Monday, October 21, 2013

Roasted Tomato and Butternut Squash Pasta

If you don't already know from prior posts, I watch/tape Rachael Ray every single day. She was cooking with some roasted butternut squash the other day and it inspired me some how. So I went online to her site to search the recipe and then this other one came up, along with a few more pages. I had more of the ingredients and I liked how it sounded. I don't know if you could get away with this being one of her 30 minute meals, but if you multi-task it well, and maybe up the roasting temperature you can probably get it to 45 minutes. Not including cubing up that horrible butternut squash. I love it. But it really is a pain to cut up and peel.

I used Pam instead of the 4 Tbsp olive oil and just sprayed the veggies down a bit. Because that whole can doesn't have as many calories as the oil does, and we're going to Antigua here soon so we're watching that a bit. I had dried Thyme, fresh will work just fine though! I also cut the butter a little bit as well as the Saffron. It's pretty expensive and it was only 1 cup of liquid. You could use Veggie stock to make this vegetarian and no cheese for Vegan, depending on your pasta. I chose Penne because I had it in my pantry. I would recommend one with lines and maybe a Tube or shell shape to hold the sauce. It was super filling and we have a ton left over, because the picture was probably almost 2 servings.

Roasted Tomato and Butternut Squash Pasta
(Adapted slightly from Rachael Ray)


3 pounds tomatoes (I used on the vine)
1 medium butternut squash, seeded and diced into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Pam or other oil spray
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 bulb garlic, top end cut to expose cloves
3 tablespoons butter
A pinch saffron threads, 10 threads or so
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound penne or pasta of your choice.
A fat handful of basil, torn or sliced. (I used about 10 leaves)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra if desired


Heat oven to 425F.

Arrange tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and the squash on another. Spray tomatoes with oil spray and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast tomatoes until charred at edges and burst, 30 to 35 minutes (or longer depending on size)

Spray squash with oil spray and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Roast squash to golden and tender, 25-30 minutes.

Drizzle garlic with oil, season with salt and pepper, and wrap in a foil pouch. Roast garlic to soft and golden, 40-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pot over medium-low heat; add saffron and swirl. Let  saffron simmer with butter for a minute or two to help infuse. Add stock and keep at a low simmer.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente. This is usually around 10 minutes, this way the pasta will absorb more of the flavours of the dish.

Remove vegetables, leave squash for a few minutes. Place tomatoes in a large bow (Large enough for all ingredients) and mash with basil.

Squish garlic cloves into the saffron & stock and stir in. Add to bowl of tomatoes, add pasta and squash, toss to combine.

Sprinkle with cheese to serve.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Basic Lasagna

One of the other new Le Crueset dishes we bought was a lasagna dish. I was pretty excited because while I have a couple dishes that are the same shape, I didn't have any that would fit a whole lasagna noodle. I sort of wanted to make a bechamel lasagna but we kind of waited too long to start dinner so we stuck with a basic one. So here is a basic recipe that I started with. I would recommend doubling it and having a higher lasagna so it's a bit more filling. Next time I would also add a carrot or two, some celery and an onion all chopped up to the base with the tomato sauce and ground beef. For some extra filling and veggies. We cut this into 12 squares, but because it was thin I would only do 9.


1 large jar tomato sauce, I used a Vodka Tomato for a bit more added base flavour
1 pound ground beef
12 lasagna noodles, cooked (or no bake, whatever you have)
500g Cottage cheese or ricotta
Grated Mozza (as much as you want!)


Cook ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Once cooked, add the jar of tomato sauce and simmer for 5-20 minutes. As long as you have time for to add to the flavour.

Smear a little of the meat sauce mixture on the bottom of the lasagna dish so the noodles don't stick, then begin the layers.

Three noodles beside each other, 1/3  meat sauce mixture, 1/3 cottage cheese and 1/3 mozza. Do this three times and cover with the final noodles. Cover with mozza and foil  and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until the top layer of cheese is nice and bubbly.

Cream Puffs

I saw cream puffs on three of the cooking shows I watch fairly recently so I decided I should probably make them. They made it look so easy! Turns out, it was kind of a pain.

So, my first ones turned into pancakes which was rather sad. So I decided I needed to watch a cream puff video (Another one). It helped quite a bit. The biggest things I found to help was to slightly beat the eggs and add slowly. Because The recipe said I needed 4 eggs, turned out I needed about 3 and half. The other thing the video really helped explain was that when you're cooking out the dough in the pan it can really vary as to how much water evaporates which will change the consistency of your dough.

