Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pumpkin: Not Always Sweet, But Always Delicious

It's January so at this point I'm already sick of root veggies and apples, yearning for Spring and Summer produce. I love winter weather but the local produce scene here in Northern Indiana during these frozen tundra months is woefully root-themed.

This is a great time of year to experiment with those root veggies and make dishes that satisfy that "new" craving I have when I just can't eat one more roasted piece of squash! We're also well past the inundation of "pumpkin, pumpkin everywhere" so I feel like I can circle back to it safely.

pumpkin-risotto-tastymess

This recipe is a simple risotto, which sounds kind of intimidating but honestly let's just call it creamy rice because that's what it is! I have an awesome go-to risotto recipe I love to make that has minimal stirring and you don't have to babysit it on the stove, but I wanted to try something new.

This pumpkin risotto is fantastic. Not only do you get in a great squash-like veggie, but the creaminess of the risotto topped with a little of that fabulous funky goat cheese elevates the entire dish!

If you're making this for your family and have pickier kiddos, just leave off the goat cheese and see if they'll go for the plainer version. Honestly it's fantastic either way and super-filling so I like to serve it up with a big green salad and a glass (or 2) of white wine.

Cheers to pumpkin being savory and not featured in every beverage on the menu! 

Cozy Pumpkin Risotto

Ingredients

4 cups vegetable broth (or use chicken in a pinch)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1½ cups Arborio rice
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
8 oz crumbled goat cheese
½ cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the vegetable broth and pumpkin in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring up to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low just to keep it warm.
  2. Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the onion, salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add in the thyme and rice and cook for one minute longer.
  3. Add the white wine vinegar and a ladle of warm stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Add another ladle of stock, and continue cooking until evaporated again.
  4. Continue cooking, adding a ladle of stock at a time, and allowing to evaporate in between each addition. Cook until the rice is cooked, but isn’t mushy. Should take about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat then stir in parmesan and nutmeg. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve topped with the goat cheese and dried cranberries.
Barely adapted from an original recipe on http://www.platingsandpairings.com

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pie It Forward: Butterscotch Meringue Pie

Pie is a well-loved pastry in this house and I'm always looking for new recipes. I recently was able to get my hands on Gesine Bullock-Prado's fabulous "Pie It Forward" cookbook and am completely addicted. 

Sweet pies, savory pies, pizza pies, I want them all! Check out her blog G Bakes! for more of her amazing creations. I can't wait to try as many recipes as possible, hers always turn out flawlessly!

butterscotch pie

I've tried a few recipes so far and they've all been fantastic but the most visually stunning one has to be this Butterscotch Meringue Pie. Plus it gave me an excuse to finally buy a kitchen torch (much to my husband's chagrin).

This is in incredibly rich and delicious custard pie with  a toasted meringue on top that reminds me of a marshmallow, but not quite as sweet due to the balance of brown instead of white sugar in the meringue.

butterscotch pie

If you want a dessert that renders your friends speechless, this is the one to go with. It has a deliciously flaky crust combined with the butterscotchy/caramely filling and the toasty meringue that is completely addicting.

butterscotch pie

You just have to try it for yourself!

Butterscotch Meringue Pie
Recipe by Gesine Bullock-Prado, Pie It Forward


For The Crust
2 cups AP flour (cold)
1 cup cubed, chilled unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 room temperature egg, slightly beaten

Make & Bake The Crust
  1. Pulse together the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor until it looks like cornmeal. Whisk together the condensed milk and egg in a separate bowl and slowly add it to the flour mixture while pulsing the food processor until the dough just comes together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently turn over a few times until it is smooth and the dry ingredients have completely integrated. Don't overwork it! 
  3. Shape the dough into a loose circle, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 and roll out the dough into about an 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with it and crimp up the edges decoratively. Dock the bottom with a fork and freeze for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from freezer and line the crust with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment, then bake for 20 minutes more. You want it to be golden brown and baked through. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely.
For The Caramel "Lining"
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Make The Caramel "Lining"
  1. Combine the sugar, cream, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar is melted. 
  2. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat until the caramel reaches 240 degrees, then remove from heat and allow to completely cool. 
For The Butterscotch Filling
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk (divided)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Make The Butterscotch Filling
  1. Whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, egg yolks, salt and 1/2 cup of the whole milk in a mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the remaining milk and the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Slowly pour the milk-cream mixture into the sugar mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. 
  3. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking until it thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Transfer the custard to a bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Make The Meringue & Assemble The Pie
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
  1.  Pour the caramel into the cooled crust and smooth it along the bottom and sides, using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula. Spoon the custard over the caramel and refrigerate until the filling is cooled and set.
  2. Begin making a meringue by combining the brown sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has melted. Attach a candy thermometer and heat the sugar mixture until it reaches 234 degrees.
  3. While the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until the egg whites are foamy.
  4. Once the sugar syrup has reached 234 degrees, turn the mixer to medium-low and pour the syrup along the inside of the bowl (not directly in all at once, or the whites will scramble!) and increase the mixer speed to high and whisk until you have stiff, glossy peaks.
  5. Top the pie with meringue, creating swirls and peaks with the back of a spoon. Gently brown the meringue all over with a kitchen torch. Don't use a broiler, it will melt the pie! 
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Childhood Flashback: The Choco Taco

