Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Butter

It seems that I have been on quite the pumpkin kick lately! I sure have been enjoying the trip and the next stop was pumpkin butter. I had seen pumpkin butter popping up on the food blogging sphere and it sounded good. Last year I enjoyed an apple butter that I had made and I used that recipe as a starting point. The pumpkin butter was super easy to make as I already had some home made pumpkin puree on hand. The pumpkin butter was so good! If you like pumpkin will really like pumpkin butter. The pumpkin flavour is amazingly concentrated and good. The spices are reminiscent of pumpkin pie and there is a hint of apples in the background from the cider. So far I have been enjoying the pumpkin butter on toast in addition to by the spoon.

Roasted Butternut Squash Farro Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Farro Salad

I still had some leftover butternut squash and I was thinking about doing a whole grain salad with it. Over the last while I have been enjoying exploring whole grains and one of my favorite ways to use them is in simple salads. One of my favorite whole grains is farro as it is has a really nice chewy texture like pasta cooked al dente that I really like. I was thinking of a simple squash squash farro salad. Since sage goes really well with squash and since I had some in my fridge it was a no brainier to add it. I like the way that balsamic vinegar adds a touch of sweet along with the tart and I thought that it would work well with the roasted butternut squash. Walnuts are one of my favorites and I wanted to add them to the salad and I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to try out the walnut oil that I had recently picked up. The walnuts were toasted to give them that perfect texture and to bring out their full flavour. Of course I could not pass up on the chance to add something green and I used it to enjoy some swiss chard. The roasted butternut squash farro salad turned out pretty good. I really liked the way the roasted butternut squash worked with the chewy farro and the salad had a really nice flavour. I enjoyed the salad warm the first night and I enjoyed it cool the next morning as a quick breakfast before running out the door.

Pumpkin Quesadillas

Pumpkin Quesadillas

During squash/pumpkin season I fairly often find myself with extras. Having leftover pumpkin is certainly not a problem as I really like it and I enjoy coming up with new ways to use it. This time when I realized that I needed to use that pumpkin in the fridge I had been thinking about texmex flavours and about that open jar of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce that also needed to be used. I thought that some cheesy pumpkin quesadillas would hit the spot. Of course I had to roast the pumpkin to bring out its flavour and I decided to toss it in the chipotle chilies and adobo sauce before roasting it. Other than the pumpkin I went with some pretty standard quesadilla ingredients. The pumpkin quesadillas turned out pretty good! I may have gone a little too heavy on the chipotles but the fiery heat went well with the sweet roasted pumpkin and the gooey melted cheese. I served the quesadillas with some salsa verde for dipping. My texmex flavour cravings have been satisfied for another day. :)

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

One of the things that I really like about this time of year is the winter squash and butternut squash is one of favorites. Near the end of last winter I started thinking about a butternut squash lasagna but then Spring started and all thoughts of squash were pushed from my mind by the fresh asparagus. The butternut lasagna has been on my mind since the squash returned and now I finally got around to making it. I wanted to keep the lasagna pretty simple to showcase the amazing flavour of the butternut. I knew that I wanted to roast the squash to maximize its flavour and sage was a must. Other than the squash there was to be a bechamel sauce and since this was going to be it I decided to saute some onions, garlic and more sage in the butter while I was making the sauce for a bit of extra flavour. I also thought long and hard about adding a layer of spinach or chard but in the end I wanted to really taste the butternut squash so I had the spinach on the side. Lasagna takes a bit of work to make. For this one, you need to roast the squash, make the bechamel sauce, cook the noodles, assemble and cook. Despite all of the steps involved and the time required it was pretty easy to make. The roasted butternut squash lasagna turned out really well. The cheese on top bubbled and turned golden brown forming a tasty crust. The lasagna tasted great and the flavours of the butternut squash and sage came through well! The sweetness of the squash went really in the creamy and cheesy lasagna. While I was eating the lasagna I was already thinking of the next version and I was thinking about adding that layer of spinach and maybe a meat layer consisting of tasty Italian sausage.

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Carrot Cake Pancakes

I often like to change things up a bit, like by having breakfast for dinner or a dessert for breakfast. When I cake across the concept of carrot cake pancakes on Joy the Baker I knew that I would be having a dessert for breakfast once again. Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts and I like the idea of having them in pancake form for breakfast. I also really liked the idea of topping the pancakes with a cream cheese spread like the one used on a carrot cake instead of using syrup. I started with my basic pancake recipe and added some carrots and spices. I could not really have pancakes without maple syrup and since I was going to be spreading cream cheese on the pancakes I thought that mixing the maple syrup into the cream cheese spread would be a nice way to do it. The carrot cake pancakes were easy to make and tasted great! I stacked them on top of each other and spread cream cheese on top of each so they almost looked like a carrot cake in the end. The carrot cake pancakes with maple cream cheese spread tasted almost like carrot cake and I really enjoyed them. It is always nice to have dessert for breakfast!