The second time, I cooked it a bit longer in the pan before moving it to the mixer. I also let more steam escape and let it cool off for an extra minute before adding the eggs. The second ones turned out perfectly. I got 13 fairly good sized ones out the recipe, a solid Bakers Dozen!

For the recipe, I only used the first half (The puff part). Below is the Cream Recipe I used. You can adapt this so many ways. maple whipped cream, Baileys whipped cream, and so on!

Here's the link to the video. You can use her recipe as its fairly similar but smaller. But I recommend highly you watch the video, unless you've done this once or twice.

Cream Puffs
(Adapted from here

1 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs


 1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Grease or line with parchment a large cookie sheet.

 2. In saucepan, heat water, butter, and salt to boiling on medium until butter melts, you don't want it to boil for too long to control the amount of water that evaporates.

 3. Remove saucepan from heat. Vigorously stir in flour all at once until mixture forms ball and comes away from side of pan. Watch for a film on the bottom of the pan, its an indicator it should all be coming together.

 4. Transfer into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Let rest for about a minute to cool and turn on to low to spin for about another minute before adding eggs. This helps release the steam and cool off the dough a bit.

5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until batter becomes smooth and satiny. I added the first 3 and beat the fourth one and added it gradually. I don't needed about half. See the video for the consistency that's needed. But you can also just remember you want it to stand up on its own. Like a cookie dough, not like pancake batter.

6. Drop batter by scant 1/4 cups into 10 large mounds, 2 inches apart, onto prepared cookie sheet. With fingertip moistened with cold water, gently smooth tops to round. I used an ice cream/batter scoop but next time I will pipe them on to the cookie sheet. You can use a star tip and make it look extra fancy.

7. Bake 15 minutes at 400º and then lower temperature to 365º to finish off for another 20-25 minutes or until puffs are a golden-brown. Remove cookie sheet from oven; with knife, poke hole in one side of each puff to release steam. Turn off oven. Return cookie sheet to oven and let puffs stand 10 minutes to dry out slightly. Transfer puffs to wire rack to cool completely.

Once the puffs are completely cool and dried out, make the cream to put inside them. Here's the recipe I made.

Chantilly Cream
(From Martha)

1 cup heavy cream (cold)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Combine all ingredients into a bowl, if the bowl has been in the fridge, it will help it out. Beat by hand with a whisk or take the easy way out (Like I do) and use a hand mixer. Beat until soft peaks form and will hold inside the bowl (turned upside down). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

I've seen a couple ways to do this. Alot of people seem to cut the puffs in half and fill like a sandwich. I like the surprise of cream in the middle! So I piped it in with a filling tip into the puff.

Have fun! There's so may things you can do with these!

Dinner Rolls

Just in time for Thanksgiving, my all time favourite (basic) bun recipe. I've made these a few times, but enough times to know that you don't need to change anything! You do need to have the time to prepare them. The multiple rises are what makes these. This dough puffs up like no other.  I don't pour butter over top of them, because honestly, you're probably going to put butter on them anyways... But that's just me.

I recommend to roll them into fairly even sized balls to split the dough. Split the ball in half, half again, and then the quarters into thirds. Each quarter should give you 9 buns. I managed to get 37 total. But 36 is pretty standard unless you want them a little larger. I made them again and only got 30. Really depends on ball size.

Dinner Rolls
(Adapted slightly from here)

2 1/2 cups warm milk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened or melted and cooked slightly
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

1/2 cup butter, melted (Optional)


I heat the milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes at half power. It should be around 100ºF. Then pour milk into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle yeast over the surface. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Beat in the sugar, eggs, 1/2 cup butter, and salt; mix thoroughly, will be paste like. Gradually stir in the flour, a cup or so at a time to make a soft dough. Cover bowl, and set in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough, cover the bowl, and allow to rise again. Repeat this step once more.

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish, and maybe a second 9x9.

** I've  found that baking them in smaller dishes like the 9x9 is a better option, I've had to throw out the center ones a couple times due to the rest of them being cooked nice and the middle ones still being raw. Otherwise you may want to bake them at 375ºF for a bit longer.

Break off 2 to 3 inch size pieces of dough, about golf ball sized and roll lightly into round shape, and place in prepared baking dish, edges touching. Repeat to make 36 dough balls. Cover with a damp towel and let rise until doubled in size. I find this is the step they start to get a bit of a crust, ensure you moisten the towel to keep that at bay.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake rolls in preheated oven until tops turn golden brown, 15 - 20 minutes..

