Food

RECIPE: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves

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RECIPE: Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves

Oh, Butternut Squash. How did we not fall in love until now? Now that the farmer’s market is a distant memory, I cling to my last bits of local produce: potatoes, shallots, onions, and of course, winter squash. The last day of the farmer’s market I stocked up as much as possible on things I knew would last in my pantry and of course the ever-strangely-shaped and slightly intimidating winter squash! After making an amazing butternut squash lasagna from Seriously Delish, I found myself wanting to put butternut squash on everything. Enter butternut squash pasta sauce. This recipe is a conglomeration of 4-5 recipes I found on the internet to give me an idea of how to approach it, and then just using the ingredients I deemed delicious.

This is a fairly loose recipe – I find myself tasting it over and over again until I deem it ready. I also heavily recommend the vegetable stock – I tried a chicken stock and I don’t feel like it added enough depth of flavor. I used Better than Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base – which has no MSG and is primarily made from vegetables. Even better? Make your own vegetable stock! I haven’t made my own yet, but it’s on my list. Currently I have bialy dough rising – priorities here people, priorities.

My other recommendations for this recipe:

  •  really chop the butternut squash into small cubes. They’ll cook faster, and you’ll be able to gauge much easier whether they’re ready to head to the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can definitely use a blender!
  •  Tip for cutting strips of sage: roll a couple of the leaves up together and then slice them into sections – perfect and easy strips!

I put this over shells, orichiette, and also gnocchi. Feel free to sub in any pasta you want. And always, always drop pieces of butternut squash for your dogs, because they will love you forever. And it’s actually good for them. (Until Hami starts wandering around the kitchen crying because he wants more butternut squash and it has all been sauced.)

A dog and his squash

 

Squash sauce!

 

Fried sage

 

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce with Fried Sage Leaves

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash, chopped into cubes
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of vegetable base
  • 7 sage leaves cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil on medium until glistening. Add shallots and garlic.
  2. Add butternuts quash once shallots and garlic color, but do not brown
  3. Cook for five minutes, then add sage, nutmeg, and vegetable base
  4. Cook for 8 minutes or until the cubes are soft but still keep their shape
  5. Add everything to the food processor
  6. Add the cream and parmesan and process until smooth and cream.
  7. Taste, add more cream and parmesan if desired.
  8. Fry 3-4 sage leaves in a bit of oil oil in the pan until dark and crispy to garnish.
http://www.tabayag.com/archives/2660/recipe-butternut-squash-pasta-sauce-with-fried-sage-leaves/

RECIPE: Espresso Brownie Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

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RECIPE: Espresso Brownie Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s my last day of vacation. Oh, the sorrow. I’ve only had to work 4 days in the past two weeks and going back to this place called “work” seems like such a bizarre concept.  And I woke up this morning thinking about brownies. And coffee. Well, I am always thinking about coffee when I wake up, because I can’t get anything done without a mug of coffee within a few inches of me at all times. So as my last hurrah, I decided to get baking. And eating. Always both.

Once I had sipped my TMNT mug of coffee for a bit all whilst thinking of brownies, I made the executive decision to combine the two. Since I have enough coffee to last until next winter since I bought a bajillion bags from Starbucks after Christmas, so why not throw it into some baked goods? Especially some lovely espresso roast? Why NOT combine my two true loves?

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RECIPE: (Almost) Vegetarian Spicy Vegetable Stew!

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RECIPE: (Almost) Vegetarian Spicy Vegetable Stew!

I never liked soup. Frankly, if you ask me, I’ll probably tell you I hate soup. There is nothing satisfactory about drinking a meal to me. Unless that meal happens to be a very large cotton candy milkshake from Stewart’s Shops. However, last year when I began my cooking adventure with Plated, I started making various stews and chilis, and I loved them. So I may just be in soup denial. One thing I really like about making chilis and stews – they’re so very flexible! This recipe came about from having a stockpile of vegetables left over from the farmer’s market. My pantry is still stocked with garlic, onions, shallots,  and potatoes as we speak.

I love making this early in the week, especially now that it’s cold. It’s a warm dish that is great for lunch or dinner the next day. And I like to dress it up with various things – cheese, sour cream, cilantro, sometimes even slices of avocado. It’s versatile and delicious – and just FILLED with vegetables. When I eat it I have this strong feeling of adulthood pride because for once, JUST once, I am EATING THE DAILY RECOMMENDED SERVING OF VEGETABLES. That’s a true accomplishment.

