Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

It’s nearing winter time here in the great state of Wisconsin, and I still have a handful of butternut squash that I pulled from the garden weeks ago. Now don’t get me wrong here, but I am not the biggest fan of butternut squash. I really only grew it to make a couple of dishes for my wife, and to give some away to family and friends. This year I decided to make a stuffed butternut squash with some great local sausage, among other ingredients, and as I always walk by these squash I have in my kitchen, I knew I had to use them up, and hence when I remembered how much my wife loved a gnocchi I made here a few years ago.  I knew this recipe idea would be a win for both of us; she loves gnocchi and butternut squash, and I was able to use up the squash, while at the same time use up some fresh sage I had growing in the garden.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

If you have never had gnocchi, it is a must to try. Gnocchi is basically a thick, soft pasta, often served in a light sauce. This recipe will uses a few steps in order to get the dough together, as well as a bit of time to roll out the dough into gnocchi, however it is all worth it.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour, approximately
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (per serving)
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped (per serving)

Start by preheating over oven to 425 degrees. Take a knife and make score marks into the flesh of the squash, about 1/2 inch down. Rub the skin with the canola oil, and place the squash onto a baking sheet, skin side up. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

During this time, fill a pot with the potatoes, and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer on the stove, and cook until fork tender.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain, and return the potatoes back onto the stove on medium-low heat until the excess moisture is removed, just a couple of minutes. Remove and let cool.

Remove the tender squash from the oven and let that cool.

Once the potatoes have cooled, put them through a ricer if you have one, if not, mash them into a mixing bowl.

Remove the squash from the skin and add them into a food processor. Process until you have a nice puree. Add this puree into a pot on the stove, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to remove any excess moisture. Let cool, then add into the mixing bowl with the potatoes.

To the mixing bowl add the egg, salt, and the parmesan cheese. Start your mixer, and gradually add in the flour. You do not want to dump in all of the flour, but just enough to that it forms a dough, a non sticky dough. I do this in my KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook, allowing me to knead for a few minutes after the dough has came together.

Once the dough is kneaded, lightly flour your work surface, and add the dough onto it. Divide the dough into equal pieces, about 8 will work.

How to make butternut squash gnocchi with browned butter sage sauce

Lightly flour a large baking tray as well.

Take each small ball of dough and gently roll into a rope shape, about one inch thick.

Once you have your rope, cut into one inch pieces. Using the back of a fork, roll into a gnocchi shape, then place onto the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the gnocchi have formed.

Lightly cover with plastic wrap and place into your refrigerator to set up, about 2 hours.

Once you are ready to make the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

During this time, slowly melt the butter in a skillet. You are going to go for a browned butter on this sauce, so keep that in mind. We will raise the heat a bit as the gnocchi gets closer to finishing cooking.

Once the water is rapidly boiling, add in about 15-20 of the gnocchi. Give a gentle stir, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the gnocchi are floating to the top. As soon as they begin to float to the top, raise the heat of your butter to a medium-high heat, and let hte butter begin to brown.

Once the butter begins to brown, toss in the sage. It will crack and sizzle, and smell really, really good. If you have never had browned butter sage sauce, well, you will love it. Two of my kids really love it, and that is saying something.

Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and add into the butter sauce. Give a gentle toss, and let this cook for a couple of minutes.

Add more grated parmesan to your liking, and serve.

Repeat if you are serving more than two people, otherwise, you can place the baking pan into your freezer and flash freeze the leftover gnocchi (that’s what I did) for later use.

