It's time for a seasonal post from the Secret Recipe Club! Our theme was Fall Dishes and I was assigned Things I Make (For Dinner). This blog is written by Sarah who, in addition to my name, shares my love of cooking, travel, and sleeping.
Fall means pumpkin for a lot of people, myself included, and I found a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that looked yummy. For me, it also means apple; like this Apple Crisp or Apple Fritter Cake. But what about something a little different, like Nutella Ice Cream? Or something savory like Tex-Mex Stuffed Butternut Squash?
In the end, there was one dish that caught my eye the most: Pumpkin Maple Custards.
These custards are made with pumpkin, cream, milk, maple syrup, egg yolks, and spices. Simple and delicious. After the base is made, it is poured into ramekins and baked in a water bath, much like creme brulee.
I've joined a group called Improv Cooking Challenge, where each month 2 ingredients are chosen for us to make dishes with. This month was peaches and cream - yum! I scrolled through my saved recipes on Pinterest and found this Peach Cobbler Trifle that looked perfect for the challenge!
Pound cake is layered with a pudding mixture, peaches, and a crumble topping. My trifle dish is actually a punch bowl, so I only made 2 layers. But with a taller, narrower dish - you could make 3 layers.
I really liked that the pudding mixture used orange zest and sour cream to take it out of too sweet territory. I added a pinch of salt to the crumble mixture and the peaches to help in this regard, too.
It's Secret Recipe Club time! And this month I was assigned the blog I've been waiting for - Smells Like Brownies by my best friend, Melissa! Yay! You may recognize the name, because we cook lunch together every week, and I often blog about it. Melissa is a stay-at-home mommy to a very active little boy, and a precious baby girl. She is devoted to her family and God in a way that is truly inspirational, as well as being a phenomenal baker and photographer. She's just the best and I am so excited to share her blog with you!
Eliminating SRC posts and dishes that we made together narrowed down the field quite a bit, but I still had no trouble finding a ton of things I wanted to make. I actually intended to make several dishes and blog about each of them, but I kept getting sick and injured this month and had to narrow it down to the number one thing I wanted make - this gorgeous Golden Nectarine Cake. Which is kind of hilarious because Melissa hates fruit, so I doubt she even got to try this cake.
The rest of my top "to-try" dishes (which are all vegetarian, because Melissa is a vegetarian) are Debby's famous Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust (because I've heard her talk about it so many times), this Broccoli and Purple Potato Gribiche (that I've been drooling over since she posted it), Monster Green Pea Burgers, Lemongrass Coconut Noodles, and Couscous-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce.
Let's get back to that cake! I loved this recipe because it was easy for a non-baker like me to follow. Start with two nectarines and slice them into wedges. Is there anything more summery than stone fruit?
I love to make French Toast this time of year. My husband loves it, too, he says that my French Toast is the best (so sweet <3). I think the secret is to definitely use brioche or challah, that plus a million ingredients in the batter - read on!
In addition to eggs and cream, I use vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice, lemon zest, and sherry. So many flavors! It is so worth it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, either slice the bread (thickly, 1 inch) the night before and leave it out to get stale, or toast it slightly in the morning. Then make the batter and soak each side of the bread for 10 minutes. Just before you cook the toast (in butter, of course), sprinkle one side with granulated sugar - this will created a yummy bit of caramelization. Do the same to the other side before you flip it over to cook.
Top with lots of butter and some maple syrup. Yum. This is definitely the perfect French Toast - custardy in the middle, little bit of caramelization, lots of flavor.
Are you looking for a new side for your Thanksgiving dinner? Maybe something a little more grownup and sophisticated? This gratin with sweet potato, chard, Gruyere, fresh herbs, and lots of garlic may be perfect for you. You could certainly make it for a non-holiday dinner as well, though it does take quite a bit of time with pre-cooking, layering, and baking. Luckily, I was with my dear friend Melissa (Smells Like Brownies), who helped with the prep-work.
Start with a big sweet potato (or two smaller ones) and a whole lot of chard (seriously - a lot)
Peel the sweet potato and slice thinly, then set aside.
Remove the stems from the chard, chop, and place in a big pot with some onion that has been sauteing in butter. Look at those colors! Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; and cook until soft.
