Let’s talk about really easy, elegant appetizers. Appetizers that look like they took a lot of work, but in fact, took you about 5 minutes. Appetizers that are amazing and yummy and full of butter and cheese. Like appetizers should be.
Because it’s appetizer season!
(Around our house, we readily agree that the only reason to be excited about the Superbowl is good food.)
This baked Brie is so simple and so delicious! It will be a huge hit at any party, whether you plan to eat it on the couch in front of a big TV or around a table with a group of girlfriends.
As a vegetarian, I often miss out on foods that other people rave about. Sometimes there is an easy substitution, like a delicious veggie burger. But sometimes, as with pot pies, I more often find that vegetarian versions are disappointing or weird than satisfying and comforting.
No doubt, to turn a meaty classic into a delicious vegetarian dish can be a challenge! It usually requires about a thousand more ingredients and a lot of extra time. Building a balanced flavor that is as hearty and satisfying to a carnivore as to a vegetarian is involved!
Part of this is definitely personal prejudice on my part. I’m sorry, but a potato is a starch! And, to be honest…peas are pretty darn close to a starch. So if those are the only “vegetables” in an already creamy and crusty pie, you’ve kind of lost me. If I am going to spend hours making crust and stirring fillings and then baking a pie, I want to be eating something absolutely stuffed with a rainbow of vegetables (and therefore nutrients), as thanks for my trouble!
Cue this pot pie, full of hearty Fall vegetables: butternut squash, carrots, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are all at their best and brightest in the cool months! Add some browned mushrooms and onions for a nice, savory base, plus the most deliciously herby and peppery crust, and I honestly think you couldn’t ask for anything more!
A while back, I mentioned that I am growing acorn squash this year! I have a little container vegetable garden on my porch, and almost everything I am growing is thriving.
Except, sadly, for my acorn squash. It all started out brilliantly: I had four plants that were green and leafy and growing like gangbusters. About a month ago, a crazy amount of blossoms started opening up and I got pretty excited for some squash to reveal itself. But…only two of the blossoms on all four of the plants sprouted squashes. After a while of not seeing any more little babies growing, I mentally threw up my hands and decided to start harvesting the blossoms. (Maybe that was my mistake? Who knows.)
Immediately after harvesting my first bunch of blossoms, the plants started yellowing. I am not an experienced gardener, people. I was at a loss. Eventually I found that one of the vines was being eaten from within by a worm—and there went one of my two baby acorn squash (augh!). I still can’t figure out what’s wrong with the others.
So. Believe me when I tell you that these quesadillas were a labor of love. With these, I used up the last blossoms my poor, sad acorn squash seem like they are going to produce.
I just realized that the Superbowl is only a few days away.
Not that I actually care about football. To be honest, I don’t even know which teams are playing! But what I do know is that Superbowl Sunday goes perfectly with a large pot of chili.
When I was growing up, my mom always made white chili for the whole family on Superbowl Sunday–this was, in fact, the first way I learned to appreciate chili, probably thanks to the mountain of crushed Doritos and shredded cheddar cheese I piled on the top before I dug in. Yum.
But this year, I think we should skip the ground meat (well, that’s a no-brainer for me) and load in a rather humongous amount of winter squashes. This recipe uses winter squash in two ways: one, pureed pumpkin is mixed right into the saucy, tomato-y broth; and two, cubed for texture and bulk in the soup. It’s so delicious with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and shaved pecorino romano on top!
Okay, this post is totally late in coming. But I was a little bit preoccupied. (And yes, it did take me almost a week to recover from throwing the best baby birthday party ever.)
Anyway, from the last week of CSA produce ever (er…at least for this year), I am sharing with you the most delicious macaroni and cheese ever.
Did you know that mac and cheese is one of my favorite foods? And yet, in two and a half years of blogging, I have never once made it for you. That’s because I am a mac and cheese snob. That’s right. You heard me.
I have spent the last two years trying to perfect the absolute best mac and cheese recipe (gouda, asiago, ad pecorino with a dash of truffle oil…yum). But I realized, this is just like the time I thought there was only one perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Which is completely silly! Which, of course, means I have been remiss!
When I found a recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese, which is so trendy and so different from the rich bechamel sauces I had been obsessed with, I was so excited!
This mac and cheese is full of flavor. And the weird thing is it doesn’t really taste like squash at all! There is just a tinge of sweetness and warmth from the cayenne and nutmeg. But mostly, the macaroni tastes cheesy and salty from the parmesan and pecorino and just a little nutty from the gruyère.
And one of the easiest ever ways to use up fall squash is to roast it and toss it into a grain salad with some greens and cheese. I have been a little reluctant to share this with you, because I feel like this particular combination isn’t terribly original. Quinoa salad. Been there, done that.
But you know what? Sometimes the familiar is just what we need. Sometimes simple food with bright colors and flavors is comforting.
Sarah of Well Dined came over and made this lunch with me. We added in things that are delicious and left out things that are not. Easy peasy.
Sometimes I look in my fridge and think, “Why is there nothing to eat!?” As I am staring at the shelves piled high with perfectly good food, nothing seems like it would come together quickly, and none of my produce and dairy products and leftovers seem even remotely able to work together.
Does that ever happen to you?
Earlier this week when I found myself facing just such a dilemma, I forbade myself to eat cereal for dinner and reluctantly pulled some of my CSA goodies out and set them on the counter.
So let’s talk about winging it. Because the perfect recipe isn’t always sitting right in front of you!
The key to winging it is thinking back to what you have made and liked in the past. We are smack dab in the middle of fall, so of course we need to use up some fall squash. I love squash roasted, with a little bit of spice, tossed into a grain or green salad, with a hefty dose of yummy cheese. How do you like your squash? Maybe stuffed? or turned into soup? or sliced and sautéed?
The beautiful thing about cooking is that you don’t have to stress over the proportions the same way you must with baking. You can tinker with it until it works! Just rely on familiar methods, add things you know you like, and everything will work out fine!
We have been getting a lot of fall squashes from the CSA! At least two per week, usually weighing in over 1 lb. apiece.
Good thing I love fall squash!
It’s also been fun to get to know some of the different varieties. Normally, I am a butternut-acorn-pumpkin girl, but now I am learning about kabocha, buttercup, carnival, and the lovely delicata.
This is an amazing recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks: Super Natural Every Day. I love that the curry isn’t too spicy, but it perfectly complements the sweetness of the squash. Plus, this meal is so healthy! It combines fresh potatoes and kale, which are also in season right now from the CSA, with fall squash and tofu: Perfect nutritional balance of brightly colored veggies, complex carbs, and protein.
(And the best part was that Dave loved it, despite the kale and squash, which he typically hates! He hoarded all of the leftovers to himself…I’m just saying.)