Well Dined

6Jan/140

Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

Oh my gosh, you guys.  This might be my favorite butternut squash pasta since the life-saving mac and cheese.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

Sheets of homemade pasta filled with roasted butternut squash, apple, onion, sausage, and three cheeses; topped with a creamy sage bechamel.  It's totally swoon worthy.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

The filling is a little complicated, but totally worth it.  While your butternut squash is roasting in the oven, mix up and brown your sausage mixture.  Did I mention that you are creating your own sausage, so you can adjust the spices to your liking?  And you can be sure that there are no weird preservatives or sugar?  Awesome.  Anyway, next you saute some onions, garlic, and apple.  Plus a little white wine - aww, yeah.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sausage Lasagna

Oh my gosh this filling.  It's insane.  You may want to make extra to use in other ways.  I'll talk about that later.

9Dec/130

Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Is there anything better than a big pot of comforting beef stew in the Winter?  Maybe if you add a lot of veggies, Middle Eastern spices, and some apricots for sweetness.  Yum, yum, yum.  At least I thought so - my husband wasn't really sold on the whole sweet things in a stew concept, and he doesn't like all those vegetables getting in the way of his meat.  But whatever, I thought it was awesome.  If you are not limiting carbs, you could serve this over some couscous and let it soak up all the juices.

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Start by cooking some red onion and browning some beef chuck that has been seasoned with cumin, ginger, and cinnamon.  I feel like red onions only work well in specific places, and this is one of them.  Cooking them enough that they start to caramelize and release some sweetness is the way to go, here.  Remove the meat to a plate temporarily and deglaze the pot with some red wine to scrape up all those browned spices and good bits that are stuck to the bottom.

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

Add in some sweet potato, apricots, and a can of whole tomatoes in their juices; then add enough water to cover and let simmer for a few hours.  Your house is going to smell AWESOME.  For reals.

Well Dined | Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

After it is done simmering and the meat and potatoes are all soft and luscious - throw in some chickpeas and spinach.  Oh my gosh.  There is so much going on here!  The apricots absorb the liquid and plump up, and the sweetness from them and the sweet potatoes contrasts the warm spices.  I love all the different colors and textures, too.  Let's get cooking, peeps!

20Nov/130

Best Ever Lasagna Revisted

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

I've written about my favorite lasagna recipe before, but it was years ago and I think it needs to be revisited - especially now that my neighbors confirm it is the best lasagna they have ever had.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

The cast of characters is pretty simple, but I think what makes this lasagna stand out is the use of veal and white wine.  It's a bit different from the standard, but that's what makes it special.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

I really like for my veg to be finely diced for this ragu, so that there aren't any big chunks.  But I did not make those perfect cuts on my own - I use a veggie chopper.  It's fast and it makes everything uniform.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

The other thing that makes this ragu great is that it is simmered for up to 5 hours.  That low and slow cooking brings out all the flavor.  I highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes in this, they are just the best.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

Americans might be used to the type of lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella, which is fine but not very authentic.  This version has a creamy bechamel (aka my favorite food) and tons of Parmesan, and it is just so dreamy.

Well Dined | Best Ever Lasagna

I really went all out for this batch and made my own lasagna noodles for the first time.  It is certainly not necessary to do that, but I do think it took it up one final step to perfection.  I did have several issues while doing this, though.  The learning curve is pretty steep.  Don't try to be clever when you roll out your own pasta and leave the sheets really long - trust me, it makes them almost impossible to cook.  Now I know why the store-bought ones are short.  I'm also going to edit the pasta dough recipe in the original post because it was awful and really soft and hard to work with.

Anyway, go make the best lasagna of your life.  You will thank me.  Recipe here.

12Nov/130

Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

I'm not really sure how to do food styling for mac and cheese - as you can tell from this photo.  Oh - a chunk or orange stuff, yum.  Well don't let my bad photography fool you - this mac and cheese is the bomb.  It's the ultimate comfort food, and I should know.

Well Dined

Look at that sweet face.

You see, I lost my cat last month to illness.  Other pet owners out there might understand this - he and his (adopted) brother were my first pets as an adult.  That is a whole different situation from childhood pets, or even pets you get later as a family.  I literally think of my boys as my children, so this was extremely difficult for me.  It was also very sudden.  Animals, as you may know, hide their sickness so that they won't be perceived as weak.  Which means that by the time they start acting sick, it is often too late.  In our case, we took him in the same day he was acting weird and found out that night that there was nothing we could do.  He was gone the next day.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

The grief affected me like the flu - I had fever, chills, and nausea.  The only thing I could stand to eat was macaroni and cheese, and after a couple of days of my husband making me the boxed stuff, I finally started cooking again.  I made this butternut squash mac and cheese and lived off it for a week.  It was definitely very comforting.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

It's ooey gooey with both cheddar and Gruyere, with a bit of caramelized onion, pops of salty bacon, and sweet butternut squash - partially mashed so that there is sweetness throughout, but also some chunks here and there.  I even splurged and used regular, white pasta so that I could get my favorite shape - gemelli.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

The top is sprinkled with more cheese and buttery breadcrumbs.  Perfection.  This is possibly the most delicious food ever.  So whether you are sad or you just like macaroni and cheese, go dive face first into a bowl of this stuff.  You won't regret it.