If desired, When rolls are finished baking, drizzle melted butter over the top, and serve warm.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Sean and I went to our friends baby shower on the weekend, it was great, just how I'd like a baby shower to be. A party. We both got to go, no boys here and girls here and no silly games! Ok, sometimes I like those, but I didn't know many people. My go to is usually cupcakes but I always worry there will be an abundance of cake. Lucky for me, I chose vanilla and the only cake there was mini and chocolate. The shower was for a little baby girl, Hailey, so I wanted pink icing. But I also wanted it to be good and not just dyed frosting from a can, which may have crossed my mind since I was running out of time. I happen to love swiss meringue buttercream so I looked quickly for a variation of that. Martha Stewart always has my back.If you've never made this type of buttercream I wouldn't try to do this last minute. Its pretty finnicky and can go wrong easily and quickly. There was a point in mine when I thought I was doomed. Luckily it shaped back up and piped nice. Did I mention I ate waaay too much of this icing? I'm not someone who usually licks the beaters or the bowl but this is by far the best icing I have ever made. I would say make sure you choose a good quality jam and one that you like the flavour of to be sure though! I made a half recipe which was enough for these little flower type tops on 22 cupcakes. If you want to pipe it up high, make the whole recipe. Here's the recipe!Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Adapted from Martha
Ingredients:4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) strawberry jam, pureed in a food processor


In the heatproof bowl, either of an electric mixer or you can transfer it after, set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees). I have never been able to get mine to 160. I usually top out about 145º. I also wouldn't whisk this by hand if you don't have to. Your arm will be sore. I used my little hand beater and it still took about 10 minutes to get to 140º and fluffy. 
Transfer or Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.This is where it starts to get a bit tricky, I was really lucky until the jam part. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well and on medium high after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir in strawberry jam with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth, mine looked a little curdled after this part so I put the bowl back on the mixer and mixed with the whip attachment for about a minute on medium high and it came back together. If you have more problems, this link should help you out!Here's a picture of my decorated cupcakes, I just used French Vanilla boxed cupcakes if you were wondering. I was short on time and these were never meant to be the center of attention at the dessert table.  

Roast Beef with Fresh Herbs

We started our weekend spending waaay too much on some new Le Creuset Pots and Dishes. Among other things. We may have been Williams Sonoma's favourite customers. One of the pots we bought is a wide, shallow 3.75 quart oval. So obviously we really wanted to use it. Pair that with the fact that Humanely Raised Roasts were on sale (plus 500 points!) at Sobeys and you have how we came up with this idea.

Sean was excited because he'd never cooked a roast. I don't know how different it is than a Prime Rib, considering we eat fairly small ones but in any case he found this recipe. He's come to like and trust Stefano's recipes, probably because I watch him every day. We liked it because it was simple and easy to follow. Plus we didn't have to buy a ton of ingredients to make it.

Roast Beef with Fresh Herbs
(Adapted from Stefano)

1 boneless sirloin roast or prime rib roast, about 1.5 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
*Handful of fresh basil
*Handful of fresh parsley
*Handful fresh mint
*2 sprigs fresh rosemary
*2 sprigs fresh thyme
     *OR we found a beef blend of herbs at Co-op. It was $1.50 instead of $2 each for all of those. 
1-2 garlic cloves
Mustard, for serving
Horseradish, for serving

Preheat your oven at 425 degrees F.

Season the roast with salt and pepper.

Heat an oven-proof fry pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil. When olive oil is hot, add roast and brown on all sides.

Transfer roast to preheated oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 365 degrees F. and cook until internal temperature registers 130 degrees F. on a meat thermometer for rare - medium rare, about 20 to 35 minutes, depending on thickness of roast. Alternatively, cook roast until doneness is to your liking.
While roast is cooking, finely chop the garlic and herbs. Mix to combine. 

Transfer to a large platter or baking dish.

When roast is cooked, remove from oven and roll in the herb mixture until completely covered. 

Tent the roast with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Slice and serve the roast with horseradish and mustard.

Here's a picture! We like ours rare - medium rare at the most and this was perfect. 

We also roasted a full head of garlic in with the roast, we just sliced the tops off and put a bit of oil on top and Since we only have one oven (I can always dream) we roasted cauliflower at the same time on the bottom rack of the oven. You'll find that recipe Here