Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Fall Apple Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

I love apples in the fall, and Honeycrisp - the crispest, tart apples out there, are my favorite variety. This salad is quite simple and really nothing more than throwing together a few of my favorite fall ingredients.  My favorite apple salad is still this one with the caramelized apples and spicy orange or tangerine vinaigrette, but this salad is much easier to make in a pinch. 

I have a bunch of exciting recipes on tap for this weekend and next week, including a new tuna dish, several new squash recipes, new cupcakes, and pumpkin ice cream using my new ice cream maker. So stay tuned!

Sasha's Fall Apple Salad with Maple Vinaigrette
Mixed organic greens
2 Honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced
Crumbled goat cheese
Dried Cranberries
Slivered almonds
1/2 cup Canola Oil or Olive Oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 T Vermont maple syrup
pepper to taste

Preparing this recipe is really simple. Saute the apples in canola oil to soften for about five minutes (don't use any sugar). Combine with the other salad ingredients. Make the vinaigrette by shaking the Canola oil, balsamic vinegar, Vermont maple syrup and a bit of pepper to taste.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sasha & Brad's Kitchen: Butternut Squash Risotto

Squash and pumpkin are my two favorite vegetables this time of year.  I plan on making some squash soup for thanksgiving to rival the pumpkin soups I made this time last year and shared here. I figured that squash (or pumpkin) would make a delicious risotto, and I was definitely correct. I engineered this recipe, but this time my husband executed and prepared it - it was a delicious and perfect fall treat, prepared using the delicious ShopRite risotto that I received as part of the ShopRite blog panel that I am part of. You really could make this with fresh pumpkin as well, and it would also be great. You can prepare this using fresh butternut squash from your garden, or make it easy on yourself and buy it already cut up. Either way, the dish is surprisingly easy to make once you have the risotto making art down pat. Risotto is one of my husband's favorite dishes (both to make and to eat) and this one is certain to appear again on our dinner table. Brad and I are hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year, so I am really excited to try some great new pumpkin and squash recipes along with our holiday turkey!

Sasha & Brad's Butternut Squash Risotto
1 lb fresh squash, broiled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 T of butter or olive oil
1 cup white cooking wine
4-5 cups of low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of risotto
1/2 tsp cinnamon

To prepare the risotto, first roast the butternut squash at 400 degrees for about an hour and a half, until cooked. If you are using fresh squash, then get rid of the skin. If using cut up squash, you can then cut into smaller pieces. Squash is really hard to cut before you broil it - I always have a hard time cutting whole squashes open before putting them in the oven!

Cut up the onion and saute in the butter or olive oil. Then add the rice and coat in the olive oil / butter. Add the white wine, and allow to reduce by half. Add the chicken stock, one cup at a time, allowing the first cup of chicken stock to reduce by at least half before adding the next cup. In total, you will add somewhere between 4 to 5 cups of chicken stock before it gets to the right texture. Just before the risotto is done, mix in the cinnamon.

Usually we make risotto with parmesan cheese, but this time we left it out and it was just perfect - and healthier too! I did garnish with a tiny bit on top.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Eric's Kitchen in NJ: Potatoes Au Gratin

Recently Jenn and I had our engagement party and my Uncle Doug and his wife Tara got us these wonderful le Creuset dishes that are perfect for this! We had some amazing Aged Dubliner cheese that we wanted to use up so we thought we'd make some potatoes with it and put our new dishes to use. That being said, for some reason I thought I'd need to fill both dishes and ended up making WAY too much. So this recipe probably feeds about 8...

1+ lbs. Peeled and sliced Russet potatoes
1/2 cup of 2% milk
1/2 cup of half and half
Aged Dubliner cheese
Gruyere cheese (honestly not sure how much)
Cracked black pepper
Garlic powder

I had never done this before so I looked up a few recipes online and most of them called for heavy cream but I really didn't want to have heavy cream sitting around and knew I had some half and half left that I usually use for coffee. It probably would have tasted better with the heavy cream but tasted pretty fantastic with the milk and half and half so I didn't feel like I missed out.

I pre-heated the oven for 400 degrees and started layering the potatoes, covering each layer with a generous amount of grated Gruyere and Dubliner cheese. You can kind of get a sense from the picture here. Once I had the layers built up on both I mixed the milk, half and half and some black pepper and garlic powder and poured it over the potatoes before adding the last layer of cheese. I then added a little more black pepper and some paprika at the end before putting it into the oven. I cooked it covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes and then uncovered it and put it back in for another 30 minutes. They were nicely browned and crispy at the top by the end but some of the potatoes weren't cooked quite enough at the end. We had plenty of leftovers and when reheating those in the toaster oven they have been perfect.
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