tastymess choco taco

If your childhood was anything like mine, you lived for the sound of the Good Humor ice cream truck in the summer. My sisters and I could almost always convince our Dad to spend a few dollars on an ice cream treat and there's actually one story where our mom's very pregnant friend chased down the truck with us for more than 2 blocks!

Long story short = our family loves ice cream.

Can you blame us?

Ice cream has always meant summer to me and I still am a sucker for those Strawberry Shortcake Bars I loved when I was a kid. My little sister would  usually go for the Chocolate Eclair Bar and my dad was unwavering in his love of the Choco Taco (my mom and older sister couldn't have dairy).

tastymess choco taco

So when my dad made a trip out to visit us here on the Eastern Shore I knew there was a dessert I just had to break out...no, not the Strawberry Shortcake Bar (what are you, insane? That would ridiculously difficult - just go spend $1 and buy one!)...but the famous Choco Taco.

Food Network Magazine had put a recipe out for my dad's favorite ice cream treat recently and I knew I had to give it a go. Ridiculously simple and shockingly addicting, they're a delicious trek down memory lane.

Strawberry Shortcake Bars will always have my undying devotion, but Choco Tacos might be a close second after giving this recipe a whirl.

What food memories defined your childhood summers? The Good Humor ice cream truck will always be at the center of mine!

Check out the recipe here: Choco Tacos


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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fresh Tomato Basil Pie

This time of year there are few things I love more than fresh tomatoes and basil. My herb plants are going nuts out on our balcony and I can't use the basil up fast enough! We're just starting to get into prime tomato season around here, so I'm really enjoying the summer flavors.


This is a simple, savory pie recipe that combines those fresh tomato and basil flavors with decadent cheesiness. Serve it up with a fresh fruit salad or a big green salad and it makes the perfect summertime meal.



If you'd like the recipe to the Watermelon Blueberry Salad I like to serve alongside it, just click the link here. I swap out the lemon juice for lime and leave out the zest. No matter how you serve it, it's refreshing and delicious!

Fresh Tomato Basil Pie

Ingredients

  • 5 tomatoes, sliced (roma tomatoes work best, if using full-size tomatoes, use 2 or 3)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions (the green part)
  • 1 pre-baked pie crust (storebought or use my favorite recipe here)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then layer the sliced tomatoes in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt and allow to sit in the sink and drain for 15-20 minutes. Then remove from the colander and pat dry with paper towels. You want to get as much excess moisture out of the tomatoes so you don't end up with a soggy piecrust.

Layer the tomato slices, basil and scallions in the pre-baked (and cooled!) pie crust. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Combine the cheddar, mozzarella, Greek yogurt and mayonnaise in a bowl and spread evenly on top of the pie.

Use a microplane grater to grate and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of the pie. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper, then bake for 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Best served warm or at room temperature.

Recipe slightly adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch

Click Here To Print The Recipe

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Stir Fry:My Go-To Healthy, Easy Weeknight Meal

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook. I love baking, cooking and spending time in the kitchen, but let's be honest here, there are about 10 million other things I have to get done throughout the typical weekday of being a work-at-home mom! Between juggling a full-time job, a part-time job and a few freelance accounts, I'm desperate for simple and healthy meal solutions when dinnertime comes around.

ginger-beef-mushroom-kale-stir-fry


I came across this recipe by one of my favorite food blogs: Gimme Some Oven. We love stir fry around here, but it can get a little boring if you don't switch it up every now and again. This particular recipe blends beef, mushrooms and kale in an amazingly tasty ginger-spiked sauce that guarantees you'll be licking your bowl asking for more when you're done.


I know kale doesn't immediately jump to mind when you think of bowl-licking-worthy food, but I really love using it in this recipe to round out the dish. It helps stretch the beef a little more to feed a few more mouths but doesn't detract from the flavor of the dish. And bonus = uber healthy ingredient!

I didn't change much in the original recipe, just used button mushrooms because they were what I had on hand and sprinkled a few toasted sesame seeds on the top before serving.

What are your favorite go-to meals when you want to feed your family well but quickly during the week?

Ginger Beef Mushroom & Kale Stir Fry (recipe courtesy of Gimme Some Oven)
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