Cooking is another avenue for my creativity. I am a "dump cook." I dump a little of this and a little of that in a bowl and mix.
So, the following recipes are close to the original concoctions. If you try something and feel it needs tweaked, I will add your suggestion. Just email me at email@example.com. Please enjoy.
To herald in the long awaited Fall 2016, after a very hot TN summer, I asked my daughter, Kristi Spitzer, to create an autumnal recipe.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Sausage and Kale Whole Wheat Pasta
For the sauce:
1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 1” cubes
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
10 sages leaves
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups of chicken broth
1/3 cup cream
For the pasta:
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage links [feel free to use chicken or turkey sausage as well]
1 head of kale, stalks removed and chopped into 1” pieces
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp each of black pepper and garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 lb. of whole wheat pasta, preferably penne or rigatoni
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a 9 x 13 pan toss together all of the sauce ingredients, except for the parmesan cheese. Toss until the vegetables and herbs are well coated with the olive oil. Roast for approximately 50 minutes, or until the squash has softened and the onions have started to caramelize.
While the vegetables are roasting, slice the sausage links into 1/2” pieces and cook in a saute pan in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until the sausage has cooked through and has begun to brown on the sides.
Remove the sausage from the pan and place in a bowl covered with foil. Add the additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the kale, salt, pepper and garlic powder to the pan and cook the kale over medium heat until the kale has just started to wilt [3 minutes or so]. Turn the heat off and let the kale rest in the pan.
Cook the pound of whole wheat pasta per package instructions, until al dente. When cooked, strain the pasta leaving a half cup of pasta water.
Once the squash mixture has cooked through, remove the sprigs of thyme from the mixture and sprinkle the cup of grated parmesan over the top of it. Return to the oven for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
Add the cheesy squash mixture to a food processor or blender with 2 cups of chicken broth and 1/3 cup heavy cream. Blend for approximately 2 minutes, until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Feel free to add a pinch more of salt or pepper at this time, to your taste.
In the pasta pot, stir the cooked pasta, 1/2 cup of pasta water and 3 cups of the sauce together over medium heat. Stir until pasta is well coated and everything has heated through. Set aside the remaining sauce for later use.
To serve, place a couple ladlefuls of roasted squash pasta into each, individual plate. Top with kale, browned sausage and additional parmesan.
Bonus Meal: The sauce portion of this recipe makes A LOT of sauce. The next day, enjoy a fall lunch for two by thinning out the remaining pasta sauce with 1 cup of chicken broth. Thoroughly heat the resulting Roasted Butternut Squash and Parmesan Soup, divide the soup into two bowls, sprinkle each with a bit of grated nutmeg and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan and serve with whole grain toast.
Kristi's fabulous blog is www.sauceonthewall.blogspot.com
New idea for 2016!!! Toad in a Pancake!
My daughter, Kristi Spitzer developed these fun recipes playing off the idea of "Toad in the Hole."
Whole Wheat, Apple and Walnut Toad in a Pancake with Apple, Walnut Caramel Sauce
For the pancakes:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, plus one egg per toad in a pancake you would like 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cups milk
1 peeled and chopped apple [we prefer Granny Smith]
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
For the sauce:
1 peeled and chopped apple 2 T butter
4 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Whisk your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the two eggs, milk and yogurt together until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until combined. The batter can have some lumps in it.
Before cooking the pancakes, prepare your caramel sauce. Cook the apple, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter and brown sugar have melted together. Add the walnuts to the saucepan and stir to combine. Let the mixture come to a boil and then remove from the heat.
Preheat a skillet or griddle pan over medium low temperature. Grease the pan with butter [coconut oil is wonderful here as well!]. Using a ladle, scoop about 1/3 cup of the pancake and pour the mixture on the pan until you have formed a circle with the center hole being large enough to crack an egg into. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons each of the chopped apples and walnuts around the surface of the pancake. Crack an egg into the middle of the pancake. Let cook about 3 minutes, or until you see small bubbles forming on the top of the pancake. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes for a runny egg, feel free to continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes for a harder yolk.
Top with several tablespoons of the caramel mixture and enjoy!
“Biscuits Nʼ Gravy” Toad in a Pancake
For the Pancake:
2 cups of Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs, plus one egg per toad in a pancake you would like 12 oz. link breakfast sausages, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
For the Gravy:
12 oz. bulk breakfast sausage 4 T flour
4 cups of whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
In a greased skillet over medium heat, brown the chopped sausage links.
Mix together the Bisquick, milk and two eggs until combined. A lumpy batter is just fine.
