Pumpkin Polenta with Chorizo and Beans

For the past few years, as soon as the cool weather sets in and apples and squash start appearing in the markets we start talking about having pumpkin polenta for dinner. I love the way the creamy polenta contrasts with the spicy topping. Its also extremely fast and easy to make – about 20 minutes start to finish! The dish also benefits from sitting in the fridge overnight – the polenta ill firm up and the flavors in the topping meld together. I recommend making extra so that you can have leftovers for lunch.[....]

Vols-au-Vent Take Two: Apples and Cream Cheese

apple vols au vent.jpg

I’m really not happy with how the photos of this came out, but I promised you that I would post it today so please believe me when I say that it tasted much better than it looks here.

One of my first ideas when vols-au-vent were announced as this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was to use apples. It’s the perfect time of year for them, and I wanted to highlight their natural sweetness. Instead of using a traditional pastry cream or custard, I used a cream cheese base. The tartness of the cream cheese paired perfectly with the sweet apples and made a delicious dessert that wasn’t too sugary-sweet.

Unless you’re feeling particularly brave or adventurous, I would just just make this with prepared puff pasty. If you do want to take the plunge and make your own though I do have a few tips that I left out of yesterday’s post: The dough is easy t wrk with when its well-chilled, but it becomes a nightmare as it warms up. The refrigerator is your friend! In addition to chilling my dough in between turns, I also found it helpful to chill my rolling pin – I just put it right in the fridge! I also thought it would help to have a cool surface to roll the pastry out on – since I don’t have a marble slab like was recommended, I used two metal cookie sheets. I stuck those right in the fridge too, which kept them cool and prevents the butter from getting too soft while I was working with it. [....]

Daring Bakers: Cornish Pasty Vols-au-Vent

daring bakers vols au vent.jpg

I can’t believe its time for this month’s Daring Bakers post already! I kind of let this month get away from me, and I ended up not completing this month’s challenge until the day that it was due. But better late than never, right? I’ll admit that part of the reason I was so late was that I was really intimidated by this challenge – homemade puff pastry? Are you kidding me? In addition to procrastinating because of that, they also gave us options. I am not good with options! I couldn’t decide what to do – I had so many ideas and couldn’t even decide if I wanted to go sweet or savory. I ultimately ended up doing both, but my sweet version is for another day (tomorrow….)

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Meat-Free Friday: Moroccan Couscous with Pistachio and Apricot

couscous with pistachio and apricot
Do you ever hear something, and all of a sudden decide that’s what you want to make even if it’s really random? That’s what happened with this couscous – someone on facebook wrote that they were having couscous for dinner, and all of a sudden I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’d also been thinking a lot about the combination of apricots and pistachios since I saw a recipe for chocolate bark that included the two of them. I decided that they would go great in the couscous. And you know what? I was right. This dish was absolutely amazing! AND it cooked up in about 15 minutes.[....]

Bourbon-Mustard Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot

pulled pork with mustard sauce
Pulled pork is a funny thing – it’s one of the first things I look to eat as the weather begins to warm up in the spring, but it’s also perfect for a chilly Fall evening spent at home watching football. Although I usually go for a more traditional barbecue sauce,or a fruiter smokey mango sauce, the mustard glazed ribs I made earlier this summer inspired me to mix things up this time and go with a Carolina-style pulled pork. Cooked all day in the crockpot, it made the house smell wonderful and only required a few minutes on hands-on time. The recipe also made a TON of pork, so that combined with the ease of preparation makes it a great dish for entertaining.[....]

Fat Free Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkin gingerbread
Happy Fall!! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, fall officially starts tonight at 5:18 – not that I’m counting or anything. As soon as the chilly weather starts, I begin to crave pumpkin but I’ve been resisting the urge for a few weeks now. I’ve had a few pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, but I hadn’t actually opened a can of pumpkin at home. Until now. Now that it’s actually fall, I can eat all the pumpkin I want.I already have more planned for later this week.
I don’t usually experiment very much when it comes to baked goods since its so easy to mess them up, but this was a new creation. And it was a success! I wanted to bake something that would make the house smell fabulous, and I couldn’t decide between pumpkin bread or gingerbread. Finally, I decided to combine them since the flavors seemed like they would go well together. The resulting cake is very dense and spicy like gingerbread, but the pumpkin keeps it extremely moist and gives it an extra layer of flavor.[....]