Friday, January 29, 2010

Butternut Squash Casserole

This casserole is by far one of the best casseroles I've ever made and probably one of the best in existence period. I wish there was a really awesome vegetarian casseroles cookbook out there because it's so great to find something that's tasty and makes lots of leftovers for the week. (If you know of such a cookbook, please let me know!) I loved this casserole so much - it was so flavourful and satisfying. It has tons of yummy stuff in it (butternut squash, onions, thyme, pumpkin seeds or pecans, cheese, spinach) and is pretty healthy too. The only thing I'd do differently next time is to use pecans instead of pumpkin seeds, and really you could just leave them out altogether and it would still be amazing.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Tomato and Corn Pie
Feta and Ricotta Cheese Pie
Squash & Aged White Cheddar Tart with Sage and Roasted Garlic Custard

Butternut Squash Casserole
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake who adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

Serves 8 to 10 people

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces (about 6 cups)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan (you could easily reduce this by at least half)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, trimmed, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (toasted if you want, I didn't toast them)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or pecans, toasted
2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 bunch of spinach, washed (add to the same water as the squash in step 2 during the last minute of boiling)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Place 3 quarts water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the squash to the water, return to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes. The squash will turn a deeper orange. Drain it and set aside.

3. Melt the butter in the stockpot and add the oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent and limp, about 8 minutes, stirring to prevent browning. Add the warm squash and the milk, eggs, thyme, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds and 1 1/3 cups cheese. Blend with a wooden spoon or spatula until the ingredients are well combined.

4. Spread the mixture evenly in a 9x13" baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds and 2/3 cup cheese. Bake 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

Thanks everyone for all the congratulations on our engagement. =) Very sweet of you all! We're still trying to pick a date, which is kind of hard to do with my school schedule but I'm sure we'll figure something out soon.

I seem to be making a lot of bundt cakes recently - which I think means that I'm justified in buying another bundt pan like the rose shaped Nordic Ware one, don't you agree? This cake turned out quite soft, so for me it wasn't perfect (I prefer dense cakes to fluffy ones) but everyone else loved it. The cake tastes like a Terry's chocolate orange so if you like those you will definitely like this! The cake itself has orange juice and zest, as well as chocolate chunks. (I hate when I forget to zest the orange before juicing it and then have to try to zest a squashed rind.) Then it has an orange syrup that's put on shortly after coming out of the oven (which soaks into the cake) and then a chocolate ganache is spooned on top. It's quite the cake!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Orange Cream Cheese Muffins
Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake
Orange Berry Muffins
Lemon Lust Cake

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, room temperature
Zest from 4 large oranges
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (I used 420 g.)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.

3. Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

I'm not doing a very good job of updating my blog (and reading blogs) right now! School, work and life are definitely keeping me busy. Oh and I got engaged so now add wedding planning into the mix! =)

I don't think I've ever had regular shepherd's pie - things with ground beef never appealed to me when I used to eat meat. And as a vegetarian, the fake veggie ground round version of shepherd's pie never sounded too great either. Then I came across this recipe for shepherd's pie in my beloved The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It has no ground round/fake meat products and instead (as the recipe says) is "a vegetable hash on the bottom, and garlicky mashed potatoes on top". What's not to love about that? I was expecting it to keep together better (bind better) but it all kind of mooshed around. Which was fine and delicious. This shepherd's pie is like mashed potatoes with lots of vegetables and a sort of vegetable gravy. I don't imagine it's very authentic but it was good and that is, of course, the important thing!

Here's Abby playing with one of her new toys. Sadly she's already broken the string! She really loved this one.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Frijoles, Etc. Casserole
Chayote and Corn Enchiladas
Fresh Pear and Curry Pasta
Artichoke Rotini Pasta

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest

Mashed potato topping (Make this first):
2 large potatoes
1 tbsp butter (or oil)
1/2 cup milk
3 large cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Vegetable Hash:
1 tbsp oil
1 1/2 cups minced onions
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
fresh black pepper to taste
1 stalk celery, finely minced
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
1 lb zucchini, diced
1 medium bell pepper, minced
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (leave out to make vegan)
cayenne to taste

Make the mashed potato topping:

Peel or scrub the potatoes, and cut them into 1 inch chunks. Cook in plenty of boiling water until soft. Drain and transfer to a medium-large bowl. Add butter, garlic, and milk, and mash well. Add salt and black pepper to taste, and stir in the parsley. Set aside.

Make the vegetable hash (and assembly):

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Have ready a 2 quart casserole or its equivalent (ex. a 9x13 baking pan).

2. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven. Add the onion, and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to soften.

3. Add garlic, salt, pepper, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, and bell pepper. Stir until well combined, cover, and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the herbs, stir, and cover again. Cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the zucchini is perfectly tender. Remove from heat.

4. Stir in the peas and cheese. Add cayenne to taste. Transfer this mixture to the casserole or baking pan, and spread it out.

5. Spoon and./or spread the mashed potatoes over the vegetables. Dust generously with paprika.

6. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and bubbly around the edges.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cream Cheese Swirl Blondies

I've only made blondies a few times before and these were another great version. They're super soft and perfectly cream cheese-y. I'd like to try them with different flavours - maybe matcha or earl grey? I'm always thinking about adding tea to baked goods. What flavours do you think would be good in these?

