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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna
Adapted from Food and Whine
1 Large butternut squash, roasted (or 2 packages frozen squash)
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
1 TSP oregano
1 TSP nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 10 OZ package chopped frozen spinach, cooked and drained
2 Cups low-fat cottage cheese
1 Package whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 1/2 Cups low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

I love using butternut squash in my dishes, especially this time of year. There's something really decadent about its velvety texture, yet it can instantly make a comfort dish (like lasagna) a little healthier.  The trouble with cooking a whole squash is that it can take a long time to roast, not ideal for a week night.  A great shortcut is to buy frozen butternut squash puree.  It's perfect in this lasagna, or in any recipe that calls for pureed roasted squash.  The cottage cheese adds a nice tang, but if you're a lasagna-purist feel free to use part-skim ricotta. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. 

Place the cooked pureed squash in a large bowl. Add garlic, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  If it's too thick, add in the water to thin it out.  In another bowl, combine spinach and cottage cheese.  Set aside.

Cook the noodles for half the cooking time (4-5 minutes).  Set aside.

Place 1/3 of the squash mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 12" baking dish. Layer with lasagna noodles. Spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Layer with more noodles. Repeat, finishing with the squash layer. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 45 minutes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chicken with Caramelized Onions & Tomato Sauce

Chicken with Caramelized Onions & Tomato Sauce
1 large onion, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
1 LB chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
Italian style bread crumbs
1 Jar tomato sauce

This simple recipe from my mom is perfect for when I have no idea what to make for dinner.  The main ingredients are items I always have on hand - chicken, onions and jarred tomato sauce.  It takes a little extra time, but breading the chicken and getting that golden crust makes all the difference in this dish.  The caramelized onions also add a little sweetness and an unexpected creamy texture.  I like this over pasta, but it's also great on a roll as a sandwich. 

Saute onions over medium low heat in 1 TBS of EVOO.  Season with salt and pepper and let cook down until caramelized (about 15 minutes).  Remove the onions from pan and set aside.

In the meantime, lightly dredge the chicken in flour.  Dip in the egg, then coat in bread crumbs.  In the same saute pan heat more EVOO over medium-high heat.  Saute chicken until golden brown on all sides, cooking in batches if necessary.  Return the onions to the pan with the cooked chicken, and add the tomato sauce.  Let simmer for a couple of minutes, and serve with some grated parmesan cheese.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
Adapted from
1 LB ground beef
3/4 Cup bread crumbs, soaked in 1/2 cup milk
1 Egg
1/2 Onion, grated and drained
Salt and pepper
1/2 TSP allspice
1/4 TSP nutmeg
4 TBS butter
1-1/2 TBS flour
1 Cup chicken stock
1/2 Cup sour cream
Lingonberry or raspberry jam for serving

While I appreciated the unusually warm October weekend, I'm ready for cooler temperatures and warm, comforting food.  There's nothing wrong with the grilled fare and cool salads of summer, but some of my favorite dishes happen to be much heartier. 

I love my mom's Swedish meatballs, but I have never made them myself even though Rich has put in several requests.  This is definitely the type of warm, comforting food I was looking for - ground beef infused with spices and a luscious gravy.  Rich, who has been to Sweden, taught me to serve with jam as the Swedish traditionally do.  It sounds really strange, but they actually work together really well!

Combine the beef, bread crumb mixture, egg, onion, salt, pepper, allspice and nutmeg in a large bowl.  divide the mixture into 1-inch diameter meatballs.

Heat half the butter in a large skillet and begin to brown in batches.  About 10 minutes per batch. 

Set aside the meatballs and remove most of the drippings from the pan.  Stir in the flour and remaining butter to the pan.  Add the stock, and stir until the mixture begins to thicken.  Strain the sauce through a fine sieve to remove and lumps and return to pan.  Reduce heat to low and stir in the sour cream.  Return the meatballs to the pan and let cook for a few minutes more.

Don't forget the jam!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Pickin'

Pumpkin-Currant Cookies
1 Cup butter, room temperature
1 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 Cup sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup pumpkin puree
1 TSP vanilla
1 Cup whole-wheat flour
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1 TSP baking soda
1 TSP ground cloves
1 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP salt
3/4 Cup rolled oats
1 Cup dried currants

It's a sunny October afternoon, ideal weather for a drive up to the farm for a little pumpkin picking.  There's a supposed shortage of pumpkins this year, so I wanted to make sure we got the perfect Halloween pumpkin early.  My pick will be for decoration purposes only, but I have the perfect pumpkin treat using the canned variety.  These cookies have all the best flavors of fall that I find irresistible and completely addictive.    

Warrup Farm-Redding, CT

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.  Combine with the egg, pumpkin and vanilla.  In a separate bowl sift together flours, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and salt.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined.  Fold in the oats and currants.  Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Leftover Alert!  Use leftover pumpkin puree in your pancake batter, for a yummy fall breakfast.

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The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.