Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash

After the mac and cheesecake, I was looking for, at the very least, a veggie side dish to help me feel slightly less far from healthy. My friend Catie suggested this, and I must say I’m a fan! I had never cooked a spaghetti squash before, and I was prepared for the sort of time consuming event that shredding meat can be. If you haven’t cooked one before either: good news! The majority of each half can be shredded in under a minute, with just a bit more scraping needed to get the last little bits. So much faster than expected!

IMG_4958Ingredients:

  • 1 medium/large spaghetti squash
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 to 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup fat free half and half
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the spaghetti squash, first cut it in half and scrape out the seeds, like you would a pumpkin or a cantaloupe. Either bake, cut sides down, for 45 minutes at 350 degrees (too slooow), or microwave, cut side down, for 10-12 minutes. You can nuke one half, then while the second one microwaves, have time to deal with the first one and watch some youtube videos. Swell! Using a fork, shred the insides of the cooked squash. As I said, it comes apart into thin ‘noodles’ surprisingly easily. Transfer the shredded squash to a bowl and set aside.

IMG_4948 IMG_4950 IMG_4952Spray a large pan with cooking spray, then heat over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and stir together.

IMG_4953Stir in the chicken broth, then the half and half.

IMG_4954 IMG_4955Add the cheese and parsley and stir.

IMG_4956I let mine continue to cook just until it had thickened enough that chicken-cream wouldn’t run all over the plate, which you may or may not need to do depending on how much half and half you add, then removed from the heat and served. I’m quite pleased with how my first foray into spaghetti squash cookery went!

IMG_4957

Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash

From A Healthy Makeover.

  • 1 medium/large spaghetti squash
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 to 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup fat free half and half
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the spaghetti squash, first cut it in half and scrape out the seeds, like you would a pumpkin or a cantaloupe. Either bake, cut sides down, for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, or microwave, cut side down, for 10-12 minutes. Using a fork, shred the insides of the cooked squash. Transfer the shredded squash to a bowl and set aside.

Spray a large pan with cooking spray, then heat over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and stir together. Stir in the chicken broth, then the half and half. Add the cheese and parsley and stir. Cook until slightly thickened, then serve.

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Chinese Mabo Tofu

This was a dish I’d never heard of, that I ran across while looking for something to do with ground pork. I’m generally sort of hesitant about tofu things (it’s so…squishy!), but I quite liked the flavor of this sauce, and enjoyed the dish! It’s spicy, salty, and pretty delicious, and was something I could get cooked after work but before dying of hunger.

IMG_4941Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 16 ounce package firm tofu, cut into 1 inch pieces (my supermarket only had a single 14 ounce package left – that was their entire stock of tofu!)
  • 2 tablespoons hot bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

The bean sauce I got at a small Asian market that is inexplicably in this tiny Wyoming town. I’m pretty excited – the first time I went in there I asked about the Korean rice cakes used in this soup, and they should have gotten some by the time I go back this weekend!

First, mix the cornstarch and water together in a small dish until no chunks remain, then set aside.

IMG_4935Brown the ground pork in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.

IMG_4936Transfer the cooked pork to a bowl and set aside. Leave up to a tablespoon of the grease from the pork in the pan, discarding excess, and return the pan to the heat. Cook the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir in the tofu and cook a further two minutes.

IMG_4937Stir in the soy sauce, hot bean sauce, and sugar.

IMG_4938Add the pork and green onion.

IMG_4939Drizzle the cornstarch mixture over the pork mixture and stir to combine.

IMG_4940Cook until thickened, approximately another two minutes, then stir the sesame oil into the mixture, and serve.

IMG_4945As is, I would say this is a bit more than 2 dinner’s worth. If you serve it with some noodles or rice, I’d think you could feed four, with very little work! If pork is not your thing, multiple comments on the original recipe mention replacing it with asparagus. That’s a weird substitution, but seems to work for others!

IMG_4947

Chinese Mabo Tofu

A tiny bit adapted from AllRecipes.

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 16 ounce package firm tofu, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons hot bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

First, mix the cornstarch and water together in a small dish until no chunks remain, then set aside.