Before making the pancakes, make the sausage gravy. In a pan over medium heat, cook the bulk breakfast sausage until just browned, taking care to break up the sausage with a spoon while it browns. Sprinkle the flour over the sausage and stir until the sausage is coated by the flour and the raw flour has slightly cooked, about 30 seconds. Begin adding the milk to the pan, a cup at a time. Whisk each addition into the mixture so that you do not have any clumps of flour. Once all the milk has been added, season with the salt and pepper and bring the mixture up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.
Preheat a skillet or griddle pan over medium low temperature. Grease the pan with butter. Using a ladle, scoop about 1/3 cup of the pancake and pour the mixture on the pan until you have formed a circle with the center hole being large enough to crack an egg into. Place roughly 10 of the chopped sausage links around the surface of the pancake. Crack an egg into the middle of the pancake. Let cook about 3 minutes, or until you see small bubbles forming on the top of the pancake. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes for a runny egg, feel free to continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes for a harder yolk.
Serve the sausage toads in pancakes with a big ladle of the sausage gravy and enjoy!
The Ramen Noodle Salad
*I usually double this, and if I do, I use only three packages of Ramen noodles.
Place all of the salad fixings in a mixing bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients together [or use a food processor to combine]. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
This salad tastes best after resting in the refrigerator for a couple hours. By that point, the noodles will have slightly softened and the coleslaw will have nicely absorbed the dressing.
*Delicious served alongside my beet vichysoisse or curried chicken salad
Preheat oven to 400°. Heat broth and butter in a saucepan until they reach a rolling boil. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously over low heat the mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and beat the eggs in one at a time. Fold in the salt, 2/3 cup of the cheese and the nutmeg. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and leeks and saute´ for 15 minutes.
Add the potatoes, beets, lime juice and chicken broth. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree´ with either an immersion blender or blender. If using a conventional blender, leave a small gap below the blender lid and hold onto lid while blending so that steam can escape. You can also let the soup cool slightly before blending.
Once pureed, return the soup to the stove and add 1 cup of heavy cream.
Reheat the soup over medium to a good serving temperature, being careful not to let the soup boil [the cream will curdle if it does].
In a mixing bowl, stir together the marinade ingredients until well incorporated. Add the chicken to the marinade and marinate for at least two hours and as long as overnight. Grill or bake chicken until cooked through.
Mango Nectarine Salsa
Stir together all ingredients and place in a serving bowl. This salsa tastes best after resting for a couple of hours. Serve with chips or on top of salmon.
Curried Chicken Salad
Add the chicken, vegetables, garlic, peppercorns, herb and kosher salt to a large soup pot. Pour the water over the ingredients. Cover the pot and heat the liquid to a boil. Skim of any scum that forms. Reduce heat and simmer at very lowest temperature (do not allow to boil again) for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the pot for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot. Strain the remaining liquid through a sieve and you will be left with delicious homemade chicken broth [a perfect addition to the beet vichysoisse]. Remove the chicken skin and pull the meat off the bone. Shred by hand into smaller pieces. Put the shredded chicken into the fridge to cool completely. Once the chicken has cooled, mix with the curry mayonnaise, recipe following.
This is delicious served with cut up red grapes and/or slices of mango and papaya. For a shortcut, buy a rotisserie chicken and remove and shred the meat from the chicken. Make sure chicken is cold when adding the curry mayonnaise.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the onion and saute´ over low heat until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring 3 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
When the curried onions have cooled, combine them with the mayo, lime juice, sour cream and preserves or chutney. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
Kristi's Salad Dressing
* This recipe is inspired by my daughter, Kristi Spitzer. Kristi has an amazing blog of her original recipes at http://sauceonthewall.blogspot.com
Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until well mixed.
Cheddar Sausage Biscuits for 40
Preheat the oven to 425°.
In a frying pan, brown the sausage and break into crumbles while browning. Drain the excess fat. If using, stir the chilli powder into the browned sausage.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Work the softened butter into the dry ingredients with your hands until it resembles a coarse meal. Toss the cheddar cheese and the cooled sausage into the flour mixtue. Add the milk and mix with a spoon. Stir until barely mixed. Take out a large handful and knead a few times on a well floured surface. Pat down with hands to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with 3" round biscuit cutter that has been dipped first in flour. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Great Black Bean Chili
* Serves 8-10
Combine all ingredients (except smoked pepper powder and salt) in a crockpot and cook on high for four hours or low for eight. When done, taste and add smoked pepper powder (between 1/4 and 1 teaspoon) to taste. Add kosher salt to taste. (If you had salted at the beginning, the beans may not have softened.)
Serve sprinkled with aged cheddar cheese and/or a dollop of sour cream. You can also slice flour tortillas into 1/4 inch strips about 3" long and fry them in hot oil. If you do this, drain the strips on a paper towel and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Available on greeting cards at link below...