Apple Wild Rice Salad

Apple Wild Rice Salad

While I was eating my roasted pork tenderloin with apple gravy on apple wild rice I was reminded of the waldorf salad that I had recently enjoyed. One thought led to another and I was thinking about a wild rice salad with crisp fresh chunks of apple. The wild rice would have to be cooked in apple cider and chicken stock again to add all of that flavour. Crunchy celery, sweet raisins and toasted walnuts would also have to be a part of the salad. I was thinking of a simple oil and vinegar based dressing made with walnut oil and cider vinegar and a touch of maple syrup to balance it out. With apples and raisins in the salad it only seemed fair to invite cinnamon to the party. The apple wild rice salad turned out really nicely. I left the dressing rather tart and I quite enjoyed the contrasting sweetness of the apples and the raisins. Overall all of the ingredients worked really well together in the salad. I could not wait for the rice to cool down so I enjoyed it warm the day and the leftovers were good right from the fridge. I am looking forward to using wild rice again.

Apple Wild Rice

Apple Wild Rice

I liked the sound of serving the roasted pork tenderloin with apple gravy on a bed of wild rice cooked in apple sauce. I thought that just plain wild rice might be a little boring so I tweaked it a bit. I cooked the rice in fresh apple cider from the farmers market and chicken stock to give the rice a nice spiced apple and savoury flavour. I also wanted some more vegetables in the meal and the rice was a perfect spot to put them. Onions, carrots and celery form the base of lots of soups and sauces and I thought they would go well with he wild rice. Given the apple nature of the rice so far I thought that adding some sweet raisins would also be nice. Before serving the wild rice I topped it off with some chopped toasted pecans to add a contrasting texture. the apple wild rice turned out great! I really enjoyed the apple flavour of the tender wild rice. I am going to have to think of other flavours that I can add to rice by cooking it in different liquids. Overall the rice had a nice balance of sweet and savoury and it was full of flavour. I could easily eat a bowl of this rice all by itself. This would make a great side dish for many different meals.

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Gravy on Greens and Apple Wild Rice

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Gravy on Greens and Apple Wild Rice

I came across this recipe for a roasted pork tenderloin with apple gravy on greens and apple wild rice a while ago on Inspired Bites and I knew right away that I would have to make it. I really liked every aspect of this one dish meal, from the pork and apple flavour combo to my newly found favorite, swiss chard, to the wild rice that I had been wanting to try. It almost seed like a perfect meal and with apples every where it seemed like the perfect time to make it.

I only made a few changes to the apple gravy recipe by adding some sage which I had on hand and a pinch of cinnamon. Both sage and cinnamon go well with apples and I thought they would add some nice extra layers of flavour. I used some of my own roasted apple sauce in the gravy for even more flavour. The apple cider that I used was freshly made and bottled by local farmers and I picked it up at the farmers market. In the end I thought that there were so many good things in the gravy that it would be a shame to strain them out so I left them in and went with a thicker gravy. I accidentally grabbed the dark soy and my gravy turned out pretty dark but it did not adversely affect the flavour. I garnished the dish with some crispy butter fried sage.

The roasted pork tenderloin with apple gravy turn out great! This was the first time that I have cooked a pork tenderloin and I am glad that I shelled out the extra cash for it as it was so moist and tender and good. The pork would have been great without anything on it but the gravy was so tasty and flavourful that it took it to whole new levels of delightfulness. The gravy was full of appley goodness and the apple sauce and raisins added a nice sweetness to it. The salty soy sauce balanced out the sweetness and the touch of cinnamon added a nice hint of exotic. Luckily this recipe made enough that I will have tasty leftovers for quick lunches and dinners this week.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Gravy


