Butternut Squash Risotto with Seared Scallops

I love Sundays. Recently, it’s been my fun food planning & cooking day. I usually spend about 2 hours planning my meals for the week. I search through blogs, my favorite websites, Pinterest (follow me!), Foodgawker, even Flickr. I grab my handy meal planning worksheet and a pencil and work my magic. I write down what meals I want to cook on those days and then fill in the shopping list. I cook Mondays-Thursdays. Fridays, Saturdays are too unpredictable to cook for, and the Mr. P, the Hubster likes to go out to eat. If we don’t have anything planned, I cook on Sundays too – usually my most elaborate meal if time permits. So the key for me is to make sure I can prep at least 2 meals for the week on Sunday. I also like to stick in an easy meal – usually sandwiches. Also, it’s great to make a little extra of stuff that can be frozen for next time. Stayed tuned for upcoming posts–for now, here is what I made on Sunday. Enjoy.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Seared Scallops

Ingredients:

1 cup arborio rice
3 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
1 half butternut squash or 1 cup butternut squash puree
3 cloves garlic, chopped
5 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp butter
2 oz dry white wine
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
Directions:

For fresh butternut squash slice the squash down the middle the long way and scoop out all of the seeds.

Place flesh side down on a cookie sheet and then proceed to add water to the cookie sheet. It depends on the size of the cookie sheet, but typically 1 cup of water should do — enough to create a small pool around the squash halves.

Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender. With a spoon, scoop out all of the flesh – you’ll need about a cup for the risotto. Mash it up with the spoon.

In a sauce pan, heat chicken broth and squash puree (canned or fresh). Keep stock hot on a low heat.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden.

Then add the  risotto and sage and stir well to coat each grain with butter and until the grains are slightly golden.

Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed.

Add salt and pepper and the stock a ladleful at a time, until it is absorbed before adding another ladleful stirring gently and almost constantly.

Continue this process until all the stock is used, about 25-30 minutes from the time you started.

When the risotto is almost done, start to prepare your scallops: Heat the oil in a heavy bottom skillet, over medium-high heat.

Season each scallop with salt and pepper. Sear the scallops  for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Go back to the risotto – when all the liquid is absorbed, stir in the grated cheese and remove from heat.

Place the risotto is a bowl and top with the scallops.

Then, serve immediately.

Cheers,

Sabrina

 

Cauliflower Pancakes

I came across this recipe yesterday, and I couldn’t help but smile. I have great memories of these yummy fritters – my mom used to make these all the time. I’d wait beside her at the stove. She’d be frying these babies up, and I’d be waiting anxiously for the first batch to be done. I’d eat them right off the hot plate!

So I had to try out this recipe–my mom hasn’t made them in so long and I didn’t have the recipe from her. I already had my dinner planned out for the night and it was already in the works. I decided to fry these up as a little appetizer. I was nervous because I know Mr. P., my husband is not a fan of cauliflower, but somehow I thought these would be an exception… and they were. Score!

I tweaked the recipe slightly. Here is my version.

Ingredients:

4 cups steamed cauliflower (roughly chopped)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup hot water
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the chopped and steamed cauliflower, flour, garlic, eggs, cheese and salt + pepper. Add the water and mix it up until its creamy.

Heat a skillet on med/low heat with the olive oil. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure the batter and spoon it onto the pan, flattening slightly.

Cook until crispy brown on each side.

Cheers,
Sabrina

Homemade Oreo Cookies

The thought never crossed my mind to make my own Oreo Cookies. Why bother? I can go to the store and buy a whole package – easy. Well there’s just something about making your own version. Bring them to a party and people will exclaim, “Homemade Oreo Cookies?!” and silently envy your amazing baking skills. It’s really quite simple, and they just look so darn cute. And honestly, they taste way better than store bought.

Oreo Cookies

Ingredients

Chocolate Cookie:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter
1 large egg

Cream Filling:
1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.

3. Reduce to low speed and add the butter, and then the egg for 3 minutes.

4. Roll a teaspoon sized ball and slightly flatten on a vegetable sprayed baking sheet (or baking mat) approximately two inches apart and bake for 9 minutes. Set aside to cool.

5. To make the cream, on low speed beat the butter, sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.

5. To assemble the cookies, you can use a pastry bag or a butter knife to put about a teaspoon of cream on one cookie and top another cookie on top. Simple!

Oreos

OreosCheers,
Sabrina

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Nothing satisfies quite like a really good chocolate chip cookie. What makes it even better is knowing it’s homemade. I’ve made many a batches of chocolate chip cookies. Some were good, some were bad. But they always lacked something: chewiness, crunchy outside, warm gooey insides, golden brown bottom. What was I doing wrong? Why were they sometimes flat? Sometimes puffy? Cracked? Doughy in the middle? Have you all had the same problems?

Well I have good news. I found a no fail recipe for chocolate chip cookies. No it’s not some secret ingredient. It’s all in the process. Follow these instructions and you’ll be so happy you did. Your hips? Well that’s another story.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c plain Crisco

1 c light brown sugar
1 c minus 2 tbsp white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c (10 oz) semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

Step 1. If you don’t have a mixer – please go get one now. They really are a time saver and make baking so much easier. If you don’t have the money, start saving your pennies. I waited almost 10 years!

