great thing about having it last night is I get to share the recipes with you guys.  All of the recipes I tried last night I had never made before so I was having intense anxiety over it, plus we had more people over than we have ever had in our house!
During the following week I will devote a post to each recipe with my recommendations and also the things I changed except for the turkey and pumpkin pie.  Each was delicious, but both have been blogged about to the point of repetition.

Caramelized onion dip
Alton Brown's Brined Roast Turkey: Good EATS!
Sausage Apple, Onion and Cranberry Stuffing
Individual Sweet Potato Souffles
Spinach Gratin
Pomegranate cranberry sauce
Rosemary Rolls
&  pumpkin pie

November Daring Cooks Challenge: Souffles!

My first daring chefs challenge was quite scary:
But they fall! They are difficult! I only have small ramekins!  I'M SCARED! These were all thoughts going thru my head when I saw what the challenge was to be (should I accept it).  In the end I persevered and learned that it was actually quite easy and something I will be adding to my repertoire more often.
     This was a perfect recipe for the SA and I, it made three nice size souffles so there was one for each of us and one that we just so happened to share with two hungry pirate princesses and their parents.

Chocolate Mint Souffles
2 eggs

1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons  Cocoa
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Dash salt
1/3 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon mint extract

Separate eggs. Place whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place yolks in another bowl; set aside.

Coat two 10-oz. ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar; place on a baking sheet and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from the heat; stir in chocolate chips and extract until chips are melted. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the bowl, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.
Beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, fold a fourth of the egg whites into chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Fold in remaining egg whites until combined.
Transfer to prepared ramekins. Bake at 375° for 18-22 minutes or until tops are puffed and centers are almost set.

A spooky pirate princess waiting for a bite of souffle!

Nov 11, 2010

Santa Baby! (Not Food Related...well kinda food related)

I work retail and it is a true story that the Christmas decorations were already up DAYS before Halloween.  This my friends has a name, and it is overkill! Sure I am an old wizened bitter retail worker that has been working it for 15 long years, but there is something about putting decorations up two holidays before the actual holiday that gets to me, regardless of my feelings about Christmas Cheer.
Nevertheless those damn decorations got me thinking of what I would put on my list this year. (And the fact that I need to start planning on what to get for the rest of my friends and family, especially since all most of my peeps live out of state.)
    I have reached a point in my life where the thought of a new Le Creuset pan or new flat wear gets me going rather than makeup, clothes or "things(aka that which must be dusted), even though I have makeup on my list!
So my question to you is...
What's on your list this year, cooking related or non?
And here is a snap shot of mine:

Unfortunately, its on closeout.  But I only need 4 6 place settings!

Le Creuset LOVELIES  Yup I would pretty much keel over to have some Le Creuset.  Flame if you please!

The Cake Biblebaking isn't my strong suit and I want to get better at it. Perhaps a little inspiration would help! Besides this is the penultimate of cake books the author not only explains the chemistry behind making intense cakes, she has plenty of five minute recipes as well!


A Roomba:I have been wanting one of these bad boys for so long!!! I just imagine how hair free our house would be.  SA however is very against them and convinced they wont work. Boo SA boo.

Mint and Vanilla: Quite possibly two of my favourite scents from Yankee Candle.

MAC eyeshadow kit: Reelers and Rockers set.  Mmmmm perfect colors!

Shape Ups: I think these would be even more comfortable than danskos!

I don't actually have a website for these... just 00 gauge swallow plugs for my ears!

So here is a quick snapshot at what I would love to my question for you is..what is on YOUR LIST?!
(and have you been naughty or nice?!)

Nov 9, 2010

Roasted Acorn Squash

      When I was three I spit a bite of King Ranch Chicken on my plate and then had to sit there for probably close to two hours, either deciding I liked the casserole or as a punishment for spitting it onto my plate, the reason escapes me.  I did so petulantly, alternately staring at the congealing plate of cheesy, tomatoey chicken and crying at the agony of sitting there for so long.  So what if there were starving kids in Africa! Send them the damn king ranch chicken, there was no way it was going in my mouth. 
     I suppose I learned my lesson though, because I can honestly say I have tried at least one bite of everything that has come my way since then.  Everything that is until this past Sunday.
     I fully expected to love the golden acorn squash with its sunny beta carotene pumpkin color and butternut squash flavor and I was excited to take the picture! It was so pretty with its maple cinnamon butter and pretty roasted outside.
     SA took a great picture and then we sat down to partake of its lovliness. I took the first bite, my fork gently cutting and scooping into the perfectly roasted flesh. 
    Then it hit my mouth.  I rolled it around.  I tried to chew it.  My taste buds tasted it.  It. was. slimy. chunky. pumpkiney when I expected squashy. It was disgusting.  I spit it out.  At thirty something I could not for the life of me get it far enough into my mouth to swallow it.  SA looked aghast at me and murmured something that sounded like: "What the F*&^k?"  and tried his half.  He liked it. He loved it.  He ate my half (around the bite that I spit back on my plate.)
Regardless of how I personally feel about acorn squash, I'm going to post this recipe! SA enjoyed it, and hopefully you will too.  Just remember if you choose not to eat it:

