Spaghetti Alla Carrettiera

Sauce Carrettiera, is in short, a miracle sauce. Contrary to popular beliefs about spaghetti sauce, this sauce takes almost no time to simmer and is ready to go by the time your pasta has finished cooking. It is quick, and spicy, and satisfying- the perfect meal for college students doing some late night studying or for parents who need a quick bite before dropping the kids off at soccer practice. In fact, it is the go-to meal for university students in Italy- it’s pretty inexpensive too!

 

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This sauce’s miraculous powers come from two key ingredients: the fresh Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes.

 

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The marriage of these two ingredients is celebrated so perfectly in this dish that I cannot imagine eating Carrettiera sauce without the cheese. It would be like peanut butter with no jelly; an ice cream sundae with no whipped cream. The heat of the red pepper is both mellowed and complemented by the Parmesan; it helps bring out the ‘umami’ flavor of the cheese.

 

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So, next time you’re in a hurry, or just don’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking, try Carrettierra. The heat and immediate satisfaction will have your feeling as macho and spicy-hot as the muscular cart-pullers this sauce was named after- (Carrettiera originates from the Italian word for ‘cart-pullers’ and refers to the large, muscular, ‘macho’ men who spent all day doing this hard work and who came home to eat this spicy sauce for dinner).

 

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Spaghetti alla Carrettiera

From: Chrissy Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 26-28 oz strained peeled tomatoes (like the Pomi brand) or canned, peeled tomatoes that have been blended until smooth (either with a food processor, blender, or immersion blender)
  • ¼ cup good olive oil (it is okay to use good olive oil here because the sauce never goes beyond a mild simmer)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes- to taste (1/2 tea-1 tea)
  • 1 pound spaghetti or thin spaghetti
  • 4-5 oz chunk of Parmeggiano Reggiano, freshly grated

Directions:

  1. Put the water onto boil and while boiling simmer the garlic together with the red pepper flakes in a small sauce pot over medium-low to low heat.
  2. Simmer the garlic and pepper flakes for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic (you want the garlic to cook for a few minutes, until it “releases its scent” and is no longer bitter).
  3. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. You don’t want to over-do the salt because the Parmesan is naturally salty, you will want a lot of Parmesan on your pasta! Let sauce continue to gently simmer until the pasta is done.
  4. Throw the pasta in when the water boils and when the pasta is done, the sauce is done! Drain the pasta, mix together, and serve with a ton of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Law, Leaves and Baklava

Every semester I promise myself that this is the semester I’m going to take it easy and every semester I don’t do that even a little. This semester, for example, I was supposed to accomodate 35 work hours a week by taking easy classes, but that was before I showed up to day 1 of the most amazing and demanding classes I’ve ever taken in my life. The unexpected final addition to the schedule was a positively life changing class on Shari’a, Islamic law. I decided to indulge my inner nerd, and last night I ended up making baklava at 1:30 in the morning.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

While it might be ever so totally true that this wasn’t even kind of a class assignment, we WERE assigned a mock divorce court last week (complete with costumes and props) as an in-class exercise and – what do you know? –the mock plaintiff just so happened to own a baklava company! Unfortunately we were representing her mock husband and bringing in baklava for the other side was too time consuming to be justified. But I didn’t have homework last night and so for class tomorrow I will be setting the mood in style.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Besides, baklava is secretly a perfect fall food. With walnuts, honey, cinnamon and thin sheets of phyllo that could easily represent falling leaves, you could not possibly get more seasonally appropriate. I can’t lie, phyllo is a pain in everyone’s butt to work with, but I can promise the results will be well worth it. I may or may have nibbled on a store bought substitute while I waited for this to be ready and I can assure you, there’s truly nothing like homemade.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Do you have any unexpected fall recipes? Or stories of classwork-turned-recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

From the Fridge: Spanish Quesadillas

I grew up in a family where virtually nothing was wasted. My mother would save the tiniest sliver of Breyers ice cream that used to come in a square container, and sometimes, oh my God, we’d even take leftovers to amusement parks. I of course wanted those horrible hot dogs rolling around on those metal tubes all day. I often think how almost criminal it is that we have three refrigerators in our house that are so stuffed with food we can’t even see what’s growing in the back of each of them. Yes, I teach cooking classes so there’s always a lot of ingredients needed for classes and testing recipes, but it’s still no excuse for wasting precious food.