Butternut Squash, Italian Sausage and Sage Pasta

Butternut Squash, Italian Sausage and Sage Pasta

One of the things that I like about the fall is that I always seem to have some leftover squash or squash puree around. It is really easy to use this leftover squash to cook up some quick and tasty meals. One way of using squash that I never seem to tire or is with pasta. In addition to having some leftover squash I had some extra Italian sausage and I thought that a pasta with tender sweet squash cubes and crumbled spicy Italian sausage would be nice. The squash and sage combo is so good that I did not even think about not adding the sage. I could not resist adding some greens and my current favorite is Swiss chard so I added some of that. Now that I had a nicely rounded pasta dish all that was left was to cook it. Normally I would roast the butternut squash cubes but this time I decided that it would be easier to just simmer them with the sauce until they were nice and tender. This pasta dish came together quite easily and quickly. The butternut squash, Italian sausage and sage pasta turned out great and best of all there was enough leftovers for lunches during the week. The sweetness of the squash went well with the heat of the sausage and the creaminess of the sauce and cheese balanced everything out nicely. While I was eating the pasta I was thinking that next time it would be nice to use turkey sausage and if I did, I could make it more of a holiday pasta by adding some dried cranberries.

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

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It seems that I may be a little addicted to hot cheesy dips. Last week I made a hot sweet onion dip and while I was looking for recipes for it I came across some recipes for hot spinach and artichoke dip. This new dip filled with cheese, cream cheese and mayonnaise sounded so good that I had to try it right away. But, with both spinach and artichokes in it, it is just a little bit healthier. ;) One of the things that I liked about this recipe was that I would get to use artichokes again and I had been looking forward to doing so. The last time I used fresh artichokes and this time I got to try canned ones. This dip is super easy to make; you just mix all of the ingredients and bake until bubbling and golden brown on top. The spinach and artichoke dip was amazing! It was warm and cheesy and full of flavour! The big chunks of artichokes were nice and went well with the spinach in the dip. The chili sauce that I added left a nice after taste of heat that I enjoyed. I served the dip with some whole grain crackers.

Shrimp Carbonara

Shrimp Carbonara

Sometimes you just don't have the time of the energy to make dinner but you still want something tasty. It is at times like these that I like a quick pasta such as a carbonara pasta. The carbonara sauce comes together easily and in less time than it takes to boil the pasta. A typical carbonara sauce consists of egg yolks, parmigiano reggiano, pancetta and black pepper. One of the reasons that I like carbonara is that you can play around with it by adding different things. Shrimp is one of my favorite foods and I had been wanting to try a shrimp carbonara for a while. The shrimp carbonara did not disappoint; It was nice and light and tasty and the succulent shrimp worked well in the carbonara pasta. It was a super quick dish that did not compromise in flavour.

Waldorf Salad

Waldorf Salad

The farmers market has been full of many different varieties of apples for a while now and I seem to be bringing them home faster than I can eat them. I was going through my bookmarks looking for new ways to enjoy apples when I came across a waldorf salad. A waldorf salad is basically fresh apples, celery, walnuts and raisins in a mayonnaise based dressing. It sounded simple and good. (It reminded me a bit of a cole slaw.) I like the mayonnaise and lemon juice combo but I tried to make sure that it was not too heavy as I wanted to enjoy the flavours in the salad. I had a lot of apples to choose form but in the end I decided to go with gala. The waldorf salad turned out really good. The crisp and juicy apples cut through the sweet and tangy dressing nicely. I really enjoyed the range of textures in the salad from the crisp to the crunchy to the chewy. The toasted walnuts went really well in this salad and I think that toasting them first is essential. I would imagine that dried cranberries would work just as well as raisins in this salad. I am also thinking that I might try adding some fresh grape slices the next time. Shredded cooked turkey or chicken would also probably go well maybe even with some curry powder. I am going to be enjoying this salad for a while to come.

Risotto

Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite foods. It is generally made with a medium grain rice and it is stirred constantly while cooking to coax out the starch to give it a nice and creamy texture. Risotto is pretty versatile in that you can add pretty much any flavours that you want. It can be anything from a side dish to a light meal or even a full meal. I have made risotto many times and enjoyed it each time. This time I made a pretty basic risotto to be a side dish or a bed for the chicken cacciatore . Making it with the chicken cacciatore worked out well as I could pay attention to the risotto while the chicken was braising. One of the keys to a nice risotto is to use a good quality stock and I like to use home made chicken stock when making a basic risotto. This risotto turned out really well! It was one of the creamiest risottos that I have made. It was nice and cheesy and full of flavour and went really well with the chicken cacciatore.

