It's that time again! Whether you are having a traditional family gathering with lots of old favorites, or a funky gourmet "Friendsgiving" - I hope that you find some inspiration here. Happy Thanksgiving, my lovelies!
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese
Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale, Apple, and Red Onion
Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Broccolini
If you are in need of festive dishes, look no further! I have collected my most relevant recipes onto one page for you.
Black and Orange
More like green and orange, but you get the idea.
Butternut Squash and Kale Mac and Cheese
Sweet Potato and Chard Gratin
Butternut Squash and Kale Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella and Bacon
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Homemade Spinach Whole Wheat Noodles
I have talked about my growing obsession with spam in recent months. I was looking for recipes to use it in, and found suggestions for Spam Mac and Cheese - of course! That sounded awesome! But the first recipe I tried didn't turn out great. It was probably due to the fact that I used shredded Mexican cheese blend (because that's what I had on hand) to make the cheese sauce, and not the idea of a mornay type sauce itself, that caused it to fail. But I was turned off to that method.
Then I made that really delicious Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch Macaroni and Cheese with Velveeta and realized this was the way to go. Of course weird processed cheese product would go well with weird processed meat product (don't judge me)!
I was right! It came out creamy and salty and just awesome in general. Again - I wouldn't recommend making this a weekly thing, but as an occasional treat, it's delicious.
Some girlfriends and I have been taking turns making macaroni and cheese (after we got tired of soup). I had been wanting to do something chicken, bacon, and ranch flavored for a while, and found a one-pot stovetop recipe that looked easy. It used velveeta and powdered ranch mix, which I wouldn't normally use, but I knew it would be easy to make early in the morning when I was tired.
It turned out so good! It was creamy and salty, with bacon and ground chicken in every bite. This is really good as a once-in-awhile indulgence. (But now I have 3/4 of a log of velveeta to deal with, hmm... More on that later.) Next time, I would definitely try making my own ranch mix instead of using the packet; but I would keep the velveeta - it provides a totally different texture from a bechamel/mornay sauce. Enjoy!
Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Mac and Cheese
adapted from What's Cooking Love
1 lb ground chicken
3 cups water
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2/3 cup bacon, cooked and diced
2 cups of elbow macaroni (or other short pasta), uncooked
1 packet ranch dressing mix (dry)
1/2 lb (8 oz) of Velveeta Cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4-1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Brown the ground chicken in a large skillet or wide pot on medium heat, adding 1/2 tsp of garlic powder to season the meat. Once the meat is browned, drain the fat.
Then add the water, bacon, ranch dressing seasoning, and remaining garlic powder to the chicken, mixing well.
Bring to a boil, then stir in the macaroni and cover. Simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
Stir in the Velveeta and cook until melted, stirring occasionally. If the sauce is too thin, add shredded cheddar cheese until it is thick enough to your liking.
I know it's way too hot out to be making this sort of thing, but I don't care. It is sooooooo good. This is a French onion soup inspired macaroni and cheese with caramelized onions, boatloads of cheese, and a buttery breadcrumb topping with thyme. Yum, yum, yum. Oh yeah, and a little bit of white wine (shoutout to Broken Dreams - my fave white of the moment). I made this with Melissa of Smells Like Brownies and it was one of those magical recipes that is so much fun to make and doesn't stress you out during the process (though that may have been the wine taking effect...).
Step one is to get the onions going, of course. Can't have French onion soup without onions! Pop those bad boys into a heavy bottomed pan with olive oil, butter, and thyme. Is there any better flavor combo than onions and thyme? I like to start them at medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low once they are translucent.
After 15 minutes, they should look kind of like this. Add a splash of white wine and a sprinkle of salt and keep cooking for another 15-20 minutes. Remember to take out the thyme stems when they are done.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is simple and delicious - pureed squash, leeks, garlic, butter, sage, and Parmesan form a rich and creamy sauce to perfectly coat spaghetti.
Next up is Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Amaretti Crumbles.
Roasted pumpkin combined with noodles, cheesy bechamel, and sage.
The recipe calls this "mac and cheese", but I feel like it is more of a "cheesy casserole". Either way, it is tasty and good for you - packed with protein rich quinoa and tasty veggies. You can make it even healthier by using fat free milk and fat free cheese. It is also totally customizable to your tastes!
Start by sauteing whatever veggies you want to use. I went with leeks and tomatoes as suggested by the recipe, but you could do onions or shallots, bell peppers, corn, spinach, anything you want.
Add the quinoa and allow to toast a little bit to get extra flavor.
For anyone who has read Pt 1 or Pt 2, you will know that my Vegan friend challenged me to try the top 25 Vegan-friendly restaurants in the area. This time we decided to two different spots in the same trip. Cafe Green (an all vegan restaurant) and Agora (a Greek spot with a number of vegetarian options and a few vegan ones) are right next door to each other near Dupont Circle.
The menu at Cafe Green is a little eccentric - part Asian, part Southern comfort food; all Vegan, with a large portion of Raw food. I ordered the macaroni and cheese platter based on good reviews, and the fact that I love mac-n-cheese. The macaroni is made from quinoa (which is a super grain) and the sauce had almost a bit of curry flavor too it. Great texture, great flavor - this is a winner. The platter came with a side of lemony kale that was alright and some spiced, candied yams that were AWESOME. I also added on a piece of cornbread that had good flavor but was super dry and crumbly.