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

I decided that instead of dreading the monthly clean-out of moldy bits and pieces and the slimy gook from spilled jars, I should stage our own version of Chopped, where contestants are given a handful of secret ingredients and they have to come up with some brilliant dish. The difference of course is that I won’t try to make a four star dinner out of cheese doodles, octopus, gelatin and some sort of spiky fruit. I’m challenging myself to search the freezers and fridges each week for several ingredients and to figure out a dish in one hour. This kind of self imposed contest forces you to use a variety of skills – it could be searing, braising, frying or roasting, or whatever – in new ways and to really work the spices you have on hand.

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Okay I admit, this first week I had a head start. I just finished doing a week of cooking demos on back to school healthy snacks and lunch options on Fox News (link to avocado video) and had great lime jalapeno guacamole left over. I had also had a huge package of 12 inch tortillas from making low fat baked tortilla chips on air. Quesadillas anyone? So I searched the fridge and found perfectly ripe yellow heirloom tomatoes, Iberico cheese and smoked prosciutto (similar enough to Iberico ham). Perfect ingredients to make a Spanish-ish Quesadilla. Here’s the recipe:

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Spanish-Inspired Quesadillas, featuring Smoke Prosciutto and Iberico Cheese | The Road Home

 

Hubeners Butter-S’s

In Germany it’s an old and absolutely loved tradition to bake Christmas biscuits. There are million different kinds of biscuits. And we love to make them. With friends, with family, with children, … There are families, who bake 10, 15 or 20 different kinds. And every little biscuit gets some chocolate on top of it, or jam or any other decoration. Weihnachtsbäckerei…. That means „Christmas bakery“, but it means so much more: a warm kitchen, the smell of Christmas, children with flour in their faces, a Mum preparing the dough, .. I’m sure, you get the idea.

 

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My uncle, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, … were bakers. Their name was „Hubener“ and they had a little bakery in a little village. Every year they made Christmas biscuits to sell them (I loved those days, because we children always got a little piece of dough to make our very own biscuits). For generations they made the same ones: Hubeners Butter-S. Today I want to share this old family-recipe with you.

 

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Hubeners Butter-S – German Christmas Biscuits

From: Sophia Hermann

Ingredients:

  • 250 g butter 
  • 250 g sugar 
  • 500 g flour 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 pinch of baking powder

Directions:

  1. Mix those ingredients till you get a nice dough. 
  2. Then you need something to form the biscuits. We usually use a masticator or a mincer or how ever you might call it. It helps you to get pieces of a line, which you form in a S-shape. That’s just important for the name, but doesn’t really matter. 
  3. Then put them in the pre-heated oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 10 minutes. 
  4. When they are cooled down, dip them in melted dark chocolate. To melt the chocolate, I have one advice: put the chocolate in a bowl and the bowl in hot water. Then it’ll work out fine. 
  5. Enjoy the German „Weihnachtsbäckerei“ and let me know, if you like my family’s butter-S. Merry Christmas!

Apple-Cranberry Pie

Dear World,

 

Today I will tell you about pie, specifically, fruit pie. Even more specifically, I will tell you how to make apple-cranberry pie. This is a really, really good pie. Especially for Thanksgiving, which, incidentally, just happened…conveniently before I got around to posting this. I was going to say you could make this pie for Thanksgiving, and I guess you still can, you just have to wait a year. Anyways, here are some reasons to make this pie.

