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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spicy Mac-n-Cheesy Soup

Saw the idea for this in an issue of Cuisine at Home and decided to put a spicy twist on it.  A nice thick slice of toast on the side and you have a warm and creamy belly full of comfort food goodness.

Spicy Mac-n-Cheesy Soup

1-1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni
2 tbsp butter
1/3 of an onion, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp dried mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups milk
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey Jack Pepper cheese, shredded
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3-4 dashes of Tabasco
salt to taste
small pretzels, break to garnish

Prepare macaroni according to box directions.  Drain and set aside.

Saute onion and celery in butter over medium heat until they're soft (about 5 minutes).

Stir in flour to coat the veggies and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

Deglaze the pan and veggies with wine until mixture glops up.

Whisk in chicken broth, mustard, cayenne, and nutmeg.  Simmer until it thickens up.  Pour milk into the pan in a slow steady stream, whisking all the while.  Do NOT allow mixture to boil or it will become grainy.

Whisk cheese in, about a cup at a time, allow to melt between additions.  Stir in cooked macaroni, lemon juice, Tabasco, and salt.

Remove from heat, serve up and garnish with pretzel pieces.


Adjust the cheese to suit your tastes.  If you prefer more cheddary, then use less (or no) Monterrey Jack.  To kick it up, add some more Tabasco.

To make it an even heartier soup, brown up some of your favorite ground meat and add to the mix.

To make it a pure vegetarian dish, use veggie broth in lieu of chicken broth.

If you prefer, you could use your favorite beer to deglaze the floured veggies.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pumpkin Veggie Soup

Is it soup yet?  IT IS!  This is a really simple soup, but makes a great add-in soup base.  If you want to make it heartier, brown up some of your favorite ground meat with some salt, pepper and chili powder and add it in.  Or boil up some of your favorite pasta and add it in.  It's a really flexible dish and perfect for these not-so-hot, not-too-cool evenings we're starting to enjoy.

Pumpkin Veggie Soup

1 large onion, fine chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 celery stalk, diced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
4 tsp minced garlic
5 cups water
1 (14 oz) can kidney beans, drained
4 tsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried bay leaves
1 can (14 oz) canned tomatoes
1/2 small pie pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, diced
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes until softened, stirring often. 

Add in garlic, celery, and carrots and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Add water, kidney beans, tomato paste, thyme, oregano, cumin, and bay leaf.  When mixture starts to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Stir in tomates, pumpkin, and chili powder.  Cover and continue to cook for another 1 hour, or until the pumpkin is tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with fresh grated parmesan or cilantro and a nice crusty slice of bread on the side.


I heated up some Jimmy Dean's Turkey Sausage Crumbles with some chili powder and cumin and then added it into the soup. Nummy num!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with Creamy Onion Sauce

Another fun fall recipe and this is a K2 original.  Haven't made homemade pasta in a while and since I'm on a fall squash kick, wanted to combine the two.  Not the most attractive photo, I will admit, but the flavors in this dish more than make up for its lack of photogenicness. Don't know if that's really a word but I am deeming it one now.

Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with Creamy Onion Sauce

sage ravioli
2 cups semolina
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch of salt
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp fresh sage, minced

pumpkin filling
4 oz pumpkin puree
4 oz ricotta cheese
1 tbsp toasted pinenut
1/16 tsp allspice
salt and pepper to taste

creamy onion sauce
2 small onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup half-n-half  plus some for thinning if needed
1 tbsp cornstarch

PASTA -- Mix together the semolina, flour, and salt in a large bowl.  Create a well in the middle and add the eggs and oil.

Blend with a fork until it starts to come together. 

Turn out mixture onto a semolina-dusted surface and knead 8-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastically supple.

Fold in the minced sage, and continue to knead for another 2 minutes until the sage is well incorporated.

Cover dough and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

SAUCE -- In a large sauce pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in onion slices.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45-50 minutes until onions are browned.

Add in 1 cup of half-n-half and stir well.

To thicken the sauce, whisk together 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp half-n-half in a small bowl.  Bring sauce in pan to a low boil, and stir in cornstarch mix.  Stir while it thickens.  Remove from heat and set aside.  It will thicken even more as it stands.  If you want a thinner sauce, add more half-n-half to it.

FILLING -- In a small pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat.  Heat until you can smell the aroma of the nuts.  Remove and allow to cool.  Rough chop the nuts.

In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin puree, ricotta, nuts, nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out the pasta dough using a pasta machine or just a rolling pin. You want the pasta to be thin, about 1/8" thick.

Cut into squares, will need two squares per ravioli.  Fill one square with a tsp of the filling. 

Brush the edges of the bottom square with water and cover with the top square and press down on the edges. A fork works really well for this.

TO COOK -- Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Pour in a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Place the filled ravioli in the boiling water and cook for 8-9 minutes until done.

Drain and serve.  Cover with sauce and garnish with toasted pine nuts and sage.


The sauce itself is a stand-alone hit and would go great with chicken or beef.  It would also make a nice base for stroganoff.

I didn't roll my pasta thin enough and it was a bit doughier than I usually care for, but it certainly didn't stop me from eating it.  The sage in the pasta is subtle, but makes a nice complement to the slightly sweet taste of the pumpkin filling.