Brown the ground pork in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Transfer the cooked pork to a bowl and set aside. Leave up to a tablespoon of the grease from the pork in the pan, discarding excess, and return the pan to the heat. Cook the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir in the tofu and cook a further two minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, hot bean sauce, and sugar, followed by the pork and green onion.

Drizzle the cornstarch mixture over the pork mixture and stir to combine. Cook until thickened, approximately another two minutes, then stir the sesame oil into the mixture, and serve.

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Chocolate Baked French Toast

It’s apparently been 2 1/2 years since the last time I made a baked french toast, which is crazy because it’s such an easy way to have a fabulous morning! This one is extra simple, and takes advantage of some chocolate peanut butter spread that happened to be on sale at my supermarket this week. The smell of baking chocolate is something I, not surprisingly, am a fan of.

IMG_4932Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • Jif Whipped Peanut Butter & Chocolate Flavored Spread* (you could use another chocolate peanut butter, but the whipped-ed-ness of this one makes it spread easily, which is handy)
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (I only ever have skim)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Syrup, butter, powdered sugar, or other French toast toppings.

IMG_4926Grease a 9X13″ pan. Cut the bread into roughly 1/2″ thick slices and spread a thin layer of the chocolate spread on one side of each. Realistically you could also use a thicker layer, but if you check out the nutritional information on that stuff, you’ll agree that a thin layer is plenty. Place the bread in the pan – cram it in there tighter than this picture shows, and feel free to use chunks when whole slices won’t fit.

With this many gaps, the bread basically floats away when you add the custard!

With this many gaps, the bread basically floats away when you add the custard!

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla.

IMG_4928Pour evenly over the bread. You can press the bread down a little bit into the custard, to make sure it evenly soaks, but the bread has all night to absorb the custard so you don’t have to worry about it much.

IMG_4929

Several slices more bread in here by now.

Cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.

By morning, the bread is saturated, and the mixture doesn't jiggle much anymore.

By morning, the bread is saturated, and the mixture doesn’t jiggle much anymore.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and uncover the pan. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until puffed and the top looks dry.

IMG_4931Cut into chunks, and serve topped with your favorite French toast toppings.

IMG_4934Rolling out of bed, throwing this in the oven for long enough to catch up on some show from last night, and then having breakfast ready for you is pretty grand, I must say!

*Jif’s not giving me money or products (especially not after I called out how fatty this stuff is?!), I just found this stuff on sale, and it’s delicious. I should do something with it and strawberries?…

Chocolate Baked French Toast

Grease a 9X13″ pan. Cut the bread into roughly 1/2″ thick slices and spread a thin layer of the chocolate spread on one side of each. Place the bread in the pan, tightly filling the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla.

Pour evenly over the bread. Cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and uncover the pan. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until puffed and the top looks dry. Cut into chunks, and serve topped with your favorite French toast toppings.

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Salted Caramel Bundt Cake

After all the fear about baking at elevation, the first real thing I made with risk of collapse came out pretty perfect! This is a nice dense bundt, and while it’s sweet, it’s not too sweet. It might be nice with some berries and good quality vanilla ice cream, but it’s also delightful by itself.

IMG_4834Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Crème fraîche (I couldn’t find any, so used sour cream)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Caramel Glaze:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • sea salt

You could arguably get away with halving the glaze recipe, as it made enough to cover both the cake and a good chunk of your counter as well. (Half of 3/4 of a cup would be 3 ounces.)

To make the cake, first grease and flour a bundt pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until lighter yellow.

IMG_4823Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, then the vanilla.

IMG_4824Beat in the Crème fraîche 1/4 cup a at a time.

IMG_4825Add the flour mixture in small batching, beating after each addition until completely mixed. Transfer the batter evenly to the prepared pan.

IMG_4827Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted halfway between the outside and inside walls comes out clean.

IMG_4828Let the cake cool 10-15 minutes in the pan, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

IMG_4830When the cake has mostly cooled, prepare the caramel glaze. First combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently. Once the sugar has dissolved into the melted butter, turn the heat to medium high, add the cream, and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to froth and bubble.