 

  1. The crust is flaky and buttery and guaranteed to take, like, 3 years off your life.
  2. The cranberries in the filling help cut the sweetness of the apples, providing a whole new level of flavorful complexity to what would otherwise just be a very, very good apple pie.
  3. The apples themselves are cooked in the microwave, and they are still delicious, and this will blow your mind when you eat the pie.
  4. The filling isn’t runny.

 

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OK, with that out of the way, here are some tips for making the recipe, adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook.

 

Crust:

So here’s the deal. This recipe is all about making the flakiest crust possible. While the original recipe insists that you need to use a food processor to make the crust, I think it’s good to do it by hand because you can get a more uneven distribution of butter in the dough which makes for a really flaky crust. Also, the original recipe uses both butter and shortening, but I just replace the shortening with more butter. This makes for better flavor, but does make the dough sort of unwieldy. As such, it is supremely important that you chill everything that goes into the crust. Seriously, even the flour (I would skip chilling the salt and sugar, just because there isn’t very much of either in the recipe.) Also, this recipe calls for vodka which evaporates out of the crust while it bakes and makes the crust, you guessed it, even flakier. The vodka is completely flavorless, and I think it really helps, but you can definitely just replace it with more ice water.

 

Filling:

This filling is basically a layer of cranberry filling at the bottom of the pie, topped with apple filling. I’ve had really good luck with this recipe. It tasted good and wasn’t runny or goopy. Overall, it’s just super solid (as a recipe, of course, not as a filling consistency. That would be icky.)

 

So that’s basically it. Hopefully the instructions are clear. Please comment if you have any questions, suggestions, thoughts, opinions, pictures of you eating the pie, etc. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Apple Cranberry Pie

From: Theresa Kaplan, adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

    For Crust:

    • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, chilled
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 20 tablespoons butter (5 sticks), frozen and cut into .25 inch pieces (alternatively, 12 tablespoons butter and 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, also frozen)
    • ¼ cup vodka, chilled
    • ¼ cup ice water

    For Filling:

    • 8 ounces (2 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup water
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 3 ½ pounds Golden Delicious Apples
    • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

    Directions:

      For Crust:

      1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter.
      2. Incorporate the butter by picking up handfuls of the dough and rubbing it between your fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl. Do this until the butter is evenly distributed in small clumps and there is no more loose flour mixture.
      3. Sprinkle in vodka and ice water. Continue the above mixing process until the dough starts to come together. (You might not need all the liquid; you don’t want your dough to be any wetter than it needs to be to just stick together.)
      4. Gather the dough up and divide it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten the dough into disks, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for an hour or more.

      For Filling:

      1. In a medium saucepan, boil the cranberries, orange juice, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, mashing up berries a bit as you go, until the mixture forms a jam-like consistency, and a spoon dragged along the bottom of the pot leaves a line that doesn’t fill in immediately. This should be around 10-12 minutes.
      2. Remove from heat and stir in water. Let the mixture cool until room temperature, about 30 minutes (the filling can now be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
      3. While the cranberries are cooking and chilling, mix ½ cup sugar, the remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in a large bowl.
      4. Peel, core, and cut the apples into ¼ inch slices. Add the apples to the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch mixture, and toss to coat.
      5. Cover and microwave the apples for 10-14 minutes until the apples begin to turn translucent and the liquid is thick and glossy. Be sure to stir the mixture every 3 or 4 minutes as it cooks. Cool the apple mixture to room temperature, about 30 minutes. At this point the apples can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

      Assembly:

