Friday, November 29, 2013

White Chocolate Cookie Butter Truffles

These truffles were a mistake actually.  Well, not a mistake so much as they weren't supposed to happen. I wanted to make a different truffle but I couldn't find the components I needed to make it happen.  However, a bag of Spekulatius cookies and a jar of Speculoos cookie butter said I had everything I needed to make these little balls of spiced cookie heaven.  Smooth, creamy, full of flavor and dressed up in white chocolate and topped with a piece of those delicious spiced windmill cookies.  These truffles are perfect for sharing. In fact, I shared them right away with my November Foodie Pen Pal!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Broccoli Parmesan

This is by far one of my favorite "fancy" ways to prepare broccoli.  Now, Dave and I love broccoli and will have it just steamed, maybe with a little salt and butter, but even just plain is great for us.  But toss a creamy cheese sauce on top and broil it for a bit of crispy gooeyness and I'm sold.  I love everything about this broccoli and made it for the very first Thanksgiving we hosted. I really should make it more often, because it's simple and can easily be added to a weeknight meal.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Roll Bars

There's just something about pumpkin and cream cheese that's delicious.  Simultaneously light and indulgent, it's a combo I really like, whether in these muffins or this cake.  So I figured these bars would be an excellent way to get my fix.  These bars are made of a soft, sweetly spiced pumpkin cake with a cream cheese topping, swirled with more pumpkin batter for a simple bar dessert full of pumpkin flavor and creamy filling.We had game night with some friends and a pumpkin roll bar was definitely the delicious dessert we needed to end the night.  They'd be a perfect dessert to put on your Thanksgiving buffet or take with you to your holiday gathering.  I'm pretty sure I'm making these again for our holiday meal, but let's be honest--my menu is usually a moving target.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Quick Homemade Dinner Rolls

The first time I made these, Dave asked me if I got a recipe from a local restaurant.  The second time I made them, he said they were better than the ones at the restaurant.  I'll take it.  These rolls are so good--soft and fluffy on the inside, covered by a perfectly buttery shell--not quite a crust, but enough of a crunchy edge that gently yields to a perfect dinner roll inside.  And since it's built in thirds, you don't even have to disturb that perfect exterior--just break apart, slather with creamy butter and munch away.  And all done in 60 minutes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

I love taters.  It must be the Irish in me, but whatever it is, I can't get enough of them: fried, roasted, baked or mashed.  Mmm, mashed.  It's by far my favorite way to shovel potatoes into my face.  Since we're frying our turkey this Thanksgiving, I wanted a flavor-packed variation since I won't have pan drippings to make gravy.  I have some other gravy-making alternatives in mind, but in case those don't quite work out, at least these potatoes can stand on their own.  Loaded with cheese, sour cream, bacon and scallions, it's like potato skins in mashed potato form.  Creamy and delicious, how could you not want to pile these onto your plate?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Butternut Squash Parmesan

Butternut squash is one of those perfect squashes that so easy to prepare in a bunch of different ways.  Since it's easy to peel and relatively easy to cut (compared to other squash), it lends itself to being treated like a potato instead of like other squashes that basically only want to be roasted with the rind on (I'm looking at you acorn squash).  So this version of butternut squash laden with garlic and Parmesan cheese makes an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving.  The squash bakes up flavorful and soft while the topping gets nice and crunchy.  Plus it's a rather light way to prepare squash so you can load up on this and still have room for pumpkin pie.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pulled Pork & Beer Chili

As you know, we love chili. Like a lot.  It's easy to make, hearty and when the temperature decides to drop to the 20s, it's a great way to warm up, especially with some tortilla chips for scooping and a beer to wash it all down.  Of course you can also add the beer to the chili and bridge the flavor gap, which is of course what I did.  Loaded with beans, peppers, onions and shredded pork, this chili is so quick to make and is delicious.  A little bit of heat from the chili powder and tomatoes with green chiles, and the beer adds a nice depth to the background flavors.  I always cook with a beer that has a good flavor on its own, so this time I chose a lager, Yuengling, since we brought back a couple of cases from Pennsylvania and kicked the keg of Harpoon UFO Pumpkin (don't worry--we've ordered another one to have for Thanksgiving).  Keeping our beer supply well stocked is important.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tangerine Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles are a holiday must have and one of Dave's (and my) favorite cookies.  But I'm always looking for a twist, especially with this type of cookie.  Besides the classic variety, I've made chocolate snickerdoodles, gingerdoodles, mapledoodles, and pumpkindoodles,  So given the opportunity to add a little citrus flavor to the mix, why not?  I have to say, I'm slightly disappointed that these aren't more tangerine-y, but they are still a good cookie.  The tangerine flavor is subtle and light, but I think I could have enhanced this in two ways--first, used more zest; and second, maybe turn these into orange snickerdoodles and used a big ol' navel orange, which would have yielded more zest as well.  But over all these are a great nsickerdoodle, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with a cinnamon sugar shell, and just a hint of something different with the light citrusy notes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chicken Stir Fry