Ok now onto the real directions…

1. In a small bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together and set aside.

2. Using the wire whisk attachment of a stand mixer, cream the butter and shortening for 3 minutes on high until light and fluffy. You can do this by hand with a wooden spoon but it will take  a while. Finish off with a rubber spatula to fuller smooth out lumps.

3. Add the brown and white sugar and beat on high 1-2 minutes.

4. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated.

5. Switch to the paddle attachment.  Add the chocolate and mix  on slow. I like to chop up the chocolate myself – it gives some big chunks of chocolate in your cookie. My favorite kind of chocolate (the chips will do too) are Ghiaradelli.

Chocolate

6. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Do not overmix.

Mix it up!

7. Roll the dough into balls 1.5 inches tall. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 3 inches apart. I like to line by cookie sheet with a rubber baking mat. It help the cookies cook evenly and give a nice golden brown bottom.

Batter Balls

7. Refrigerate the balls for at least 30 minutes.  This is very important. You can also freeze your dough balls for up to 6 months in the freezer.

8. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bake 8-10 minutes at 365 degrees (all ovens are different – this is the temperature that works in mine – but play around with it. If you notice the cookies are browning a lot but still wet on teh bottom, it may be too high. Same goes for the opposite, not browning but cracking on top – increase the temperature.) They are ready to come out of the oven when they are puffy and slightly browned on the bottom. They will be under done, but if the middle is still wet leave them in a little longer.

9. Remove from the oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet for another 2 minutes to continue baking.

10. Let them cool and then serve! Delicious!

Cookie

Cheers,
Sabrina

My Cute Little Garden

I finally planted my wonderful and fragrant herbs and vegetables this month. To me, there is nothing more rewarding as growing your own food. Watching a tomato seedling grow taller and taller and then — there it is, a beautiful little bud. I have no children, so this is as close as its going to get this summer!

By no means is my garden big. Far from it! I have 6 tomato plants, 3 cucumber plants (generously given to me from my neighbors), basil, parsley, and oregano. Sure having other vegetables would be great, but I don’t have the room (One day! One day I’ll have a superific magical Sabrina garden!) These are the ingredients I use the most anyways.

Check out my cute little garden, and watch it grow!

Let dreamers dream what worlds they please
Those edens can’t be found
The sweetest flowers
The fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground
We’re neither pure nor wise nor good
We’ll do the best we know
We’ll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow
And make our garden grow

Sing it Barbara!

Tomato

Tomato

Tomato

Tomato

Cucumber

Cucumber

Parsley

Parsley

Oregano

Oregano

Basil

Basil

Basil

Basil

More Tomato!

More Tomato!


Bean Love – White Chicken Chili

Beans are a great source of nutrition. They help reduce cholesterol, are high in fiber and protein, and low in fat. I’m not a huge fan of beans however. Finding a recipe with beans that I actually like is not an easy task.

When I came across a recipe for White Chicken Chili with Beans on Serious Eats, I thought the ingredients sounded really good and wanted to give it a try (although I did change up a few ingredients). I’m so glad I did! This hearty chili is absolutely delicious! Sometimes during the week, I’ll pick up a cooked rotissiere chicken at the grocery store. With the leftover chicken I have another meal planned for the week. Score!

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 minced garlic clove
1 chopped jalapeño pepper
4 oz. can of chopped chilies
1/2 medium onion chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 can large white beans
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup grated low-fat Monterey Jack

Directions

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.

Add the garlic, chopped jalapeños with seeds, oregano, and cayenne.

Cook for about 3 minutes until the jalapenos have softened. Next add in the chicken broth, diced chicken, and the beans—juices and all.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn it down and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Mash the mixture with a fork, or potato masher breaking up the beans slightly. Finally, and the best part of all, add the cheese!

I like to eat the chili with a nice piece of Italian bread. So hearty and mmm mmm good!

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Sabrina

A Mouthful of Fun – Pizza Bites!

Mr. P and I are a cheese couple. He’ll say “No way!” because he thinks his love of cheese is much stronger than mine, but I disagree. Sure I may not eat squares of cheddar cheese with pepperoni and crackers, like, 4 nights a week as he does, BUT he also is not lactose intolerant. Yes people, I am lactose intolerant and I still eat cheese. Now that’s love!

I found a super fun, great recipe on Annie’s Eats a few weeks ago and was dying to try it out and surprise Mr. P. Food (especially with cheese) make him very happy. This is a different, more fun version of a regular pizza – Pizza Bites! I changed the recipe slightly to add tomatoes. You can have it for dinner like we did, with perhaps a side of salad. Or make it for appetizers.

Pizza Bites

Ingredients:
1 bag of store bought pizza dough (or you can make your own)
1cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
Sliced pepperoni
2 garlic cloves
8 oz can of diced tomatoes
Olive oil
oregano
basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Lightly spray a pie pan or glass casserole dish with cooking spray. Take your can of diced tomatoes and add to a small bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tbsp of dried crushed oregano, a crackle or two of fresh pepper, and a few leaves of basil chopped. Divide the pizza dough into 20-24 roughly equal sized pieces.

Take one of the dough pieces, and roll out into a small circle.

Top a small dollop of diced tomatoes, a cube of cheese and a slice or two of pepperoni.

Pull the edges of the dough around the fillings and pinch closed.

Place seam-side down into the pan.  Continue with the rest of the dough bites.

Lightly brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  Serve hot!

Want to add some veggies? Other meats? Go ahead!

What would you add?

Cheers,

Sabrina