      1. While the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 425˚. Be sure to place a baking sheet on a rack below the one you intend to cook the pie on to catch any dripping.
      2. Roll out the larger piece of dough into a 12 inch circle on a well floured surface. Loosely roll the dough over the rolling pin and then ease it into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover the crust loosely and chill for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      3. Roll out the smaller piece of dough into a 12 inch circle. Wrap it and chill it for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      4. Unwrap the dough and spread the cranberry mixture in the bottom of the pie. Cover it with the apples, mounding them in the middle. Roll the second disk of pie dough loosely over the rolling pin and ease it over the pie. Pinch together the edges of the crust and trim any excess from around the edge of the pie plate.
      5. Cut 4 2-inch slits in the top crust and brush it with the egg white. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the crust.
      6. Place pie in oven over the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until the crust is light brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚, and rotate the pie. Continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Let the pie cool for around 2 hours on a wire rack.
      7. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 6

      Before Thanksgiving, we were all so geared for that first taste of the turkey, gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes. The second and third bites were pretty fabulous too and I for one was really looking forward to The Sandwich the next day. But by day three leftover turkey is a challenge and most of us just want to see it disappear. When my producer asked me to come up with a leftover cooking demo for the last day of the Thanksgiving TV extravaganza, I thought turkey puff pastry turnovers. It took a lot of trial and error  (do you add stuffing or not, I wondered) to come up with the perfect combination. These turnovers are both beautiful, easy, and practical because you can also freeze them and pop them in the oven when whenever you want. And they include bacon too so how could you go wrong? They were a huge hit with Mark and the girls, and the staff at WTIC went crazy over them too. We hope you like them as well!

       

      Question of the Day: What did you do with your leftovers from Thanksgiving?

       

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      Turkey Cranberry Puff Pastry Turnovers

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1 sheet puff pastry sheets defrosted
      • All purpose flour for rolling out the dough
      • 1 egg, whisked
      • 1 pound or more leftover turkey cut into 2 inch pieces
      • 8 or more tablespoons leftover gravy
      • 8 tablespoons homemade or canned whole berry cranberry sauce
      • 6 strips cooked crispy bacon, crumbled
      • 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage or rosemary (optional)
      • 1/3 cup or more crispy shallots* (see our recipe for butternut squash soup for recipe)

      Directions:

      1. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry out on a floured surface to 14X14 inches. Square off the edges of the dough using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
      2. Cut both the length and width of the dough in half so there are 4 equal parts. You will have four 7 X 7 squares.
      3. Whisk 1 teaspoon water and 1 whole egg in a small bowl or ramekin and set aside.
      4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
      5. Carefully move the puff pastry squares on to a separate piece of parchment paper.
      6. Place two to three ounces of turkey and two tablespoons each of both gravy and cranberry sauce on each diagonal half of the square. Sprinkle evenly with bacon, shallots and ¼ teaspoon of herbs (optional) on each half of diagonal halves as well, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the square.
      7. Brush the entire border of each square with egg wash and fold over
      8. Use a fork to seal the edges and to assure the filling won’t leak out while the turnovers bake.
      9. Cut the parchment paper around each turnover leaving a 2-inch border. Carefully pick up each by the edges of the parchment paper and place them on the cookie sheet (they will be very fragile, and tend to lose their shape if you lift them with your hands on to the cookie sheet.)
      10. Carefully brush each turnover with egg wash.
      11. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
      12. Serve immediately with a green salad and roasted vegetables.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 4

      pumpkinbacon

       

      This Pumpkin Fondue is one of our absolute favorite recipes of all time. We’ve posted this one before, but in light of the demo it on TV the other day, I decided to bring it back from the archives. It’s too important to miss! If your Thanksgiving menu is still flexible, we highly encourage you to check this one out! Scroll down for the recipe and a video of the TV segment!