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Sugar for the Holidays: Nutella PB Brownies!

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Sugar for the Holidays: Nutella PB Brownies!

On December 24th, 2014 I commenced a baking a marathon. It began upon waking with a large cup of french roast coffee, snowman flannel pajamas, and two dogs following me around the kitchen hoping I was going to drop crumbs. The complete list of baked goods is as follows:

Somehow, I managed to keep to a very strict schedule that went a little something like this:

8:00 am – Sip coffee.
8:05 am – Begin cookies.
8:15 am – Microwave coffee, dammit.
8:30 am – Realize cookies have to be refrigerated for 2 hours, sigh.
8:35 am – Spill an entire bottle of organic vanilla extract all over cookbook and counter, BUT DO NOT CRY.
8:40 – Microwave coffee, this time whilst smelling of vanilla.
9:00 – 9:25am – Brownie making and baking.
10:00 am – Take brownies out, go to the gym smelling of 10,000 vanilla beans.
11:00 am – Begin cranberry cake and interpret 3/4 cup of butter, as three sticks of butter.
11:45 am – 12:45pm – Drain butter from cake pan every ten minutes. Microwave coffee 2 more times.
1:30 pm – Complete cranberry cake, collapse unable to continue with cupcakes.
2:30 pm – Muster up energy to make cupcakes while eating as much raw cupcake batter as possible.

So, my cookbook now smells like vanilla and the cranberry cake was EXTRA buttery – but overall, minor disasters! The brownies Nutella PB Brownies are so, so delicious. The Nutella flavor doesn’t really come through, but it adds to the overall chocolatey, chewy, fudgy texture of the brownies. You could add a bit more Nutella and cut the PB if you want it to shine!

But first, check out the holiday spread…

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Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies
A quick, easy, and delicious brownie that is the perfectly mix of chewy and fudgy! Adapted from Oven Haven by Return to Sender.
Servings Prep Time
12 brownies 25 minutes
Cook Time
20 - 25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 brownies 25 minutes
Cook Time
20 - 25 minutes
Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies
A quick, easy, and delicious brownie that is the perfectly mix of chewy and fudgy! Adapted from Oven Haven by Return to Sender.
Servings Prep Time
12 brownies 25 minutes
Cook Time
20 - 25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 brownies 25 minutes
Cook Time
20 - 25 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: brownies
Recipe Notes

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.

Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.

Melt the butter, then stir sugar into the melted butter until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. (Make sure your melted butter isn't too warm for the eggs!)

Add the dry ingredients and then mix until just combined.

Add Nutella and peanut butter to a small, microwaveable bowl and heat in the microwave until runny, about 30 seconds. Stir peanut butter and Nutella together, and then fold into brownie mix - but do not mix.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

After they come out of the oven - for a holiday twist - sprinkle with holiday sprinkles or sugar while still warm.

Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies

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Christmas Decadence!

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Christmas Decadence!

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I live for dessert. It’s no secret that I’ll eat cake for breakfast without any prompting. My old job was really close to a coffee shop that had a plethora of baked goods – and always a fresh cake. So with my morning coffee I’d also grab a slice of carrot cake, or chocolate cake with ganache, or occasionally a slice of cheesecake. Maybe a raspberry filled cupcake, if I was trying to be healthy… Nothing tastes better with a bitter, black, dark roast than a slice of frosted cake. Or a cookie. Or a chunk of chocolate. Or pie. Ahem.

Hence why Joy the Baker‘s new cookbook, Homemade Decadence, is a dream come true. It’s filled with every treat I could ever imagine – from the basics of cake making, to an entire section devoted to brunch. It’s the perfect go-to book for desserts – the cake section (obviously) is my favorite. Joy provides basic recipes for yellow cake and chocolate cake, and then recipes for different frostings. I’m looking forward tackling the Lemon-Honey Yellow Cake.

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Taking on Baking

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Taking on Baking

When I  began my adventures in cooking, I mostly tried to steer clear of baking. I have fuzzy memories of attempting to bake “healthy” treats around 2009-2010  and how absolutely horrible they were. Yet I still forced myself to eat the rubbery sugar free, fat free, (joy free…) “brownies.” Then there were some sort of vegan cookies I recall trying to sell people on that were equally as terrible. Also let’s be honest, baking is intimidating. If you delve into serious baking blogs, you suddenly want to buy the most expensive KitchenAid Mixer you can find, silpats, a very precise food scale so you can measure properly, and vanilla extract infused with unicorn horn powder. (Right? That’s a thing?)