Plate and serve.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Not only does this particular butternut squash gnocchi look awesome with that light orange color, but it tastes like Fall as my wife had noted. Fluffy and soft pillows of pasta that have that light, not overwhelming, flavor of butternut squash, is perfectly balanced by that browned butter sage sauce. This is good, REALLY, REALLY good. I hope you enjoy.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sauce
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour, approximately
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (per serving)
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped (per serving)
Instructions
  1. Start by preheating over oven to 425 degrees. Take a knife and make score marks into the flesh of the squash, about ½ inch down. Rub the skin with the canola oil, and place the squash onto a baking sheet, skin side up. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
  2. During this time, fill a pot with the potatoes, and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer on the stove, and cook until fork tender.
  3. Once the potatoes are tender, drain, and return the potatoes back onto the stove on medium-low heat until the excess moisture is removed, just a couple of minutes. Remove and let cool.
  4. Remove the tender squash from the oven and let that cool.
  5. Once the potatoes have cooled, put them through a ricer if you have one, if not, mash them into a mixing bowl.
  6. Remove the squash from the skin and add them into a food processor. Process until you have a nice puree. Add this puree into a pot on the stove, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to remove any excess moisture. Let cool, then add into the mixing bowl with the potatoes.
  7. To the mixing bowl add the egg, salt, and the parmesan cheese. Start your mixer, and gradually add in the flour. You do not want to dump in all of the flour, but just enough to that it forms a dough, a non sticky dough. I do this in my KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook, allowing me to knead for a few minutes after the dough has came together.
  8. Once the dough is kneaded, lightly flour your work surface, and add the dough onto it. Divide the dough into equal pieces, about 8 will work.
  9. Lightly flour a large baking tray as well.
  10. Take each small ball of dough and gently roll into a rope shape, about one inch thick.
  11. Once you have your rope, cut into one inch pieces. Using the back of a fork, roll into a gnocchi shape, then place onto the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the gnocchi have formed.
  12. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and place into your refrigerator to set up, about 2 hours.
  13. Once you are ready to make the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  14. During this time, slowly melt the butter in a skillet. You are going to go for a browned butter on this sauce, so keep that in mind. We will raise the heat a bit as the gnocchi gets closer to finishing cooking.
  15. Once the water is rapidly boiling, add in about 15-20 of the gnocchi. Give a gentle stir, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the gnocchi are floating to the top. As soon as they begin to float to the top, raise the heat of your butter to a medium-high heat, and let hte butter begin to brown.
  16. Once the butter begins to brown, toss in the sage. It will crack and sizzle, and smell really, really good. If you have never had browned butter sage sauce, well, you will love it. Two of my kids really love it, and that is saying something.
  17. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and add into the butter sauce. Give a gentle toss, and let this cook for a couple of minutes.
  18. Add more grated parmesan to your liking, and serve.
  19. Plate and serve.
  20. Not only does this particular butternut squash gnocchi look awesome with that light orange color, but it tastes like Fall as my wife had noted. Fluffy and soft pillows of pasta that have that light, not overwhelming, flavor of butternut squash, is perfectly balanced by that browned butter sage sauce. This is good, REALLY, REALLY good. I hope you enjoy.

 

Roasted Squash Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that is not only sexy, but is also comforting. It is a dish that once you have had a good plate of it at a restaurant that you will want to create on your own, and you can. In the past, I have made mushroom risotto which was really delicious, and it has been some time since then that I’ve made it. As my wife and I were staying in this past weekend, I decided to make her this roasted squash risotta, only to be paired with roasted pork tenderloin stuffed with duxelles. To say the least, and to reiterate, the risotto was super sexy and incredibly delicious.

Roasted Squash Risotto Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole butternut squash, seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, warmed
  • 3/4 cup of white wine (chardonnay works well)
  • 1 cup of pureed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper if you have it. I love using Reynolds parchment paper as it prevents a lot less cleanup when I am finished baking anything.

Using a large, sharp knife, lay the squash on its side, and carefully remove both ends of the squash. This allows a sturdier base when slicing in half.

Next, stand the squash upright. Place your knife in the middle of the squash and move it down the squash, slicing it in half.

Now the seeds are exposed. Remove them.

Using a fork, fork the outside skin in a couple of areas.

With flesh side up, drizzle the one tablespoon of olive oil over the squash, and season with a bit of salt.

Place the squash, flesh side down, in the preheated oven, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender.

Once fully cooked, remove them from the oven, and let cool.

Take one half of the squash and add the flesh to a food processor. Discard the skin. Reserve the other half for another meal.

Pulse the squash until you have a nice puree. Set aside.

How to make risotto with squash

Now lets get started on the risotto.

A couple of important things here. Make sure your stock is warm, and keep it on a simmer, and more importantly get ready for a workout. This is a stirring challenge but I am confident you will do just fine.

To a medium sized pot, add the butter and olive oil, and cook on a medium heat. Once melted, toss in the onion and garlic, and cook for a few minutes, stirring along the way.

Add in the rice, and continue to stir for a couple of minutes. This will allow the rice to get coated in the butter and oil, and begin to blossom.

Next, add in the wine. Cook the rice until the wine is fully absorbed.

KEEP STIRRING.

Next, add in a ladle full of the warm stock. Raise the heat to a medium high heat, and continue stirring until the stock is fully absorbed. Once the rice is almost dry, add another ladle of stock.

Add in the squash puree.

KEEP STIRRING.

Now what you will begin to notice is that the risotto will begin to blossom and turn into a creamy consistency. This gets exciting. You are almost there.

Add a bit more stock, and season with a bit of salt. Your overall cooking time is going to be around 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is al dente.

Your goal here is to not end up with mushy rice, rather rice that is creamy, yet still has a bite to it. Al dente.

When you have reached the al dente part, add in the parmesan cheese, give another good stir, and remove from the heat.

Plate and serve immediately.

