Archive for October 2008


Baked Butternut Squash With Sausage and Apples

October 30th, 2008 — 6:13am


While it seems that I’ve satisfied my recent obsession with cooking all things involving pumpkins, I’ve since replaced that obsession with squash. But as my friend Karen reasoned, they’re both in the gourd family. Ever since squash started appearing at the farmers’ market earlier this month, I’ve been attempting new squash recipes with hearty fillings that make a meal of themselves.

Recently, I attempted the following recipe, which I found in my Joy of Cooking cookbook–pretty much the bible of cookbooks. Luckily, I had some helpers for this recipe and plenty of time, because it was quite tedious and involved many ingredients and lots of chopping. I chose the recipe because it sounded delicious, but didn’t realize at the time that it involved three separate recipes! The meal was fabulous, but I’m not going to lie, it was a pain. I was flipping between pages 309, 532, and 533, which were recipes for Baked Butternut Squash, Basic Bread Stuffing, and Bread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples, respectively. Of course you could buy pre-made stuffing and make things a whole lot easier, but I can’t help myself, I’m a cooking purist.

I would definitely recommend this recipe for a hearty fall dinner. It also warmed up nicely as leftovers. I’ve taken the liberty of combining the three recipes into one, below. I think a single, complete recipe (although long) will make it much easier for anyone else who wants to take a stab at the meal. Enjoy!

Baked Butternut Squash Stuffed With Sausage and Apples
Joy of Cooking (75th anniversary edition), pg. 309
4 servings

Ingredients
2 butternut squash (about 1 pound each)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound sliced firm white sandwich, French, or Italian bread, including crusts, cut into ½-inch cubes (10 cups lightly packed)
¼ to ½ cup (1/2 to 1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup to ½ cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 to 1 cup chicken stock or broth, or as needed
1 pound bulk pork sausage
4 cups diced peeled green apples, such as Granny Smith
4 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a baking dish. Halve lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings. Arrange cut side up in the baking dish and brush lightly with oil. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and bake until almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the squash cool slightly. Keep the oven on.

Toast bread cubes on a large baking sheet at 400F, stirring several times, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn bread cubes into a large bowl.

Heat a large skillet with butter over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Then add the onions and celery and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the bread cubes and toss until well combined. Stir in the chicken broth, a little at a time, until the stuffing is lightly moist but not packed together.

Cook pork sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break up the meat with a spoon, until it is no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and return the skillet to the heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring, until tender. Add the sausage and apples to the bread stuffing.

When the squash has cooled, scoop out most of the flesh, leaving 3/8-inch-thick shells. Lightly mix the squash pulp into the stuffing mixture, breaking up the squash as little as possible.

Pile the stuffing into the squash halves. Dot each half with 1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces, and 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar.

Bake, uncovered, until piping hot and brown and crusty on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before serving.

2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

30th Wedding Anniversary!

October 28th, 2008 — 12:43pm

Today is my parents’ 30th Wedding Anniversary! That’s a LONG time. I realize I’m very lucky to have parents who have been together so long and whose relationship only seems to grow stronger. Congratulations! I’m very happy and proud :) Have fun today!

1 comment » | Family Fun

The "Consummate" Chocolate Chip Cookie

October 28th, 2008 — 10:48am

A few months ago, the New York Times featured an article and recipe for the ideal chocolate chip cookie. The blogging world of cooks and bakers obsessed over the piece all summer, testing, refuting, and perfecting the article’s hypotheses. The recipe is based on Jaques Torres’ (a renowned chocolatier) classic recipe, but also relies on contributions from several other prominent bakers who are also featured in the article, including Mary Rubin of City Bakery in New York City, Herve Poussot of Almondine in Brooklyn, and Dorie Greenspan, the celebrated author of several baking books. Here’s a glimpse of the article:

Like the omelet, which many believe to be the true test of a chef, the humble chocolate chip cookie is the baker’s crucible. So few ingredients, so many possibilities for disaster. What other explanation can there be for the wan versions and unfortunate misinterpretations that have popped up everywhere — eggless and sugarless renditions; cookies studded with carob, tofu and marijuana; whole-wheat alternatives; and the terribly misguided bacon-topped variety.