Chicken Cacciatore (Hunter Style Chicken)

Chicken Cacciatore (Hunter Style Chicken)

As the weather has been cooling I have found myself gravitating towards comfort dishes more and more. This weekend there was a nice sale on whole chickens and I picked some up. The first recipe that I thought of was chicken cacciatore or hunter's style chicken that I had been wanting to try. After looking at a few recipes it seemed to me that chicken cacciatore was pretty much chicken that is braised in a marinara sauce . I really liked the sound of the chicken cooking in the marinara sauce as all of the drippings would meld into the sauce and enhance its flavour. Since the chicken was being braised in the sauce it should come out nice an tender and it should be flavoured by the sauce as well. After thinking for a while I decided to serve the chicken cacciatore on a bed of cheesy risotto.

Hot Sweet Onion Dip

Hot Sweet Onion Dip

A while ago I came across a recipe for a hot sweet onion dip that sounded interesting. I had never really paid much attention to onions as they are not usually the star of the show and I could not recall having ever tried a sweet onion. I normally just use the basic yellow onions in cooking and some red onions for salads. The other day I noticed that they had some vidalia onions that were labeled as sweet at the grocery store and I picked some up right away remembering this recipe. This dip was super simple to make; you just mix everything and bake until it is golden brown and bubbling. I really enjoyed the hot sweet onion dip! The baked onions were soft and tender and they actually were nice and sweet. The sweetness of the onions went really well with the rest of the creamy and savoury dip. I served the dip with some toasted bread for dipping and or spreading. I will definitely be making this again.

Mushroom and Spinach Crepes with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Drizzle

Mushroom and Spinach Crepes with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Drizzle

It had been far too long since I had last had a good mushroom dish and I had been craving them. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the mushrooms that I was craving with the new whole wheat crepe recipe that I wanted to try. I kept the mushroom mixture pretty simple using some of my favorite flavours. I decided to use shiitake and cremini mushrooms to form the base of the dish and I wanted something green so I added spinach. Thyme goes really well with mushrooms and it became the primary herb of the dish. I had some goat cheese left over and I thought that would be a great addition and I decided to go with a balsamic syrup garnish to round out the flavours. The mushroom and spinach crepes were a bit of work to put together as you have to juggle cooking the mushrooms, making the crepes and reducing the balsamic vinegar at the same time. In the end they turned out well! The mushrooms were of course great and the goat cheese added a really nice creaminess and the balsamic syrup cut through it nicely. Overall I really enjoyed both the meal and the whole wheat crepes.

Whole Wheat Crepes

It has been a little over a year since I first tried making crepes . At first they were a little bit challenging but with practice they have become pretty fun to make. I have been using the same recipe since I first made them and I was thinking that whole wheat crepes would be a nice healthier alternative. It seemed reasonable to start with the tried and true recipe and replace half of the all purpose flour with some whole wheat flour. I found that the batter was a little thick so I added more milk until it had a nice runny consistency that would be required to swirl it around the pan. The whole wheat crepes worked out well; they were a little heavier than the regular ones but they were still pretty light and fluffy. They were even good enough to enjoy eating plain, especially while still warm.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Banitsa

Strawberry Goat Cheese Banitsa

I was going through my bookmarks when I came across this recipe for a strawberry goat cheese banitsa that I had bookmarked a while ago. A banista is a Bulgarian pastry made with sirene (a Bulgarian feta cheese), eggs and phyllo dough. Banistas can be made savoury with spinach or peppers or they can be made sweet. This recipe for a sweet banista caught my eye immediately for its use of sweetened goat cheese (since I could not find the sirene), phyllo dough, strawberry jam and pecans. It simply sounded amazing! When I came across the bookmark I knew that I had to make it and it was the perfect opportunity to use some of the strawberry and rhubarb jam that I had made during the summer. As with most recipes that use phyllo dough, this one took a bit of effort but it was well worth it. The strawberry and rhubarb goat cheese banista with pecans turned out great! It was like a cross between a strawberry baklava and a cheesecake. The strawberry and rhubarb jam was like the syrup in the baklava and the goat cheese had a texture that reminded me of cheese cake. The phyllo dough on top and bottom was nice and crisp and the inside was moist and sticky and oh so good. The pecans added a really nice contrast in texture and finished off the banista nicely. Excuse me while I go and get another slice.

Chard Sauteed with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Chard Sauteed with Raisins and Pine Nuts

To finish off my curried honey dijon roasted chicken dinner I was looking for something green. As luck would have it I had just come across a new way to enjoy greens; catalan spinach on Spain...On The Road Again . The original recipe called for spinach but I figured that it would work with pretty much any green leaf vegetable and since I have been enjoying swiss chard lately I decided to go with that. One of the things that I like about swiss chard is that it can be a little bitter and I liked the sound of adding some sweet raisins to it. This side dish is easy to make and comes together in a matter of minutes. I quite enjoyed serving the swiss chard this way. It was a really nice simple combination of flavours and textures and it went well with the rest of the meal.