The result is a creamy risotto that is just perfectly balanced with the squash. That white wine adds a great perfume to the dish, that along with the garlic and onions… wow. You can tell I am excited just by writing about it. Again, sexy. It’s a sexy dish, and one that has comfort written all over it. Give this one a shot. It’s a real winner, plus you get a workout in! Hope you enjoy.

Roasted Squash Risotto
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 whole butternut squash, seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup of yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups of Arborio rice
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, warmed
  • ¾ cup of white wine (chardonnay works well)
  • 1 cup of pureed butternut squash
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper if you have it. I love using Reynolds parchment paper as it prevents a lot less cleanup when I am finished baking anything.
  3. Using a large, sharp knife, lay the squash on its side, and carefully remove both ends of the squash. This allows a sturdier base when slicing in half.
  4. Next, stand the squash upright. Place your knife in the middle of the squash and move it down the squash, slicing it in half.
  5. Now the seeds are exposed. Remove them.
  6. Using a fork, fork the outside skin in a couple of areas.
  7. With flesh side up, drizzle the one tablespoon of olive oil over the squash, and season with a bit of salt.
  8. Place the squash, flesh side down, in the preheated oven, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender.
  9. Once fully cooked, remove them from the oven, and let cool.
  10. Take one half of the squash and add the flesh to a food processor. Discard the skin. Reserve the other half for another meal.
  11. Pulse the squash until you have a nice puree. Set aside.
  12. Now lets get started on the risotto.
  13. A couple of important things here. Make sure your stock is warm, and keep it on a simmer, and more importantly get ready for a workout. This is a stirring challenge but I am confident you will do just fine.
  14. To a medium sized pot, add the butter and olive oil, and cook on a medium heat. Once melted, toss in the onion and garlic, and cook for a few minutes, stirring along the way.
  15. Add in the rice, and continue to stir for a couple of minutes. This will allow the rice to get coated in the butter and oil, and begin to blossom.
  16. Next, add in the wine. Cook the rice until the wine is fully absorbed.
  17. KEEP STIRRING.
  18. Next, add in a ladle full of the warm stock. Raise the heat to a medium high heat, and continue stirring until the stock is fully absorbed. Once the rice is almost dry, add another ladle of stock.
  19. Add in the squash puree.
  20. KEEP STIRRING.
  21. Now what you will begin to notice is that the risotto will begin to blossom and turn into a creamy consistency. This gets exciting. You are almost there.
  22. Add a bit more stock, and season with a bit of salt. Your overall cooking time is going to be around 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is al dente.
  23. Your goal here is to not end up with mushy rice, rather rice that is creamy, yet still has a bite to it. Al dente.
  24. When you have reached the al dente part, add in the parmesan cheese, give another good stir, and remove from the heat.
  25. Plate and serve immediately.

 

Tater Tot Casserole

I will be up front with you. My mind works in mysterious ways. It always has, and probably always will. This has always helped, however, in the kitchen when I open a pantry, or refrigerator, and think to myself ‘what in the world am I going to feed these people today?’. Trust me on this, cooking for 4 other people on a daily basis, is a challenge. There is never a set menu, idea, or list I get to work off of. I wing it every day. This is where I came up with the idea of a tater tot casserole, only due to the fact that I had a bowl of slow cooked mushrooms and a bag of lardons in the refrigerator one morning. As I looked at them, I realized I had to do something with them on Sunday afternoon, and as I began to think of one of my more popular recipes, the cheesy potatoes, I figured I would take a spin off of that, and make this tater tot casserole. Am I ever glad I did.  By the way, lardons are basically cubes of pork belly that I always cut out when making homemade bacon. If you don’t have lardons, simply use thick cut bacon which I indicated below.

Tater Tot Casserole Recipe

I am always looking to try new things to serve the kids for dinner, as well as for my wife, and I figured I would give this a shot. This casserole has comfort written all over it and is a perfect side dish, a side dish that would be great enough for a Thanksgiving side dish alternative as well.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into chunks
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, diced, and cooked
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 bag of Ore-Ida Tater Tots, frozen

Start by adding your bacon to a large skillet, bringing it up to a medium low heat. As the bacon cooks, it will release some of its fat, which we will keep and cook the remaining ingredients.

While the bacon cooks, add the can of cream of chicken soup to a mixing bowl. Add milk to the bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Use a whisk or fork to combine the soup, making a smooth texture. This will be the sauce for our casserole.

As the bacon starts to crisp, add in the chicken.

How to make tater tot casserole

Raise the heat to medium high. Cook, stir, and flip the bacon and chicken for about 4 minutes.

Add in the garlic, shallot, and mushrooms. Cook another couple of minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Get your casserole dish out. You know the one. Eye out one that will be deep enough, and long enough to hold the casserole.

Pour the chicken mixture into the bottom of your casserole dish.

Pour the soup mixture over the top of the chicken mixture. Give a stir.