       

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      pumpkinfondue cinderellapumpkin

       

       

       

      Pumpkins Stuffed with Everything Good – Our Way

      From: Heide Lang, Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

      Ingredients:

      • 8 strips bacon (¼ cup shallots may be substituted for vegetarian version
      • ¼ pound stale bread cut into cubes
      • ¼ pound cheese, such as gruyere, emmental, cheddar, smoked gouda, asiago, parmesan, or any combination, cut into ½ inch cubes 
      • 3 cloves of garlic pressed or minced 
      • 1/8-1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions 
      • 2 teaspoons or more fresh herbs (i.e., parsley, rosemary, thyme) 
      • ½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
      • 1 sugar or Cinderella pumpkin weighing about 3 pounds 
      • 1 cup or more heavy cream 

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Sautee shallots until they are crispy (about 15 minutes), or fry bacon until crispy. Set aside.
      3. Combine chunks of bread and cheese, along with dried cranberries (this is optional, but will add beautiful color to the fondue). Season with salt and pepper. 
      4. Add bacon or shallots to the bread and cheese mixture. Combine well.
      5. Add any herbs you choose, along with the chives or scallions, and garlic. Toss well.
      6. Using a very sturdy knife, cut off the cap of the pumpkin, just as you would a jack-o-lantern.
      7. Scoop out the stringy pumpkin and the seeds and generously salt the inside of the pumpkin.
      8. Pack the filling tightly into the pumpkin (there shouldn’t be any air pockets).
      9. Pour in cream until the bread mixture is saturated and there is a bit of liquid on top (but be careful not to have the bread “swimming” in heavy cream).
      10. Put the cap back on and bake until the pumpkin is soft, about 60-90 minutes. Check the pumpkin after 45 minutes to see how soft it is. Continue baking until the ingredients are bubbling and the meat of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Do not let it burn, or the pumpkin will turn black and collapse as it cools. You don’t want all your good work ruined!
      11. Place a large spatula under your creation and move it gently to a beautiful platter.
      12. Serve as a side dish or an appetizer on small plates.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving

      Few will admit this, but preparing Thanksgiving dinner stresses people out. We are living with non-stop information overload and everywhere online, on television, and on billboards we see pictures of that annoying perfect turkey with all the flawless trimming and a relaxed happy host just waiting for their guests to arrive. Nope! We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, but it’s hard not to feel a little judged because, well, you probably are being judged kind of a little, or maybe even a lot depending who is coming.  It’s like going to the hairdresser. Why we care what people think of our hair I’ll never know, but we often do!

       

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      So when WTIC Fox News Connecticut asked me to do a Thanksgiving cooking extravaganza for the next eight weekdays in a row starting today, I jumped at the chance to show viewers and our blog friends just how satisfying and easy it can be to host Thanksgiving (Ironically, I’m not hosting this year, but that’s okay because after this series my family will have had about a dozen trial turkey day dinners!). Each day, I will share the recipes and the videos with you, and give you clever ideas meant take the stress out of the day (don’t carve the turkey where people can see you).
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      We’ll start with appetizers, starters, side dishes and dessert, and work our way up to taking the fear out of carving and what to do with all that turkey meat come day three of leftovers when major boredom sets in.

       

       

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      Yesterday, we made Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots and Fig Goat Cheese Caramelized Shallot Squares made with puff pastry. These recipes are both huge crowd pleasers and don’t require a ton of time or skill. Watch today’s video to learn how to make these winner recipes as well  (http://foxct.com/2013/11/18/try-a-new-thanksgiving-side-dish/)

       

       

      Also, we’d also love to hear about your Thanksgiving success and disasters (especially if they’re funny.  What are your favorite and worst Thanksgiving memories?

       

       

       

      Fig Goat, Cheese, and Caramelized Shallot Squares

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1 ready-made defrosted puff pastry sheet
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
      • 2 ½ cups of thinly sliced shallots (4 large shallots, or 6 small ones)
      • ½ teaspoon salt
      • 12-14 whole dried figs (3 ounces)
      • 3 teaspoons honey
      • 5-6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
      • ¼ cup coarsely ground walnuts (optional)