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Black Bottom Cupcakes
Snickerdoodle Blondies
Chewy, Chunky Blondies
White Chocolate Brownies

Cream Cheese Swirl Blondies
Adapted from Martha Stewart (originally found in Holiday Cookies Special from 2005)

Makes 9 large or 16 small squares

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang.

2. Whisk together 1 2/3 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.

3. Put 9 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla; mix until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, mix, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. Put cream cheese, granulated sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla into the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until just smooth.

5. Pour half the blondie batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Spoon two-thirds of cream-cheese mixture on top, and spread evenly. Drop dollops of remaining batter on top (spacing about 1 inch apart), and spread. Top with dollops of remaining cream-cheese mixture, about 1 inch apart.

6. Gently swirl cream cheese mixture into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 45 to 47 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Store in the refrigerator once cool.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Best of 2009

I almost forgot about doing a "best of 2009" post - I'm enjoying all the ones I've seen others post! They're fun to do because I get to go back and be reminded of all the yummy things I want to make again but forgot about. It's so hard to pick just one thing for each month because some months had so many good things but I must be ruthless and just pick one! So here it is. Not all of the photos are the best but all of the food pictured in them really is!

January - Caramelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins

February - Mushroom Crescents

March - Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars

April - Coconut Shortbread

May - Asparagus and Feta Pasta

June - Maple Mustard Glazed Potatoes and String Beans

July - Honey Mustard Marinated Tofu

August - Meditteranean Pepper Salad

September - Basic Focaccia

October - Broccoli Slaw

November - Tomato and Corn Pie

December - Buttermilk Honey Bread

And the best Abby photo of 2009

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gingerbread Waffles

One of the cookbooks I got for Christmas was Vegan Brunch, which I have been dying to get my hands on! I just loved the thought of all those yummy vegan breakfasty foods. The first thing I tried was the pumpkin pancakes. And I'm sad to say that they were one of the hugest failures I've ever had in the kitchen. The pancake batter wouldn't stiffen up at all so when I went to flip the pancakes, they just mushed around. I've never made pancakes where that happened! The problem was that there was too much liquid, because once I added extra flour to the batter they were perfect. The flavour of the pancakes was amazing so I will make them again, but will omit the 1/2 cup water in the recipe. Not sure why that is in there - a typo? Maybe my pumpkin was more watery? Has anyone else made the pumpkin pancakes?

After the pancake failure, I was really scared about how anything else from the book would turn out. But I continued on and tried the gingerbread waffles. (I'm obsessed with waffles and pancakes right now, by the way.) And they were good. Oh so very very delicious. (I think I might also be obsessed with gingerbread right now.) I haven't made vegan waffles before but I assume it's normal that they're not really crisp like regular waffles? However, I froze the leftovers and then toasted them and they were so nice and crispy. I think they might even be better reheated - they reminded me of a spiced doughnut.

In case waffles are not exciting enough for you, here's a photo of Abby rolling around with catnip for the first time.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Ginger Spice Cookies
Cinnamon Apple Scones
Garden Harvest Cake
Toasted Pecan Eggnog Ring

Gingerbread Waffles
Adapted from Vegan Brunch

2 cups soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp grated ginger
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a large mixing bowl use a fork and vigorously mix together milk, vinegar, oil, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, and ginger. Mix until the molasses is mostly dissolved. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix together until smooth. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and cook waffles according to manufacturer's directions.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffins

Happy new year everyone!! Did anyone make new years resolutions/goals? I made a list of about 10-15 things I want to do in 2010. A few of them are join Toastmasters, donate blood and take swing dancing lessons! Some of my goals I need to make more concrete like eat healthier and reduce stress.

I've been neglecting my blog recently but hopefully will get back into it soon. Only a few days left of vacation then back to school on Monday! Yikes. Anyway, these sun dried tomato cottage cheese muffins were quite yummy and are good for a snack or for breakfast. These muffins really stuck to the muffin tin (as you can kind of see in the back of the photo) so I very highly recommend you use baking cups, unlike I did.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Savoury Green Onion Ricotta Muffins
Caramelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins
Cheddar & Dill Beer Bread Rolls

Sun-Dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffins
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

The recipe requires very finely ground almonds, which you can buy or do yourself. I ground the almonds with the 1/4 cup flour to try and minimize the chance of almond butter being created!

Makes 10-11 muffins

1 cup plain cottage cheese (low-fat is fine)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almonds, very finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (Ashley note: If using dried and not in oil, rehydrate in boiling water first.)
2 tbsp freeze dried basil (Ashley note: Original recipe calls for 1/4 cup fresh. You could also use 2-4 tsp dried.)
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a muffin pan with medium-sized paper baking cups, you'll need nine of them.

Put the cottage cheese into a bowl with all but 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, water, and eggs, and season with salt, then mix all together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffing cups 3/4 full, scatter with the remaining Parmesan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set, risen, and golden brown. Serve as hot or at room temperature.