Top with the shredded cheese.

Take your tater tots and cover the mixture with an even bedding of tater tots.

Place the tater tot casserole in the preheated oven, cooking for about 45 minutes.

Remove, and let the casserole sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Trust me, it will still be hot, however it gives some time to let the casserole settle.

Well, you know what’s next. Serve it up.

Not only does the casserole look pretty, but it will get everyone thinking of why they never thought about using tater tots in that way.

The first bite had that smokiness from the bacon, while paired with chicken. Oh wow, I’m getting hungry now just thinking about that combination. Then you get the creaminess, and cheesiness, along with the garlic, and the crisp, yet tender tater tots. I think cheesy potatoes just met its match. This casserole is a real winner. I hope you enjoy.

Tater Tot Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into chunks
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, diced, and cooked
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 bag of Ore-Ida Tater Tots, frozen
Instructions
  1. Start by adding your bacon to a large skillet, bringing it up to a medium low heat. As the bacon cooks, it will release some of its fat, which we will keep and cook the remaining ingredients.
  2. While the bacon cooks, add the can of cream of chicken soup to a mixing bowl. Add milk to the bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Use a whisk or fork to combine the soup, making a smooth texture. This will be the sauce for our casserole.
  3. As the bacon starts to crisp, add in the chicken.
  4. Raise the heat to medium high. Cook, stir, and flip the bacon and chicken for about 4 minutes.
  5. Add in the garlic, shallot, and mushrooms. Cook another couple of minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Get your casserole dish out. You know the one. Eye out one that will be deep enough, and long enough to hold the casserole.
  8. Pour the chicken mixture into the bottom of your casserole dish.
  9. Pour the soup mixture over the top of the chicken mixture. Give a stir.
  10. Top with the shredded cheese.
  11. Take your tater tots and cover the mixture with an even bedding of tater tots.
  12. Place the tater tot casserole in the preheated oven, cooking for about 45 minutes.
  13. Remove, and let the casserole sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Trust me, it will still be hot, however it gives some time to let the casserole settle.
  14. Well, you know what's next. Serve it up.
  15. Not only does the casserole look pretty, but it will get everyone thinking of why they never thought about using tater tots in that way.
  16. The first bite had that smokiness from the bacon, while paired with chicken. Oh wow, I'm getting hungry now just thinking about that combination. Then you get the creaminess, and cheesiness, along with the garlic, and the crisp, yet tender tater tots. I think cheesy potatoes just met its match. This casserole is a real winner. I hope you enjoy.

 

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

You have to love it when you come across something to make that is not only incredibly easy to prepare but it one that is extremely delicious as well. That is where this recipe comes into play. Roasted cauliflower. Cauliflower, at first glance, is not a very attractive vegetable and one that gets typically bypassed at the grocery store. I make cauliflower, probably once a year, and it is well, yes, that head of cauliflower that has cheese melted over it. As good as that is, cauliflower in itself is a wonderful vegetable. It is a vegetable that is low in carbs and high in fiber. That should be great for all of us, right?

How to make Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

When I first picked up the cauliflower, I had this idea in my head that I would transform it into some mashed potatoes and get my kids eating the vegetable (I have to make every attempt at that), but instead, I decided to go simple and let the cauliflower shine, and I am glad that I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • pinch of cracked black pepper

That’s it. Five simple ingredients. Again, does it get any better? Yes, you will find out that it does.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Turn the cauliflower upside down, and with a knife, remove the core.

Next, begin trimming the cauliflower, making sure you have as close as the same size cuts in your florets. This will allow an even cooking process.

Add the cauliflower florets to a mixing bowl, along with the garlic.

Drizzle the olive oil over the florets, tossing along the way to ensure the florets and garlic are lightly coated in oil.

Shower the florets with salt and pepper, tossing along the way.

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic

Add the florets to a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.

Roast in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is a nice and golden brown.

Simply place these in a serving dish and place on the table.

The end result is cauliflower that has this awesome nutty flavor alongside the roasted garlic. Did I mention how great the smells were as well? It’s tender, lightly salted, and well, just plain old delicious. Delicious enough that it will be a side dish for this upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • pinch of cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Five simple ingredients. Again, does it get any better? Yes, you will find out that it does.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Turn the cauliflower upside down, and with a knife, remove the core.
  4. Next, begin trimming the cauliflower, making sure you have as close as the same size cuts in your florets. This will allow an even cooking process.
  5. Add the cauliflower florets to a mixing bowl, along with the garlic.
  6. Drizzle the olive oil over the florets, tossing along the way to ensure the florets and garlic are lightly coated in oil.
  7. Shower the florets with salt and pepper, tossing along the way.
  8. Add the florets to a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.
  9. Roast in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is a nice and golden brown.
  10. Simply place these in a serving dish and place on the table.