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
      2. Roll out the puff pastry to a 10 X 13 rectangle. Poke a few holes in pastry with a fork (so it doesn’t puff up while baking.)
      3. Pre-bake the puff pastry until it is just slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
      4. In the meantime, melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the shallots.
      5. Cook the shallots on medium heat until they are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently, especially if you are not using a non-stick pan.
      6. Add the salt, and season to taste with pepper. Set aside.
      7. Place dried figs in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry figs.
      8. Slice figs 1/8 inch thick, and then coarsely chop them (you should have ½ cup of sliced figs). Mix with honey and set aside
      9. Spread the shallot mixture evenly over the pre-baked pastry.
      10. Sprinkle the goat cheese, followed by the figs and the walnuts.
      11. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese starts to bubble, about 15-20 minutes.
      12. Let cool and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

      Crispy Shallots

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 2 ½ cups sliced shallots (6-12 shallots, depending on size)

      Directions:

      1. Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble.
      2. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots.
      3. Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes (add more oil if the shallots start to burn) stirring frequently.
      4. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Pat down to remove excess oil. Once the excess oil is absorbed, place the shallots in an airtight container and use to garnish soups, vegetables, potatoes, and sandwiches.

      Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 tablespoons canola oil
      • 2 cups leeks, chopped
      • 1/3 cup shallots, chopped
      • 2 1/2 cups fresh butternut squash cut in 1-inch cubes
      • 1 can pure organic pumpkin puree (no sugar added)
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
      • 1 tablespoon cane sugar
      • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger finely minced
      • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
      • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
      • 1 Bartlett pear, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
      • 5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
      • 1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
      • 4-5 tablespoons crispy shallots (see recipe below)
      • 1/3 pound pancetta, sliced thin (optional)

      Directions:

      1. Heat canola oil in a 6-8 quart pot. Sautee shallots and leeks over medium heat until they are soft and glassy, but not yet brown, about 5 minutes.
      2. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes.
      3. Add the pumpkin puree and stir well.
      4. Add salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for one minute.
      5. Add the pear and broth and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is hot, turn down the heat to a steady simmer on a low-medium flame. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pears and squash are soft.
      6. Puree in a food processor, or with an immersion blender (you may also use a blender, but be sure to let the soup cool to lukewarm first).
      7. Add sour cream and mix well.
      8. Fry pancetta (optional) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, until crisp, and pat between two towels to absorb grease.
      9. Serve with crispy shallots and/or crumbled pancetta on top.

      Cookies on the Fly

      Last night, my Sharia class had the most depressing movie party a class could ever have. I had briefly mentioned I might make Baklava, to lift the mood but (spoiler alert) Baklava takes like a year make, and I had literally no time. Cookies, on the other hand, take 10 minutes and de-stress like none other. I can’t write a real post because I still have no time. So, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, speak for yourselves.

       

       

      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies via The Road Home

       

       

      Do you have no time? Do you make cookies? Tell me all about it in the briefest comments you possibly can 😉

       

      (Recipe Below)

       

       

      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies via The Road Home

      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

      Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 10 Mins

      Ingredients:

      • 3 cups all purpose flour
      • Hefty pinch of salt
      • 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/2-3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
      • 1 cup butter @ room temperature
      • 3/4 cup brown sugar
      • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
      • 1 large egg
      • 2 tsp vanilla extract (optional because I forgot to buy it and it turned out fine) (not really optional though) (also, I suspect Jack Daniels or Jameson would make a great substitute – somebody should try it out)
      • 1 cup canned pumpkin
      • 2 cups dark chocolate chips

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350
      2. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and soda and spices.
      3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on high, until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
      4. Mix in egg, vanilla and pumpkin also for about 3-4 minutes, until blended. Don’t freak out if it looks curdled, it will do that, and it will be ok.
      5. Slowly add the dry ingredients until just mixed. Then slowly mix in chocolate chips.
      6. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet.
      7. Bake until edges are golden brown. The recipe I was working off said 10 minutes, mine took like 25. Start checking at 10 – you’ll know.
      8. Cool on sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to baking rack and eat them all!