Roasted Acorn Squash
2 whole Acorn Squash

4 dashes Olive Oil
1/2 stick Butter, softened
1.4 cups Brown Sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 TBSP maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350. Cut open your acorn squash and dig out the guts, just like a pumpkin.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and butter together in a bowl,  Pull the squash out of the oven and top each half with a dollop of the sugar mixture. Return the wedges to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, basting often with the sugary juices in the bottom of the pan.

Squash is done when it can easily be pierced with a fork. Drizzle with more basting sauce and serve.

Acorn Squash on FoodistaAcorn Squash

Nov 7, 2010

Italian Pork Roast with Rosemary Gravy

     Growing up my family had a serious thing for pork.  A serious love affair with the other white meat. Almost borderline obsession.  My dad is the king of pork. (that is kinda gross!) He loves to cook it anyway though, grill, baked, fried(hello bacon!) etc.  SA and I on the other hand rarely eat pork, however last week when I found pork roasts on sale for an incredible deal I jumped on it, remembering that last year I made a tasty Italian style pork roast and intending on using the same recipe.
Unfortunately once I got home I couldn't find the recipe anywhere.  Fail, time to wing it!

Italian Pork Roast with Rosemary Gravy
4 Garlic cloves roughly chopped
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Rosemary
1/2 tsp. Basil
1/4 tsp. Chervil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1-2 pound pork roast

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine spices, sugar and olive oil in food processor and blend until it forms a paste.  Pat over top of roast and place roast in a baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, and then cover and back another 45 minutes.  (Depends on size of your roast). Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and
rosemary gravy.

Rosemary Gravy (Not to be confused with Rosemary's Baby)
After the roast was done:
De glaze the pan with a little wine or broth (I used wine)
add roughly 1tbsp flour and mix into liquid, scrapping up the good meat bits in the pan.
Continue stirring until thick (add a little more broth or water if you need to) and then spice to your taste.
I used about 1/4 tsp of rosemary, the same of garlic and a little salt and black pepper.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

     I saved the recipe for these muffins almost a year ago and then I held onto it for about three months before I ever even made them.  To be honest, it was this recipe that got me into blogging.  My friend (both in real life and in the blogging world) Amber sent the recipe to me and said that she endorsed them.  These were RIDICULOUS.  And by ridiculous I mean ridiculously good.  Its a pretty easy recipe and it makes just the right amount because in my opinion they don't keep too well and they are really rich with the addition of cream cheese. 

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins
delightfully borrowed and somewhat modified from Angel in the Kitchen <--click there to see the original recipe and to check out her super tasty recipes!
8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg, at room temperature
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter pecan cake mix*
1 Tbsp. butter

      Preheat an oven to 400 degrees and grease a jumbo muffin tin.
      Using a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Mix until combined, but cream cheese is still chunky.
      In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the mixture and add the cream cheese mixture. Stir until combined.
     In a small bowl, combine blueberries and 1 Tbsp. flour, shake till blueberries are coated in flour. Gently fold blueberries into batter.
      In a small bowl, combine cake mix and 1 Tbsp. butter with a fork, until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture evenly across muffins.
     Bake for about 28 minutes, until muffins are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

     *the original recipe calls for white cake mix and I have used that as well as the butter pecan but I prefer the depth that the butter pecan adds.

Nov 3, 2010

Kinky Peppers

       Did you know peppers will cross pollinate if you plan them too close together? Kinky peppers!!! What does this have to do with a recipe you ask???
       Last night we had our close friends over for dinner and this happened to coincide with SA bringing some peppers home from his bosses house.  I checked the peppers out and from what I could tell by observing them, there were three kinds, Poblano, Serrano and one that I couldn't not identify but looked hot.  Clearly I was using sound reasoning on determining the heat of the last.
I decided that there was only one thing to do with the Poblanos:

Stuffed Peppers:
6 Poblano Peppers, roasted and skinned*
1/4 Pound ground beef
1/2 onion finely chopped
1/4 c. roasted corn
1/4 c. mushrooms
2 Tbsp. toasted walnuts
4 Tbsp. Cotija cheese
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 14.5 oz. can of red enchilada sauce

     In a small skillet brown ground beef, onions and garlic.  While the beef is cooking toast the walnuts for 3 minutes over medium heat or until slightly browned.  Be careful not to let the nuts burn.  When meat is almost done add mushrooms, corn, cumin and 2 Tbsp of the red enchilada sauce.  Continue cooking until meat is browned..  Remove from heat and mix in walnuts, cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Carefully stuff each of the peppers with the meat mixture and place in greased baking dish.  Cover with the rest of the can of enchilada sauce and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  At this point I added more cheese and put it under the broiler for a few minutes until cheese was melted.

