Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stuffed Squash

Lately, some of my girlfriends and I have been doing ladies dinner.  Each person brings something, appetizer, entree, side dish, dessert, wine, etc.  It is always super easy, we keep it pretty small, and we all have an amazing time.  This past time we decided on a Fall Theme for our dinner.  Perfect time to use some fall vegetables such as squash, kale and sage.

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Apologies for the quality of the photo, I only had my phone with me

Stuffed Squash (serves 4-6):

2 acorn squash (or small pumpkins), halved vertically and seeds scooped out
.75 lb breakfast chicken sausage links, removed from the casings
1 sweet onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of raw kale
1 heaping cup of diced stale bread
1 cup of chicken broth
chili powder
5-6 sage leaves, minced finely
1/2 cup or more of graded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400F.

Brush the halved squashes with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Dust the squashes with whatever seasonings you like (I used nutmeg, cinnamon and chili powder) maybe 1/4 tsp of each.  Flip over so they're face down and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the squash is soft but not mushy.

Take out of the oven, flip over and let cool for a few minutes.

While the squash is roasting, heat a little oil in a deep skillet and brown the chicken sausage, breaking it up with the back of your spoon into smaller bits.  Once browned, take out with a slotted spoon and let cool and drain on a paper towel.

Add the diced onion, carrots and garlic, season with salt and pepper and saute for 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Add the kale and cook for another few minutes.

Add the bread and the chicken broth and stir to combine.

Now it's time for the squash, take a spoon and carefully scoop out some of the flesh, not all of it, and contribute it to the stuffing mixture.  Be careful, the squash is still very hot and it's easy to puncture the skin, we need the skin in tact.  Once you scoop out all four squash halves, add half of the Parmesan cheese mixture, a little more salt and pepper along with the minced sage.  Stir together and taste for seasonings.

Return the stuffing mixture back to the hollowed out squashes equally distributing the stuffing.  Sprinkle the remaining of the Parmesan onto each squash and bake for another 10 minutes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pea Crostini Dip

I really don't know how to name this post...

This pesto like dip/spread/appetizer literally came out of what I had in my freezer and pantry.  We were hosting an impromptu Wine Wednesday night and I didn't have time to go to the grocery store beforehand and it was just a small party so, I winged it.  This dip was nutty and sweet with a little bit of heat from the red pepper flakes and it had a lovely green color.  Perfect with Pita Chips, toasted bread, or crackers with some cheese.

Pea Dip/Spread

1/2 an onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 - 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 bag of frozen peas
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
few handfuls of mint
few sprigs of parsley
2-3 tbsp half and half
1/2 cup graded Parmesan cheese

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and olive oil on medium heat.  Add the onion and saute til translucent.  Then add the garlic and the breadcrumbs and saute for a minute or two, until the breadcrumbs start smelling nutty. Add the peas and cook for one more minute.  Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Let cool for a few minutes.

While waiting for the peas to cool, in a food processor pulse the toasted almonds until a paste.  Season with bit of salt.  Add the cooled peas, onions, etc into the processor, add the mint and parsley and puree until smooth.  Taste for seasoning.

Transfer to a serving bowl and fold in the half and half along with the graded Parmesan cheese.  Let refrigerate (because let's face it, I didn't wait until the peas were completely cool) until ready to serve.

Yeah, go devour