All this crossbreeding begs the question: Has anyone trumped Mrs. Wakefield (former owner of the Toll House Inn, who is credited with creating the first chocolate chip cookie in 1930) ? To find out, a journey began that included stops at some of New York City’s best bakeries as well as conversations with some doyens of baking. The result was a recipe for a consummate cookie, if you will: one built upon decades of acquired knowledge, experience and secrets; one that, quite frankly, would have Mrs. Wakefield worshipping at its altar.

I’m clearly behind the rest of the blogosphere in my recent attempt to recreate these cookies, but that’s largely because it took me so long to gather the necessary ingredients—particularly, the bittersweet chocolate discs (with at least 60% cacao content). Eventually, I found a variety of discs at a specialty grocer in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, I’m yet to find them locally.

I finally made the cookies last week and released them for tasting and judgement at Thursday night’s chili party. The process is unique and definitely requires patience, as the recipe recommends chilling the dough in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours prior to baking. After 72 hours, I sprinkled sea salt on the golf ball size dough balls, as the recipe suggested, and then baked them in the oven. The cookies definitely looked beautiful, very plump, evenly baked, and airy. Consensus seemed to be that they tasted great, too. I, however, thought they were a little dry. I prefer more of a chewy/gooey chocolate chip cookie. To each his own. But I definitely enjoyed this science experiment, and learned new tips that I can incorporate into my favorite cookie recipes.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Free Wilco Campaign Rally Concert

October 28th, 2008 — 7:43am

This just in from the Wisconsin State Journal, and forwarded to me by my friend Margo…my favorite band Wilco announced that they will play a free concert as part of a campaign rally on Saturday afternoon. Here are the details…

A “stripped down” version of the rock band Wilco will perform a free concert at Union Theater as part of Campaign for Change, a Barack Obama rally featuring speakers Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. Tammy Baldwin on Saturday afternoon.
Three of Wilco’s six members — frontman Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone — will perform at the event, which begins at noon, according to Wilco publicist Deb Bernardini.

Free tickets will be distributed on Wednesday at Campaign for Change’s student office, 216 N. Henry St. and at the Wednesday Farmers’ Market on Martin Luther King Boulevard. The Union Theater’s capacity is 1,300.
In September 2007, Wilco’s last show in Madison at the 2,200-seat Overture Hall sold out in one day.
Doors will open in Union Theater, 800 Langdon St., at 11 a.m. Saturday. After the concert, Baldwin will lead a march to the polls for voters to cast early votes before polls close at 3 p.m.

2 comments » | Madtown Lovin'

Full Puppet Nudity

October 27th, 2008 — 4:20pm

I went to see the Tony award-winning musical Avenue Q on Sunday night at Madison’s Overture Center. It was entertaining, raunchy, and completely hilarious. The show is largely inspired by Sesame Street and most of the characters are puppets (operated by onstage actors). The story follows the lives of several 20-somethings who live in New York City as they attempt to navigate the unexpected life after college—“What Do You Do With a BA in English”—of shitty jobs, difficult relationships, and never-ending bills. The show includes full-on puppet sex, musical numbers entitled “The Internet is For Porn”, “It Sucks to Be Me,” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” and a puppet named Lucy the Slut.

My favorite characters, however, are the Bad Idea Bears. The sweet sounding, colorful stuffed bears, reminiscent of Care Bears, continually taunt the main characters, Princeton and Kate, and talk them into several bad ideas like playing drinking games with Long Island Ice Teas the night before a very important day at work, taking a tipsy date home for sex (post Long Islands), and buying a case of beer despite being broke.

I definitely enjoyed the show and the parody of life after college. The actors/puppeteers/singers were phenomenally talented. I don’t know how they kept it all straight. I would definitely recommend this show for a great laugh.

Comment » | Uncategorized

Homecoming Parade

October 27th, 2008 — 10:06am
My student worker, Chloe, riding in the parade as a member of court!

