Saturday, November 23, 2013

Three Easy Compound Butters for Thanksgiving

I am going to make this quick because it's Thanksgiving week and things are crazy busy.  An easy way to dress up your Thanksgiving table and let people know they are special and stuff, is to make compound butters.  And I've got three options for you today.

One of these butters, the cranberry-orange butter, has been a tradition in my family a long time.  It's tangy and sweet and yummy. (And yes, it was already on my blog before, right here.)  The other two are my own creation.  I am absolutely in love with all of them because they play such different rolls in my life.

The caramelized onion and gruyere is TO. DIE. FOR. on warm, crusty bread because the cheese melts slightly.  DO YOU HEAR WHAT I AM SAYING?!  THERE IS CHEESE *IN* THE BUTTER!

The honey butter gets a subtle spicy kick from coarse black pepper.  It is fantastic with buttermilk biscuits as well as traditional rolls.  Plus it's pretty.  Like a little speckled log.

The really great thing is that you can make these well ahead of time and stick them in the fridge. (Like maybe a week!)  Pull them out and let them come to room temperature before you serve them.  Shape them into logs or put them in a bowl.  Whatever stuffs your turkey.  But just make them.


Black Pepper and Honey Butter

4 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Whip butter on high speed until smooth and fluffy.  Beat the honey and black pepper.  Shape into 2 logs of equal size using parchment paper.  Refrigerate until needed.  Let come to room temperature before serving.

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Butter 

4 sticks butter, softened to room temperature, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until melted.  Add onions and cook until caramelized, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in Worcestershire sauce.  Remove from skillet and cool completely.  

Whip remaining butter on high speed until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in the onions, gruyere cheese, thyme, and black pepper.  Shape into 2 logs of equal size using parchment paper.  Refrigerate until needed.  Let come to room temperature before serving.

Cranberry-Orange Butter

4 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup whole cranberry sauce
1/4 cup orange marmalade

Whip butter until fluffy with electric mixer or hand mixer.  Beat in cranberry sauce and orange marmalade. Shape into 2 logs of equal size using parchment paper.  Refrigerate until needed.  Let come to room temperature before serving.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Roasted Apple Salted Caramelitas

I think we all know that I am long overdue for a fattening fall treat on this blog.  The last three posts have been about vegetables and that's probably some kind of record for me.

I think these bars will satisfy your autumn sweet tooth.  I know they did mine.  I'm ashamed of how many of these I put away.  I will NEVER tell anyone how many I ate.

Never.  Ever.

Alright, I ate six.

In my defense, this recipe only makes a small 8 x 8 pan.  That is so not big.

Plus, there are apples in them.  An apple a day keeps the doctor away, I've heard.

Then there are the oats.  Oats are good for you.  [Feeling better all the time.]

I would take these over a brownie any day.  These were crazy good.  But I won't make them again for a long time because I simply cannot be trusted.

I am weak when it comes to caramelitas.  Weak and pitiful.  And selfish.

Read my notes if you decide to make them, because, you see, I have gone before you.  I have some things to say.

PS.  I did not eat six at one time.  I only ate four at one time, then I devoured the other two the next day.  I just didn't want you to think I was a pig.

PPS.  There are some {{{ADORABLE}}}} fall pictures of my grandson at the bottom of this post.  Because I can, you know. ;)

My notes:

--I used honeycrisp apples which is my new favorite variety.  Now, I know there are going to be some apple baking experts that are going to say that honeycrisps are not good for baking, but you know what?  I ate six.  Enough said.

--Let them cool.  Don't be like me and cut into them while they're warm.  Oh sure, they will melt in your mouth and make you think you have died and gone to heaven, but they will fall apart.

--These probably need to be stored in the fridge because of the apples, but let them come to room temperature before you eat them.  Or zap them in the microwave.

--I love roasting fruit when I add it to desserts instead of baking the fruit into them.  The fruit gets caramelized and that deepens the flavor.

--I added 1 teaspoon of fleur de del, but I really feel like I could have upped it.  Also, I think maybe sprinkling some salt on top would not be a bad idea.  And bacon crumbles.  I think bacon crumbles on this would be quite awesome.

Roasted Apple Salted Caramelitas

3 medium baking apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts, divided

1 (11-ounce) bag caramel melting bits
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the apples, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar together.  Spread on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender and golden brown, stirring several times.  Set aside.

Combine 3/4 cup melted butter, 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, the flour, oats, and baking soda. Stir in 1/2 cup walnuts.  Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch baking pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, combine caramels, cream, 2 tablespoons butter, and the fleur de sel in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth.  When base comes out of oven, spread the apples over it, then the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts.  Drizzle evenly with the caramel.  Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture evenly over the caramel. Return to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Do not over bake.  Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

*Store in fridge but they should be brought to room temperature before eating.



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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Baked Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

So I struggle with eating veggies.  And the main problem I have with them is that they are not loaded with refined sugar and simple carbs and they don't taste like pie.  That's what kills it for me.  But I have been trying to work vegetables into my diet on a more regular basis, so I've been branching out trying some new things.

Spaghetti squash is a newish favorite, and I love to sauté it in a pan with some onions and butter and olive oil (after I have quick-roasted it in the microwave so I can remove the flesh), but I threw this together the other night and it went over big. The thing that I don't like about spaghetti squash is that in most recipes I have seen, it has to be twice-cooked.  The first time it is roasted in the oven (or microwave as I often do), and that softens it up so the spaghetti-like flesh can easily be removed.  Then it's either baked, fried, etc.  It's not like that is a HUGE big deal, but it is something to consider if you want super fast.

I think this would be a good side dish for Thanksgiving.  And for children because obviously it looks like cheesy pasta.

Read these notes before you make it.

--HEED THIS WARNING:  Spaghetti squash is the devil to cut in half.  And the other day, I literally almost plunged a kitchen knife into my stomach while trying to cut it.  Yes, my knife needed sharpening and that would have made the job easier, but they are very hard to split in half.  So be careful and try not to kill yourself.  No vegetable is worth dying for.

--The squash gives off some water/juice after it has baked in the sauce, but it was still delicious.

--I did not prepare the squash in any special way to be roasted.  So seasonings, no rubbing it with oil, etc.  I just put them in a pan, cut side up and roasted.  But you could rub it with oil.  I just didn't.

-For my 13 x 9 inch pan I used a large spaghetti squash and a medium-large spaghetti squash.  It filled my pan up nicely.

--The seeds can hide so take the time to scoop it out well.

--Sometimes I will microwave them for 15-20 minutes until they are soft instead of roasting in the oven.

--To remove the strands, just take a spoon and start digging into the flesh.  You'll see it separating into strands, just like spaghetti.  It's really quite fascinating.

Baked Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

2 medium to large spaghetti squash
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling on top
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Carefully cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and membranes.  Place cut sides up in a large baking or roasting pan and roast for about 50-70 minutes or until squash is tender.  Remove from oven and let cool until you can touch it.
Scoop out the strands with a spoon and place in a large bowl.  Separate with hands until it looks like noodles.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Add the milk and continue cooking until mixture has thickened and is bubbly around edges, about 6-8 minutes, whisking often.  Remove from heat.  Stir in  1 1/4 cup parmesan until melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and stir to coat.  Transfer to a 13 x 9 inch buttered baking dish.  Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes, placing under the broiler if necessary to get top golden brown.   

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