I was looking for a dish to bring over to my friend, Melissa, who just had a baby. This recipe immediately popped out at me - one dish, easy to transport, easy to reheat, and lot's of veggies (plus cheese and pasta, of course). There's a reason people are always bringing casseroles! I also liked that it uses a lot of frozen veggies, making it budget friendly and easy to make year-round.
I also may have used it as an excuse to buy this thing, which I have been wanting for a long time - so cute!
So, we start out with ALL THE VEGETABLES. Ever. Just kidding... kind of. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, then add frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. When those have thawed, add in shredded carrot and zucchini.
I saw this and thought to myself, "not enough vegetables," so I added some frozen peas to the boiling pasta for the last 30 seconds. You can use whatever shape of pasta you like, I thought bowties would be fun and cute. I used Barilla protein plus pasta, because it boasts 17g of protein per 3.5oz serving and veggie dishes can always use some extra protein. I also rinsed the pasta (and peas) in cold water to stop the cooking and get rid of the extra starch (something I only do for pasta salads, and pasta that is going to be cooked again in the oven).
Were you guys dying for another homemade pasta post? Based on the popularity of the other ones, I bet you were! So here is one for veggie lovers (but don't worry, there's also plenty of cheese). Sweet and savory, with just a hint of nutmeg - so good!
Carrots, shallots, ricotta, Parmesan, and a little cream, butter, and nutmeg go into this lovely filling. I had a little filling leftover when I finished up, so I tossed it into some brown butter and sage to make a sauce. And that's it!
If I had massive amounts of time, I would love to make a trio of veggie raviolis to serve together - this one, the beet and goat cheese one, and a spinach one (maybe with feta?). Wouldn't that be fun? And with the fresh pasta, you could see the orange, purple, and green fillings and it would be super pretty. *Sigh* One day!
Carrot Ricotta Ravioli
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 2-4, about 36 ravioli
2 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots (3/4 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp minced shallot
1 tbsp heavy cream
5 oz ricotta (1/2 cup firmly packed)
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg yolk
Pulse the flour in a food processor to evenly distribute and aerate. Add the eggs and olive oil. Process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water 1/2 tsp at a time; if it sticks to the side of the bowl, add flour 1 tbsp at a time.)
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours
Make the filling. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a baking dish, toss the carrots with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Let cool slightly.
In a small skillet, melt the butter . Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the carrots, shallot, and cream and puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, Parmigiano, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg yolk (taste for seasoning before you do this).
Roll out the pasta dough using a pasta roller. Set the thin sheet of dough over a ravioli press. Drop small balls of filling into the pockets. Lay a second rectangle of pasta over the filling layer. Seal the edges by pressing a rolling pin over the top. Flip over, release from the mold (flouring the mold/pasta helps), and cut into squares with whatever cutter you have available.
Boil the ravioli, about a dozen at a time, for 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli from the pot to plates. Top with sauce of choice (I recommend brown butter, or white wine cream) and a sprinkle of extra Parmesan.
Merry Christmas, y'all! We went on a bit of a crazy roadtrip (which I will tell you about later, because there are restaurants involved) and didn't get back til late on the 22nd, which left us in a bit of a scramble to get ready for Christmas. We managed to get some outdoor decorations up (check out the wreath I made!), but no tree or anything indoors.
We also spent all our holiday money on travel, so no presents this year. But we did have a nice Christmas dinner (I mean, come on - how could I not, right?). Honey Baked Ham (going store bought on the main let me focus on sides); Spinach and Gruyere Strata; Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions; and Bacon Popovers.
And a Cranberry Raisin Tart with orange zest and spices for dessert.
Oh yeah, and breakfast! Can't forget Christmas morning sweets! I made these Cranberry Orange Rolls by Smitten Kitchen - yum!
I feel like I constantly need some form of cheesy winter squash pasta on hand at all times. It's kind of a problem. I saw a recipe for shells with pumpkin and ricotta that sounded good, but the comments all said it came out dry and bland. So instead of using that recipe, I decided to make a pumpkin version of my Spring Shells and Cheese.
So instead of ricotta, I made a bechamel with sage, pumpkin, Gruyere, and Parmesan. Then I added in some sauteed spinach and shallots, for health and color.
Because adding spinach totally makes up for all the cheese and pasta, right? I mean, I did use whole wheat shells...
Anyway, I added in some pecans for crunch. Nuts are healthy, too, right?
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.