Thai Style Coconut Butternut Squash

Thai Style Coconut Butternut Squash

When it came to deciding the side dishes to serve with my curried honey dijon roasted chicken I knew that I would have to include some butternut squash as I had a ton of it. I remembered seeing a recipe for a coconut butternut squash that sounded good. Since I already had curry in my meal I decided to swap the curry out of the original recipe and I was thinking about going with a more Thai type of theme. I added some fish sauce, lime juice, chili sauce and palm sugar to get the classic Thai salty, sour, spicy and sweet combo. This squash dish was pretty easy to make as it simmered on the stove top without much attention while the chicken roasted in the oven. The Thai style coconut butternut squash turned out great! The combination of flavours went really well with the sweet butternut squash and I enjoyed the coconut milk that ended up more like a sauce. I garnished the squash with some toasted coconut flakes and chopped cilantro. Some time soon I am going to have to try the original curried version.

Curried Honey Dijon Roasted Chicken

Curried Honey Dijon Roasted Chicken

I like curries of all sorts and I am constantly looking for new ways to enjoy curry. A while ago I came across a recipe for curried honey dijon roasted chicken that sounded good. It is basically a recipe for honey and dijon chicken with some curry. I had been wanting to try honey dijon chicken as well and I thought that the idea of that amazing curry aroma and flavour could only make it better. I was sold and it quickly made it to my meal plan. Though I liked the look of the sliced chicken breast with the golden brown outside and white inside I decided to go with chicken thighs with the skin and bone as they have more flavour. This chicken was really easy to make; you just have to mix the marinade and let it marinate and then roast it in the oven. Pretty much all of the hard work is in the waiting. The curried honey dijon roasted chicken turned out really nicely. The chicken was moist and tender and full of flavour. I really liked the combination of the curry, mustard and honey and they balanced out well. I garnished the chicken with some chopped cilantro and served it with some coconut butternut squash and sauteed chard with raisins and pine nuts .

Vanilla Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce

Vanilla Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce

I still hadn't satisfied my cravings for apples and I knew that an apple crisp had to be next. Apple crisps are among my favorite desserts. They are really easy to make and they are just so good! I like that you can vary the spices to make then a bit different each time. Although the classic cinnamon and nutmeg combo is probably my favorite I also really enjoyed the almond or amaretti/amaretto version that I had made last year. More recently I came across a vanilla bean apple crisp that sounded nice. I mean, if vanilla ice cream goes so well with apple crisp, and it does, then adding vanilla to the crisp sounded like a great idea. I used some granny smith and some honey crisp apples because I had them on hand but you can use can use your favorite baking apples. I also had some caramel sauce and I thought that it would be really nice if I topped the apple crisp with vanilla ice cream off with some of it. The hot apple crisp with the melting vanilla ice cream all drenched in a warm caramel sauce was so amazing! What a great combination of flavours! I can't wait till tomorrow to have another piece.

Caramel Sauce

Apples with Caramel Sauce

Apples have been on my mind recently and one thing led to another and I soon found myself thinking about caramel sauce or rather apples drenched in caramel sauce. Apples and caramel are a classic flavour combo and with good reason. I have made caramel sauce a few times but always as a part of a larger recipe and this time I wanted to make it to use as a condiment, or to just eat it by the spoonful. Caramel sauce is pretty simple in concept; you just heat sugar until it turns a nice golden brown. The trouble is that it can quickly go from a nice golden brown to burnt. There seems to be two main ways to make caramel sauce, a dry method and a wet method. With the dry method you heat the sugar until it melts and with the wet method you dissolve the sugar into something wet, like water and then heat it. I found this recipe for a wet caramel sauce on epicurious which sounded pretty easy and good.

Apple Pie Pizza

Apple Pie Pizza

I still had enough dough from the Daring Bakers pizza dough recipe to make one more pizza. I had placed the extra dough in the freezer to save later and this weekend I pulled it out to use. I had been wanting to try making a dessert pizza and I thought that keeping it seasonal and using some apples would be a good idea. I really liked the idea of doing an apple pizza that made one think of an apple pie. This recipe is quite simple; you simply saute the apples in some butter and brown sugar along with some cinnamon, place it on the pizza dough and bake. I topped the pizza off with a bit of icing. Apple desserts are among my favorites and this apple pie pizza did not disappoint. Of course, any warm apple dessert goes really well with some melting vanilla ice cream on top!