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With all the expertise that seemed necessary, I didn’t bake a thing until very recently. I started slowly, adapting this recipe for individual baked oatmeals so A and I would have some easy breakfasts we could both bring to work (ours are a bit different – let me know if you want me to go in depth on these!). I mean, it’s hard to mess up oatmeal. After the oatmeal, I moved on to bars making some apple butter bars, then some apple and pear cake, then suddenly I was just quickly whipping up a Vietnamese coffee cake with sweetened condensed milk frosting….and I realized hey, this baking thing, if taken slowly and carefully, is actually something I was pretty good at.

So good in fact, I am in charge of all desserts for Christmas at my house! And with my measly baking skills, I’ve got a few tips for new bakers to help and possibly take the intimidating-factor away

 

TIPS FOR BAKING WHEN YOU ARE AFRAID OF IT:

  • Start small.
    Look for a recipe that you feel like you can handle. The baked oatmeal barely felt like baking to me and gave me the confidence to later move on to more complicated recipes with different techniques and ingredients involved.
  • If you have the room, ALWAYS buy more baking supplies than you need!
    This is good for a few reasons, the first being that baking supplies can often be really expensive. Between the many different types of flour I have stocking my shelves (whole wheat, all purpose, baking, whole wheat pastry…) the different types of sugar (light brown, dark brown, cane, powdered) it can all add up. Now when I’m at the grocery store and I see that vanilla extract, chopped pecans, baking powder, RAINBOW SPRINKLES (I definitely bought two today in a BOGO deal…) or whatever else is on sale – I usually grab it. This leads to the second reason to stock up – you can bake on a whim! Now that I’m a bit more confident in my baking scales, I often look up recipes on a Saturday afternoon and whip up a batch of brownies, muffins, or cookies for fun. There is nothing better than opening the cabinet, seeing that I have plenty of cocoa powder, coconut oil, and whatever else to make something gooey and chocolatey. The more I bake the more comfortable I get with it – so having full cabinets is a necessity.
  • Parchment Paper.
    OH PARCHMENT PAPER YOU GLORIOUS CREATION. Parchment paper will save your life so many times. You can keep your pans completely clean, you can make cupcakes and muffins that don’t get stuck in their wrappers…parchment paper is the best. I’ve been buying these cupcake wrappers  by Paper Chef whenever they’re on sale at my local grocery store. They’re a dream and they look great. I also just bought their tulip cups to make fancy cupcakes for Christmas.
  • Get a good baking sheet and a cooling rack.
    I never thought I’d need a cooling rack in my life. I just bought one. When you’re trying to cook multiple batches and you don’t have a plethora of pans – the cooling rack saves so much time. And speaking of that – a good baking sheet is necessary for cookies, too. I need to invest in several more, but right now I have a great half sheet that my mom gave me and I realize more and more how important a good baking sheet is!
  • Be Brave.
    You have to be a bit brave to start baking (cue Sara Bareilles please). I’m still a complete amateur, but I follow recipes very closely and I’ve been successful! And when I’ve had a problem, I’ve googled the crap out of it so it doesn’t happen the next time (Can we talk about how many in-depth articles I’ve read about how to achieve the perfect domed top for you muffin or cupcakes?) But I’m also not afraid to change things up a bit – I often substitute coconut oil for butter, vegetable oil, etc. And I sub in whole wheat pastry flour here and there for all purpose, and I usually sub in almond milk for regular milk (because I never have any!). I’ll toss in extra fruit or cocoa when I’m pretending I have real expertise. But also, don’t be afraid to try a challenging or new recipe. One of my favorite recipes (now) I made for the first time Thanksgiving-eve AND BROUGHT TO A’S THANKSGIVING DINNER. Guess what? It was delicious. And it’s that Cranberry cake with pecan topping from my last post, if you’re wondering. Go make it. And eat a whole loaf yourself. You won’t regret it – I promise.

Obviously, these are just the few things I’ve learned in my very short time as a home baker.  Tips from one beginner to another. If anyone has any idea how to not make a huge mess and keep your dogs from being covered in flour, please let me know.

Coming up later this week: a review of Joy the Baker‘s latest – with some pics of the cookies I’m baking from it!

Funfetti for all!

 

Do you have any baking tips?