IMG_4833Remove the bubbling mixture from the heat, still whisking, and pour into a glass bowl. Allow the caramel mixture to cool to close to room temperature, then drizzle it over the cake. Sprinkle sea salt over the top of the cake, and serve.

IMG_4836My boss is apparently much more a pie person than a cake person, but even she really liked this cake, so you should probably give it a try!

Salted Caramel Bundt Cake

From Nosh With Me.

Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Crème fraîche
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Caramel Glaze:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • sea salt

To make the cake, first grease and flour a bundt pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until lighter yellow. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, then the vanilla. Beat in the Crème fraîche 1/4 cup a at a time.

Add the flour mixture in small batching, beating after each addition until completely mixed. Transfer the batter evenly to the prepared pan. Bake 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted halfway between the outside and inside walls comes out clean.

Let the cake cool 10-15 minutes in the pan, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake has mostly cooled, prepare the caramel glaze. First combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently. Once the sugar has dissolved into the melted butter, turn the heat to medium high, add the cream, and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to froth and bubble. Remove the bubbling mixture from the heat, still whisking, and pour into a glass bowl. Allow the caramel mixture to cool to close to room temperature, then drizzle it over the cake. Sprinkle sea salt over the top of the cake, and serve.

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Mac and Cheese Cake

A pretty fantastic dinner or side, this mac and cheese is creamy, just barely sweet, and delicious. The breadcrumb crust winds up tasting reminiscent of graham crackers, I think just because you expect it due to the cheesecake context? It works with the filling, anyway!

IMG_4819Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked
  • 8 ounces ricotta
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 15 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 14 ounces canned diced tomato

Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment, and grease the parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the butter and breadcrumbs together, then press into the bottom of the lined pan.

IMG_4809Bake 10 minutes. Mine ended up in the oven for significantly longer, because some potential house buyers showed up to look at my place, but it still didn’t burn. Whew.

IMG_4810While the crust bakes, boil the water and cook the pasta, removing the pasta from the water about three minutes before the time recommended by the package. When the crust comes out of the oven, reduce the temperature to 275.

Combine the cream cheese, ricotta, and cheddar in a food processor, and process until mostly smooth.

IMG_4811Add the egg, milk, sugar, and basil, and process until smooth.

IMG_4812Drain the tomatoes and stir into the pasta.

IMG_4813Stir in the cheese mixture and mix well.

IMG_4814Pour the mixture into the springform.

IMG_4815 Bake at 275 for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave in the oven for 45 minutes, then remove the oven and let sit a further 20 minutes.

IMG_4816Slice, and serve still warm.

IMG_4817 IMG_4818Preferably serve with some sort of vegetable, so your arteries don’t entirely quit working on you!

Refrigerated leftovers are admittedly much easier to get a nice looking slice of.

Refrigerated leftovers make much nicer looking slices!

Mac and Cheese Cake

From The Food in My Beard.

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked
  • 8 ounces ricotta
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 15 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 14 ounces canned diced tomato

Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment, and grease the parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the butter and breadcrumbs together, then press into the bottom of the lined pan. Bake 10 minutes.

While the crust bakes, boil the water and cook the pasta, removing the pasta from the water about three minutes before the time recommended by the package. When the crust comes out of the oven, reduce the temperature to 275.

Combine the cream cheese, ricotta, and cheddar in a food processor, and process until mostly smooth. Add the egg, milk, sugar, and basil, and process until smooth.

Drain the tomatoes and stir into the pasta. Stir in the cheese mixture and mix well. Pour into the springform and bake at 275 for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave in the oven for 45 minutes, then remove the oven and let sit a further 20 minutes. Slice, and serve still warm.

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Thousand Dollar Bars

Depending on how you cut and coat these bars, you can either have chocolate-y, caramel-y squares, or an extra crisp Twix. Either way, it’s always going to be a good flavor combo!

IMG_4745Ingredients:

Shortbread:

  • 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Caramel:

  • 2 cups caramel chunks
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate:

  • 3 cups milk or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening (optional)

To make the shortbread, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9X13″ pan or line with parchment.

Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl, then beat in the flour until evenly combined, and no longer appearing powdery-dry.

IMG_4724Press the dough evenly into the pan, then prick all over with a fork.

IMG_4725Bake until golden brown in the center, and deeper brown towards the edges, 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Set aside to cool completely.

IMG_4726To make the caramel layer, melt the caramel and cream over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally until smooth.

IMG_4734Pour the caramel over the cooled crust, then refrigerate 30 minutes.

IMG_4736If you want Twix-shaped bars, cut into thin bars now. For larger bars, leave whole in the pan. Melt the chocolate, adding the shortening if necessary to thin it. Dip the smaller bars and place on wax paper to firm, or for larger bars, pour the chocolate over the caramel layer, place the pan in the fridge until the chocolate sets, and then cut.

IMG_4743 IMG_4744 IMG_4746These bars should be stored in the refrigerator, but let them warm back up to room temperature before serving, as cold caramel can be quite firm!

Thousand Dollar Bars

From King Arthur Flour.

Shortbread:

  • 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Caramel:

  • 2 cups caramel chunks
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate:

  • 3 cups milk or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening (optional)

To make the shortbread, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9X13″ pan or line with parchment.

Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl, then beat in the flour until evenly combined, and no longer appearing dry. Press the dough evenly into the pan, then prick all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown in the center, and deeper brown towards the edges, 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the caramel layer, melt the caramel and cream over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally until smooth. Pour the caramel over the cooled crust, then refrigerate 30 minutes.

If you want Twix-shaped bars, cut into thin bars now. For larger bars, leave whole in the pan. Melt the chocolate, adding the shortening if necessary to thin it. Dip the smaller bars and place on wax paper to firm, or for larger bars, pour the chocolate over the caramel layer, place the pan in the fridge until the chocolate sets, and then cut.

These bars should be stored in the refrigerator, but let them warm back up to room temperature before serving.

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Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Chicken

My perennial love, chipotles in adobo, were about due for a return to the blog, and this tangy, sweet, spicy sauce is a new serious favorite. I was actually excited to see my supermarket has cans of just the adobo sauce, which was new to me, but got the usual today to have the extra spice of the pepper.

IMG_4742This sauce is good for pretty much anything – chicken, pork, whatever you’re into. I had planned on using pork chops, but then chicken was buy one, get one, and the plans rather rapidly changed!

IMG_4731Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 pepper, roughly chopped (remove the seeds to reduce spiciness) + 1 tablespoon of sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
  • 4 pounds chicken thighs or breasts, pork chops, tofu, or other protein of choice

To prepare the sauce, first heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, jam, cider vinegar, pepper, and adobo sauce to the saucepan and stir together.

IMG_4727 IMG_4728Bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, and set aside to thicken.

IMG_4729Once the sauce has cooled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Place your meat on the tray. Pour some of the sauce into a cup or small bowl, and use to brush the meat. Bake for 45 minutes, brushing on additional sauce at 15 and 30 minutes. After the 30 minute brushing, toss any remaining sauce in the cup/small bowl, as you don’t want to use sauce that has been contaminated with raw meat on your cooked meal.

cookingSlather the cooked meat a final time with more sauce, then serve.

(This is too much food. That did not stop me from eating this much food.)

(This is too much food. That did not stop me from eating this much food.)

Raspberry Chipotle BBQ Chicken

From Budget Bytes.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 pepper, roughly chopped (remove the seeds to reduce spiciness) + 1 tablespoon of sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
  • 4 pounds chicken thighs or breasts, pork chops, tofu, or other protein of choice

To prepare the sauce, first heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, jam, cider vinegar, pepper, and adobo sauce to the saucepan and stir together. Bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, and set aside to thicken.

Once the sauce has cooled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Place your meat on the tray. Pour some of the sauce into a cup or small bowl, and use to brush the meat. Bake for 45 minutes, brushing on additional sauce at 15 and 30 minutes. Slather the cooked meat a final time with more sauce, then serve.

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