Last week we picked up our last farm box from the Summer CSA. There's an over abundance of squash now (so many squash...), but I also thought this was the perfect time to celebrate the bounty we enjoyed this summer, I whipped up this delicious stir fry using some of our favorites from the farm.  Diced onions, peppers, carrots, broccoli and celery all come together to add volume and flavor to this tasty chicken stir fry, seasoned with soy sauce and ginger.  The chicken browns up well and is nice and tender, plus the sauce become just enough of a gravy to top this hearty dinner, which I served over some sticky rice. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

I know cookies aren't the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but I'm hoping this year you'll reconsider and may add a batch of these delicious cookies to your dessert table.  I mean, these cookies have the prerequisite pumpkin flavor, but the addition of cranberries as well, for a true fall flavor.  Plus oatmeal for a great texture and flavor.  These cookies are different from last week's Pumpkin Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip cookies in that they have a slightly different texture--soft but still hearty--and without the browned butter.  These pumpkin cranberry cookies might be a little more my favorite, but here's an idea: make them both and have a taste test for Thanksgiving.  Or decide which ones you like best, hide those and serve the others.  No one needs to know--I won't tell.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Almond Meltaways

Almond cookies with a light almond glaze?  Sure, why not.  I'm told not everything has to be chocolate (although I'm still trying to figure out what that means...)  But these cookies really are tasty.  Appropriately named almond meltaways, these cookies literally melt in your mouth as a soft, buttery cookie that's light and full of flavor.  Delicious almond notes permeate both the cookie and the glaze which creates a slightly crunchy coating that contrasts the soft cookie texture in the best of ways.  And I do appreciate a non-chocolate cookie every once and a while. I use them as a palate cleanser between chocolate confections, kind of like sorbet between the appetizer course and entree.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Southwest Winter Squash Soup

It's definitely soup season and since I've got a ton of winter squash, that's what's going in the soup pot.  Or in this case, the crock pot.  Unlike the acorn squash soup I made last month, this soup has a kick and some south of the border flavor.  In this soup, the acorn squash gives a bit of sweetness to start, then the chiles, pepper and chili powder come in at the end with a nice kick of heat that kind of sneaks up to say, "hi!"  I was actually surprised by the kick of heat, since I wasn't expecting it to be so pronounced, but it can be tempered with a bit of lime juice or some sour cream to cool things down.  The soup is very tasty and makes a lot--I brought in extra portions for some workers who enjoyed it for lunch--filling, but still light and definitely tasty.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken

I told some friends last week that I was going to post a crock pot rotisserie chicken recipe soon and they all said they wanted it.  I kinda thought they might not let me hold out on them this long.  But I promise it was worth the wait!  This chicken might be one of my favorite fall/winter dinners.  It's only slightly more work than going to the store and picking up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (or less, if you're like me and don't pass a grocery store on the way home from work).  Plus, you can control the fat and sodium content, which can be important.  I do take most of the skin off of the bird before cooking, so if your crock pot runs hot, it might dry out.  I've always had success with this method, but there are a few things you can do it you tend to get dry chicken.  Leave some of the skin on (you can always take it off before you eat if that concerns you); add a bit (1/4 to 1/2 cup) of water or chicken broth to the bottom of the stoneware before cooking; or cook for slightly less time (maybe an hour less) and check with a meat thermometer to ensure it's fully cooked.  Another way I save time with this meal is that I whip up a big batch of the seasoning mixture and keep it on hand so that I always have some ready for this recipe.  Saves me from measuring out all the ingredients each time, especially since I'll make this several times over the next few months.  There's lots of flavor from this juicy chicken that's delicious just sliced and serves or however you like to use a rotisserie-style chicken.