Thursday, October 27, 2011

black and blue

black and blue

black and blue by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring a beret hat

It finally got cold enough to wear the awesome Prairie Underground tunic I picked up this summer, so I figured I'd celebrate by playing with Polyvore during class.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

spaghetti (squash) and meatballs

A few days ago I came across this recipe on one of my favorite cooking sites, and then almost immediately came across spaghetti squash at Trader Joe's. It was fate, I tell you.

1 large spaghetti squash
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 - 2/3 cup fresh ricotta

1/2 - 2/3 cup spaghetti sauce of your choice
2-3 servings of meatballs, cooked (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the squash in a shallow baking dish (to prevent rolling) and pierce it on all sides with a knife (about twice on each quarter). Stick it in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it's a bit soft to the touch and a knife slides in easily. Your house will smell like brown sugar while it bakes, which is awesome.

Let the squash cool until you can handle it easily, then cut it in half lengthwise with a big, sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and the mushy, dark orange bits from the middle, and discard them. Take a fork and carefully comb out the spaghetti threads, which is all that yellow flesh between the seeds and the rind, into a large baking dish (I used the one I baked the squash in) or oven-proof bowl. The amount of ricotta and sauce you need is based around how much 'spaghetti' you get--my squash wasn't very big but I got about four cups of threads, so I used more cheese and sauce.

The fork should separate the threads enough that you can then toss them with the salt, pepper, and ricotta, which should be broken up but not totally mixed (two big forks will make this easy). At this point you can either mix in the spaghetti sauce (like the original recipe) or leave it to coat the meatballs (my version).

Either way, put the baking dish under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the depth of your squash. While it's broiling, heat up your meatballs (and sauce, if you've chosen to do this my way/forgotten to add the sauce to the main dish like I did).

When the dish is a little bit browned on top, take it out and serve with the meatballs. Garnish/spice with crushed red pepper.

This stuff was delicious. The texture is different from real spaghetti in that it crunches a bit and is too tangly for a Lady and the Tramp-style pasta-kiss, but it has a surprising amount of flavor, including some of that brown sugar it imitated while baking. I left the tomato sauce out of the original batch because I wasn't paying attention to the recipe and just plain forgot, but I liked the interplay of squash, ricotta, and crushed pepper enough that I'm not disappointed.

I used my beloved Ikea frozen meatballs and some Ikea spaghetti sauce that turned out to be pretty good, especially after a heavy infusion of sriracha sauce and garlic powder. If you're making a veggie version of this I'd either mix the sauce into the squash before broiling or toss it over some sauteed vegetables while you heat it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

marmalade bread and butter pudding

Another hit from the party. Personally, I found this stuff overwhelmingly sweet, but a lot of people told me they loved it, so maybe you'd like to try it out! From Donna Hay. The photo is of the pudding pre-baking, and I probably won't make it again and take another one, so go to the original recipe to see what it's supposed to look like.

several sticks softened butter
8 thick slices of soft-crusted white bread
1 cup marmalade
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
3 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (save seeds)
1/4 cup currants
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 320ºF. Butter the bread slices, spread half with marmalade and combine to form sandwiches.  Cut them in half and arrange crust-down in a small, deep baking dish.

Whisk the milk, cream, eggs, caster sugar, and vanilla bean seeds in a big bowl. Stir in the currants and pour over the bread until the dish is mostly full. Stick the vanilla bean into the middle, near the top but in the liquid. Let the pudding soak for a couple minutes. In the meantime, boil a pot of water. 

Pour in more of the milk mixture if there's space/you have some left. Sprinkle the Demerara sugar over everything. Place the baking dish into a larger, similarly deep ovenproof pan, place on oven rack, and fill larger pan with the boiling water halfway up the side of the smaller dish. Bake for an hour or until the pudding has just set.

 Make sure your baking dishes fit together okay before you make this! (Note: the ones shown are not ideal, there should be more space between the pans on the long sides.)

The 'broth.' The number of puddings we made for that party required about two gallons of it.

I'd like to see what happens if I make this with wheat bread and a less sweet jelly than the marmalade (maybe the lingonberry one from Ikea?) and some tweaks to the broth, because it's a cool idea but the flavor is just so sugary it's hard for me to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

brandied meatballs

These were the biggest hit at that giant party back in August. It took me until now to retrieve the recipe from my mom's house, or I would've posted it ages ago. Hopefully I'll have a chance to make these soon and replace that photo (hastily taken during the party), because it absolutely does not do them justice. Not sure what magazine this came out of... we found it in my mom's endless binders of recipes.

4 cups beef broth
1 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup red pepper jelly
1/3 cup brandy (or, you know, whatever's left in the bottle)
1/4 cup cornstarch whisked with 1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds frozen meatballs

In a large pot, whisk together everything except for the meatballs and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep warm on the stove or in a crock pot to serve.

When we made these we cooked the broth the day before and let it sit overnight... it tasted much more intense the next day, so I'd recommend letting it sit a while if you have the time. We tripled or quadrupled the batch for the party... the recipe says this normal amount serves 10 as an appetizer. When I remake this I'm planning on using the frozen Swedish meatballs from Ikea, but you could use homemade or any kind from the store.

spicy sweet potato mash

 This is the recipe that showed me just how messed up my oven was when I first moved into my apartment... so obviously I had to make up for that disaster by trying it again. And it was totally worth it. Original recipe from The Energy Chef, I upped the spices and the hot sauce. This would make about four big side dish portions.

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (about 6 per potato)
1-1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup half and half
2-infinity tablespoons sriracha sauce*

* To taste. Original recipe called for 1, I used 1 1/2 and kept adding until it was spicy enough (ended up with about 3). But my standards for spicy are pretty high.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Put the cut potatoes on a baking sheet (on top of parchment paper, if you have it--cleanup will be much easier), flat sides up. Drizzle with the olive oil and dust with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bake until they're soft, 40-50 minutes.

Place the potato chunks in a large mixing bowl. Peel off any burnt edges (or don't... they taste kind of caramel-y and I like them), add the butter in large chunks, half and half, and sriracha. Use an electric mixer to beat the potatoes until the butter is all melted. If you don't have a mixer, mash the potatoes a bit before adding the butter and stuff. Garnish with some hot paprika.

I had these with a honeycrisp apple and some leftover chunks of calabrese salami (not pictured, but delicious). The sriracha flavor really came through in the potatoes, and so did the nutmeg. Might leave out the cinnamon next time in favor of some sweet paprika. Overall, delicious and seriously easy. Make immediately.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cozy in the Fall

Cozy in the Fall

Cozy in the Fall by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring a zipper dress

It finally got cold enough to wear one of my Missoni x Target pieces! I'm really fond of this sweater, and I can't wait to wear it with the matching dress, but I figured I'd start out slowly. I love pieces that let me mix brown and black, because I love my brown Boden boots (they look pretty similar to the ones in the set, but are way too old to still be online) and I almost never get to wear them. Fall in Michigan is beautiful so far, but this outfit felt like a New York outfit, hence the Central Park background.