     The flavor of the stuffing was awesome(SA said the peppers were tingly-tastic to his taste buds, which I think is good!), complex and nutty but mellow from the cheese it was a great accompaniment to the pepper, unfortunately, the peppers had cross pollinated and were a bit too spicy for our palate.  I think the next time I try to make these I will taste one of the Poblanos before I stuff them all.
     *How to Roast peppers:
Wash peppers and cut off stem, rinsing out all seeds.  Place on a baking sheet in the broiler for five minutes watching carefully.  You want the peppers to start to bubble and skorch.  Once one side has bubbled, flip them over and do the other side.  After both sides have skorched put the peppers in a brown paper bag in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.  Once the peppers have cooled you should be able to skin them easily.

Nov 2, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto

     I don't really have much to say about this recipe except its delicious and fulfilling! I made it to go with the apple cider pork loin, but quite honestly this dish can stand by itself and it makes a great vegetarian option! Next time I make it I am definitely not going to serve it with meat or anything else!
I love the delicate tastes of the pumpkin mixing with the hardier rice.

Pumpkin Risotto
1/4 c. Onion finely chopped

1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 C. Arborio Rice
3 C. Chicken Stock
2 TBSP salted butter
1/3 c Parmesan Cheese (Please use some quality here, folks, none of the fake stuff in the green container!)
1/2 tsp. Basil

     Heat chicken stock in a pot on stove on medium heat. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for five or so minutes until the onions are no longer crunchy. Add rice into pan and stir for a minute, coating in olive oil. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
     Keep the burner just high enough to barely simmer the stock and risotto. You must pay attention, and stir it more than occasionally, but you don't have to be a slave to the stove top.
     When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add pumpkin puree and basil. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm. Once it is done, take it off the burner and stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste

Nov 1, 2010

Fall Food is THE BEST! (Pork Loin with Carmelized Onion Apple Cider Gravy)

     Fall food is my favorite.  Homey, comforting, seasonal and delicious it embodies everything I love about cooking.
     Yesterday was Halloween and I worked most of the day but I wanted to cook something that was full of fall flavor, but wouldn't take too long since we were getting a ton of little ghosties and goblins at our door, and it took both of us to control the pirate when kids came to the door:

     He gang busted out the first time kids came to the door and licked a little princess all over.  Lucky for me her parents just laughed  and it was a good laugh, but let me tell you after that I was totally scared he would do it again!

Pork Loin
2 sprigs rosemary leaves, roughly chopped

2 sprigs sage, roughly chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
pork loin
1 large onions chopped
2 C. Apple Cider
vegetable broth
        Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a food processor, combine the chopped herbs with the garlic, crushed red pepper, a generous pinch of salt and enough olive oil to make a paste. Brush the paste on the outside of the pork loin and put in roasting pan. Add 1 cup of Apple cider.  Roast the pork at 425 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pork has developed a lovely brown crust. Check the pork, Add vegetable broth if  too much of the apple cider has cooked down.
       Lower the oven to 375 degrees F and roast for another 30 to 35 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 150 degrees F. If the crust on the pork starts to get too dark, cover it with foil. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the cider from the bottom of the roasting pan and reserve for the gravy.
      Let the pork rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. When ready to carve cut into thin slices.

Apple Cider Gravy
I Tbsp. butter
1 large onion cut in slivers
1 Tbsp. flour
1 1.2 cups reserved apple cider/broth
salt and pepper to taste.
1 Tbsp. Apple Butter
     Heat the pan on medium high heat until butter is melted. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the butter. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions, and if you want, you can add some sugar to help with the caramelization process. Once onions have reached a caramel color, sprinkle flour over and mix in until onions are coated and you can't see the flour.  Pour in apple cider/broth mixture and turn up to high heat.
Still on a high heat, reduce the cider by half stirring all the time scraping the goodness from the bottom of the pan. Once the gravy has thickened add salt and pepper to taste and finish with the apple butter for an extra apple taste!
     I loved this recipe. It was super easy and combined some of the best flavors of fall.  The next time I make it I am going to make a pot of garlic mashed potatoes to go with it so that I have something else to put the delicious gravy on!!!