Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Autumn Twist on A Classic: Lasagna

Its a good thing I love butternut squash, because this time of year it is everywhere! I do get a little bored with just the typical soups, stews and roasted veggie medley options though, so I just had to give this fantastic recipe for Autumn Lasagna a try.

It incorporates the squash into the cream sauce, which is genius because instead of just getting chunks of squash throughout, you get the flavor combined with a decadent creamy texture. The ground turkey and sage just complete the whole autumn flavor palate for me. If I had to pick an herb that represented this season, sage would be it by a huge margin, no other herb even comes close.

I stumbled upon the original version of this recipe on The Cozy Apron and stuck pretty closely to the original, only tweaking some seasonings and amounts here and there. This is why I love Pinterest for recipe sharing, not only do I find amazing recipes and inspiration for my own dishes, but I find other bloggers who share my love of food. Definitely swing by The Cozy Apron and check out the recipes, there are several others I can't wait to try!

What is your favorite veggie of the fall, are you as addicted to butternut squash as I am?

Creamy Autumn Lasagna

Ingredients For The Sauce (can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed)
3 heads of garlic, tops cut off
Extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp. of kosher salt (divided)
3 lbs. cubed butternut squash
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 cup chicken (or veggie) broth (warmed)
2 cups half and half (warmed)
4 oz. cream cheese (or mascarpone - I just happened to have cream cheese on hand)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Ingredients For The Lasagna
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. fresh sage leaved (chopped)
12 cooked lasagna noodles
2 heaping cups of raw baby spinach leaves
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Make the sauce: Preheat oven to 400 degrees, drizzle olive oil over the heads of garlic, sprinkle with salt, then wrap each head tightly in foil, placing them directly on the oven rack. Once they've been roasting for about 10 minutes, toss the squash together with olive oil, salt & pepper and spread into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast alongside the garlic for 35-40 minutes until tender.

Remove the garlic and squash from the oven, allowing them to cool slightly. Squeeze the cloves of garlic out into a small bowl and mash with a fork, set aside. Add the squash to a large dutch-oven style pot and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth (you could also use a food processor if you don't have an immersion blender). Add the roasted garlic to the squash and continue to puree until completely blended.

Put the pot over low heat and add in the broth and half and half, whisk to incorporate, then add in the cream cheese, parmesan, basil, sage, oregano, pepper and salt to taste. Continue to heat slowly and whisk until all the ingredients are incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Either set aside to use the sauce immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the lasagna: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly mist a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Brown the ground turkey in a large skillet with 1 tbsp. olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and garlic powder. Once the turkey is no longer pink, remove from heat and set aside.

Add about 1 cup of the sauce to the bottom of the baking dish, then layer lasagna noodles on top, add another cup or so of the sauce then add the ground turkey. Top the turkey with 1 cup of the baby spinach leaves and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add about 3/4 cup of the mozzarella and repeat the layering process until you are done with ingredients, finishing with a final layer of noodles and sauce on top. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top, then sprinkle on the panko breadcrumbs and mist lightly with nonstick spray.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until all the cheese has melted and the top is lightly golden. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Printable Recipe

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Pie Day Part 1

Friday Pie Day is back! I decided to kick off my re-instatement of the wondrous "holiday" with my classic apple pie. It's perfect apple season around here and my favorite local farm market has some truly delicious varieties this year. I took advantage of a playdate there this past week and picked up some winesap apples, which are my favorite kind to use for apple butter and I couldn't resist some honeycrisp ones either, with plans to bake most of them into the pie you see below.

I love a good apple pie and it is so simple to create, honestly the hardest part is finding a great pastry crust recipe and peeling the apples. The crust I use is fantastic and uses a blend of shortening and butter to create a tender and flaky pastry. If you prefer to use all butter instead, this recipe is another one I use that is also delicious.

I think my next Friday Pie Day will include a recipe for sweet potato pie, any tips?