Various alumni club representatives

Short bus

Fraternity/sorority float

Students for Obama

Students for McCain

The big bus

WSUM student radio station

Formula SAE cars

Wisconsin Band
I went to go see the Wisconsin Homecoming parade on Friday night. I was especially excited to see my student worker, Chloe, ride by as part of homecoming court. I haven’t had the opportunity to see the parade in several years, so I was excited to experience it once again. I almost had tears in my eyes watching Chloe go by. I definitely got emotional because I was so damn proud of her and excited for her to experience the entire weekend.

The parade was pretty phenomenal and featured many, many student and alumni groups. I think it’s the perfect showcase of diversity on campus and shows how there truly is a place for everyone at UW-Madison.

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Award-Winning Chili Recipes

October 27th, 2008 — 5:36am

Scott’s Drunk Turkey Chili

Notes from Scott: I can’t take full credit for this recipe. I found it on the Food Network’s website as a featured Super Bowl Chili a couple years ago and have made some adjustments to suit my liking.

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 med yellow onion (chopped)
5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1-2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 chipotle chilies en adobo (coarsely chopped), with 1.5 Tbsp of the adobo sauce (you can find this in the ethnic foods section at the grocery store in a little can. This gives the chili it’s heat and smoked flavor)
20 oz ground turkey
1 (12 oz) Mexican lager-style beer (I prefer Dos Equis)
2 (14 ½ oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 (15 ½ oz) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:
Heat olive oil over med-high heat.
Add the onion, garlic, salt, and chili powder and cook while stirring ~3 min
Stir in tomato paste and the chipotle chilies and adobo sauce, cook while stirring ~1 min
Add turkey and cook until it looses its raw color ~3 min
Add the beer and simmer until reduced by about half ~8 min
Wash hands
Add tomatoes—crushing them through your fingers into the skillet—along with the extra juice from one of the cans.
Add beans and bring to a boil.
Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until a good thickness ~10 min

I use an large electric skillet when cooking this chili. If you are using a saucepan, it will take longer than the suggested times for liquids to reduce. It’s ready to eat right away, but will continue to soak up flavor if you cover it or put in a crock pot. Delicious garnishes are: pepper jack cheese and avocado mixed with sour cream

Wed Wagon Wheel Chili

Notes from Jessica: Zeke found his culinary inspiration at: http://www.famouschilirecipes.com/Halftime.html To make this recipe a little extra-tasty, we also added a few dashes of hot sauce, some ground up red pepper, a teaspoon or so of chili powder, and (of course, the secret ingredient) wagon wheel noodles.

Ingredients
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds ground chuck
1 envelope taco seasoning or 1/4 cup taco seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 15oz can tomato sauce
3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 15 to 16oz cans of kidney beans (drained)

Directions
Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute about 8 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add chuck and cook until brown, breaking up meat with a spatula as it cooks. Add taco seasoning, basil, oregano, and thyme. Stir 2 minutes. Mix in tomato sauce, chicken broth and tomato paste. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 1 and a half hours. Mix in beans. Simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until cold then reheat over low when ready to serve.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

2008 K&K Chili Cookoff

October 24th, 2008 — 9:50am
Kristin & Karen
Chili Row

Chili Entrants

Cornbread lineup

The 2008 K&K Chili Cookoff Winners

Last night’s chili cookoff was a tremendous success. Although I didn’t come away a winner in any of the four categories, everyone had a lot of fun and enjoyed great chili, cornbread, and company.

Karen and I didn’t start making our chili until just before the party started, which was probably a big mistake—especially when I realized that my recipe needed to simmer for an hour and Karen discovered she didn’t have the main ingredient (ground beef) for her recipe and needed to run to the grocery store. Needless to say, we were a bit frenzied as our first guests arrived. I also nearly started a grease fire while making my chili and didn’t realize until after the party that I had the remnants (grease stains) all over my shirt! Oops. But that was just part of my presentation, right?

I couldn’t believe how many people, crock pots of chili, and loafs of cornbread fit into our house. It was wall to wall chaos. Once the tasting began, there were people hopping from chili to chili sampling from Dixie cups, competitors lobbying on behalf of their chili, and a whole lot of trash talking.

