Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving! We just got back from spending a wonderful holiday weekend in upstate New York with family. I thought I'd share a cookie recipe that I've now made 3 times in the last month since they've been such a hit! If you don't like chocolate chips, you could fold in nuts, raisins, or nothing at all! But I think that hidden surprises in cookies are delightfully fun.

Sift the following (this recipe makes about 30 cookies):
1 2/3 c. flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. In a separate bowl, cream 1/3 cup softened unsalted butter with 1 cup of sugar. Then add in 2/3 cup canned pumpkin, 2/3 of an egg (silly, I know!) and 3/4 tsp vanilla extract. After that is incorporated, add to the dry ingredients. After all the flour is mixed in, fold in some white chocolate chips (about 1 cup).

Plop down the dough in about golfball size rounds onto a greased cookie sheet and then flatten down a bit since they will fluff up during baking as these cookies do take on a cake-like consistency (but not as bad as some other recipes I've tried). Bake in the upper third of your oven for 14-18 minutes depending on your oven and then transfer to a cooling rack with paper towels underneath the rack.

While cookies are cooling prepare a light icing that consists of lots of powdered sugar with a bit of ground ginger and cinnamon with a little bit of milk. I've never really measured, but you don't want it too thin or it won't adhere to the cookies! Drizzle on, let harden about 10 minutes, and you're good to go. For a more decadent icing, you can add melted butter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have to make this dish at least once a year, not only because it's yummy, but the presentation is really cool. Acorn squash are very easy to find even in your local market. They are a "winter squash" that has an orange flesh, and is aptly named since they do resemble acorns. You can simply cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle with brown sugar and some butter and then bake them!

I had made marinara sauce a day before since I had the time to simmer it for a long time -- I froze half and set aside the rest in the fridge for the squash the next night. The first thing to do is pre-heat your oven to 375. Wash the squash (2 of them), and then cut it in half lengthwise (not around the equator) and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish flesh side up. Put a little bit of water in the dish and cover with foil. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until the squash is just fork tender (not mushy!)

While the squash was baking, I sauteed up some spicy turkey sausage (a little over a pound), and then added my sauce to the pan to reheat. While that was simmering away, I cooked up some whole wheat rigatoni just al dente. When the squash were done, I removed them from the dish, dumped out the water and then returned them to the dish. In went some rigatoni (extra pasta went around the squash). Then came the sausage/sauce mixture, and to top it all off, some mozzarella cheese. Back into the oven at 400 for 20 minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown on top.

The spicy sausage pairs well with the sweetness of the acorn squash -- another fall delight! Oh, and this would serve 4 if served with a side salad!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Curried Carrot & Parsnip Soup

Yup, another soup post. Why? Because soup is good. It can be the starter of a multicourse meal or the star of the show with a crusty loaf. Truth be told -- my new hand blender is just so damn cool.

So we've done a butternut and a black bean, and I'm sure a potato, pea, green veggie, tomato and corn will soon be following. However, tonight I turn my attention to the carrot and the parsnip. The funny thing is that I don't think I've ever eaten a parsnip -- maybe out at a restaurant, but I've certainly never purchased one at the market. According to wikipedia, parsnips have higher nutritional value than carrots, and apparently wild parsnips are often confused with hemlock. So unless you're an expert forager, I'd either grow them myself or stick to the store.

I usually put carrots in all of my soups, but never has it been the star! I started out by sweating 1 small diced onion in a couple tbs butter. During this time, I diced 5 large carrots and 2 large parsnips. When all were cut up, I tossed them in with my onion in the soup pot. I then diced up 2 celery ribs and threw them in as well with a drizzle of olive oil. After about 10 more minutes, I tossed in about 5 cups of stock (just over the top of the veggies) and let them come up to a boil with some salt and pepper, 1/2 tsp ginger, 2 tbs curry powder and 1/2 tsp HOT curry powder. I also threw in about 8-10oz diced canned tomatoes and let everything simmer for about 25 minutes.

Then you know what happens -- out comes the blender. After pureeing, check the consistency and taste and adjust with more spices and more stock if necessary. Garnish with either some plain yogurt or some low-fat sour cream and you have yourself a satisfying soup. We paired ours with a field green salad with roasted chicken, but the soup certainly could have stood on its own!