      Easy Ghoulish Treats

      Most people think I’m a little bit strange when I tell people that Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s really simple. I adore the foods of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Easter, not to mention all the glorious casual picnic foods from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but I just love the theatre and whimsy of Halloween.

       

      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

       

      This great holiday, after all, is not about gifts or how perfect the table looks for relatives. It’s about fun, and magic, and theatre. It transcends age. We will have 8-year-olds and 16-year-olds side by side at our house all enjoying the same silly food and wearing goofy costumes. What could be better? I get to take my apron off and think solely about what would make kids of all ages happy. The pressure is off to be perfect. All anyone cares about is that the offerings are funny, maybe a little “scary” and of course colorful.

       

      Clementine Pumpkins | The Road Home  – cancels out the candy right?

       

      So here’s part of our line-up for All Hallow’s Eve at our house. We’ll offer our friends and fellow trick-or-treaters Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew, followed by cauliflower brain dip, and darling little “pumpkins” made of clementines and celery. There will be other things, but these are my favorites. I hope this sampling of our Halloween inspires you to think like a child even for just one day. Happy Halloween everyone!

       

      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

      Halloween Cauliflower Brain with Guacamole - gruesome but great | The Road Home
      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

      Have you got any special halloween foods you make at your house? We’d love to hear about them! Comment below to let us know!

       

       

      Clementine Pumpkins

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • One dozen or more Clementines
      • Several stalks celery

      Directions:

      1. Peel Clementines and place on a fun Halloween platter.
      2. Cut a stalk of celery into small pieces for the pumpkin stem. Stick a celery piece into the top of each peeled Clementine and serve!

      Creepy Cauliflower Brain Dip with Guacamole

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

        Guacamole

        • 4 ripe avocados peeled and pitted
        • ½ cup chopped onions
        • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
        • ¼ cup cilantro (optional)
        • 1 4 ounce can finely chopped seeded jalapeno chilies**
        • 1 teaspoon salt
        • ¾ teaspoon pepper
        • 1 cup of tomatoes, diced and seeded (or canned diced tomatoes in the winter)

        Brain

        • 1 large cauliflower
        • 1 package of red licorice string

        Directions:

        1. Place all guacamole ingredients but tomatoes in a food processor or in a medium sized bowl. Puree in the food processor or puree in bowl using an immersion blender until very smooth.
        2. Drain tomatoes thoroughly through a sieve and gently blend into the avocado mixture using a spatula.
        3. Remove all of the leaves from the cauliflower and remove the stem so that there is a hollow area, but most of the florets are intact. (Use toothpicks to hold the sides together if it starts to fall apart).
        4. Put the hollowed out cauliflower into a snug fitting bowl. (For a really scary presentation, wrap the bowl in cheesecloth stained with red food coloring.)
        5. Fill in with the guacamole and decorate the florets by weaving the licorice between the florets to make the veins and arteries.  You may also sprinkle a bit of red food coloring on the “arteries” as well but be careful not to overdo it.

        Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew

        From: Heide Lang

        Ingredients:

        • Clear glass container or punch bowl
        • Artificial green or red drink, such as Gatorade or Hawaiian Punch (You may also use a clear liquid like seltzer or Sprite, died with food coloring, if you want)
        • Gummy worms, plastic spiders or any other creepy creatures you wish
        • Dry ice

        Directions:

        1. Fill container or punch bowl with a green or red beverage.
        2. Place gummy worms, spiders, etc, on the edge of the bowl.
        3. Add a few small pieces or pellets of dry ice, just enough to get the brew bubbling and smoky. If it comes in a big brick, you will need to chip pieces off of it. (Do NOT pick up dry ice with your bare hands. Use tongs to handle it or protective rubber gloves if you must pick it up with your hands.)
        4. Serve immediately, adding additional pieces of dry ice every 10 minutes, or as needed.