Once the ballots were tabulated, the following results were announced. Each winner was awarded a prize and the opportunity to say a few words.

Best Chili: (TIE) Scott’s Drunk Turkey Chili (Scott) and Wed Wheel Wagon Chili (Jessica & Zeke)
Best Cornbread: Kim’s Pumpkin Kornbread (Kim)
Best Named Chili: Wed Wheel Wagon Chili (Jessica & Zeke)
Best Presentation: Gereau Family Heritage Chili (Karen & Kate)

The party was probably our best yet. Everyone seemed to have so much fun and I love how all of our friends get along so well and seem to know each other through random connections. I also love a great theme party, and it’s awesome when you have guests who truly embrace the theme. As the party winded down, there was much chatting and strategizing for next year’s event. I for one will be putting together a strategy to get myself back on the podium. Luckily, I have plenty of time to perfect my recipe. Until next year…

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Gonna Smoke You Out: K&K Chili Cookoff

October 23rd, 2008 — 11:27am

Today is a very exciting day. At 6pm, all hell will break loose. And by hell, I mean chili. Tonight is the Second Annual K&K Chili Cookoff. Karen and I are hosting 29 of our friends and colleagues, which should be interesting since I don’t think we have room for all of them in our house! Apparently word has spread quickly about the annual cookoff and it’s become the “must attend” event of the season.

Last year was our first chili cookoff, and competition was intense. And this year we have many more entrants. We’ll be awarding prizes for the best chili, best cornbread, best presentation, and best named chili. Last year I was thrilled to have been awarded “best chili,” and my friend Kim came away with the “best cornbread.” Currently, there are ~10 chili division entrants and ~7 co-rec cornbread division entrants. The rest are celebrity judges (a.k.a slackers). The trash talking has been in full effect among competitors, as illustrated in the following e-mail exchange:

Cydney:
Hi Ladies
You better hold on to your taste buds, in preparation for the
“HIGH SIERRA HOT FLASH.”
It’s not for the feint of heart or slight of tongue.
Only the strong will survive it.

Karen:
Were you not able to work the words “organic” or “noncarcinogen” into the title?

Cydney:
Oh, my chili is carcinogenic. It will smoke you out.

I’ll be entering both the chili and corn-bread divisions. I’m hoping to come away with victories in both. I’m using last year’s chili recipe (clearly already a proven winner), as well as a new recipe for Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread that I found on the Food Network (picture above). Should be a great time! Of course I’ll be sharing lots of fun pictures, stories, and award-winning recipes in the next few days.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

October 23rd, 2008 — 9:04am

I love squash. And so I’ve been loading up on many varieties at the farmers’ market. Recently, I came across a great recipe for Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash. I found the recipe online at Lunds and Byerlys, a Minneapolis specialty gourmet grocery chain. I modified the recipe a bit since I didn’t have the recommended Lunds and Byerlys special seasonings on hand. I think it still turned out great and the bowls looked beautiful. The meal was delicious, filling, and also seemed quite healthy. Always a bonus.

Ingredients

1 (1 lb.) acorn squash, halved, seeds removed
1 tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. bulk Italian sausage
2 tsp. Italian herb seasoning
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone and mozzarella, divided

Directions

Arrange squash halves cut side down in 13X9 microwavable baking dish; add ¼ cup water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, using multiple sheets if necessary. With a knife, make 4 steam vents in plastic wrap. Microwave (HIGH) until tender (15-20 minutes).
While squash is cooking, heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté sausage, Italian herb seasoning, red pepper, onion and garlic until sausage is no longer pink and onions are tender (8-10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in spinach, wild rice and 1 cup provolone/mozzarella.
When squash is tender, carefully remove plastic wrap, starting from side farthest from you. Using tongs, transfer cooked squash to cutting board; discard water.
Place a tablespoon of butter in bottoms of each squash half. Mound sausage mixture into halves. Return to 13X9 dish, cover with foil and bake in preheated 350F oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle remaining ½ cup cheese over tops, return to oven and bake until cheese melts (5-8 minutes).
Amount: 4 servings

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

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