Classic Apple Pie
Ingredients for Crust
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
3 cups AP flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
6-8 tbsp. ice cold water

Ingredients for Filling
8 large apples
½ cup granulated sugar (adjust based on the sweetness of your apples)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. raw sugar

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator to completely chill while assembling the rest of the crust. Add the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor, pulse a few times to mix. Add in the butter and shortening, pulse a few times until the butter is worked in and the size of peas. With the food processor running, slowly add in ice water until the dough begins to form a ball.

Remove the dough and place on a floured surface, rolling into a large ball. Divide in half and press each into a disc. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and slice the apples thin, about a ¼ inch thick, and place in a large bowl. Toss together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg, then add it to the apples. Stir well to coat and set aside.

Roll out the pastry on well-floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9” pie plate and trim to leave about a ¾ inch overhang. Add the apple filling into the crust and dot with the softened butter.

Wisk together the egg yolk and 2 tbsp. of water, then brush it on the overhang of the bottom crust before topping with the second crust. Crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers to seal, brush the entire top crust and edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut a few slits in the top to vent the steam.

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes with the oven at 425, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 60 minutes. Let cook at least 20-30 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.

*Note: Crust recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Summer Meets Fall: Zucchini Cheddar Muffins & Hearty Pumpkin Chili

This time of year on the Eastern Shore is kind of weird weather-wise. The calendar and the chilly evenings convince me it's time for sweaters, mulled cider and roasted squash, yet during the day it still can get pretty balmy and have us in our t-shirts.

Still, I couldn't help but give this decidedly fall-centric chili recipe a try. It might seem a little odd to include pumpkin in a savory dish like this, but think of it like a squash. It is such a versatile vegetable that deserves more than being baked into pies one day a year (which I love, of course!). The pumpkin in this chili isn't really a strong flavor, but brings a smooth heartiness that's impossible to resist. It also pairs really well with the smoky flavor of the chipotle chili powder we're addicted to in my house.

You can't have chili without some type of bread to sop it up with, so instead of my usual cornbread I tried a recipe for cheesy garlic zucchini bread and converted it into muffins. I loved being able to use late-summer zucchini to complement such a fall dish and these little muffins are addicting! You can bake it in a loaf pan for more of a bread, just keep an eye on the baking time.

What are you favorite fall flavors? I, for one, can't wait to start digging into fall pie-baking this year. I love pies and am completely copying a dear friend of mine in her quest for baking more pies this season. With all the delicious apples flooding the farmer's markets around here, I'm pretty sure an apple one is on the horizon. My husband, also a lover of pie, is thrilled to bring back our old tradition of "Friday Pie Day", where I would bake a pie every week back when we were dating. I keep reminding him that I won't do it every week...but at least once a month or so we'll do Friday Pie Day, so share some of your favorite pies of the season and keep me inspired!

I found the recipe for Cheesy Garlic Zucchini bread on Emily Shares, she adapted it from an original Joy of Cooking Recipe. The only change I made was to bake it into a muffin (and mini-muffin) pan. If you do this, it takes about 30 minutes instead of the 50 minutes it will in a loaf pan. They are perfect paired with soups, salads or even used to make little sandwiches with deli meat and mustard.

I found the original recipe for the pumpkin chili at Julia's Album, but have tweaked it a bit to make it my own. Check it (and the printable) below.

Hearty Pumpkin Chili

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 can of pumpkin puree (if using your own homemade version, just use about 2 heaping cups)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (low or no sodium)
1 15 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chipotle chili powder (or use smoked paprika for less heat)
1 tsp. ground coriander
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch-oven style pot on medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the onion and garlic, stirring while cooking to keep the garlic from burning, and cook until the onion just starts to soften. Add in a few pinches of salt and pepper.

Add in the pumpkin, canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, black beans and garbanzo beans. Stir well to combine. Add in the spices and salt & pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Serve garnished with cheese, sour cream, sliced scallions, crispy tortilla strips or your other favorite chili toppings.

Printable Recipe

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