30Oct/131

Butternut Squash and Kale Mac and Cheese

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Kale Mac and Cheese

So I actually made this a year ago and didn't manage to post it before it was way past butternut squash season, doh!  I figured I would just hold off and post about it the next Fall, which is what I am doing now.  The problem is, my photography has improved leaps and bounds since then so these photos look really awful.  I am so sorry in advance, but the mac and cheese is really good.  I promise.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Kale Mac and Cheese

I saw this recipe on an episode of The Chew, and the idea was that it was orange and black for Halloween.  Orange from the squash, black from the kale.  Except that kale is green, even when it's wilted...  Whatever - it uses Fall produce and it's delicious, so let's pretend it works.

Well Dined | Butternut Squash and Kale Mac and Cheese

Cook up some bacon (I used pancetta because stuff and things), add some butter, sweat some onions and garlic, wilt some kale - awesome.  So here's where the original recipe gets weird (The Chew website is notoriously bad at reviewing their recipes) - it says to have 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced, and to saute the squash in the pan.  Then later it says to add in the butternut squash puree.  What butternut squash puree?  There is no butternut squash puree in the ingredient list.  Huh?  Also - sauteed squash?  Meh.  So here's what I did (as you can see in the previous picture) - tossed that cubed squash with olive, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; then roasted it.  Yummy.  Then I took half the roasted squash and mashed it.  Ah-ha!  Now there is butternut squash puree, sort of.

25Oct/130

Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Super comforting spiced lamb on top of creamy mashed potatoes - how could that be healthy?  Well for starters, there are no potatoes - that is a cauliflower and white bean puree.  This looks like comfort food, and it totally is, but it is all veggies and protein with no carbs!

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Start by caramelizing some carrots to release that sweetness.  Then brown up some lamb.  I used lamb chops and discovered that there is very little meat on them - next time I am definitely using cubed meat.

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

When the lamb is browned, add in garlic, spices, chard, and chickpeas (more protein!).  I wondered why the original recipe didn't call for tomatoes - they make so much sense here.  So I went ahead and added them.  The original recipe also just used paprika, which I thought was a little boring.  I used paprika, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander.

Well Dined | Healthy Moroccan Lamb

Another change from the original was that it called for polenta to serve with the lamb.  Polenta is cooked corn meal, and I am trying to avoid grains.  So I used a cauliflower puree instead and it was creamy and delicious - a good counterpoint for the tangy spiced lamb.

16Oct/130

Paleo Chicken and Carrot Cauliflower Puree

Well Dined | Paleo Chicken

I am trying to avoid carbohydrates and starches as much as possible for health reasons (and not being very successful).  For this reason, I like it when I happen upon a tasty looking Paleo recipe.  I do not follow the Paleo diet by any means, but I do agree with some of their basic assumptions - like grains and processed vegetable oils are bad, and animal fat is good.

Well Dined | Paleo Chicken

I liked this recipe even more when I saw that it was for the slow cooker.  Loaded up with carrots, cauliflower, onion, garlic, and chicken stock - a pot of goodness!

Well Dined | Paleo Chicken

Now, I usually don't like chicken thighs, especially skin-on and bone-in, but I get that breasts dry out and fall apart so I followed the recipe on this one.  Picking around the bone was still pretty irritating to me, but that skin that I crisped up (twice) in bacon fat?  Yum city.  I also threw a little fresh thyme in here because I grow it and why not?

Well Dined | Paleo Chicken

The flavor is rich and satisfying, really great as comfort food.  I will say that the proportions of this recipe as written are off.  There is so little meat on these thighs that it would take 3-4 to fill someone up, especially if you don't make some other kind of side (greens would have been so good!).  And there was a huge amount of puree - I had enough leftover after serving to turn into a soup!  So next time, I would double the amount of chicken and will reflect that in the recipe below.

6May/130

Barley Risotto With Asparagus – 2 versions

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On one of our weekly lunch adventures, my friend Melissa and I decided to try out a risotto made from barley.  Barley is a whole grain that (unless you have a wheat allergy) is better for you than rice, even brown rice.  The grains are larger and chewier than rice, but they make a very good substitute.  I actually like barley better than rice because the chewiness gives the dish more body.

6Feb/130

Fall Pasta Dishes

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I've been playing with combining squash and pasta for comforting Fall/Winter dishes.  Like last weeks White Lasagna or the Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells from the beginning of the month.  And now I have a few more, starting with this Butternut Squash and Leek Pasta Sauce.

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This is simple and delicious - pureed squash, leeks, garlic, butter, sage, and Parmesan form a rich and creamy sauce to perfectly coat spaghetti.

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Next up is Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Amaretti Crumbles.

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Roasted pumpkin combined with noodles, cheesy bechamel, and sage.

SAM_2908'Then topped with delicious almond cookies and baked.  Yum!  So comforting in cold weather.

23Jan/130

White Lasagna

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White lasagna with shredded chicken, spinach, butternut squash, whole wheat pasta, and low fat cheese for a super delicious, creamy, but light dinner?  Yes, please!