You can use canned pumpkin for this recipe, but if you are feeling ambitious like I was, you can roast your own pumpkin to make it.

ROASTING PUMPKINS -- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice pie pumpkin into quarters and place face down in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 1-1/2 hours.

Remove from oven and allow to cool, 20-30 minutes. Scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff (yes, that's an official culinary term).

Scoop out pumpkin flesh and puree in a food processor or squish with a potato masher.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Crumble Top Butternut Squash Pie

YAY!  It's fall and that means hearty fall foods, squashy dishes, and wintery spices.  I've come up with some variations on some recipes I've found, and a couple new ones too, using winter squashes.  So to start off with, here's a variation on a pumpkin pie recipe (because it's never too soon for pie).

Crumble Top Butternut Squash Pie

2 to 2-1/2 cups roasted butternut squash
  (need a 2-3 lb butternut squash)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Sugar in the Raw
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

1-9" deep dish crust (pre-made or homemade)

crumble top
4 tbsp Sugar in the Raw
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cold butter, diced
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Quarter the squash, remove the seeds and place face down on a cookie sheet covered with foil.  FYI, the squash seeps liquid while it cooks so will be messy.

Sorry about no photos for the roasting prep, I have them, they're just trapped on my camera and I can't find the cord to be able to get them off.  Maybe someday...

Bake covered with foil for 1-1/2 hours.  Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool.  Once cool, scoop out the flesh and mash with a potato masher, or puree in a food process.

Bump up the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the butternut squash puree with the condensed milk and eggs.  Whisk together until mostly smooth.  Add in the salt, vanilla and Sugar in the Raw.

Pour into the pie shell and bake for 15 minutes.


While the pie is pre-baking, mix together the Sugar in the Raw, flour and cinnamon.  Using a pastry blend, work in the cold butter dices until the mixture is crumbly.  Add in the nuts and mix well.

Once it's 15 minutes are up, remove the pie from the oven and drop the temperature to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle the crumble topping on the pie and place back in the oven for another 30-35 minutes.

Once it's all baked up, you can serve the pie hot, or cold if you want to save it for later. 


It's definitely another savory sweet, so if you want to sweeten it up a bit more, a drizzle of caramel would not come amiss.

You're probably more familiar with Sugar in the Raw in the small packets, but you can get a baking sized box in the grocery store.  If you don't have it but desperately want to make the pie, you could substitute white sugar, but use about 1/3 less than the recipe calls for.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Coconut-Corn Ice Cream with Brown Sugar Syrup and Peanuts

This one is coming to you a little late...both in terms of season and posting...but it's worth it.  I know we're at the tail end of corn season, but keep this on hand for next year summer...or use frozen corn cobs to put this together.

Are you ready for this?  Savory ice cream.  I KNOW!!!  It sounds crazy, but it's crazy good.  This is from the same issue that featured the garam masala buttered-creamed corn and was too good to pass up.  The reason I'm posting a little later in the evening is because "someone" didn't read the instructions closely and discovered that it takes a couple of hours to pull it all together so make sure you take the time into account when you try it.

Coconut-Corn Ice Cream with Brown Sugar Syrup and Peanuts
page 79, Bon Appetit, August 2012 -- directions paraphrased

ice cream
6 ears of corn, husked
2 cans (13.5-14 oz) coconut milk
3/4 cups sweetened condensed milk

brown sugar syrup
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
kosher salt

1 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Using the largest holes on a box grater, coarsely grate corn kernels from cobs into a large bowl (or container) and reserve cobs.

Heat coconut milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until almost simmering.  Add grated corn, corn cobs, and condensed milk.  Cook stirring occasionally, until mixture barely begins to simmer, about 5 minutes. 

Remove saucepan from heat, discard cobs, then cover and let steep for 1 hour.

Strain corn mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard solids (see notes).

Cover mixture and chill for 4 hours or overnight.  Once thoroughly chilled, process mixture in ice cream maker according to machine directions.

Transfer to an airtight container (with cover) and freeze at least 3 hours and up to 1 week.


Toast coriander seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Transfer to a cutting board and crush with bottom of pan or with a mortar and pestle or rough chopped in a coffee/spice grinder.

Stir sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Add coriander and peppercorns, season with salt.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally and brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool.  Strain, cover and chill for up to 1 month.


Scoop out, drizzle with syrup and garnish with peanut pieces.


As you may have noticed in the first photo, grating kernels off a cob is very messy work.  I would cover anything in the surrounding area with something that can easily be cleaned.  Might not hurt to wear an apron...and/or goggles.  It also produces a lot of liquid that you can discard, or save to use with something else...what else, I don't know yet, working on coming up with something.

In the original recipe, it says to discard the grated corn slush after you strain the seeped liquid.  I found that's it's actually pretty tasty and would recommend holding onto it to either (1) eat as is, (2) use as an alternative/addtional topping to the ice cream, or (3) I bet it would be nummers over some vanilla pudding.  Or you can just toss it.

Easiest way to chop the peanuts, is to put them in a ziplock baggie and pound on them with a mallet until they break into the size pieces you want.

Special note about the syrup...OMG it's sooooo good.  The brown sugar and peppercorns work really well together.